titj> fe 'V^l^U^-
L I B R.AFLY
U N I VLRS ITY
or ILLl NOIS
HUNfllS HlSTQHiCAl SOUVEY
Commemorating Centennial of
Admission of Illinois as a
State of the Union
AUTHORIZED BY THE BOARD OF SUPERVISORS
Commemorating Centennial of
Admission of Illinois as a
State of the Union
AUTHORIZED BY THE BOARD OF SUPERVISORS
REPUBLICAN REGISTER PRINT
GALESBURG, ILLINOIS ■
This book is the product of the attempt in 1918 to cele-
brate the Centennial of the admission of Illinois to Statehood.
In accordance with a state-wide movement, designed to pre-
serve the annals of all the counties, and properly to commem-
orate the creation of Illinois as a State, the County Judge,
Walter C Frank, Superintendent of Schools W. F. Boyes,
State's Attorney A. J. Boutelle, County Clerk Frank L. Adams
and A. 0. Lindstrum, Chairman of the Board of Supervisors,
were designated by the Hon. Hugh Magill, who had the State
work in charge, to form in this county a Knox County Centen-
nial Historical Association, which should originate and carry
out in the schools of the county fitting programs, and which
should arrange for the collection of material for township an-
nals, that should, with the co-operation of the Board of Super-
visors, be published and be preserved in the schools and librar-
ies of the county and in the State Historical Library.
At a meeting held on January 22, 1918, the County Cen-
tennial Historical Association was formed with Superintendent
W. F. Boyes as president and Fred R. Jelliff as secretary, and
with the following advisory committee: Mrs. A. J. Boutelle,
president of the Galesburg Woman's Club; Mrs. G. W. Thomp-
son, Mrs. T. C. Minehan, George A- Lawrence, Fred R. Jelliff,
William Pearson, president of the Galesburg Trades and Labor
Assembly; Professor D. E. Watkins, of Knox College; Presi-
dent J. M. Tilden, of Lombard College, and W. F. Boyes.
At a meeting of this committee on February 5th, 1918,
there was appointed a committee, consisting of Professor
Watkins, Mrs. Thompson and Mr. Jelliff, authorized to arrange
for the material for the township annals. Requests were sent
to a well qualified person in each township in March, 1918, and
in nearly every instance there was a cheerful response. The
late W. L. Steele, so long superintendent of schools of Gales-
burg, was deputized to prepare a general review of the county
annals, while Mrs. R. W. Colville, Mrs- Martha Farnham Web-
ster and George A. Lawrence were authorized to arrange for
the marking of historical points in this county.
The advisory committee, of which W. F. Boyes was chair-
man, also considered and outlined an elaborate program of
celebrations for the schools of the counuty, which was to cul-
minate in a stately and beautiful pageant in Galesburg with
the entire county as guests. All plans, however, were inter-
rupted by the dreadful epidemic of influenza, which swept
through the county the fall and winter of 1918, bringing sor-
row to many scores of homes. The pageant and many other
features of the year's program had to be abandoned. Schools
generally were closed to prevent the contagion from spreading.
Meanwhile several of the township historians died. Su-
perintendent Steele suddenly passed away. Illness and other
causes delayed some. The committee, however, f eit that it was
due to those who had so generously prepared manuscripts, to
persevere in the preparation of material, with the result, that
due to the generosity of the Board of Supei*visors, the publica-
tion is at last made.
The committee is under great obligations to all who have
contributed annals, and to all others who have in any way
FRED R. JELLIFF, Secretary
WALTER F. BOYES, Chairman
KNOX COUNTY ANNALS
By FRED R. JELLIFF
Knox County was named after General Henry Knox and
was established as a county, January 13, 1825.
Knox county has had several and varied shapes. Under
the division of Illinois, made in 1790, more than the east half
of that part of the State south of the Illinois river was known
as Knox county. Changes and further subdivisions were
made in 1793, 1801, 1803, 1809 Then the name drops out. In
the subdivisions of 1801, 1803 and 1809, its territory was in-
cluded in St. Clair county. In 1812 and 1813, the subdivision
covering much the same ground, was called Madison county,
and in this the Knox territory was included until 1821, when
that part of the State lying between the Illinois and Mississ-
ippi river was called Pike county. In 1823, Pike county was
cut down, and Fulton county was laid out so as to include the
south four townships of Knox. The rest of the land compris-
ing Knox county and the territory north and east was attached
to Fulton county for judicial purposes.
January 13, 1825, Knox county was formed by act of the
legislature, covering the same territory as at present (the four
townships at the south being accorded it), save that the four
north townships were attached to Henry county. This gave
Knox sixteen townships. In 1831, however, the row of town-
ships on the north was restored to Knox and two on the east
were added. March 2, 1839, these two east two townships were
allotted Stark county. This change in the boundaries of the
county occasioned interesting incidents of travel, business and
politics in the early history of this section.
The land comprising Knox County has been under ten ter-
ritorial jurisdictions, two of them being under extinct races,
one under the Indian race, one under France, one under Eng-
land, one under Virginia, one a territory of the United States,
one the territory of Indiana, one the territory of Illinois and
lastly, the State of Illinois.
The history of Knox county is one that reflects honor on
Illinois for it has been marked by devotion to high ideals. Illi-
nois was orginally a part of the northwest territory which by
the ordinance of 1787 was made free soil. As a county of the
State Knox has shared this blessing. Illinois was admitted' to
the Union in 1818, and the issuance of this book is to commem-
orate the centennial of that event. By the act of June 30, 1821,
Pike county was created, including the area north and west
of the Illinois river. By the act of Februaiy 10, 1826, Knox
County was attached to Fulton county for governmental pur-
poses. May 15, 1830, a public meeting was held at the store
of S. S. White, in Henderson, to consider the question of
county organization. Dr. Hansford and John G- Sanburn, were
authorized to address a petition for the organization of Knox
county to Richard M. Young, judge of the Fifth Judicial Cir-
cuit. This petition was presented to Judge Young at Lewis-
town by Pennington, Hansford, Stephen Osborn, the first
sheriff and Phillip Hash, and the judge was convinced that the
county contained 350 inhabitants, the number required by law,
and on June 10, 1830, he declared the county organized, and
fixed the date of the first election at July 3, 1830. This was
held at the home of Jacob Gum, four miles northwest of
Galesburg, the whole county forming one election precinct.
The First Government
Under the constitution of 1818, county government was
committed to three commissioners. On July 3, 1830, when
the county was organized, Riggs Pennington, Philip Hash, and
Charles Hansford were elected, to serve until their successors
were elected the following month. They first met at the home
of John B. Gum, appointed him clerk, but he, declining to
serve, two days later they again met and appointed John G.
Sanburn clerk, and Mr. Gum treasurer. On July 17th, the
commissioners met again and divided Knox County into two
precincts for the coming election, one precinct being known
as the Henderson and the other as the Spoon River district.
At the election on August 2, 1830, the first board of commis-
sioners for a stated term was elected, the successful candidates
being Riggs Pennington, Philip Hash and Alexander Frakes,
while Stephen Osborn was elected sheriff. Thus Knox county,
organized and empowered to choose its own officers and col-
lect its own taxes, started on its political career. The com-
missioners had general supervision of the affairs of the county.
By the same law which defined its boundaries and located its
county seat, Henry county was attached to it for governmental
purposes and so remained until 1837. It was an economical
and judicious system. The county was then in its primitive
state, and roads had to be laid out and constructed, bridges had
to be built, a jail and court house had to be provided and other
large works undertaken, all of which seems to have been effi-
Government By Judges
By the constitution of 1848, the offices of county com-
missioners and probate justice were abolished, and the office
of county judge created. On him and two associate judges was
the power previously exercised by the commissioners in county
government, conferred. George S Lanphere was elected
county judge, and Alfred Brown of Henderson and James M.
Hunter of Salem were elected associate judges, November 6,
1849, and they served four years. Their last meeting was
held on March 4, 1853. The county on April 5, 1853, adopted
township organization and elected supervisors. It has since
remained under this system. There had been two previous
attempts to change the county government, one on November
6, 1849, and one on November 5, 1850, but as tbe majority
secured was not a majority of all the votes ca'^t af these elec-
tions, the proposition failed to carry.
It was shortly after the election of 1849 or on January 14,
1850, that the people of the townships met to select the names
for their respective townships. The present names were
adopted save these of Cedar, Haw Creek, Copley and Elba.
The names chosen for these were respectively. Cherry Grove,
Ohio, Ritchfield and Liberty, but these the Secretary of State
refused to register and they were accordingly changed to the
names they now bear.
The first members of the board of supervisors, twenty in
number, met June 5, 1853, and elected Daniel Meek as chair-
man. Following are the names of the members of the historic
Indian Point Daniel Meek
Cedar E. P. Dunlap
Henderson Peter Franz
Rio R. Heflin
Chestnut Samuel Collins
Orange Asa Haynes
Sparta T. H. Taylor
Ontario Ed Crane
Maquon J. M. Foster
Haw Creek W. M Clark
Persifer G. W. Manley
Copley J. 0. Stanley
Walnut Grove Ames Ward
Salem S. S. Buffum
Elba J. H. Nicholson
Truro A,, Lapham
Victoria J. L. ^Lamagan
Lynn J. MjJHodgson
Knox I. P. West
Galesburg 1 W. S. Gale
Honor is due the memory of this first board for building
so well the foundations on which the business of the county
has been conducted.
Growth of County Business
The business of Knox County is now conducted from
Galesburg, the county seat, and its place of business is the
stately Court House Square with its beautiful embellishments
of lawn and trees And still John B. Gum's log cabin on Sec-
tion 32 in Henderson township was the first seat of justice in
the county and was so designated by the commissioners on
July 9, 1830. It was a one-story, two-room log structure and
was used for county purposes until January 15, 1831. By a
law passed January 15, 1831, the county seat was fixed in Knox
Township, where the commissioners platted a village, that they
first called Henderson, and which afterward was changed to
Knoxville. March 12, 1831, the commissioners contracted with
William Lewis to erect a log court house and with Parnach
Owen to finish it. The total cost was $395.43. This lumber
structure was 28 feet long, twenty-five feet wide, and two
stories high. It was occlupied in October, 1832, It was soon
outgrown and on March 14, 1838, Zelotes Cooley and Alvah
Wheeler took the contract for the erection of a new building
at Knoxville which was completed May 1, 1840. At the time it
was regarded as one of the handsomest buildings in the State,
and it is still attractive because of its classical lines. It was
the scene of many noted legal battles, and men, who subse-
quently became famous in State and Nation appeared in cases
there. A crude jail was built in 1832 and in 1840 another was
erected by Alvah Wheeler. Also on the court house ground at
Knoxville was built in 1854 a fire-proof building containing
County Seat Contest
Meanwhile Galesburg, due to its railroad facilities, was in
population outstriping Knoxville, and there grew up a demand
for the removal of the county seat to the larger city. A long
and acrimonious contest ensued that lasted for years. The r--'al
battle started with the passage of a bill introduced by W. S.
Gale, of Galesburg, then a member of the Legislature, for the
removal of the county seat. This bill became a law. The elec-
tion under it was held in April, 1869, but the issues were not
settled until January, 1873, when the Supreme Court of Illinois
upheld the contention of Galesburg. Through the efforto of
friends of Knoxville another election was called and was held
on November 11, 1873, which resulted in favor of Galesburg by
a vote of 3,785 to 3,309. This ended the controversy.
Under the stipulations by Galesburg, the county was to
furnish a place for holding court for ten years, a site for a
court house to be constructed in the future, a site for a jail and
$20,000 toward its erection, to provide a site and fire-proof
building for a clerk's office, and to pay the expenses of the
transfer of the effects of the county to Galesburg, all of
which conditions were honorably and satisfactorily met.
The Court House
The movement for the erection of of a court house on the
park site provided began in 1883 with the appointment of a
committee to report a resolution. A building committee was
appointed, consisting of W. S. Gale, A. G. Charles, William
Robson, John Sloan, M. B. Hardin and William H. Leighton.
The next year the place of Mr. Charles, who was no longer a
member of the Board, was filled by R. W. Miles, and a year
still later, L. A. Townsend succeeded M. B. Hardin The plans
of E. E. Myers of Chicago were preferred, bids were finally
passed on October 3, and the contract was let to Dawson &
Anderson of Toledo, Ohio, for $114,311.52. The corner-stone
was laid June 24, 1885, under the auspices of the Masonic
Grand Lodge of Illinois. The edifice was completed January
26, 1887. The cost all furnished was $156,261, and when
completed it was practically paid for. The building is of Berea
sandstone, of a pleasing and impressive style of architecture,
and contains all rooms necessary for the conduct of all phases
of the county business.
The jail was built earlier by Ira K. Stevens in 1874, for
$34,900, and Hon. A. W. Berggren was the first sheriff to
The County Home
Another fine institution that the county has maintained
for over sixty years is the County Home at Knoxville For
twenty-five years after the organization of the county paupers
were farmed out to the lowest bidders. With the adoption of
the township system, the board of supervisors bought an alms-
house site for $3,000 of M, G. Smith. The farm house was
converted into an almshouse but proved a wretched makeshift.
In 1866 the Board of Supervisors determined to erect a new
almshouse and R. W. Miles, L. E. Conger and Cephas Arms
were appointed a committee on building. After some compe-
tition between Galesburg members and Knoxville, the present
site, adjoining the old poor farm and comprising then 69 acres,
was purchased for $5,340. The contract for the main building
was let to William Armstrong for $26,000 and its equipment
and stocking of the farm brought the total to $39,037.21.
Parry & Stevens built the east wing for $17,400. An insane
annex was erected in 1890 for $26,459 by Peter Munson, and in
1899 an insane annex for females was built by Munson & Ting-
leaf at a total cost of $32,000. A new laundry building was
built in 1899 by F. W. Hawkin for $16,000. The entire group
of buildings is one of the handsomest in the state and the
grounds have been developed along artistic lines. Many im-
provements on and in the buildings have been made from time
to time, so that they are supplied with modern facilities.
Growth of Population
The Indians were in Illinois before the Whites and the early
settlers of the county were not unmindful of their presence.
The Foxes, Sacs, Kickapoos and Pottawatomies roved over
the prairies and their trails were used by the early settlers.
In the vicinity of Maquon another tribe lived. The flint im-
plements of the Aboriginies are still found in many parts of
the county. There are traces of a still earlier race supposed to
be identified with the mound builders.
Daniel and Alexander Robinson and Richard Mathews,
who came to the county and settled in the edge of Henderson
Grove in February, 1828, are credited with being the first
permanent settlers, although there is a report that a man
named Palmer, a bee hunter, lived in Maquon township in
1826-27. It is certain that the first considerable migrations
came from Kentucky, Tennessee and Virginia, and that they
were a substantial and worthy element. The tide of immigra-
tion from the east set in in 1836 and with the coming of the
Galesburg colony in 1836, the movement of population was
Meanwhile in the early annals of the county, the Black
Hawk War from 1831 to 1833, growing out of the belief of the
Indians that they had been unfairly dealt with, was the out-
standing event. In this county a company was raised, to assist
in the war, and several forts were erected, one known as Fort
Aggie, on Section 27, in Rio township ; Fort Lewis, on Section
33, Henderson township; an unnamed fort on Section 10, in
Henderson township, and one in Orange township. No harm
came to the settlers, although the period was one of much
stress and many alarms.
In addition to the immigration from the South and East
following the founding of Henderson, Knoxville and Galesburg
and the founding of Knox College, the establishment of gov-
ernment, and the improvement of highways, there came groups
of foreigners. The Swedes appear to have been first on the
field, John Hedstrom arriving in Victoria as early as 1838
But the steady stream did not set in until the completion of the
C., B. & Q. railroad to Galesburg in 1854, from which time for
several years the growth was rapid. This transportation en-
terprise with the branches soon afterward constructed from
Galesburg and making access to markets easy, gave a tremend-
ous impetus to agriculture, to the building up of towns, and to
industrial interests- Settlement, before desultory, now became
rapid. Educational and religious growth kept pace. The
large Swedish emigration was augmented by sturdy colonists
from Scotland, by the warm-hearted and eager companies from
Ireland, and by the quotas from Germany and England. The
following figures speak eloquently of the growth of the county :
1850 13,279 ■
This shows that for two decades between 1870 and 1890
the population was nearly stationary. The building of the
Santa Fe late in the 80's and other causes again produced a
steady growth in population.
The fact that in the county there was previous to the Civil
War a strong anti-slavery sentiment caused a movement of
Negroes this way, and this continued after the Civil War,
resulting in a large Negro population, especially in Galesburg,
where the Negroes have their own churches and where they
have proved an industrious and useful element.
Of late years the character of immigration has changed.
That from Sweden, Ireland, Scotland and England has become
negligible, while that from the southern part of Europe pre-
dominates. In Galesburg, more than in any other part of the
county, these concentrate. Italians, Hungarians, Roumanians,
Greeks and many others not listed in the census. Mexican
laborers have in considerable degree supplanted other races on
the railroads. It is this large need of common labor that is in
great measure responsible for this draft on Southern Europe.
The fact that they are proving a worthy element is dissipating
the prejudice first created.
Following are the dates of platting and founding of the
municipalities of the county :
Rio Platted in 1871
Oneida Sept. 1, 1854
Victoria May 11, 1849
Wataga In Spring of 1854
Henderson June 11, 1835
Knoxville Aug. 7, 1830
Appleton Spring, 1888
Dahinda Summer, 1888
Williamsfield April 24, 1888
Gilson July 10, 1857
St. Augustine 1854
Hermon May 3, 1842
Maquon Oct. 24, 1836; Inc., 1857
Douglas Oct. 17, 1856
Uniontown June 4, 1839
Yates City Oct- 20, 1857
The influence of railroad construction is clearly evident in
Statistics of Population
The following figures of the population of the county and
townships as given in the census returns of 1890, 1900, 1910
and 1920 will be found interesting.
Knox County 46,678
Haw Creek 788
Indian Point 1,624
Walnut Grove 1,103
Abingdon, City 2,721 2,464 2,022 1,321
Altona, Village 506 528 633 654
East Galesburg, Village 566 753 663
Galesburg, City 23,785 22,089 18,607 15,264
Henderson, Village 156 171 170 163
Knoxville, City 1,708 1,818 1,857 1,728
Maquon, Village 441 472 475 501
Oneida, City 563 589 785 699
St. Augustine, Village 195 187 229 255
Victoria, Village 415 334 329 308
Wataga, Village 459 444 545 586
Williamsfield, Village 435 480 447
Yates City, Village 582 586 650 687
These figures show that in 1890, there lived in the muni-
cipalities of the county 22,166 people, and on the farms,
15,586; in 1900, there lived on the farms 16,700 and in the
municipalities, 27,412 in 1910, the municipal population was
30,933 and the farm 12,679, and in 1920, the municipal popula-
tion is 32,347 and the farm population is 14,363.
The Religious Growth
The early settlers of Knox county, no matter what their
origin were religiously inclined, and in an early day the move-
ment for the establishment of churches gained momentum.
According to some, the Methodists were first in the field, and
organized a society in the neighborhood of Abingdon in 1829
and 1830, from which the Methodist church at Abingdon de-
veloped. In 1836 and 1837, the First Presbyterian church was
organized by the Galesburg colonists and this afterward grew
into the Old First Church, with Congregational tendencies.
The county within the next twenty years became a field for
active missionary effort and by 1860 the religious work of
the county was fully organized. Some of the early pioneer
churches no longer exist, but there is no denying that the
county is well supplied with all needful agencies for effective
As many as sixty-five churches have done Christian work
in its confines and nearly all of these are in operation at the
present time. In addition in some communities, there have
been occasional services and Sunday Schools have been main-
tained in many communities where there were no churches.
The Knoxville Presbyterian Church was organized in 1835.
The Lutherans began their fine work in 1851, when the first
Lutheran Church of Galesburg was organized. The first Epis-
copalian church was that in Knoxville, organized in 1843. The
first Catholic parish in the county was formed at St. Augus-
tine in 1844. The Baptists organized a church in Galesburg in
1848. The Universalists formed a congregation in Galesburg
in 1857. Christian Scientists organized in Galesburg in 1886.
The Abingdon Congregational Church dates back to 1835 and
the Victoria to 1841 Among the later comers are the United
Brethren, the Jewish Church in Galesburg, the Salvation Army,
the Seven Day Adventists and the Latter Day Saints.
The Methodists probably lead at present in the number
of congregations in the county, with the Congregationalists
The coming of the railroad gave added impetus to the
organization of religious work in the county, and many
churches date from about that time.
There have been during the nearly ninety years since
Christian work began in Knox county many revivals, some of
them of great magnitude and large results.
It is a matter of historical interest that the first Swedish
Methodist church in the United States was organized in Vic-
The educational facilities of Knox county are equalled by
but a few in the Central West. Colleges, Academies, High
Schools, Community Schools, Township High Schools and the
County Schools, all combine to furnish close at hand the means
of mental growth and acquisition. All this has taken place
since Franklin B. Barber taught school at Henderson Grove
in 1830. The real development began with the appointment of
William McMurtry as commissioner to sell lands in this county
for school pui-poses under the act of 1831. The first school
district land formed was that of 1837 at Log City, the second
was the Hague district, south of Galesburg. Indian Point dis-
trict was the third.
The system of Public Schools was created by the Act of
1855. More direct supervision of the schools began that year
under P. H. Sanford, afterward county judge. At the present
time this office of county superintendent of schools is ably
filled by Walter F. Boyes.
The first High School in the county was that established
in Galesburg in 1 867 and it was in that early day regarded as a
The following shows the present status of the schools of
Knox County School Facts
Number of persons under 21 years of age 16,002
Number of persons of school age, to twenty-one 11,517
Number enrolled in elementally schools 8,087
In High schools 1,542
Total enrollment 9,629
High school enrollment is 16% of total.
Number of school buildings 192
Number of one-room schools in session this year 151
Number of High schools 11
District High schools 3
Township High schools 2
Community High Schools 4
Three year High Schools in Non-High school district 2
Total number of teachers 384
District — Galesburg, Knoxville, Abingdon
Township — Altona, Gilson.
Community — Oneida, Wataga, Williamsfield, Yates City.
In Non-High School District — Maquon, Victoria.
Community Consolidated districts are being organized
around Victoria, Rio and Rapatee.
Supplementing this fine and developing system are the
following colleges and academic institutions, with the dates of
their charters or origin :
Knox College — Galesburg, 1837
Lombard College — Galesburg, February 15, 1851.
Hedding College — Abingdon, 1851.
St. Mary's School— Knoxville, 1868.
St. Alban's School— Knoxville, 1890.
St. Martha's School— Knovxille, 1914
Brown's Business College — Galesburg, 1864.
St. Joseph's Academy — Galesburg, 1879.
Corpus Christi College — Galesburg, 1893.
St. Mary's School— Galesburg, 1907.
In addition the Galesburg Lutherans have maintained
from an early day a parochial school.
The group of Episcopal institutions at Knoxville, St Mary's,
St. Alban's and St. Martha's were founded by Rev. C. W Lef-
fingwell, D. D.
The three Catholic institutions of Galesburg were pro-
moted by the Rev. Father Joseph Costa.
, . IG
Railroads of Knox County
The first railroad in Knox county was that extending from
Chicago to Galesburg and completed in 1854 and developing
later into the C, B. & Q. For years subsequently railroad
development was confined in this county largely to the con-
struction through it of the branches of the Burlington, for
all of which Galesburg became a division point. In 1882, there
reached here from Havana, the Fulton County Narrow Gauge,
afterward acquired by the Burlington. In 1887-8, the Atchi-
son, Topeka & Santa Fe completed and began operating its line
from Kansas City to Chicago. The county is thus traversed by
two great trunk railroad lines. In addition the Iowa Central
built in 1879-80, extends through the southwestern part of the
county and the C. R. I. & P. through the northeastern part
Knox County in War
Knox county has had a glorious part in the wars in which
this country has engaged It is believed that in its cemeteries
repose the bodies of soldiers of every war from the Revolution-
ary down. For years this city was the headquarters of the
meetings of the Illinois Mexican war veterans.
In the Civil War, according to a careful compilation made
by the late Albert J. Perry, Knox County furnished4,200 men,
distributed among 190 companies and 82 regiments. Of this
number 123 were killed, and 168 wounded, 344 died and 96
were incarcerated in rebel prisons. In bounties and aid to the
farnilies of soldiers, the county contributed $400,000.
To the war with Spain, the county sent two companies of
the Illinois National Guard, Company C. of Galesburg, com-
manded by Captain T. L. McGirr and CompanyD, of Abing-
don, in charge of Captain Frank W. Latimer. These compan-
ies sei'ved in the Porto Rico campaign Subsequently Captain
McGirr and a number of men from this county took part
in the Phillipine Campaign.
The War With Germany
The' war with Germany is a recent memory^ and Knox
county's part will in every detail be found treated in a volume
edited by S. A. Wagoner, and having the assistance of a com-
mittee of citizens. Briefly, as nearly as can be ascertained the
county furnished 2,200 of its young men for this war, about
one-half of whom volunteered, and the rest saw sei'\nce under
the selective conscription act. Many of these engaged in active
warfare. Galesburg's Company C was one of the first of the
Illinois National Guard organizations to respond. Some of the
soldier boys paid the supreme sacrifice. A good many sus-
tained wounds, and many were in the thick of the fighting.
The county feels great pride in their patriotic achievements.
The county by its response to the call of the government
for funds also gave its soldiers the most substantial back-
ing. This is indicated by the following tables showing the
total contributions to each of the four Liberty Loans and the
Victory Loan :
First $ 923,180 $ 659,600 Not Known
Second 1,288,030 1,698,250 7,000
Third 1,256,640 2,229,600 10,557
Fourth 2,506,900 2,659,900 14,326
Victory 1,958,450 2,367,050 6,980
Totals ___$7,933,200 $9,614,400
One must add to the foregoing the large sums contributed
to the Y. M. C. A., the Red Cross, the Salvation Army and the
other lines of work to get the full measure of the county's will-
It's Political History
Knox county has had an honorable history in the politics
of the districts with which it has been affiliated and in the
State ana Nation many of its residents have held positions of
prominence. It's citizens have served abroad in diplomatic
capacities, in Congress, in influential State positions and in the
State Legislature. The service rendered has been of a high
type and has reflected honor on the county.
At the present time Knox county is in the Forty-third Sen-
atorial district, comprised of Fulton and Knox counties, and in
the Fifteenth Congressional district, composed of Adams,
Schuyler, Fulton, Knox and Henry counties-
It is in the Fifth Supreme Court district, the Second Ap-
pellate Court district and the Ninth Judicial circuit.
Following is a list of Knox county men who have served in
John H. Lewis, Knoxville, 1881-1883.
P S. Post, 1887-1889; 1889-1891; 1891-1893; 1893-1895;
re-elected but died January 6, 1895, when entering on fifth
George W. Prince, 1895-1897 ; 1897-1899 ; 1899-1901 ; 1901-
1903; 1903-1905; 1905-1907; 1907-1909; 1909-1911; 1911-1913.
Stephen A. Hoxworth, 1913-1915.
Edward J. King, 1915-1917; 1917-1919; 1919-1921.
In Constitutional Convention
Joshua Hai-per represented Knox county in the Constitu-
tional Convention of 1847.
W. S. Gale was a member of the Constitutional Conven-
tion of 1862.
Alfred M. Craig was a member of the Constitutional Con-
vention of 1870-
George Candee Gale is a member of the present Constitu-
In the Legislature
At various times Knox county has been hitched up in
Legislative districts with Fulton, Mercer, Warren and Hender-
son counties, but since the last re-appointment it has been
united with Fulton, and the district has been well satisfied.
The changes in the number of the districts are due to the reap-
portionments from time to time.
The following shows the Knox county men who have
served in the Legislature :
Tenth General Assembly, 1836-1838— Peter Butler, repre-
sented Warren, Knox and Henry counties ; William McMurtry
from Knox in House.
Twelfth General Assembly, 1840-1842— Member of House,
Thirteenth General Assembly, 1842-1844 — Senator, Wil-
liam McMurtry ; Member of House, Julius Manning.
Fourteenth General Assembly, 1844-1846 — Senator, Wil-
liam McMurtry; Members of House, H Hardie, Julius Man-
Fifteenth General Assembly, 1846-1848— Senator, John
Denny; Members of House, Ephriam Gilmore, Charles Hans-
Sixteenth General Assembly, 1848-1850 — President of Sen-
ate, William McMurtry; 19th district Senator, John Denny;
41st district. Member of House, Henry J. Runkel.
Seventeenth General Assembly, 1850-1852 — President of
Senate, Wm. McMurtry; 19th District Senator, John Denny;
41st District, Member of House, Henry Arms.
Eighteenth General Assembly, 1852-1854— 41st District,
Member of House, Thomas McKee.
Nineteenth General Assembly, 1854-1856 — 58th District,
Member of House, Samuel W. Brown, Knox.
Twentieth General Assembly, 1856-1858— 58th District,
member of House, David H. Frisbie.
Twenty-first General Assembly, 1858-1860— 58th District,
Member of House, Rufus W. Miles.
Twenty-second General Assembly, 1860-1862— 58th Dis-
trict, Member of House, A- A. Smith.
Twenty-third General Assembly, 1862-1864— 15th Dis-
trict, Member of Senate, Albert C. Mason ; 34th District, Mem-
ber of House, Joseph M. Holyoke.
Twenty-fourth General Assembly, 1864-1866— 15th Dis-
trict, Member of Senate, Albert C. Mason ; 34th District, Mem-
ber of House, Joseph M Holyoke.
Twenty-fifth General Assembly, 1866-1868— 34th District,
Member of House, John Gray.
Twenty-sixth General Assembly, 1868-1870— 34th Dis-
trict, Member of House, W. Selden Gale.
Twenty-seventh General Assembly, 1870-1872— 15th Dis-
trict, Member of Senate, Henry J. Vaughn ; 68th District,
Members of House, 0. F. Price, Joseph F. Latimer, Patrick H.
Twenty-eighth General Assembly, 1872-1874— 22nd Dis-
trict, Senator, Patrick H. Sanford ; Member of House, Jacob S.
Twenty-ninth General Assembly, 1874-1876 — Senator,
Patrick H. Sanford ; Members of House, John H. Lewis, Curtis
Thirtieth General Assembly, 1876-1878— Members of
House, Alfred S. Curtis, Joseph F. Latimer, Abraham M.
Thirty-first General Assembly, 1878-1880— 23rd District,
Members of House, Rufus W. Miles, Joseph F. Latimer, John
Thirty-second General Assembly, 1880-1882— 22nd Dis-
trict, Senator, August W. Berggren ; Member of House, Hanni-
bal P. Wood
Thirty-third General Assembly, 1882-1884— 22nd District,
Senator, August W. Berggren; Members of House, A. S. Cur-
tis, F. A. Willoughby.
Thirty-fourth General Assembly, 1884-1886— 22nd Dis-
trict, Senator, August W Berggren ; Member of House, Orrin
Thirty-fifth General Assembly, 1886-1888— 22nd District,
Senator, August W. Berggren; Member of House, Orrin P.
Thirtysixth General Assembly, 1888-1890— 22nd District,
Members of House, Orrin P. Cooley, George W. Prince, James
Thirty-seventh General Assembly, 1890-1892 — 22nd Dis-
trict, Members of House, James W. Hunter, George W. Prince.
Thirty-eighth General Assembly, 1892-1894— 22nd Dis-
trict, Members of House, Jay L. Hastings, Frank Murdock.
Thirty-ninth General Assembly, 1894-1896— 35th District,
Member of House,Frank Murdock.
Fortieth General Assembly, 1896-1898— 35th District,
Member of House, Frank Murdock.
Forty-first General Assembly, 1898-1900— 35th District,
Senator, Leon A. Townsend; Member of House, Charles C.
Forty-second General Assembly, 1900-1902— 35th District,
Senator, Leon A. Townsend; Member of House, Charles C
Forty-third General Assembly, 1902-1904— 43rd District,
Senator, Leon A. Townsend; Member of House, Wilfred Arn-
Forty-fourth General Assembly, 1904-1906— 43rd District,
Senator, Leon A. Townsend; Members of House, Wilfred Arn-
old, Michael J. Daugherty.
Forty-fifth General Assembly, 1906-1908— 43rd District,
Senator, Charles F. Hurburgh ; Members of House, Edward J.
King, Michael J. Daugherty.
Forty-sixth General Assembly, 1908-1910— 43rd District
Senator, Charles F. Hurburgh ; Member of House, Edward J.
Forty-seventh General Assembly, 1910-1912 — 43rd District,
Senator, Charles F. Hurburgh ; Member of House, Edward J.
Forty-eighth General Assembly, 1912-1914 — 43rd Dis-
trict, Senator, Charles F. Hurburgh ; Members of House, Ed-
ward J King, W. B. Elliott.
Forty-ninth General Assembly, 1914-1916 — 43rd District,
Members of House, Owen B. West, James E. Davis.
Fiftieth General Assembly, 1916-1918— 43rd District,
Members of House, Owen B. West, James E. Davis.
Fifty-first General Assembly, 1918-1920— 43rd District,
Members of House, A. O. Lindstrum, O. B. West.
On State Commissions
The following are serving at the present time by appoint
ment (^ G^ftertA Lowden as members of State commissions :
On Tax Commission — Charles C- Craig.
On Industrial Commission — Omer N. Custer.
Col. Clark E. Carr, deceased, served as ambassador to
Denmark during the term of President Harrison.
On Supreme Bench
Knox county has given three judges to the Supreme Court
of IlHnois as follows :
Charles B. Lawrence, June, 1864 to June, 1873-
Alfred M. Craig, June, 1873 to June, 1900.
Charles C. Craig, October, 1913 to June, 1918.
On Circuit Bench
The record in Circuit Court Judges follows, going back to
Eighth Circuit, Created in 1873 — Arthur A. Smith elected
Tenth Circuit, Created in 1877 — Arthur A. Smith, re-
elected June 16, 1879; re-elected June 1, 1885; re-elected June
1, 1891 ; resigned Nov. 15, 1894.
Ninth Circuit, Created in 1897 — George W. Thompson,
elected June 18, 1897; re-elected in 1903, 1909, 1915; still on
Judge Thompson also served for years as a member of the
Appellate benches of the Second and Third Districts.
Mention of Others
Among the early Lieutenant-Governors of Illinois wan
William McMurtry, and he in this capacity served the Senate
as its president during the Thirteenth and Fourteenth General
In addition to serving his district as State Senator, A. W.
Berggren was for a number of years warden of the State peni-
tentiary at Joliet.
Leon A. Townsend, for two terms State Senator, was ap-
pointed United States Marshal.
Moses O Williamson, now president of the Peoples' Trust
and Savings Bank, Galesburg, was elected State Treasurer and
served one term.
Many other Knox county men have served on various
Banking in Knox County
The first regular bank in Knox county was a private one
founded by Cornelius Runkle in Knoxville, with himself as
president and John Babbington as cashier. In 1863, the bank
was nationalized. Since that day there has been a great de-
velopment, until at the present time there are twenty-three
banks in the county, including all three types. National, State
and private, representing a capitalization of several millions
and a large total of deposits. These institutions all appear
to be substantial and well established. In addition there are
in Galesburg four Homestead and Loan Associations, repre-
senting a large investment.
The agricultural development of the county was accel-
erated by the inventive genius of its citizens. H. H. May
turned out the first steel mould board plow, George W Brown
invented the corn planter. The first threshing machine put
in an appearnce in 1842 and the first reaper in 1847. In close
succession came other implements down to the present time
that made production and farming on a large scale possible.
The following statistics relate to the farms of the county :
Number of farms in county in 1900 3,086
Number of farms in county in 1910 2,863
Farm area 455,040 acres
Under cultivation 424,381 acres
Land in farms in 1910 432,349 acres
Value in 1910 $60,776,744
Value in 1900 $31,164,616
Operated by owners in 1910 1,518
Operated by owners in 1900 1,756
Tenants, 1910 1,294
Tenants, 1900 1,223
Since 1910 the value of land in the county has materially
increased. Agriculture is by all odds the largest single interest
in Knox county.
During the last few years there has been a marked change
in farm methods, equipment and facilities The tractor is now
finding its place among the implements. The telephone is
found in most farm homes and in many there are now electric
appliances. Modern treatment of soils to increase and pre-
serve fertility is being employed. In years past, farmers had
their granges and other organizations and their institutes.
The most important agency for promoting crop increases and
farm interests is the County Farm Bureau, having the support
of the National and State governments as well as of the mem-
bership. The Knox County Farm Bureau, which was organ-
ized February 28, 1918, now has a membership of 1936, and is
one of the strongest in the State.. The fee of ten dollars a year
for each member provides ample funds for a large work. A
central office is maintained in Galesburg. The officers of this
Bureau follow :
President — Henry C. Gehring, Altona-
Vice President— W. B. Elliott, Williamsfield.
Secretary — Ray M. Arnold, Galesburg.
Treasurer — George A. Charles, Knoxville-
Advisory Council — Oliver Nelson, Altona; C. B. Griff itli,
Galesburg; Elias Hughs, Maquon; E. U. Shumacher, Hermon;
Frank Gamel, Rio; M. F. Shea, Henderson; Geo. Bond, Abing-
don; C. M. C Brown, Oneida; Winn Wilmot, Wataga; Marion
Shives, Yates City; H. S. Breece, Knoxville; Ed. Moon, Wil-
liamsfield; Willim Beals, Altona; Ben Bjorling, Victoria; Ed
Taylor, Rapatee ; John Stevens, Gilson.
Executive Committee — H. C. Gehring, Altona; W B. El-
liott, Williamfsield, Ray M. Arnold, Galesburg; Geo. A.
Charles, Knoxville; C, E. Hartsook, Maquon; J. Harry Shu-
maker, Abingdon; Willard Miller, Rio; William Beals, Altona;
Chas M. Hunter, Abingdon.
Farm Advisor — E. M. D. Bracker.
Associate Farm Adviser — Floyd R. Marchant.
Associate Farm Adviser — Ralph E Arnett.
This bureau is linked up with the State and National
bureaus and is a thoroughly efficient organization, whose
work through bulletins, community meetings and institutes,
reaches every part of the county.
The County Officers
The list of county officers serving at present follows :
County Judge Walter C. Frank Dec. 1922
County Clerk Frank L. Adams Dec. 1922
Clerk of Circuit Court Chas- H. Westerberg__Dec. 1920
State's Attorney Addison J. Boutelle Dec. 1920
Sheriff James T. Wheeler Dec. 1922
County Treasurer Herbert N. Bloomquist Dec. 1922
County Supt. of Schools Walter F. Boyes Aug 1923
Coroner Geo. S. Bower Dec. 1920
County Surveyor Arthur L. Richey Dec. 1920
County Supt. of Highways- -Arthur L. Richey-_Mar. 17, 1926
Since the foregoing was written, those whose terms ex-
pired in 1920, were re-elected for a four years term.
The Present Board
Of the present Board of Supervisors, 1920, C. H. Upp is
chairman. The personnel follows :
Indian Point Willard Tinkham
Cedar A C. Harvey
Galesburg Lew E. Wallace
Galesburg City Fred T. DuVon
Galesburg City Geo. H. Burgland
Galesburg City J. G W. Dopp
Galesburg City E. R. Everett
Galesburg City A. V. Rowe
Galesburg City N. L, Ewing
Galesburg City C. E. Bowles
Galesburg City Fred I. Taylor
Galesburg City James Gaines
Henderson Andrew Hawkinson
Rio Milton Deatherage
Chestnut E. U. Shumaker
Orange 0. L McElwain
Knox Clarence R. Lacy
Knox Arthur H. Pearson
Sparta J. E WilHamson
Ontario J. J. Clearwater
Maquon H. L Epley
Haw Creek C. H. Upp
Persifer Arthur J. Berry
Copley Robert Gibbs
Walnut Grove John A. Johnson
Salem W. E. West
Elba 0. W Farwell
Truro Chester H. Pulver
Victoria Frank Peterson
Lynn A. L. Appeil
Following is a list of the present township officers, 1920,
furnished by the county clerk :
Elected April 6th, 1920. Term Expires April, 1922
Indian Point W. H. Clark
Cedar R. Y. Campbell
Galesburg John Vedell
Henderson Reuben R. Fields
Rio W. A. Brown
Chestnut Seaton Moon
Orange Earl Bowman
Knox Harrv Woolsev
Sparta O. L. Erickson
* Ontario C. V. Conyers
Maquon P C. Lafferty
Haw Creek Earl Snell
Persif er Dan McQueen
Copley R. W. Brown
Walnut Grove S. Harry Johnson
Salem Edson Bowman
Elba R. O. Baird
Truro Frank E. Welsh
Victoria W H. Ray
Lynn Leslie Haxton
City of Galesburg W. L. Boutelle
Elected April 6, 1920, for Term Jan. 1, 1921 to Dec. 31, 1922
Town • Assessor
Indian Point G. L. Hagan
Cedar W. H. Robinson
Galesburg J. H. Marsden
City of Galesburg Sander Anderson
Henderson C. J. Shepard
Rio M A. Almgreen
Chestnut Frank Sampson
Orange Robert Sumner
Knox W. H. Cronoble
Sparta William Masters
Ontario C. A. Peterson
Maquon Frank Booth
Haw Creek C. L. Dossett
Persifer E W. Farquer
Copley Thomas Hobbs
Walnut Grove N. H. Nelson
Salem B. B. Lawrence
Elba B. L. Baird
Truro S. M. Parker
Victoria W. S. Moak
Lynn Steve Milliken
COMMISSIONERS OF HIGHWAYS:
Elected April 6, 1920— Terms Expire April, 1922
Indian Point Isaac T. Perry
Cedar Jno. McCracken
Galesburg George Swedlund
Henderson A E. Walters
Rio Arthur Robertson
Chestnut Mason Headley
Orange Earnest Thurman
Knox W. H. Steck
Sparta O. S. Olson
Ontario Gust Peterson
Maquon N. H. McGirr
Haw Creek W J. Kinser
Persifer R. C. Folger
Copley F. E. Johnson
Walnut Grove Gust Bjorling
Salem R. C. Jones
Elba T. E. Straub
Truro W. H. Machin
Victoria , J. A. Sandquist
Lynn George Jones
JUSTICES OF THE PEACE :
Term Expires First Monday in May, 1921
W H. Clark, S. Gray
Cedar G. A. Hickman, B. 0. Baird
City of Galesburg Robert J. Walberg
S. M Meadows, A. B. Pierson, John C. Kost
Henderson W. B. Nelson
Rio B. E. Frankenburger, F. M. Epperson
Chestnut A. F. Bjorklund
Orange W. H. Wiley, H. H Holsinger
Knox A. E. Lucas, William Norris
Sparta S. R. Parkinson
Ontario E. C. Hannam
Maquon J. H Farquer, M. H. Taylor
Haw Creek H. E. Snell, John Housh
Persifer E. J. Steffen, W. H. Montgomery
Copley P. A McDowell
Walnut Grove Oscar McGrew
Salem W. H. Nash
Truro John Mackie, H. R. Kinson
Victoria George W. Coleman
Lynn L. E. Gibbs, A. L. Appell
Terms Expire First Monday in May, 1921
Indian Point S. D. Lomax
Cedar C. M. Hughbanks, A. W. Bolon
Galesburg E. A. Woods
City of Galesburg W. G. Kinney, George
Rodecker, Joshua Davis, John W- Starnes
Henderson Victor Peterson, Wm. Erickson
Rio Claus Malmberg, Robert Willett
Orange W. H. Woolsey
Knox Geo. W. Witherell, Andrew Spencer
Sparta Wm. Sandeen, G. L. Newberg
Village of Wataga C G. Bangston
Ontario Mack Foster, S. J. Cox
Maquon T. U. Walters, L. B Hughbanks
Haw Creek John Housh
Persifer Edward Smith
Copley John Harpman
Walnut Grove O. W. Peterson
Salem P A. Taylor, Elmer Corbet
Truro B. F. Speer, E. J. Gray
Victoria D. W. Suydam
Lynn F. W. Quick, Steve Milliken
City or Village Name
Abingdon F. W. McClure
City of Galesburg
Henderson H. C. Davison
Oneida Martin Gehring
Maquon Adam Kinser
Knoxville Wm. H Dredge
Williamsfield J. M. Griffin
Yates City T. J. Kightlinger
By Fannie Wright Bliss
In 1827 four sturdy young men from Sangamon county
made a tour through this part of Illinois in search of honey,
as large trees often containing a barrel of it frequently were
found by bee hunters. They pushed ahead until two well filled
trees were found in the timber afterwards known as Hender-
son Grove of Knox County. They camped for one week on
what is now the line between Knox and Warren counties, but
met no other person These were the first white men to cross
the prairies of our county of whom we have knowledge. Two
of them, Mr. Gaddial Scott and Mr. Andrew Olson, subse-
quently returned here to live.
In the following year, 1828, a number of families came to
this county to found homes, all settling in what became Hen-
derson township. Daniel Robertson was the first permanent
settler of the county. In this group were many family names
familiar to us because of their descendants, therefore they are
mentioned: Robertson, Mathews, Gumm, Pennington, Osborn,
Nance, Coy, Fraker, Greenwell, Sheldon, Voiles, Vaughn, Rey-
During the next year, 1829, came the McMurtry brothers,
and Reed, Lewis, Davis and Maxwell. In that same year a
widow, Mrs. Elizabeth Owen and children settled in what be-
came Haw Creek township, the first settlers to locate outside
of Henderson. In 1830 the population increased rapidly.
Fraker, Owen and Fitch settled in Lynn township in the edge
of a beautiful grove, still known as Fraker's Grove, the first
white settlers in the northeast part of the county. Mr Fraker
found an Indian village on the land he had bought from the
government. The Indians disputed his right to the land as
they said theirs came direct from the Great Spirit. They fin-
ally removed to Indian Creek, seven miles east and built an-
other village, but made friendly visits to the Frakers and
acquired the habit of coming to the grove in the spring to make
sugar and raise "squaw corn."
There was only one traveled road in the county, the Galena
trail or State road from Galena to Peoria, through Victoria
and Walnut Grove townships.
The law required three hundred and fifty legal voters to
live in a county before it could be organized as such, yet there
was scarcely that number of individuals within the boundaries
of Knox county. When Illinois became a state in 1818, the
land now comprising Knox county was a part of Madison
county. In 1821 it was placed in the boundaries of Pike county,
the oldest county in the Mihtary Tract. In 1826 its present
boundaries were determined and it was attached to Fulton
county for judicial and recording purposes In July, 1830,
Knox county was fonnally organized as at present except that
two townships were included which, when Stark County was
organized in 1837, were severed from Knox and became a part
of that county. The town of La Fayette is located in that sec-
The first business meeting of the county and the elec-
tion of county commisioners were held at the resdence of John
B. Gumm, Henderson township, about four miles northwest of
Galesburg's present site near the south edge of Henderson
Grove. This house was a one-story double log cabin, each divi-
sion containing but one room. This building served as dwell-
ing, hotel, post office, also temporary seat of justice until
the log court house was later built at Knoxville. I am told that
this same historic building or at least one part of it, is still used
on a farm in this county in sufficiently good condition to serve
as a corn crib in spite of its being nearly one hundred years
old. How appropriate it would be if the county could purchase
and restore it to its former condition and place it in Lincoln
Park near its first location, to be furnished with mementoes of
those early days, so that the descendants of the pioneers might
have some idea of the way their ancestors lived !
During this same July, 1830, the county of Knox was
divided into two districts for election of justices of peace and
constables in each. The first, or Henderson district, included
fourteen townships north of a line separating Galesburg town-
ship (as known at present) from Cedar township. The second
or Spoon River township, included all south of the same line
and contained eight townships.
The citizens of the county soon aspired to the erection of
a court house and the building of a town. They therefore, in
1831, procured from the State Legislature an act defining the
loction of the county seat and authozing commissioners to
lay off the town which was on the S. W. Quarter of Section 28,
Knox Township. This county seat was christened "Henderson"
by the Legislature but re-named Knoxville by that same body
two years later in honor of General Knox. The county bought
the land on which the business and much of the residence por-
tion of Knoxville now stand for $200, at one dollar and a quar-
ter an acre, being government or congress land, as it was called.
In the spring of 1831 lots were staked out and publicly auc-
tioned off, seventy-nine lots being sold, varying in price from
two dollars to sixty, aggregating $1,256.
That portion of Illinois known as the Military Tract in-
cludes all land between the Illinois and Mississippi rivers south
of the north line of Bureau and Henry counties. It was given
to the soldiers of the war of 1812 in quarter sections. When it
was laid off into counties most of them were named after mili-
tary heroes of the nation. ' Our county was named for the
statesman-general, Henry Knox, Secretary of War under
Washington and a warm personal friend of his
If a line be drawn from Galesburg through Vincennes,
Indiana, and extended to Kentucky, it will penetrate the heart
of the "Blue Grass Country." Along that line as a main chan-
nel poured the tide of emigration from Kentucky, Tennessee
Up to 1832, the year of the Black Hawk War, Knox county
settlers came mainly from these states or from temporary
homes in southern Indiana and Illinois. Emigration from the
Eastern states started in full force in 1836, the year of the
arrival of the Galesburg Colony at Log City. From that time
southern emigration began to decline and New England, New
York, Pennsylvania and Ohio supplied the majority of the emi-
grants. The first considerable European accession was a
Scotch settlement in the northeast part of the county, mostly
in Copley township. Later influenced by Rev. Jones Hedstrom,
a Methodist clergyman, who came from Sweden and then lived
in Victoria, a large number left the Bishop Hill colony of Swed-
ish settlers in Henry county and settled on farms near Vic-
toria. Steady immigration from Sweden followed, the descend-
ants of whom form a large and valued part of our population.
The Irish first appeared in numbers much later, in 1854,
with the advent of the railroad, and now occupy large holdings
in the county.
After the founding of Galesburg with its strong anti-
slavery sentiment, the town became known as a prominent
station of the "Underground Railroad," and so many colored
people received help and kindness on their way farther north to
freedom that when it was no longer necessary for them to
cross the border into Canada to insure safety, it was not
strange they came in increasing numbers, largely from Mis-
souri, to make their homes in a neighborhood in which public
sentiment had always been favorable to them. However, they
have not been widely scattered through the county, evidently
preferring to live near their churches in Galesburg.
But before many more years pass, Knox county can cele-
brate the centennial anniversary of her settlement How great
have been the changes in conditions during the three genera-
tions embraced in one hundred years! It may be interesting
to consider some of the prominent characteristics of pioneer
life as the old settlers of this county knew it.
They universally settled in the timber or along its edge,
the trees furnishing not only material for their cabins, but
that protection from the driving storms which was greatly
needed, as many of the homes were hastily built and not fin-
ished thoroughly at first. The timber also sheltered stock
until sheds and outbuildings could be put up. Here, too, was
nature's lumber yard, where the settler could find material for
home-made furniture to add to the small stock he had brought
with him. The fuel supply also was close at hand. And two
kinds of sweetening were secured from the timber, the sap
which when boiled down furnished maple syrup and sugar, and
the wild honey found in the bee trees containing many gallons,
sometimes a barrel or more. The same natural storehouse
supplied casks for it, made from hollow basswood logs, some
times three feet long, one end of which was plugged up, and the
casks were used for years. A similar method was used in mak-
ing the hand corn-mills used by many of the original settlers ;
these were made by boring a hole in the top of a large stump,
then burning it out in the shape of a mortar Attaching a
pounder to a long, bent spring-pole, they pounded their grain
and corn, making unbolted meal or flour. This when mixed to
a dough was placed on a smooth board or piece of iron, placed
slanting towards the fire-place. When lard was abundant the
well-shortened bread was called "Johnny Cake." Sometimes
the dough was baked in lumps called "Corn Dodgers." If
the dough was raised with yeast and baked in a "Dutch oven,"
it was called "Pone." Hominy, roasted com and mush and milk
were eaten commonly also.
The timber gave shelter to many wild animals which made
good eating for the settlers. Wild fruits and nuts added to
the family bill of fare and nuts and acorns formed no small
part of the food for the hogs they raised.
There being no mills to grind the grain of the first crops
those who could grind by hand power did so, while others
grated corn in the ear before it became quite hard on tin
graters made from old buckets or pans closely perforated and
nailed on a board. Mr. Fraker, whose settling in Lynn town-
ship has been mentioned, made a hand mill for grinding grain
W'hich stood in the living room and had burrs about two feet
in diameter, made from stones, which were called "hard-
The women as well as the men had their share of arduous
labor to perform Spinning was a common household duty.
The "little wheel" was used for spinning flax, the "big wheel"
for spinning yarn, while quite a number of homes had looms
set up on which they did weaving for themselves and for
But not all the labor and privations of the early settlers
were a series of unmitigated toils and sufferings. They had
their times of fun and enjoyment and managed to break the
monotony of their daily life with "quilting bees," "apple par-
ings," when the fruit was pared, cored and quartered, strung
like bead chains and f estoonel on the walls to dry ; "corn-husk-
ings," when both sexes gathered, chose sides, husked fast and
furiously to see which side finished the allotted work first,
variety being furnished by the occasional finding of the cov-
eted red ear with its osculatory reward.
Regarding the pioneers' schools it may be readily under-
stood the accommodations were not good at first, as the homes
were not, but they felt the education of their children could not
wait for better buildings. A "mud-and-stick" chimney in one
end of the building, with earthen-hearth fireplace, wide and
deep enough to take in a four-foot backlog and smaller wood to
match, served for warming the school house in winter. For
windows, part of a log was cut out on either side and the hole
was filled with a few small panes of glass or maybe greased
paper. Writing benches were made of wide planks or else
puncheons, resting on pins driven into two-inch auger holes,
bored into the logs beneath the windows- Seats and flooring
were also made from puncheons. Everything was plr.m and
rude, but many of America's greatest men have gone out f^'oiii
just such school houses, who have become an honor to their
In the summer of 1833, in Section 14 of Henderson Town-
shtp, the first school in that vicinity was taught and second in
the county. It has some peculiar characteristics ; there were
no regular hours for recitations, but the teacher began school
with the arrival of the first pupil, closing about sun-down.
The boys "made their manners" and the girls made a "curtsy"
on entering and leaving. This was known as a "loud" school,
because all studied aloud. When studying arithmetic they
were permitted to go into the woods, where it was more quiet,
to get their lessons.
No mention of the public schools of Knox county should
omit the name of Mary Allen West as being inseparably con-
nected with them. Born in the county in 1837, truly a child of
the Galesburg colony, educated entirely in the Galesburg dis-
trict schools and in Knox Seminary, she was in a position to
realize the deficiencies in the earlier system of public instruc-
tion and later devoted her influence as an instructor prominent
among state and national educators to upbuilding and im-
proving the system of county schools. In this work her efforts
were second only to those of Professor Geo. Churchill and Dr.
Those who are seeking homes will always select those
communities in which the school house and the church find a
special recognition, rather than those in which they are not
found. It has been said that the early establishment of relig-
ious institutions in new settlements is a prominent feature in
the history of this county With the very first settler came
good old Elder Gumm, who preached almost every Sunday in
some of the cabins at Henderson. The oldest religious organ-
ization in the county was known as the "Henderson Church,"
^ . 33
organized at Henderson Grove in 1830, under the Old School
Predestinarian Baptists, the church building being in Rio
Knoxville was made an appointment on the Henderson Mis-
sion of the Methodist Episcopal church in 1831. Abingdon M.
E. Church was organized in 1833, with seven members. Ab-
ingdon Cumbreland Presbyterian Church was organized at
Cherry Grove in 1835 In Salem township a M. E. Church was
organized in 1836. The history of the old "First Church of
Christ," founded by the Galesburg colony is unique, having
passed through no period of infantile growth but being strong
from the time of its organization. More than thirty families
were located in cabins on the south side of Henderson Grove in
the fall of 1836 in what they called Log City, waiting for the
following spring when they were to begin the erection of
buildings on the prairie site bought and platted by them as
Galesburg. Before the arrival of their regular minister one
or another of the men of the company read a sermon in one
of the most commodious homes each Sabbath to a crowded
house, as the congregation included colonists not only, but
also the earlier Southern settlers along the edge of the
grove. The following spring the Galesburg colony began to
build and occupy their prairie city homes and in 1837 their
church was declared organized as a Presbyterian body, al-
though it became known as a "Mother of Churches" from the
number of other denominations that have become outgrowths
and off-shoots from the parent body.
This brings this introductory sketch to a close, as the
object of the writer has been to give a brief outline of those
pioneer settlements which preceded the advent of the large
Eastern colony, as after that time the "course of empire" took
its way westward with rapid strides. Also as others have writ-
ten more particularly of other townships of Knox county, the
object of this article is to make especial mention of the early
settlements of Henderson and Knox townships.
No more fitting expression of the spirit that actuated the
early settlers of this county could be given than is found in the
following beautiful sentiment. :
"With widening vision in the plain they stood,
And gazed with eager eyes the country o'er ;
Beheld her prairies and pronounced them good,
And rested, satisfied to seek no more.
For them the sowing and the toil, the tear,
Where others reap with laughter and delight,
So cooling springs refresh the desert drear
From sources hid in some far mountain height "
(From "The Pioneers" by George Candee Gale.)
By Mrs. A. I. Sargent
A township is not large, yet, he who tells its story realizes
how many people live within its borders and how much has
been lived during the decades that are past. It is impossible
to tell it all. I will sketch briefly the first ten years of the
township's settlement as the pioneer days, will tell something
of the schools and churches that have been influential in its
development and of the men and women who started them, will
gladly pay tribute to those who went from its borders at their
country's call, and will mark a few of the noteworthy enter-
prises in which its citizens have had a share. Most of the
story will center around Abingdon and its vicinity, for here
the first settlement was made and here is the larger portion
of its population.
Cherry Grove, our fathers thought to call this township,
because of the abundance of wild cherry trees, but, finding
that name already pre-empted, they changed to Cedar, a name
suggested by a certain cedar tree, which, as a seedling, Joseph
Latimer had dug up on his journey into this new, wild country
and had planted with the planting of his home
Some government claims had been taken in the township
and land transfers made before the time of permanent settle-
mnt, so that some of the early settlers bought or traded for
their land and some filed claims. Government land was $1.25
per acre. In those early days, most of the Western and East-
ern borders of the township were irregularly but heavily tim-
bered. Much has been cut away but beautiful timber may still
be found in these sections. Between its wooded borders,
stretching from north to south, were miles of fertile prairie.
Henderson Township is always spoken of as having the
earliest settlers in the county. It is not probably fully realized
that Cedar was settled the same year and only a few months
Among the families I shall mention as pioneers in Cedar
Township, it is interesting to note that more than half are
from the middle southern states, Maryland, Tennessee, Ken-
tucky, Virginia and the Carolinas. These settlers were very
largely of the sturdy Scotch-Irish stock, to which the Histor-
ian, Fiske, pays such warm tribute of praise, in showing their
enterprise as pioneers and their prominence in legislative life.
The first recorded settlers in Cedar Township were Rev-
Hiram Palmer, a Methodist preacher, and a little later, Azel
Dorsey, who settled in 1828, as near neighbors on Sections 7
and 18. In less than a year, Dorsey sold out his claim to a Mr.
Finch, who also soon sold out and both men left for other
places. Hiram Palmer moved four years after his coming
onto Section 32, where the Abingdon cemetery now stands.
The first settlers whose life was built up surely and lastingly
into the life of the community was Abraham D. Swartz, who
arrived with his wife in 1829, settling at first on Section 17,
but moving soon, perhaps with Hiram Palmer, onto Section 32.
It was Mr. Swartz who laid out Abingdon, but that was seven
The winter of 1830 is always characterized as the "winter
of the deep snow " There are no records to tell how these
first lonely settlers weathered the storms of that notable
winter but there is no doubt about the glad welcome they ex-
tended to Joseph Latimer when he arrived with his family
early in 1831. Joseph Latimer, who settled on Section 29,
came to Illinois from Robertson county, Tennessee, having
gone thither many years before by ox wagon from the family
home near New London, Connecticut. As a young boy he had
watched the burning of New London by the British and cried
because he was not old enough to bear arms. His father,
Jonathan Latimer, se/ved in the French and Indian War and
was a Colonel in the Revolutionary War. Six sons, older
brothers of Joseph, also served in the Revolutionary War, all
df them at some time under their father's command. Two, one
a Major and one a Captain, died in the defense of Bunker Hill.
Mrs. Joseph Latimer, who shared the pioneer days in
oedar township with her husband, came from North Carolina
and used to tell the story as she remembered it, of the raid of
larleton's men on her father's home and how the British car-
ried off everything they wanted from the house and cut the
rim of her mother's spinning wheel. Six sons and daughters
3f Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Latimer had been married in Ten-
lessee, all but one of whom later followed their parents to
Knox county. Five children came with them and as they all
figure in this story, I will name them: George, John, David,
m unmarried daughter, Susan, and a widowed daughter, Mrs
Sarah L. Boren,
Mrs. Boren at once took up a claim of her own and settled
mth her children near her father on Section 29.
George added to the early settlement in the following
manner: In the Fall of 1831, some business necessitated a
trip to Vandalia, at that time the capitol of the state, and
George Latimer was sent on this errand. In Sangamon county
a few miles south of Springfield, he stopped over night at the
home of William Drennan, a man of prominence in that com-
munity, where the guest was served by Mr. Drennan's seven-
teen-year-old daughter. They had not met before and did not
meet again until just a year from the time of his first visit
George Latimer went back to claim her as his bride. Their
wedding journey was the trip on horseback through the glory
of the October woods from Sangamon county into Knox county
where he had a log cabin ready for his bride on Section 29
Here they established a rarely happy and influential home.
The same year, Jonathan Latimer and family, Joseph's
oldest son, came up from Sangamon county where they had
temporarily resided and settled on Section 28. With them, and
settling near them on the same section, came Mrs. Latimer's
parents, Mr. and Mrs. Jacob West. Jonathan Latimer was a
man of marked character, who figured largely in the commun-
ity for many years. He began his business career in the town-
ship by trading a horse for the land upon which he settled.
He was ever a trader but combined a shrewd knowledge of
values with a kind and generous heart. He has one son still
living in Cedar township, Hon. Joseph F. Latimer, three times
elected to the Legislature, whose home stands right where his
father's log cabin was built in 1832
In 1833, Dennis Clark, then a young man, afterwards
Knox County Judge, came up from • Sangamon County and
found a home with Mr. and Mrs. George Latimer, He had
known Mrs. Latimer before her marriage.
In 1833, Susan Latimer married Urban D. Coy, the first
marriage to take place in Cedar Township. Soon afterwards,,
they settled on Section 21.
The same year, John Latimer left the parental roof and
became the first permanent white settler in Indian Point
Another married son of Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Latimer,
Alexander, arrived with his family in '34 and settled on Section
21. About the same time, came a son-in-law, Israel Marshall,
and his wife Mary Latimer or "Aunt Polly" as she was gener-
ally known. They settled on Section 31. Israel Marshall
brought with him from Tennessee some fine-blooded stock, the
first to be brought into a township which later had a wide repu-
tation for its high grade stock.
There were thus, in the first four years of the decade from
1830 to 1840, six Latimer families all settled near each other
in the Cherry Grove iieigborhood and one just over the Hne
in Indian Point Township.
About this time, other settlers were arriving in other
parts of the Township. Josehua Bland came in '33, settling
with his family on Section 16. The story comes down to us of
a "corn cracker mill" owned by Mr. Bland. It stood near
where the Heller School house now stands and although a
primitive affair, run by horse-power, it ground many a grist
of corn for the scattered neighbors who were thankful not to
be obliged to go as far as Ellisville, on Spoon River, to get
their corn ground A few years ago, Stewart Williamson, a
grandson of Mr. Bland's, had the old mill post around which
the horses or oxen plodded their monotonous way, dug up and
made into canes.
There was early a scattering settlement along the eastern
timber border. The year 1834 saw the arrival in the township
of seven families with staying qualities. All but one settled
in the eastern portion of the township. The one exception was
Wm. Kays, who, with his wife, came from Kentucky, stopping
temporarily in Indiana, and established his home on Section 8,
about three miles north of the Latimer settlement.
Hugh A. Kelly, prominent in township life for many years,
and his wife, came from West Virginia and settled on Section
The Castle brothers, coming also from West Virginia with
temporary stops along the way, took up claims, Reuben and
Henry on Section 12 and George on Section 26 They were all
prosperous farmers and good citizens. Two grandsons of
George Castle, George and Thomas, sons of Vinton Castle, are
living now in Abingdon.
Onto Section 1 came William Thomas Williamson with his
wife and family of young people. He came here from Indiana
where he lived for a time, but his boyhood home was in New
England. His father had been a soldier in the Revolutionary
War and once when he, with others, was hard pressed by the
British ; he had dropped out of sight behind a log and the
British had passed him by unseen, he thus escaping capture.
Mr. Thomas Williamson's sons and daughters married and
many of them settled around him where they were highly
respec:ted citizens. His son, James, married a daughter of
Mr Bland's and they, with their married sons and daughters,
later became, and some still are especially identified with the
neighborhood around Warren Chapel. Squire Frank Williamson
and Stewart Williamson, of Galesburg, are the sons of James
Williamson. He also has descendants in and around Abingdon.
Children and grandchildren of James Williamson were fond of
hearing him tell of riding over the site where Galesburg later
stood, when the only road was the Indian trail from Henderson
to Brush Creek, which crossed the goodly stream of Cedar
Fork where Leroy Marsh's horse barn now stands.
With the Williamson's, came Daniel Green Burner, a na-
tive of Kentucky, who resided in Sangamon County before
coming to Knox. Abraham Lincoln boarded at Green Burner's
father's home for four years in New Salem and he and Lincoln
slept together. When the Burners left their home in New
Salem to come to Knox County, it was Abraham Lincoln who
drew up the deed of sale. Green Burner settled on Section 1
and from that time on through a long life he was closely iden-
tified with this part of the township. He added many fertile
acres to those originally taken up until he was the owner of
more than one thousand. The widow and part of the family of
his son, Milton, are now living in Cedar Township, a few miles
north of Abingdon.
Settling as near neighbors to the Williamson's and Bur-
ner's and coming the same year, was the Swartz family, which
from that day to this have been prominent in the Brush Creek
neighborhood. Albert Swartz and his sisters. Miss Mary and
Miss Sarah Swartz, are still living on the original farni, now
beautiful cultivated, which was occupied by their grandfather
in its wild state, while their brother Thomas lives on his own
farm across the road.
The seventh family to arrive that year was that of George
Long, who came from Ohio They spent their first winter in
Knoxville, and the next year settled upon the farm on Section
12, where some wooded land then purchased is still owned by
members of the Long family. Two sons of Mr. Long, George
and William, when returning home from the mill at Hender-
son, were caught in a snow storm and lost their way on the
wide prairie where Galesburg now stands. They wandered
around, through the growing darkness until they came upon a
little stream to the southward that they knew and so found
their way home. The township is indebted to the Long family
for many years of teaching in its public schools. George
Long, the son of George Long, taught school as a young man
and put his earnings into the first payment for an eighty acre
piece of prairie land, paying for it $5.00 per acre. His sister,
Martha Long, was a teacher in Cedar Township and Knox
County for a number of years, and his daughter, Miss Jennie
Long, taught in the public schools of the county for 38 years,
part of the time in Cedar Township and for 29 years in the
city of Galesburg Another daughter. Miss Catherine Long,
was prominent in W. C. T. U. work, for eight years being
State Superintendent of its Department of Work for SoMiers
and Sailors of Illinois. These two daughters are now living in
Largely through the efforts of their mother, Mrs. Geo.
Long, a Sunday School was started in an early day in the
Brush Creek School House and maintained through many diffi-
culties. This Sunday School kept up more consecutive years
of service than any country Sunday School in the Township.
An early wedding in the township was that of Miss Mary
Long with Reuben Castle.
Settling on Section 11 along the road traveled by the
pioneers in their trips to Knoxville for trade, was another
worthy family, who, among the first to arrive in 1835, have
descendants living in Knox County This was Thomas Marsh
and his wife, the parents of LeRoy Marsh, Mrs. Blair and Mrs.
Crawford of Galesburg.
With them came Elisha Humiston and family who settled
nearby. Mr. Humiston later moved on to Section 17. In the
northwest part of this section is a small, fenced-in grave yard,
known as the Humiston Burial Ground.
Before turning to other localities, mention should be made
of Lewis Spurlock and Williams Bevins Both came in '34 and
settled on Section 23. So far as I know, none of their descend-
ants are now left in the county, but they had a place in the
community life in the early days for Lewis Spurlock was a
great deer hunter and William Bevins was a great bee hunter,
and the venison and honey they brought in for the little colony
were much enjoyed. The Spurlock name is also associated with
other parts of the township.
In the northwest corner of the township, near where War-
ren Chapel now stands, Uziah Conger, coming from New York
State, settled in the early thirties. His family of nine sons
and one daughter grew up around him here, some of them
marrying and living in the neighborhood for many years. Here
were spent the boyhood of Edwin H. Conger, who, when Am-
bassador to China, won the gratitude of the Chinese people
for his valuable advice in helping settle the indemnity money
question, after the Boxer uprising and who gave the rich and
beautiful banner, presented to him by the Chinese people, to
Lombard College. He was a grandson of Uziah Conger and
the son of Lorentus, who served the county on its Board of Su-
pervisors at the time of the Court House fight. Here also
grew up Seth Conger, another grandson, later identified with
business interests in Galesburg, whose son Frank L. Conger is
at the present time cashier in the First National Bank of that
Into this neighborhood also, at a somewhat later date,
came Ralph Mount. Two of Mr. Mount's sons, Thomas and
William, owned farms and lived for many years along the
main road between Abingdon and Galesburg It was one of
his sons also who failed to return home at the close of the Civil
War and his brothers and sisters, supposing him dead, divided
his portion of the estate among themselves, when suddenly one
day he arrived home all alive and well and they gave it back
Into this northwest section of the Township (Section 6)
in 1836, came Francis Portus Goddard whose son. Uncle Jimmy
Goddard, a veteran of the Civil War, lives there still.
In the central north portion of the township, in 1835,
Benjamin Marks who came from Kentucky, was the first to
stake a claim out on the open prairie. "You will freeze in win-
ter," they told him, but the fierce winter winds blew the snow
banks around and clear over his little cabin and kept it snug
and warm. Benjamin Marks' son, Pleasant, has long owned
the farm on which his father settled, adding to it many acres
of his own and is proud to tell of this land having been in the
Marks family for 83 years.
Other early names in this general locality are Garrett,
McPherren, Lowrey, Nelson, Crawford, Belden, Bundy and
Snyder, who later lived in Abingdon and added Snyder's addi-
tion to that town.
Because of her long residence in the township, "Grandma
Reed" should be especially mentioned- She and her husband,
John Reed, settled in the edge of the timber southwst of Ben-
jamin Marks' home in '36. The location was near an excellent
spring and had been a favorite camping ground for the Indians
before the Black Hawk War- After her husband's death, Mrs.
Reed, who was born near Edinburgh, Scotland, continued to
live in this part of the township, spending her last years in
the home of her son-in-law, James Kays. She lived to be
niriety-seven years old. James Kays' son. Reed Kays, is living
on the Reed farm today.
The Dunlap family, prominently connected with the town-
ship's life, came during the latter half of that first decade.
Henry Dunlap, with his two sons, Edmund and Jackson, and
his daughter, Mary, took the long journey on horseback from
Kentucky to Illinois, Knox County and Cedar Township. They
arrived early in '37 and settled just north of Cherry Grove, the
father on Section 20, and Edmund making a home for his bride
of a few months on Section 19, where his twin daughters, Alice
and Ellen, still live. Edmund Dunlap paid $100.00 for his orig-
inal one hundred and sixty acres. A few months later, Mrs.
Henry Dunlap, with her children and Edmund's young wife,
arrived to complete the home circles They came by boat down
the Ohio and up the Mississippi to Oquawka, bringing their
household goods with them. They brought also a colored
woman, whom Mrs. Henry Dunlap's father had presented to
his daughter to be nurse for her first baby. Henry Dunlap, as
the law required, went security for her good behavior. Aunt
Phyllis, as she was generally known, lived to be very old and
acted as nurse to four generations of Dunlap children.
So far as is known, the only one now living who remem-
bers coming to Cedar Township in that first decade is J. W-
Stephens, who, when a lad of thirteen, came with his father,
in 1838, and settled on Section 16. Mr. Stephens is ninety-
three years old, a tall, well-preserved man, whose memory is
clear and who abounds in many and interesting reminiscences.
His father, when he came, bought of Mr. Kays eighty acres of
fenced and improved land for which he paid $10.00 per acre.
The original Stephens' land is now owned by J. W. Stephens'
son, Charles, and so has been in the Stephens family since '38.
Mr. Stephens tells of his first trip to the village of Knoxville
the summer of their arrival where he saw the old Court House,
the one now standing, in process of erection. Its walls at that
time were up about four feet.
The decade of the forties saw the township rapidly filling
up. I will not trace its population farther with just one excep-
tion I want to mention Isaac Hunter, who, with his brother-
in-law, Mr. Jordan, came from New England to Peoria in 1839
and on to Knox County and Cedar Township in '41, building a
log cabin on Section 23. Here he lived for many years. At the
time of his sojourn in Peoria in '39 and '40, it was a town of
seven hundred inhabitants. Later Mr. Hunter drove a stage
coach between Peoria and Rock Island but the story most often
told of him is of how he and Mr. Jordan drove 1,000 sheep
across country from Massachusetts to Illinois, the trip taking
one hundred and twenty-two days.
Early Conditions and Experiences
Now that the township is furnished with inhabitants who
have gotten a firm foothold it is time to hear a few tales that
have come down to us of these early days.
It is natural to wonder whether or not the early settlers
were troubled by Indians. There are indications that, at a still
earlier day, the Indians had had favorite camping places on
Cedar Township land, especially in the vicinity of Brush Creek.
Leroy Marsh tells of plowing his father's faiTn when he was a
boy and finding many arrow heads and once the skull of an
Indian. There are some reasons for thinking they favored
other localities in the Township but none were very pro-
nounced. Indians frequently found their way to the homes of
the settlers and often frightened them, but there is no record
of their being distinctly hostile.
Something of the terror of the Black Hawk War days in
'31 and '32 was felt by the pioneers of Cedar Township, al-
though all alarms proved false. Mrs. Joseph Latimer, look-
ing from her door just at dusk one evening, saw that some
kind of visitors were approaching. They were coming single
file almost completely hidden by the tall prairie grass. She
instantly thought of Indians but her alarm was quieted when
she saw Mrs Swartz with her children. Lonely and afraid,
they had come to spend the night, Mr. Swartz being away
From the little settlement at Cherry Grove, the name
given to the neighborhood where the Latimers first settled,
consisting of three or four families, George Latimer and U. D.
Coy joined the volunteer rangers in the Black Hawk War.
George Latimer was first lieutenant when the little volunteer
band was formed. How rank was determined at that time, I
do not know but always after the Black Hawk War, these two
men were known as Colonel Latimer and Major Coy. Each of
the Rangers furnished his own horse. One hundred guns were
brought from Rock Island to Oquawka and from there by
wagon to Knox and Warren Counties. The men from these
counties ranged as far as the Mississippi river in the vicinity
of Oquawka. They were gone from home more than two
months and did good guard service, although engaging in no
battles. Each man was paid eighty-six cents per day for him-
self and horse.
About the Indians
In the years following the Black Hawk War, the Indians
almost all crossed the Mississippi either voluntarily or taken
to reservation lands by the government. A large band of
Indians very early camped in their westward journey on a
hill south of Jonathan Latimer's home. A granddaughter of
his, in a school composition when she was quite young, tells a
little incident of this Indian Camp in these words: "One little
Indian shot another, and the murdered boy was buried on the
hill, with his head to the north and his heels to the south, with
his pipe, tobacco, guns and his valuable trinkets, beads, furs
and feathers also. Being a chief's son, there was a great "Pow-
wow" at his death. My Aunt Emily attended the funeral and re-
members distinctly about it" By Indian rule, the little boy
who shot the other should forfeit his life but Colonel Sands,
who was conducting the Indians westward, succeeded in ar-
ranging a compromise whereby the parents of the boy that
was killed received certain valuable gifts. While these nego-
tiations were being made, the boy was kept in hiding in the
Brush Creek woods.
A very large company of Indians, estimated at from five
hundred to seven hundred, accompanied by government offi-
cials, on their way to western reservation land, crossed the
township, camping over night by Brush Creek. Leroy Marsh,
then a little boy, visited the camp which was about half a mile
from his father's farm and was badly frightened by their yells
to each other. One of the government teamsters, accompany-
ing the Indians, was taken ill and left at the Marsh home where
he was cared for for several weeks.
The log cabins of the first settlers have been often de-
scribed. The more pretentions ones had two large rooms with
an intervening space, roofed, and enclosed on one side. Each
room had its large fireplace with cooking accommodations and
a bed or beds and trundle beds, a spinning wheel and sometimes
a loom. The construction of such dwellings was not a lengthy
process. Neighborly helpfulness was universal. Mr. Stephens
tells an incident which illustrates this. Wm. Kays had eight
daughters and one son. Two married daughters were early
left widows and returned to their father's house with their
children. It is easy to see that the family were undesirably
numerous, considering the log house accommodations, so a day
was set, the neighbors all came early, cut and hauled the
timber, and in one day put up a log cabin of the double kind
just mentioned, so that one daughter and her family had one
end and the other, the other. In like manner, when Alexander
Latimer's log house burned down, the neighbors gathered and
helped him put up another. Here again in one day, the trees
were cut down and the building erected The next day, he put
down the puncheon floor, cut some windows and made some
furniture and that evening the family moved in. Alexander
Latimer's one chief regret in connection with the burning of
his log cabin was that a number of letters written by Abraham
Lincoln to himself were destroyed. He had served under Lin-
coln in the Black Hawk War and was greatly attached to him.
Soon after Jonathan Latimer came, his horses strayed
away and he was gone several days hunting for them. The
finishing touches had not been put upon his cabin and their
only door was a bed tick hanging down from the top, weighted
at the bottom with straw. So plentiful were the wolves at that
time that during the three nights of his absence, Mrs. Latimer
had to keep a bright fire burning in the fireplace to keep the
hungry animals from coming in. Wolves were great pests to
the early settlers, especially in their propensity to carry off the
sheep, for almost everyone owned some sheep, upon which they
depended for the wool to be carded, spun and woven into
blankets and clothing. Panthers were not uncommon and old
and young avoided paths which led through thick underbrush
at night. Deer were also plentiful for a time, as were many
kinds of small game.
Log cabins soon began to give place to more pretentious
houses. In 1840, Jonathan Latimer began the construction of
a commodious brick house, which was long considered a fine
dwelling. It was built in southern style with a wide hall ex-
tending through it from north to south. He had chosen a
rarely beautiful building site and had planted two long rows of
maple trees which soon formed a handsome avenue leading to
the house. The lumber used in the house came from his own
timber and the bricks were made from clay dug on his fann
and burned in two kilns he had made. The first brick burnec
he sold to buy window glass and to pay for the sawing of the
black walnut lumber and the oak shingles.
Watson Barber, living just north of Louisville, hauled
lumber on wagons from Chicago and put up a frame house foi
himself. This house was torn down only a few years ago
Mrs. Joseph Latimer and Mrs. Swartz used to go on horse-
back fifteen miles to Henderson to trade before there was a
store in Knoxville. Knoxville being nearer and of growing im-
portance, soon became the trade center for Cedar Township
people. Heavy, wide-gauge wagons, drawn by either oxen or
horses, were used at first but lighter and less clumsy vehicles
must have soon come into use. Horseback riding was uni-
versal. The women were expert riders, often carrying farm
produce to market in this way and bringing back goods in
exchange. At one time, Mrs. Jonathan Latimer marketed so
much maple sugar of her own making and lindsey-woolsey of
her own weaving that when the trading was finished she still
had fifty dollars to her credit.
Stoves were rare. There was occasionally a square-boxed
heating stove to be found but cook stoves did not come into
the township until the very last of that first decade. Then
one was hauled down from Chicago by Mr. Garrett. J. W.
Stephens, at that time a boy in his teens, tells of going to see
this stove as a great curiostiy.
For laundry purposes in the very earliest days, any good
sized stream was sufficient. Mrs. Swartz and Mrs Jonathan
Latimer would carry their washing down to the creek where
together they washed the clothes. When these were dry and
ready to iron, they would carry the clothes to one or the other
cabin and visit while they ironed.
The nearest markets where the Cedar Township farmers
could dispose of their grain, corn and stock were at Oquawka,
about forty miles distant and especially at Peoria some fifty
miles away and Copperas Landing, below Peoria. Mr. Stephens
says he has hauled many a load of corn to Peoria, and sold it
for fifteen cents a bushel, taking it out in trade. Mr. Stephens
spent one winter helping run the saw mill at Old Henderson
which sawed the logs for the old First Church at Galesburg.
As a young man, he sometimes came to Galesburg for evening
entertainments and it was not easy to take the ride home with-
out getting lost, as all was open prairie to his home some six
or seven miles south. To use his expression, "there was not a
stick from there to Galesburg."
In case of sickness, home remedies were mostly used.
Knoxville was the nearest place where medical aid could be
secured. In the Fall of 1836 Joseph Latimer's youngest son,
David, was seriously ill. He was taken to a doctor in Knoxville
who asked that he be left in his care for a few weeks. Seeming
improved in health, his brother-in-law. Major Coy, with the
best conveyance obtainable at the time, was sent to bring him
home. When well on their homeward jouniey, the young man
complained of feeling faint and asked Major Coy to help him to
alight. There, sitting by the roadside, death came quickly and
with no one to call upon for help. Major Coy lifted his brother's
body into the conveyance and went on alone to the sad home
These are some of the experiences of those early days in
Cedar Township. While some were hard and some were sad,
the pleasant part predominated for the exuberance and
strength of youth was in the newly settled country-
The history of the township's schools and churches began
with its settling. From the day when A. D. Swartz and Azel
Dorsey joined Hiram Palmer in 1829, religious services have
been maintained. The services were held first in Mr. Swartz's
house, where also, four years later, a church organization with
seven members was effected. From this humble beginning
grew the strong Methodist Church of Abingdon which later
founded and fostered Hedding College. But before that day,
there was a school at Cherry Grove, the outgrowth of another
church organization, which was far-reaching in its influence.
In Chapman's History of Knox County is this sentence, "The
first church and school house erected in the county, was at
Cherry Grove in Cedar Township in 1832, and Major Coy said
he cut the first log for this church and school house." It was a
log building and stood just southwest of where Cherry Grove
Cemetery now is. Both religious services and school were held
in this building. The school and church were always so closely
associated that their story belongs together.
On June 20th, 1835, at the home of Joseph Latimer, a
little company met and organized a Cumberland Presbyterian
Church with thirteen members. Joseph Latimer and John
Howard were elected Elders and George G. Latimer, clerk,
an office he held until his death, thirteen years later. The
records of this meeting and those that followed are in the pos-
session today of one of Geo. Latimer's descendants. Quaint
old records they are and interesting reading. The brethren and
sisters are carefully watched over and reproved by the church
when their steps go astray. The little church, full of zeal and
purpose, in 1836, the year after its organization, erected a
frame building which stood about eighty rods northeast of the
school house "in a beautiful walnut and sugar maple grove, just
at the edge of the prairie " It was here that Cherry Grove
Seminary was started, by this young church, in 1837.
Cherry Grove Seminary
Its beginning was small but the hopes of its founders
were large. They hoped the school might develop into a college
and in 1840, a charter from, the state for a first class college
was obtained. A graduate of both Cherry Grove Seminary
and Knox College, in later years, compared the curriculum of
the two young schools and found them almost exactly the
same except that more Latin and Greek were taught at Cherry
Grove. In 1841, Rev. Cyrus Haynes, a college graduate and an
experienced and capable teacher, took charge as principal. Let
me quote from Perry's Knox County History: "For eight
years, under Mr. Haynes' management, the school prospered.
In his time, a considerable addition was built, adjoining the
church, to afford more room for the school. In 1849, a large,
substantial, two-story frame building was erected, the lower
story for a Chapel and church purposes, fhe upper story ar-
ranged for recitations and other school uses.
"Mr. Haynes was followed by a succession of strong, wide-
awake teachers among them Rev. J. M. B. Roach, C. H. Baker,
Rev. J C. Wagamon and others, all of whom did good work and
under whose management the school continued to prosper.
There came to the school a fine class of young people, earnest,
enthusiastic and loyal. There was a successful literary society,
the Upsilon, and a semi-monthly paper, "The Cherry Leaf,"
edited by the students. Also, in later years, music was taught.
The school was in a sense under the advice and patronage of
the Rushville Presbytery of the Cumberland Presbyterian
Church. There were students from a large part of Western
Illinois and they came also from Iowa, Missouri and Kentucky.
A very large percent of those who were students here made a
good record in after life, some remarkably so.
"There were grouped about Cherry Grove Seminary-
grounds and within a half mile, ten or twelve houses where
these students were boarded or boarded themselves. Besides
these, home from a mile to a mile and a half away, took stud-
ents to board when it was necessary. In maintaining Cherry
Grove Seminary, all the community joined heartily. Many
sacrifices were necessary and were made cheerfully. In some
respects, the burdens fell heaviest on the women, who, with
meagre facilities for doing so and very small pay, had to care
for the students and see that they had as comfortable homes
as possible while at school. Some of the students were poor
and some of the young men were studying for the ministiy and
were to be encouraged in every possible way.
"Among the many unselfish and devoted women who
helped in this, one is worthy of especially mention because of
her long service and her helpful influence. When Cherry
Grove Seminary was started, George Latimer with his father
and brothers, Jonathan and Alexander, were among the active
leaders in the move and gave much of their time and liberally
of their means in forwarding the enterprise. George Latimer's
home was but sixty rods from the Seminary and Church build-
ing and every interest that pertained to either, always received
a cheerful and hearty support from Mrs. Latimer. She was
with the foremost in entertaining comers and goers and al-
ways, of course, without a thought of pay. When the school
was started and from that time on, her home was always full
of students and at almost a nominal price for board. Her sym-
pathy for and helpfulness to young men were a marked feature
of her life. Here Dennis Clark, who for eighteen years served
so acceptably as judge of the Knox County Court, lived for
twelve years. He always held Mrs. Latimer in grateful esteem
and affection. In 1848, Mrs. Latimer's first great sorrow
came. In the space of two weeks, her husband and three child-
ren were taken by death, two of the children being buried in
one grave. Left with the entire care of a young family, in
addition to her household duties, she now took the management
of the farm. Her only son was but ten years old. Besides
her watchful care and training of her five children, her man-
agement of the farm and stock upon it was equal to that of
the best farmers in the neighbood. Meanwhile, she in no
degree relaxed her interest in the school. Her only son, after
attending Cherry Grove Seminary, graduated from Knox Col-
lege and the Law School at Albany, New York. Without com-
ing home from Albany, he went directly into his country's
service. In the Fall of 1864, while on shipboard off Fortress
Monroe, returning from an expedition into the Carolinas, he
died of yellow fever and was buried at sea." What it meant
to this widowed mother to have her only son fall in the service
of his country, just when he so well prepared for the work of
manhood, many mothers at the present time can understand.
With sincerest sympathy, her many student friends shared her
Let me pause just here to note again the date of the
founding of Cherry Grove Seminary, 1837, the year we Gales-
burg people know so well as the year of the founding of Knox
College. These two institutions then were twins. Though not so
perfect in its conception and organization as the college we
honor, yet it is with pride and a sense of appreciative gratitude
that I write of this school. Honoring as I do and have long
done with all my heart, the founders of Galesburg and Knox
College, I want here to pay a tribute to these other founders,
still earlier pioneers, who, having experienced the sense of
insecurity against Indians and wild animals and endured cheer-
fully the discomforts and inconveniences of the very early days
and who, without any strong and well organized colony to
stand back of them with sympathy and financial support, yet
conceived, prayed over and established a school which did them
honor, throughout its almost thirty years of history.
"In the year 1866, there was located at Lincoln, Illinois,
a college by the Cumberland Presbterian churches of the state.
This school was intended to take the place of two or three
schools similar to the one at Cherry Grove and make of all one
strong college. The establishing of this college, together with
the fact that there were at the time two colleges in Galesburg,
two in Abingdon and one or two in Knoxville, made it apparent
that there was no longer a demand for Cherry Grove Seminary
and accordingly in 1866, the school was closed.
The town of Abingdon now has one and has had two
schools of college grade, Abingdon College in South Abingdon
which is in Indian Point Township and Hedding College in
In 1858, Abingdon College received its charter. It had
been opened as an academy in a plain wooden building two
years before by P. H. Murphy. The story of this college, for
many years a strong and influential school, belongs to Indian
Hedding College in North Abingdon is the fulfillment of
a prophecy made by the city's founder, Mr. Swartz Soon after
he and his wife came to live in their log cabin near where the
Abingdon Cemetery now is, the story goes that he took a walk
one day and stopped to rest on a little knoll of rising ground.
As they stood looking around them at the wide stretching
prairie, Mr. Swartz said to his wife: "We shall live to see a
village here and where we stand a college will be built." On
the ground where he stood when he uttered those words,
Hedding College now stands. At another time, he said to a
companion : "Here is my college site. I do not expect to live to
see it, but I have an impression that some day there will be a
college built here." Mr. Swartz died in 1852. In the division
of property, the present site of the college fell to his daughter
Sarah, who afterward married Thomas R. Wilson. They gave
five acres of ground and $500 to help cany out the plan of es-
tablishing an institution of learning. Oregon P. and Benjamin,
sons of A. D. Swartz, were also among the most liberal donors.
The school was first opened November 19, 1855, and held its
sessions for two years in the old Methodist Episcopal church,
with Rev. N. C Lewis as principal. It was called Hedding
Collegiate Seminary in honor of Bishop Hedding. The name
was suggested by J. B. F. Chesney.
The first building was erected by voluntary subscriptions
in 1856 and '57. September 16, 1857, the school opened in its
new building. On February 9, 1857, a charter had been
granted and the name changed to Hedding Seminary and Cen-
tral Illinois Memale College. Ten years later, the first class
graduated in the regular Seminar>^ course. In 1873 and '74,
the large main building, seventy-one by seventy feet and three
stories high, was put up at a cost of $45,000. In 1875, the
name was again changed to Hedding College and a ne^^■ college
charter was granted.
The college is under the patronage of the Methodist Epis-
pal Church Like all colleges. Hedding has had its times of
special prosperity and adversity. Let me quote from its last
college catalogue: "The decade of the 90'c saw the beginning of
an endowment fund. In 1903, the gymnasium was erected and
the era of expansion ushered in. The endowment campaign of
1908 and '09 added materially to the resources of the college,
while that of 1911 and 1912 not only increased the fund, but
awakened a fine spirit of enthusiasm for its usefulness. The
campaign begun in the spring of 1912, was carried forward for
the next four years, coming to a victorious conclusion on De-
cember 6, 1916. At midnight of this date, a total of $350,000
was announced. The Board of Trustees set aside $250,000 of
this amount for endowment and $100,000 for indebtedness,
buildings and equipment. $10,000 have been invested in the
purchase of books for the Library, equipment for the labora-
tories and in the remodeling of the basement of the main col-
lege building, and $40,000 have been spent in remodeling Old
Main. The plant is now modem in every detail." At present,
the college has the following buildings : Old Main, enlarged and
remodeled; the Gymnasium; the Nessie Blodgett Hall for
young women and Novella McHard Home for boys; besides
owning a handsome residence for the home of the president.
Nearly four hundred names are on its alumni roll, including
many who have achieved commercial or professional success
above the average. Doctor Walter D. Agnew is its present
efficient and beloved president.
Hedding college and Cheriy Grove Seminary are the only
schools of higher education which Cedar Township has had,
but district schools, almost all of them begun in log houses,
were erected wherever settlements were made. There are to-
day and have been for many years, schools taught in the Louis-
ville, Brush Creek, Hunter, Heller, Warren, Earle, Cheriy
Grove and Cross Lanes districts. Professor W. F. Boyes,
County Superintendent of Schools, has written for Mr. Perry's
County History a fine and authoritative article upon "The
History and Development of the County Common Schools."
In this article he makes mention of the valuable work of
Leanna Hague, who was closely identified with educational
interests in Cedar Township for many years. Her father, with
his wife and two little children, spent the winter of '51 and '52
in the Cherry Grove neighborhood, where he had come in Octo-
ber from Pennsylvania. The next year, he moved over into
Galesburg township where he lived for the remainder of a long
life. His oldest daughter, Leanna, after graduating from
Waynesburg College in Pennsylvania, came back into Cedar
Township and for fifteen years taught school in the newly
erected country school house at Cherry Grove. She proved
herself a rare educator. Thorough and enthusiastic in her
work, she had the gift, to a marked degree, of inspiring her
pupils with great loyalty and ambition. Working in close asso-
ciation with Mary Allen West, County Superintendent of
Schools from 1873 to 1882, she did valuable service to the
township and county in classifying and providing graded
courses of study for district schools. Her own school was re-
peatedly the banner school in number of premiums taken for
fine work shown at the County Fair. For several successive
years, this district school excelled all others in the state, in
number and value of premiums taken for superior work sho\/n
at the State Fair. Leanna Hague's work with Cheriy Grove
School, ceased when she married George Dunlap in 1883. She
is living today, frail in body, but strong in mind and spirit, in
the city of Galesburg.
In the history of the township, its churches have had an
important part. The organization of the two oldest has al-
ready been mentioned. I will add a few facts about these be-
fore telling of others.
The Methodist Episcopal Church of Abingdon was organ-
ized in the home of A. D. Swartz in 1833, three years before
the town of Abingdon was laid out, with the following mem-
bers: Mr. and Mrs. Swartz, Mr and Mrs. Joseph Latimer, Mr.
and Mrs. Finch and Mrs. Nanc}' Latimer. Two years later, Mr.
and Mrs. Joseph Latimer withdrew to help organize another
church of their own denomination. The little new Methodist
church worshipped for sometime in private houses. In 1846,
their first church was erected in Abingdon on the corner of
Washington and Jefferson streets. This building was used
both for religious worship and for two years by Hedding
College for school purposes. When the first college building
was put up in 1857, the congregation worshipped in its chapel
until a new church building was erected in 1867. This build-
ing, a fine one for its day, stood for thirty years on the corner
of Washington and Latimer streets. It was torn down to giv^e
place to the present well-appointed, modern church building,
which was completed in 1898. This strong church has always
been closely identified with the life of the city of Abingdon.
The Congregational Church of today in Abingdon had its
origin in the Cumberland Presbyterian Church at Cherry
Grove about which I have already told in connection with
Cherry Grove Seminary. For its history and in explanation
of its change in denominations, I quote from an article pre-
pared at the time of the dedication of the present Congrega-
tional Church building: "At the present time when the new
Congregational Church building in Abingdon is being dedi-
cated, it seems most appropriate that there should be given
and recorded a brief history of the congregation that wor-
shipped in the old church home and is now entering the new
one, showing a continuous and connected history of the organ-
ization that took its start more than 80 years ago, and thus pre-
serve in permanent form some, at least, of the more important
facts connected with a congregation that has taken an import-
ant part in shaping the religious and educational life of this
community from the time of its very first settlement. Briefly,
therefore, we find that between 1830 and 1835, there came
hither from that part of Tennessee and Kentucky, known as
the Cumberland country, several families and located in the
vicinity of Abingdon, mostly to the north of what is known
as Cherry Grove neighborhood. These people were of staunch
Presbyterian, Puritan stock. They brought with them letters
from the Cumberland Presbyterian Church On June 20, 1835,
these families by appointment met at the home of Joseph Lati-
mer and organized the Cherry Grove congregation of the
Cumberland Presbyterian Church. Rev. James H. Stockton,
a minister of that denomination, was present and after preach-
ing a sermon, acted as moderator, and conducted the service of
organization. The following names were enrolled as members :
Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Latimer, Mr. and Mrs. John Howard, Miss
Ellen Howard, Mrs. Susan P. Coy, Mr. and Mrs. Geo. G. Lati-
mer, Mr. and Mrs. John Crawford, Mr. and Mrs. Alexander
Latimer and Mrs. Nancy Lomax
This was the first church that built, as has been related,
the first meeting house in the edge of the timber and later
worshipped in the Cherry Grove Seminary building. I resume
"In 1866, there was located at Lincoln, Illinois, a Cumber-
land Presbyterian College for the state. Cheriy Grove was a
competitor for this college but falling to secure it, the church
decided to abandon the school and build a church house in Ab-
ingdon. Thus, after a career of marked usefulness for nearly
thirty years, was the dual work of this congregation aban-
"In the fall and winter of 1866, the church building in
Abingdon on the corner of Washington and Pearl streets was
erected and in February of 1867, it was dedicated and occupied.
At that time it was the most commodious church building in
Abingdon. Rev. J. R. Brown, D. D., was then the popular and
well beloved pastor. After a period of fourteen years, during
which time every department of the church work was main-
tained without an interruption, the congregation decided to
change to the fellowship of the Congregational Church. In
1881, by a vote of the congregation, they changed their fellow-
ship in a body from the Cumberland Presbyterian Church to
that of the Congregational Church. This action was taken
without any change in belief, they then and now retaining the
same articles of faith as formerly. It was done for the sake of
closer fellowship with the churches in the nearer vicinity and
because of the then existing prejudice between the North and
South growing out of the recent rebellion. The Cumberland
Presbyterian Church was organized in the South and had its
membership largely there. Its name, too, tended to localize it
there- Because of this prejudice, the church felt that its use-
fulness was being hindered. Rev. James M. Campbell, D. D.,
was the last pastor before this change was made and Rev. Wil-
liam Clerk, was the first after the change." The present com-
modious and modern Congregational church building was com-
pleted and occupied in 1917.
A Protestant Methodist Church was started in Abingdon
about 1838. They at first worshipped in a small frame build-
ing on the corner of Main and Latimer streets. In '46, or near
that time, they put up a church building on Jackson street a
little west of where the C. B. and Q. railroad tracks now are.
Later, about 1868, they built a commodious and substantial
church home that stood on the corner of Jefferson and Jack-
son streets. For a while they were a flourishing church.
After some years the church organization was abandoned.
In this Protestant Methodist church building in 1879 a con-
gregation was organized known as the Jefferson Street Chris-
tian Church. After worshipping here for a time, they pur-
chased the old Methodist Episcopal Church building on the
corner of Washington and Jefferson streets. They refurnished
it and worshipped there until 1884, when this church reunited
with the Christian Church then worshipping in the chapel of
the old Abingdon College building
The present Christian Church of Abingdon, so long con-
nected with Abingdon College, was founded in 1840 by Hiram
Smith and Richard Johnston. It is another strong church
closely connected with the life of the city, but its histoiy be-
longs to Indian Point Township in which township it is located.
About 1858, a Congregational Church was organized in
Abingdon. Among those who started this church were Isaac
Hunter, Thomas Marsh, Thomas Andrews, Thaddeus Merrill,
Wm. Hughey and their families. They bought a lot and put up
a building on the west side of Main street opposite the present
city park. Here they worshipped for ten years, or until 1868,
when the church was desbanded. Each member of the church
was given a letter of dismissal and recommendation to any
church he or she might wish to unite with.
In 1910, a Universalist Church was organized in Abing-
don which is doing service at the present time.
There have been several influential country churches in
the township. About 1838, both the Methodist Eposcopal and
the Methodist Protestant people organized each a church.
The Methodist Episcopal organization occurred in the village
of Louisville ; the Methodist Protestant a mile north of it.
Both congregations worshipped for a time in private houses.
In 1841, a Methodist Episcopal Church building was erected on
the public square of Louisville. Mr. Stephens thus describes
it: 'Tt was built by Reuben Castle in 1842 and he received for
the labor and the material which he put into it, $150.00. Every
piece of dimension stuff that was in the building was hewn out
of oak. The structure was exceedingly well built and thor-
oughly pinned together with wooden pins. It stood on blocks
that raised the building quite high from the ground so that the
sheep that were running at large, used to go under the building
and stay there during their resting time and in the hottest part
of the day " In 1878, under the leadership of Rev. Kinney,
the little church known as WaiTen Chapel was built, at which
time the Louisville church was abandoned as a house of wor-
ship. It was given to Rev. R. Kinney and he occupied it about
five years as a residence. Then J. W. Stephens purchased the
ground and the church which stood upon it." The Warren
Chapel Methodist Episcopal church did good service for a long
time. The building now stands unused, the organization having
been given up.
The Methodist Protestant church was built soon after
the Methodist Episcopal, near where Pleas Marks now lives.
Their first building was, in process of time, replaced by a
larger and more imposing structure. This, however, because
of so many deaths and removals was abandoned long ago, and
in 1894, the building was sold and torn down.
Sunday Schools were kept up more or less regularly for
some years at Warren Chapel, Louisville, and in the Brush
Creek, Hunter and Earle School Houses. No school house Sun-
day Schools are held regularly so far as is known at the present
time and out of all these churches, there are only three in the
township today, the Abingdon Methodist Episcopal, Congrega-
tional and Universalist.
Towns and Industries
It is interesting to note that Galesburg, Abingdon and
Louisville were laid out as towns in the same year — 1836.
Abingdon was laid out by A. D. Swartz, Louisville by John S.
On the map of Cedar Township in the 1870 '*Atlas Map of
Knox County," the plat of the town of Louisville, on Section 16,
is shown. Louisville never grew to be more than a village but
had several good-sized hewed log houses, a post office, a Metho-
dist Episcopal church and a store started by Alexander Ewing
of Knoxville The post office was at first called "Farmers'
Hall." The mail was carried by a hired conveyance from
Macomb to Galesburg. Thus, both Abingdon and Louisville
were on this mail route. The mail was all carried in one bag,
the postman stopping at each town on the way and sorting out
the mail for that town.
When, in 1853, a township organization was perfected, the
first township election was held in Louisville with Hugh A.
Kelly as moderator and Lorentus W. Conger clerk. The result
of this first township election was as follows: E. P. Dunlap,
Supervisor ; William Marks, Clerk ; William Lang, Assessor ;
James W. Smoot, Collector; J. W. Stephens and W. H. Heller,
Commissioners of Highways ; P. M. Shoop and Joseph Harvey
Justices of Peace ; Thomas S. Bassett, Overseer of the Poor ;
Solomon Stegall and Eli Butler, Constables. The election of
the following year was also held at Louisville but ever since, it
has been held at Abingdon No trace of the village of Louis-
ville is left today, but the Louisville District School House
stands near the original site.
Abingdon, beautifully located on high rolling ground in
the southwest quarter of Section 33, as originally laid out by
Mr. Swartz, comprised sixteen blocks. In 1849, the Frederick
Snyder addition, just over the line in Indian Point Township,
was added. It was long known as South Abingdon. There
have been a number of later additions. The town was named
after the city of Abingdon, Maryland, the birthplace of Mr.
Swartz. From the fuller accounts of Abingdon as written up
in the various Knox County histories and from old residents,
I have culled a few facts. The first residence, a one-room,
log house, was erected on Main street by A. M. Curry. He
and John Green built a log store near the dwelling and received
a license to sell goods in 1837. Alonzo Reece, a brother of Dr.
Reece, who was so long and closely identified with Abingdon
life, was the first child bom in the town. Where the Globe
Factory now stands, the first hotel was erected. It was run
by Captain Thomas Ellison. Before this, in 1836, the very
year the town was started, we are told there was a tavern kept
in a double log house by a certain John Evans. Here both
man and beast could find accommodations. The first school,
taught by a Mr Mcintosh in 1838, was held in a small frame
building which stood just north of where the Globe Factory
now stands. In 1855, the population of Abingdon was only
about five hundred. The founding of its colleges about that
time, an account of which has already been given, gave great
impetus to the growth of the town. In 1867, a large brick
graded school building was built. At present, Abingdon has
two graded schools and has a fine new high school building in
process of erection.
Abingdon was incorporated as a village in 1845. In 1857,
north and south Abingdon united and were incorporated as a
city by a special act of legislature. The first officers were:
W. H. Gillaspie, Mayor; C. C. Lewis, Sidney Owens, Jesse Per-
due and George Inness, Aldermen ; C. L. Summers, Clerk ;
Jesse Burr, Assessor; Andrew Bradbury, Collector; W. H. Gil-
laspie, Treasurer and W. Merrick, Marshal. In accordance with
the terms stipulated in its original charter, no intoxicating li-
quor has ever been legally sold within the boundaries. The
store kept by Jonathan Latimer, later known as Latimer and
Meeks, is noteworthy because it demonstrates the fact that a
department store flourished in the forties and fifties even if
not so well organized or extensively housed as those of the
present time. Perry's History of Knox County says of this
store: "Under one roof were employed a shoe-maker, a tailor
and a milliner This store kept dry goods, groceries, boots and
shoes, hardware, meats cured by themselves and a small var-
iety of drugs. They also bought and sold cattle, hogs, sheep
and all the products of the farm. There were two ways in
which they disposed of hogs of which they often owned sev-
eral thousand taken in exchange for goods sold during the
year. They would either slaughter them on the farm and haul
their carcasses to Copperas Landing on the Illinois River, or
they would drive them on foot to the same shipping point.
Sometimes, the meat that was slaughtered would be packed in
barrels, salted and shipped in this way. Generally, the return
wagons would be loaded with goods to be again traded to the
farmers for their farm products." Copperas Landing was the
center of this shipping trade as it furnished water facilities to
St. Louis and other cities.
There are two prosperous banks in Abingdon at the pres-
ent time, the First National, known as the People's Bank, or-
ganized in 1879 by M. C. Bates, J. B. McKay and M. C. Kimball,
and the State Bank, organized in 1902 by John Mosser and
sons, James Cox, J. W. Hunter, Henry Simmons, and Joseph
Abingdon is justly proud of its manufacturing interests.
They began back in the forties and fifties with certain hand-
manufactured articles. J. B. F. Chesney manufactured plows
which were celebrated throughout this section of the country.
Also, Jonathan Latimer built carriages and buggies in the early
days Boots and shoes were made by Henry Frey.
The following statistics for 1918, have been given me by
the city officials. At present, Abingdon has sixteen factories
with an annual pay roll of approximately $500,000 and num-
bering some eight hundred or more employees. The annual
production is approximately $2,000,000. The largest of the
manufacturing concerns are the Globe Shirt and Overall Com-
pany, Abingdon Wagon Company, Abingdon Sanitary' Manu-
facturing Company and the American Sanitary Manufactur-
ing Company. In a factory way Abingdon has the largest pro-
duction per capita in normal times, of any city, town or village
in the State of Illinois. Today, 1918, her large factories are all
employed in producing war materials. Abingdon is a city of
homes, factories and schools. Her present population is three
Outside of Abingdon, farming and cattle raising have al-
ways been the main pursuits of Cedar Township people. There
is a very small proportion of poor land in the township and its
farms have reached a high degree of cultivation. Anyone rid-'
ing over the township as I have done in search of material for
this paper, cannot fail to be impressed with the rich productive
beauty of its farm land. In the business of stock raising,
Cedar Township has ranked with the veiy best, and still ranks
high. Perry's County History says of this industry in the
Township: "Some as fine stock has been raised there as could
be found upon the market. Large herds of Shorthorn, Here-
ford, Galloway, Angus, Holstein and Jersey cattle have been
bred in the township."
The Quincy Branch of the C. B. & Q. Railroad passes
throughout the length of Cedar Township, At the time of its
building, the two ends building toward each other, the one from
Quincy, the other from Chicago, met just south of Abingdon
and formed a completed line. A Cedar Township man, Jona-
than Latimer, took the contract for furnishing the ties for
what is now the Quincy Branch of this railroad and for furn-
ishing a large amount of corded wood to be used as engine
fuel. Wood was the only fuel used at first in railroad engines.
Some Noteworthy Emigrations
Cedar Township has sent many of its sons and daughters
to be pioneers in other states. I will mention three instances
involving more than usual experiences.
When the memorable little company of "Forty-Niners,"
known as the Jay hawkers started from Knox County April 1,
1849, in quest of California gold. Cedar Township furnished
one of the men, Lorenzo Dow Stephens, a brother of J. W.
Stephens. The Jayhawkers, thirty-nine in number in seeking
a short cut to California, left the Los Angeles Trail and enter-
ing through a ravine "struck out bodly, at first, into the gi'eat
American desert." They wandered for weeks in the desert,
including that awful desolation of Death's Valley, which they
discovered and which was never crossed before by a white man.
Three perished there and the rest, having been fifty-two days
with almost no food and suffering terribly for lack of water
in the sandy valleys of salt and alkali, came out at last, little
more than living skeletons at a hospitable cattle ranch near
the head waters of the Santa Clara River in Ventura County,
Southern California. Of this company, only two are living to-
day, Lorenza Dow Stephens of San Jose, California, and John
B. Colton of Galesburg, Illinois.
In the very early days of Minnesota, a young couple went
from Cedar Township to be missionaries among the Indians.
These were Mr. and Mrs. Amos Huggins. ]\Ir. Huggins was for
a while a student in Knox College and his wife was Sophia
Marsh, oldest sister of Leroy Marsh. It was a time of much
hostility among the Indians. After a few years residence
there, Mr. Huggins stepped out of his house one evening into
the yard on some errand. The light, streaming out of the open
doorway, made him a fine target, a shot rang out and he fell,
the victim of a hostile Indian's bullet His wife and baby were
held as captilves by the Indians for six weeks and carried 100
miles farther north before they were rescued by some govern-
ment troops. Mrs. Huggins is still living in the State of Mis-
A little company from Cedar Township became pioneers
in the far west and the founders of a great city. Mentioned
among the first to settle in the township, in 1831, was Mrs.
Sarah Boren, the widowed daughter of Joseph Latimer. Mrs.
Boren hved on the land adjoining her father's until her one
son had grown to manhood and her two daughters were young
women. The older of the daughters, Mary, married Arthur A.
Denny, who was County Sur\'eyor in Knox County, from 1848
to 1851. Soon after this marriage, the parents of the bride
and gi'oom, Mrs. Sarah Latimer Boren, the mother of Marj-
Boren Denney, and John Denny, the father of Arthur A.
Denny, were married. John Denny, who had been a volunteer
in the war of 1812 and had served in the legislature where he
was associated with Lincoln, Baker, Yates and Trumbull, with
his five sons and Mrs. Sarah Latimer Boren Denny with her
sons and two daughters, became enthused with the idea of
settling on the far Pacific coast. They had known pioneer
days in Illinois and had the true pioneer spirit. On April 10,
1851, just two years after the Jayhawkers left Knox County,
Mr. and Mrs. John Denny with their gi-own-up sons and daugh-
ters, children and grandchildren, began the great journey
across the plains. They started that April morning, from the
family home at Cherry Grove in four "prairie schooners" as
the canvas covered wagons were called, three of them drawn
by four-horse teams, one by a single span ; they took also a
few saddle horses and two faithful watch dogs, that proved
of great value in traveling in the wilds Their long toilsome
journey, full of incidents and adventures, was ended when, in
the fall, they reached Puget Sound and Eliott Bay. They
camped temporarily for the winter and in Februarv' of '52, less
than a year after leaving Cedar Township, Arthur Denny,
having made soundings of the bay and determined where the
city of his dreams should be located, used the experience gained
as surveyor in Knox County, in surveying and laying out claims
where was to be the city of Seattle. He, with his brother,
David, and two or three other men, were the first to occupy
claims and start business interests in that city. They lived to
achieve great wealth and many of their descendants reside in
Cedar Township is justly proud of its war record. All
through the Forties and Fifties, its inhabitants were wide-
awake to war issues. These issues were ardently discussed in
the Upsilon Society of Cherry Grove Seminary- and in the
college debating socities in Abingdon and were often hotly dis-
puted in gatherings of the men. When Lincoln and Douglas
spoke in Galesburg, wagon loads went from Cedar Township
to hear them Among the Township's strong Abolitionists was
Abel T'^omas, already mentioned in this history as one of the
early settlers. He lived in the countrv east and north of
Louisville and was a zealous pilot in the Underground Rail-
way traffic. Mounted on a fence post, where the lane leading
to his house turned off from the main road, he always kept
the skull of a cow or of some other animal. This was a sign
which meant to those helping runaway slaves, that here they
would find a friend.
When the call to arms came, the Township responded
quickly and loyally, with its full quota, probably more, of men.
The strong loyalty everywhere manifested before and during
the Civil War is noteworthy because such a large proportion
of those who had been shaping the opinions of the different
communities for the thirty years preceding the war, grew up
in homes where the passing generation had come from semi-
southern states and some of whom had slave-owning relatives.
Exact statistics are almost impossible to obtain. In the Knox
County list of Civil War volunteers, three hundred and sev-
enty-two names from Abingdon and Cedar Township appear.
Some of these men merely enlisted from Abingdon and were
not Cedar Township people. The Township can undoubtedly
claim three hundred volunteers and probably sent more. All
who went from the Township were volunteers. There were no
drafted men from Cedar.
While the men were seizing on the battle field, the
women were doing all they could to furnish needed lint, band-
ages and supplies. Nowhere was there sincerer mourning
when the bells announced the death of Abraham Lincoln.
In 1897, Company D of the Illinois National Guards was
organized in Abingdon. At the outbreak of the Spanish War
in the spring of '98, members of Company D volunteered and
were mustered in with the rest of the regiment foiTnin? the
Sixth Illinois Volunteer Infantiy, which sensed through the
war and was mustered out at Springfield, Illinois, November
A very large number of Cedar Township men are serving
at the present time in the various departments of service in
the great allied war against Germany. Perry's Histoiy says
of the Township: "Cedar has always maintained a high de2ri*ee
of patriotism. Of the old settlers, there are seventeen soldiers
of the war of 1812, four of the early Indian wars and two of
the Mexican war, found in its cemeteries- Forty-nine soldiers
of the Civil War are also buried within the Township limit>."
Since these statistics were given, in 1912, a very large number
of Civil War soldiers have been added to those alreadv buried
in the Township.
The men and women who had to do with the settlement
of Cedar Township and with the shaping of its early life are
almost all resting now and their voices are silent. It is fitting
that we who come after, not so far removed in time but that
we have often heard rehearsed the stories of pioneer days,
should pass on to coming generations the annals of those times.
Admiring, honoring, loving those who have wrought for
us, to us in these days, comes the message Emerson voices : "I
have no expectation any man will read history aright, who
thinks that what was done in a remote age, by men whose
names have resounded far, has any deeper sense than what he
is doing today."
LIBERTY LOAN RECORD
Owing to the omission of a line which makes the mean-
ing obscure, the following showing the Liberty Loan Record
of the county in the late war is republished :
The county by its response to the call of the government
for funds also gave its soldiers the most substantial back-
ing. This is indicated by the following tables showing the
total contributions to each of the four Liberty Loans and the
Quota Raised Contributors
First $ 923,180 $ 659,600 Not Known
Second 1,288,030 1,698,250 7,000
Third 1,256,640 2,229,600 10,557
Fourth 2,506,900 2,659,900 14,326
Victory 1,958,450 2,367,050 6,980
The county far exceeded the total quota.
From Sketch by H. M. Reece
The following interesting notes on Chestnut Township are
from a sketch by H. M. Reece in 1899 :
The earliest settler of Chestnut Township was Anson
Dolph, who came from Kentucky in 1833. He raised a crop
of wheat that year on Section 17, and in 1834, came as a per-
manent settler. In the year last named came also John Terry,
from Virginia, who settled on Section 16, and became the first
Justice of the Peace. He enjoyed the distinction of having per-
formed the first marriage ceremony in the township, the con-
tracting parties being a Mr. Gay and a Miss Cope, whose wish
for a legal union was sufficiently strong to induce them to
ride a long distance on a single horse. Those early marriages
often presented romantic features wholly lacking in the fash-
-ionable weddings of these days of purer refinement and higher
civilization. To illustrate: One of the marriages solemnized
by 'Squire Terry was that of a couple who stood on one bank of
the Spoon River, while he pronounced the fateful words on the
other, the stream being too swollen to permit either party to
cross to the opposite bank. Mr Terry afterward engaged in
trade, and amassed what in those days was regarded as an in-
In 1836, Robert Leigh and Archibald Long came from
Ohio and settled on Section 33, where Mr. Leigh remained
until his death. Soon after his arrival he commenced raising
hemp, and, there being no market for the raw product, he con-
structed a factory of a rude description, where he manufac-
tured his own and his neighbors' hemp crops into rope. For a
time the industry proved very profitable, and he, too, amassed
a comfortable fortune. Mr. Long, soon after settling on Sec-
tion 33, removed to Section 19, where, in 1842, he platted the
village of Hermon.
He was a local Methodist preacher, and soon after his
arrival at his new home he organized a Methodist class, which
met regularly at his house for many years. The last of this
devoted band was Mrs. Sally Shafer.
Among the early settlers should be also mentioned 0. P.
Barton. He was famous in those times as a pedestrian, and
gave repeated evidence of his prowess and power of endurance
in this description of exercise. Once, starting on foot at the
same time with several horsemen for the land office at Quincy,
one hundred miles distant, he out-stripped them all, securing
the prize offered to the winner of the race which consisted of
forty acres of government land in Section 17. Another pioneer
was Harmon Way, who was famous as a marksman and hunter.
The first house was built of logs by Mr. Dolph on Section
17, in 1833. The first brick house was that of Robert Leigh,
erected about 1845 The first road was the old State road,
from Peoria to Oquawka, which ran diagonally through the
township from southeast to northwest. Its course, however,
has been since changed, so that it now follows section lines.
The first bridge was built about 1846, at the point where the
old road crosses Spoon River. It was a very cumbersome,
wooden affair, which was carried away and demolished bv a
flood in 1855.
The first birth was a daughter to Mr. and Mrs. Shaver, in
1835. The first death was that of Jacob Hartford, in 1836.
The first graveyard was on Section 33, and was estab-
lished by Robert Leigh, soon after he settled on the section.
It is not now used as a burial spot, though the few graves there
are well cared for by his son Benjamin, who is a prominent
citizen of the township. Two other cemeteries have been laid
out, as follows : One on Section 19, near the Methodist Church,
by Archibald Long, which has been several times enlarged, the
other inl863, by the trustees of the Christian church, near
their house of worship on Section 18.
The first school house, after the fashion of those early
days, was built of logs, and was exceedingly rude as regarded
both its exterior and interior. It was put up in 1836, and some
years afterward was replaced by a frame building which, after
undergoing many alterations, is still used as the school house
of District No. 3. Two years later (1838) the second school
house, likewise of logs, was built on Section 28. It disappeared
long ago, and the site is now occupied by the Church of the
United Brethren. The first school teacher to exercise his voca-
tion was Mr. Haskins, who taught in what is now District No,
3. At present, 1899, the township has eight schools, none of
them graded, occupying buildings valued at six thousand, five
hundred dollars The aggregate attendance is two hundred and
forty-three, out of a total population of three hundred and
The first mill was built by Mr. Howard on Haw Creek
about 1845. It was designed both for sawing lumber and
grinding corn, but was used only a few years and has long
since been only a memory. There was also a saw mill on Lit-
ler's Creek, on Section 25, about the same time, which has
shared the same fate. Early in the forties, Mr. Parker manu-
factured brick on Section 23, for several years.
The first store was kept by John Terry on Section 16, and
its stock was very limited. A Mr. Moor early established an-
other on Section 15, but it proved unsuccessful and he soon
abandoned the enterprise.
One of the earliest taverns was kept by Jonathan Potts, on
Section 22, on the old State road. The first physician was
Dr. Porter, who came in 1838 and remained but a short time.
He was succeeded Dr. Morris, and he, in turn, by Dr. Wilson.
The first settlers of the township were compelled to de-
pend on Troy, in Fulton County, and on Knoxville, then the
county seat, for postal facilities, but in 1848 a post office was
established at Hermon, the mail being brought from Knox-
ville once a week. The first postmaster was a Mr. Massie.
The township was organized at a meeting held in 1857, by
the choice of the following officials : Samuel Collins, Super-
visor ; John Terry and David Massie, Justices of the Peace ; Mr
McCoy, Clerk ; William Graves and Freeman West, Constables ;
Robert Benson, Collector; and Owen Betterton, Assessor.
Justices of the Peace since the first elected have been
Owen Betterton, Hiram Culver, Walter Bond, Samuel Jamison,
Henry Bond, George Haver, Marion Dyer, T. J. Routh, Clay-
ton Trumbeel, J. W. Ogden and John E. Davis and Lee Lucas,
the present dispensers of justice, (1899), for the township.
There is but one village in Chestnut, originally called
Harrisonville, but now known as Hermon. A village was laid
out in Section 23, in 1852, by Andrew J. Parker. It was situ-
ated on the right bank of the Spoon, near where the present
bridge crosses that stream. It never grew, and the plat was
vacated by the legislature in 1869.
The Christian Church in the township was organized in
1854, by Revs. John Miller and Gaston. The Church of the
United Brethren was organized in 1859, and the denomination
has a well-built edifice, on Section 28.
The Methodist church was first organized by Archibald
Long, an early settler and local preacher. Through his efforts
a modist church building was erected in 1842. The Baptist
Society was organized early in the forties by Elders A. Gogorth
and C. Humphrey-
The township furnished its quotas to the Civil War and
to the wars since then. It's citizens have had a conspicuous
part in the affairs of the county.
From Sketches by J. W. Temple
The surface of Copley Township, so named from a prom-
inent family of that name at one time residing in it, consists
chiefly of fertile prairie land, just sufficiently rolling to ensure
good drainage, though in its southern part there is some broken
ground, probably one-fourth of its area having been originally
The first settler in the township was a Mr. Berry, who, in
1836, located near the present village of Victoria, which lies
partly in this and partly in Victoria Township. Mathew Her-
bert and Larkin Robinson followed, the next year. In 1839,
the first members of what soon became a thrifty Scotch colony
began to settle on some of the best lands ; and the descendants
of these sons of "Auld Scotia" are now men of wealth and high
moral standing in the community. The Gordons, Cooks, Mc-
Cornacks, Taits, McKies, Leightons, McClymonts, McMasters,
McDowells, Stevensons, Milroys, McQuarries and others, with
their numerous and thrifty progeny, were among the most
prominent citizens of the township. Later, its rich lands have
attracted a large number of Swedes, whose thrift, industry
and probity have made of these first immigrants wealthy
farmers and landholders. Their descendants, by intermarrying
with the native population, are fast becoming homogeneous, as
they are a patriotic body of American citizens, while their
success is due to brain no less than to brawn.
When the first settlers arrived, a small tribe of Indians
still inhabitated a grove, now known as Foreman Grove, near
the northern limits of the present township.
The first child born in Copley was a son of Mathew Her-
bert, in 1836. The first death was that of Harriet Foster, in
1842. Rev. Charles Bostwick and Mrs Hurr were the first
couple to be married, and Rev. Mr. Bostwick preached the
first sermon in 1840, in a log school house.
The first school was taught by Miss Mary J. Smith, after-
wards Mrs. John Becker, in a log cabin, one and one-half miles
northwest of Victoria.
There are few townships where the value of an education
is more genuinely appreciated than here, the result being
shown in the exceptional intelligence and culture of its citizens.
The first saw mill, that of Jeremiah Collinson, operated
by horse power, was put up in 1850. Mr. Berry was the builder
of the first frame structure, on Section 9, in 1840. Now some
of the finest residences in the county are to be found on its
Copley Township has lacked railroads, and by reason of
that want has no large towns. In 1894, however, to reach
the extensive coal fields of this and Victoria townships, a
railroad was built from Wataga, on the line of the Burlington
and Quincy Railroad, running through nearly the center of the
township, to a mining village called Etherly, located on the
eastern boundary of Copley. This village was laid out on the
southeastern quarter of Section 35, on August 10, 1894, by
Samuel Charles. Owing to legal complications, which pre-
vented for a time the operating of the road, the village is yet,
(1899), without many inhabitants. It is believed, however,
that, under altered conditions, a thriving mining town will
soon be built up to develop the rick, unworked coal deposits
which underlie nearly all the southern part of Copley. This
railroad has been since extended into the village of Victoria,
which, with its natural advantages of situation, has heretofore
only lacked railroad facilities to become one of the most pros-
perous villages in the county.
The first town officers elected in 1853, were: J. Stan-
\ey, Supervisor; N. Kelsey, Clerk; J. M. Perkins, Assessor;
Austin Gaines, Collector; Isaac Copley and A. W. Buckley, Jus-
tices ; A. A. Smith, S. McCornack and J. Sirie, Commissioners
of Highways, and J. Collinson, Overseer of the Poor.
Its population in 1860 was one thousand and ten; in 1870
it was twelve hundred and nineteen; in 1880 it had fallen ot
one thousand and seventy-six and in 1890 was nine hundred
HISTORY OF ELBA TOWNSHIP
By Miss Elsie D. North
The Illinois Indians were no doubt the first inhabitants of
Elba Township, but were gradually driven further South by
the Kickapoos. These were industrious, intelligent and cleanly
in comparison with most of their kind, and made this town-
ship only their temporary home, on the way to and from other
hunting grounds. So the white men never had to dispute pos-
session of this land with the Indians, nor were they ever
molested by the Red Men, so far as history shows.
The first white man to locate in the township was John
King, of Ohio, who, in 1835, came and took up 80 acres on Sec-
tion 2, then returned to Ohio to bring out his family. The next
Spring he again started West, leaving his family to follow
later, but arriving at Peoria, he was taken sick and died before
reaching Knox County- As soon as they could leave their old
home, but which was not until 1837, his widow and nine
children, the youngest less than 2 years old, made the long
westward journey in wagons drawn by oxen, stopping with her
brother in Peoria County until their new home could be built.
Very soon thereafter came Darius Miller and his brother ;
then Felix Thurman settled on Section 34, L. A. Jones on Sec-
tion 15, Jacob Kightlinger on Section 27 and James H. Nichol-
son on Section 25. Josiah Nelson, John Thurman, John and
William West, Vachel Metcalf, J. H. and W. H. Baird and
Samuel Tucker were also early settlers.
The first marriage was Moses Smith to Tabitha George in
1840, by Jacob Kightlinger, the first Justice of the Feare,
whose Commission was dated August, 1839. The first birth
was Tabitha Smith, on Section 35.
The first house in the township was the one built by
Thomas King for his widowed mother and sisters and brothers.
It was on the north side of Section 2, on the Knoxville and
Peoria stage road, and was a one room log building, with a loft
The population increased steadily as the township was
built up, many of the early settlers having large families — the
majority of these were from Ohio, Pennsylvania and New
York, while several came from England.
The first school house in the township was built by Jacob
Kightlinger in 1842, on Section 27, but before this Mr. Kight-
linger had employed a private governess, named Antoinette
Walker, to teach his children, eleven in number. Vachel Met-
calf had also taught school in a private house, in 1840. As the
township became more settled, other school houses were built
until now there are eight in the township, all being substantial
frame buildings of one room each
The early settlers did not meet with such hardships as
were endured by many pioneers. Their homes were usually in
or near the timber, which furnished material for their build-
ings as well as fuel and shelter for their live stock until they
could build barns and sheds. There was plenty of game and
fish for food and good grazing for stock out on the prairie.
Only the cultivated land was fenced and cattle, horses and
hogs roamed at will over the prairies, and as they often failed
to come home at night, much time was spent hunting for them.
Money was not plentiful and prices were very low, corn selling
for 20 cents per bushel ; potatoes, 18% cents per bushel ; pork,
2 cents per lb. ; lard, 4 cents per lb. ; butter, 6 cents per lb ;
flour, $4.50 per barrel; wheat, 60 cents per bushel; oats, 30
cents per bushel, etc., but the wants of these people were not
many and were easily satisfied.
Travel at first was mostly on foot, on horseback or in
wagons drawn by oxen or horses, while the fortunate owners
of the first buggies and carriages were frequently called on
to loan them to their poorer or less provident neighbors. Dur-
ing busy seasons, while horses were working in the fields, some
thrifty housewives would occasionally take a basket of eggs
and butter on either arm and walk three or four miles to mar-
ket, bringing home groceries in exchange for their produce.
At the present time travel is mostly by buggy and automobile,
very few farmers feeling themselves too poor to afford the
In the early days Farmington in Fulton County, Charles-
ton (now Brimfield) in Peoria County, and Knoxville were the
nearest trading points. Later there were stores at Newburg
in Peoria County and Glenwood in Salem township. There was
a store at Eugene in Elba township. When Elmwood and
Yates City were started they secured most of the trade of this
township, which they now share with Williamsfield and Doug-
las. Also the early settlers hauled much of their wheat to
Peoria, and it was not uncommon to haul a load to Chicago,
bringing back lumber or something not obtainable at nearby
The first store in the township was at Eugene, on Section
2. It was a general store kept by E. A. Ellsworth, in a small
building near his residence, and was started prior to 1850-
There was also a Post Office here, the mail being brought by
stage from Knoxville and Peoria. Later, (in 1860), Miss
Mary King moved both store and Post Office to her home,
just east of her brother, James King's house; sometime after
her marriage to John Wilson in 1862, they were moved across
the road in Truro township.
The first Post Office in Elba, however, was at the home of
Jacob Kightlinger, and in 1870 one was established on Section
15, called Spoon River, but the following year the name was
changed to Elba Centre. There was also a store here. Miss
Rebecca Boyes, an aunt of County Superintendent of Schools,
W. F, Boyes, being Postmistress and store-keeper.
Felix Thurman put up the first saw-mill in the township,
on French Creek. It was a small mill, run by water power.
There was at one time a tile factory on the farm of George W.
Smith, on Section 24; E. A. Ellsworth also owned one on Sec-
tion 1, and there were brick kilns on Section 13 and 14, but
these industries have long since passed away.
In early days Samuel Tucker kept a tavern at his home,
a double log house on Section 2.
Coal was discovered in 1847, on Section 15, by Jacob
Elba township was organized in April, 1853, as Liberty
township, but the same year its name was changed to Elba.
N. S. Barber was named Moderator and J. W. Himes, Clerk.
Forty-nine votes were cast, resulting in the choice of James H.
Nicholson for Supervisor; H. L. Bailey, Assessor; Henry Smith,
Collector; J. W. Himes, Clerk; H. Oberholtzer, John West and
K. Himes, Commissioners of Highways; John West and B. F.
Johnson, Justices of the Peace; William Searles, Overseer of
the Poor; Henry Smith, Constable.
The present officers are: H. W, Oberholtzer, Supervisor;
J. P. Cecil, Assessor; Thomas Stroub, Highway Commissioner;
Ralph Baird, Clerk ; William Fuller, Justice of the Peace.
Rev. S. S. Miles, a Methodist minister, preached the first
sermon in the township at the home of Mr. Lambert, in 1839.
Preachers would come through the country and services would
be held at different homes, on any day. After the school houses
were built, services were held in them. The Rev. Cross, who
figures prominently in Underground Railroad affairs, lived in
this township and preached at various places. In Oct. 1854, he
lectured to a fair-sized crowd in the newly-built Pleasant Hill
school house, the first meeting held in the building. For years
quarterly meetings were held in groves through the township
and "protracted" meetings in the various school houses. Sun-
day School was held in the school houses, also.
The first church was built by the Methodists, in 1874, on
Section 17, and was dedicated in June of that year, by Presi-
dent Evans of Hedding College. No regular services have been
held in this church for some time now. In 1875 the Presby-
terians built a Church on Section 10, but as many of the mem-
bers soon after died or left the township, the building was sold
and moved. In 1876 the Methodists erected a church on Sec-
tion 13, which is called Bethel. No services have been held
here for some months. In early days the Bible and religion
were the principal subjects for discussion whenever thinking
men got together, taking the place now filled by politics and
events of the day.
At one time there was a strong leaning toward temper-
ance in the community and a" Good Templar Lodge was organ-
ized in 1867, and a hall built on Section 16, but gradually inter-
est died out, and the members dropped out one by one. In 1876
the building was sold and turned into a dwelling.
The first farms received very little cultivation ; indeed it
was not needed to raise a good crop. When the hazel-brush
was cleared off the land, the soil was very productive, and it is
said that on this newly cleared land, after the seed had been
scattered by hand, it was sometimes brushed into the soil by
drawing the bough of a tree over it. On prairie land the sod
was sometimes cut with a spade and the seed dropped into the
cut. Usually however, new land was broken with a breaking
plow drawn by several yoke of oxen. With these plows, brush
eight or ten feet tall would be turned under. A free negro,
named Solomon Bradley, did considerable breaking for Elba
When ready to hai^'est the grain was cut with a cradle and
threshed out on the barn floor either with flails or trampled by
horses. Corn when harvested and even wheat was often piled
up on the ground outside, with no protection but a rail pen
around it, but little spoilage resulting.
At first the amount of live stock raised was comparatively
small, as there was not a very good market for it. Hogs had to
be killed and dressed on the farm, then hauled from 10 to 40
miles or even farther, to market. After the railroad from
Peoria to Galesburg was built, and it became possible to ship
live stock to market, more cattle and hogs were raised on the
farms, until at the present day it is no uncommon thing to see
a drove of from 100 to 200 on a farm.
There are many good herds of cattle found on the farms
of Elba, some being pure-bred, while others are high grade.
The first pure-bred Shorthorn cattle were brought into the
township by G. W. Kennedy in 1866, and at one time he had a
herd of 126 head. Some years ago there was a strong inclin-
ation toward the raising of Daily cattle, but of late, owing to
the inability of the farmers to secure competent help, and to
the high price of daiiy feeds, more dual-puiiDose and beef cattle
are being kept.
At first there were very few sheep kept, because the
wolves and dogs were so destructive to them, but about the
time of the Civil War, when wool became so scarce and high-
priced, many farmers bought flocks or added to those they
already had. Within the last few years, also, there has been
considerable increase in sheep-raising, caused by the high
prices of wool and mutton. The first sheep were the coarse-
wool kind, but were soon succeeded by the Merino variety.
Today the medium wool are about the only kind that are raised
here. Many farmers of the township are also interested in
raising pure-bred horses.
June 5, 1844, a most destructive wind and rain storm vis-
ited Elba township as well as the rest of the county. Houses
and barns were unroofed or destroyed and other damage done.
It is likely that this is the storm which took the roof off the
Widow King's home, destroying much of her personal property.
In May, 1858, another severe storm visited this township.
Mrs. James King recalls that all the windows on the west side
of their house, both upstairs and down were broken by the hail,
and the rain poured in in such volume that, the upstairs floors
being tight, it ran down the stairway, like a river. In the
northwest part of the township a Mrs. Farster was killed by
the storm, and on the farm of J. H. Nicholson a large new born
was blown off its foundation.
In August, 1907, a storm of wind, rain and hail passed
through the township breaking windows, up-rooting trees and
destroying crops. Hail stones, having the circumference of
baseballs, but with uneven, jagged edges, were picked up in
the path of the storm.
There have been several notably severe snow storms, the
worst ones in January and February, 1885, and December, 1917
and January, 1918. In both of these a great amount of snow
fell, accompanied by high winds which caused it to drift badly,
completely filling and blockading roads, making travel impos-
sible for several days. Even railroad trains were caught in
snowdrifts and unable to get through for a couple of days. As
the temperature was well below zero, much . suffering was
caused both to people and animals.
In the Fall of 1869 or '70, in the northeast part of the
township, a little Cowley child wandered away and was lost.
The mother was attending a quilting at the home of a neigh-
bor. She supposed the child, a little boy of some 2 or 3 years,
was playing with the others, but when she was ready to go
home he was not to be found. Search about the place failed to
reveal him, and soon the entire neighborhood was aroused.
The little fellow, thinly clad and without wraps, was found the
next morning, face downward on the frozen ground, by his dis-
tracted grandfather, William King. He had died of exposure.
In pioneer days the homes were very simple and scantily
furnished. Because of the great distance the early settlers
had to come to reach their new homes, and the difficulty of
transportation, only such articles were brought along as were
deemed necessary. A few dishes and cooking utensils, some
chairs, a table, a bed or two, and their bedding would comprise
their household furnishings. Often beds would be built into
the side or corner of the home, thus simplyfying matters.
Many families also owned spinning wheels and looms, and the
mother spun yarn and wove cloth for her family's garments.
Later rag carpets were woven on these looms, and the homes
were thus made more comfortable.
At first fireplaces served both for heating and cooking;
these gradually gave place to cook stoves and heating stoves,
which today are replaced in many homes by the kitchen range
and furnace. The dirt or bare wood floors and rag carpets
gave place to carpets of ingrain and brussels and these in turn
to polished hardwood floors and velvet rugs.
At first the tallow dip, or candle furnished light, but was
superseded by the kerosene lamp, and this in many homes by
electric lights or acetylene gas.
The heavy stone-china or pewter dishes have been replaced
by china, glass and silver, and the iron pots and skillets by
those of aluminum and enameled ware.
The washing and sewing machines, the power churn,
vacuum cleaner and bread-mixer have been brought into many
homes to make easier the farm woman's work.
Where fifty years ago the organ in an Elba home was a
novelty, today there are very few homes without an organ,
piano, phonograph or musical instrument of some sort.
As the pioneers became prosperous and conditions easier,
the old log cabin was found insufficient and new and more
commodious homes of frame or brick were built. Many of
these houses, built fifty or sixty years ago, are still in use,
and, so substantial were the materials of which they were
made, and so thorough the workmanship employed in their
construction that today they compare favorably with houses
built many years later. Of these homes, probably none is
much if any older than the brick house built by J. H. Nicholson
on Section 25 in 1848, which is at present the home of his
Life was by no means all work and no play for the early
settlers. There were house-raisings and barn-raisings to call
the men together and quite needless to say there was always
much pleasure to be had at such a time. At butchering time also
several neighbors would be called in to help. The women had
their quiltings and apple-parings, while the young people took
especial delight in singing and spelling school and dances. Vis-
iting played an important part in the lives of these hard-
working people and helped to keep alive in the community a
spirit of neighborliness and good-fellowship.
They were a veiy hospitable people, and though their
accommodations might be meager, seldom was the traveler
turned away from their door, even though he were a stranger.
On the whole the residents of Elba are very prosperous ;
most of the farms are attractively located, well cultivated and
improved and the houses generally comfortable and commod-
ious buildings, some having all the conveniences of city homes.
Elba has always done her part in whatever way she was
called upon. During the Civil War she sent her share of sol-
diers to the front, and fine young men they were, too, some of
whom did not live to come back to their homes, but found
graves in Southern battlefields. During the recent World War
she sent her quota of noble manhood, regardless of the fact
that they could ill be spared, and gave generously of money to
help the Red Cross and other war activities.
This is the only township in the county without a railroad.
Neither is there a Post Office or business house of any kind
within its limits. About three-fourths of the township is fine,
roHing prairie, with a rich, black, loamy soil, especially suited
to the production of cereals, being one of the best townships in
the county for that purpose. A yield of 52 bushels of wheat
per acre and 75 bushels of oats has been known.
The population in 1910 was 619.
ANNALS OF GALESBURG
By Martha Farnham Webster
The annals of Galesburg are cherished in the hearts of her
children. The children of the Founders, their children, and
their children's children, for generations to come, may well
look back with emotions of pride and veneration upon the suc-
cessful fulfillment of a worthy purpose by those men and
women of sterling worth and noble achievement — the Found-
ers of Galesburg — the Colonists of 1836-37.
The founding of Galesburg was the fulfillment of a dream
which took hold upon the fancy of the Rev. George W. Gale of
Whitesboro, N. Y., and which held him under its potent spell
until it became a ruling passion with him. It came to him not
only as a "dream, in a vision of the night when deep sleep fall-
eth upon man," but by day and by night, for many days and
nights in succession it held in thrall, until no longer able or
willing to ignore its influence, he yielded to its spell and gave
up a work which he had successfully promoted for seven years
and devoted his every talent and energy to the carrying out of
a plan which had been maturing in his thought and seeking
fulfillment at his hand.
Before entering into a discussion of this plan, viz., a scheme
for the founding of an institution of learning somewhere in
the far, unknown western country which had begun to stretch
forth beckoning hands to the substantial citizens of New York
and New England to come out and possess the land, let us learn
something of the previous history of that man who was above
all others the founder of the town, the college, and the church,
and whose name set as a signet in the name of our fair city,
shall be held in honored remembrance so long as the city itself
George Washington Gale was born in Stanford, Dutchess
County, New York, December 3, 1789. He was the only son
and the youngest child of his parents, and was of frail consti-
tution and delicate health. At eight years of age he was left
an orphan to the care of his older sisters, of whom there were
eight, all of them well-married and living in the home neigh-
borhood. Naturally their oversight of the young, only brother
was most tender and loving, but it was also tinged with the
austerity which characterized the rigid methods of family
government in that period. They kept him constantly em-
ployed, either in study, or in the thousand nameless duties that
fall to the lot of a willing and obedient boy on a large farm.
George Gale was ambitious and much devoted to study,
and at an early age he entered Union College in Schenectady,
N. Y., successfully completed the course of study and was
graduated with honor. From Union College he went to Prince-
ton Theological Seminary, then, as now, one of the leading
Theological schools of this country. But his health did not
permit him to complete the course of study in the Seminaiy,
and greatly to his regret, he was compelled to leave the school,
hoping, however, to return at some future time to finish his
course. This he did in 1819, at thirty years of age. In the
meantime he had been licensed to preach, and during the period
of rest from his studies, he labored as a Home Missionary in
a comparatively new territory in northern New York. During
this period he was actively engaged in evangelistic work and
was the means of organizing a number of churches in that ter-
ritoiy. Returning to Princeton and completing the course
there, he immediately thereafter accepted a call to the church
at Adams, Jefferson County, N. Y., riding thither on horse-
back from Princeton, New Jersey.
After a time failing health again compelled Mr. Gale to
give up his work, and he resigned from this, his first and last
regular pastorate, much to the regret of all. Seeking health
in a milder climate, he went to Virginia and spent some months
there. His experiences in the South and his contact and inter-
course with people of a different type broadened his vision and
taught him lessons which were of value to him in later years.
Step by step he was led into experiences which would especially
fit him for taking up the crowning work of his life.
Improved in health, Mr. Gale returned to New York, but
found himself still unable to take up the duties of a pastorate.
He therefore found a temporary home in a comfortable old-
fashioned house on a small farm in Oneida County, N. Y.
This old farm house proved to be the source and inspiration
of the dream to which we have referred — the dream which led
him on to the establishment of a school for young men with
limited means, and later to the development of a plan which
resulted in the founding of Knox College and the City of Gales-
Briefly, the plan was to provide an opportunity for young
men of small means, or of no means at all, to secure an educa-
tion ; preferably for those who had the gospel ministry in
view. He invited young men of the neighborhood to come to
him for instruction. Half a dozen young men responded, and
to these he gave instruction and furnished books, while they
each agreed to perform three hours' daily work upon the farm
The plan was a success, and attracted much attention with
the result that after a time with the aid of interested friends,
he founded a school in the village of Whitesboro, Oneida
County, New York, which bore the name of Manual Labor In-
stitute. This experiment proved to be the germ and the grad-
ual development of the project which resulted in the organiz-
ation of the Galesburg colony and the founding of Knox Col-
Mr. Gale remained with the school at Whitesboro for seven
years. In 1834 he retired from the management and entered
into a new scheme looking toward the founding of an institu-
tion of learning in the far away western country, then so
largely unoccupied or even unexplored.
He carefully prepared a "Circular and Plan" clearly set-
ting forth his enlarged scheme. (This interesting document
is quoted in full, beginning at page 9 in the volume entitled
"Seventy-five Significant Years — The Stoiy of Knox College,"
prepared by the writer of these annals at the request of the
trustees of Knox College.)
Mr. Gale sent out his circular and set about securing sub-
scriptions to his entei'prise, making a personal canvass among
his friends in Central and Eastern New York, striving to inter-
est both clergymen and laymen in the plan in which he himself
was so deeply and vitally interested. In the early part of the
year 1835, he had secured a sufficient number of subscriptions
to justify an organization of the effort, and the action was
therefore taken which was to be of such untold influence and
importance in the years to come.
An organization was accomplished in the First Presbyter-
ian Church in Rome, New York, on the 6th of May, 1835. A
Prudential Committee was selected which was composed of
six men who were empowered to fill out their number to eleven
members. These six men were Walter Webb of Adams, Nehe-
miah West of Ira, Thomas Gilbert of Rome, John C. Smith of
Utica, George W. Gale of Whitesboro, and H. H. Kellogg of
Clinton. Where should the new enterprise be located ? Where
should be found the ways and means for carrying it to com-
pletion? These were the questions which involved long and
earnest discussion on the part of this committee.
An exploring committee must be named. Who should be
selected to undertake this highly important and responsible
work? The choice fell upon Nehemiah West, Thomas Gilbert
and T. B. Jervis for the exploring committee, and the Rev.
George W. Gale was to enlist families and secure funds for
the new colony.
By June, 1835, about one-half of the proposed sum was
subscribed; that is, about $20,000. Only about $6,000 of this
was ever paid. But, having "set their hands to the plow," the
promoters of this enterprise would not turn back, and so, on
the 6th day of June, 1835, was held in Rome, N. Y., the first
meeting of the subscribers. Of that meeting the Rev. John
Waters, afterward a conspicuous figure in the Galesburg col-
ony, was made chairman and T. B. Jervis, secretary. The fol-
lowing were appointed trustees of the fund: Messrs. Wal-
ter Webb, Nehemiah West, Thomas Gilbert, John C. Smith, G.
W. Gale and H. H. Kellogg ; and as already stated, Rev. George
W. Gale was general agent.
Thirty-three persons had given their approval to the plan
and had subscribed $21,000 toward carrying it into execution,
but only about half the names on that orginal subscription
list became permanent names on the records of the colony.
The list contained, of course, the names which have been men-
tioned above in connection with the various committees, and
others, making forty-six in all, many of the names never ap-
pearing in the annals of the colony. (A list of the original sub-
scribers may be found on page 12-13 in the volume to which
reference has been made, "Seventy-five Significant Years."
The book may be found in the Galesburg Public Library
and the Library of Knox College, the State Historical Libraiy
at Springfield, 111., and the Library of Memorial Continental
Hall, Washington, D. C.)
The exploring committee was instructed to explore the
prairie state of Indiana and Illinois between the fortieth and
forty-second degrees of north latitude, with reference to the
best location for the proposed settlement. The intructions give
evidence of shrewd calculation on the part of those who drafted
them and are so explicit In every detail that unwise or ill ad-
vised action on the part of the committee could scarcely have
been possible. (An interesting outline of these instructions
may be found on page 15 of "Seventy-five Significant Years.")
The committee went out as instructed, explored the re-
gions designated, fixed upon a location in Knox County in the
State of Illinois, and returning made their report to the sub-
scribers at their second meeting, August 19, 1835. The report
was accepted and a purchasing committee was appointed, con-
sisting of Rev. George W. Gale, Silvanus Ferris and Nehemiah
West. Their instructions were to purchase not less than
twenty sections of land and as much more as their funds
would allow, one-tenth of which must be timber and the rest
prairie, and for which the government price of $1.25 per acre
was to be paid. Three sections should be reserved for college
and village purposes and the rest sold to actual settlers at
$5.00 per acre. The surplus thus accruing was to constitute
the endowment of the college ; while the proceeds from the sale
of village lots were to be used toward the endowmnt of a Fe-
And so the purchasing committee set out upon that final
mission in this great enterprise — the purchase of the land on
which now stands the fair city of Galesbiirg as a monument to
their wise and far-sighted investment.
The story of the journey of the purchasing committee is
most interestingly told in a letter written by Nehemiah West,
one of the committee, to a relatives, immediately after his re-
turn from the trip. We quote portions of the letter. After
describing the experiences of the journey, some of them peril-
ous and all of them interesting and which occupied three
months for the round trip, he referred to the purchase of the
site selected by the exploring committee; he says: "We pro-
ceeded to Illinois and after examining all the places visited by
the committee in the spring, we selected a location in the
county of Knox, lying nearly central between the Illinois and
Mississippi rivers in the Military Tract, 150 miles southwest
from Chicago and about 40 miles west of Peoria. We pur-
chased about 20,000 acres nearly in a square form, mostly
prairie. It is a fine tract of land in a very healthy country,
well watered and supplied with abundance of stone and coal.
We surveyed it out into lots of eighty acres each, agreeable to
our plan of distribution among subscribers.
In the center we laid off three contiguous sections of 640
acres each, for college and village purposes — two for the col-
lege and one for the village — stuck the stakes of our college
building and returned home. * * * We have about thirty fam-
ilies, all pious, who are to settle together, so you see we have
the prospect of a good socciety and the facilities for educating
our children. We expect to start with our families as soon as
the roads are passable in the spring. I have a log cabin ready
to move into till I can build and 40 acres broken up all ready for
any kind of grain. We expect to break and fence 200 or 300
acres of the college land next season and sow it to wheat.
Thirty bushels to the acre is the usual product for the
first crop. It is worth six shillings per bushel, eighty bushels
to the acre of corn, worth two shillings per bushel, but it is
worth more to feed, as pork is worth $4.00 per cwt. to send to
New Orleans." The last paragraph quoted gives us an idea
of the crop conditions of that period and the financial returns
which the early settlers received from their produce.
Comparative Prices, 1836-1918
In 1836 wheat sold for between $1.40 and $1.50 per bushel ;
com sold for 50 cents per bushel and hogs for $4.00 per hun-
dred. Now, in 1918, wheat is worth $2.10 per bushel, corn
$1.50 per bushel and hogs are selling for $20.00 per hundred
weight, and therefore, now, as then, the farmers find that corn
is "worth more to feed" than to sell.
The First Company Sets Out for "The West."
As early in the spring of 1836 as the roads would permit,
"the advance guard of the army of occupation" under the lead-
ership of Nehemiah West, left their pleasant homes in New
York and started westward. They journeyed in strong, well-
built, canvas covered wagons drawn by patient, plodding
horses. Their rate of progress was that of about as many
miles per day as the average railway train covers in an hour.
Four long weeks measured their slow and toilsome length
before the new home was reached and they beheld "the city of
The First Dwellings
And what did they look upon ? Not a city of comfortable
homes, of schools and churches and business houses, as were
their own familiar Utica and Albany, not even the pretty,
peaceful village nestling at the foot of the green hills from
which they turned their faces as they bade good-bye to home
and friends ; but just a few rude log cabins standing in the out-
skirts of a "stretch of timber" that bordered an apparently
limitless expanse of trackless, treeless prairie. These cabins
were located three and one-half miles northwest of the center
of the site of their future city of Galesburg. They had been
built and occupied by settlers coming up from Kentucky and
other parts of the south, who had within the five or six years
previous fringed the grove with a tier of farms and had then
vacated their cabins presumably for more commodious quar-
ters. There were not enough of these cabins to accommodate
even the first party that arrived, but they distributed them-
selves as best they could until they could build cabins for them-
selves, and in their turn vacate those they found to be occupied
by a succession of later arrivals who came during the summer
and fall of 1836 and the spring of 1837. Some of the young
people slept in corn cribs belonging to the cabins, or were
housed in tents made of boughs until a sufficient number of
cabins could be built for the shelter of all who came ; albeit
they must be crowded to the extent of two and three families
in a single room of these rude buildings.
; "Log City"
The cluster of cabins which thus sprang up along the edge
of Henderson Grove, and scattered for a mile or more along the
woodland trail, came to be known in the history of the colony
as "Log City," a name revered and honored in the hearts of all
true and loyal descendants of the Founders.
Description of the First Cabins
Prof. George Churchill of Knox College in one of his his-
torical papers says: "It would astonish a modern builder to
examine one of these mansions. Some of them were built
without as much as a single nail or pane of glass in the entire
structure. Log walls were chincked with mud, outside chim-
ney constructed of sticks and clay, with upper aperature so
large as not only to give egress to the smoke, but ingress to
the light when the cabin door was shut. Doors made of split
boards fastened with wooden pins to a wooden hinge ; a punch-
eon floor, and roof covered with shakes (narrow strips of
wood) held down by heavy log riders.
First Rude Furnishings
The furniture was at first as rude as the cabins. Boxes,
barrels and short logs were the chairs, a larger box the table,
and a one-post bed stood in one corner of the room."
Shipments of Furniture Long Delayed
One reason for the utter crudeness of the furniture thus
described, and the lack of household conveniences of all kinds
was the fact that their goods were shipped by water and were
delayed many weeks after the colonists themselves had arrived
on the scene. The "one-post bed" referred to above was con-
structed in this way : A pole was mortised into a log at the
end of the room at a proper distance from the corner to meas-
ure the width of the iDed. Another pole was mortised into the
side wall at the distance of a bed's length. The two poles which
came together at a right angle were supported by a third up-
right post which constituted the only outer support. Ropes
were interlaced across and around these poles forming by their
network a foundation for a straw bed, the popular mattress of
that day. A straw or husk or hay mattress made a fragrant
wholesome resting place, providing the filling of the ticks was
replenished often enough to meet sanitary requirements. A
third bed was often made between the two corner beds by plac-
ing four "chests" side by side. These chests were a necessary
article in the household furniture of every family. They con-
tained the wearing apparel of the family, and every time an
article stored in them was needed, the bedding had to be re-
moved. The one room was equipped with a stove for cooking
and heating purposes, or sometimes with only a fireplace. One
of the stoves in a Log City home has been thus described : The
stove was in the shape of an oblong box with one large opening
in the center of the top ; directly underneath this was the fire-
box with a wide, projecting hearth in front where the hoe-
cakes were toasted.
In these crowded, crude, and neccessarily unsanitary
quarters they cooked, and ate, and slept and suffered all kinds
of privations and hardships, but remained strong in courage
and hope. The manner of housing and furnishing was only a
temporary "make shift" until their furniture arrived and
more comfortable houses could be built. Before the winter
drew near they were all comfortably housed in log cabins, suf-
ficient in number and capacity for their immediate needs. The
cold weather of the autumn of 1836 found 175 residents in
Log City busily preparing for the coming winter. During the
winter the men were busy getting timber ready for the houses
to be built on the prairie in the spring. After the first saw-
mill was put up, house building began in good earnest.
First Saw Mill in 1837
A steam saw mill was built on colony land in Henderson
Grove by John Kendall and was completed in 1837. Previous
to the completion of this mill sawed lumber for building was
only obtainable by hauling logs from Henderson Grove to
Knoxville, and paying for the mill work with two-thirds of the
boards. Naturally it was greatly to the advantage of the col-
onists to have their own saw mills located upon colony land.
The next year the Feri'is brothers. Western, Olmsted, and Wil-
liam, sons of Silvanus Ferris, built the second mill two miles
northwest of the Kendall mill, and shortly afterward a third
saw mill was erected in Galesburg b}^ Nehemiah West, Erastus
Swift, and George W. Gale. This mill was located on the north
side of Ferris Street between West and Academy. Although
located four miles from the nearest timber the output of this
latter mill was in great demand and found ready use at the
point where it was turned out. And doubtless the combined
output of the three mills was needed to meet the demands of
the colonists who were building their village and their farm
houses upon the prairies during these first busy years from
1836 to 1840. The houses upon the prairie were, with an ex-
ception, frame houses, albeit they were plain and modest in
their structure. An early settler in writing of these buildings
says, "In the early days of the Galesburg settlement few vill-
ages in Illinois could boast of painted houses and the white
dwellings of the embryo city attracted the pleased attention of
eastern travelers. This distinction was rendered possible by
the oil mill built and operated by Leonard Chappell on Kellogg
street, between Main and Ferris. There oil might be had in
exchange for flax seed raised on the farms."
The first dwelling house built upon the site of the city of
Galesburg was that of William Holyoke, and it stood on the
lot now occupied by the Mathews block, between Prairie and
Kellogg streets, and on the north side of Main street. A frame
house built at Log City and occupied by Riley Root and his
family was placed upon large sleds and in that way removed to
the village on the prairie and located upon the lot at the north-
west corner of Main and Cherry streets in the block now occu-
pied by the Farmers' and Mechanics' Bank, the Rearick Hard-
ware Store, etc.
The First Meeting- House
The log cabin of Hugh Conger has the distinction of hav-
ing been the first meeting house of the colonists, it being more
commodious than some of the others, as was necessary for his
family of seven children. But before the cold weather of their
first winter set in a more commodious and comfortable build-
ing was provided which was designed for both church and
First Building for Both Church and School Purposes
This was a two-room building with a wide door between
the rooms in which the speaker stood so as to be readily seen
and heard from both rooms. It was constructed of split tim-
bers, roofed with split shakes, floored with split boards, and
when the saw mill began to run, ceiled upon the inside with
rough basswood boards and the space between the clapboards
and the ceiling filled with saw-dust. Professor Churchill says :
"It would not be much out of the way to say that in this very
building the first terai of Knox College was held with Profes-
sor Nehemiah H. Losey as principal and Miss Lucy Gay as
First Public School Building
It also served the pui-pose of a public school and was the
only building for that purpose until the following year, or pos-
sibly two years, when the first public school building devoted
primarily and especially to that purpose was erected in the
new village on the prairie. It stood on the northeast corner of
the public square facing the south. It could boast of one feat-
ure of the most approved and up-to-date type ; that is, the floor
was inclined from the front to the rear of the room, so that the
teacher standing or seated by his desk at the further end could
readily supei'\'ise the deportment of the pupils.
First Public School Teacher
Among the many who held sway over this school from
1840 to 1850 were Eli Farnham, who had the distinction of be-
ing the first teacher of the first public school in Galesburg;
James H. Noteware, afterward superintendent of public schools
for the State of Kansas ; Marshall Belong, one of the most pop-
ular and successful teachers of the early day, in this vicinity ;
George Churchill, prince of teachers from the very beginning
of his long career in the school and class-room ; and Henry
McCall, whose wife and daughter. Miss Ida McCall, many years
thereafter, were both of them, and for a number of years both
at the same time, the honored and beloved teachers of many
successive classes in Knox Academy.
Development of Galesburg Public Schools
From that small beginning the Galesburg Public School
system has developed and increased until it has reached the fol-
lowing proportions: In the fall of 1918 there are twelve build-
ings with a total enrollment of 3,721 pupils. The High School
is a modem, well-equipped building of forty-four rooms. The
grade buildings range in size from four to thirteen rooms.
There are one hundred twenty-eight instructors and supervis-
ors and fifteen secretaries and other helpers, making in all
one hundred forty-three upon the pay roll. The school build-
ings with the exception of the High School and the Central Pri-
maiy are named in honor of the two most distinguished men
our state has given to the nation ; for Presidents and Profes-
sors in our Colleges, and for substantial citizens who have given
efficient service upon the board of trustees in the colleges, and
the board of education in the Public schools. These are the
Names of Public School Buildings
Lincoln, Douglas, Weston, Bateman, Churchill, Hitchcock,
Cooke, Farnham, Silas Willard and L. T. Stone. An attractive
and finely equipped gymnasium was completed during the
summer of this centennial year, and to this building is given
the name of the W. L. Steele Gymnasium, in memory of the
lamented superintendent of our city schools who for thirty-
three years devoted himself untiringly and with pronounced
success to the improvement and the upbuilding of these schools
and died in May, 1918, just previous to his voluntary retire-
ment from the active service which he had so well performed.
But to go back to the autumn of 1837. At this time so
many had moved out to their farms or to the village upon the
prairie, that the church services were held alternately at the
grove and at the village, in the latter place the meetings being
held in a store building which was owned by Matthew Cham-
bers and was located at the intersection of Main street with
the Public Square, east of the Square and on the south side of
Population of the Town at the Close of 1837.
By the close of 1837 there was a community numbering
232. Of these 175 came in 1836 and 57 in 1837. Besides these
there were at least two families belonging to the original colony
who settled elsewhere. Mr. Thomas Gilbert settled in Knox-
ville and Mr. Isaac Wetmore in Ontario. But the colonists of
1836 and 1837 were the original "Old Settlers," and these were
they who, building themsetlves, "their lives, their fortunes and
their sacred honor," into the structure of the College, the
Church, and the community, won for themselves the distinctive
title of "The Founders." As a matter of historic interest in-
terest and for purposes of information to further inquirers we
give below the names of the colonists of 1836 and 1837, the
"Founders of Galesburg."
Names of Colonists — 1836
The first company who arrived on the second day of June,
1836, consisted of the following persons: Mr. and Mrs. Nehe-
miah West and their five children ; Mr. and Mrs. Hugh Conger
and seven children ; Miss Elizabeth Hudson ; Mr. Barber Allen
and his son, Daniel ; and the young men, John G. West and
The First Wedding, August 31, 1836
Miss Elizabeth Hudson and Mr. Henry Ferris were the
principals in the first wedding of the colony. They were mar-
ried August 31, 1836, only two months after the arrival of
Miss Hudson. Mr. Ferris had spent the previous winter, that
of 1835-1836, in one of the log cabins in Henderson Grove, and
was on the ground to welcome the first company on its arrival.
There is a difference of opinion as to whether he lived entirely
alone in his cabin, or had the company of another man, one of
the Goodell family.
Other Companies Arrive
The names of other colonists who arrived with their fam-
ilies during the summer and fall of 1836 are the following:
Messrs. George and H. Troop Avery, their mother and sisters ;
Mathew Chambers ; Leonard Chappell ; C. S. Colton ; Patrick
Dunn ; Caleb Finch ; Lusher Gay ; Daniel Griffith ; Abel
Goodell ; William Hamblin ; John Haskins ; Mrs. Sarah Warner
Hitchcock, a widow and her sons, Elam and Samuel ; the two
Kendall brothers, Adoniram and John ; Elisha King ; John Mc-
Mullen ; Isaac Colton ; Roswell Payne ; Riley Root ; Thomas
Simmons ; Erastus and Job Swift ; Daniel Wheeler, and Henry
Willcox. The most of them had families of two or more little
children. Two of the young men were married during the sum-
mer or fall of 1836. This list does not include the members of
the canal boat company who arrived about August 1, 1836,
Rev. George W. Gale with his wife and family of young child-
ren arrived quite late in the fall of 1836.
"The Canal Boat Company," 1836.
The historic "canal boat trip" of the summer of 1836 was
made up of a series of vicissitudes and disasters seldom paral-
leled in the annals of pioneer emigration. The company num-
bered thirty-seven and included men, women and children rang-
ing in age from an infant of six weeks to men and women of
forty or fifty years. The persons making up this party were :
Captain John C. Smith and wife (Mr. Smith being one of the
subscribers to Mr. Gale's enterprise, and the promoter of this
water trip for the party) ; Miss Catherine Ann Watson, a neice
of Mrs. Smith, and two little sons of Dr. Grant, a Nestorian
missionary who came under their care ; Mr. and Mrs. Mills, two
sons and a daughter; Miss Hannah Adams, a sister of Mrs,
Mills ; a girl named Mariah Fox, and a negro boy named Harry,
who was under the charge of Mr. Mills ; Mr, Lyman, his wife,
two sons and two daughters ; Mr. Orrin Kendall, his wife and
two little sons ; John Kendall ; N. H. Losey, his wife, and one
child ; Henry Hitchcock, a brother of Mrs. Losey ; Mrs. Clarissa
Phelps, two daughters and one son, two nieces and a nephew
(the children of Riley Root) ; John Bryan and a negro who
steered the boat. The disastrous experiences of this party are
related in Chapter VI of the book entitled "Seventy-five Signi-
ficant Years," to which we have previously referred. They are
of pathetic and tragic interest.
Arrivals in Spring of 1837
In the spring of 1837 a number of substantial citizens with
their families arrived to swell the population of the little com-
munity. Among them were the following, the most of them
married and with children of various ages: Silvanus Ferris
(although one of the chief promoters of the enterprise, he was
one of the later arrivals), his sons William and Olmstead,
both of them married ; Mr. Ferris' son-in-law, Dr. James Bruce ;
J. P. Frost, the founder of the Frost Manufacturing Company,
and wife; Eli Farnham and wife; H. H. May, the inventor of
the first steel plow, and wife ; Agrippa Martin and family ; Levi
Sanderson and family ; Junius Prentice aind family ; Sheldon
Allen, wife and infant son ; Jonathan Simmons and wife ;
Harvey Jerauld ; Western Ferris ; N. 0. Ferris ; George Ferris
and possibly others. One section at least of this group of fam-
ilies was six weeks on the way. Judging from the record of
the names of the towns and villages touched along the route,
their line of travel was much the same as that followed by the
Michigan Central railroad today.
Methods of Travel Then and Now
The early methods of travel were as we have seen, slow,
wearisome and hazardous. They were in almost overwhelm-
ing contrast to the luxurious service and the rapid transit
afforded by the railroads, the ocean liners, the private motor
cars, and most amazing of all, the air craft of the present day.
Many have made the mistake of concluding that the Galesburg
colonists traveled from the East in wagons drawn by ox teams.
This is not true. They came either in wagons covered with
canvas to protect them from the weather and drawn by strong
horses, or by the water route which included in its devious
course the Erie canal. Lake Erie, the Ohio canal, the Ohio
River, and the Mississippi and Illinois rivers. Some of the
men who came singly came by water as far as Chicago, which
was then a village of a few hundred inhabitants, and then
by horseback the remainder of the way.
The Pioneers from the Southern States
The southerners who settled along the outskirts of Hen-
derson Grove five or six years previous to the coming of
our colonists made the journey on horseback bringing with
them their personal belongings and such small articles of fur-
niture as they could carry upon pack horses. A remarkable
example of pioneer enterprise and intrepid adventure may be
found in the case of Mrs. Henrietta Brown, the widowed
mother of eight sons and daughters who grew up to be prom-
inent and useful citizens in the townships adjacent to Hen-
derson Grove. When the spirit of emigration took hold upon
a group of her friends and neighbors, substantial citizens of
the ''Kentucky Blue Grass Countiy," she joined their ranks
and with her children, ranging in age from an infant to young
manhood and womanhood, she journeyed from Kentucky with
a train of horses of the fine old Kentucky stock, sufficient in
number to transport herself and her children, the family cloth-
ing and bedding and a few pieces of furniture. The children
who were too small to ride alone, and the younger ones too
numerous to ride upon the horse with their mother were sus-
pended in panniers swung across the backs of the pack horses.
The First Fort in Knox County
Upon the tract of Government land which Mrs. Brown
acquired which was located about seven miles N. W. of Gales-
burg, the first fort or stockade in Knox County was erected.
This served the purpo^^e of a dwelling for her family and a
place of refuge for the neighbors in case of alarm from the
Indian bands who roamed the prairie at that period. Later,
when that building became too small to protecting the increas-
ing population, another fort was built upon the premises of
her son-in-law, Peter Franz, and was located about one-half the
distance between the first fort and the present site of Gales-
burg. Two other forts erected in Knox County in that early
period as protection against the Indians were located respec-
tively on Section 10 in Henderson Township and S. E. of Knox-
ville in Orange Township. The forts N. W. of the site of
Galesburg were called Fort Aggie and Fort Lewis.
The First Store
The first store in the community was conducted bj' one
of the colonists from Maine, Mr. Chauncey S. Colton, who came
in the season of 1836. It is said that, with true Yankee thrift
and enterprise, he began to sell goods in one end of the log
cabin of one of the Kentucky settlers, with whom he and his
family were quartered until his store building about a mile
farther west, in the Log City neighborhood, could be com-
pleted. This building is described as an 8 by 10 foot structure
in which Mr. Colton displayed a varied assortment of goods —
"a department store" in embryo. But about this nucleus he
gathered a fortune as the years passed by, until he became one
of the wealthiest men of his day in this section of the state.
As the homes upon the prairie were occupied Mr. Colton re-
moved his stock of goods to a building on the northwest corner
of the intersection of Main street and the Public Square in the
village which building also served the puiT)ose for his family
for a number of years.
During that same season other stores were opened by
Mathew Chambers and Levi Sanderson who also carried on a
thriving and prosperous business and were reckoned among
the moneyed men of the county.
Commercial Development Along All Lines
The mercantile business thus started has developed along
all lines suited to household needs until Galesburg with its var-
ious wholesale and retail business houses has become the com-
mercial center for a large area of one of the richest tracts of
country in the state.
First Academy Building
Late in the fall of 1838 the first Academy building was
finished and occupied. It stood where the First National Bank
building now stands, on the northeast corner of Main and
Cherry streets. Years ago it was moved farther north to
the middle of the block, fac'ng Cherry street, and was at first
used as a private residence, and afterward as a boarding
house. This historic structure was demolished early in the
spring of 1918, and is now only a memory.
With the Academy building completed and occupied by an
academic department of forty students and a corps of teachers,
it began to look as if Mr. Gale's great idea was about to
be realized. The college had entered upon its career of use-
fulness. But since it could not spring into being fully equipped
it must first be established upon a strong and durable founda-
tion. That foundation was the preparatory school, the Acad-
First Knox College Faculty
The first faculty of the college was composed of five mem-
bers. They were the following: Rev. Hiram H. Kellogg, Pres-
ident ; Rev. George W. Gale, Acting Professor of Languages ;
Nehemiah H. Losey, A. M., Professor of Mathematics and Nat-
ural Science; James H. Smith, A. B., Tutor; Miss Julia Chand-
ler, Preceptress of the "Female Department." After the re-
quired training in the Academy the first Freshman class was
ready to enter upon the regular college curriculum in the
fall of 1841, five years after the arrival of the colonists at
First Knox Commencement
In June, 1846, the first Knox Commencement Day oc-
curred, and a class of nine young men was graduated. Of
these, five became ministers, two of whom were foreign mis-
sionaries, two became physicians, one a professor in college,
and one a farmer. Dr. Jonathan Blanchard, who became Presi-
dent of the college in 1845, had the distinction of presiding over
this first notable occasion and with this event the Idea had
fully materialized, the dream came true.
Numbers Then and Now
Some figures by way of comparison will show the develop-
ment of the college up to the present time. The first college
faculty numbered five. The faculty at the beginning of the
school year, 1918, numbered 24. The first graduating class
numbered 9; the class of 1918 numbered 50. Presumably the
first Freshman class numbered 9, although we have not the
figures at hand. The Freshman class in the fall of 1918 num-
bered 292. Of these 235 were inducted into the Student's
Army Training Corps, according to the new order of things
throughout the entire country in consequence of the "World
War." There were in all 301 new students of whom 288 were
men. A large number of men who would naturally have swelled
the ranks of the other classes had enlisted for active service
in the army and were either in the train'ng camps or had gone
In the year 1851, another college was founded in Gales-
burg by the Universalists, of which denomination there were
a number of influential families among the early settlers. The
intention was at first to make it more of a preparatory school
than a college, and it was to be known as the Illinois Liberal
Institute. Accordingly on February 15, 1851, a charter was
granted to this new enterprise under that name. In 1852 the
school opened its doors to pupils in a new building which was
erected on the northwest comer of Tompkins and Seminary
streets. The first faculty was composed of two teachers, the
Rev. Paul Raymond Kendall and a lady assistant who not long
afterward became his wife. Between sixty and seventy pupils
were at first enrolled. Dr. Kendall was President and his wife,
who was a lady of versatile accomplishments was able to assist
him in the various branches taught.
Dr. J. V. N. Standish
In 1854, John Van Ness Standish, a descendant of Captain
Myles Standish of "Pilgrim" fame, was added to the faculty.
He was a native of Vermont and a graduate of Norwich Uni-
versity. From the time of his arrival in Galesburg to the
present time, for a period of seventy-four years, the presence
among us of this honored citizen has been a powerful influence
and aid in the up-building of our city. Educational, moral,
reformatory, phalanthropic, beneficent, and all other measures
looking toward our city's growth and well being have been
vigorously, untiringly, and generously supported by him. For
forty-one years he has been President of the Park Board, and in
that office and also as City Forester, his labors for the beauti-
fying of our city have been of inestimable value. Had he ac-
complished no other work during his long and fruitful life, that
which he has done for the improvement and beautifying of
Galesburg would have won for him the tribute : "Well done,
good and faithful servant."
Mrs. Harriet Augusta Standish
His wife, who as Miss Harriet Augusta Kendall, a cousin
of of the President, came also to join the faculty of the new
enterprise in 1854, was a woman of very superior mental at-
tainments and culture. After her marriage to Dr. Standish
she became his inspirer, his helper, and his counselor in all his
undertakings. She joined with him in large gifts for educa-
tional purposes, and beautiful Standish Park, the Knox campus,
Lombard campus, and many private grounds in our city are a
monument to their mutual plans and personal efforts.
"Should you seek their monument, look about you." In 1855
the building of the Liberal Institute was burned to the ground,
and a new project for the school came to the front. Its trus-
tees decided that in planning for a new and better building,
plans for the school should also be enlarged.
Benj. Lombard, Sr.
They began to solicit funds with the new building, the
higher standards, and the enlarged course of study as their
objective. Mr. Benjamin Lombard, Sr., a wealthy Universalist
of a neighboring town promised to give $20,000 to the enter-
prise, providing the trustees would raise $15,000 and give his
own name to the school. Arrangements were finally made for
carrying out this plan, and a new charter was secured naming
the school Lombard University. This is the name which its
charter still bears, although some years ago the trustees voted
to drop the name University, (as their plans for University
courses had not been realized), and call it simply Lombard Col-
New Location Chosen
The new building was located upon an eighty acre tract,
lying one mile S. E. of the original site which gave ample space
for such additional buildings as they might need. Mr. Lom-
bard offered to pay for this ground if the trustees would pur-
chase 't and locate the building there. The deed was given to
the trustees by Lorentus E. and Mary W. Conger and the pur-
chase price was $3,200.
Dr. Standish is authority for the statement that no col-
lege in this section of the country and possibly not one through-
out the entire land has been erected under such trying and
adverse conditions because of the entire lack of financial re-
sources with which to meet the expense of construction. Mr.
Lombard's gift which was large for that day was not available
until near the close of the year 1856.
The building was erected by degrees, or in sections as it
were. After exhausting the slender means at hand at the
beginning of the work, the building waited until further funds
could be solicited to meet further expenditures. For example,
the foundation was laid, the first story put up, the walls tem-
porarily roofed with boards, and the workmen dismissed until
President Kendall could make a tour of the surrounding towns
and country-side presenting the needs of the institution, and
urgently soliciting contributions, however small, so that the
work might go on. Then the walls of the second story were
laid and the work again stopped until a second canvass could
be made. Finally the third story was finished and permanently
roofed, and the skeleton of the shapely structure awaited for
many months the interior finishing of partitions, plastered
walls and permanent floors.
Lombard's First Commencement — Prof. Standish Presides
The Commencement exercises of the year 1857 were held
in the building temporarily fitted up for the occasion, and Pro-
fessor Standish, then acting President while President Kendall
was out soliciting funds, conferred the degrees upon a graduat-
ing class of five members. Their names were Fielding Bond,
Floyd G. Brown, James H. Chapin, Edward D. Lunn and David
Scott Wick. Two of these young men died in early manhood
and the other three became prominent in public and profes-
A Divinity School was for some years connected with ''
institution, but a number of years ago, it was removed to Chi-
cago University, and Dr. Lewis Beals Fisher, the President,
was placed in charge of it while a new President was chosen for
Lombard S. A. T. C.
The present faculty numbers twenty-two, and the college
is one of the units of the Student's Army Training Corps, as a
result of our country's participation in the great *'World War."
The First Church
Up to about 1840 the material growth of the Church was
noteworthy for so comparatively brief a period. The organ-
ization of the church had been effected in February, 1837,
when sixty-four united with the church by letter and eighteen
by profession, making eight-eight on the first enrollment. At
the close of a series of revival meetings which followed the
occupancy of the new Academy building as a place of worship,
fifty-eight names were added to the membership of the church,
and its moral power was greatly strengthened.
A New Church Building
Early in the forties it became evident that a "meeting
house" must be built. The Academy building erected in 183 >
was found to be entirely too small for the gathering congrega-
tions for in those days everybody attended church. The his-
tory of the meetings and discussions which were held in plan-
ning for the ways and means of providing for a new and ample
building in those days of great privation and rigid economy
form a most interesting chapter in the annals of the colony, but
there is not space for it here.
A plan for the new building was finally adopted. It was to
be sixty feet wide by eighty feet long, and twenty-four fset
high from floor to ceiling. As they sat in their unpretentious
Academy building and discussed and compared dimensions it
seemed to some of them that the height was overwhelming,
for the room in which they were assembled measured eight feet
"between joists," and twenty-four feet would be three times
as high as that room, which would be absurd.
Work of Building Commenced
The original dimensions, however, were adopted and the
work commenced. After a time, for lack of money and matei -
ial, the construction was discontinued ; and for months length-
ening into years the material which had been gathered lay
in unsightly heaps completely filling the southwest corner of
the square near the unfinished structure. The building was
finally completed sufficiently to be used for the Commence-
ment exercises of 1846. It was not wholly enclosed and not
seated, but temporary seats of rough planks and a temporary
platform were provided. There was to be still further delay
before it was finished. In 1848, the building was at last com-
pleted and arrangements were made to dedicate it on Bacca-
laureate Sunday of Commencement week. The date was June
President Blanchard preached the sermon and Father
Waters offered the dedicatory prayer. He, it was, who with
the other members of the purchasing committee, thirteen
years before, had kneeled with uncovered head upon the un-
broken prairie and dedicated the new enterprise to the Lord,
imploring His favor and blessing upon it, and upon all who in
all time to come should be connected with it. The momentous
events of the intervening years and the interesting and im-
pressive exercises of that occasion were in part an answer to
At two o'clock of the same day Dr. Gale preached the
Baccalaureate sermon and Rev. J. R. Walker gave the address
before the Society of Religious Inquiry connected with the Col-
lege. It was truly a strenuous day for those who attended the
entire series of services.
Professor Churchill says of this building subsequent to its
completion and dedication : "For many years, as there was no
other room in the village so capacious, it was used, not alone for
religious meetings, but for musical concerts and scientific lec-
tures, temperance lectures, anti-slavery lectures, and conven-
tions, and mass meetings held in the interests of many of the
great reforms of the day. The most eloquent pulpit and plat-
form orators who graced the lecturere's rostrum in the hey-day
of its glory always found the old First Church ready to give
them welcome. Among those who have lectured there were
Ralph Waldo Emerson, Edward Everett, Henry Ward Beecher,
Wendell Phillips, John B. Gough, and many others of world
wide fame. Many a time I have seen the house so crowded on
such occasions that it was almost impossible for the speaker
to make his way up the aisle to the platform."
Development of Religious Life in the Community
Since the dedication and occupancy of that First Church of
Galesburg, which was a notable achievement for that early
period in this section of Illinois, the development of the organ-
ized religious life of the community has kept pace with the
increase in the population. At the present time there are 16
Protestant churches with a total enrollment of between 6,000
and 7,000 resident members, all of them having upon their
rolls non-resident members, who for various reasons, have not
severed their connection with the Galesburg Church. These
figures represent a church membership equal to about one-
fourth of the population. There are also two Roman Catholic
churches with a combined membership of somewhat more than
2,000. This includes the baptized children as well as the adults.
Hospitals, Etc., At Present Time
Added to these strictly religious organizations are our
philanthropic and beneficent institutions which always go hand
in hand with the church. There are two Hospitals; an active
and efficient Free Kindergarten Home ; an Association Home
for the care and comfort of boys and girls too old to be cared
for by the Kindergarten, the Young Men's Christian Associa-
tion, and the Catherine Club, a delightful home for young
women who need the atmosphere and the protection of a home
in a strange city. The buildings belonging to all of these above
mentioned institutions are fine, up-to-date, well equipped build-
ings. A Day Nursery has also been recently started for the
purpose of caring for babies and small children whose mothers
are obliged to labor during the day, and have no one with whom
to leave their helpless children while they are away from home.
Galesburg Railway Service
In 1854 the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad com-
pleted its line from Chicago to Galesburg, and in due course
of time this city became an important division station on that
great rail way system. The first train reached the town on
December seventh between seven and eight o'clock in the
morning. The impetus which the varied and far-reaching ac-
tivities of this road have given to the commercial and industrial
life of our city has been of inestimable value as a factor in its
growth and development. Later, in 1886, the great Santa Fe
system (which according to Clark E. Carr is one of the great-
est railway systems in the world), surveyed its line through
Galesburg, and established one of its important stations here,
thus contributing in a large degree to our influence and pros-
perity. Not every inland prairie town can boast of having
given the right of way to two of the greatest trans-continental
railway lines of the world, over which tourists and traffic must
of necessity unceasingly roll in their passage between the At-
lantic and Pacific seaboards.
Notable Events in Galesburg
Galesburg has been the scene of many notable events, some
of them involving national and even international issues. Con-
spicuous among these was the great Lincoln-Douglas Debate of
October 7, 1858. This was one of a series of debates between
those two great men and pronounced political rivals, Abraham
Lincoln and Stephen A. Douglas. These were held at differ-
ent points throughout the state during the summer and autumn
of 1858. The occasion for these notable political discussions
known in history as the Lincoln-Douglas Debates was the can-
didacy of the two men for election to the United States Senate,
and the question at issue was the momentous question of slav-
ery, which had became a national issue.
Col. Clark E. Carr in his book, "The Illini"," says in refer-
ence to these debates : "It may be said of this contest that the
Constitution of the United States was the platform and the
whole American people the audience, and that upon its issue
depended the fate of a continent."
Galesburg in the Civil War
The outbreak of the Civil War, in 1861, aroused Galesburg
to a high pitch of patriotic enthusiasm and devotion. Many of
the best and noblest of her sons offered themselves to the ser-
vice of their country and quite a number of them were called
upon to make the "supreme sacrifice," while others suffered
from disease and wounds, and the horrors of confinement and
starvation in southern prisons, carrying with them for the
remainder of their lives the physical effects of their distressing
and disabling experience. Among the soldier volunteers were
a large number of students from Knox and Lombard colleges.
This greatly depleted the enrollment and interrupted the pre-
scribed courses of study in both these institutions from the
depressing effects of which they did not soon rally. Too much
cannot be said in appreciation of the loyal and sympathetic
support of the men in the field by their kindred and friends
who remained at home. Especially is this true of the women
of Galesburg who were at once organized as .a working unit
under the name of "The Soldiers' Aid Society," working as sys-
tematically, untiringly and effectively as do the women of to-
day under the organization of the Red Cross.
Again and yet again were the homes of Galesburg and
v'icinity opened to receive their dying and their dead, but still
uniaunted the women toiled on, making garments, scraping
lint, tilling comfort bags, packing boxes of supplies of all kinds,
and writing letters to the soldiers in hospitals and camp.
The reports which have been preserved of the activities
of "The Soldiers' Aid Society of Galesburg" and its auxiliaries
speak eloquently and thrillingly, and with a touching pathos,
of the work of the mothers and sisters, even of the little child-
ren in their juvenile societies, for the relief and comfort of the
brave boys in blue who had gone out from their midst. The
story of what was accomplished for their aid reads like a ro-
mance. (A more detailed account of the activities of the women
of Galesburg during the Civil War may be found in A. J.
Periy's History of Knox County, in the section entitled,
"Woman's Work in Knox County," prepared at the request of
Mr. Perry by the writer of these annals) .
Company C — Illinois National Guards
In the spring of 1893 Galesburg again responded to our
country's call for the defense of the honor of the government,
in the war which is known in histoiy as the Spanish-American
Company C of the 6th Regiment, Illinois National Guards,
an organization of Galesburg and Knox County men; a thor-
oughly organized, well-drilled, efficient company of one hun-
dred men, promptly re.sponded to the summons and held
themselves in readiness to obey marching orders.
On the evening of the 28th of April they were entrained
for Springfield with the expectation that they would soon be
called into active service in Cuba and Porto Rico.
At this call to arms the whole city was aroused as it had
not been before since the days of the Civil War. A great
throng, estimated at 10,000 or more of our citizens, gathered
first at the armory, where the men of Company C were assem-
bled, and again at the Burlington Station where the}" were to
entrain, to give them last messages of farewell and God-speed.
According to an account of the event given in the columns
of the Republican-Register of that date, "the scene growing
out of their departure was one such as is witnessed but few
times in the life of a generation."
On July 26th following, colored men and boys, more than
a score in number, also went forth into their country's service,
and were given an enthusiattic send-off by the citizens of the
Company C, because of its past record during times of
strikes and riots, and also because of its manly and patriotic
attitude in the present crisis, was one of whom our city was
justly proud. During their service abroad, which happily
proved to be but brief, they made a remarkable record in more
than one respect.
After some weeks spent in camp, they were ranked among
the best of the Illinois troops, they were sent across to Cuba
to have a hand in the campaign against the City of Santiago.
With other picked men they were assigned to a very important
duty in the final charge. The final charge, however, never
v/as made, because of the surrender of the city.
Then came the order to proceed to Porto Rico and our men
were among the first of the American troops to arrive there.
It is claimed that the men of Company C were the very first
of our soldiers to set foot upon that island.
They took part in the campaign there and although the
Company suffered no loss in killed or wounded, they suffered
greatly from diseases incident to the climate, from distress-
ing unsanitary conditions, from insufficient and improper food
and from lack of suitable camping privileges and equipment.
Many of them were sick, almost unto death, and all of
them returned emaciated and worn, bearing the marks of great
hardships and suffering.
The company took pait in but one battle, that of July
25th, and but one skirmish on the following day.
After four months of service, the 6th Regiment was
ordered home, and our men with the others embarked from
Ponce, Porto Rico, for the United States.
Naturally there was great rejoicing when the news came
that they had set sail for home, and large plans were la'd
for their reception upon their arrival in their home city.
They arrived on Wednesday September 21st, amidst the
rejoicing and acclamations of thousands of citizens who had
gathered at the Burlington Station and lined the streets for
blocks, to express to them their welcome home.
The plans which had previously been made for their rece])-
tion were successfully carried through in detail.
They included a banquet given them at the Universalist
Church by the Army and Navy League, and public exercises at
the First M. E. Church, with addresses of welcome and appre-
ciation by Mayor Cooke, Congressman Prince, President John
H. Finley of Knox College, Chaplain Ferris of the 6th Fvegi-
ment, the Rev. Dr. Geistweit of the First Baptist Church and
others. Captain T. Leslie McGirr, who so successfully led his
men through the entire campaign that they returned home
without the loss of one, was called upon to speak, and he re-
sponded in behalf of his company.
His men enthusiastically gave him three cheers as he arose
to speak and again when he had finished, a fine tribute to his
popularity with them.
In the months immediately following their return home
other courtesies in the way of public recognition and apprecia-
tion were extended to the men of Company C.
Notable among these was an elaborate reception and din-
ner given by the Ladies' Society of the First Presbyterian
Church, which was most complete, beautiful and soul-inspiring
in every detail. The dining hall and audience room in the
church were most elaborately and appropriately decorated with
the national colors, artistically arranged in many unique and
beautiful designs expressive of the welcome of the church to
their brothers who had so bravely represented them in the
country's hour of need.
After a most appetizing dinner during which hospitality
and good cheer abounded, the company adjourned to the aud-
ience room for the crowning feature of this delightful occasion.
This consisted of speech-making, gift-giving and singing by a
Miss Belle Beatty presided during the evening's program
and after a few appropriate words of welcome and appreciation
for their honored guests, the men of Company C, she intro-
duced Mrs. George A. Lawrence, the President of the Ladies'
Mrs. Lawrence made an address to the men which was re-
plete with patriotic fervor and with serious and convincing
argument and utterance regarding the obligations and the
high privileges of American Citizenship, she warmly com-
mended the part which they had so nobly played in fulfilling
such obligations and rising to such privileges. After referring
to the military maps, charts and tactics which had guided
them in their recent campaign, she spoke of the Bible as em-
bodying in its teachings the only sure and safe chart and rule
of practice, which if loyally followed would successfully guide
one through the great battle of life.
She then presented to the Company, a large and beautiful
Bible, handsomely bound in flexible covers, for their desk at
the Company's Headquarters.
Needless to say, the address made a deep and serious im-
pression upon the men, and the gift was received with great
Mrs. John H. Finley, the wife of President Finley of Knox
College, then addressed them. Her remarks very fittingly and
skillfully led up to the presentation of a large and beautiful
silk flag for the use of the Company, which was enthusiastic-
ally received by them. Mrs. Finley also presented to each one
of the men a booklet with red covers, tied with blue ribbon in
which was printed upon white paper in blue lettering, a poem
written by Dr. Finley, descriptive of their trip to Porto Rico
Captain T. L. McGirr fittingly responded to all these cour-
tesies and accepted the gifts in behalf of the men of Company
Following this. Dr. W. Hamilton Spence, the pastor of th(
church, made the address of the evening, which was character-
istically eloquent, inspiring and helpful.
And so this most enjoyable and noteworthy occasion came
to a close as a befitting climax to the series of welcoming
events which had been accorded the patriotic men of Company
C, I. N. G.
In commemoration of the part which Galesburg took in the
Spanish-American War our city takes a just pride in a fine old
Spanish Cannon, a gift from the U. S. Government to Post 45,
G. A. R., through whose efforts, ably supplemented by the per-
sonal work of our Congressman George W. Prince, this sou-
venir was secured from the authorities at Washington.
It was given by the government to Post 45, G. A. R., and
was erected by the city upon a site on the east side of our Cen-
tral Park at the head of Main Street.
This cannon is made of the finest metal and was cast in
Spain in 1740. It was, among others, sent across to the island
just previous to the outbreak of the war to help in the rein-
forcement of the fort upon San Juan Hill. When Col. Theo-
dore Roosevelt and his Rough Riders charged up the hill and
captured the fort, thirteen of these guns fell into the hands of
the Americans and were sent to Washington as trophies.
The inscription upon it is in ancient Latin, and at the
time of its erection in our park the inscription was trans-
lated by the late Professor Albert Hurd of Knox College and
by Dr. J. V. N. Standish, an accomplished linquist and for more
than forty years the President of the Park Board.
Galesburg- "A Convention City"
Many patriotic and political rallies, especially during the
period of the Civil War, and many state and national conven-
tions have chosen Galesburg as a rallying point because of its
importance and influence both as to its advantageous location
and as to those great moral and educational forces which make
for the well-being of a nation and which this community, in
years gone by, has possessed in full measure.
Galesburg- Made the County Seat
In the year 1873 the County Seat was removed from Knox-
ville to Galesburg. This action followed a long controversy
during which rival claims for the honor of being the executive
center of the county were vigorously supported by opposing
factions representing Knoxville and Galesburg. Up to that
date the County seat had been located in Knoxville, which^ be-
cause of its beautiful situation and its honorable record as a
community, was eminently worthy of the distinction. But it
suffered the disadvantage of remoteness from the more popu-
lous sections of the county and from the superior railroad facil-
ities which Galesburg enjoyed because of being an important
division station on the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy road.
Moreover Galesburg was more accessible as a distributing cen-
ter for the products of the rich agricultural areas of the county.
All things considered it was in every respect better situated to
be the seat of government, and the better judgment of the citi-
zens of the county finally prevailed, the majority voting in
favor of the transfer. This decision was of course in every
way advantageous to Galesburg, while at the same time it is a
matter of regret that the civic prosperity of Knoxville suffered
in consequence. The change of location necessitated the build-
ing of a new court house, and this was accomplished in the
A stately, handsome, and well equipped building was
erected in the east half of the city park which was donated by
the city for that purpose. The business of the county has al-
ready outgrown the capacity of this large structure, and plans
are maturing for its enlargement and improvement.
The manufacturing industries of Galesburg had their be-
ginning in the little machine and repair shop of J. P. Frost, one
of the colonists of the spring of 1837. His small venture has
increased and developed throughout the years and is now
known as the Frost Manufacturing Company, which ships the
output of its great machine and boiler shops to all parts of the
United States and to many foreign lands. Around this have
sprung up factories and shops of various kinds suited to com-
mercial and household needs till there are now about 50 manu-
facturing establishments in our city. The number includes
machine, boiler and repair shops, planing mills, flour mills, gar-
ment factories, automobile factories, welding works, Coulter
Disc works, rug factories, candy and ice cream factories, both
wholesale and retail, bottling works, etc., etc.
Galesburg As A Music Center
Galesburg has always been at the fore-front as a musical
center. At a very early date in its history it commenced its
musical career under the instruction and leadership of Samuel
This Prince of Music Masters, sweet singer and skillful
violinist, came at regular intervals to give instruction to large
classes, or "schools" as they were then called and to give con-
certs and lead choruses to the delight of enthusiastic pupils and
an appreciative community. He was the predecessor of men of
no mean reputation in the field of musical leadership. One by
one they have had their day and passed on, using their own
methods, winning their own honors, and leaving each his own
impress upon a large and enthusiastic following.
Knox Conservatory of Music
Last, but by no means least among them is our own Prof.
Wm. F. Bentley, who for thirty-three years has been the popu-
lar director of the Knox Conservatory of Music and the sup-
porter, promoter and director of the musical activities of Gales-
burg. Under Dr. Bentley's efficient management the Knox
Conservatory of Music has become one of the leading musical
institutions of the state and its graduates have become prom-
inent as musical educators and artists all over the United
Other Schools of Music
There have recently been established two other schools of
music in Galesburg, one in connection with the "School of
Three Arts" at Lombard College under the direction of Madame
Anna Groff Bryant, and the other "The Maude Alma Main
School of Fine Arts," founded and conducted by Miss Main.
The success and reputation of all these schools have been
greatly enhanceed by the able co-operatin of an efficient corps
of teachers in each department of the different schools.
Especially is this true in the Knox Conservatory of Music,
where John Winter Thompson, Mus. D., head of the Organ and
Theory Department, and Miss Blanche M. Boult, Professor of
Pianoforte, have been for a quarter of a century or more Dr.
Bentley's loyal colleagues.
And so through the medium of these annals we have
brought our favored city adown the "long, long trail" which
has been blazed for us by a succession of historic events from
the beginning to the present time. It would have been pleasant
sometimes to take the more devious route, to discover the hid-
den trails, to linger by the way-side gathering souvenirs of the
past and to revel among the fascinating romances which "half
concealed and half revealed" have beckoned to us here and
there as alluring possibilities in the pioneer experiences of our
colonists and their descendants. But these are forbidden indul-
gences. The journey has been a pleasant one although the
enjoyment has been tinged with regret that many persons
places, objects and events which were worthy of remembrance
have been passed without mention because of lack of space;
and we regretfully leave them to the chroniclers of the future.
With congratulations to all who have in any way contri-
buted to that which has already been achieved, and with a chal-
lenge to our city to see to it that the future shall witness still
better and greater achievements, we leave her to the enjoyment
of her many privileges and unusual opportunities, her churches
and colleges, her schools and happy homes, her exceptional
musical advantages, her literary and social prestige, her com-
mercial and industrial advancement, her superior facilities for
travel and transportation ; and all things else that have con-
tributed to the development of Galesburg into a city fitted to
be the seat of the legislative and executive activities of our rich
and prosperous counuty of Knox of the great state of Illinois
in this her centennial anniversary of A. D. 1918.
By Wm. Scott.
In attempting to write the annals of Haw Creek Township,
Knox County, Illinois, the writer of this short sketch will be
somewhat handicapped as to the early history of the same.
After having served two terms of enlistment in the War
of the Rebellion in Ohio organizations, and after having been
discharged from said service in June, 1865, came to Illinois in
October, same year, and located in Haw Creek Township, En-
tering school in Hedding College, Abingdon, Illinois, the winter
term of 1865, remained in same school (excepting vacations)
until the late fall of 1866, when he began District school teach-
ing and continued in that Profession until the ending of the
school year, 1878, embarking in the Mercantile business in
Gilson, 111,, March 1878 ; ran a general merchandise business
for over forty years.
In order to obtain anything like an accurate knowledge of
Haw Creek's early histoiy the writer will have to glean his
knowledge from various sources. He will in some instances
have to refer to a former history written in 1899 by C. W.
McKown, of Gilson, (now deceased).
In attempting to answer the questions of the committee
who have this matter under consideration will say that veiy
little is known of the first inhabitants of this Township, I now
refer to the Redmen or Indians of the forest and prairies of
Illinois, There are evidences in Haw Creek Township that the
Redmen at one time roamed over our prairies hunting the game
that was plenteous and fishing in our principal river, (the
Spoon), which at that time abounded with vast numbers of
The population at the present time consists almost wholly
of native born inhabitants of Haw Creek. Most of the early
settlers came from Ohio, We note from the former histoiy
referred to, that the first White settler in Haw Creek was
Mrs, Elizabeth Owens, accompanied by her son Parnach Owens,
the settlement was made in 1829 on Section 18. In 1834, other
settlers came from Ohio and settled in this township. Among
those families were John Scott, Zephaniah Scott and Jacob
Harshbarger, About the same time also came the following
families and located in Haw Creek, these were James Nevitt,
Samuel Slocum, David Teel and David Enochs. They were soon
followed by Woodford Pierce, David Housh, Joshua Burnett
and Lineas Richmond, William Dickerson and others, so that in
1835 there was quite a settlement in Haw Creek, all coming
from Southern Ohio, Highland and Jackson counties.
The first white child born in Haw Creek was a son to
James Nevitt and wife, soon after locating in their new home.
The first death in the township was that of Eleanor Jarnigan,
1834. First sermon preached by the noted Rev. Peter Cart-
After the settlement of Haw Creek there were no Churches
but services were held in the homes of the fanners. The Rev.
Peter Cartright, Richard Haney (Uncle Dick) and William
Clarke officiated at the services held in the farm houses. The
first denomination in the field was the Methodist Episcopal,
afterwards followed by the United Brethren in Christ. After
the erection of school houses the religious services were held
in them. The first regular church built in Haw Creek was
Clark's Chapel, Section 17, built in 1864, since discontinued.
There are at present three churches in the township, the Meth-
odist in Gilson, built in 1865 ; the Gilson United Brethren, built
in 1866. The value of each church when built was not over
$1,200, but now $2,500 would not replace them and their furn-
ishings. The other church referred to is a United Brethren lo-
cated in Section 3, known as Union or Wolfs Chapel, at a value
of $1,500. They are all of them well kept up and in good con-
dition. The present ministers are: Methodist, Rev. E. B. Mor-
ton; United Brethren, Rev. Jay A. Smith, each of them live
As to the first school house built in the township, I am not
able to say, but I presume it was the log structure erected on
the Northwest Quarter of Section 15. The first school in the
township was taught by Miss Susan Dempsey in 1836, who
afterward became the wife of Booker Pickrel. The school sys-
tem of Haw Creek is up to that of average of other townships
in the county. We have nine districts with that of Gilson,
which is a graded school, besides we have the Haw Creek Town-
ship High School with three teachers. Classes in this school are
regularly graduated after a four years prescribed course by
the efficient School Board. None but good and efficient
teachers are emploj^ed in any of the schools of the Township.
The methods of travel are varied at the present time. But
the early methods were principally by wagon and carriage.
Before the days of the railroad the farm produce was hauled
by wagon to Peoria and Chicago ; principally to Peoria, wagons
loaded back with groceries and merchandise of various kinds.
The first store in the township was conducted by Edmond
Smith at Mechanicsburg, southwest of Gilson three-fourths
miles on Section 18. This store was of a general stock. The C.
B. & Q. railroad was surveyed and built in 1856. In 1857 the
Village of Gilson was surveyed and regularly established on
the southeast one-fourth section 7 by Lineas Richmond and
James Gilson, after whom the village was named. Ever since
Gilson was established it has been a good trading point for the
sale of farm produce, such as all kinds of grains and stock.
Gilson at present has a population of 200. Three general stores
in the town, all seem to do a good business, one elevator and one
lumber yard, one blacksmith shop and one general repair shop,
post office and one rural delivery.
The only mill of an early date was a large grist mill on
Section 34 on Spoon River, known in 1865 as the Burnett Mill.
It did a very fine business when first built but was abandoned
about twenty years ago on account of a lack of power for only
about six months in the year. There was also a saw mill
erected on Haw Creek 2 miles southwest of Gilson which did a
very good business for several years.
The organization of the township was effected on April 5,
1853. This organization took place at the Nevitt school house,
southwest of Gilson two and one-half miles. The following
officers were elected: William M. Clarke, Supervisor, Wood-
ford Pierce, Clerk ; Isaac Lott, Assessor ; Joseph Harshbarger,
Collector; Jacob Wolf, Overseer of the Poor; John S. Linn and
Enoc Godfrey, Justices of the Peace ; Geo. Pickrel and William
Lewis, Constables ; Milton Lotts, Allen T. Rambo and Benoni
Simpkins, Commissioners of Highways. The present officers
follow: C. H. Upp, Supervisor; Clark H. Snow, Assessor; C.
L. Dossett, Overseer of Poor; C. H. Upp (by virtue of office)
Justice of Peace ; Earl Snell, Constable ; John Housh and H. L.
Connor, Commissioner of Highways, Ben Taylor. With my
limited knowledge, prior to 1865, I am unable to give the loca-
tion of the first farm and how cultivated, but I should judge
that the method of cultivation was principally by the one and
two-horse cultivators, as a great many of these settlers were
from Ohio and there they had to use the one and two horse
cultivators, on account of the stumps and roots in the ground.
Much improvement has been made in this part of the country
in the farming line in the manner of preparing the seed bed be-
fore planting or sowing the seed. The farm tractor is just now
coming into use in Haw Creek. It may eventually take the
place of horses in the extra heavy, hard and hot work.
The homes of the farmers and laboring class are much
better furnished of late years than formerly, and I attribute
that to the younger generation. The better educated, the more
up-to-date they wish to become and when that is uppermost in
the mind of the younger class, something is going to happen
and that something is to have a home better equipped.
Early pastimes and amusements were as follows: Celebra-
tions, which usually occurred on Holidays ; Spelling Schools,
Singing schools, Corn huskings, Log rollings and Quilting Bees.
The township at the present time is in a very good and
prosperous condition owing to the extra good crops and the ex-
tremely high prices obtained for all kinds of farm commodities.
The population of the township, as near as we can estimate it,
The first good farm house built in the township was that
of James Nevitt in 1835. First brick house built by Woodford
Pierce in 1836 on Section 7, Northeast Quarter. First post of-
fice established May 7, 1852, and named by the Government,
Haw Creek. The post office was in the general store at Me-
chanicsburg, run by Edmond Smith. The first postmaster was
Joseph Harshbarger and was succeeded by Allen T. Rambo,
Sept. 16, 1852. The latter was succeeded by Woodford Pierce
in March 17, 1855. On March 5, 1857, the office was removed
to Gilson which then was a railroad station. Mechanicsburg
then going out of existence as a village.
I wish to acknowledge my indebtedness to the former his-
torian of the township, Mr. C. W. McKown, for my knowledge
of the organization of the township, also the first officers of
the same and also for the first post office and first postmaster
of the township.
I also wish to relate a couple of instances relating to the
Rev. William M. Clarke and Rev. Richard Haney, the founders
of Methodism in Haw Creek. In the early settlement of Knox
County and Haw Creek the Rev. William M. Clarke was ap-
pointed by the Conference to the Knoxville Circuit, which con-
sisted at that time of three or more appointments. At that
time he was living on his farm,, just east of the old Gilson
Camp Grounds, where the Methodist church held their Camp
Meetings for so many years. After he had taken charge of the
Knoxville Circuit he called the official Board together and con-
tracted with them for his year's salary, which was not an
overly large one. The Board agreed to pay his salary regu-
larly as he had a large family to support and the salary would
be needed to support them. He had preached for them a part
of the year and the good brothers had failed on their part of
the contract. He called the Board together and stated to them
that he was in need of the money for the support of his
family. They made him a good promise, but failed to carry it
out, so Uncle Billy, as he was familiarly called, called the offi-
cial Board together again. He said to them: "Brethren, you
have not treated me right in the matter of filling your obliga-
tion to me in the matter of salary. I have endeavored to do
my best for you in the matter of Pastorial work, but you have
utterly failed to keep your part of the contract, so, I am going
to tell you something which is not very pleasant for me, 'You
can all go to the devil and I will go back to the farm ;' " and he
I now wish to relate an incident in which Uncle Dick Haney
was interested. He was preaching at a farm house in the early
settlement of Haw Creek and in those days window glass was
a very scarce article. In the absence of glass a white greased
paper was tacked to a frame and used as a sash in the window
frame. Uncle Dick said at this farm house he was delivering
his sermon in his best possible manner, he had taken his posi-
tion close to the windows supplied with the greased paper.
When he was at his best in the discourse he heard a commo-
tion on the outside of the house, which proved to be a fracas
between the cat and dog belonging to the premises. He said he
was doing his best in the way of the delivery of his discourse,
when the noise increased all at once, pussy to escape the dog
sprung directly through the greased paper in the window
alighting directly in front of Uncle Dick. Afterwards in speak-
ing about the incident he said it was always a question in his
mind what he should call it ; whether a Dogmatical or a Cate-
At another time of his preaching at a farm house, and the
good sister of the house had no place to keep her well filled
milk crocks, only on a bench placed at one end of the room, in
which the services were being held. Uncle Dick said he took
his position close to the milk bench, he stated when he warmed
up in his sermon and using all the oratory he could com-
mand, making all the gestures that was possible for him to
make and giving it all the force and power he could, at this
point he noticed a peculiar sensation in one of his lower limbs.
When he cast his eyes in that direction, he discovered that his
coat tail had completely skimmed one of the good sister's
crocks of milk and the cream was running down the calves of
his legs and filling his shoes.
By Susan McMurtry
It is meet and seemly that some permanent record be
placed in the archives of the Centennial History of Illinois of
the citizens of Henderson, who have been identified with the
early history of Knox county and been prominent in the up-
holding of the commonwealth that those who came after them
may know to whom they are indebted for the benefits they now
enjoy. We are all debtors to the honored and useful lives of
those brave pioneers, who blazed and prepared the way for
The distinct personality of this locality in the history of
our state and county arouses in us a feeling of pride in our
past, because our earliest settlers exercised a great influence
that has been a great value to humanity. The future of Knox
county and Henderson in no small part lay in the hands of
those early pioneers. A future full of hardships but also full
In writing the early history of this particular locality, one
is obliged to ignore much that must naturally come in other
parts of this history. We find we have to tell the history of
the state or the history of the county, not the history of Hen-
derson township. Take the important figures in the history of
this region during the earlier period and you will find they do
not belong particularly to Henderson, but to the greater areas
of which this place is but a small part.
The question naturally arises, whence came the first
settlers ? What conditions drove them to face the hardships
and privations of the frontier to make new homes.
It has been said that before the railroads emigration
moved on parallels of latitude. This was never more clearly
illustrated than in the early settlement of Knox county. It is
safe to say that the majority of the early settlers were either
natives or descendants of natives of Virginia, North Carolina,
Kentucky and Tennessee. Many of them had ancestors who
were also pioneers in these same states. Some came from the
eastern states. They were extraordinary people, courageous,
hardy, intelligent, honest, industrious, honorable, patriotic and
God-fearing. A more self-reliant set of men and women never
trod the earth. The immigrants who were to settle Henderson
crossed the Ohio river in their covered wagons (prairie schoon-
ers), with a jerk line in one hand and a rifle in the other, a few
coming by horseback or by foot. Conditions in Kentucky and
other southern states drove the small farmer to emigrate.
To us of the later generations who view these fertile fields
of grain in all directions and know of the great wealth above
and below the ground, it seems strange there was not a rush of
settlers into this region in spite of the natural inference that
the land that could not produce trees must be worthless as
farm land, which has proved in the end to be the richest pos-
session of our "Prairie State."
When we consider that Daniel Robertson and his brother,
Alexander, the first settlers in Henderson township, did not
come until 1828, when Illinois had been a state ten years, one
naturally asks why it was that a locality full of possibilities
was not settled at an earlier date? There were many influ-
ences to retard immigration ; the actual opening of land offices,
the promised land sales, the extinguishing of Indian titles, the
limited means of travel, the Indians themselves, and others no
The early settlers of Henderson invariably located in the
timber or along its border. This is not so strange when we
consider that these pioneers mostly had been brought up in the
shelter of the woods. This nearness to the timber was an ad-
vantage in many ways. It furnished material for their log
houses, fuel for their fireplaces, meat for their food, and shel-
ter from the fierce cold winds in winter, which often caused a
great deal of suffering. The first settlers were verj^ fond of
hunting and many interesting stories are told of them in quest
of wild turkey, prairie chicken and deer.
Henderson was the first township in Knox county to be
settled by white men. It is well watered by the branches which
make up the head waters of Henderson river. Along these
branches originally stood one of the finest groves of timber to
be found anywhere in Illinois. Here was a favorite place for
Indians, who had extensive fields of corn on Sections 23 and
26, south of the village of Henderson. These Indians were
friendly and remained till the breaking out of the Black Hawk
War, when they left without doing any serious harm.
Alexander and Daniel Robertson, two Scotch brothers, left
their father's home in Morgan county, Illinois, and came to
Schuyler county, where they remained one year. In February,
1828, they set out, each riding an old mare and carrying a gun
and ax, came to Henderson township and settled first on Sec-
tion 15. Daniel 22, and Alexander 20 years of age and single.
Here they built their first log house together. This house
stood east of the creek at the top of the hill, a short distance
south of the wagon road and was about midway between where
is now the Rio Branch of the C, B. & Q. railroad and the State
Aid road. The Robertsons lived here several years together,
till their land was claimed by a speculator named Baker.
During the discussion over the possession of the land Baker
shot at Daniel but missed him. The later went to the cabin for
his gun, but was persuaded by his wife to make no further
trouble. The Robertsons gave up this land and settled on the
southwest comer of Section 11. Here they built their second
log house, which stood across the road and northeast of the
first, where Daniel lived most of his life. About 1836, Alexan-
der settled and built a log house on Section 2, where he lived
till his death in 1853.
During the next spring and summer others came, among
them, Jacob Gum, a Baptist minister, who preached the
first sermon in 1829, at the residence of his son, John B. Gum,
on Section 32. This two-roomed log house was the first county
court house. Here the first circuit court was held October 1,
1830. The judge presiding was the Hon. Richard M. Young,
afterward United States Senator. Here also the first county
election was held, Mr. Gum being elected the first county
The son of Zephaniah Gum and grandson of John B. Gum
was the first white child born in the county.
Riggs Pennington came about this time, who became one
of the most prominent men of northern Illinois. Phillip Hash
and Chas. Hansford. These three were the first county com-
missioners after the actual organization in 1830. Stephen Os-
bom, the first sheriff; Parnac Owen, the first county sur-
veyor; Alex. Frakes, Major Thomas McKee, Robert and Eaton
Nance, who settled on Section 9.
The first death in the county was that of a young man,
Philip Nance, which occurred January 9th, 1829, in Henderson
township, and was buried on Section 9. Major McKee, who
came the fall before, was present at his death and funeral and
was instrumental in erecting a suitable stone at his grave. A
few years later, the people of the vicinity of Henderson raised
money and erected an iron fence around his grave.
The Black Hawk War
The next year, 1829, the brothers, William and James Mc-
Murtry and their families, came in November and settled on
Section 3, on a quarter bought of Riggs Pennington, paying
$1.25 per acre; but afterward had to repurchase to secure a
clear title. It was on their farm on the northeast 40 acres of
Section 10, that the entire neighborhood assisted in building a
fort, which would protect them from the Indians. Into this
the surrounding families before and during the Black Hawk
War would often gather. While there were often rumors of
Indian uprisings, and the settlers were constantly on the watch
for them, they were never molested by them. A company of
rangers was organized by Wm. McMurtry, who was their cap-
tain, to be ready to pursue the Indians in all directions if
needed. In 1832, James McMurtry, accompanied by F. Free-
man and Thomas McKee went to Rock Island for guns to pro-
tect the settlers during the Black Hawk War. They secured
100, which were sent down the river as far as Ruthsbury, and
from there by teams to his home, where they were distributed
to the settlers. He sei*\'ed during the Black Hawk War under
Major Butler. The pioneers, Wm. and James McMurtry, were
descended from pioneer ancestors. Their grandfather, Captain
John McMurtry, was a pioneer in the state of Kentucky, along
with Daniel Boone and others. He made the stones and the
first mill for grinding com meal in Kentucky, He was killed
fighting the Indians as Captain of Kentucky militia in 1790.
William McMurtry became quite an active and prominent poli-
tician. He was a firm believer in the principles of the Demo-
cratic party and a friend of Stephen A. Douglas. It was
largely through him that the history of Henderson is so closely
connected with the early history of the county and the state.
He was active in the organization of Henderson township, April
5, 1853. In 1832, he was appointed first county commissioner of
school lands. This office he held till his resignation in 1840,
his chief duty being to sell the school section in each township
and later to distribute interest money to the teachers from the
school fund.. He always took an active interest in the early
schools, sold the school lands, invested the money and advanced
the educational interests of the county very much. He was
keenly awake to public needs, and had an eye to the interests
of the people. Thus his name was brought before them as a
candidate for office in the state. He was a member of the
Legislature during the years 1836-37 and 1838-39 ; State Sen-
ator up to the time he was elected Lieutenant-Governor with
Gov. French in 1848. In 1862 he was commissioned Colonel of
the 102 Illinois Voluntaiy Infantry. After serving a short
time in Kentucky he resigned on account of ill health and was
honorably discharged. The McMurtrys were natives of Ken-
tucky. They lived and died on the farms on which thev first
settled in 1829.
In 1830, Thomas Furguson, Roundtrees, Goffs, Lewis and
Davis with their families came in locating along the south side
of the grove. Following them were the Browns, settling along
the old "Galena Trail."
Peter Bell, Thomas Maxwell, Squire Reed and James Rey-
nolds also moved in in 1830. During 1831-32 a number of fam-
ilies came. Among these were the Ferrises, who put up a saw
mill on Henderson Creek ; Rees Jones, who built the first grist
mill, in 1830, on Henderson Creek. These mills were great
events to the pioneers and they felt now they had all they
Galesburg Colony Came
In 1836 the first of the Galesburg Colony came, locating
south of the grove and built up what afterwards became known
as Log City, on Section 33. This settlement was only tempor-
ary and does not strictly belong to Henderson township, but
more to Galesburg where they finally settled.
The first few years the settlers had to go to Rushville
for their mail, about 75 miles. Here Alex Osborn was obliged
to go for his license to marry Ann Hendricks. This was the
first marriage ceremony in Knox county. Philip Hash, the
first Justice of the Peace, officiated.
In 1833 the first postoffice in the county was established
on Section 32, at the store of John C. Sanburn. Mr. Sanburn
held the commission from the government as the first post-
The first school in the county was in Henderson township
in 1830. This school was a subscription school taught by
Franklin B. Barber in a log shanty near the grove. There was
another school opened in 1833 on Section 31, taught by Harmon
Brown. The first school district was formed at Log City in
1837, under the management of Wm. McMurtry, the first
The first plow in this township, perhaps in the county,
was a wooden one, brought in by Daniel Robertson.
The first pair of lines for driving seen in this section was
brought in by Gov. Wm. McMurtiy. Having seen them used by
a stage driver in Springfield, decided to have a pair. The first
Sunday he was home the entire neighborhood spent trying to
adjust these lines, but it could not be done till the Governor
went back and had another view as to how they worked. Then
he saw one check went to the other horse.
Two of the four forts built by the pioneers of Knox county
were located in Henderson township. These were to protect
them from hostile Indians before, during and after the Black
Hawk War. One fort site has recently been located on Sec-
tion 33, on what was long known as the Peter Franz farm. The
other fort was on Section 10 on the land always known as the
McMurtry farm. These sites commanded the view in all direc-
tions. To this the surrounding families often went, remaining
for days and nights.
For a number of years the oldest house in Knox county
was about one-half mile north of the village of Henderson. It
was a two-roomed log house, built in 1834 by Wm, Riley.
Later the oldest house standing was two miles northwest of
Galesburg. Of these primitive log houses scaarcely a one can
be found in the township today. No one remains who can
look to the days when this country was a wildnerness, to the
time when the foundations for homes were laid. For a number
of years, to 1903, the longest continuous resident was Dr.
James C. McMurtry, son of Wm., who came with his father's
family in 1829, and was less than one year of age.
The First Roads
The first roads were Indian trails. The wild Indian hav-
ing similar instincts as the buffalo, followed the same trails
which led from timber groves to timber groves, always choos-
ing the shortest and best routes. Many of these same trails
the first settlers traveled seeking homes, and are public high-
ways today. One of these, the great "Galena Trail," from
Peoria, passed throuh the western part of this township in a
northwesterly direction. Traces of this old trail can be seen to-
day. There are evidences that the American army in the Revo-
lutionary War under Col. Montgomery, passed over this same
trail through Henderson. Ordered by Gen. George Rogers
Clark to follow the Sacs and Foxes to the lake on the Illinois
river (Peoria) across the country and attack them on Rock
river near the mouth. This he did in 1780. The old Peoria and
Rock Island road passes through the township in a north-
westerly direction. This was among the first main traveled
roads, much of which today is State Aid road.
These pioneers at first lived like one big family. They
helped each other build their houses or anything where help
was needed. They kept open-house. Strangers were always
welcome and cared for. Their first log houses had a puncheon
floor, split out of lynn wood, a clap-board door. The clap-
boards were lapped over each other from top to bottom to turn
the rain. The latch was made of wood, with a string tied to it
to lift and lower it in a wooden catch. Their windows were
holes in the logs. Their furniture was made by hand and split
from logs. The fire-places were made of mud and sticks at
first, later of brick. In these rude fire-places they cooked,
using long handled "skillets" and in iron pots, and baked in
covered "skillets" surrounded with hot coals. Fires were
started from flint stone or borrowed from a neighbor. The
bedrooms were made in one end of the house by hanging quilts
for curtains between the beds. Children slept in "trundle"
beds, which were pushed under the larger beds during the day.
Their first lights were twisted cloth floated in a saucer of
grease. Later candle moulds were obtained and each family
made their own candles of tallow.
The first year or two their bread was made of corn grated
on a tin grater. Then their grain was prepared for food in a
neighbor's mill, a hand mill, made of two stones placed to-
gether, the top one being turned back and forth with a lever.
Soon a water mill was started on Henderson Creek by Mr.
Jones. Later people went to Milan, where was started a better
mill for wheat floor. Often one of two neighbors went for
the neighborhood and would fish while their wheat was being
Sugar was made from the sap of the hard maple, which
was boiled in large pans in the timber. The "buckets" were
wooden troughs to catch the sap. The spiles were made of
Sumack, with the pith burned out with a hot iron. Barrels of
sugar and molasses were made from this sap. When it would
not make these any longer they made the best of vinegar of it.
Soap was made from lye, leached from ashes and grease.
Starch was made from potatoes.
After the Indian War sheep were brought in and spinning
wheels. The women spun and wove the wool into cloth for
their clothing. This "homespun" they dyed at first with wal-
nut bark and hulls for brown and oak bark for yellow. For
green the yellow was dipped into indigo blue. They raised flax
from which their linen was made. Money was scarce, but they
needed little money, as there were no markets near. About the
first means of obtaining money was from hunting honey of
which there was an abundance in the timber. The Robertsons
obtained their first money by selling honey at St. Louis. Many
interesting stories are told of their bee hunts.
West of the center of Henderson township is located one of
the best examples of a community center to be found. At an
early date these Swedish people began to come into this town-
ship and by hard work and saving were able to purchase land
and build themselves homes. Thsi community built a church in
1881. This church was burned and replaced by a more modern
one about 1914.
The only village in this township is Henderson, on Section
14. It was laid out June 11, 1835, by Pamach Owen, and in-
coi^porated in 1838. In early days it was a flourishing place
and there were great expectations for its future. Between
1840 and 1850, over 30 coopers were employed here in making
barrels, which were shipped all over the state.
In 1839, the post office here was the largest in the county
and previous to the building of the railroad in 1854, Henderson
was nearly as important as either Knoxville or Galesburg.
Through Gov. McMurtry it was able to exert sufficient influ-
ence to secure the insertion of a provision in the railroad incor-
poration act that the line should pass through the town, but the
provision was evaded. The road going to Galesburg, leaving
Henderson a few miles to the north. Subsequently, trade be-
ing attracted to the railroad stations, the village gradually de-
clined, until little remained. In 1886, the Rio branch of the C.,
B. & Q. railroad was constructed through the village and saved
it from complete extinction and some improvements have re-
cently been made.
Note: Miss McMurtry gives Robertson as the name of
two early comers to the township. Elsewhere the name ap-
pears as Robinson. As Miss McMurtry grew up in the town-
ship, her spelling must be accepted as correct.)
INDIAN POINT TOWNSHIP
By Geo. L. Hagan
Every intelligent and patriotic citizen manifests a pardon-
able pride in the achievements and progress made in this great
state during the past century. To understand these and appre-
ciate them fully, a man must know some thing of the history
of his town, county and state. The origin of the different races
of people, who inhabited this country prior to the coming of
the white man, has always been a debatable question. To
many there is a striking similarity between the facial features
of the Oriental type of mankind and the American Indian.
This similarity has lead them to believe that the Indian is of
Oriental parentage. Still there are others, who see peculiar-
ities in his physical structure that preclude the American
Indian from common parentage with the rest of mankind. In
the absence of either history or tradition, archaeologists have
advanced many plausible theories relative to the prehistoric
races that inhabited this country prior to its discovery in 1492.
Discussion of the question of their origin seldom enlightens and
frequently confuses. There is, however, one point, upon which
all agree, and it is the fact that when Columbus landed on the
shores of America, he found the Indians in undisputed posses-
sion of the continent.
Early events, affecting this locality, transpired long be-
fore Indian Point township, or Knox county, or even the State
of Illinois assumed its its present boundary. History records
the fact that as early as 1673, the Indians had well established
trails running diagonally across Knox county, the oldest, and
perhaps the most important of which was the one leading from
the Mississippi River near Keokuk, to La Salle on the Illinois
River. This trail passed where Abingdon is located. There can
be but little doubt that this trail followed the same public high-
way now entering that city from the southwest and extending
in a northeasterly direction. It is believed by many that it is
the trail traveled by Father Marquette, a Jesuit missionary, on
his occasional visits to the Indians of this section of Illinois in
1673. It is said "History hold in her iron hand no more pic-
turesque story than these trails could reveal were their guarded
While the pioneer settlers in Indian Point encountered no
Indians, they found many traces of their occupancy. The re-
mains of the wigwams, axes, spears and arrow points, gave
evidence that Indian Point was once their "happy hunting
History records the fact that Azel Dorsey came to this
township in 1829. To him is given the honor of being the first
white man to enter Indian Point for settlement. He came from
Cedar, and remained but a few years. The first permanent
settlement in Indian Point was made on Section 16 in 1833, by-
John B. Latimer, who came with his family from Tennessee.
The following year came John H. Lomax and Stephen Howard
of Kentucky, John Howard, Isaac and Alexander Latimer and
John Crawford. In 1835, Daniel Meek and John Killiam settled
in Indian Point. The former purchased the home of Alexander
Latimer. This farm lies just east of the Indian Point school,
and has for generations been known as "the Meek farm."
Among the list of early settlers in Indian Point, who came
shortly after the above were: Silas Roe, Bartley Boydstun,
Wm. Stewart, Seth Bellwood, Hugh Lowry, Henderson Hagan,
L. A. McKiearnan, Chas. Fielder, Geo. Hunt, David and Benja-
min South, Wm. Flannagan, Bry and Wm. Edmundson, James
Martin, H. Chrisman, Henry and Austin Mattingly, Martin
Burke, Joseph Probasco, Robt. Supple, Harrison and Thos. Im-
mel, Dan Ryan, Jacob, Nathan and Zene Bradbuiy, Jacob
Dorman, George and Joseph Wheat, Francis Robey, George and
Owes Much To Pioneers
The present generation owes much to these sturdy pioneers
who blazed the way to ciivilization. With them must be shared
the honor for the many blessings we are enjoying today. Their
lives were lives of privation, and oftentimes of suffering.
They lived not for themselves alone, but were mindful of the
happiness of future generations. When we consider the rigors
of the long winters on the open prairies, unprotected by trees,
the deep snows that often rendered transportation impossible,
the great distances to the river markets, the inconvenience of
getting medical aid in times of accidents and sickness, the lack
of communication between the scattered settlers, their meager
stores of food and fuel, we realize then some of the privations
and hardships endured by those good people. Notwithstanding
all this, they were mainly happy and content. If they raised a
surplus of grain or livestock, it was marketed, usually at either
Copperas Creek Landing or Peoria, the nearest river markets.
The prevailing prices of farm commodities in those early days
were not such as to prompt farmers to produce much in excess
of his needs. Dressed pork sold in those days at $2.00 per cwt.,
half cash and half trade. Corn often sold at 6 cents per bushel.
The good mothers then spun, wove and made the garments
worn by the family. Contrast conditions then with those of
today. This was long before the advent of the railroad. The
completion of the Quincy branch of the C, B. & Q. from Gales-
burg to Quincy, in 1855, gave an impetus to farming and live-
stock operations in this locality. Since that time land values
advanced steadily. At that time the government sold land at
$1.25 per acre, which today commands from $300 to $400 per
The first white child born in Indian Point was Ann Frances
Lomax, daughter of John H. and Nancy Lomax, born Sept. 25,
1835. The first death recorded was a Mr. Hibbard, in 1838.
Educational facilities in those pioneer days were very
meager. The principal studies were represented by the three
R's, readin,' ritin,' rithmetic. The first school house erected in
Indian Point was on Section 16, near where the Point school
now stands. It was built of logs, with split logs for seats. This
was in the year 1837. It was first taught by Dennis Clark, who
was aftenvard elected and served many terms as County Judge
of Knox County. He too was an early settler here. The school
district comprised all of Indian Point and the eastern part of
Warren county. The school year then was only the fall and
winter months. Thirty pupils were enrolled the first winter,
that of 1837-38. Today very few country^ pupils have more
than two miles to go to reach school. Aside from the country
schools there are splendid educational facilities within easy
reach of the pupils of Indian Point to complete their education
in the high schools, colleges and academies of Knox county.
The Religious Growth
Education and religion usually go hand in hand. They
mark the beginning of civilization. In Indian Point there are
only two religious bodies, Catholic and Christian. The later
has two church organizations, one at Abingdon and the other
at St. Augustine.
Since 1836 Catholic services have been held at St. Augus-
tine. The first services were conducted in that year by Father
Le Fevre, who afterwards became Bishop of Detroit, Michigan.
The first church was built in 1843, and dedicated the following
year by Bishop Kenrick of St. Louis. Among the pioneer
priests, who held services here were Fathers St. Cyr, Conway,
Doyle, Drew, Raho, Brady, Griffith, Kennedy, Edward and
Thomas O'Neil, Fitman, Meehan, Albrecht, Larmar and Man-
gon. In 1863, the present church was erected, and five years
later moved to its present location. Father Halpin came in
1873, and was the first resident priest. Since that time the
following pastors have resided here: Fathers McMahan, Dal-
ton, Howard, O'Reilly, now auxiliary Bishop of Peoria, Falli-
hee, Dunne, Scheuren, now of Providence, R. I. ; Walsh, Kniery,
now of Peoria ; Kelley, Markey, now of Loda, 111. Since Octo-
ber, 1912, the present pastor. Father P. V. Egan, has been car-
rying on the work inaugurated here more than four score years
ago. When completed, the interior decorations of the Catholic
church here will eclipse any church decorations, from an artis-
tic standpoint, in the state, outside of cities. The present
membership is about 400.
The first Protestant services held in Indian Point, of which
there is any record, were conducted by Rev. John Crawford, a
Cumberland Presbyterian minister, at the home of John Ho-
ward in 1848. The Methodists effected an organization at the
Pleasant Valley School, under the leadership of Rev. Williams.
This was in the Sixties. Services were held occasionally, but
the organization did not continue long in Indian Point. The
Christian church was first organized at Abingdon in 1840, by
Hiram Smith and Richard Johnston. The first church was
erected in 1849 at a cost of $1,000.00. The present church edi-
fice is a beautiful brick veneered structure. The interior dec-
orations are artistic and in keeping with the attractive appear-
ance of the exterior. The present pastor. Dr. A. M. Hale, is
veiy popular with his people, whom he has served many years.
He is a booster for any worthy cause. The present member-
ship is about 300. At. St. Augustine, the Christian church or-
ganizaton was effected in in 1868. The number of charter
members was 104, of whom only four are living, namely. Dr. P.
Harrod, of Avon; J. E. Edmundson of Houston, Texas; Nathan
Harrod and L. B. Harrod, of Galesburg. The first services
were conducted here by Rev. Miller. In 1874, Rev. J. A. Sea-
ton held a revival here, and the membership was increased to
148. The present membership is about 100. In 1870, the
church was erected. Among the resident pastors of the church
were: Revs. Seaton, Kincaid, Stevens, Dillard and Hiett. The
following ministers served here at various times since the
organization of the church : Revs. Joseph Royal, J. S. Gash, F.
M. Bruner, Knox P. Taylor, W. B. Foster, John Hankins, M.
Jones, W. Branch, W. J. Burner, Fred E. Hagan, S. M. Thomas,
H. G. Bennett, N. L. Collins, D. Shanklin, Rev. Keefer, Davis,
Brannie and Cook.
Indian Point took its name from a body of timber extend-
ing from Cedar Fork to Section 16. Along the edge of this
timber was a favorite camping ground of the Indians, the
remains of whose camps were extant long after settlement by
the whites. This, coupled with the fact that many axes, spears
and arrow-points were found here, gave rise to the name of
Indian Point. By this name of "Indian Point" the township
was christened on Monday, January 14, 1850, when the town-
ship organization was perfected. Daniel Meek was elected the
first supervisor in 1853, The first meeting of the Supervisors
was held on April 5, 1853, at Knoxville, then the county seat of
At the present time Indian Point has the following offi-
cials: Willard Tinkham, supervisor; W. H. Clark, town clerk;
Geo. L. Hagan, assessor; I. T. Perry, single highway commis-
sioner; W. L. Mills, K. R. Marks and A. C. Fielder, school
trustees ; W. M. Clark and S. Gray, Justices of the Peace, and S.
D. Lomax, constable.
About St. Augustine
St. Augustine is the only municipality lying wholly within
the boundaries of Indian Point. It is the oldest town in this
section of Illinois. It was originally laid out a half mile south
of its present location by Henry and Austin Mattingly on May
6, 1835. The early settlers who located here were principally
from Kentucky, Indiana and Ohio. For twenty years business
was transacted where the village was originally laid out. Upon
the completion of the C, B. & Q. Railroad from Galesburg to
Quincy in 1855, the village was moved to the present site, on
account of the improved railroad facilities. Business naturally
drifted to the new location. The former location is now known
as "Old Town." Sebastian Pike was the first merchant, Isaac
Rubart, the first postmaster. Dr. A. Baldwin, besides being
the first physician, was also the first agent for the railroad
company. Among the pioneer merchants were Clements &
Son, Thos. Terrj% Hall & Carbon. Thos. Blake was the first
blacksmith. Clements & Smith owned and operated the first
lumber yard in 1857. J. G. Gallett and P. H. Smith built the
first elevator in 1857. Ten years later the building and con-
tents burned. The only grist mill ever built in Indian Point
was erected by Craighton & Ogden at St. Augustine in 1857.
Besides making flour and meal, a distillery was run in con-
nection. A few years later, a wool-carding machine was in-
stalled. This machine was operated by Henry Livers. During
the spring of 1879 the mill and contents burned. While St.
Augustine has had several fires, the most disastrous from a
business standpoint,, was that of April 30, 1897. The fire had
had its origin in a vacant building. It swept all the business
buildings on the north side of Sixth street and left but three
on the south side of the street. Buildings of a more substan-
tial nature have since been erected. In April, 1911, the Cath-
olic parsonage burned. The fire was discovered at midnight.
It had gained such headway that nothing could be saved. Miss
Elizabeth McKeon, the house-keeper, was alone at the time and
lost her life.
The merchants of St. Augustine are an energetic lot of
business men, who by close application to business, have turned
the tide of trade their way. Among them are Mills & Sons,
Harrod & Fielder, James Tanney, S. H. Ryan, Miss Kate Jen-
nings and Neice & Co, In 1902, the Bank of St. Augustine was
chartered and began business the following year. Since that
time the business of St. Augustine has more than doubled.
This being an agricultural community any enterprise to suc-
ceed must have the patronage and support of the farmers.
Much of the success achieved is attributable to them. Geo. L.
Hagan, Assistant Cashier of the bank, was born and raised on
an Indian Point farm, and is famihar with the hkes and dislikes
of the farmers. He knows that they appreciate courtesies ex-
tended them in business. For this reason, he serves them from
6 a. m. to 9 p. m.
Saloons had a long lease of life in St. Augustine. This
had a tendency to drive the better element of trade away from
town. However, in 1908 ''John Barleycorn' 'was voted out for
all time to come. Since that time many new residences have
been erected, and an improvement in business has been very
noticeable. Any history of St. Augustine, without mention of
the trade boosters, would be incomplete. For the past ten
years, T. J. Sailer, Walter Clark, Sherman Babbitt and later on
G. L. Smith, have been instrumental boosting the business in-
terests of St. Augustine. These gentlemen are extensive farm-
ers, buyers of livestock and grain, feeders and shippers. Fre-
quently these gentlemen handle 12 to 15 carloads of livestock
per week. They also make a good market for all the surplus
corn and hay of this community.
Since 1903, the St. Augustine Eagle has kept the village in
the limelight, and has given it a prestige that it never enjoyed
before. It is published by Karl R. Haggenjos, and has for its
local editor Geo. L. Hagan.
The City of Abingdon
This beautiful city enjoys many natural advantages,
which tend to make it an ideal location for a city. It is sur-
rounded by broad and fertile prairies, which have contributed
much toward its prosperity. As only a small portion of the
city lies within the boundaries of Indian Point, it is my pui*pose
to write only of the institutions and enterprises located in
this part of the city, leaving the major portion of the city to
the writer of the Annals for Cedar Township, In May, 1846,
"South Abingdon," as this part of the city was formerly called,
was laid out by Frederick Snyder. At that time it contained
only two and one-half blocks. The first school house was a
frame structure, 20 by 40 feet, and contained but one room.
Later the building proved too small and several additions were
added. It stood a few rods south of the present Washington
school, which was built in 1888. In 1853, P. H. Murphy opened
an academy in a frame building. For two years he lectured
among his people, and infused into them much of his own zeal
and wishes, to such an extent that they were ready to give his
academy the rank of a college and erect the necessaiy build-
ings. A plain three-story brick building was erected, in which
the college work was inaugurated in 1855. Mr. Murphy became
its first president. Ill health forced him to resign the position
in April, 1860, and he died the following August. He was suc-
ceeded by J. W. Butler, who was elected in January, 1861.
President Butler served until 1874, Dissensions broke out
among the faculty a few years prior to this time, which had a
telling effect upon the influence and power the institution for-
merly wielded. It was the beginning of the end. The college
building stood vacant many years, and was finally razed in
1917, to make room for the new Community High School, which
was erected at a cost of near $75,000.
Foremost among the factories of this part of the city is
the Abingdon Sanitary Mfg. Co. This enterprise was organ-
ized under the law of State of Illinois in August 1908. Prom-
inent among the early promotors were: James Simpson, Dr.
Bradway, Orion Latimer, G. A, Shipplett, G. K. Slough, P. H.
Maloney and others. The first buildings erected were thought
to be sufficiently commodious to serve the wants of the com-
pany for years. The popularity gained by the output of the
factory was such that the company was forced to make several
additions to the original plant. They make not only plumbers'
earthenware, but many vitreous china specialties. At the
present time the company employes 130 men, and the annual
production amounts to near a million dollars. While much of
the raw material is obtained from the states of Maine, Dela-
ware, New Jersey, Kentucky, Tennessee and Georgia, great
quantities are imported from England. The products are
shipped to every nook and corner of the Union, and many ship-
ments are exported to South America and Australia. J. E.
Slater is president of the company.
Another factory that is rapidly forging to the front, is
the Abingdon Milling and Cattle Feeding Co. On October 24,
1913, the company was incorporated under the laws of Illinois,
and the manufacture of feed was begun in May, 1914. The
early promotors of this enterprise weve I. L. Reynolds, of Clin-
ton, Iowa; Roy A. Johnson, of Taylorville, 111. ; D. E. Kincaid, of
Greenfield, 111.; Carl S. Burnside, of Galesburg; L. H. Robert-
son, E. I. Blevins and S. H. Whiteneck of Abingdon. The feeds
manufactured are "Malasso" for cattle and "Jumbo" hog
feed. The raw material entering these products are oil meal,
tankage, cotton seed meal, bran, hard-wood charcoal, corn, flax
seed products and Cuban cane molasses. The bulk of the small
grain is bought at Minneapolis, the bran and corn in Central
Illinois, the charcoal in the State of New York, and the mo-
lasses in Cuba. The products of this mill have grown in favor
with feeders all over the com belt. Shipments have been made
to the Pacific coast. The demand for the products has steadily
increased until many thousand tons are manufactured and
shipped annually. The present board of directors are: L. H.
Robertson, E. I. Blevins, S. H. Whiteneck, L. M. Fralich of
Abingdon, and W. H, Gridley of Kirkwood, 111. The officers
are: L. H. Robertson, president; C. B. Gaddis of Avon, vice-
president ; L. M. Fralich, secretary, and S. H. Whiteneck,
On March 8, 1882, the Abingdon Argus was launched by
its present efficient and talented editor, Hon. W. H. Clark,
For near forty years he has been untiring in his efforts to
make the Argus a truly representative weekly newspaper. He
is regarded as an exceptional writer.
In reviewing what we are pleased to call the "Pioneer
Days," we must not loose sight of the fact that those good old-
fashioned people had their sports and pleasures, as well as
their privations and hardships. For the men were the wolf
hunts, log rollings, political rallies and horses races. The ladies
had their quilting bees, rag tackings and social gatherings.
The younger people had their dances, singing and writing
schools in the winter time. Later on the spelling schoDls
proved both interesting and profitable. Each school took a
pariticular pride in seeing its pupils win in spelling contests.
The literary and debating societies were a source of pleasure
and profit in their day.
It may be interesting to know that the biggest snow storm
that ever visited this county was during the winter of 1830-31.
It continued to fall for several days, and measured four feet
deep on the level. In many places the drifts were twenty feet
high. It lay on the ground for months. Another heavy snow
fell during the winter of 1863-64. It drifted badly, and it was
not an unusual sight to see teams and sleds driven over hedges
The following are still living in this community, who were
here prior to 1850, Hon. W. H. Clark, T. H. Roe, Miss Delia Bell-
wood, of Abingdon, Mrs. Leah South, Mrs. L. D. Jennings, Wm.
South and wife and Luke Filder. Those who have spent three
score year or more here are: Jas. W. Cox, J. E. Cox, J. E. and
W. F. Robertson, J. W. Lomax of Abingdon, David and George
South, Mrs. Laura Edmundson, Mrs. T. B. Bourn, Miss Josie
Edmundson, Mrs. C, H. Mason, Geo. L. and Albert Hagan and
Mrs. Luke Fielder.
The future historian of Indian Point may look back to our
times with the interest that we now view what we are pleased
to call pioneer days. If our efforts in writing the Annals of
Indian Point at the present time prove helpful to him, we feel
that our work has not been in vain.
Grateful acknowledgement is herebv made to T. H. Roe,
Hon. W. H. Clark, L. M. Fralich and J. E. Slater for valuable
assistance rendered in compiling these annals.
By O. L. Campbell
Knox township, Knox county, Illinois, goes to par in this,
the year of our Lord, 1919. In the early days of a century ago,
as was mete and proper, counties and towns were named after
famous generals of the wars of preceding years, and Knox
county, Knox township and Knoxville have always pointed with
pride to the brave General Henry Knox, a soldier of the war of
the revolution, who commanded the storming party at the bat-
tle of Stony Point. After a major general and Washington's
secretary of state this garden of Eden was named. "For there
was nothing base or small, or craven, in his soul's broad plan."
In his second annual message to the House of Representatives,
November 6, 1818, President Monroe laid before that body for
their advice and consent the several treaties which had been
made with the twenty-five tribes of Indians. By reference to
the journal of commissioners it appeared that George and Levi
Calbert had bargained and sold to the United States the reser-
vations made to them by the treaty of 1816, and that a deed of
trust had been made by them to James Jackson of Nashville,
Tennessee. He therefore suggested that in case the Chickasaw
treaty was approved by the senate the propriety of providing
for the payment of the sum stipulated to be given to them for
their reservation. The land upon which Knox county was lo-
cated was, therefore, ceded to the United States, August 30th,
1819, just a hundred years ago. The exact location of the
township is number eleven north of range two east and is
marked by the C, B. & Q. railway survey as being the highest
point of land and almost equi-distant between the Illinois and
Mississippi rivers. According to the state records, Knoxville is
the tenth town incorporated in the State of Illinois. The
land is a rich, alluvial soil, being thoroughly drained on the
south by Haw Creek and on the north by Court Creek. It was
on this high point that the Indians and many friendly tribes,
passing through from Peoria Lake to the Mississippi River,
found a pleasant home, and there are many evidences that this
point was their headquarters for many years. On the road
which led north from Hebard street, recently closed, many
arrow heads and chips of flint were found. The early settlers
found a cleared plot of ground about a half mile north of
town showing evidences of having been used for raising crops.
Surrounding this field was a dense timber of white and black
oak trees of immense size, growing so closely together that the
sun could scarcely shine through the leaves. But closer and on
the border of the clearing, was an abundance of wild fruit, in-
cluding strawberries, raspberries and blackberries, while im-
mense wild cherry, red and black haw trees bore fruit of most
excellent quality and in great abundance. So carefully had this
fruit been cultivated that even as late as 1860 fruit of rare
quality and unlimited quantity was gathered by the white
Old Captain Stevens, a retired naval officer, who made
his home in Knoxville, organized a cavalry company of young
men of this community and it was on this spot of land that the
company was drilled. When the boys were sufficiently skilled
in military tactics, P. D. Rogers, for many years proprietor of
the old Hebard House, was elected captain and they were
ready to defend the people from incursions of all foes. An-
other company, with Captain Hale of the United States regular
army, as drill master, was organized about the year 1855, and
with their old muzzle-loading guns, they were so proficient that
when the call to arms came in 1861, Knoxville was among the
first to respond to the call by Lincoln for an army of defense.
A little later a company of Zouaves was organized, but the calls
for recruits were then so frequent that its members soon en-
listed for "three years or during the war." At this time Knox-
ville was the county seat and this probably accounts for the
fact that the town is credited with sending 547 soldiers to the
front during the War of the Rebellion. When the call came for
volunteers for the war with Spain, 29 Knox township boys
responded. During the late World War, 132 responded from
this township to fight for "freedom for all, forever."
It was in Knox township that the Indians spent their sum-
mers and harvested their crops, made their preparations for
their annual hunt in the region now known as Wisconsin.
The east part of the State of Illinois in 1790 and the larger
part of Indiana was once named Knox county, but by a change,
in boundaries, Knox was joined to Fulton county.
Knoxville was a stopping place and trading point for the
Indians who lived in or traded through this locality 75 and
more years ago. Sam McFarland, who lived in Chestnut town-
ship, tells of coming to Knoxville 77 years ago with his father
to see a tribe of Indians pass through this place, it being the
only town of importance between the two rivers. The Black
Hawk Indians were in the habit of coming down from Rock
Island with a supply of beaded moccasins and other specimens
of their work to sell to the visitors here. Where less than a
century ago wolves and deer roamed in the wild country, now
thousands of sleek cattle browse on the rich pastures.
The first child born in Knox township was Grace Hans-
ford, whose married name was Shock. She was the daughter
of Dr. Charles Hansford, our first physician, and she was bom
in 1834. E. T. Eads, a son of John Eads, was the first boy
born in this city and he first saw the light of day in 1835.
Harvey Montgomery, who is now living on the spot where he
was born, is the oldest child in the township, and has probably
lived longer in the county than any other person now alive.
The date of his birth is 1834. He is the largest land owner in
the town, having more than 1,200 acres upon which he pays
taxes. Jacob Gum came here from Menard county in 1827.
He was the first student of the first school taught in the
county. The first couple married here was Alexander Osborne
and Ann Hendricks, who were united in the hold bonds of
matrimony July 1, 1829.
Our first postoffice was established in 1831, and John G.
Sanburn was our first postmaster. The first observance of
Independence Day was in what is now known as Gilbert's Park
on July 4, 1836, and Hon. James Knox was the orator of the
day. The display of fireworks was on the prairie north of
the Knoxville Old Ladies' Home. Balls of candle wicking were
soaked in what was then known as coal oil and they were
lighted and thrown from one side of the lawn to the other.
When the balls began to unravel and streams of fire were seen
flying from one to the other.
The first meeting of the board of supervisors was in Knox-
ville in 1853, The first session of the circuit court was held
October 1, 1830, Judge Richard M. Young, presiding. The first
jail was built in 1832 at a cost of $250, J. G. Sanburn being the
builder and contractor.
The first men tried for murder in the county was John
Root, a Henry county man. John M. Osborn was the only man
ever hung in Knox county, suffering the death penalty for the
murder of Adelia M. Matthews, at Yates City, August 5, 1872.
Our first hotel was built on the corner of the public square
and West Main street and was owned and kept by William
Newman. R. L. Hannaman was Knox township's first lawyer,
coming here in 1831. The first court house was built in 1831,
at a cost of $393.43. Our first alms house was built in 1856.
The Old Settlers' association was orgnized in Knoxville in
1867. The Knox County Agricultural Board was organized in
Our first county clerk, John G. Sanburn, sei'ved from
1830 to 1837. The First National Bank has been in existence
The first mayor of Knoxville was James Price. Knoxville
has long been an educational center, Ewing Female University
was established in 1859, and St. Mary's school has been in
exsitence since ever since. There are many interesting stories
of people of the early days. Daniel Fuqua came to this place in
1830 — the year of the big snow, when the snow was three
feet deep on the level and all roads were badly drifted.
Uncle Dick Haney, an old-time Methodist minister, tells
of a sight which he witnessed in the early days, when he went
into a cabin and saw there a woman running a spinning wheel
with one foot, rocking a cradle with the other, her hands mean-
while being engaged, one in churning, the other holding the
flax as it was made into yarn. To some this stor\^ seems like
a fable, but the truth of the statement was vouched for by
others present, the lady being none other than the wife of
Uncle Daniel Fuqua, who, in a reminiscent way, related to the
old settlers' secretaiy that he came to Knox county May 2,
1830, landing at Henderson Grove, coming from Kentucky with
oxen and horses, and lived in an old log cabin the first six
months. He took possession of a small clearing of about seven
acres and raised a crop of corn. It made about 50 bushels to
the acre and it was all that was needed for the family use!
He took a land claim in the fall and built a double log house on
the land. In those days there was no need of fraternal organ-
izations, for as soon as a newcomer arrived, provisions were
prepared and for miles around they assembled to give what was
usually a very home-sick family a hearty welcome to the new
home. At this time there was not a town in Knox county, but
shortly afterwards the house of John Gum was used in which
to transact business.
In 1831 Knoxville was laid out and the court house was
established in a log cabin, the only houses then known. In the
fall of 1830 he broke up five acres of land, sowed wheat and
raised 250 bushels. Horses trampled out the grain and a sheet
was the fanning mill. This was the winter of the big snow,
three feet deep on the level. This made traveling almost im-
possible, but with plenty of corn and an abundance of wild
game, such as deer, squirrels, wild turkeys and chickens they
lived in what would now be considered the most profligate
luxury. The tediousness of life was relieved by going to mill.
There was a good water mill at Rock Island, about 60 miles
away, another on Spoon River, in Fulton county, a third in
Stark county and still another in Warren county. The time
spent in these long travels was not considered lost, for this
was their only opportunity to get a glimpe of the outside world.
Human nature, then, as now, ever sought companionship.
The first ripple in the quiet life of those early inhabitants
was the breaking out in 1831 of the Black Hawk War. The
Indians were feared and dreaded, and to protect the families
Fort Gum was built near Henderson. After a short time their
fears were allayed and they returned to their homes. In 1832
block houses were built in different parts of the county and a
company was enlisted. Looms were seen in almost every cabin,
and until sheep could be reared, the clothing was all of flax and
cotton. They made a virtue of necessity and lived within
themselves, for money was a scarce article in 1830. Every-
thing was barter and trade. What little money they had was
used to pay taxes. Each of the few first families brought with
them a few cooking implements, but soon the young people be-
gan to mate, and then the houses that enjoyed two cooking im-
plements was fortunate, indeed, for then they could divide with
the young people. There being no stoves, fire places were used
to cook over, the kettle hanging from a crane and the hoe cake
taking on that delicious toothsome brown while reposing in
depths of hot ashes. "How dear to my heart," said the old
gentleman, as he waxed into a reminiscent mood, "is the mem-
ory of my first attempts at founding a home. I had attained
the mature age of 19 years and my dear wife of blessed mem-
ory was a demure maiden of almost 16, the most beautiful wo-
man and the best the Lord had ever made, whose life of love
and constancy continued through 52 short but happy years.
With what happy expectation I watched her boil water for
coffee in an old cast iron skillet, which was then used to fry the
venison, which was kept warm on the cover, while the same
faithful utensil did triple duty on baking our bread. Our
daughters have a local reputation as good cooks, it is true, but
none of them have been able to furnish me a feast so delectable
and satisfying as was this, the first repast eaten with thank-
fulness and joy under vine and fig tree.
Our first furniture was indeed crude, but tired nature's
sweet restorer, balmy sleep, was just as refreshing upon a bed
of clapboards, held in position by poles inserted in holes in the
logs of our 14x16 cabin. A clapboard table was a luxuiy, the
making and using of which was enjoyed and stools and benches
served instead of the present divans and upholstered rockers.
"There were no churches in those days, but occasional ser-
vices were enjoyed at a centrally located cabin, where all
seemed to be fervent in the worship of the Lord, and who shall
blame us if, as now the case, these occasions were often used
to form acquaintances which often resulted in happy alliance?
Matches are made in heaven, it is said; I know there were
heavenly matches made in the old log cabins in those days."
Politics in Knoxville were always of the independent kind.
While the Republicans usually have a plurality of about 200
when general elections were held, in spite of the fact that in
the county the Democratic vote only varied 29 in five years,
and the Republican vote only 49, a Democrat has represented
Knox township more terms on the board of supervisors than
Knoxville has always been considered the center of agri-
cultural industry. She looks down upon a century of achieve-
ment with a pride that is little short of devotion, and having
given to the world such men as Judge Craig, of the Illinois Su-
preme court ; Hon. James Knox and Hon, J. H. Lewis to the
halls of the nation's congress ; Hon, R, W. Miles, Hon, P, H,
Sanford, Julius Manning and Henry J, Runkle to grace the halls
of Illinois legislature, she feels that she has done her full share
in furnishing men and names by which this great common-
wealth has taken its high place upon the topmost round,
(Note: Mr, Campbell gives the date of the laying out of
Knoxville as 1831, instead of the earlier date, given in the
From Sketch of J. A. Beals
The northwest township of Knox county is and will be,
because of its location and environment, a township of tarms.
In the early days some effort was made to attract the merchant
and mechanic to a point on the south line, called Centerville
(afterward platted as Milroy), but it failed of success, and
there has never been a postoff ice, a church building or a village
within the limits of Lynn.
Great is the contrast between the landscape of today,
dotted with well-improved farms, with their commodious
dwellings and barns, and that of 1828, when Michael Fraker,
with his family, came to Section 23, to find the tract of land he
had purchased in Kentucky in the possession and occupancy of
the Indians. The braves were away hunting, having left only
the old men, women and children to contest his claim. So the
white man made himself at home. But the returning hunters
disputed his title, claiming that theirs came from the Indian
God and was long prior to that of the new settler. Mr. Fraker
thought diplomacy was better than valor. He was adroit;
he had tact and genius, and was kind and helpful. He was a
blacksmith, and could mend their guns. They took him to their
hearts, and helped him build his cabin, but could see no neces-
sity for his making tight joints between the logs. But his
trust in his new-found friends was not wholly without reserva-
tion — bullets had a better chance where the cracks were large.
They finally left him their wigwams and council house, and
made new homes at Indian Creek, seven miles east, returning
yearly as friends at the sugar season. A granddaughter of
Mr. Fraker says she has heard her grandmother say that the
only white women she saw for four years were those of her
own family, and those who came with them. A fair-sized band
of Indians lived and roamed from Spoon River to the Mississ-
ippi, their trails being distinctly perceptible long after they
had left the country. A clear, flowing spring on the east side
of Fraker's Grove had trails from all directions centering
there. Some of the early settlers long afterward remembered
the friendly visits of the Chief Shaubena after the Black Hawk
War. Mr. Fraker was a middle aged man when he came from
Kentucky. He buried two wives and was living with his third,
and was the father of twenty-four children.
George Fitch, a son-in-law of Mr. Fraker, settled near by
soon after the Frakers, and was the first school teacher and
Justice of the Peace in the settlement. His son, Luther, is re-
ported to have been the first white child bom here. The first
marriage was that of William Hitchcock and Julia Fraker.
John Essex was the first settler on Walnut Creek, in 1830.
His wife was the daughter of Jacob Cress, who, with his fam-
ily, settled on Section 24, in 1831. These were the only per-
sons living in Lynn before the Black Hawk War. During that
struggle they went to Forts Clark and Henderson for safety.
About 1834, William Dunbar bought the improvements of
one of the Frakers on a portion of Section 13, and entered the
land, going to Galena by wagon, with two yoke of oxen, to do
so. He came from Kentucky, and, being a hatter by trade,
burnished fur hats to the neighborhood, peddling them on
horseback. Mrs. Theodore Hurd says that when she, a girl
of twelve years, came here with her father (Luther Driscoll) in
1836) they found twelve families here, settlement being known
as Fraker's Grove ; not all of it in Lynn, however, as the east
township line ran through the middle of it.
In 1836, on Walnut Creek there were only John Lafferty,
on Section 36; the Montgomery boys, on Section 35; Samuel
Albro (who was a soldier of the War of 1812 and settled on
land patented to him for his military service), on Section 34;
John Essex and the Talors, south of the creek near Centenille ;
and Hugh and Barney Frail, on Section 31. Mrs. Hugh Frail
was the pioneer sister of the Gravers and the Collinsons, who
followed, from time to time, settling that corner of the town-
ship. By 1838 the population had increased considerably.
Jonathan Gibbs came then, and purchased the Montgomery
property on Section 35, where he lived until his death. He was
always a leading man in the township, a Justice for twenty-
five years and Supervisor for half that period. About this
time also came Elison Annis, who settled on land patented to
him for service in the War of 1812; Solomon Brooks, John Sis-
son, Ralph Hurley and Elder Shaw, all from Ohio, and origin-
ally from Maine. They were old neighbors, and were members
of the Free Will Baptist Church. Soon after coming they or-
ganized the Walnut Creek Baptist Church. Elder Shaw and
Luther Driscoll for years acting as pastors. It is now extinct.
Peter Hagar, Simeon Collinson, the Sniders and Edward
Selon were early. Mr. Selon had been mate on an ocean vessel
and in one of his last voyages across the ocean the Charles
family were passengers on his ship. One of them he soon after
married. Another daughter is Mrs. Ira Reed, of this township
and Mr. Charles, of Round Grove, Henry County, who was the
first man married on the Stark county side of the Fraker
settlement, is a member of the same family. In 1836, there
was a rather large immigration from Goshen, Connecticut, for
which Goshen township in Stark county was named. Captain
Gere and William and Ira Reed were among these settlers. In
1840, came a considerable number of Mormons, but most of the
latter remained only a short time.
The first tavern opened was that of Mr. Dunbar, who so
used his own home, but in 1846, Nathan Barlow opened the
"Traveler's Home," on Section 24. It was on the Chicago trail
and the stage road, and hence afforded accommodations much
needed at the time.
Population increased slowly until the railroad was pro-
jected. That was the ending of the old, and the beginning of
the new era in the history of Lynn. J. A. Beal's relation to the
township began in this transition period. Proximity to the
railroad influenced his selection of a small piece of land for a
future home, on the then unbroken prairie. The following
spring his wedding trip from the home in Vermont was be-
gun by rail, and finished by stage at Victoria. The ending was
a little analogous to the overturning of the old by the new. It
was a frosty March morning when the stage stopped at Vic-
toria, with two newly wedded couples, the destination of one
of which was Galesburg. The wife whose journey had ended
and the husband who had yet to reach Galesburg both stepped
out. The driver had dropped the reins and was at the boot,
removing the baggage. The horses, impatient with cold and
excited by their drive, suddenly started on the run and made
a short turn to the Reynolds barn. In a moment's time the
startled travelers were standing on their heads (to judge from
the way they felt and looked afterwards) inside the coach.
The shock was but for a moment, though the impression was
that they were being dragged, and that something was yet to
happen ; the side door was above them and open ; the hind
wheel was revolving ; and the head of the young wife was soon
at the opening inquiring if "we were hurt in there." The stage
had uncoupled in the overturn, and three horses had dragged
the fourth and the front wheels to the barn.
The first physician at the Fraker settlement was Dr.
Nicols ; at Centerville, Dr. Spaulding. Mr. Leek built the first
saw mill, in 1837, at Centerville, and later Jonathan Gibbs put
up a second. The first log school house, used also for meetings,
was built prior to 1836, by volunteer labor, near the home of
the Dunbars, in the edge of the grove. Squire Fitch and Maria
Lake were the earliest teachers. Later, a school house was
built near Fraker's. Dr. Nicols is said to have been one of the
first teachers. One of the early pedagogues at the Centerville
school was a boy of eighteen, who, in 1863, became General
Henderson, and afterward was a member of Congress. Anna
Shaw, Betsy Smith and Catherine Annis were early residents,
the last named teaching for a time in a log house near the
Frails. In 1841, James Jackson was appointed school trustee,
and made two districts of the township, which till then had
formed but one. There are now 1899, eight frame school
houses, worth about nine thousand dollars. None of the schools
is graded, and the aggregate attendance at that time was about
one hundred and seventy-five pupils.
Besides regular services provided at Centerville by Revs.
Shaw and Driscoll, there were circuit ministers, who had regu-
lar appointments to meet the people. Jonathan Hodgson, one
of the earliest settlers at the Grove, became a local Methodist
preacher. He was a man of influence in the settlement, a
Probate Justice while a resident of the State, and a radical
anti-slavery man. At the time of the Kansas struggle he cast
in his lot with the free-soilers. He became so much interested
in the work of Jonas Hedstrom, at Victoria, that he learned
enough of the Swedish language to preach to people of that
nationality in their own tongue. Edward Selon also became a
minister, and Rev. Alba Gross preached as well as farmed, un-
til called to the Baptist Church in Galva in 1857. Though there
has never been a church building in the township, the school
houses have been freely opened to Sunday schools and relig-
In the presidential election of 1840, the polling place for
both Lynn and Walnut Grove was at Centerville ; four years
later at the school house near the Frails', Squire Ward being
one of those in charge. The practice of betting on elections
dates back at least to this time, for James Jackson lost and Dr.
Nicols won a pair of trousers on that election.
The grist mill and the market involved much labor and
forethought for the early settlers. The first grist which Wil-
liam Dunbar sent away went as far as Tazewell county, and in
1838 the nearest points of shipment were Canton and Moline.
After getting to the mill one often had to wait for two weeks
for his turn to grind. It can be imagined what a convenience
was even the little hand mill of Mr. Fraker.
One winter Jonathan Gibbs contracted to deliver a drove
of hogs at Peoria on a certain date. Deep snow came, and '
order to fulfill his agreement he made a snow plow, of two
planks, set on edge and wedge-shaped. A yoke of oxen was
hitched to this and driven ahead, making a path in which
the pigs could walk.
Recreation was not entirely neglected. Social life, where
there were so few, perhaps meant more than it does now. A
wolf hunt took not only the men with their guns, but the
women with their kettles, chickens and potatoes, to make
chicken pies for the tired hunters. The pies were baked out
of doors in twenty-five gallon kettles, set over the coals.
Lynn was organized in 1853, by the election of Jonathan
Hodgson, Supervisor; I. S. Smith, Clerk; William A. Reed,
Assessor; A. Gross, Collector; Erastus Smith, Overseer of the
Poor; S. G. Albro, John Lafferty, and H. A. Grant, Highway
Commissioners ; John Hodgson and John Gibbs, Justices ; John
From Sketch by Dr. J. L. Knowles
In 1827, ten years subsequent to the original survey of this
military tract, William Palmer and family, consisting of his
wife and five children, located on the southwest quarter of
Section 3, about forty rods southeast of the present limits of
Maquon Village. This was doubtless the first white family to
settle in Knox county. Mr. Palmer's cabin, made of black
hickory poles, stood in the midst of Indian gardens, which were
usually deserted by the savages in early spring in favor of bet-
ter hunting grounds farther west. They returned every fall
to remain during the winter, until the year 1832, when, as a
result of the Black Hawk War, they took a final leave and that
neighborhood knew them no more. Mr. Palmer lived here five
or six years, planted an orchard and cultivated the gardens, or
patches vacated by the Indians, and, as his cabin stood on the
old Galena trail, it afforded a stopping place for the miners
going to and from their homes in the southeastern part of the
state. A few years later Palmer sold his cabin to Nelson Selby
and removed to St. Louis.
The following year Simeon Dolph, the pioneer ferryman of
Spoon River, settled on Section 4, building his cabin of logs
where the Rathbun house now stands. Owing, however, to a
suspicion of his having been implicated in the death of an un-
known traveler, he left the community a short time afterwards.
In 1829, Mark Thurman, with his family, settled on Sec-
tion 25, and one of his daughters, Mrs. Hughs Thurman, of
Yates City, is recalled as one of the oldest residents of the
county. The next year the families of William Darnell, Wil-
liam Parmer, Thomas Thurman and James Milam settled on
Sections 24 and 25. They all came from Highland county,
Ohio. Subsequently a small, but regular and ever-increasing
stream of settlers took up claims in the township, until in 1837,
it was thought a favorable opportunity had arrived for laying
out a village, which was called Maquon. This is of Indian
origin, signifying spoon. Sapol means river, and as the stream
bearing this name assumes somewhat the shape of a spoon
from source to mouth, it was called Maquon Sapol, or Spoon
This township was one of the chief Indian settlements in
the state, and here were congregated families of the Sacs and
Foxes and Pottawattomies. Their principal village was located
on the present site of Maquon as here the Indian trails centered
from all directions in pioneer days. A vast number of Indian
relics have been and are still being unearthed in the vicinity,
and there are a great many mounds scattered about the neigh-
borhood, the most prominent being the Barbero mound, which
is supposed to have been built by the Aborigines and to contain
human remains. Maquon is well drained by Spoon River and
the many small tributaries that flow into it, fine timberlands
abound throughout the township, and about one-half of the
surface is underlaid with an excellent quality of bituminous
coal. The township organization was completed in 1853, by the
election of James M. Foster as Supervisor; Nathan Barbero,
Assessor, and James L Loman, Collector.
The first school house in the township was built of logs in
1834 on Section 23, or, to locate it more accurately, about
eighty rods west of where James Young's dwelling now stands.
The first teacher in that building was Benjamin Brock. The
next house to be devoted to educational purposes was erected
in 1836 or 1837, and was situated about fifty rods south of
Bennington. The first school north of Spoon River was con-
ducted by Miss Mary Fink in a shed adjoining the residence of
Peter Jones, a father of John Jones, at one time postmaster.
The only reading book at that time was the New Testament.
It is claimed by some of Miss Fmk's pupils, that she could read
and write, but could not "cipher." However, notwithstanding
this defect in her education, it was said that her labors were
most commendable and satisfactory.
The township at first contained the three villages of
Maquon, Bennington and Rapatee. Bennington was originally
laid out in the center of the precinct in 1836 by Elisha Thur-
man, but it failed to develop sufficient importance to be called
a village, although it was the township's polling place until
1858, when the name was changed to Maquon.
The township is justly proud of its unbounded patriotism
some of its residents having taken part in three of the nation's
most important wars. Among the early pioneers of the town-
ship were Philip Rhodes, John W. Walters and John M. Combs,
who were soldiers in the War of 1812. Avery Dalton, who
lived to a great old age and who has furnished much informa-
tion of the early history of Maquon township, and Madison Fos-
ter, deceased were members of the Fulton County Rangers in
the Black Hawk War, The rifle carried by Mr. Foster while in
service is now owned by his son, Albert, and is in a good state
of preservation, the old flint lock having been replaced by one
of more modern manufacture. A full quota of two hundred
and fifty soldiers was furnished during the Civil War, many of
whom died on the field of battle fighting for the Union, while
others still survive and occasionally live over again one of the
most exciting epochs in the history of the country.
The first birth and the first death to occur in the township
was that of Rebecca, a daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Thurman, in
1831. The first marriage took place on Christmas, 1834, the
contracting parties being Elisha Thurman and Anna Hall, and
the first postmaster was William McGown, who held that posi-
tion in 1837. The first bridge across Spoon River built in 1839,
by Jacob Conser, but it subsequently collapsed by its own
weight and was re-built by Mr. Conser the following year. It
was located almost directly south of the village of Maquon.
The second bridge was erected by Benoni Simpkins, in 1851,
a few rods below the site of the present structure, which was
built in 1873. The stone work was done by J. L. Burkhalter
and John Hall, the wood work by Andy Johnson, and the iron
work by Mr. Blakesly, of Ohio. The first distillery in Knox
county was situated in Maquon and it furnished the cargo for
the first shipment from Galesburg over the Chicago, Burling-
ton and Quincy Railroad.
Maquon township is known for its excellent schools and its
history is of large interest.
Note : The positive statement by Dr. Knowles regarding
the William Palmer family seems definitely to fix Palmer as
the earliest settler in the county.
By Hugh Greig"
While it is true that no well defined Indian trail crossed,
in any direction, this township, yet there is indisputable evi-
dence that the Redman was a frequent visitor. The large num-
ber of arrow points found in the vicinity of Pilot Knob prove
this. The point named is one of the few decided elevations in
what is now Knox County and must have been used in times
innumerable by the Indians to watch the coming or going of a
friend, or to detect the stealthy approach of a dusky enemy.
The area in timber was much too limited to furnish an
ideal hunting ground, and no living spring now known could
have supplied water for any large number of people. There-
fore, Pilot Knob, despite its sightliness, lacked many qualifi-
cations which could induce the wanderer to make of it an abid-
That there were large numbers of magnificent trees near-
by and in every direction, far as the eye could reach, a waving
ocean of tallest grasses, proving the unsurpassed richness of
the soil was to the Indian a matter of little or no importance.
It is quite probable that more than a century before the
white man, as a settler, looked on this rich, rolling prairie land,
the explorer on his way from the Illinois to the Mississippi
or vice versa, had traversed this region and unquestionably the
hunter of a much later date had stood on Pilot and in ever
more than fancy "was monarch of all he surveyed."
However, though explorers and hunters have a place in
history, a place which bold, venturesome men only can fill, still
it is of a truth he and she who are possessors of or possessed
by the ideas of the settler, the settler who squats on a defin-
ite spot of earth, in some legal form obtains the squatters right
to stay and stays. Such is the germ from which in due time
Ontario township, Knox County, Illinois, the nation is made.
And if we are to judge the Ontario of today and of all the
succeeding tomorrows by the all around make up of the early
settlers we may well be thankful and take courage, for were
they not all or nearly all the not distant descendants of those
who made homes, built schools and churches, fought Indians
and brought a thousands smiles to the flinty face of sterile
New England, and some in the morning of their manhood as-
sisted in Central New York by arduous labor in transforming a
forest into a farm ; and though here they found the unbroken
prairie a new problem, its solution was simple in comparison;
it is true the implements needed were different, the skill to pro-
duce them was not yet acquired, but here was the soil, stubborn
indeed, but not more so than the settler. With a plow largely of
timber, much prairie was brought under cultivation ; corn was
planted, not with a planter and check-rower, but with an axe,
in due time this gave place to the hoe, and as evolution seems
to be a universal law the two-horse planter came and stays.
Besides the corn, all the grains suitable to our soil and
climate were sown and rich were the rewards of the husband-
man. One crop now never seen in this township was to a
limited extent grown, viz., flax, and not only grown, but by
skilled and willing hands became by much patient labor a part
of the clothing of the almost moneyless early settlers, and in
even this year of grace and carnage this writer was shown a
considerable sample of linen fabric, the flax from which it had
been made grew on Section 31, Ontario township, the home for
more than sixty years of G. W. Melton, Mrs. Melton and family,
and we have reason to believe that the aforesaid Mrs. Melton
with her own hands heckeled, spun and wove the linen cloth to
the writer shown.
In the same year but previous to Mr. Melton's arrival, an
Alexander Williams had fenced and plowed some twenty acres
on the northwest quarter of Section 30 and therefore, so far as
known, was the first settler in the township, who evidently
intended to remain. However, in 1836 he sold his holdings to
I. M. Wetmore. The latter became one of the large landholders
in the neighborhood and in all his after years was a most prom-
inent and successful farmer. And though the name, Wetmore,
is less common than in the early days it is still with us and
with a goodly number of others in a most interesting and pleas-
ant way links the present with the past.
As stated, a goodly number of names familiar in the early
daj^s are still here, yet it is very true that a large and increas-
ing percentage of our land owners and tenant farmers can and
do speak an alien tongue, but we all know by evidence that
cannot be gainsaid that alien speech is no indication of alien
sentiment. When we bear in mind that perhaps even a major-
ity of our voters are of foreign birth or are the children of
those who hail from the land of Thor, and also recognize the
fact that when the R. C, the Y. M. C. A.„ the K. of C. or other
similar agencies let it be known that funds are needed in their
ceaseless works of mercy, Ontario has unhesitatingly gone over
In the matter of the various bond selling campaigns, over
the top is simply considered the normal thing. This, however,
is usually looked on as a fairly good investment ; yet take it all
in all, the profit, the real profit, that which never tarnishes, is
that derived from that giving where nothing is returned in
kind. But to speak of the cold facts of history it is a pleasure
to mention that while settlers were few, money almost unbe-
lieveably scarce, yet the matter of education was not forgotten,
for in 1839, a school house was built on the Northwest Quarter
of Section 32. Just in what manner the project was financed
we do not know, we only know that the free school system or
anything much resembling it had not yet arrived ; we have no
reason to believe that the curriculum was very varied. All, no
doubt, had at times an uncomfortable amount of fresh air; as
has been hinted the course of study was somewhat brief, but as
was proved on many subsequent occasions, the pupils graduated
having, in the words of John Hay, "a middling tight grip on
the handful of things they knew."
The first teacher was Sally Ann Belden. The school house
for several years was used for religious services, and as denom-
inational lines were not strictly drawn, the preacher of the
occasion was not questioned very closely as to his beliefs or un-
beliefs on doctrinal matters.
There are now in the township eight rural schools, and
while all of them have been to some extent remodeled and
greatly improved in general appearance externally and in-
ternally, the course of study has become practically uniform;
the teachers in a knowledge of teaching methods and in schol-
arly equipment far surpass those of the so-called good old days
of long ago. The Oneida district, officially known as No. 27,
is what is known as a graded school. Four teachers are em-
ployed and all pupils who successfully pass the eighth grade
are eligible to enter the High school. The latter which is con-
ducted in the same building, employs four teachers, each of
whom we are glad to say is a graduate of a State University
or College in good standing, and pupils honorably finishing the
four year course are, provided they have made the best of their
opportunities, able to enter any college in our state.
Every girl or boy in this township is in some High school
district or in non-High school territoiy which amounts to the
same thing. And yet, sad to say, very many of our young
people never pass the eighth grade and some never reach it.
It was a number of years after the establishment of the
first school when the township became a political unit, the
first Supervisor was Edward Crane ; Clerk, W. J. Savage ; As-
sessor, J. Burt; Collector, E. C. Brott; Overseer of the Poor,
T. F. P. Wetmore. They also had constables and highway com-
missioners. It is not all likely that the latter gentlemen were
at any time urged to use their influence in favor of hard roads,
and if their successors ever have been the good advice given
them appears to have been wasted. The justices of the peace
were E. Chapman and T. E. Mosher.
The names of the supervisors who until the present time
have succeeded Mr. Crane, are as follows : J. Hammond, W. B.
LeBaron, J. Hammond, W. B. LeBaron, A. S. Curtis, 0. Beadle,
E. Crane, A. S. Curtis, G. L. Stephenson, 0. L. Fay, G. E. Fred-
ericks, Hugh Grieg, J. J. Clearwater. There is in the town-
ship but one village, Oneida. It was platted in the autumn of
1854 by C. F. Camp, B. T. West and S. V. R. Holmes. It is said
that there was no intention on the part of railroad officials to
have a station at that point but there were more convincing
inducements presented at that time to the needy company chief
of which was a gift by C. F. Camp of a plot of ground 500x1,000
feet, on which at this date are the R. R. Station, two grain
elevators, various other buildings, and last and greatest is the
beauty spot of the village, the little park which is the admir-
ation of all, and as the years come and go the home one and
the passing traveler notes the deep green sward, the clumps of
shrubbery each in its season blossom tinted, the spreading
branches of the elms, maples, chestnuts giving promise of the
future forest shade where all can realize it, if they will that
our pagan ancesters were not far amiss when they, in the
shady woodland's "dim religious light" saw a temple in which
they did and we might worship God.
The writer calls Oneida a village, and, as he thinks rightly,
so as more befitting our small and sadly diminishing numbers,
still it has a city charter, a special charter by the way. How-
ever, it is quite doubtful if the makers thereof could today rec-
ognize their handiwork. It will interest some to know that
Oneida's first school was built in 1855, and its first teacher was
Mary Allen West, who later became County Superintendent of
Schools, and in such position and in others subsequently filled,
she not only raised the standard of scholarship among the
teachers but raised the standard of civic righteousness in every
community that knew her presence.
The village, as has been noted, has two grain elevators,
two banks, the First National and the Anderson State Bank ;
we have had and now have a weekly paper, the Oneida News, a
Masonic lodge with a large membership, a Modern Woodmen
Camp, a Mystic Workers Insurance Company, two Woman's
Clubs, which are decidedly helpful in a social and literary way.
There is also an organization known as the Oneida-Altona
Branch of the Knox County Free Kindergarten, and out of this
has grown what may be called an auxiliary. The latter is wholly
composed of farm wives and daughters, and has its centre in
that intangible, but yet very real, something known as Ontario.
The meetings are no doubt beneficial in a social way, but it is
the sentiment of the heart materialized by the hands that on
many, very many occasions brings cheer to the little homeless
ones in the Galesburg Kindergarten.
The Church in Ontario Township
In 1840 the Presbyterians planned and in a measure ef-
fected an organization, which so far as now known in a short
time as such disappeared. The same denomination again in
1863, probably as a result of the seed sown in 1840, took the
necessary steps to found a church in Oneida, and in 1865 one
was erected. The building was completely destroyed by a wind-
storm in 1868. A new church was immediately erected and has
been added to, the interior remodeled, the congregation is out
of debt, has a resident pastor, but the membership is slowly
but constantly diminishing.
In that part of Ontario township which is known as On-
tario, paranthetically it may be said, that this section has a
social center of its own ; it is really a community within a com-
munity, although not nearly so much so as in the days that
are gone; yet it still exists, resembling some of the European
States, however small. The Ontarioans are staunch believers
in autonomy, and this being so the settlers who favored the
congregational system of church management came together in
1848 and discussed the feasibility of organizing a church of
this denomination, and in 1852 the church which is still in
existence, was erected ; there has been no resident pastor for a
number of years and though preaching services are occasion-
ally held it would seem to an unbiased onlooker that the end of
the Ontario Congregational church is near at hand.
About the same time in the same communuity a certain
number, who, from the old eastern home, had brought cer-
tain inherited theological ideas which to them seemed essen-
tial, decided to build a Baptist church. Such was built ; also a
parsonage, and for many years preaching services were regu-
larly held. However, for a considerable time no services were
held, the church building was demolished, the parsonage sold,
the society disbanded, and the place which knew it, and knew
it for its good, will in all probability know it no more.
In 1852, in the neighborhood of what is now Oneida, a Con-
gregational Society was formed. In 1855 the church building,
which is still the property of the society, was built, has had an
eventful and most useful existence, but the church is pastor-
less, with slight signs of rejuvenation. There are still mem-
bers of the church and of the society who hope and look for-
ward to a new life for their beloved church, and for them and
for the community as a whole such a consumation is to be
The Oneida Methodist church was built in 1863. It was
a live organization to begin with, all its past history proves
that it has not lost its pristine enthusiasm, and in keeping with
its inner life its material progress is well shown in the new
brick edifice which occupies and graces the site of the old
wooden structure, and at this writing a new, handsome brick
veneered parsonage is nearing completion.
Sometime between 1850 and 1860 a Baptist and a Uni-
versalist church were built in Oneida. The latter was destroyed
by fire; was rebuilt, but was wrecked by a windstorm. The
Baptist church was demolished at the same time and neither
was ever rebuilt. There was also a Lutheran organization
which at no time had more than thirty members, its existence
was brief as its list of members. The Seven Day Adventists
had a place of worship for a short time. Church and church
goers have disappeared.
There is also on Section 1 a Christian church. It has al-
ways been numerically weak and in common with all, or nearly
all Ontario churches, it is not only weak, but constantly be-
It would appear from the foregoing that at some time
there have been in Ontario township ten religious societies, at
least eight have had places of worship. At present there are
but two congregations having resident pastors — the Methodist
and Presbyterian. For this condition there may be many
reasons given. It is true that there are a less number of in-
habitants in the township, and a smaller percentage of the
lesser number are church goers, and again there is a Swedish
Lutheran Church in Altona, where a large number of the older
people of our township regularly attend public worship. On
such occasions they meet with friends of kindred speech and
from the pulpit hear the words to memory dear and sing the
songs they first heard in their old home, "over there." There
is also a church of the same denomination in Wataga and
though not so largely attended as that in Altona still quite
a number of families from the southern side of Ontario are
attendants and members. The same may be said of the extreme
north of the township, the people here going to Woodhull.
However, it will have to be admitted that the chief cause
of the decadence and disappearance of churches is the fact that
a large and increasing number of people never go to any church
and another large, and perhaps increasing, number, seldom go.
Neither class mentioned can be depended on as a liberal giver
to any department of church work, and churches need friends.
However, in the not distant future all three societies, Al-
tona, Wataga, Woodhull, in all their meetings will use and use
only the English tongue. In that case will the present average
church attendance prevail, or will decadence and, in many in-
stances, disintegration take place?
Yet even if the church as the embodiment of Christianity
should largely or wholly pass, would not that something in it
which is greater than itself continue to live, ever, ever march-
From Sketch by John C. Eiker
Orange, as a present defined and bounded, was one of the
first townships in the county to attract the attention of early
immigrants to northern Illinois, and the pioneers were not
wholly free from fear of predatory visits from the aboriginal
owners of the soil. As a matter of fact, however, in 1830 — the
year the first settlers arrived — the Indians were migrating to
the west, and the comparatively few of them remained. A
blockhouse was erected, however, in 1830, or '31, and the mur-
der of a white man by a straggling band of hostile savages
during the Black Hawk War threw the small community into a
ferment of apprehension.
The township is crossed by several well defined trails.
That which is known as the Peorian and Galena runs diagonally
from northwest to southeast, passing also through Knox,
crossing the northeastern corner of the present city of Knox-
ville, A little to the west of this is another, which crosses
Brush Creek, in Section 30, and forms a sort of pathway from
that stream to the headwaters of Haw Creek, Several Indian
graves have been found and their traces are yet plainly discern-
able just across the Knox Township boundary line, on Section
32, The last appearance of any considerable body of aborigines
in the township was in 1843, when several hundred Sacs and
Foxes camped on the northwestern quarter of Section 5, while
on their way from the north to their reservation in Indian Ter-
The first white family to settle within the present limits
of Orange was that of Joseph Wallace, who located on Section
15, in 1830, and found a rudely constructed cabin suffice for
their shelter. After the death of his wife, on the old farm, Mr.
Wallace removed to Iowa.
Asa Haynes (born in Dutchess County, New York, in
1804,) came in 1836. He had bought the three hundred acres
on Section 30, on which he erected a one-roomed log cabin, in
which he took up his residence with his wife, formerly Miss
Mary Gaddis, to whom he had been married October 7, 1830.
He was hardy, daring and adventurous, but without education
other than such as he had obtained during two months' attend-
ance at an Ohio district school each winter during six or seven
years. He brought with him his two children, a half brother,
Hiram, and a nephew, Isaac Hill. During their journey from
Ohio, which occupied nineteen days, they encountered more or
less rainfall during seventeen days, and found the rivers swol-
len to the summit of their banks, even the horses' harness
never drying. Mr. Haynes was energetic and enterprising, and
from the outset proved a potent factor in the development of
the new country. He started the first brick yard and in 1840,
built the first saw mill, which was operated by water power
obtained from Brush Creek. In 1841 he erected a large barn,
and the following year replaced his primitive cabin with a brick
house, which in those early days was regarded as commodious.
While by no means a profound scholar himself, he took a deep
interest in imparting of at least a sound primaiy education to
children. For a time he himself taught an elementary school
in his little cabin, and when his brick home was completed, one
room was reserved and furnished as a school-room. Miss
Frances Moore was the instructress, becoming later, Mrs.
Hiram Haynes. Asa Haynes became, in his day, the largest
land holder in Orange Township, at one time owning nine hun-
dred and eighty-nine acres. He was one of the adventurers of
1849 and Captain of the "Jayhawkers" company of gold seekers
formed at Galesburg. He led this little band of sixty across
the continent. The hards-hips and privations which the men
underwent caused many to drop by the way, but Mr. Haynes
reached California safely, where he remained until 1851. Later
in life he returned to California and made that State his resi-
dence for several years. He returned home and died at the
house of a daughter, in Missouri, March 20, 1889.
James Ferguson came from Kentucky, with his family, in
the same year with Mr. Wallace settling on Section 11. He had
several children but only two are at present residents of
Orange; Andrew J., a farmer living on Section 10, and Mrs.
Sarah Weir, whose home is on Section 15. The elder Ferguson
attained prominence as being the first Justice of the Peace and
the first Overseer of the Poor in the township. He was also
a soldier in the Black Hawk War, being commissioned as Major.
He died in 1841, his widow surviving him for twenty years.
Both sleep in the quiet plot of ground reserved for sepulture on
the old farm.
Peter Godfrey is among the best known settlers of 1832,
and he and his wife are among the oldest and most honored
couples belonging to the "Old Settlers' Association of Knox
County." John Denney and John and Simon McAllister arrived
two years later. Isaiah Hutson and wife emigrated from the
State of New York in 1837. He has since died (1883), but his
widow and daughter still find their home on the homestead,
which was theirs sixty years ago. Thomas Gilbert was also
an early settler, his farm being on Section 8. His son, Thomas,
is a prominent citizen of Knoxville, and two of his daughters
still reside in that city.
Other early settlers of the township who are worthy of
especial mention are as follows: Thomas and James Sumner,
who came from Ohio in 1837 and settled on Section 23. James
lost his life through an accident.
Isreal Turner emigrated from Chester county, Pennsyl-
vania, in 1837. He entered two hundred and forty acres on
Section 32, remaining there until he died. Anderson Barnett
also came in the same year, settling on Section 10. To him
belonged the distinction of begetting the largest family of
children (eighteen) ever reared in the township.
The early houses were, of course, of logs and of these Mr,
Wallace built the first, on Section 15. Thomas A. Rude erected
the first brick dwelling, on the farm of the late William Turner,
in the same section. A portion of the latter is still standing,
but the residence of Mr. Asa Haynes is probably the oldest
structure in the county, remaining precisely as it was built.
The two earliest marriages were those of Alexander Rob-
ertson to Narcissa Ferguson, and of Danie IFuqua to Lydia
Bomar. This was a double wedding and the ceremony was
solemnized by Rev. Jacob Gum at the Ferguson residence, on
Section 10. The first white child born (1833) was Cynthia,
daughter of James Ferguson.
The first school house was of logs, and stood on Section
14. It was known as the Wallace school, and religious ser-
vices were occasionally held within its rude, unplastered walls.
The first teacher was Thomas Ellison, who wielded the birch
during the winter of 1836. He died at Abingdon, in 1897. Mr.
Ellison was followed by Anderson Barnett, who taught in 1837
and in 1838. The school house erected in what is now District
No. 8 was of brick, Isreal Turner being the mason and the car-
pentry being done by Charles Corwin. Miss Amanda Corwin,
one of the earliest graduates from Knox College, was the first
teacher and remained six years. Another early school house
was that within the limits of the present District No. 3, where
Miss Mary Gilbert Chaffee was the first to give instruction to
boys and girls, some of whom have long since passed away,
while others have grown old and silver-haired. At present
Orange township has eight schools, all ungraded, occupying
well constructed frame buildings. The houses are modern and
represent an outlay, in the aggregate, of about ten thousand
dollars. In addition to this sum, libraries and equipments have
cost a thousand dollars. The total enrollment of pupils is two
hundred and seventeen.
The earliest religious service held in the township was con-
ducted by Rev. Jacob Gum, a Baptist minister, at the home of
The first denomination to organize into a church society
was the Methodist Episcopal. This body erected a house of
worship known as Orange Chapel, in 1855. It was built on Sec-
tion 22, and was of brick, burned in the yard of Anderson Bar-
nett and laid by Thomas Rambo. The building was dedicated
in the Spring of 1856, by Rev. Richard Haney. The Gilson Cir-
cuit was estabhshed in 1857-8, and Orange Chapel was included
within its limits.
Early in the seventies revival services were held at the
school house in District No. 4, which resulted in a general
awakening of religious interest. At that time there was no
organized church other than Orange Chapel, although there
was in the township a moderate sprinkling of Congregational-
ists and Protestant Methodists. The fervor of both of these
sects was aroused. Both denominations organized societies,
and Haynes Chapel was built (1871-73) by the Protestant
Methodists. The Congregational church had no place of wor-
ship and soon ceased to exist as a local organization. A general
religious decline appeared to be supervene about the same time,
spreading over the territory btween Knoxville and Hermon,
on the north and south, and Gilson and Abingdon on the east
and west. In fact, for nearly twenty years, or until 1890,
Orange Chapel was the only center of organic Christian effort.
In the last mentionel year, however, a branch of the Young
People's Society of Christian Endeavor was formed at Haynes
Chapel, with nine active members. For several years the
young people conducted weekly services there, after their cus-
tomary fashion, and in 1893, Rev. A. W. Depew, of Abingdon,
began preaching with marked success ; Haynes Chapel being
considered an outlying station. By this time the Christian En-
deavors numbered forty, and it was not long before another
Congregational church was organized with twenty-two mem-
bers. Its first pastor was Rev. Mr. Slater, who preached for
the congregation from May, 1894, to February, 1895.
The township was organized and its name chosen at a
meeting held April 3, 1853. The name seems to have been
selected on account of the shape of the central prairie, which, in
those early days, was one of the most beautiful spots in the
State. Asa Haynes was elected Supervisor ; A. Barnett, Clerk ;
A. Pierce, Assessor; J. G. Rude, Collector; Peter Godfrey and
David Stephens, Constables ; Samuel Mather and J. Wallace,
Overseers of the Poor ; J. H. McGrew, Thomas Gilbert and Mor-
ris Chase, Highway Commissioners.
The chief industries are agriculture and stock raising,
although in those early days, brick yards were started by Asa
Haynes, Thompson Rude and Anderson Barnett. These ven-
tures proved unprofitable, however, and the kilns long ago
fell into disintegration and decay. From the time of its settle-
ment Orange ranked high among the best cereal producing
sections of the county, although a lack of transportation facili-
ties prevented the marketing of the grain raised. More than
half was used in the fattening of stock. Haynes, Godfrey and
Sumner Brothers manifested great interest in improving the
quality of live stock and were the first to introduce spotted
China hogs and Shorthorn cattle.
The principle market of the pioneers was Peoria, although
Canton and Oquawka received a fair share of the farm pro-
ducts. The farmers hauled their produce by teams, receiving
in exchange supplies which they carried home to their expect-
tant families. The opening of the first railroad, in 1854,
altered the entire situation, shippers now finding Chicago at
once the most accessible and most profitable market.
The only village in Orange is De Long, a flourishing little
station, on the line of the Narrow Gauge Road, now C, B. & Q.
It came into existence in 1882, and owes its being — as it does
its name — to S. H. Malory. He bought the site from Wayne
Marks when the preliminary survey of the line was made, in
anticipation of a station being established thereon, and called
the village DeLong, in honor of the explorer of that name. It
can boast two general stores, one grain elevator, a barber shop,
two blacksmith shops, a building containing a hall and store
room, and about twenty-five residences. Its population is
about 100 and it is a relatively important point for grain and
The township furnished its full quota of troops in both the
Mexican and Civil Wars.
Wm. H. Wiley is the only surviving soldier now living,
January, 1920, in the township from which he enlisted.
John Lawrence, Isaac and Samuel Mather were among the
early settlers. The Township Hall is located in the center of
the township and is a building originally used for a Farmer's
Grange Supply Store, Wm. Forlow being the manager in the
years from '75 to 80. The White School House, two miles north
of Belong, was one of the first schools in the township, the first
building was built of logs. The Civil War was furnished two
Captains, Wm. Reynolds and Wright Woolsey.
Orange township furnished its quota
American and also in the recent World War.
in the Spanish-
(Facts in the foregoing sketch, not contained in the Reeee
history, were furnished by W. A. Wiley.)
By Joseph M; Miles
The name — Persifer — was given to a postoffice which was
located at the home of Charles Bradford, who owned the north-
west quarter of Section 27 in this township and whose home
was located at the southwest corner of his farm. We do not
know who chose the name, but it was named in honor of Gen-
eral Persifer Frazier Smith who served in the Mexican war.
Morgan Reece told me that people wrote the name they wanted
and sent it to Knoxville.
The township was set off as a separate town sometime in
the Fall of 1849, and on January 14, 1850, the voters at an elec-
tion chose the name Persifer for the township. At that time
Haw Creek and Persifer were in one precinct and I have heard
my father say that the polling place was at the residence of
Booker Pickrel which was located at the northwest corner of
Section 3 in Haw Creek township. It is now the home of John
The township is located near the top of the east slope of
the ridge which lies between the Illinois and the Mississippi
river. As a consequence the general slope is east and south.
A bend in Spoon river cuts off about 300 acres on the east
side of the township, and this with Court Creek and its tribu-
taries (Middle Creek, North Creek and Sugar Creek) and other
small streams, furnish excellent drainage for the township.
These streams render the greater part of the land very rough
there being only about 3,000 acres of prairie land in the town-
ship, making it more of a grazing than a farming region.
Originally at least three-fourths of the township was cov-
ered with timber or scattered trees. The land where the scat-
tered trees grew was called barrens, but the word was a mis-
nomer for the barrens is now the home of some of our most
progressive and well to do citizens. When the early settlers
came nearly all of the timber was large trees. Then as the set-
tlers cut the trees, new trees came up from the seed and now
what timber we have is nearly all what is called second growth.
Nearly all of this second growth has been cut and killed until
we have very little timber left at the present time. The prin-
cipal timber is the oak of which the white oak is probably the
most useful variety. Burr oak comes next in usefulness. Black
oak is the most plentiful. There is also red oak, pin oak and
jack oak. There are also a few cottonwood, a few elms, a few
lynn, a few box alder, a few ash, hickory, black walnut and
hard maple. When the early settlers first came to the county
there was a white pine grove on Section 25. Some of the trees
were more than two feet through at the stump. This grove was
soon all cut and used up. Most of it was sawed at the Whitton
saw mill which was situated at the Sumner bridge on Spoon
river in the northeast corner of Haw Creek township. One
house was built from this white pine lumber — that of Captain
Taylor of Trenton. This house was the first (or second) frame
house built in the township. Excepting this small grove, none
of the native timber is of much use as building material except
as frame materiel. Very little wood is now used for fuel, nearly
everyone uses coal for heating and cooking purposes at the
present time. The greatest use of native timber is posts, coal
props — of which a great many are shipped from the township
— and bridge plank.
There are plentiful deposits of shale in the township that
would make excellent brick but as yet there is no factory for
making brick and as concrete is beginning to be so extensively
used and is such an excellent building material, there prob-
ably never will be any brick made from it.
Coal is also found in all parts of the township, but it is not
mined to any extent. Three separate veins of coal crop out in
the township. The highest vein is in the north part of the
town and is 4 feet thick and is of excellent quality. The other
veins are but two feet thick and are very hard and make a
great many cinders.
The only stone in the township is sandstone, of which
there is a small supply. It is soft and does not withstand the
climate very well. As there is practically no gravel to use in
making concrete, and the other building materials are so
scarce, it is readily seen that materials for building is one of
our worst drawbacks.
Persifer is well supplied with fertile soil. About one-
fourth of the land is what is know nas "Marshall Silt Loam"
and is what was originally prairie and barrens. All the re-
mainder of the land — except the bottom land — is called "Miami
In the early days the settlers used springs or shallow wells
for water, but year by year the wells had to be made deeper
and deeper until at the present time drilled wells from 50 to
300 feet deep furnish the purest and the most abundant supply
of water. In the early days people secured soft water by set-
ting buckets, washtubs, or barrels under the eaves of their
houses to catch the rain water as it ran from the eaves. Now
nearly every house has its cistern for rain water. Cisterns
usually hold from 60 to 80 barrels of water and people are sel-
dom out of it.
The prairies not only furnish a fertile soil for farming
but in the early days furnished spontaneously an abundant sup-
ply of roughage for stock. The timber also furnished acorns
in sufficient quantities to fatten not only deer but all the
hogs the early settlers raised. Honey was also plentiful. Mr.
R. C. Benson told of one bee tree that he cut from which he
filled all the tubs and buckets he had and then stood in honey
several inches deep.
Several kinds of fruit and nuts are native to the township.
Wild grapes, plums, black-berries, straw-berries, elder-berries,
and wild crabs were found, and black walnuts, butternuts, hick-
ory nuts, and hazelnuts were also plentiful. A party of young
people once went into Court Creek bottoms near where Apple-
ton now stands and gathered a washtub full of wild straw-
Game was plentiful until about 1850. Parts of the ele-
phant and the mastodon have been found in Persifer. A mas-
todon's tooth was found on North Creek by Albert Wyman and
I think it is now in the possession of Fred R. Jelliff, editor of
the Republican-Register. The writer also found a part of a
mastodon tooth on Section 35. What appears to be an entire
tooth of an elephant was found by Luther Webb in Court Creek
on Section 22 in 1917. I have often heard my father, R. W.
Miles, say that the bones and horns of the bison were plentiful
upon the prairies when he came here in 1836. Although these
larger animals had disappeared from the country before the
settlers came, there remained plenty of deer, a few elk, and
numbers of wild turkeys. Prairie chicken, quail, squirrels, the
raccoon and rabbits were abundant in those days but most
of them have now disappeared. Prairie chickens were so num-
erous in the early days that Charles Bradford and his son Wil-
liam killed 24 by firing one shot each at a flock sitting on the
first grain stacks ever stacked in Persifer. R. W. Miles on
several occasions killed as many as 7 prairie chickens at one
shot and the writer has seen as many as a thousand in one
flock, but they have now almost disappeared from this part of
Fur bearing animals are still to be found in small numbers.
Probably $500.00 worth of furs are procured each year.
Indians were doubtless quite numerous at one time but
very few were ever seen after the white settlers came and they
were doubtless wandering bands. Many of their flint arrow
heads and stone axes have been found. The poles of their
wigwams which were standing when the settlers came would
indicate that there was an Indian village where the town of
Dahinda now stands. There are a few mounds in the township,
but they may have belonged to a former race. The Indians
had no burial place in the township so far as I have ever heard,
unless the mounds be such place. What is known as the Galena
trail — one branch of it — passed through the township. It ran
almost straight north from the south side of the township to
Court Creek, crossing that stream where the present Appleton
bridge stands. From there it followed a northwesterly direc-
tion. A branch trail from the mouth of Court Creek joined it
near the northwest corner of the township. The trails were
much used by the early settlers as they were veiy good roads,
the Indians not having to follow the section lines in the selec-
tion of their highways. Mr. W. G. Sargeant says that there
were a number of poles of wigwams on the hills on the east side
of Sugar Creek and south of what is known as Round Bottom.
One of the Indians who sometimes visited this section dur-
ing the days of the early settlement was the chief, Shabona.
He once offered to show William Morris a silver mine in the
northeast part of the township, but Mr. Morris, fearing treach-
ery, would not go with him. Afterwards when returning from
a journey of some sort he came acoss a spot that corresponded
with that decribed to him by Shabona. But when he went to
look for it again he could never find the same place. It may
seem strange that Mr. Morris could not find the place again,
but I have heard my father say that once when returning from
a hunting trip crossing Court Creek bottoms which had been
freshly burned over he found quite a large piece of land strewn
thickly with human bones, which were so badly burned that
they fell in pieces when he tried to pick them up and although
he tried to find the place afterwards he could not do so.
William Morris, mentioned above, was probably the first
white settler. He bought the N. W. 1-4 Section 26 on March
10, 1832. During the winter of 1832-3 he lodged in a hollow
sycamore tree which stood near the south bank of Spoon River
just below the mouth of Court Creek. Mr. Morris came from
Wilksville, Gallia Co., Ohio. He married Miss Ruth Vaughn,
who came frorn Kentucky. Mr. Morris probably built his cabin
in 1833, but it is said to have burned down soon after it was
Beverly Young and Jesse and Willis Reynolds came to the
township in 1833. They came from Munfordsville, Kentucky.
Beverly Young settled on the east 1-2 of the northeast of Sec-
Jesse Reynolds settled on the west 1-2 of the same quarter.
Willis Reynolds settled on the west 1-2 of the southwest 1-4
of Section 25. Some time in the fall of 1834 Charles Bradford
came from Licking county, Ohio, and bought the Beverly
Young place and moved into the house which Mr. Young had
built there. The next year, 1835, Mr. Bradford bought the
north west 1-4 of Section 27 and moved into a house that stood
just across the road west on Section 28. In 1836, Rev. S. S.
Miles came to the township from Ohio and bought a part of the
northwest 1-4 of Section 34, but did not move onto the place
until the spring of 1839, although he lived nearby while he was
building his house which, as he was in poor health and his old-
est son was but 14 years old, it took him some time to do.
In 1837 many families came to the township, among them
being those of Edmond Russell, Isaac Sherman, G. W. Manley,
T. D. Butt, Caleb Reece, John Caldwell and James Maxey. Af-
ter this new arrivals became quite frequent and neighbors were
not so far apart.
The first marriage in which the contracting parties were
residents of the township, was that of Charles Bradford and
Parmelia Ann Richardson. Mr. Bradford was a native of New
Hampshire but after his first marriage lived in the state of
Maine a short time. He then moved to Licking county, Ohio,
and later, in 1834, came to Illinois. Mr. Richardson came from
Kentucky. They were married in Peoria some time in the
spring of 1836.
The first wedding which occurred in the township was
that of Harvey Stetson Bradford, son of Charles Bradford and
Hester Whitton. They were married October 24, 1836, at the
home of the groom's father who lived on the northwest 1-4 sec-
tion 27. The Rev. Bartlett, a Baptist minister from Knoxville,
performed the ceremony.
It has often been stated that R. C. Benson and Sarah
Bradford were the first couple married in the township, but
they were not married until JanuaiT 5, 1837. They were mar-
ried at the home of the bride's father, Chas. Bradford. The
ceremony was performed by the Rev. S. S. Miles.
The first child bom in the township is said to have been
a daughter to Mr. and Mrs. Jesse Reynolds, but there was a
child born to Mr. and Mrs. Willis Reynolds in January, 1835.
The first death was that of Mrs. Charles Bradford, which
occurred on January 5, 1835. Mrs. Bradford was in poor
health when she came to the township, in 1834, and lived only
a few months. She was buried on their own farm almost
at the center of of the N. E. 1-4 of Section 26.
The first public cemetery was in Section 9 on what is
now known as the Charles Myers farm. The first burial
therein was a son of John Henderson, who then owned the
Mr. David Russell, who came to the township with his
father in 1837, says that there was a cemetery at Trenton at
that time. This cemetery is located just east of where the
town of Trenton stood and is known as the Trenton cemetery.
Modes of Travel
Traveling in those days was not very rapid. In the winter
of 1835-6 Rev. S. S. Miles, who lived in Newark, Ohio, was in
very poor health. The doctors told him that he would live only
until spring came, but as soon as he was able to get onto a
horse he began riding out every day and as soon as he could
ride 10 miles a day he started for Illinois. He came to the
township in June of that year and bought his farm and rode
back to Ohio on horseback. When there he loaded his family
into a wagon and brought them to Illinois the same fall.
They traveled quite slowly, leading a cow behind the
wagon and camping out nights. The milk from the cow was
hung up in the wagon in a tin bucket every morning and at
night fresh butter was taken from the bucket. Many of the
roads were cordoroy, especially in Indiana, and most of the
streams had to be forded or ferried. Mr. Miles lived 40 years
after coming to Illinois. His death was October 6, 1876.
Charles Bradford brought his family to Illinois in the
same way. He brought one two-horse wagon and one six-
horse wagon. His daughter, Mrs. P. C. Benson, told me that
the only incident that she could think of in the journey from
Ohio was that one of the wagons upset after they had passed
all the hills and streams and were only about a mile from the
place where they located. Nearly all of the settlers came in
wagons, but it is quite likely that a few of them came on foot.
The first mail was carried on horseback, the carrier cross-
ing Spoon River at a place called Jack's ford. This ford was lo-
cated about 80 rods below the mouth of Court Creek and about
the same distance above the township line.
The first public conveyance and one which also carried the
mail was the stage-coach. Just when the stage began running
through Persifer we do not know, but it seems to have been
running in 1837, according to Mr. David Russell, who came to
the township that year and was 15 years of age. The first
route of the stage was from Trenton west nearly to the R. C.
Benson farm, then in a southwesterly direction to the Miles
farm, thence nearly on a straight line to Knoxville, passing the
G. W. Manley farm, (now owned by Geo. W. Haner), where
was a fine spring where people stopped to water. This route
missed all the hills between Spoon River and Knoxville. The
state road through Trenton and Knoxville was laid out in 1838.
T. D. Butt, Caleb Reece and John Coleman were the commis-
In the early 40's the people desired a postoffice closer
than Knoxville and one was established at the home of Charles
Bradford, Mr. Bradford being appointed postmaster. We do
not know the date when the office started but some place the
date as early as 1842. Several years aftervvards the office was
moved to Trenton and the name was charged to Trenton.
The first school of which we know was taught by Mary
Ann Long in 1839. The school was held in a cabin which stood
in the hollow just north of the present Maple Grove School
house, District No. 91. This school was not a public school,
but was supported by subscription. Mr. C. N. Butt, now living
in Knoxville, was a pupil of that school.
The first school house was built in 1841 on the line be-
tween the Francis Wilson and the John Caldwell farms. It
stood on the north side of the road 1-4 mile west of the center
of Section 30. It was a log structure with the door in the
south and one row of panes where a log had been sawed out in
the east and west of the house for windows. We believe that
John Mcintosh was the first teacher and that Curtis Edgerton
was the second, but some have said that Mr. Edgerton was the
first. So far as we know the pupils who attended the first
public school were James and George McPherrin, Neptin, Lu-
cina and Mary Russell, Charles N. Butt, Jacob Brunk, and John
The first school trustees of Persifer were T. D. Butt and
Samuel McCormack. The first meeting was on January 10,
1846, and the first official act was the appointment of Francis
Wilson to the office of Secretary and Treasurer.
Another log school house was built in an early day near
the town of Trenton, but it was probably not built until after
the one on the Wilson farm. This building stood between 80
and 90 rods almost due east of the present Trenton school
There are now nine frame school buildings in the town-
ship and the schools are all graded. According to the census of
June 1st, 1918, there are 207 pupils of school age in the town-
ship. The value of the school property in the township is
$9,830.00 and the amount of tax levy for last year was
Persifer boasts the first mill in Knox county. It was built
in 1834, by Robert Hendrix. It stood on the south bank of
Court Creek at the mouth of Middle Creek — just above where
the Knoxville and Victoria road crosses Court Creek on Section
19. At first only corn was ground at this mill, but later wheat
was also ground by Samuel McCormack. This mill was after-
wards converted into a saw mill and was owned and operated
by Andrew Fletcher, Hubbard Huggins, Daniel Anderson and
David Russell. Mr. Russell was operating the mill when the
dam was washed away in 1853.
The next place of importance in the township was the town
of Trenton. It was the first town and was laid out in 1839 by
Hyram Bowman on Section 25. It contained a tavern and hos-
telry, a postoffice, 2 stores, a blacksmith shop, a pottery and a
brick yard. Charles Bradford kept the postoffice, which was
moved from his farm to Trenton. A man by the name of Good-
man kept the first store. It was a regular stopping place for
the stage as long as that mode of conveyance was in use, which
was up to 1853. The name of one of the stage drivers was
Dave Brownlee and the name of another was Oliver Pike. Thece
men were of the rough and ready sort or they would not have
been in such a business at that time. At one time one of these
men brought a young lady to Galesburg who was to teach in
Knox College. It was a very icy time and when the driver
opened the stage door and reached up to help the young lady
out his feet went from under him and he went flat on the
ground. The young lady, (I forget her name), was so far out
of the coach that she could not keep her balance, so she very
neatly jumped over the fallen driver and alighted on the curb
without any assistance. But the driver was not daunted by the
mishap to himself. He turned to a half dozen young men who
were standing by and beginning to laugh at him and said:
"Boys, there's terrible times over in Knoxville. The niggers
are dying off at the rate of six a minute." (There was but one
negro in Knox county at the time). Both these men went to
California in the gold digging days.
An Early Mill
Elliott's Mill, so-called in hpnor of Captain Hiram Elliott,
who was captain of Company H, 102 Illinois Infantry, and who
owned and operated the mill for several years, was built in 1840
at the mouth of Court Creek on Spoon River. It stood on the
south bank of the river at the mouth of the creek and has
quite a history. Some time prior to 1840, probably in 1839,
Thomas Gilbert who lived south of Knoxville and who was one
of the men who sought out the location for Knox College and a
man named Captain Jack made a tour of inspection along Spoon
River and decided that the spot we have described was the best
place for a mill site. As these men did not wish to go partners
in the mill and neither wanted to pay the other for what the
law gave free to the man who first began to build, both men
went home and watched for an opportunity to get the first
start. Finally Captain Jack started for Oquawka for two loads
of castings for a mill. After his departure Mr. Gilbert heard
of it in some way and not to be out-done he engaged all the
men that he could get to go with him from Knoxville and they
went out to the river and began cutting walnut logs in the creek
bottoms just west of the mill site. They worked all night, cut-
ting, hewing and dragging out the logs and when Captain Jack
got back with his castings he found that he was beaten. It is
said that he hauled the castings down the river a short dis-
tance, threw them out of his wagons and never picked them up.
Although Mr. Gilbert secured the site for the mill, for some
reason he did not build. the mill. He may have sold the site to
a man named McKee, for a man named named McKee built the
mill. Mr. McKee doubtless began building the mill in 1839 for
the frame was up early in the spring of 1840, and it was fin-
ished that year. It was a large substantial structure and re-
mained standing 41 years. In the beginning it was a saw mill
but it was later converted into a flour mill and was for many
years one of the most important milling centers in the county.
As the mill grew in importance Trenton declined and one of the
stores was moved from Trenton to the mill. For several years
there were two stores and a blacksmith shop and at one time
there were two saloons in operation. One of them was even
named the Blue Goose. The mill was owned first by McKee
then by the Lewis boys, (Laderic, Loid, Loren and Luther
Lewis), then by a Mr. Stinocker, then by Captain Elliott, then
by Proctor Myers, then by Henry Corbin and last by John
Degrummond. After about 1870 the water began to fail so
badly in the streams that the mill finally had to quit business
about 1875. The building finally became unsafe and was torn
down by Mr. Degrummond in the spring of 1881.
The Golden Circle
During the Civil War the Knights of the Golden Circle
were quite numerous in the vicinity of the mill and for a long
time they met every Saturday night in an old log house that
stood on the west side of the road just on the high bank of the
creek. The house was one story with a loft and a stone chim-
ney on the outside. Mr. Henry Butt, who told me of the cir-
cumstances, was a good sized boy at the time and was staying
with the miller. He says that on Saturday evenings when it
was getting dark men would begin to ride in on horseback from
all directions and tie their horses in the low ground back of the
house where they would be entirely out of sight from the road.
There were usually about 25 of them and they would gather in
the loft of the old house and stay there for quite a long time
before they dispersed. Mr. Butt was very anxious to know
what they were meeting for and so one night he climbed up the
chimney until his head was above the floor of the loft and list-
ened, but although he could hear them talking he could not
distinguish anything that they said. The Knights kept up
their meetings until the draft was called when some of them
in order to escape the draft left the country and the circle was
broken up. The Knights of the Golden Circle was a secret
organization, originated in the south for the extension and de-
fense of slavery. It contained many men in all the southern
states and a great many northern men. In Persifer they went
so far as to plot the murder of some of the prominent citizens.
The writer's father was the first one whom they planned to
execute, but a friend of our family who was a member of the
Circle, came to our people and told them, what was planned. As
I think of it now I do not know the man's name, I only know
that he was an Irishman.
The third and last mill to be built in the township was
built by Charles Haptonstall about 1848. It was built on Court
Creek, about 80 rods west of the road leading south from the
town of Appleton. In it corn and buckwheat were ground at
first, but it was later converted into a saw mill and not being
very substantial was never a place of much business.
All of the mills and the town of Trenton have long since
disappeared as places of public business and there were no
other places of that character except a few blacksmith shops
until the A. T. & S. F. R. R. was built in 1888. There have been
several blacksmith shops in the south half of the township
aside from the ones already mentioned. The following are all
that the writer remembers: Francis Wilson on his farm on
Section 30, Thomas Gordon on the Wm. Morris farm on Section
26, Stephen Clark on what is now known as the Wm. Breece
farm on Section 26, and, at a later date, Jas. Kelso, on the hill
south of Appleton.
Dahinda was laid out in the summer of 1888 by the Santa Fe
Town and Land Co. It stands on the west bank of the Spoon
River on the N. W. of Section 24 and is a station on the Santa
Fe R. R. There is a Methodist Episcopal church and a Latter
Day Saints church, generally known as an offspring of the
Mormon church. Guy H. Peters has a store and is postmaster.
Charles Woolsey and A. E. Sargeant each have stores and
James Kelso has a blacksmith shop. A. E. Sargeant also runs
the elevator and E. W. Farquer has a barber shop. The A. T.
& S. F. R. R. which traverses the township from west to east
with a fine double track has a fine bridge across Spoon River
at this place.
Appleton was laid out by the Hon. J. H. Lewis in the spring
of 1888, on the S. E. 1-4 of Section 16. It is situated on the
north side of the Santa Fe R. R. and is a station on that road.
Mr. Wm. A. lies has a store and is postmaster. Alfred E.
Saline has a store and a grain elevator. There is also a black-
smith shop and a Church of the United Bhrethren in Christ.
Quite a large amount of grain and stock is shipped from Apple-
ton each year.
The Prairie State Oil Co. has pipe lines and a pumping
station in the township. The pipe lines follow the Santa Fe
tracks and the pumping station is by the side of that road on
Section 23. They also have a switch from the Santa Fe tracks.
Another pipe line runs through the south part of the
township but has no pumping station here.
The first sermon preached in the township so far as we
have any record, was at the home of Charles Bradford in June,
1836. The preacher was the Rev. S. S. Miles. He also organ-
ized the first Sunday school at the same place in 1838. The
first lesson was from the Book of Daniel. The first church
was built in 1863 on the Robert Young farm at the center of
Section 30. It cost $1,800.00. There are now seven church
buildings in the township but two of them are not used. The
church on the Young farm is called Bethel and is Methodist.
Maxey Chapel stands at the center of Section 5 and is Metho-
dist . One of the churches at Dahinda is Methodist and the
other is an offshoot of the Mormon church, called the Latter
Day Saints. The church at Appleton is the old United Breth-
ren denomination. The church which stands at the center of
Section 8 and the one standing at the southwest corner of Sec-
tion 27 belong to the revised division of the United Brethren
church. The two latter are not in use aet the present time.
The U. B. Church at Appleton built a parsonage in 1917. It is
the first parsonage in the township.
A great deal might be said about the religion of Persifer
people. In the first days of the settlement there were no
churches nor school houses and the meetings had to be held for
the most part in the homes of the settlers and later when a
large bam was built it would sometimes be used for holding
meetings. The barn on the Robert Young farm was once used
for holding a revival meeting, Mr. Young being himself a
great church man. A goodly number were converted at this
meeting and some of them became very enthusiastic. One man
coming out of the barn after he had joined the church saw his
son talking with some other young men out in the yard and
coming up to him said: "Son, you d d fool you, why don't
you go in and join the meeting? Mother's joined and I've
joined and the girls have joined and we've all joined." Possibly
the enthusiasm would to a certain extent excuse the profanity.
After the school houses were built they were used almost
exclusively for holding religious services until the churches
were built. They were the only places of public worship for
years. Many people liked the school house the best for church
services as it was not the property of any denomination and
people felt more at home there.
At one time in the early days a Spiritualist came into the
Young neighborhood and gave a few talks and the older people
began to be worried on account of the young people, and tried
to get the man to leave the community. Instead of leaving,
however, he proposed that they get some one to debate the
subject with him and leave the question to be settled in that
way and Mr. Robert Young took him at his word and tried to
find some preacher who would debate with him. But Mr.
Young could not find a preacher who w^ould undertake the task
and finally a man named Ruff Branscom told him to get R. W.
Miles. Mr. Miles said he would debate with him and got Mr,
Branscom to pretend that he wanted to join the spiritualists
and get some of their books for Mr. Miles to study. The de-
bate was finally called and lasted only an hour and a half when
the spiritualist was ready to quit. Mr. Young now said that as
Mr. Miles had spent some time in studying up for the debate
and had given them such good service it was no more than
right that they should take up a collection for him. He then
proceeded to take up the collection wearing a very broad smile
at the same time. One of the neighbors seeing this smile spoke
up and said that if it was a victory, it was not a Methodist
victory, at which remark Mr. Young's smile only grew the
Many meetings of great interest have been held in the
township and many people have been converted in them and
although there have been many backsliders there have also
been those who were faithful.
The first land broken was six acres on what is known as
the Stevens farm in the S. E. of the N. E. of Section 28. Six
acres were also broken on the S. E. of Section 34 at about the
The first crop was oats and wheat and the farmer was
The prairie sod was very tough and hard to plow. The
plows were made almost wholly of wood, there being an iron
shire and I suppose an iron clevis. Usually the plows were
attached to wagon wheels as a man could not manage one of
them and they were drawn by oxen, generally two or three
yoke to a plow. The sod was often left to rot over winter. One
man planted corn on freshly broken sod by using an ax to make
the holes and cover the corn.
The first crop did not need tending but after that the
weeds were too bad to let go. One man in speaking of this
fact said that he trusted to providence to raise a crop one year
and got a good crop, so he tried it again and got nothing and
he was not going to trust to providence again.
After the sod was rotted the soil could be furrowed out
with a shovel plow, and then a man by walking across the
fun'ows could drop the corn so that it would be in rows both
ways. Sometimes they would cover it with a hoe, sometimes
with a plow and sometimes with a harrow.
The first corn planter was made about 1851, but they were
not in general use until in the sixties. The first check-rower
was a rope but it was soon replaced by the wire as the rope
would shrink and stretch too much. The check-row planter
came into use about 1875.
The sowing, harvesting and threshing of the small grains
has improved as much as the planting of corn. In the early
days small grain was all sown by hand. A man would take
from 1-2 to 1 1-2 bushels of grain in a sack and carry it across
the field, reaching his hand into the sack every second step,
taking thence a certain amount of seed and scattering it in
front and to one side of him. Finally the hoe drill was in-
vented, which was used mostly for seeding fall grains. Later
the broadcast seeder came into use, being used mostly for seed-
ing spring grains. Finally in the end of the nineteenth century
the endgate seeder and the disk drill came into use.
The cradle was used for cutting the grain for many years
after this country was settled. A man could cut and bind and
shock about an acre a day in those days. After the cradle came
the dropper, the hand rake reaper, the self rake reaper, the
Marsh Harvester, the wire binder and finally the twine binder,
which has been without a competitor for almost forty years.
For threshing their grain the earliest settlers were obliged
to use the flail. Then they began using horses. A small piece
of ground would be smoothed off nicely and some grain would
be unbound and scattered on this smooth spot. Then a man, or
sometimes two men, would mount a horse and leading 2 or 3
other horses he would go around and around on the grain until
the grain was all trampled out of the heads, when they would
dismount and cleaning away the straw with forks would gather
up the grain and put it in sacks ready for cleaning.
The first threshing machine was called a ground-beater.
It was only a cylinder. The grain and straw and chaff all came
through onto the ground together and had to be separated by
pitch fork and fanning mill. It was run by horse power, the
power being made for six horses. Tumbling rods were used.
The first threshing was done on what was then the Parkins
place, on the hill near the center of the place. The place is the
south 1-2 of the S. E. of Section 32. The man who owned and
ran the machine was named Pittner and he lived near Canton,
Fulton county. Milton Lotts helped thresh.
Great improvements have been made in the kind of power
used and in the handling of the straw so that the thresher is
now almost as well perfected as the binder.
At the present time the gas tractor is very much talked
of and is used to a limited extent, but its place as a mode of
power is not yet established.
Plows have been greatly improved upon from the wooden
plow of the pioneers to the two-bottom gang drawn by four
The manure spreader is another very practica 1 farm
The tiling of land has been a great improvement to much
of the land here. It is quite generally conceded that 4-inch tile
is as small as should be used.
Fertilizing the soil is coming more and more into vogue
and we believe that the practice will increase very rapidly in
the next few years.
The use of concrete on farms is increasing very fast also.
Corn is considered the banner crop in this township but
wheat has been doing very well for several years, at least it
has averaged better than it used to do. A great many fields
of wheat made 30 bushels to the acre in 1918. Some fields
made better than 40 bushels to the acre. The price of wheat
was fixed by the government at $2.26 per bushel for the 1918
crop at Chicago. The farmer got $2.08 at his station.
The country is subject to sudden changes of temperature.
The most notable was perhaps in the winter of 1836-7. It was
a warm, misty day, with the wind in the south until about 2
o'clock P. M., when the wind suddenly changed to the north-
west and the two inches of slush which was on the ground was
turned to ice in fifteen minutes. In some instances hogs and
cattle were frozen to death standing up. Some people took
their horses into their houses to keep them from freezing.
In the winter of 1874-5, one morning in January, the
weather was very nice until about 10 o'clock a. m., when it be-
gan snowing. Immediately afterward the wind began blow-
ing from the northwest and in one hour the mercury fell 24
On June 5, 1844 occurred one of the most destructive
storms of wind, rain and hail. The crops were almost totally
destroyed. There was no wheat left to cut and my grandfather
told me that his corn crop that year was only a ten bushel
box full of nubbins in which was only five bushels of corn. The
hail stones were as large as goose eggs.
What has been known as a hurricane occurred in 1857.
It was a straight wind with rain. The storm was 40 miles wide
and was severe enough to blow the roofs off of many buildings
and blow some of them down. I do not know what time of the
year this storm was but it must have been in the spring as I
have never heard that it destroyed any crops.
About the first of August, 1875, a tornado passed through
the township from west to east. A two-story house which
stood a short distance west of the Flynn school house in Court
Creek bottom was picked up and carried two or three rods and
dashed into kindling wood. A good deal of other damage was
done but fortunately no one was injured, although this was not
the case in Knox township.
On the 21st of May, 1918, another tornado started ap-
parently on Section 28 and proceeded in a direction a littk
north of east, wrecking buildings and uprooting even the larg-
est trees and passing about V2 mile north of Dahinda. One mar,
a Mr. Walker, pump man at the oil pumping station, was killed
and the pump house, a concrete building, was completely
wrecked. Another man, the name unknown, was blown a
distance of ten or fifteen rods and w^as found after the storm
pretty badly bruised but not seriously hurt. Very little dam-
age was done to the crops by this storm as it was so early in
the season. The farm buildings of Henry Anderson and the
dwelling house of Harry Little were very badly wrecked and
Mr. Little was himself unconscious during the storm. He
showed no marks where any object had struck him and he does
not know what rendered him unconscious.
Some winters we have lots of snow and many of the roads
are drifted so as to make them impassible. In the spring of
1881 the snow lay on in sheltered places until the first of May.
Dwellings and Furnishings
The first houses in the township were of logs. The first
one is supposed to have been that of Wm. Morris on Section 26.
About 8 years afterwards there seem to have been three
frame houses built at about the same time. Edmond Russell
built a frame house on his faiTn on section 31 in 1841. It was
burned down in 1886. Captain Taylor, who emigrated here
from Nova Scotia, built the first frame house in Trenton in
1841. The frame of this house was sawed from native white
pine which grew on what was called Pine Bluff about V2 mile
north and east of Trenton. (The logs were said to have been
sawed at the Whitton mill at what is now known as the Sumner
bridge in the northeast corner of Haw Creek township.) The
third frame house and the first house to be painted white was
built on the Bethel corner at the center of Section 30. It was
built by a Mr. Davenport for his daughter, whose name was
James M. Maxey built the first brick house in 1851, mak-
ing his own brick. The first brick building was a smoke house
built by T. D. Butt. The Stevens house has stood the longest
of any brick house in the township. It has stood about 60
years. The brick for it were burned on the Biggerstaff place
just across the road from where Henry Wesner lives. Sam
Conaway burned the brick for this house.
The frame house seems to be the most healthful and com-
fortable dwelling made although it is not so substantial as some
Some great improvements have been made in the furn-
ishings of the dwellings. The fireplace has given place to the
range and the furnace, the washboard to the power washer,
tallow candle to the incandescent electric light in a great many
cases, the needle to the sewing machine, the melodeon to the
piano and the talking machine, the straw bed on the floor to
the spring bed and mattress, the husk rug to the Brussels, the
Axminster or the Wilton rug, the home-made lounge to the
hammock and the costly couch and davenport, the old fashioned
chair to expensive elegance but not to comfort.
The writer is not posted on early amusements, but he has
heard his people tell of some of the things they did in the early
days. There were the quilting bees, the shooting matches, the
debating societies, the singing schools, the Fourth of Julys,
the com huskings and the wool washings. As I have never
seen the wool washing described I will try to do so. The young
people would be invited to a home to spend the evening. Sev-
eral tubs would be secured and in these would be placed wool
and water. Then the young people (young men and women)
would gather around a tub, as many as could conveniently do
so, remove their shoes and stockings, put them into the tub
and work them up and down until the wool was thoroughly
scoured. The washed wool would then be removed and fresh
wool put in its place and the performance would go on until
the wool was all washed or until it was time to go home.
Horse racing on the road was also one of the incidentals
of the day. In the early days the wagon boxes were put to-
gether with pins and could be easily taken apart and some-
times when the wagon was being driven very rapidly the
pins would bounce out and let the box come to pieces of its
own accord. One man who had been to Peoria and was coming
home with his groceries in the wagon box got into a race with
some other people who were coming in the same direction.
The race began somewhere east of the Spoon River and lasted
until Trenton was reached. When this man stopped he had
neither groceries nor wagon box, both having been lost on the
way and he was sitting on the coupling pole of his wagon. He
might not have stopped there if his horses had not run into a
tree and stopped themselves.
Politics in Persifer has sometimes been very interesting
although mostly in a small way.
Before the township was organized, G. W. Manley was
Justice of the Peace. The first election was held April 5, 1853,
at the White school house, now known as the Union or District
No. 90. The following officers were elected :
G. W. Manley, Supervisor; Richard Daniel, Clerk; James
McCord, Assessor ; Williams T. Butt, Collector ; Wilson Fearce,
Overseer of the Poor ; Francis Wilison, Caleb Reece and David
Cobb, Commissioners of Highways ; Thomas Patton and R. W.
.Miles, Justices ; L. A. Parkins and David Russell, Constables.
G. W. Manley was moderator and Richard Daniel, clerk of the
The writer does not know when the custom began but
when he was a boy the elections were held at the Union school
house one year and the next at the Wyman school house.
About 1892 or 1893, Mr. E. J. Steffen offered his caiT)en-
ter shop in the town of Appleton for election purposes and it
was used until the Town Hall was built in 1895. Mr. E. J. Stef-
fen built the hall for the township at a cost of $540.00, The
elections have always been held at the hall ever since that time.
At the time of Lincoln's second election feeling ran very
high in this part of the country, and it was not considered safe
to count the ballots at the school house so they were brought to
my father's home for counting. Abram Rambo, James Dos-
sett, William Patton and my father, R. W. Miles, sat around
the dining table with big navy revolvers lying handy and
counted the ballots. Mr. Patton, being a long ways from home,
did not go home that night, but Mr. Rambo went home on
horseback and said he was going to carry his revolver cocked
all the way. Mr. Dossett went home on foot across the fields.
He also carried a revolver and he was one of the kind that
would have shot first and made inquiries afterwards if any one
had tried to molest him on that trip. We can hardly imagine
that such times have ever existed in this peaceful country.
The following men have been Supervisor of the township :
G. W. Manley, R. W. Miles, James M. Maxey, John Biggerstaff ,
James Dossett, R. C. Benson, E. J. Wyman, J. R. Young, W. H.
Montgomery, J. J. Patton and Geo. A. Gibson. R. W. Miles and
J. R. Young each held the office for about 20 years, Mr. Young
holding it for 20 years continuously without opposition. Mr.
Miles was for many years chairman of the board.
Mr. Gibson, our present supervisor, has been quite severe-
ly tested in caring for the Liberty loans and the Red Cross
and other war work organizations, but he has responded loy-
ally and royally to the calls.
The present township officers are: Geo. A. Gibson, Su-
pervisor; Leonard Harmison, Town Clerk; E. W. Farquer, As-
sessor; Roy Stevens, Commissioner of Highways; E. J. Stef-
fen and W. H. Montgomery, Justices; Roy W. Manley, Con-
stable, Arthur Berry having recently resigned from the office
of Constable; Arthur Berry, Bert Wagher and C. W. Harmi-
son, Trustees of Schools and J. W. Miles, Township Treasurer.
This is the first year that we have had but one commis-
sioner of highways.
So far as we have been able to learn there is no one living
in the township now who has lived here continuously since
1850. Mr. G. W. Sargeant came to the township with his par-
ents in 1845 and settled on the north 1-2 of the northeast 1-4 of
Section 14. The Sargeants have always owned this farm since
then but have not always lived there, although they have never
lived very far away. Henry Butt, W. H. Montgomeiy and
Jacob Lorance each came to the township in the early fifties.
So far as we know Mr. W. G. Sargeant and Dr. J. R.
Bedford are the only old soldiers of the Civil War who are
living in the township at this time.
The people of Persifer are mostly prosperous and happy.
They are situated on the main line of the A. T. & S. F. R. R.,
having a direct route to the Chicago market for their produce.
They have good homes and are pretty well fixed as to this
world's goods. Nearly all have some kind of a motor vehicle
and some of them have two or three of them. They always
went over to top when it came to Liberty loans and Red Cross
and all other forms of war work and they also furnished their
full quota of men to face the German bullets.
One of Persif er's boys, a son of N. L Cherrington, was one
of the first Knox county boys to give his life for his countiy
Not in the road of the cannon,
Not in the roll of the drum,
: But with love and honor in our hearts,
Let their requiem be sung,
J. W. MILES.
HISTORY OF RIO TOWNSHIP
By Heber Gillis
Joseph Rowe is acknowledged as the first man to settle
in Rio township. He built some sort of a house, the first one a
white man put up in the township, but his future is lost to the
history of Rio.
Some squatters made temporary light camp stops in the
early 20's at Rio, and a family that had built a cabin on the
slope of Pope Creek near where the State Aid Road now crosses
had their house burn in the late thirties while they were at
the fort at the Snodgrass house near Henderson on the Mc-'
John McMurtry, whose daughter was the first white
woman to be buried in Rio, came from Kentucky by way of
Indiana to Section 33 in 1829. He served as a soldier in the
Black Hawk War. His descendants occupy a large space of
farming land near North Henderson; the Piatts of Gales-
burg, together with the Heflins of Rio, are among those now
In 1833 Reece, Sam and James Jones likewise came from
Kentucky. Both Kentucky families brought good oxen and
horse teams with them and also drove in good loose animals
of all kinds. Reece Jones permanently settled in a home, de-
fended it from the Indians, and when they burned one cabin
he built another better than before. He educated his family
in the best schools of that day within his reach, and they moved
socially in the best circles in the state. The Jones family built
the first school house in Rio township, aided by the sulDscrip-
tions of other settlers in labor and money. A Miss Jones was
the first teacher.
In the early thirties Erasmus Hall settled on Pope Creek,
where he operated a saw mill. Noted Indians called at his
home and the trader Le Claire was. an acquaintance of his.
Hall's Ford was on the trail from Peoria to Rock Island as was
also Bruner's cabin near the southeast part of the township.
Bennet Fleharty came to Section 6 just west of the Jones
family in 1834. He afterwards kept a store on his farm where
Fred Anderson now lives.
Geo. Simms settled about the same time as Fleharty on
Section 6 in Rio, and Section 1 in North Henderson township,
Mercer county, building his house, which consisted of one large
room, with one end of it in Rio, Knox county, and the other in
Mercer county. At dances held here it was not uncommon to
have the music in one county and the dancing in the other.
When marriages were solemnized in this house, care was taken
to have the bride and groom stand well over in the county that
issued the license. Mr. Simms gave public addresses to the
older people on the subject of slaveru, outlining the history of
the Rebellion in advance, and made quite good guesses concern-
ing the result.
Joseph Hahn came from Pennsylvania in 1835 and settled
in Section 33 on a farm extending from the south line of the
township to the center, much of the way one mile wide. It
sloped gently to the south and was a most excellent farm with
good drainage, fine soil, good timber and was close to the store
of Goff, the Baptist church, and the second school house built
in the township. All of these public buildings Hahn assisted
. in building and maintaining. He had served in the War of
1812 and was well fitted to engage in pioneer enterprises.
About this same time Mr. Westfall came to Section 6. The
year 1835 also marks the advent of several other Rio pioneers.
Pedro Epperson and his brother, Edly, settled on the section
south of Westfall. Their brother-in-law, the father of Dr.
John N. Cox, came in the fall of that year, but soon moved
to some very good farm land near Old Oxford, where he spent
the greater portion of his life. During the Civil War he was
given a commission by Governor Yates. Pedro Epperson, a
man of great energy, soon had good buildings and fences. Im-
mediately after locating he made a large rail crib like a house
and was able to entertain his sister and her family royally.
While the Jones and McMurtry families were forward in school
building, the Simms and Epperson families did their share in
maintaining same. Pedro Epperson and his descendants are
reputed to have owned at times a strip of six sections a mile
wide across the township.
Geo. W. Weir built a flat-boat and floated down the Miss-
issippi River to New Boston in 1835, where he chopped wood
for the original Drury of that place. In the winter of that year
being in need of bacon he walked to the home of the original
Jones family in Rio township. On his return trip with the
bacon on his back, the wolves bothered him considerably. As
a result of this trip to Rio he hired to Sam Jones for $3.00 a
month and stayed two or three years. As part of his pay he
took a pair of steers and some wheat, putting the latter in a
rail pen chinked with straw. Two or three years later he drove
the steers to Milan and traded the wheat for log chains. He
also acquired another breaking team of oxen. Mr. Weir lived
to be over ninety years of age.
In 1835 Isaac M. Wetmore came to Rio with John Wycoff
on horse-back by way of Chicago where he partly bargained
for 160 acres of land. Later he relinquished it for more till-
able land on the Rio and Ontario line. Dearborn St. is on the
Chicago land which he contemplated buying or is a boundaiy
of it. Mr. Wetmore ran a store in Rio on the slope south of
the Washington school house and afterward established a very
fine farm on both sides of the township line with extra fine
buildings on the Ontario side of the line.
In 1835 Michael Bruner drove a pair of oxen from Breck-
enridge county, Kentucky, to Rio, bringing his wife and young
family. Later Mrs. Bruner died. In 1839 he drove a pair of
oxen to the same place in Kentucky and brought a second wife,
his father, Adam Bruner, and his uncle, Peter Bruner, with
him to Rio. Both the elder Bruners had spent long years
preaching the gospel. They with their two brothers had served
in the Revolutionary War and all four were later buried in a
cemetery on the Bruner farm. Knox county now owns this
site and has erected a monument to their memory. The Bruner
farm in 1850 had a licensed tavern upon it and possessed un-
usual buildings for that day. It was on the trail from Peoria
to Rock Island and during the Civil War fruit from its fine
orchard sold for $50 per tree on the stem.
About this time Michael Loveridge, an English educated
veterinary, settled about one mile west of Joseph Hahn. He
was a useful and highly respected man in this community,
preaching the plain truth of the gospel in a fearless manner
during the forties and up to 1862, when he moved to Oregon.
Hahn, Loveridge, the Deatherages and Lewis Goff built the
second school house in the township, also a Baptist church
which, with the store of Goff 's, made the south central part of
the township quite a public settlement.
Samuel Brown came about this time to the west of these
and is the only one of this group now living, being more than
ninety years of age.
Soon the Woodman's, the Larkin Robertson family, the
two Coe's, Lewis and Nelson, with Benjamin Harvey and
Luther Fitch, settled more centrally in Rio township.
John D. Bartlett and family came in 1842. Wm. Dailey,
James Hinchliff, Philip Prior and David Woodman built near
the center, with Wm. Barnard a little farther north.
The first period when the very early settlers came was a
ranch life. Cattle and hogs ran loose on the open prairie. The
small grain fields were fenced. A law of "common field" pre-
vailed ; everybody gathered his corn and the cattle were turned
on the fenced section to feed at will. Later, as the farms were
cultivated, the law caused the stock to be taken from the
highways and no open prairie grass was left. The cows that
the early settlers brought were good stock. The Kentucky
settlers later brought fine beef sires.
The pioneer traveled in wagons, on horse-back, and on foot.
He was wont to stop at the nearest house for dinner or lodging
and was always welcome. He brought the news of his locality
and they told him of their affairs so that he was a medium of
intelligence at his next stopping place. The amusements were
dances, foot races, ball games, horse races, military training
etc. There were no more capable men at caring for their af-
fairs than the first settlers. They met every emergency. They
fed, clothed, nursed and buried their neighbors with their own
hands. A common bond bound the various settlements to-
gether. The pioneers in the forties lived in substantial log
houses. About all the money they could spare was for door
latches and "trimming salt," which was scarce. Health failed
without it, and expeditions were planned to get it.
Many interesting things could be related concerning the
early pioneers. A. J. Streeter herded some cattle in the cen-
tral part of Rio township and watered them at the Collins
spring. Later he was nominated for President of the United
States on the National ticket. Quite a number of his planks
came to be beams and stringers in suggesting improvement of
the present national policy.
Frank Hickley and Peter McCartner, Jr., also herded cattle
and drove them to the same spring. The former one day
walked into a railroad auction sale, bid off an entire railroad,
and paid cash for it. The latter after quitting the cattle indus-
dustry engraved some fine greenbacks which the United States
treasury afterward unwittingly accepted as genuine.
In the early fifties Robson Bros, establish a cash corn
market of large proportions. It gave an outlet for more corn
and made it easier for the settlers to pay for land. During
the years when Rio had no railroad facilities this cash market
contributed greatly to the community's prosperity.
Before the Township Organization Act, citizens of Rio
and Ontario voted in Ontario. Later Rio Settlement was a part
of the political unit of Ontario. Squire Mosher of Ontario was
territorial judge while the two were one unit. Reuben Heflin,
Samuel Brown, John Robson, Samuel May, John Wycoff, Ro-
bert Deatherage and James Deatherage have all voted in the
territory^ of Ontario.
• The first Civil War Veteran was Abner Titus.
In 1870 the Rockford, Rock Island & St. Louis Railroad
came to the east township of Mercer county on the way to
Rock Island with no charter to enter Knox county. Pope Creek
is a deep stream and tributaries run northwest in east Mercer
county. Rio township had a better crossing. In Knox county,
it was then lawful to vote aids to railroads. The convention to
frame a new state constitution was in session. The railroad
wanted aid to build a right-of-way without condemnation. It
was expected the new constitution would forbid voting aid to
railroads. The town was nearly evenly divided before voting
aid but the affirmative gained during the canvassing and Rio
bought its share of the improvements. This resulted in locat-
ing the road from Monmouth to Rio and on to Rock Island, and
later the connecting line from Galesburg to Rio was built, giv-
ing the township plenty of transportation. In getting the
right-of-way near Pope Creek the full value of the land for the
entire farm was paid to the owner and only one hundred feet
wide was taken.
Some of the more or less prominent men about this time
include the following: S. W. May, who invented and defended
his invention in court of the May windmill, now owned and
manufactured by his niece, Miss Duwaine Phymister, of Chi-
cago, at her factory in Galesburg; Robson Eros., William, John
and Robert, who handled most of the fat cattle raised just be-
fore and during the Civil War from Rio and New Boston ; Chas.
Bryant, kinsman of the noted poet by that name, and himself a
writer of poetry ; F. A. Landon, Sr:, adept in verbal squibs ;
David B. Woodman, the largest man in Knox county, who ran
fifty yards in record time, beating a sprinting stranger who
No less interested in the progress of the community and
active in all forward-looking enterprises was Heber Gillis, who,
with his brother, Theodore, came to Rio township on Christ-
mas, 1856. Their father, Dr. Geo. Gillis, followed them in the
fall of 1859.
Hall, Heflin, and Edw. Grain, together with the elder
Deatherage, sawed the lumber for the first frame house.
Benjamin Harvey was a pioneer thresher, going as far
as Rock Island in a fall and winter run. The grain was torn
from the straw. Men pitched it away and later separated the
grain from the chaff and cockle burrs with fanning mills.
Some boys left home for California after turning the mill one
Samuel Brown , Harrison Shannon, Reuben Heflin and
Thomas Jones were among the early officers of the township,
both as supervisors and as justices of the peace. Robert
Deatherage, Gilbert Wetmore, Benjamin Harvey, James Mans-
field and F. M. Epperson have been justices of the peace for
long terms. B. E. Frankenberger now occupies that position
The Black Hawk War, the Mexican War, the Civil War,
the Spanish War, and now the most uncalled for slaughter of
men ever known — all have called for many of our best men and
women, in some cases whole families responding.
The original prairie was called wet. The subsoil held water
often too long during wet seasons. The ground often baked
before it could be cultivated. Tile drains are now used freely
and little trouble is experienced from the extremes of wet and
dry. Large sums of money are buried out of sight in tile, but
they are permanent improvements, being just as good as when
laid forty years ago. Progressive farmers still think that a
larger outlet would prevent a cold, slow growth of com as in
1917. Hog disease has been conquered largely. Tuberculosis
cattle are being weeded out. Horses are larger and better for
farming. Roads are better. The man power is much greater
than fifty years ago. Many plows have passed the experi-
mental stage. One man handles twice as many horses as then.
Planters approach perfection ; binders work like clocks. Grain
separators are wonders as compared with those of years ago.
Much money has been spent in improving stock and grain, and
the results are plain to be seen.
Rio township is the home of some fine thoroughbred stock,
especially cattle. That one herd of Shorthorns was selected
with intelligent care is revealed by the fact that they are des-
cendants of tribes originated and bred by such famed Aber-
deenshire breeders as Cuickshank, Duthie, Campbell and Lord
Lovat and the present generation is the product of sires and
dams of America's best. Four are daughters of the great sire
Lord Avondale, a bull which sold for five thousand dollars at
auction in 1916 and is now conceded to be one of the most suc-
cessful of the breed. Others are by Sultan Goods of the "Sul-
tan" tribe. Challenge Victor, the Dutchman, a grandson of the
St. Louis World's Fair champion, Choice Goods, White Gloster
by Fair Acres Sultan, Baron Kerr H, Lucky Pride H, a grand-
grandson of The Lad for Me, Glen View, Dale HI, by the fam-
ous sire, Avondale. Revealing as this does unusual strength
of blood through the sires, many of the dams too are equally
attractive and have a record as producers that stands high ;
for instance, the cow Lucky Clari produced a bull that was
purchased by Francisco Maissa for shipment to the Argentine
and a calf from Verbena Lass has found a home in the herd
owned by Dr. Rabey, Gatesville, Texas. Two well bred bulls,
Bud Avondale, by Lord Avondale; and Challenge Victor, by
Challenge Mysie, are samples of the high-bred stock to be
found in Rio township. Illinois is richer because of this select
collection of the breed for the reason that permanent agricul-
ture and soil improvement go hand in hand with live stock pro-
The schools of Rio township are of the district grade.
There are two churches in the community, the Methodist
and Congregational, Rev. Glen A. Rowles being the resident
pastor of the latter.
Rio has a railroad junction with unusually good train
service, a fine bank building, and other improvements. In
1917 the road tax amounted to $19,000. Three hundred and
eighty-two autos assist transportation. The township as a
whole is prosperous and progressive in every Way.
From Sketch by L. A. Lawrence
Salem lies in the southeast corner of Knox County and is
bounded on the east by Peoria County and on the south by Ful-
ton county. There are only a few townships that have as fine
physical features or as marked beauty of outline as this. Com-
mencing at a point known as Kent's Mound, on Section 12,
which rises forty or fifty feet above the common level, a some-
what irregular ridge, sometimes called "divide," runs through
the entire township, from east to west, taking the name of
Pease Hill in its center and terminating at Uniontown, on Sec-
tion 13, at its extreme western edge.
Salem was organized under the general law relating to
townships on April 5, 1853, by an election held in a log school
house near Michael Egan's home, on Section 20. S. S. Buffum
was chosen Supervisor; William Gray, Clerk; J. E. Knable, As-
sessor; D. Waldo, Collector; T. A. Croy, G. W. Euke and J.
Jordan, Justices; M. B. Mason, A. Kent and J. E. Duel, High-
way Commissioners ; J. Taylor and D. Waldo, Constables, and
G. Christman, Overseer of the Poor.
John Sloan has been the supervisor most frequently re-
elected, having served eight terms of one year each, at different
periods, and others of from one year to three years.
The first settlement was made by Alexander Taylor, on
the northeast quarter of Section 6, in October, 1834. He was
soon followed by Felix and John Thurman, Henry and Avery
Dalton, Solomon Sherwood, Benoni Hawkins, William Kent,
John Darnell, John Haskins and Sala Blakesbee, most of whom
brought their families with them.
The first birth recorded was that of little Laura, daugh-
ter of Mr. and Mrs. John Haskins, in 1835, and the first to be
joined in wedlock were Avery and Delilah Dalton, cousins, who
were married in 1855, by Squire Mark Thurman. The same
year occurred the first death, that of Andrew Corbin.
The early settlers brought their religious faith and prac-
tice with them and held prayer meetings from time to time
at convenient places. Their pious devotion attracted the atten-
tion of Rev. Henry Somers, who visited the settlement in No-
vember, 1835 or 36, and preached the first sermon at the home
of William Kent, on Section 13.
The first saw mill was built by James Mason on Kickapoo
Creek, in Section 13, in 1835 or '36 ; another, a little later, by
Anderson Corbin, on the same stream, on Section 14.
The people of Salem have shown an enlightened public
spirit in the matter of good highways, and have provided a
system of good, substantial, iron bridges, set upon firm stone
abutments, over all the principal streams with stone culverts
over most of the smaller ones. The question of constructing,
grading and repairing the highways, was many years ago, by
vote, left solely to the discretion of the highway commis-
sioners. The result has been a uniform system of grading,
which with thoroughly underdraining, affords the best roads
obtainable on prairie soil without resort to the Macadam pro-
Salem has an abundant supply of bituminous coal, which
has been mined for local use from an early date along the
banks of the streams skirting the north and south sides of
the township. The most productive mines are found along
the Kickapoo and Littler's Creeks. The first mining of which
any record had been preserved was successfully undertaken by
Pittman and Barlow, blacksmiths, of Farmington, Fulton
county, who, in 1832, took coal from the soil of Section 25,
for use in their own forges. Avery Dalton was the first to
mine to any appreciable extent for commercial pui^poses. He
began operations on the same section three years later. Sev-
eral drillings at Yates City have developed extensive and valu-
able veins, at depths varying from one hundred and twenty-
five feet upward.
Not the least important among the industries which have
helped to elevate Salem Township to its present position among
the foremost in the county is that of stock-growing. Many of
the most progressive farmers make the breeding of improved
varieties a special feature of their farm work. Among the
prominent stock raisers may be named: N. G. Daughmer and
Son, D. Corey and Son, J. M. Corey, H. A. and James Sloan, E.
H. Ware, Frank Runyon, A. D. Moore and R. J. McKeighan.
The efforts of these men and others who might be mentioned
have resulted in elevating the standard established for fine
stock to as high a point in Salem as will be found in the best
farming sections of the State.
There are ten school districts in Salem, numbered in order
to the ninth, the tenth being called Center, The last named is
located on School Section 16. Of the ten school buildings, two,
in Districts 3 and 4 are of brick, the others are frame. The
first school house was located on Section 13, in 1838, in what
is now District No. 1, and the first school was taught by Abiel
Drew. The second school was erected in either the same or the
succeeding year, on the southwest quarter of Section 6. It was
of logs, and had been originally put up by James Hogue for a
dwelling. Section 6 now forms a part of District No. 2. Of the
ten schools, only the one in Yates City is graded.
Every school in Salem has the benefit of a library of
greater or lesser size and value, which owe their origin to W.
L. Steele and the history of their establishment may be told in
a few words. In September, 1878, Mr. Steele, then Principal
of a graded school in Yates City, proposed to the School Board,
composed of Dr. J. D. Holt, J. M. Taylor and L. A. Lawrence,
the orgnization of a school and public library, to be under the
control of the board, and open at all times to pupils of the
schools, and to the pupils upon payment of a membership fee.
The scheme also contemplated the solicitation of donations of
books and money. The plan was adopted. The movement com-
manded public support from the first, and the library has now
grown to large dimensions and is one of the best in the State
for a community of that size.
In the Civil War 182 served from this township. One hun-
dred and fifty-one served in various regiments of infantry,
numbered from the Seventh to the One Hundred and Thirty-
second. Forty-five were attached to the Eighty-third, and
Twenty-eight in the Seventy-seventh . Twenty-nine are cred-
ited as having served in the Seventh, Eleventh, Twelfth and
Fourteenth Cava !lry, and two in the Second Illinois Artillery.
In addition, several are known to have enlisted in regiments
from other states, notably in the Eighth Missouri Infantry,
viz.; William S. Kleckner, Frank Murphy, Frank and Fred
Hamilton, Henry Ledgerman, James Dundas, Chester Vickery,
George Frost, William Hull, William Taylor and William Reed,
besides, probably others, many of whom have never been cred-
ited, either to Knox County or to Salem Township. James H.
Walton was probably the first enlisted man from Salem, having
joined the Seventh Infantry from Yates City, which was the
first regiment organized in 1861. A draft was ordered to com-
plete Salem's quota under the last call for men in 1864, and
four names were drawn.
Salem's record in the war with Spain, 1898, is an extra-
ordinary one, the township having furnished fourteen men out
of a possible one hundred and fifty for the whole county, the
most of whom served in Company C, of the Sixth Infantry.
The Mexican War of 1846 had one representative here, in the
person of R. B. Corbin, who served in the Third United States
In 1837 a postoffice was established, called Middle Grove,
near what was later Uniontown, Henry Merrell being placed
in charge. It is said that Thomas Morse offered a whole day's
labor to secure a letter on which the postage had not been paid,
money being then very scarce, but his offer was refused.
Sala Blakesbee is credited with erecting the first frame
building for a barn, in 1837, on Section 19, but it was destroyed
by fire the same year.
The scales of justice were first held by William Davis in
The underground railroad had a well defined "route"
through Salem in ante-bellum days, and many a poor slave,
fleeing for life and liberty had occasion to thank the "officers"
thereof for their active vigilance in his behalf.
The moral and religious advancement of the people has
kept even pace with their material development, as is shown
by their work in the early churches and in kindred societies.
In early days, preaching services were held in School houses,
and all convenient places.
In Salem township are Uniontown, Douglas and Yates
City, and it is in the last named that the famous Harvest Home
festival, first held in 1886, is annually celebrated.
The township also made a notable record in the late World
From Sketch by E. H. Goldsmith
This township was organized April 5, 1853, at the home of
Thomas H. Taylor, on Section 14, and the following town offi-
cers were elected: T. H. Taylor, Supervisor; Asaph DeLong
Clerk; Stephen Smith, Assessor; Charles R. Rhodes, Collector;
D. Reed, Stephen Russell and Peter Davis, Highway Commis-
sioners; Moran Baker and Hugh Ferguson, Justices of the
Peace, and Marshall P. Belong, Constable. Mr. DeLong after-
wards served the town as Justice of the Peace for twenty-five
years. S. .G Dean served eight years, and John J. Sutor for a
number of years. William Robson served long continuously as
While Hezekiah Buford has the credit of being the first
settler by building on Section 23, in 1834, the Wilmots have a
record for longest continuous residence on the same land, for
Amos Wilmot built a log cabin in June, 1836, on Section 6, in
which he lived for fifteen years. He then built a house, where
he lived until his death in 1878. Very soon after his arrival
came Reuben, Cyrus and Edward Robbins, brothers, and Levi
Roberts, a cousin. The first of these was about the last of the
early settlers. To him we are indebted for some of the inform-
ation given in this sketch. From the fact that Levi Robbins
having raised a large orchard and other trees "Robbins' Grove"
was for many years a noted land-mark and people came long
distances for apples, as well as to hold picnics. In 1836, Asaph
DeLong (who built the first house between Knoxville and
Heath timber), Luman Field and William Heath settled on
Section 31. The latter was married at Knoxville to Lucinda
Field in 1837, and "hung up" housekeeping in their log cabin, a
picture of which is still preserved. In a northeast direction
they had but one neighbor nearer than Victoria. Mrs. Heath
was a member of the society of the Daughters of the American
Revolution, she being a granddaughter of Elisha Field, Jr., and
a great granddaughter of Elisha Field, Sr., both of whom
fought in the Revolutionary war. She possessed papers show-
ing the entire war history of her illustrious ancestors. Her
grandchildren presented her with the badge of the society,
which is an old-fashioned spinning wheel with beautiful sur-
roundings and inscriptions.
James Neely settled on Section 30 in 1838, and Abram
Neely on Section 5 a few years later. Other early settlers
were : B. Ely, Thomas and George W. Faulkner, Booker Pick-
rel and C. C. West. Among those who came subsequently and
who, with those already mentioned, as well as those who will
be noticed hereafter, have been influential in the political and
religious prosperity of the township, are Solomon Lyon, J. V.
R. Carley, Schuyler Goldsmith, A. F. Adams, William E. Morse,
Henry Rommel, L. W. Olson, Oliver Stream, Joseph Masters,
J. H. Merrill, James Paddock, Edmund Kennedy, James Barry,
WilHam S. Patterson, William A. Lee, Jr., D. W. Nisley, R. W.
Hulse, Vickrey Nation, Ransom Babcock, F. Z. Wikoff, G. S.
Hawkins and John Taylor. The latter was assessor for over
The Chicago, Burlington & Quincy passes through Sparta
in a diagonal line from near the northeast to the southwest
corner. In November 1894, the Galesburg, Etherely and Great
Eastern Railroad was opened, running twelve miles east, to
strike a great coal belt of some eighty-two sections, the center
of which is Etherely, where the company placed a shaft cost-
ing $30,000. This company suspended railroad operations
on September 7, 1895, but resumed December 7, 1897, under
the name of the Galesburg and Great Eastern, with Edward
J. Harms as manager.
Prairie fires in early days were beautiful to witness and
oftentimes to be dreaded. At one time a fire which is said
to have started at Red Oak in Henry county, threatened to de-
vastate the farms of the new settlers, but warning Vv'as given
those in the southwest part of the township by Maria, daugh-
ter of Luman Field, in time to avert the approaching catastro-
Sparta, both before and during the Civil War, contained
quite a number of abolitionists, among them was Abram Neely,
a conductor on the underground railroad. Some of the old
citizens still remember his hiding fugitive slaves at his home
and taking them a night's ride to the next station.
The population of Sparta township has been: 1840, 113;
1870, 1,950; 1800, 1,682; 1890, 1,293. For later figures see
Wataga was platted in the Spring of 1854 by J. M. Holy-
oke, Silas Willard and Clark M. Carr, and was incoi-porated by
a special act in 1863. The first village election was held Sep-
tember 19, 1863. In 1874 it was re-incorporated, under the
general law, with Section 16 as the village territory. J. M.
Holyoke was the first resident and postmaster, and also built
the first store in conjunction with A. P. Cassel. This was
operated by Willard and Babcock. The first bank in the place
was started in 1863 by H. P. Wood. The depot was built in
1856, and in the same year the Wataga House was erected and
operated by GaiTett Post for one year, when Loren Smith
bought and conducted it for one year, and for years it was the
property of C. H. Norton. The Wataga mill was built by Wil-
liam Armstrong in 1856, and soon afterwards was damaged by
an explosion in which John Armstrong was seriously injured.
George F. and David P. Niles, now extensive farmers and fine
stock-raisers, bought the mill in May, 1867, and ran it very
successfully for eight years, patrons coming long distances
with their own wheat and receiving entire satisfaction. Among
those who have since owned the mill are: William and M. O.
Williamson, who introduced expensive modern machinery and
Frank Darst, who also put in improvements and did excellent
The First Congregational Church was organized June 10,
1855, and the church society October 27, 1856. The church
organization was led by the Rev. S. G. Wright. The first meet-
ing was held in the depot, where the first sermon was preached.
Subsequent services were held in the newly completed school
house until 1860, when a substantial church, costing over
$3,000, was erected, to which in 1876, a parsonage was added
at a cost of $2,000. The original members were: A. P. Bab-
cock, William S. Farnham, Mrs. Maria S. Farnham, Mrs. C. F.
Farnsworth, Benjamin Gardner, Mrs. Abigail Gardner, Miss
Sarah Gardner, Mrs. Minerva Holyoke, Charles W. Rhodes and
Mrs. Jane Rhodes. Wm. S. Farnham served as deacon for 30
years. James Hastie also served as deacon until his demise in
1879 and was succeeded by Amos S. Fitch, the latter holding
the office until his death in 1882. Among the secretaries of
the society have been Hon. John Gray, of Jefferson Iowa; the
late J. M. Holyoke and E. H. Goldsmith, the latter of whom
held that office twenty-four years and was church clerk for
thirty years. This church has had many pastors. Among
those who have faithfully served in that capacity may be men-
tioned the Revs. Azariah Hyde, William W. Wetmore, Hiram
P. Roberts, Prof. Willis J. Beecher, of Auburn (New York)
Theological Seminary, and William R. Butcher, the last named
serving six years. The Sunday school records show that on
December 26, 1869, the membership was two hundred and
the average attendance one hundred and forty-eight. John
Hastie was the secretary and E. H. Goldsmith the superintend-
ent, the latter holding that office for twenty-five years. The
late George P. Holyoke and William M. Driggs, with their wives
rendered valuable assistance in former years.
The Methodist Episcopal church was organized in 1856 by
the Rev. William M. Clark, whose circuit consisted of Oneida,
Wesley Chapel and Wataga. He made his journeys on foot.
Mr. Clark gave the site of Gilson camp ground to this dis-
trict. Arnong the early members were S. F. Spaulding, John
Gaddis, B. W. Foster, Lucius Vail and S. G. Dean, with their
wives. Mr. Dean was the first Sunday school superintendent,
serving four years, and he was succeeded by S. F. Spaulding
who, for nineteen years, gave his best services to the school.
Among the pastors were: G. W. Brown, N. T. Allen, William
Watson, D. Ayers, N. G. Clark, G. P. Snedaker and C. F. W.
Smith. The church was completed and dedicated in 1867 under
the pastorate of J. W. Coe, the presiding elder being W. H.
The Swedish Evangelical Lutheran Church was organized
in 1856, the first pastor being the Rev. T. N. Hasselquist. In
1860 the society commenced building a church, having former-
ly worshipped in private houses and school buildings. This
church was struck by lightning and burned in 1875, but in
the same year the present tasteful edifice was erected. The
Rev. N. Nordgren, served this people many years.
The Swedish Methodist Episcopal Church was organized
in 1857 with the Rev. V. Witting as the pastor. The keeping
up of regular services and of the Sunday School was largely
due to the untiring efforts of Oliver Stream.
The Wataga Christian church, costing $2,000, was erected
in 1875, but was torn down in 1896 and the church organiz-
ation no longer exists.
The Wataga Catholic Church was erected in 1877 at a cost
of $2,000. The. Rev. P. McGair was its first pastor.
Wataga lodge, No. 291, A. F. and A. M., was instituted
August 17, 1858.
The Order of the Eastern Star was organized February 22,
1888, and being the first chapter in the county it had many
members from the surrounding towns, there being at one time
seventy-four names on the roll. Other chapters were organ-
ized in every town from which this drew its followers.
Wataga Lodge, No. 509, I. 0. 0. F., was organized Janu-
ary 10, 1876, by A. W. Berggren. Its first officers were : W.
N. Thomas, N. G. ; J. E. Thomas, V. G. ; L. C. Whitcomb, Secre-
tary ; P. A. Smith, Treasurer. Other charter members were P.
A. Smith and John McConchie.
Rebecca Lodge, No. 48 was organized October 20, 1891.
The first officers were: John Deming; N. G. ; Mrs. Nancy
Deming, C. G. ; Oliver Stream, Secretary.
Wataga Camp, No. 3229, Modem Woodmen, was organized
September 24, 1895, with eighteen charter members.
By David Cation
Next to Persifer, this is the roughest township in Knox
County. Spoon River enters it in Section 12 and flows out
from Section 31, winding throught it for fifteen or sixteen
miles and touching sixteen sections. This river and its
branches, which liberally water Truro, pass through timber
land which formerly extended over half the township.
Of late years, however, almost all of this vast timber has
been gradually disappearing, the land on which it stood
having been converted into almost treeless pastures, which
have proved a source of greater profit. North of Spoon River,
the land is mostly rolling, on the south stretches a broad level,
fertile prairie. About one-sixth of the township is underlaid
with a good quality of coal which with the timber affords an
excellent supply of fuel.
The first settlement was made on Section 19, in 1832, by
John Dill. The first birth was that of Andrew Dill, in 1833.
During that year Rev. John Cummings performed the first
marriage ceremony, uniting Jake Ryan and Miss Stambaugh.
In 1832, within Section 30, Malon Winans, a United States
mail carrier, was drowned while attempting to swim Spoon
River with a mail bag strapped to his back. This was the
first death. Within this same section, in 1834, John Coleman
started a ferry across Spoon River, at a point which was long
known as Coleman's Ferry, but afterw^ards came to be called
Trenton. Here the first postoffice was established during the
On the northwest quarter of Section 31, the first white
settlers found a number of Indian graves. Logs had been
split into halves and hollowed out for coffins, and these were
placed in the forks of trees, where they rested, with their
ghastly human skeletons projecting above their tops. In
1836, pioneers took them down and gave them "white man's
In 1834, Rev. John Cummings preached the first sermon
at the home of Widow Lambert, on Section 31. The first
school house was built in 1848, on Section 33.
Rensselaer Johnson was the first Justice of the Peace.
April 5, 1853, the township was organized. The first
election of officers resulted in the choice of the following per-
sons: Augustus Lapham, Supervisor; J. P. Cadwell, Clerk;
Benjamin Sweat, Assessor; Levi Seward, Collector; Thomas
Ross, Overseer of the Poor; Thomas Crawford, Luther Rice
and Joseph Wilder, Highway Commissioners; Thomas Ross
and Joseph Oberholtzer, Justices of the Peace.
The population in 1860 was seven hundred and thirteen,
in 1870, eight hundred and ninety-nine; in 1880, seven hun-
dred and seventeen; in 1890, eight hundred and sixty-five.
For present population, see the population table for county.
Truro township is inhabited by prosperous farmers. The
land is well tilled, and dotting the pastures are herds of well-
bred hogs, horses, sheep and cattle. The farms are well im-
proved, and the people contented and happy.
The population is composed chiefly of American born citi-
zens of English, Irish, Scotch and Swedish ancestry. The
hardy pioneers are fast passing away, but they have left ener-
getic and intelligent descendants. Although thus sprung from
various stocks, they are all intensely American in their pa-
triotism. Adorning the walls of their homes are to be found
not only the portraits of the heroes of their Fatherland, of
whom they are justly proud, but also those of Washington,
Lincoln and other eminent Americans, who hold no second
place in their affections.
Here also is found a generous religious tolerance, Protest-
ant and Catholic joining in advancing charitable and educa-
tional enterprises. In such perfect assimilation of different
nationalities, and in such broad charity in the matter of relig-
ious faith as are found here, lies one of the strongest guaran-
tees of the future grandeur and perpetuity of our country.
Until 1887, Truro was without a railway. In May of that
year ground was broken on the farm of Henry German in Sec-
tion 21 for the main line of the Santa Fe which was laid across
the township, and on April 24, 1888, Williamsfield was laid
out by E. B. Purcell, on Section 23. Later, Galesburg capital-
ists interested themselves in the project and promoted it with
so much vigor that within thirty-three years the town has
become one of the most prosperous in the county, and now
boasts of about five hundred inhabitants. There is a graded
school, employing from three to four teachers since the com-
pletion of the school building in 1890.
A Methodist church was erected early in 1890, under the
leadership of Rev. John Gunson, and dedicated on the first
day of June of that year. In 1906, the building was remodeled
under the leadership of Rev. Franklin Rist and the denomina-
tion has a good membership. Two years later the Catholics
erected an attractive house of worship.
The Williamsfield Times, an independent weekly, was
established in 1889. Its founder was C. D. Benfield. In Octo-
ber, 1890, the building in which the Times was located was
burned and Mr. Benfield lost his entire outfit. The subscrip-
tion list of the paper was purchased by Momeny and Benson
and in a few months they were enabled to continue the public-
ation. Later they dissolved partnership and J. M. Momeny
assumed control of the paper. In the fall of 1892 S. E. Bog-
gess leased the plant from Mr. Momeny. In April, 1893, it
was purchased by M. Hugh Irish and in July, 1918, it passed
into the hands of W. G. Johnson the present owner.
On January 22, 1890, L. J. Baird and David Cation opened
a private bank under the title of Bank of Williamsfield and
so conducted it until April, 1908, when they with Earl T. Main
reorganized the Bank under a State Charter in the name of
First State Bank Company with a capital stock of $30,000.00
with L. J. Baird as first president. Earl T. Main was first
cashier. The first board of directors was L. J. Baird, David
Cation, Earl T. Main, G. W. Wallick, J. D. Doubet, Geo. W.
Elliott and H. J. Butts. The bank has had a steady growth
and a loyal patronage from the community. In addition to its
semi-annual dividends paid the stockholders the bank has
added $30,000 of surplus and profits to its capital. It has
also recently installed a new burglar proof safe and a burglar
proof vault that is said to be second to none in the county at
a cost of $7,500.00. The present officers and directors are:
David Cation, President; Jay Welsh, Vice President; William
Cation, Cashier; Miss Doris Pulver, Asst. Cashier, and Miss
Marita Smith, Asst. Cashier; J. J. Nelson, P. A. Sunwall, Burt
Hurlbutt and Richard Murphy.
Various linies of mercantile business are well represented
such as general stores, hardware store, meat market, lumber
yards, undertaking establishment, restaurant, barber shops,
blacksmith shop and dry goods and millinery stores, physi-
cians and veterinaries. It has also a grain elevator and has
always been a great center for the shipment of gi'ain and
live stock. Recently there was organized a Williamsfield Live
Stock Shipping Association with a membership of about one
hundred. Its officers and directors were A. L. Doubet, Presi-
dent; A, W. Gale, Vice President, B. L. Baird, Sec.-Treas.;
Taylor B. Johnston and Jas. L. Cation, Directors, and L. L.
Nelson, Manager. Under Mr. Nelson's leadership more than
120 cars the last year have been sent out from Williamsfield,
amounting in value to $292,000.00. This excels any other
point in the county.
In September, 1897, Williamsfield suffered a disastrous
fire in which a livery barn, two general stores, hardware
store, two blacksmith shops, lumber yard, paint and wall
paper store, harness shop, two doctor's offices, and one resi-
dence were all swept out of existence. From this catastrophe
the village soon emerged with better business houses and bet-
ter equipped to provide for the wants of the community in the
several kinds of business represented.
Again in Sept. 1920, more than twenty business houses in
the heart of the business district were swept out by fire. But
the populace is not to be outdone for within a short time foun-
dations were laid for 3 new brick buildings and other brick
buildings are being contemplated.
The Hst of enlisted men in the army was: Glen Cole,
John O'Brien, Cecil Kimler, Roscoe Gibson, Dale Stemple, C.
W. German, Clyde Tucker, Ernest Hart, Bert Daniels, Isidore
Daub, Fred Shultz, Grover George, Clyde Huber, Eldred
Mackie, Julius Shaw, Harrison Cole, Patsy O'Hem, Wiley
Burch, Sidney Cook, James Mahar, Albert King, Vance Cham-
bers, Frank Stodgel, Vergil Dudley, Raymond Wall, Lloyd
Harmison, Edward Larsen, Harley Tucker, Harry Bennett,
Homer Larson, Harry L. Gibson, Arthur Carrigan, Edward D.
Parker, Harley Benjamin, Michael Phelan, Clarence Spencer,
David Tucker, James Larsen, Harry Harmison and James H.
Of these soldier boys, John O'Brien and Grover George
C. W. German, Lloyd Harmison and Homer Larson nar-
rowly escaped with their lives from the sinking vessel,
"Otranto," on the coast of Scotland.
All of our boys returned home. Vance Chambers re-
enlisted and returned to service in Germany where he was
shot and killed while on duty.
The Neighborhood Committee through whom most of the
war activities were carried forward were as follows:
Executive Committee — G. E. Morgan, Chairman; M. H.
Irish, Secretary; J. M. Baird, C. H. Pulver, S. R. Tucker,
District Committeemen — Fred Hurlbutt, T. Johnston,
John Mackie, C. D. Rice, A. W. Gales, W. — . Huber, E. D.
Johnston, R. W. Morgan, Jay Welsh, Geo. King, W. S. Potts,
W. H. Machin, G. L. Doubet, L. L. Nelson, P. A. Sunwall, E. S.
Mrs. Nellie J. Tucker, Mrs. Rhoda Philbrook, Mrs. Celesta
C. Potts, E. S. Moon, C. A. Caldwell and C. H. Pulver made up
the registration board on the bond subscriptions.
While very many did much to assist in the war work, it
is fitting and proper that special mention should be made of
the very tedious, very exacting and responsible work done by
Miss Marita Smith in accounting for the many hundreds of
pieces of bonds amounting to more than half a million dollars.
Truro township went over the top on eveiy quota asked
and in one case carried off the German helmet for being the
second township in the county to report.
First Loan 1 $ 6,000.00
Second Loan 118 42,300.00
Third Loan 262 46,000.00
Fourth Loan 282 54,150.00
Victory Loan 82 52,050.00
War Savings Stamps 189 24,000.00
Grand Total $224,400.00
Red Cross Drives
First drive $1,079.43
Second— Sale 1,880.35
Third— Membership 397.00
Fourth — Memberships 358.50
Fifth- Membership 250.00
Salvation Army 126.40
United War Workers Campaign $2,180.00
Grand Total $6,381.68
The Williamsfield Branch Red Cross Association was or-
ganized Sunday evening, April 22, 1917, as follows:
G. E. Morgan was elected General Chairman.
Rev. J. W. Pruen, Secretary.
David Cation, local Treasurer.
More than 250 members were secured.
Red Cross Shop
Mrs. Rev. Pruen was the first Chainnan and afterwards
resigned and Mrs. Dr. Cole was elected and carried the work
through to the end.
Mrs. Ida Willard had charge of the knitting department.
Mrs. Nellie Irish had charge of the surgical dressing/
Mrs. Eva Rice had charge of the Belgium Relief depart-
Mrs. Lillie Wesner, Mrs. Kate Pulver and Mrs. Nettie
Caldwell had charge of the cutting department.
Mrs. Dr. Cole, Mrs. Nettie J. Tucker and Mrs. Eva Rice,
constituted the inspection committee.
In all these War Activities of Truro Township we have
mentioned only those who were officially connected, but there
were scores of privates, many of whom were well up in years,
and some of whom were very young as well as the intermed-
iates, all of whose names we dislike to omit, but desire to say
that the loyal assistance they gave the work created a force
that no enemy could successfully combat.
Community High School
A Community High School was organized in 1916, com-
prising 561/4 sections of land with an assessed valuation of
$1,553,000. The first Board of Education was as follows:
M. H. Irish, President; C. H. Pulver, Clerk; F. J. King, Jay
Welsh, Loren Trowbridge, Otto Grohs, Mrs. Nellie J. Tucker.
Early in the summer of 1920 ground was broken for a
new brick Community High School building now (1921) near-
ing completion at a cost when furnished of $75,000.00. The
building will accommodate 160 pupils and is splendidly located
on six acres of land. The intention is to add Domestic Science,
Manual Training and Agriculture and make it a High School
equal to the best. W. H. Brown, of Abingdon, is the con-
The present Board of Education consists of: C. H. Pul-
ver, President; Mrs. Nellie J. Tucker, Clerk; Jay Welsh, Mrs.
Minette Baird, G. E. Morgan, Otto Grohs, F. J. King.
TOWN OF VICTORIA
By Mrs. Mary Fifield Woolsey
The Town of Victoria is located in the northeast part of
Knox County, IlHnois. It is a political unit of the County and
comprises the same territory as Township Twelve North,
Range Four East. The larger part of the Village of Victoria
lies in, and along the west line of, the town of Victoria, about
two miles south of its intersection with Walnut Grove and
Lynn. The west part of the village lies in the Town of Copley.
It is interesting to note that, when Knox County was divided
into political towns, in 1850, Copley was first called Prince
Albert and Lynn was for many years known as Fraker's
Grove, while the first name given to the thirty-six sections
comprising the present Town of Victoria was Worcester.
However, in a year of two, the official name became Victoria,
the same as the village, and has so remained to this day.
In writing of the coming of the first white settlers, the
uncertain facts in regard to the Indians can be told but briefly.
And, in relating these matters concerning the natives, fact and
fiction necessarily blend. Roving bands of Indians crossed the
township even within the memory of some still living there,
and at one time as many as five hundred went that way when
they moved from near Peoria across into Iowa. But the recent
Black Hawk War, in 1832, had left Knox county no longer In-
dian country. The earliest settlers told of a small Indian vil-
lage, on the Southeast Quarter of Section Twenty, near what
came to be known as "Old Salem" and it was, no doubt, occu-
pied by Indians when the first white men came. Mr. John K.
Robinson, a son of Moody Robinson, still points out the spring
from which they used water and tells of the Indian relics he and
his father had found there.
The first to settle in the township was a Mr. Frazier, Ed-
ward Brown and John Essex. These men came, at least, as
early as 1834. Brown built his cabin a half mile south of what
is now the Lundeen place, southeast of Etherley. Mr. Fraz-
ier's cabin was just west of the Robinson place on Section
Twenty and he lived there for five or ten years. John Essex
soon moved up to Fraker's Grove. Edward Brown remained
for some time and Archibald Robinson moved into Brown's
cabin when he left. Next came Moses Robinson, Moody Rob-
inson, Pasons Alldredge, Coonrod Smith, John Smith, William
Overlander and John Arnold, The Smiths and Overlanders
came from Ohio, where they had first come from Little York,
Pennsylvania. The Robinsons and Alldredges came from Ten-
nessee. These came in 1835. All built permanent homes, and
a log-cabin for a school house, and called it Salem, the ''Old
Salem" mentioned above. William Overlander settled on the
"Overlander place," John Smith where the Lundeen place
now is, the Alldredges where Ulysses Ives now owns, Moses
Robinson on the next next farm north, Moody Robinson on the
farm now owned by Ena Mosher, a descendant of his, and the
Arnolds south of the present Salem schoolhouse. Then came
George E. Rejmolds, Henry Shurtliff, Isaiah BeiTy, Silas
Locke and their families, twenty-one persons in all, from Bar-
rington and nearby points in New Hampshire, and settled on
or near the present site of the Village of Victoria. Mr. Rey-
nolds lived during the first winter in a cabin in Forman
Grove, northeast of Victoria. This cabin had been started by
a still earlier settler, who had abandoned it through fear of
the Indians. The first winter was, of course, full of hard-
ships. Mr. Alldredge and Moody Robinson were away from
home, for 18 days, searching for a little corn and for a place
to get it ground into meal. As they said, they were hunting
"a grist." But the next summer more comfortable cabins
were built and the people began the usual strenuous life of
early pioneers, beset with difficulties but determined to make
of this new country the comfortable land of their dreams.
For several years, the children of these New Englanders
went through the timber, more than three miles, to "Old
Salem" to school. Captain George W. Reynolds, lately de-
ceased, was then a school boy and has often told the writer of
these early paths to learning. Parts of the stone foundation
and the old fireplace still mark the place where the boys and
girls of those days studied the "three R's" and McGuffy's
Spelling Book, and, more studiously, evaded the watchful eye
of their teacher. This "Old Salem" is located about a mile
northwest of the site of the present Salem school house, on
the Pasons Alldredge place. This was also used as the first
church of that community and there one may still see the
graves of many of the oldest settlers. Some of the first
teachers were Hannah Olmsted, Charlotte Arnold, Vatch Met-
calf, Silas Locke, Henry Shurtliff and Mrs. Minard. One of
her pupils tells that Mrs. Minard brought her three small
children, including a wee baby, and taught the school, and also
cared for her own children at the same time; there was a
cradle in the school-room for the baby, and the girls helped
take care of it, thus taking the first course in Domestic Sci-
ence ever given in the county. And, when they "stood up and
spelled down," the baby was carried back and forth from side
to side as the girls were chosen.
The first white child to be born in the Township was
Sarah, daughter of Moody Robinson, November 16th, 1836.
She became the wife of Manford Mosher and is still remem-
bered by all the people of the community. The first death
was that of Mrs. Frazier in 1837 and the first marriage was
that of Peter Sornberger to Phoebe Wilber in 1838.
Captain Allen built the first frame house, on Section Sev-
enteen ; it was always known as the "Old Victoria House." It
was built for a tavern and will be more fully described below.
The early conditions were naturally characterized by their
simplicity — log cabins in the woods, fireplaces and chimneys
made of stone, all chinked together with mud. These earliest
pioneers stayed close to the wooded lands and did not venture
out on the more fertile prairie, because they needed the tim-
ber for shelter and fuel. Each family took care of nearly all
its own wants; it did its own blacksmithing, spinning, etc.
Threshing was done with flails and every house was largely,
a law unto itself. The grinding was done in the rudest man-
ner, by rotating a round flat stone above another. A pair of
these stones can be seen at the home of a descendant of "Old
Billy McBride" in Lynn Township, and were once the property
of Michael Fraker, after whom that community was called
Fraker's Grove. The first grist mill of any importance was
built by Clark Stanton at Rochester on Spoon River, (Elmore)
in Peoria county, and the first saw mill by Coonrod Leek at
Centerville on Walnut Creek. The folks from Victoria would
drive down to Rochester with their grain and sometimes be
compelled to wait there several days for their grist. Much
later, in about 1856, Mons Olson and a Mr. Renstead built a
grist-mill in the south part of the Village of Victoria and this
was long a blessing to the community and a mill on that loca-
tion is still within the memoiy of most of our people. The
house of Frederick Becker is now about where this old mill
stood. Travel was usually by oxen and the people of those
days would not believe their eyes if they could now see their
descendants dashing madly about in automobiles and farming
with tractors. The roads followed the paths of least resist-
ance and were usually on the old Indian trails. Stone for
foundations and fireplaces was quarried, in many cases, from
the very land where the fann buildings were built. In spite
of the hardships and difficulties, these pioneers had many a
rollocking good time at their log-rollings, house-raisings, corn-
huskings, quilting parties and their spelling and singing
schools to say nothing of hunting deer and wolves.
The present village and, later, the Town of Victoria, was
named Victoria after the Queen of England, who was crowned
in 1837. Before there was ever any village on its present site,
Captain Allen had started the "Old Victoria House" and Mil-
ton Shurtliff, who owned about a thousand acres of land east
and south of the present village of Victoria, had platted a vil-
lage near the center of the north half of Section Seventeen, a
little more than a mile east and a little south of the present
village. The survey for this earlier village, planned by Mil-
ton Shurtliff, was made August 30th, 1837, by George A.
Charles, Knox County Surveyor, and a record of same can be
found in Vol. 4, page 128, Deed Records of Knox County.
There was to be Public Square, Main Street, North Street,
South Street, Alton Street and Shurtliff Street, and there
were ten blocks. As a part of his plan, others had been in-
duced to build nearby and Captain Allen's tavern was, no
doubt, also prompted by Milton Shurtliff, who had given him
an agreement for a deed. Being operated by Allen and on
land that belonged, in a way, to Shurtliff, it was variously
known as Allen's Tavern, Allen & Shurtliff's Tavern, Shurt-
liff's Tavern and the "Old Victoria House." Captain Allen
died before the "Old Victoria House" was fully completed
and, there being an indebtedness of $200.00 in favor of Milton
Shurtliff, he caused the rights of "Aunt Allen," as Captain
Allen's wife was affectionately called, to be forfeited to him,
"Aunt Allen" thereafter lived with Dr. John Langdon Fifield
at Rochester until her death in 1848. The Fifields lived in the
"Old Victoria House" from 1848 to 1850. Dr. Fifield has told
of stopping at Captain Allen's Tavern as early as 1840, and
sleeping in an unfinished attic, on the floor, with sixteen
other men, who, like himself, had been travehng that way and
had been caught in a severe storm. Near at hand was a black-
smith shop and a large barn and a few cabins. The house of
Brazail White stood just east of the "Old Victoria House" and
was later moved to the Charles J. Carlson farm where it can
still be seen. There was a semi-official postoffice and a store
in the tavern. This "Old Victoria House" became the home of
"Uncle Alex" Sornberger in 1850, and remained such until his
death, he having lived in a cabin a half mile south of there
until 1850. The "Old Victoria House" stood a few feet south-
west of the house now occupied by Clifford Sornberger and
the old doorstone (6 ft. by 4 ft.) can still be seen on the
premises, at the end of the east walk. The house itself was
torn down in 1868. In Vol. 2 of the County Commissioners
Record at page 27, made during the March Term of 1838, is a
petition asking for a road to be marked, running from about
the present site of West Jersey to the center of Section Thirty
now in the Town of West Jersey, thence in a westerly direct-
tion by "the nearest and best route to Victoria in Township 12
North, Range 4 East." The Court appointed Wm. Overlander,
John Brown and William Webster (West Jersey) "to view,
mark and locate said road." And on page 81 of this Record
appears the report of these road-viewers and their field notes.
They described the road as beginning at the center of Main
Street at the east side of Victoria, "situated on the East or.c-
half of the Northwest Quarter and also the West one-half of
the Northeast Quarter of Section Seventeen, Township Twelve
North, and Four East." On page 67 of this record (in 1838)
the voting place for the "Walnut Creek District" was changed
from Centerville to "Shurtliff's Tavern" and remained there
for about ten years. This same Record, at page 205, shows
that new voting districts were formed by the County Com-
missioners in March of 1839 and what are now Copley and
Victoria and the part of Truro, north of Spoon River, were put
together in the "Victoria District," the election still to be held
"at the House of Allen & Shurtliff in Victoria." Again in
1841, this Record (page 255) shows the location of a road
from about the present site of Arkansas (also known as Truro
and "Four-Corners") on a diagonal line, northwest, "to Vic-
toria on Section 17", still taking no notice of any other Vic-
toria. This road has now been put largely on section lines, but
still shows some of its slant lines in the present "timber road"
to Williamsfield, via East Truro. It ran on to Peoria on the
south and to Andover on the north. Again, in Vol. 3 of this
Record at page 81, is the description of a road from "Eugene,"
southwest of what is now Williamsfield, "to the Public Square
of the Town of Victoria just north of the center of Section
Seventeen" (May 18, 1842). Isaiah Berry later kept this
Shurtliff's tavern and elections were held there until about
1848, when the voting place was moved to the schoolhouse in
what is now the Village of Victoria. So, too, the first survey
Vol. 4 of these Commissioner's Records, at page 257), of a
road showing the location of the present Village, was July
13th, 1848, being from "Trenton" (south of Dahinda) "to Vic-
toria, on the west side of Sections Seven and Eighteeen." As
late as 1845, a road was surveyed from the Mound Farm, just
over in Copley on Section Thirteen, right through the present
Village of Victoria to the Rock Island and Peoria Road run-
ning through Shurtliff's Victoria, but no notice was yet taken
of the site of the present village. So, whenever Victoria is
mentioned in the public records, up to the year 1848, "Old Vic-
toria" is meant, and for ten years it bid fair to be the metro-
polis of what even later (after 1850) became the Town (or
Township) of Victoria.
Meantime, George F. Reynolds, remembered even yet as
"Deacon Reynolds," and his neighbors, up on the west line of
the township, were not willing to let the village grow up
around the "Old Victoria House," without doing their utmost
to bring it to their own land. Mr. Reynolds had built a double
log cabin near the west side of what later became the east
village park, and his hospitality made his hostelry the stop-
ping place of many a traveler. The stage line from Chicago
to Burlington now passed the Reynolds hostelrys and aided in
bringing the village to the new site. Two large frame houses
were moved to Victoria on sleds, with oxen, from Centerville,
which was situated just over the town line, in Lynn. One was
owned by Dr. John W. Spaulding and was used as his home
and office, in Victoria, and is now known as Carlson's shoe
store ; the other was owned by Alex Albro, a great uncle of the
wife of Judge George W. Thompson, and this house is now
known as the Youngs house. A room in the Albro house was
used temporarily, for school purposes. Both of these houses
are still in good repair. Mr. Reynolds deeded off lots and did all
he could to "steal the town" from Milton Shurtliff, who lived
in Tazewell county. Our county records show a deed to Jonas
J. Hedstrom in 1843, five acres at $3.00 per acre, and deeds to
John Becker, two acres at $5.00 per acre. Mr. Hedstrom had
the first blacksmith shop and Mr. Becker had the first general
store. Later "Dick" Whiting and Norton Kelsey started some
competition for Mr. Becker in the Albro house. Joseph Freed
bought a lot in the east part of the village and built the house
where Gus Stout now lives and there he conducted a shoeshop
for many years. The lot just east was purchased by John L
Knapp, a carpenter and cabinet maker, and he built the house
that stood there until about five years ago. In 1849, the Vill-
age of Victoria was platted, by John Becker, John W. Spauld-
ing, George F. Reynolds, Jonas J. Hedstrom, William L. Shurt-
liff, Joseph Freed and John L Knapp, as proprietors, and the
question as to where the village was to be was finally decided.
However, the Village of Victoria was not incorporated until
as late as 1886, with Charles S. Robinson, mentioned above, as
President, and Wm. McKendree Woolsey, R. B. Hodgeman,
Geo. Luther Hedstrom, Charles S. Clark and William Aten, as
trustees. The village has never voted "wet" and is proud of
the fact that it has never had saloons. Dr. Spaulding, the
Whitings, the Beckers, the Copleys, Dr. Fifield, Jonas J.
Hedstrom, George F. Reynolds, the Tabors, and the Olmsteds
were among the early chief promoters of the schools and other
helpful institutions of the village. Still others of the early
families were leaders in organizing the first churches in the
village and these will be mentioned below in a paragraph rela-
tive to the churches. George Sornberger should be mentioned
among the early pioneers. He was a Revolutionery soldier
and members of his family have had a large part in the life of
the community. Three sons, Alex, Peter and Anson, and sev-
en daughters settled in and near the village. His descendants
number over three hundred and many still reside there and
are among the best citizens.
As related above, the first schoolhouse was at "Old Sa-
lem," but in a few years the settlers up on the site of what
was later the Village of Victoria began to plan for a school of
their own. In March, 1838, the County Cimmissioners ap-
pointed George F. Reynolds, William Overlander and Archi-
bald Robinson as school trustees for Township Twelve North,
Four East. The earliest known local record of school mat-
ters, there in Victoria, dates from August, 1847, the time
when the present village began to be at all important. There
can be found such items as the following in the minute-book
of its first school directors : "At a meeting, held according to
law for the puii^ose of locating and building a schoolhouse, on
the 31st day of August, 1847, John I. Knapp elected chairman,
Dr. J. W. Spaulding, secretary. Voted that the lot east of
William Shurtliff's house be purchased for $4.00, containing
one-half acre. Also voted to buy a log building for school pur-
poses." "Treasurer of Victoria School District pay ten dol-
lars on school house, eighty cents for interest and nine and
59-100 dollars to Mary Ann Stanley on schedule March 29th,
1848." Signed by Isaiah Berry and Hiram Andrews, School
Directors. "Sold G. F. Reynolds the roof of the old school
house for $4.00 which paid him for the school house lot."
Signed by J. W. Spaulding, Treasurer. This was at the time
when the school lot, just west of what is now known as Geo.
M. Nelson's residence and wagon shop was purchased, and
there was where the children of the Victoria district attended
•school for about forty-five years. Others of these early
teachers in the district were Mary Ann Leighton, Miss Max-
field, Miss Willmot, Harriet Foote, Miss Pratt, Byron Dorr,
Nancy Burt, Electa Strong, Mary Hauver, Olivia Martin and
many others. Salaries averaged around $3.50 per week and
"board around." During the early part of this period a so-
called "select-school" was also held in the basement of the
Methodist church just over the township line, in Copley;
among the teachers of the "select-school" were "Young &
Raymond," Miss Ellithorpe (Arnold), and Miss Julia Wilber
(Boardman). In about 1867 and for a few years thereafter
there was a combination of the two districts (Victoria and the
"West School," in Copley), and the higher grades and a few
high-school studies were taught in the basement of the Metho-
dist church. Mr. Lewis B. Aiken, Robert Arnld, Lizzie Gordon
(Robson), Emily Bristo (Robinson) and L. K. Byers were
some of the teachers in the "graded" school, as it was called.
In 1852, May 1st, a meeting was held in the Victoria School
District, for the purpose of levying a tax to build a new frame
school house, with John L. Fifield, chairman, and John Becker,
Secretary. There the list of taxable inhabitants of Victoria
School District are set out as follows:
Hiram Andrews Mons Olson
Anson Sornberger Walter Britton
Lewis Bissell Joseph Freed
Isaiah Berry John T. Smith
Samuel P. Whiting Charles Reynolds
Norton Kelsey David Tripp
Elam A. Pease John Becker
Sanford Rodgers Jonas Hedstrom
Josiah D. Bodley Peter Challman
Alexander Soraberger Erick Skogland
John L. Fifield Mathew Challman
George F. Reynolds George Challman
Richard H. Whiting Gustavus Janson
Theodore D. Case John I. Knapp
Needham Rodgers Jonas Helstrum
Thomas Force John Spaulding
William Burgess Albert Arnold
George W. Reynolds George Cadwell
The building referred to above was later known as the
"big room" of the old school building, vacated in about 1892,
and in its last days was presided over by A. W. Ryan, M. E.
Barnes, and P. C. Hankins, as principals. For about the last
twenty-seven years, school has been held in a four-room frame
school house on the north side of the village. Lately, the Vic-
toria school has become a consolidated district school, merg-
ing the "West School" and the "North School" with the old
Victoria district. The other district schools in the township
are: Union, Sixteen, Fairview, Cravens, Stump Valley, Cen-
ter Prairie, Salem and Etherley.
The Early Roads
The early roads of the Town and community were very
often utterly impassable. The prairies were full of bog holes.
Tiling and ditching and building bridges have combined to
make the town very different with respect to the roads and
now hard roads are being advocated. When the Albro and
Spaulding houses were moved from Centei^alle, it was neces-
sary to leave them on the open prairie until the roads dried up
in the spring. Even the road from the village to the nearby
cemetery was impassable for weeks at a time, almost within a
stone's throw from the houses of Joseph Freed and John I.
Knapp. Almost everything was regulated by the condition of
the roads, in those early days. A map of the roads of Knox
county as they were in 1841 (back part Vol. 3, Commrs. Rec.)
shows important roads coming together at Centerville and
many at Shurtliff's Victoria, but only one or two passing
through the present Victoria. The roads ran at all angles,
much as the crow flies, and the map referred to looks like a
number of spider webs all connected with each other. An im-
portant State Road ran from Enterprise in La Salle county
to Knoxville and was the regular road to Chicago, over which
the produce was sometimes taken by the Victoria farmers to
Chicago itself. This road missed the present Village of Vic-
toria nearly two miles to the northeast. Another important
State Road was the one from Peoria to Rock Island and to
Hennepin, by way of Andover ; this road ran through Shurt-
liff's Victoria, but not through the present village. A part
of it still exists where the road runs on a slant from the Good-
speed to the Carlson farm. Still another important road was
the one from Henderson to Victoria and on to the east. This
passed through both the old and the new Victoria. When the
road from Burlington to Chicago was laid out to pass through
the present site of the village, it was the controlling feature
in the question as to where the Village should be and it was
moved to the west line of the town, much the same as the com-
ing of railroads later changed the location of other villages.
William Overlander, in March of 1838, was appointed super-
visor of roads in the Victoria vicinity. The records of the
county show that he was allowed the munificent sum of $10.00
for building a bridge over Walnut Creek near Centerville. At
page 160 of Vol. 2 of the County Commrs. Rec. is as follows:
"We, Pasons Aldredge and Barzilia Shurtliff, have
viewed, marked and located a road by blazing the trees in the
timber and sticking stakes on the prairie on the nearest and
best route commencing about 80 rods east of the southeast
comer, Sec. 31, in Tp. 5 N., R. 5 E., thence running west to
the H. McClanihan ford, thence to Victoria and thence to the
big mound west of Geo. F. Reynold's, where it intersects the
State Road, heading from Enterprise (in La Salle Co.) to
Knoxville, and we consider said road to be of public utility on
account of being the nearest and best route to Hennepin and
Chicago, . Dated, February 27, 1839." This report
was approved and the treasurer of the county was ordered to
pay each of the road viewers $1.25 for his services. Pasons
Aldredge and Coonrod Smith had much to do with the open-
ing of roads in the Town.
The early inhabitants of the Town of Victoria were more
than ordinarily religious. As soon as Old Salem school house
was built, it became the place of holding divine services. Rev.
Charles Bostic and others preached there and in the various
homes and a Methodist church was organized by them there
at Old Salem in 1836, and they afterwards built a frame
church in the Village of Victoria, just over the line in Copley,
in 1854. The first church building to be erected in the vil-
lage was built in 1851, by the Congregational Society which
had been organized April 30th, 1841. The meeting to or-
ganize was held at the home of George Foster. He and his
family, Columbia Dunn, and Henrietta Olmsted Gaines,
George F. Reynolds and wife, and others were the organizers.
The Rev. S. G. Wright was its first pastor and he was
followed by Rev. Daniel Todd, Rev. Wm. Beardsley, B. F. Ras-
kins and others. Among the many "supplies" who preached
there were Jonathan Blanchard, president of Knox College,
and Rev. Jenny, the father of the much esteemed church-
visitor of the Central Congregational Church of Galesburg.
A religious class for Swedish people was organized December
15th, 1846, in a log house in the Village, by Rev. Jonas J.
Hedstrom, and, in 1853, the Swedish people erected the second
church in the village, over in the Town of Copley. It is the
first Swedish Methodist Church in the world; the building is
still standing, and being used by the same society. The Cen-
ter Prairie Swedish Church is a branch of the above and
was built in 1869. The third church building was erected as
related above by the Methodists whose organization com-
menced at Old Salem in 1836. It was a two-story frame build-
ing, the upper room to be used for church purposes and the
lower room for school puiT)0ses. The building was constructed
by Sanford Tabor, as contractor. It was commenced in the
fall of 1854 and in September, 1855, it was dedicated. The
upper part was paid for by the Methodists and the lower part
by popular subscription. Some of the pastors the writer re-
calls were D. A. Falkenbury, "Uncle Billie" Smith, W. P.
Graves, U. J. Giddings, Jacob Mathews, J. D. Smith and many
others. The old church building was sold in 1909, and torn
down. A new brick building was erected in its place and dedi-
cated June 5th, 1910, the fourth church building to be built in
the village. Some years later a fine new parsonage was
Mail was delivered for a long time at the "Old Victoria
House" and Captain Allen and Isaiah Berry took care of the
mail in an unofficial sort of a way . But George F. Reynolds
was the first postmaster to be appointed by the government,
in about 1848. His successors in order, were Isaiah Berry,
E. A. Pease, Ephriam Russell, H. K. Olmsted, Lew Emery, Lee
Shannon, Samuel Jarvis, Cass Sornberger, Samuel Jarvis
(again), Ralph B. Woolsey, Arthur Van Buren, Grace Van
Buren and Miles Sloan, the present incumbent. After many
migrations the office is now located in a good brick building
constructed for the purpose by J. E. Welin. For many years,
mail came to Victoria, by the lumbering stage-coach on its
way from Chicago to Burlington. After the C. B. &. Q. R. R.
came through, a "hack" was driven from Victoria to Altona
and return every day, carrying the mail. Some of those who
drove this mail-hack were John I. Knapp, Henry Olmsted,
Seneca Mosher, Jacob McGrew, Joe Moore, John Mahnesmith,
and Aaron Olmsted. After the C. B. & Q. came, Centerville
was for the time a sub-station of Victoria. The postoffice
began to be of more importance in 1898 when rural service
was established at Victoria. The first rural service estab-
lished by the Department anywhere in the United States was
authorized as effective October 1st, 1896, at Charlestown,
Halltown and Uvilla, all in West Virginia. The first in Illi-
nois were three routes, established at Auburn on December
10th, 1896. The service at Victoria was established June 1st,
1898. The carriers, John Dale and Clark Herrold, have been
continuously in the service ever since the date of its inaugur-
ation at Victoria, and no complaints or charges of irregularity
have ever been made against them. In 1899, the Galesburg,
Etherley and Eastern R. R. was extended to Victoria and
this greatly facilitates the mail service, giving the office two
mails a day.
The Political Side
Politically, the people of the Town of Victoria have al-
ways taken an active interest in all elections from President
of the United States down to the lowest office. It was not or-
ganized as a political Town until 1850 and was not called the
Town of Victoria until about 1852. Until 1849, the county
was the smallest political unit and it was divided into such
voting precincts as the three County Commissioners chose to
make. The people of what is now the Town of Victoria voted
at first up on Walnut Creek in the "Fraker's Grove Precinct."
In Vol. 2 of the Commr's. Record at page 11, (Dec. Term,
1837), appears the following: "Coonrod Leek presented a
petition from sundry citizens of Fraker's Grove, praying for a
removal of the place of holding elections to the house of Caleb
B. Harley, living on the N. W. M Sec. 4, Tp. 12 N., R. 4 E.
Order that the election be hereafter held at the house of said
Harley, in said Fraker's Grove Precinct, until otherwise or-
dered by this Court." The two townships of Stark county in
which West Jersey and Lafayette are now situated were then
in Knox county and on page 27 of the above Record appears
the petition of sundry citizens of 12 N., 5 E, (West Jersey),
presented by Newton Mathews, a resident of that township,
asking for a road to be laid out from West Jersey to Vic-
toria. On page 55 of this Record, the "Fraker's Grove Pre-
cinct" was divided and the later Towns of Copley, Victoria,
West Jersey and the south tier of sections of the next town-
ship north were constituted a Justices and Constables Dis-
trict, by the name of the "Walnut Creek District." (March
Term, 1838). It was also "ordered that Henry McClanihan,
Silas Locke and Barzel Shurtliff be and they are hereby ap-
pointed Judges of Election for Walnut Creek District" page
58). About this time the voting place was changed to the
"Old Victoria House," as related above. Peter Van Buren
was for many terms a Justice of the Peace. Silas Locke was
appointed, by the County Commissioners, as the first assessor
for what are now Copley, Walnut Grove, Victoria and Lynn.
Then came a new districting of the County and what is now
the Town of Victoria was grouped with Copley and that part
of Truro north of Spoon River as related above, and called
the "Victoria District." When the State Legislature passed
the law adopting "Township Organization," George C. Lan-
phere became the County Judge in place of the Commission-
er's Court composed formerly of the three County Commis-
sioners, and a Supervisor was to be elected from each Town
to do the work formerly done by the three commissioners. At
the December Term in 1849, Judge Lanphere appointed a
committee of three, of whom John Arnold of Victoria was
one, to divide the County into Towns. The committee de-
cided to let each congressional township be a political Town
and issued a call for an election of all the voters in each town-
ship to determine the name of its Town. Township 12 north
range 4 (Victoria) chose the name of Worcester, but in a
couple of years it adopted the more suitable name of Victoria.
The first Town meeting chose George F. Reynolds as Moder-
ator and M. D. Minard as temporary clerk. The election re-
sulted as follows :
John L. Jarnagin — Supervisor.
J. F.' Hubble— Town Clerk.
M. D. Minard — Assessor.
Charles Shurtliff— Collector.
John Smith, Moses Robinson — Justices of the Peace.
A. B. Codding, Peter Van Buren, Joe W. Moshier — Com-
missioners of Highways.
Alex Sornberger, Seneca Mashier — Overseers of Poor.
From the date of this first election the records of the
Town are readily available in the hands of the Town Clerk and
the County Clerk, to show what has transpired politically
since the Town of Victoria was first constituted. Its Super-
visors, in order, are:
J. L. Jarnagin C. P. Sansbury
M. C. Hubell Alex Ingles
J. L. Jarnagin C. P. Sansbury
Thomas Whiting C. S. Clark
Samuel Coleman John McCrea
J. H. Copley Charles Sayre
Wash Lynes W. B. Elliott
Henry Vaughn Jesse Mcllravy
M. B. Ogden Will Sandquist
Henry Vaughn Frank Peterson
The Town of Victoria has, especially on Center Prairie
and near the Village, some of the most fertile farm lands in
the county or anywhere. Most of the land is underlaid with
coal. Some of the unimproved land is worth as high as $300
per acre and some moderately improved land has sold as high
as $375 per acre, but most of the owners will not put any price
on their land. The railroad, now the Galesburg & Great East-
ern, runs from Wataga to Galesburg, and is owned by the peo-
ple who do not seem to require outside capital to finance their
institutions. There are many new brick buildings in the vill-
age and business is particularly good in all lines. The Town
is, and may well be, proud of its history and of the substan-
tial development of its people.
Respectfully submitted, this 1st day of June, 1919.
MARY FIFIELD WOOLSEY.
WALNUT GROVE TOWNSHIP
By Mrs. Fannie H. Sheahan
Walnut Grove Township is located in what is known as
the "Military Tract," a section of the state selected as bounty
land for soldiers, because of its fine soil and undulating surface.
It is well watered by Walnut Creek and its sixty-seven tribu-
taries and is a Spoon River auxiliary. It soil is unsurpassed in
fertility and fine farms with substantial buildings are to be
found everywhere within its borders.
The township derived its name from the extensive groves
of walnut timber which formerly grew near its center and on
the northwest quarter of section 26. These two groves include
all its timber with the exception of a small tract in its southern
end. An attempt was made toward the settlement of the town-
ship as early as the spring of 1832 by Messrs. Jones and De-
Hart who made claims and built a cabin on Section 21 but
became alarmed at the hostility of the Indians and left at
the time of the Black Hawk War and never returned. They
had pushed away out on the frontier and become accustomed
to roughing it. DeHart, nevertheless was greatly frightened
one day when no danger was near. They had broken ten acres
of prairie land in Walnut Grove Township on what was after-
ward the farm of Amos Ward. While DeHart was plowing
with a yoke of oxen, an old Indian squaw came out of the
woods and waved a red blanket. This, he surmised, was a
signal for him to move quickly for his life. Accordingly, he
started immediately leaving his oxen in the furrow. On hear-
ing it was only a scare, he returned the following day for his
team and effects ; but left the country and never returned.
Several times during the Black Hawk War the settlers fled
to the forts. The ruins of their cabin was still standing in
In 1836, John Thompson, the first permanent settler,
moved here from Pennsylvania with his wife Catherine, and
settled on Section 16. Mr. Thompson planted the first crop, a
field of sod corn, in 1837, fencing it in with the first rails
split in the township. The only near neighbors, the Thomp-
sons had were a band of some thirty Indians who camped
for a short time near Mr. Thompson's residence which was
located where the Kufus Grade School now stands. The near-
est white neighbors were at Fraker's Grove, eleven miles dis-
tant. Mr. Thompson and Mr. Capps, two of the first settlers
had been soldiers of the war of 1812 and the father of Mr. Allen
one of the pioneers of the township, served in the Revolution-
Elder M. Smith of the Mormon church built the first frame
house in 1840 on section 15 on what was originally called the
Snow and afterward the Wisegar\^er farm. In 1842 several
hundred of the Mormons had located here and designed build-
ing a temple on Section 15, but before carrying out their plans
Joseph Smith, the leader, had a new revelation (caused by the
hostility of the settlers) commanding them to leave here and
go to Nauvoo, Hancock county, which they promptly obeyed at
great personal sacrifice to many of them. As they had entered
and possessed themselves of nearly all the timber land and
designed building up a community of their own faith, the other
settlers were not sorry to see them depart. The only trace
they left is a row of giant cottonwood trees which they planted
and which still stand in the center of the road east of the village
The first boy born in the township was John Thompson,
Jr. The first girl, Helen Maria Ward, was born February 3,
1839. She was the daughter of Amos and Maria Ward and
married A. P. Stephens, died in Russell, Kansas, Januaiy 3,
1912, and was brought here for burial. After Mr. John Thomp-
son came other early settlers, Levi Stephens, Abram Piatt,
Simeon L. Collinson, Amos Ward. Mr. Ward is said to have
made the first wagon tracks between Altona and Victoria in
1838. In 1839 he was elected the first Justice of the Peace.
The first couple married were Austin Frederick and Elizabeth
Finney. The first death was that of Mrs. Hinsdale, a sister
of Amos Ward, who died in August, 1838, at the residence of
Abram Piatt, on Section 15, where she was also buried. In
1844 John W. Clarke was appointed the first postmaster,
succeeded in 1845 by S. Ellis and he by Amos Ward in 1846 who
then held the office for a long term of years when it was much
more troublesome than remunerative. A little drawer in a
bookcase served as a deposit for all the mail for ten years.
The first school-house was built on the southwest quarter
of Section 16 in 1840 and Miss Robey Tabor, a Quakeress from
Massachusetts was the first teacher. She married afterward,
moved to Henry county and died in 1896. Another early
teacher was Eugene L. Gross who afterward distinguished him-
self in the legislative halls of the state at Springfield. His
school was taught in a small log building, 16x16, built about the
year 1841. In 1899 there were eleven schools in the township,
costing ten thousand dollars. Elder Samuel Shaw organized
the first church (after the Mormons). It was known as the
Baptist church and had eight members with a place of wor-
ship on Walnut Creek. The first township officers elected
April 5, 1853, were Amos Ward, Supervisor ; A. F. Ward, Clerk ;
H. L. Sage, Assessor; Jas. Livingstone, Collector; H. L. Collin-
son, Daniel Allen and C. Capps, Highway Commissioners ; Reu-
ben Cochran, Overseer of the Poor; Amos Ward and David
Livingstone, Justices of the Peace. The population of Walnut
Grove in 1860 was 1,120 ; 1870 was 1,960 ; 1880 was 1,781 ; 1890
was 1,350; 1900 was 1,280.
The old settlers endured many hardships and the present
generation would be very uncomfortable if they had to live in
the old log houses with their fireplaces, very few of which re-
main. One was standing a few years ago on the H, K. Whit-
ing farm now owned by Mrs. Amenoff. The names and deeds
of the old settlers who endured hardship and trials in a new
and wild country to lay the foundation for future greatness and
make a more beautiful and cultivated country and their memor-
ies should be peipetuated and handed down to posterity so that
future generations should know and appreciate those who be-
gan the work of settling and changing a wild unsettled country
as Knox once was to what it is now. Without a road or guide
the pioneers roamed the prairies and timber with their slow
but faithful oxen. At this time there was but one traveled road
in the county running from Peoria to Galena, through Victoria
and Walnut Grove Townships, known as the Galena Trail.
Streams were forded, hogs butchered and frozen, then taken
to Rock Island or Peoria, some taking their grain and hogs to
Chicago, Jonathan Gibbs in 1842 receiving 47c a bushel for
his wheat, one party received 15c a bushel for wheat and were
1114 days making the trip. They received $19.50 for the wheat,
bought three barrels of salt at $1.50 a barrel, the price at home
being $3.00. In the winter of 1841 Judge Hanneman drove
1,300 head of hogs from Knoxville to Chicago for which he
had paid $2 a hundred pounds net. He had them slaughtered
and packed in Chicago and shipped to New York and Boston.
In this transaction he lost $5,000. He hired sixteen boys to
drive them, the trip consuming sixteen days. At that time
Chicago was a small town situated in the middle of miry
In 1842 Jonathan Gibbs went to Peoria to sell his pork, the
highest offer was ly^c per pound for dressed hogs, SV^c cash
or 4c in trade for green hams and lard. Over a fireplace in
Mr. Gibbs' cabin sixteen barrels of lard were tried out that
fall. Such a stupendous job of work would scarcely be under-
taken by any family at the present time. Money was an article
little known and seldom seen among the early settlers, nearly
all business was transacted by trading or barter. Taxes and
postage required cash and often letters remained a long time in
the postoffice for want of twenty-five cents. The mail was
carried every week by a lone horseman with a mail bag or if
the village was on a stage route the old stage coach would make
its appearance about once a week with the mail. One or two
letters a month was considered a large mail nor did three
cents pay the postage. It took twenty-five cents which some-
times took five or six weeks to earn, fifty dollars being consid-
ered ample compensation for one year's labor. The amount
of taxes on $1,100 worth of property in 1836 was $1,371/2-
Bee hunting was one of the early pastimes of the settlers
the strained honey was sent in barrels to St. Louis and the
price 37V2C a gallon. The first crops of the settlers, however
abundant, gave only partial relief, there being no mills to gi'ind
the grain. Hence the necessity of grinding by hand power or
grating. A grater was made from a piece of tin sometimes
taken from an old worn out tin bucket. This was thickly per-
forated with nail holes bent into a semi-circular form and
nailed, rough side up, to a board. The corn was taken in the
ear and grated before it was quite dry and hard.
The first year after Mr. Amos Ward arrived in the county,
he took a bag of corn on his horse and went to Andover Mills.
On arriving there he found they had stopped running during
the dry weather. He returned home and the following day
went to Centerville. There the miller was grinding a little
when he could so he left his grist and in a few days returned
for it, but it was not ground, so he went home and finally
traveled one hundred miles back and forth before he got his
bag of corn ;in the meantime grating corn on the primitive
grater described and making the meal thus obtained into batter
cakes, Johnny cakes, corn dodgers, and pone, which was a
common diet at that time,
A. W. Miller came to the county in a pioneer wagon,
(prairie schooner). It was all made of wood, there being no
iron about it. The wheels were about ten inches thick and two
and a half feet in diameter. The wagon was quite low. These
wheels were sawed from the end of a log and were solid. A
plank was pinned on the side to prevent season cracking. The
axles were about six inches square rounded at the ends for a
six mch hole in the wheel. Four or five oxen were hitched
to a wagon and it was slowly dragged over the prairie. When
in use it would be heard for miles squeaking even when well
greased with soft soap. One load of wood such as this wagon
was capable of hauling would last a family all summer.
Spinning wool and flax by means of the spinning wheel
was one of the common household duties. The loom was also
necessary. A common article woven on the loom was linsey
woolsey, the chain being linen and the filling woolen. This
cloth was used for dresses for the girls and their mothers.
Nearly all the clothes worn by the men were homespun. The
cooking was done in large kettles hung over the fire suspended
on trammels which were held by strong poles. A long handled
frying pan was used for meat which was furnished in abund-
ance. Wild game, quail, prairie chicken, and turkey, deer and
bear meat, were plentiful, pork and poultry were soon raised in
abundance. The pleasures of the early settlers took the form
of amusements such as the "quilting bee," "corn husking,"
"apple paring," and in timbered sections "log rolling," and
"house raising," and they would come for miles around to en-
joy these gatherings. Wolf hunts were enjoyed by the men.
The census of 1870 gives the population of the township
1,962; voters, 375. Number of farms, 170; dwellings, 393;
horses, 1,042; mules, 29; sheep, 458; hogs, 2,405; bushels of
wheat, 17,607; rye, 3,300; corn, 210,220; oats, 66,733.
Census of 1910 — Population, 1,209. Township officers,
1918, are: Supervisor, J. A. Johnson; Town Clerk, S. H. John-
son; Assessor, N. H. Nelson; Collector, G. N. Larson; Commis-
sioner of Highways, C. L. Youngdahl ; Justice of the Peace (re-
signed) ; Constable, O. W. Peterson; School Trustees, J. P.
Walgren, Alfred Nelson, W. C. Stuckey ; Library Board, C. C.
Sawyer; Clerk, A. C. Keener.
Coming from the west, the traveler sees a picturesque lit-
tle village, its streets embowered in trees, crowning a slight
elevation in an otherwise level tract of farming land. This
town, Altona, is situated on the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy
railroad about sixteen miles east of Galesburg. Around it lies
as rich a farming country as can be found in Illinois, and the
village itself is one of the most prosperous in the county, hav-
ing electric lights, cement wailks, a public library, bank, and
all modern improvements.
Altona was laid out and platted in 1854 by John Piatt for
the heirs of John Thompson. Later E. B. Main and Daniel Al-
len laid out an addition, just northeast of the first location.
The place was then called La Pier. While the Central Military
Tract, now the C, B. & Q. R. R. was being built in 1853 many
laborers employed on the road came and camped in the edge
of the wood, near the railroad line. To supply their wants,
Cyrus Willard and J. S. Chambers built a store, 18x36 feet in
size near the center of Section 16 on the northeast quarter
of that section of land then owned by Daniel Allen. This was
the first store building erected in Altona, and was the pride
of the community, as it was the only store between Galesburg
and Kewanee. Samuel P. Whiting built the second store, Niles
& Gay later. In 1854 Mr. Erickson, of Moline, built a flouring
mill. The mill continued in successful operation for ten years,
Nels P. Peterson and Thos. Taylor operated it later. Ambrose
Foster had a broom factory. There were several wagon makers,
Darius Pierce operated a cooperage, later Mr. Tornquist had
a carriage factory. None of them employed much extra help.
In 1855 an elevator was built. Cline's elevator and Tamblyn's
were burned. The farmers now own an elevator on the site of
the Tamblyn elevator.
The first hotel was built back of Willard & Chambers
store (which was located where E. F. Swanson's store now
stands) was operated by a Mr. Hahn and later burned down,
never rebuilt. The Walnut Grove Hotel was built in 1854,
operated by Needham Rogers, Matthew Wiley and Mrs. Acker-
man in turn, is now demolished and a nice modern residence
built on the site by W. C. Stuckey whose father, S. S. Stuckey
came here in 1854 and built the first house in the northeast
part of the township. The Altona House, facing the depot, was
constructed by Mrs. McKie, H. G. 0. Wales, J. A. Negus, J. B.
McCalmont and Mr. Hopkins were successive proprietors. The
Brown Hotel was built later by B. H. Brown and operated by
him, later by G. F. Edwards, Robert Wilson and Mr. Hopkins,
is now a private residence occupied by S. M. Whiting, whose
father built the second store building in town. He was later
editor of the Altona Journal from 1877 to 1884, succeeded by
0. B. Kail. The Altona Record was first published March 1,
1888, by C. F. McDonough. Later editors were Sam W. West,
Arthur Austin and F. C. Krans, its present proprietor, who is
also mayor of the town.
The village of Altona was incorporated under special char-
ter in 1856 under the general law in 1862 and again in 1874.
Altona has always been noted for the excellence of its
schools. There has been a good graded school here since 1858.
The first school election was held October 9, 1858, at which
M. B. Waldo, E. B. Main and Jas. T. Bliss were elected directors,
and a graded school established with a primary, intermediate,
and grammer ccourse. The grammar course as follows : Prac-
tical and intellectual arithmetic, geography and map drawing
continued, Sander's New Fifth Reader, Analysis of words ; 2.
Single entry bookkeeping, U. S. History, English Grammar,
Analysis and Punctuation, Elocution and Composition; 3,
Harkness first and second Latin book, Caesar, Cicero and Vir-
gil, First Greek Book, Xenophon's Anabasis, Higher Arithme-
tic, Algebra, Geometry, Surveying, Rhetoric, Natural Philoso-
phy, How Plants Grow, Political Economy and History. The
first principal, Wm. A. Jones, a Yale graduate, received $600 a
year ; Nancy Johnson, Intermediate, $240 ; Miss Marsden, Pri-
mary, $4.50 a week. A new school building and location was
voted for at an election held May 2, 1863, at which thirteen
votes were cast, O. T. Johnson receiving ten for director.
August 15, 1864, it was voted to sell the old building and site
for $1,500. An additional $1,500 was borrowed of Geo. W.
Ransom for building purposes. Matthew Wiley was the con-
tractor and the High School building was completed in 1864.
The new Kufus Grade School was erected in its place and occu-
pied for school purposes September, 1917, Mrs. Mary I. Riner
Kufus donating $8,000 toward its erection. It was completed
and dedicated August 28, 1918, Rev. Brink, M. E. minister; S. J.
S. Moore, Presbyterian minister; A. R. Keeler, Mayor of Al-
tona; Hon. Francis G. Blair, State Superintendent of Public
Instruction; Walter F. Boyes, County Superintendent of
Schools; W. L. Steele, Galesburg, City Superintendent of
Schools, and Mrs. Thos. Sheahan, (a former teacher and grad-
uate of the old school and daughter of Wm. Hillerby, an old
settler,) being on the program. A short time before, in 1916,
the Walnut Grove Township High School in the north part of
town had been dedicated with appropriate ceremonies. Judge
J. D. Welch, Co. Supt. Boyes of Galesburg and State Supt. of
Public Instruction Francis G. Blair were speakers on the pro-
gram. Mr. and Mrs. J. M. McKie donated a fine new piano for
the use of the school and handsomely furnished a rest room for
The Ransom Public Library was erected and dedicated
March 28, 1890. Hon. E. A. Bancroft of Galesburg and Dr.
G. S. Chalmers were speakers. Geo. W. Ransom left his entire
estate, some $8,000, (with the exception of a bequest to the
Masons and Walnut Grove cemetery), to establish a Public
LibraiT in the town, if the township would built a suitable
The Methodist Episcopal church was organized in August,
1853, with a membership of thirteen, under charge of Rev.
Jas. Quimby. In 1857 a church was erected and later a par-
sonage, the two costing $5,000. The church has been remod-
eled and rededicated twice. Rev. Brink is the present pastor,
members 128. The Congregational church was founded Feb.
21, 1857, with nine members under charge of Rev. A. Root. A
church costing $4,000 was dedicated November 9, 1866. The
present members worship with the Presbyterians, Geo. A.
Ward, clerk. Rev. I. N. Candee, D. D., T. S. Vaill and J. T. Bliss
organized the Presbyterian church (O. S.) April 25, 1857,
there being twenty-one members. The old building was re-
modeled and burned, a new brick structure was erected and
dedicated December 2, 1917, members, 133. The formation of
the Lutheran church took place in 1869, the congregation erect-
ed a church building costing $4,000 and later a parsonage. The
first pastor was Rev. Philip Direll. The denomination has
steadily grown in numbers, membership at present about 350.
The Swedish Baptist Mission was opened in 1876 by J. W.
Stromberg but only holds occasional services being without a
The first bank in the village was an outgrowth of the gen-
eral mercantile business of A, P. Johnson & Co., which was
startedin 1854. Until 1890 when Mr. Johnson left the place
his was the only bank in Altona. Then the Bank of Altona in-
corporated under the State Banking Law was organized with
A. M. Craig, President; C. S. Clarke, Vice President; Geo.
Craig, Cashier; J. M. McKie, Assistant Cashier. In January,
1896, J. M. McKie was elected to the position made vacant by
Geo. Craig's death. The present officers are J. M. McKie,
President ; C. C. Craig, Vice President ; G. N. Larson, Cashier,
and C. E. Eckstedt, Assistant Cashier. The capital stock is
$50,000 and surplus $100,000.
Among the societies can be mentioned the Masonic, the
L 0. 0. F., Maccabees, Modern Woodmen of America, Eastern
Stars, Rebekahs, Royal Neighbors, Altona-Oneida Branch of
the Free Kindergarten and Red Cross. The Masonic Lodge
was organized October 1, 1860, and now owns its own Masonic
Hall, a gift being left toward its purchase by Geo. W. Ransom.
The first officers were Hiram Hall, W. M. ; A. P. Stephens, S.
W. ; G. D. Slanker, J. W.; J. N. Bush, Sec; J. S. Chambers,
Treas. ; B. H. Scott, S. D. ; Geo. McKown, J. D. ; S. Lawrence,
T. An order of Eastern Stars was organized in 1892 with
forty-six members. In the 60's a lodge of Good Templars or
W. C. T. U. was organized and during its career the members
demolished a saloon which stood where the garage is now
located. I. O. 0. F., No. 511, was organized Oct. 14, 1873,
charter members, Matthew Wiley, P. G. ; John A. Stuckey,
Edward Nelson, Richard J. Burneson, Harry E. Wheeler, Jas.
A. Griffith, G. A. Hall. M. W. A. Camp, 3737, organized April
3, 1896, charter members, Alfred Anderson, Carl Elion, Nels
H. Nelson, Harry Austin, W. B. Elliott, E. W. Norene, August
Bowman, P. Englund, F. Parker, G. L. Brown, G. Harling, 0.
W. Peterson, H. S. Brown, G. Johnson, R. C. Sellon, Thos. Shea-
han, S. B. Brown, Frank Krans, A. Swanson, S. L. Collinson,
Wm. Lady, W. H. Van Scoyk, J. H. Cummings, Nels Lundahl,
H. L. Weaver, Wm. Doak, and Alf Nelson. K. O. T. M. organ-
ized August 14, 1894, charter members G. C. Ecklev, C. W.
Miller, Arthur Shade, C. Gates, A. C. Peterson, G. W. Pierce,
Reuben Cox, C. A. Clifford, J. S. Swanson, C. A. Ackerman,
Ben Davenport, W. B. Gray.
Of the old settlers verj^ few are left (none of 1850) . B. H.
Scott, A. J. Anderson, Mrs. L. B. Cummings, Mrs. R. C. Stuc-
key still reside here. D. Pierce, Knoxville; Mrs. Helen Lind-
wall, California; Ed Wales, Colorado, and Mrs. Tamblyn, Ne-
braska are some of the pioneers still living.
Fires and Floods
Disastrous fires have occurred at various times. B. H.
Scott's store and the buildings south of it having been de-
stroyed by fire three different times. January 2, 1899, the
main street was completely wiped out but was replaced the
next year by the substantial brick buildings which are now
there, two of which were erected by Judge A. M. Craig and
two by John McMaster. In 1900 the electric light plant and
Tornquist carriage factory was burned, electric light plant
Several floods have caused Walnut Creek to go on a ram-
page. One, June 25, 1898, resulted in the death of J. F. Hub-
bell, and washed out the large railroad bridge and arches west
of town, causing erection of a new iron road bridge and a sum-
mer's work by the C. B. & Q. R. R. when new foundations were
sunk deeper to hold the large new arches. Last year the rail-
road built a large reservoir at their pumphouse east of town,
800 feet long, 150 feet wide and 15 feet deep. This reservoir
was completed July, 1918, after eight month's work. A fine
place for a factory location. August, 1907, a disastrous hail-
storm destroyed the crops in the township, a strip six miles
wide and fifty long being devastated. The year 1859 is noted as
having a frost eveiy month in the year, was also very wet.
The winter of the deep snow was 1830. Cold winds, dark
skies, and gusty winds made the days preceding Christmas of
1830 dismal, streams were swollen and snow fell in big wet
flakes, later the weather grew bitterly cold and a wind of
huiTicane force whipped snow hard as sand into the faces of
men and beast and piled it in drifts many feet deep covering
all fences and cabins. Scores of men perished on the prairies
and many of the bodies were not found until spring had melted
away the snow. For sixty days there was no sun. Snow four
feeet deep on the level, lasted until late in spring. In 1891
there was a great deal of snow and roads could not be used
until shoveled as they filled up with every fresh storai. Snow
still remained in fence corners in June. 1917 was another
snowy year with bitter cold weather, drifts eighteen feet deep
in the railroad cuts, trains stalled from Friday until Sunday,
January 17, 1918, between Galva and Kewanee. Each new
snowstorm filled the roads from fence to fence, making roads
impassable even at this late day ; so the days passed shoveling
coal and snow but no such hardships as the pioneers endured
in that winter of 1830 when the domestic and wild animals
and game perished by the thousand, and the settlers them-
selves by the score.
The population of Altona in 1870 was 902 ; 1880, 806 ; 1890,
654; 1900, 633, and 1910, 528.
The following map, prepared by Eva Chapin Maple, of Maquon,
shows the old Indian Trails of this county :
>« .. ~
In the foregoing township annals, there is frequent refer-
ence to the Indians. The following citations are here used
to throw further light on the tribes that once lived in this
county and their methods of gaining a livelihood:
According to Major Thomas McKee, a pioneer resident
of the county: "The Indians most frequently seen in this lo-
cality were Foxes, Sacs, Kickapoos and Pottawatomies. They
were alike in many particulars. The Kickapoos and Foxes
were often in the vicinity of Henderson Grove, which was a
favorite sugar camp. They were as kind a people as you ever
saw. They were considerate. For instance if you were in
a wigwam talking, the rest would keep respectful attention.
They did not interrupt you. They made their children act
with deference in the presence of strangers. They did not
hunt perhaps as extensively as some other tribes. They
lived on corn and beans, on berries and other fruits gathered
in the woods, while a favorite dish was the wild potato or
penyon, as it was called. This they found in the bottom lands.
It was formerly quite abundant but of late I have not noted it.
They speared and caught fish and now and then secured a
deer. The squaws did the work and it was not until they
were aroused by injustice and unkindness that they became
cruel and warlike. The Pottawatomies retained their identity
better than the others.
"The language of these Illinois Indians was simple, con-
sisting of but few words, made plain by the most significant
of gestures. Their names were long and full of vowels. The
following are some of the words used by the Pottawatomies:
Horse Nan-ka-toka-shaw Cow Na-noose
Dog _ Co-co-sh Hog Ne-moose
Gun Pos-ka-soogan Tomahawk Quimesockin
Knife Co-mone Water Bish
Fire Sco-ti Whiskey Sco-ti-o-pe
Drink Tela-ma-cool Food Wau-a-net
Mean Mean-net White men Che-mo-ko-man
The future Mon-a-to Small Pe-tete
Baby Pap-poose Potato Pen-yon
Nothing left Cho-ca-co You are a liar Kiwa-lis-ki
Pumpkin Wam-pa-cum Beans Ko-Kees
Corn Ta-min Melons Esh-kos-si-min
Major McKee was one of those who organized a company
and served at the time of the Black Hawk War.
Eva Chapin Maple, of Maquon, gives in Perry's County
History a map of the Indian trails of the county.
About Their Villages
The following facts are gleaned from a paper read before
the Knox County Historical Society several years ago:
As to the Indian inhabitants of Knox county probably the
largest Indian village in the county was on the Spoon river
bottom, near the site of the present village of Maquon. At
different times this village numbered several lodges and possi-
bly several hundred inhabitants. They raised corn on the
second bottom and for many years after they were driven
from this country they returned at intervals to plant and raise
their crops. It was also the custom to place the bodies of
their dead in the forks and tops of trees, but after the advent
of the white people they commenced burying them in the
ground. Another village was at the mouth of Court Creek on
Spoon River near the present village of Dahinda. Mr. Morgan
Reece, who came there in the 30's, relates that the lodge poles
of the abandoned village were still standing when he came
there and a few families of Indians lived in that vicinity on
Sugar Creek for many years afterwards. The latest family to
live in that section had their wigwams on the northeast quar-
ter of Section 14 of Persifer township on land now owned by
Mr. William Sargent.
Another Old Village
Another old village was situated just southeast of the
present village of Henderson and another in Lynn township
at what was called Fraker's Grove. Persifer township is es-
pecially rich in Indian lore and traditions. For many years
the inhabitants of that township have dug in various places
for treasure that is supposed to have been buried somewhere
in the township by the Indians. One legend is to the effect
that the Indians were paid a large sum of money for their land
and that they quarreled over the division of this money and
finally fought for it, until, like the fabled Kilkenny cats, there
was none left who knew where it had been hidden, but this
was improbable. Another story as related in Chapman's his-
tory of Knox County of 1878 was as follows: "A tribe of
Indians settled or located on Court Creek, Persifer township,
whose custom it was to make sugar from the maple trees.
They used brass kettles in which to boil the sap. It seems one
spring, after they had made considerable sugar, they were
compelled to leave. Among the Indians was a squaw and her
son called 'Bil." This woman had accumulated great wealth.
Not being able to cany all her money, she filled one of her
kettles with gold and silver and buried it on the bank of the
creek. She was afraid of the whites ; so after reaching her
destination in the West she sent her son back after her money.
Bill made extensive searches up and down the creek, but failed
to find it, and the treasure is supposed to be still buried some-
where on Court creek. On the Taylor farm, in 1841, a cellar
was being dug, when at a depth of about four feet three bars
of copper were found. These had been forged out by hand.
A well was sunk, when down about 22 feet the remains of a
camp-fire were found. Charcoal and rubbish were discovered
which plainly proved that at one time, within the life of man
here, that was the surface." An Indian Doctor visited that
vicinity a few years ago, claiming to be a descendant of Black
Hawk and pointed out many places to the inhabitants of Da-
hinda which had been described to him by his ancestors who
had formerly lived there and in such a way that those who
became acquainted with him were impressed with the truth
of his representations.
Claims Made for Village
Mr. Morgan Reece who collected a great many Indian
relics claims that the village at the mouth of Court Creek
was a village of the Sacs and Fox tribes, and that Black Hawk
who was of that tribe had visited that locality. Relics have
been found in that locality that were different from any
others found in this part of the state, but were similar to arti-
cles used by the Indians of the Southern states and on exhibit
at the St. Louis Exposition of 1904 and were possibly brought
to this locality after being captured in war or given as a pres-
ent by some Southern tribe. One relic was made from a black
hard stone. It was about 3 inches long and 2 inches wide and
nearly an inch thick at the broadest part, in shape like the
roof of a cabin with a hole through it lengthwise about where
the ridge pole would be. This was picked up on the banks
of Court Creek many years ago.
When Avery Dalton first came to the county, in 1830,
there was a Pottawatomie village at what is now Maquon and
near the present bridge across the Spoon River, they also had
a burying ground near Maquon and large settlements up
Spoon River. The Indian cemetery was just east of Spoon
River and about on the present right of way of the Burling-
ton railroad. Until 1832 there were more or less Indians in
what is known as Kickapoo Grove near Elmwood. All of the
Indians in that vicinity were of the Pottawatomie tribe. One
of their chiefs who resided at Kickapoo Grove was a very old
man at that time and was known as Captain Hill. He always
wore a large silver cross suspended from his neck by a buck-
skin thong; many of the Indians wore silver rings in their
noses and heavy ear-rings. They were friendly and great
beggars. They were in the habit of going to Shabbona Grove
in the spring to raise corn, returning in August and Septem-
ber. Mr. Dalton enlisted for the Black Hawk War shortly
after the battle of Stillman's Run and his company with
others formed a battalion of 200 mounted men who ranged
over Knox, Warren and Henderson counties to keep back the
Indians from the Rock River country. During the time they
were out the Indians got through the lines but once and on
that occasion murdered a settler in Henderson county. The
company had no fights with the Indians. Most of the mem-
bers of his company were from Fulton county.
Many Other Tales
David Dalton, a brother of Avery, was one of the first
settlers of Persifer township and in his day was also a hunter
and Indian fighter. There is one locality in the county which
should be mentioned and a thorough examination of all that
pertains to the earliest explorations of the state might throw
some light upon the relics that have been found there. On
the northeast quarter of Section 14, in Persifer township,
about two miles north and west from the mouth of Court
Creek where the latter empties into Spoon River, is a place
where in past years many evidences of a battle between large
numbers or of long duration have been found. The place is
on the bank of Sugar Creek, and within an area of a few
acres bullets have been plowed up and found lying on the
ground by handfuls. Some few of them were once in posses-
sion of farmers who reside in the neighborhood and they
were of the large, old-fashioned kind, such as were used in
the smooth-bore Queen Anne muskets of two centuries ago.
I had often heard of this so-called old battle field from
those who lived in that vicinity. What called my attention
to this particular locality was a map of the old French trails
first traversed in this State. In looking for information on
the subject of this articlest I had occasion to consult among
other books the very excellent book written by Mr. Randall
Parrish entitled "Historic Illinois." In this book is a map
of the old French and Indian trails and one of them leads from
the bend of the Illinois river where it forms the southwestern
boundary of Bureau county and about where the principal
town of the Illinois Indians was situated, almost in a straight
line to a point on the Mississippi opposite the mouth of the
Des Moines River. This trail entered Knox county at about
the north line of Truro township and traversed the county in
a southwesterly direction passing near the present city of
Abingdon and through what are now Truro, Persifer, Orange
and Cedar townships and crossed Sugar Creek according to
the map at the exact locality of this battle field on Section 14.
No other relics have been found as far as I have been in-
formed, but the large number of bullets would amply justify
the belief that a considerable battle was once waged at this
place. The absence of other evidences, however, is not sur-
Many other interesting facts about the Aborigines can be
found in the Eva Chapin Maple sketch in Perry's History of
Knox county; in the Major McKee interview and the Judge C.
C. Craig paper, on file in the Public Library in Galesburg ; and
in Chapman's History of Knox County. Valuable collections
of relics were made by Hon. Rufus Miles, Robert Mathews, Dr.
Bedford and others and many of these indicate a high degree
of skill and workmanship. They are mute evidence of the
existence here once of another people who had to give way to
the onward advance of a superior race.
OUT ON THE PRAIRIE
By. W. B. Elliott
During a week of September in 1919 the Swedish Metho-
dist church of Center Prairie of this county celebrated the
fiftieth anniversary of the dedication of its edifice. The cele-
bration was very well attended at each meeting and a fine
time was enjoyed by all. The former ministers who were
present during the services were Rev. Bendix ,of Chicago;
Rev. H. W. Willing, of Cleveland, Ohio; Rev. N. W. Bard, of
McKeesport, Pa. ; Rev. A. J. Strandell, of Donovan ; Mr. and
Mrs. John P. Miller, of Chicago.
One of the features was the following interesting histor-
ical address by W. B. Elliott.
When the first people came to Center Prairie, the land
was densely covered with prairie grass and blue stem which
grew in many places as high almost as a man's head when on
a horse. This had been going on for ages so that the soil
was covered and filled with vegetable matter and there were
no ditches and small water courses to carry off the water as
now and the land was very wet and untillable, there beinj;
many large ponds which are still remembered by people now
living. The result was that Center Prairie was not the first
part of Victoria township to be settled up. The first settlers
who came settled in the timber surrounding the prairie They
did this far many reasons. They had generally come from the
hilly regions of New England states and New York, Pennsyl-
vania and Ohio and had been used to timber as wind breaks.
In fact on the prairie where the sweep of the wind was un-
hindered with the buildings that they were able to put up in
those days, man and beast would surely have frozen to death.
The writer of this article in his youth had the experience when
sleeping in the loft of a log house of awakening in the morning
with a thick covering of snow upon the bed covers and which
had come in between the logs where the chinks had fallen out
and under the clapboards. They did not know they could
dig wells here in those days, and so the first settlers settled
near springs. Neither did they know that the land was un-
derlaid with coal and so they burned wood and had to be near
it, for the fire-places with which they used to heat their
homes and cook their simple food, took lots of fuel. All their
building material must be near at hand in growing timber.
It was the only material they had to fence with also.
The Prairie Fire
It was very dangerous to live on the prairie on account of
the frequent prairie fires. I very well remember hearing my
father tell how, when he was was a small boy, his father,
Thomas Elliott, tried to plow around the house and stable and
also burn the grass for a distance about the building which
was known as back firing. When he had seen a fire in the
distance he told how the onrush of the wall of flame was so
great that it made all his efforts unavailing and jumped to
the house and stable so that grandfather had difficulty in
saving even his family and beasts. Being burned out in those
days was no funny experience, with nothing to rebuild with
except growing trees, and with no neighbors for miles around
and winter coming on, for these terrible fires always came
near winter when the grass had died and was dry. On this
occasion my grandfather cut poles and built two pens, one in-
side the other while grandmother gathered leaves and filled
the space between them and in this they lived until they could
erect a log cabin.
Were Hardy Pioneers
The early settlers who thus settled in the timber around
Center Prairie and who later themselves or their descendants
helped to make Center Prairie what it is were hardy pioneers,
who came overland with their families in wagons from the
older states. I shall only attempt to enumerate a few.
Thomas Elliott first settled in Persifer township in 1837
where the writer's father. Burgess Elliott, was born. He
moved later to Victoria township near the present home of
James Cook and it was while he was living here that he under-
took and got out and delivered on the ground the long hewn
timbers for the Methodist church which was built in Victoria
in 1854. It was here he lived when he had a contract to de-
liver railroad ties between Altona and Galva for the C. B. and
Q. R. R.
The Wilburs settled just west of Delbert Patty's place in
the thirty's and a daughter, Phoebe, married Peter Sornber-
ger and they were the first couple married in Victoria town-
ship in 1838, on Easter Sunday.
Luther Rice settled in the timber about two miles south
from the Center Prairie church, about 1842, and was the pro-
genetor of a numerous family, among whom was Foster Rice,
who built a log house where Charley Larson now lives about
1857, and Cyrus Rice, who built the Robert Young house in
1857, where J. L. Huber now lives, which was another of the
first frame houses on Center Prairie. Alvin Rice still owns a
part of his grandfather's land. Perhaps the earliest settler on
Center Prairie proper was Thomas G. Stuart, who patented
the N. E. Quarter of Section 27 in 1838, which old patent the
writer recently saw at the Exchange Bank at Victoria.
Burned To Death
He died about 1845 and left his estate by will to his wife,
Catherine. In 1850 Catherine burned a brush pile near the
house to prepare ground to sow tobacco seed and the house
caught fire and Mrs. Stuart was burned until she died trying
to save money in the house and was buried just west of the
creek on the S. E. Quarter of the old homestead. She was the
mother of four boys : Tom, who kept the homestead ; married
Eliza Gladfelter, was crippled in the war, died at the old home
and was buried in Thomas' grave yard, now the Center Prairie
Cemetery. Elija, Peter, William and one girl, Katie, who
married Van Winkle and was the mother of Henry Van Win-
kle, who lived for many years north of Four Corners.
Perhaps the next settler in line who settled on Center
Prairie was Josiah Patty and Beka Patty his wife, who built
a log house on the southeast quarter of Section 27, where
Phillip Gibbs now lives, he having purchased the land from
Richard J. Barret in 1839. Mr. Gibbs still has the old patent.
Their children were James, William, Sarah, Nancy, Robert,
George and Josiah.
John Arnold, a blacksmith, first came in Knox County
and Victoria township in 1836, but did not buy the old Arnold
place where Gust Swanson now lives until 1840. He did black-
smithing there until 1853, when he moved to Victoria. John
Arnold and his wife had ten children. In fact in those days
the hardy pioneer family that did not consist of ten was
the exception and not the rule. Thomas Elliott and his wife
were the parents of fourteen children.
Perhaps the first family who settled on the flat prairie to
the north was that of Thomas Durand, for whom Jonas Hed-
strom, the tailor and preacher, made a wedding suit, who
owned the Conley place where Martin Gibbs afterwards set-
tled in 1850, and the two eighty-acre pieces that now belong to
Alex Ingles and Wm. England. This land he bought in 1841
and as there was no timber near he fenced the half section
with a sod fence, the remains of which may still be seen
after a lapse of nearly eighty years. He was the grandfather
of John McNaught and Mrs. Cornelius Stephenson of later
times. These were the N. W. Quarter Section 13 and the S. E.
Quarter Section 12.
Arrival of Swedes
From this time on settlers came in increasing numbers.
Especially about 1850 the Swedes began to arrive in large
numbers. Among the early settlers were J. L. Jarnagin, 1845;
Dalgren, 1846; Adolphus Anderson, 1847, and John Saline,
1854 . Then came in 1855 Peter Anderson, Lars Ostrom, John
Chalman, Sam Coleman; in 1857, Peter Skoglund, step-father
to Mrs. Catherine Larson, who is still with us, and Sievert
Larson, to be quickly followed by Noah Swickard, Lars John-
son, William Hammerlund, John P. Anderson, father of Frank
Anderson, who still lives on the old homestead, and who
shipped the first car load of frozen beef to Chicago and the
man who invented the refrigerator cars that make it possible
to ship fresh meat almost all over the world, as also Eli and
Shid Johnson, Theodore Hammond, Joseph Cain, James
Thomas, Jonas Olson and many others.
These were a hardy race who willingly bore the hardships
of a pioneer life and bravely withstood the rigorous winters
of the bleak and open prairies for the sake of founding their
new homes and establishing their families in a new country.
They early felt the need of education, as most of them had had
very limited opportunities for securing an education, so that
almost with their coming they set up log school houses, cov-
ered with clapboards and floored with puncheon, which was
poles split and the split side hewn and laid up as a floor.
There was a fireplace in one end of the room and seats around
the wall, made of slabs or split logs with four sticks in for
legs upon which the children sat with their feet dangling
from the floor as they studied the old Webster's spelling book,
before the time of the far-famed McGuffey's speller. It was
in such an institution of learning that Burgess Elliott, who
was born in Knox county in 1837, as well as others of that
time, secured the rudiments of an education. Not long after
the first settlers came here. Old Salem, which was started in
1836, became too crowded and the settlers were so far away
that they built a small square house on the corner near Tom
William Robinson, a cousin of John K. Robinson, was one
of the early teacher's here. This school house soon became
too small and it was proposed to build a new one and there
was great rivalry as to where it should be built, but as this
was near where Salem school now is, and most of the patrons
lived east on the prairie, it was finally determined to put it
where it now stands, and so the school house was built here
in 1856. The sawed lumber was hauled overland from Rock
Island and Peoria and the framing timber was got out by
John Saline and Charles Appell. John Saline did the the build-
ing of it. There was much discussion as to what it should be
called. Some wanted to call it Stuart's Prairie and others
Anderson's Prairie, but a compromise was made and it was
named Center Prairie and Center Prairie it still is. The first
teacher was one John Fleeharty, from Galesburg, who taught
in 1856. The next winter, John Van Buren, a brother of
George Van Buren, who still lives in Victoria, taught, and 'tis
said of him to this day that he was one of the best teachers
Center Prairie ever had. The next year, 1858, Miss Mary
Garrett, a daughter of old Captain Garrett, who later became
Mrs. Mcllravy, and still lives in Victoria, taught the school, as
she did for several terms thereafter. She, like all teachers of
that day, boarded at Thomas Elliott's, and with other families
who had children.
The Big Storm
She was staying a week at Moody Robinson's when they
had the big storm. May 14, 1858, about five o'clock in the af-
ternoon. It came from the north and blew Robinson's new
frame house off the foundation and lodged it against the well.
It lifted the roof off of Foster Rice's house and blew a log out
over the door so that Mrs. Rice had to put a blanket over
Foster, who was holding the door to keep him from drowning.
It blew the windows out of Peter Anderson's house; in fact,
the double log house of Thomas Elliott, made of the logs of
Old Salem school house, was the only one in all this region
that withstood the storm and all the neighbors stayed that
night at Thomas Elliott's as it was the only dry place in the
neighborhood. They lay about two deep all over the floor
and 'tis said that none who were old enough to remember
ever forgot that storm. Mrs. Robinson's geese were blown
away till she never found them. Wagons were picked up and
carried to the creek and washed away. Noah Swickard's new
frame house, where Alvira Johnson now lives, was blown
off the foundation, and at Rochester a house was blown in
the river and carried away. The young men of the neighbor-
hood went the next day to Walnut creek and swam around in
the tops of the trees among the limbs which were twenty or
thirty feet from the ground when the waters receded.
To these schools came the boys and girls that were to
make this wilderness a teeming land of plenty. Such men as
young Arnold, son of John Arnold, who afterwards became a
notable lawyer of Peoria, and Jonas Olson, the crippled orphan
boy who afterwards became Galva's most famous attorney
and member of the Illinois Legislature and above all a life-
long friend of all who knew him. 'Tis said that although he
had to walk two miles to school with a crutch, he was one of
the most happy pupils, as well as one of the most industrious.
It is handed down in school lore that he was a mischievous
boy and while studying the old M. C. Guffey's spelling book
one day he ran onto what he thought was a bad word and
spelled ut in a loud whisper so that the whole school could
hear, d-a-m dam, n-a na, t-i-o-n shun, damnation, and he still
asserts that what the teacher, Mary Garrett gave him, fitted
the word. At these school houses were held many famous ex-
hibitions, singing schools and spelling schools. Thomas Stu-
art who was said to be a very poor reader was the most fam-
ous speller of all this region, always standing up till all the
teachers even were spelled down.
Center of Patriotism
So it was at this school house that the patriots of '61 met
to encourage the boys to enlist in their country's cause. One
of the most famous songs and one that always aroused the
boys to the highest pitch of enthusiasm and which fitted the
great leader, Abraham Lincoln, was "We are Coming, Father
Abraham, Fifty Thousand Strong."
Center Prairie and the immediate neighborhood did not
lack any in patriotism, as evidenced by the list of boys who
wore the blue. Among them were August Carlson, Robert
Young, Tom Stuart, Oliver Willy, Bill Larson, George Elliott,
George Newberg, Adolphus Anderson, John P. Anderson,
Nehemiah Coleman, Aaron Bothwell, Sam Cain, Jimmy Topp,
Jonas Empstrom, Lee Shannon, Bill Thomas, Jonas Johnson,
John Case, James Alderman, John Labar, Noah Swickard,
James Jamigan, Spencer Jarnagin, John P. Peterson, Ward
Todd, Wm. Linday and Nat White. Of these famous sons of
Center Prairie and surrounding territory who fought in the
army blue, only three, George Newberg, August Carlton and
George Elliott are now living.
In the World War
A history of the patriotic activities would be incomplete
in this year of grace did it not include a list of the boys of
the World War who wore the khaki of the army and the blue
of the U. S. navy. The honor roll that stands out in front of
this church contains a list of men, who risked their lives that
democracy might live. They are :
Glen Ostrom, Raymond Wall, Arthur Swanson, Roy
Gibbs, Lew Gibbs, Charles Carlson, Sgt. Harold Elliott, Ray-
mond Elliott, Charles Warrensford, Forest Cain, Machinist's
Mate 2nd, Edward Elliott, Paul Mustain, Clem Cravens, Ralph
Mustain, George Todd, Ervin Moshier, Earnest Brown, Ber-
tas Mackey, Clarence Spencer, Fred Steinman, Robert Kneer,
The Religious Side
The early settlers were not satisfied to rest at mere phy-
sical and intellectual betterment, but above all they were relig-
ious. At first they met at the homes to hold worship and as
soon as school houses were built they took the place of
churches until churches could be built, so that when old Salem
school house was built they began to hold meetings there and
camp meetings in the grove, just north, and later the Swedish
people held camp meetings on the opposite side of the hollow
from the American. Then when the Center Prairie school
house was built they used it for a meeting house, both the
Swedes and the English speaking people. Louisa Anderson,
now Mrs. William Seward, tells me that she was baptized at
the school house. Many of the inhabitants of the prairie had
helped to build both Methodist churches in Victoria, but were
so far away and had only oxen to drive, that they early began
to feel the need of a church on Center Prairie and when Peter
Newberg and Exstrand started the movement to build a
church on Center Prairie they found willing hearts and hands
to help. "Exstrand was a very bright young man," says
Jonas Olson. "Perhaps I am partial to him because he was a
cripple like myself. He walked with a crutch." They were
ably assisted by the English people and Swedes alike, one of
the most earnest workers being Peter Skoglund. The land
where the church now stands was purchased by Adolphus
Anderson in 1855 and he broke it up. In 1857 he sold it to
Lars Johnson and he in turn sold it to Wm. Hammerlund in
For a consideration of fifty dollars, Hammerlund sold a
piece of land eight and one-half rods north and south and
seven rods east and west to the Swedish Methodist Episcopal
church of the United States to be for and under the control of
the Swedish Methodist church in Victoria township, Knox
county, Illinois. The money to build it was contributed by
popular subscription. Many volunteered to haul a load of
lumber back from Galva when they went up with grain and
produce. The mason work was done by Swenson from Knox-
ville and the carpenter work was done by Peterson Herdine,
who lived in Galva for so many years. But the building of
this church in 1869 was not without some opposition. Peter
Chalman, who had formerly been presiding elder of the Swed-
ish M. E. church of this district, assisted by John Wilson, a
cabinet maker, and full of gab, as Andrew Hartman expresses
it, and who came to be a real free shouting Methodist and who,
wearing no suspenders, in the heat of his discourse, is said to
have shed his raiment, organized about three quarters of a
mile south of the school house a Free Methodist church. The
money was raised by popular subscription, but not enough was
raised to pay the debt and so the trustees paid the debt and
tore down the church after some fifteen or twenty years. In
this church the English Sunday school was held for many
years. Thus Center Prairie has been supplied since a very
early day with ample church facilities and I hope that future
historians of the county will take cognizance of this fact in
writing the early church history of Knox county.
One of the things neglected here, as in all newly settled
districts, was the early setting apart of a plot of ground for
a public cemetery. The early settlers buried on their own
premises. The Tabors buried on what is now the John Saline
place, the Stuarts on the Stuart place, the Arnolds on the
Arnold place, the Cliffords on the Dr. Craven's place where
old "Bobby" Armstrong's first wife, who was a Clifford, is
buried. It was not until about 1858 that the family of Jim
Thomas who owned the farm where the Center Prairie ceme-
tery is located, lost several children with diphtheria and buried
them there and when he sold the place to Olof Bowman he re-
served the present plot for a burial ground and later, at the
suggestion of William Messmore, deeded it to Knox county for
a public cemetery. Center Prairie owes a debt of gratitude
to John Thomas for this generous gift and can best repay it
by seeing that it is always properly kept up. The present neat
appearance is due largely to the good work of William Eng-
land, Charley Larson and Victor Larson, who were selected
by their neighbors to solicit funds and have it taken care of.
As To Utensils
The early settlers had very few of the comforts of life as
we view them now. There were few simple cooking utensils.
The writer has an old kettle that his grandmother has baked
many a corn pone in by placing coals under the kettle on
the hearth of the fire place and putting coals on top. All the
clothes were made of wool or flax raised in the neighborhood
and spun and woven into cloth. Much of the caiTDet woven
in this locality by Aunt Margaret Larson, Adolphus Ander-
son's first wife, was made on the old loom of Mrs. Thomas
Elliott, that she used to weave the woolen and Lindsey-Wool-
sey out of which she made the clothes and blankets to keep her
family warm. It is only within the last few years that this
loom has been destroyed.
Practically all this whole prairie was broken up with
oxen. Burgess Elliott, Lars Ostrom, Martin England and
Adolphus Anderson did much of this work. For this work
they used a 28 or 32 inch breaking plow drawn by from four
to six yoke of oxen. Some of the back furrows can still be
see on the Martin England farm where Mr. England now lives.
At first the ground was very wet but within a few years
a ditching machine which pressed a round hole about three
feet under the ground and about the size of a six inch tile was
used. This took the place of tile which came later and did
very well in an early day, but the hole was gradually enlarged
by the water until the top caved in and started large ditches.
Well does the writer remember when his folks moved south of
the school house, of crawHng, as a boy, for rods in these blind
ditches as they were called. As people in the present day go
to tractor demonstrations, so in those days would the people
come long distances to see new and improved machinery.
The sickle and scythe were not much used here to cut
grain, but the cradle was although it was soon succeeded by
the McCormick reaper on which one man sat and drove and
another stood and raked the grain off in sheaves for the bind-
ers to gather up and bind. The first self-raking reaper used
here was owned by Adolphus Anderson and his nephew, Frank
Anderson, tells of its first use. It was used a quarter of a
mile north of where the church now is about 1857 to cut
wheat. They used oxen on the tongue and horses in the lead.
Frank says he rode the horses. Among the men binding were
J. K. Robinson and Manford Mosher. Frank says thev had
molasses, ginger and water in a pail and a long black bottle.
Charles Clark and many others came to see the new reaper
work. Robinson says Frank carried the water and bottle and
took toll for carrying it to the others. Thus does the historian
find himself in a maze of uncertainty as to the true facts.
In those early days all the corn ground had to be marked
out both ways and planted by hand. The tools they used to
tend it with were the hoe, single shovel, double shovel and bar
share plow. It would look funny nowadays to see one plowing
corn with oxen as Ben Nelson did about 1860 on the place
where Fred Holstrum now lives.
Your historian has had much pleasure looking over the
old conveyances of the Patty place, the Arnold, the Stuart, the
Peter Anderson, Louis Osstrum, Eli Johnson and others. He
has seen more patents by the government to land in the last
week than in his whole life time before. Cliff Gibbs has the
original patent to Tom Stuart from the government signed
with the president's name. That is what is known as a sheep-
skin. Besides a patent which is in effect a government deed,
there were issued to the soldiers of 1776 and 1812 land war-
rants. This was a privilege to locate a quarter-section of land
in this military district, enter the land at the land office, sur-
render the warrant and get a deed in the form of a patent.
Eric Ostrom has such a patent issued in 1817 to Cornelius
Riorden, sergeant in Nelson's company of infantry of the U.
S. after he had deposited a land warrant in the land office that
was issued on the soldier's bounty land of the territory of Illi-
nois in 1817. On the same day Riorden deeded the land to
Alexander Cooper and the deed is written on the back of the
patent. It is sure a curious document. In those days land
titles were not so carefully recorded and there was more or
less counterfeiting of land transfers and the country was in-
fested with swindlers known as land sharps. It is said that
Pete Skoglund paid for his land two or three times rather
than go to law about the title.
But we must not think that all the life of these ancestors
of ours was bereft of enjoyment. They lived in a land of milk
and honey and had much to be thankful for. One of these was
a famous peach orchard owned by Tom Stuart. They were
real peaches, says Jonas Olson, and I can readily believe him
for you can always trust a boy to know where there's a water-
melon patch or a real peach orchard. With an ancestry such
as this it behooves us, their descendants, to follow the advice of
the poet who says :
"Let us then be up and doing.
With a heart for any fate,
Still achieving and pursuing.
Learn to labor and to wait,"
TOPOGRAPHICAL MAP OF KNOX COUNTY
This map of Knox County shows the stream and water-
shed system of the county ; its valleys ; the elevation of prin-
cipal points above the sea level ; and the number and location
of the coal veins. These veins are numbered from the bottom
up, the lowest vein in the county being No. 1, and highest No.
6, The forested areas are as a rule contiguous to the streams.
MAP OF KNOX COUNTY
The following map shows the townships and railroads and
the older municipalities of the county, along with several
neighborhood centers. Williamsfield in Truro township, and
East Galesburg in Knox township are later towns on the Sante
Fe. Hermon in Chestnut township is on the Fulton county
branch of the Burlington, formerly the Narrow Gauge. Sum-
mit on the Peoria Branch is better known as Douglas.
In Salem township are Yates City, Douglas and Union-
town. The last was surveyed and platted in 1839. It was in
the earlier days a point of much importance. Luther Carey
opened the first store there and Jacob Booth and Moses Shinn
a blacksmith shop, and they made plows and wagons. Thomas
Griggsby began brick burning in 1845. The first school
opened in 1843. The building of the railroad elsewhere killed
Douglas, sometimes called Summit, was laid out October
17, 1856, and it developed from the building of the Peoria line
of the Burlington. It has been a lively trading point and
has maintained a number of stores, and had excellent facili-
ties for handling grain. It maintains a good school.
Yates City is the principal municipality of the southeast
part of the county, and is at one of the Burlington junctions.
It was laid out in 1837 by William and A. C. Babcock, Thomas
Maple, Rufus H. Bishop, Bostwick Kent and James Burson.
James Burson erected the first business house; John Donne-
maker opened the first hotel, and Isaac West erected the first
dwelling. Buffum and Enable established a grain warehouse.
A good flouring mill was built in 1868. Brick and tile were
formerly manufactured in large quantity.
The Harvest Home Association, which has made Yates City
famous for its annual celebrations, was established in 1886,
largely through the efforts of Editor McKeighan of the Ban-
The saloon which from 1857 had fastened itself on the
city was wiped out in 1875 and with the exception of 1888 and
1895 was kept out. Good banks have for years furnished ex-
cellent financial facilities. The city has a first class line of
The first postoffice was opened in February, 1859, with
J. M. Corey as postmaster.
Yates City was chartered on March 4, 1869.
For many years Yates City has maintained a high stand-
ard of schools. Among those who were its principals were
the late W. L. Steele, so long superintendent of the city schools
of Galesburg, and W. F. Boyes, present county superintendent
Of the Yates City churches, the First Presbyterian was
organized November 16, 1866, and the Methodists completed
an edifice in 1868.
Also fraternally Yates City is strong and it has witnessed
the organization of Masonic, Odd Fellow and Modern Wood-
men lodges, and a Grand Army Post.
Yates City has for many years maintained a strong poli-
tical influence in the county, and one of its best known young
men, Frank L. Adams, has for years served efficiently as
The village of Maquon is situated on or near the site of
the old Indian village at the north line of the township and
was surveyed by Parnach Owen in 1836, who assisted by sev-
eral others laid out the village. For several years it had
neither religious or educational institutions, but was the site
of a distillery and race track, according to Gale's history of
the county. Both these long since disappeared and years ago
Maquon took its place as one of the model communities of
Knox. The village was incorporated March 4, 1857, and its
population by 1880 had reached 548. The first building in the
village was Cox's tavern, built by Benjamin Cox, and for
twenty years used as barracks, kept by Nathan Barbero. John
Hippie conducted the first store in a building erected by Mat-
thew Maddox in 1839. For forty years there has been no sa-
loon in Maquon. The business interests are well represented
by well conducted stores and banks.
The business portion of Maquon has experienced six dis-
astrous fires all of them of doubtful origin.
Prior to 1848 Maquon schools were held in rooms furnished
by Nathan and Calister Barbero, but in that year a substan-
tial brick building was erected. The initial attendance was
175 pupils. The Maquon school for many years has been con-
sidered one of the best in the county.
Maquon has responded nobly to all patriotic demands. In
the Civil War a full quota of 250 came from the village and
The village is well supplied with fraternal organizations,
which provide a congenial social life.
Rapatee, also in Maquon township, was founded in 1883,
with the building of the Iowa Central in 1883. It was laid out
by Benjamin Adams and A. B. Stewart was its first mer-
Rio, in Rio township, was platted in 1871 by William Rob-
inson, and was first called Coburg. The pioneer store was
built by Messrs. Schroeder and Owens. Nelson Coe was the
first postmaster. Rio has always had enterprising merchants,
and has been a good trading center. Since its founding, there
have been organized there Masonic, Odd Fellow, Modern
Woodmen, Eastern Star and Home Forum lodges. The place
also maintains religious worship.
An Early Inventor
Some mention has been made elsewhere of the inventors
of the county who contributed to its agricultural development.
Mention should be made of Riley Root, who seemed to be the
inventive genius of the colonists. Among other things he pro-
duced the rotary snow plow, a device for clarifying cane or
corn syrups, and a surveyor's level.
Ambassador to China
A Galesburg and Knox County boy, Edwin Hurd Conger,
rose to high distinction after graduating from Lombard col-
lege in 1832 and serving through the war, where he was brev-
eted as major for gallant service. In 1880 he was elected State
treasurer of Iowa. In 1886 he was elected to Congress and was
twice re-elected. President Harrison appointed him minister
to Brazil serving until 1893. In 1897 he was reappointed to
the Brazil post but in 1898 was transferred to China, where
he served with distinction for a number of years and where
during the Boxer uprising he was a conspicuous international
By W. F. Boyes
Such gratitude as is due the pioneers of Knox County
is likewise due those who had made IlHnois a commonwealth
of the Union before this county was settled. One of the b't-
terest and most significant political contests ever wa<?ed made
Illinois a free state in 1824, and before our county history be-
gins the boundaries had been established and forces set at
work that were to make this state a most important factor in
the preservation of the Union.
The territory, now Illinois, was claimed by the French
from the days of Marquette to the Treaty of Paris in 1763.
From 1763 to the conquest of George Rogers Clark it was
British territory. The Treaty of 1783 confirmed Clark's con-
quest and gave Illinois to the United States. But one of the
great difficulties of the early government of the nation was
the territorial claims of the different states. Massachusetts,
Connecticut and Virginia all claimed territory lying within
the present State of Illinois. The cession of Virginia was
made in 1783.
Kaskaskia, just below the mouth of the Kaskaskia river,
and Cahokia, a few miles below East St. Louis, were the earl-
iest permanent settlements. This state was settled by people
from the north, east and south. Each of these directions
brought its own peculiar characteristics and customs. Two
groups of families directly from England settled in Edwards
county in 1816 and 1817. It is said that no other district
created such wide-spread interest in Europe as the Illinois
Upon the British occupation of the territory, many of
the French emigrated. Development in Illinois was at a
stand for years. The white population within the present
state was probably not more than 1,000 in 1800. The most
marked development of the country began upon the organiza-
tion of Illinois as a separate territory. In 1818 the popula-
tion was about 40,000.
Slavery was introduced into the territory by the French
in 1721. Nothing was said in the treaty of cession to Great
Britain about slaverj% but such chattels were held in Illinois
as British territory, just as when it was French. The United
States in turn agreed to guarantee to the people security in
person and effects. So, notwithstanding the ordinance of
1787, slavery was for years a fact. Under the early state gov-
ernment, what was called the Black code recognized the insti-
tution and then came the great campaign of 1824, under Gov-
ernor Coles which made it clear that Illinois was to be a free
The Indians within the state caused much trouble at dif-
ferent times. The Ft. Dearborn and Wood River massacres
were the most serious. But many lives were taken by Indians
during the War of 1812 and later.
At first there were two counties in the present Illinois
territory — St. Clair on the west, where most of the inhabitants
were, and Knox on the east. Later Randolph was organized
from the south part of St. Clair. Then came Clark, Edwards,
White, Monroe, Crawford and Jackson. There were fifteen
counties when the state was admitted in 1818.
The population of the new state was exceedingly mixed,
there were few towns of any importance, the roads were paths
through the woods, there were practically no schools and al-
most nothing in the way of public worship. But the climate,
the soil, the natural resources, the great waterways, were here.
The progress of the people has been commensurate with the
development of the state, and it is to commemorate Knox
County's part in this wonderful progress of a hundred years
that this book is published. The committee of Knox County
Board of Supervisors in charge of the publication is: C. H.
Pulver, chairman; Milton Deatherage, and Clarence R. Lacy.
I \ D K X
In this work, the townships are alphabetically arrang^ed. The following
index refers to the more important points of the worli, the numbers indi-
cating the pages on which reference to each item may be found:
— A —
Abingdon — 4S-60, 118.
Abingdon College — 4S.
Agricultural Development — 22.
98, 156, 167, 168, 171, 21U, 220.
Altona — 201-202.
Ambassadors — 20, 226.
Amusements — 160, 166.
Appleton — 154.
Banking — 21.
Bee Hunting — 200.
Births, Early — 64. 100, 107.
142. 149. 170, 185. 198.
Black Hawk War — 10, 42.
108. 124. 132. 141.
Bridges. First — 133.
Brimfield — 67.
Cedar Township — 34-61.
Center Prairie 212-221.
Cemeteries — 62, 149. 219.
Cherry Grove Seminary — 46.
Chestnut Township — 61.
Child lost — 70.
Churches, Early — 50, 63. 68, 89, 90,
Circuit Bench — 21.
Coal — 68, 146. 171.
Company C, I. N. G. — 93-96.
Congressmen — 1 7.
Conveyances — 220.
Copley Township — 64.
County Business, Growth of — 9.
County Home — 9.
Court Houses — 9. 107, 131.
County Seat Contest — 8, 9. 97.
— D —
Dahinda — 154.
Deaths. First — 107. 149.
De Long — 144.
Douglas — 67.
Early Settlements, Knox County —
IClba Township — 6C.
Elm wood — 67.
Emigration — 57.
Etherly — 65.
Eugene — 67.
— F —
Farm Bureau — 22, 23.
Farming — 69.
Farmington — 67.
Farm Products and Prices — 67, 77.
Fires— 117, 175. 180. 181, 202, 205,
214, 217. 218.
Flood — 205.
Forts — 85. 109.
— G —
Galesburg — Academy. 86; Annals, 7;!;
Colony. 109; Knox College. 86;
Lombard College, 87; Plan of
founders, 73, 77; Schools. 81.
Game — 147. 201.
Gilson — 102.
Glenwood — 67.
Golden Circle — 153.
Government — Commission. 6; Judges,
6; Supervisors, 7.
— H —
Harrisonville and Hermon — 63.
Harvest Home — 173.
Haw Creek Township — 100, 104.
Hedding College — 48.
Henderson Township — 105-112.
Henderson Village — 111.
Hermon — 63.
Historical Association, Centennial —
Hospitals — 91.
Houses, First — 62, 66, SO. 103, 106.
109, 123. 142, 159, 160, 167, 172, 197,
Indians- 42. 66, 64. 100, 113. 122. 127.
131, 140. 148, 184, 197. article on
Indian Trail map — 208.
Indian Point Township — 113 120.
Industries — 54. 141. 143. 178, 200.
Inventor, Early — 226.
Knox College— 86-87.
Knox County Annals — 5-27: Agricul-
tural Development. 22-23; Agri-
cultural Board, 123; Banking, 21;
Growth of Knox County Home
9; Court House Erection, 9; County
Officers, 23: County Seat Contest,
8-9; Government, 6: by Judges, 6-7;
Townshij) organization, 7; Growth
1 \ 1) K X
— K —
(Clint ill iii'<l )
cf I'opulation, 10-12; Municipali-
ties, 11; Political History, in Con-
gress, 17; in Legislature, 18-21;
Railroads, 14-15; Religious growth,
lo-14: School Development, 14-15;
Statistics of Population, 13; Town-
ship officers, 24-27.
Knoxville — 33, 67-124.
Knox Township — 121, 12G.
— L —
Land Prices — 33, 38.
Legislature — 18, 21.
Library — 170, 203.
Liberty Loan — IS, 60.
Lincoln — 43.
Lincoln-Douglas Debate — 92.
Log Cabins and Furnishings — 43, 44.
71, 78, 110. 124, 125, 215, 218.
Log City — 78.
Lombard College — 87, 88, 89.
Lynn Township — 127-130.
— M —
Maquon — 225.
Maquon Township — 131-132.
Markets — 44. 130, 144, 199.
Marriages, First — 36, 61, 66, 83, 109,
123, 132, 142, 149, 186, 198.
Medical Aid — 45.
Middle Grove — 172.
Mills — 62 64, 68, SO, 102 108, 111. 117,
141, 145, 150, 152, 154, 170, 1S6, 200.
Mormon;? — 197-198.
Municipalities — 11.
Newburg — 67.
Newspaiiers — 118, 170.
Old Settlers' Association — 123.
Ontario Township — 134, 140.
Orange Township — 140-144.
— V —
Pastimes — 102.
Persifer Township — 145-163.
Pioneers — 35, 85.
F'ioneer Schools — 32.
Population — 10, 12, 13.
Postal Facilities — 63, 68, 103, 109,
111, 123, 150. 193, 199. 200.
Prairie State Oil Co. — 155.
P.apatee — 225
— R —
16, 65, 92,
11. IM, 166.
Religious Growth; First Churches
—13-14, SI, 89, 90, 91, 107, 115, 130,
137, 138, 139, 142, 143, 155, 176, 177,
178, 179, 192, 193, 203, 217, 218.
Rio — 225.
Rio Township — 163-169.
Roads, First — 109, 191, 192.
— S —
Salem Township — 170-173.
Saloons — 118, 224. 225.
Sparta Township — 174-177.
Schools — 14, 15, 45.
Schools, First — 62, 64, 66, 81, 101.
109, 115. 129, 132, 136, 142, 150. 171,
182. 185, 189, 198, 215.
Settlers, First — 64, 66. 106, 111, 113,
131, 140, 163, 164, 170. 174, 178,
Settlers. Where From — 34, 37, 64,
73, 100, 105, 114, 127, 128, 131, 134,
140, 141, 142, 147, 163, 164, 179, 212.
St. Augustine — 117.
State Commissions — 21.
Stores, First — 67, 85, 101.
Storms — 35. 70, 120, 158, 216.
Stoves — 44.
Sunday Schools — 39, 116.
Supreme Bench — 21.
Taverns — 63.
Teachers! Early — 81.
Townshi]) Officers — 24-27.
Township Organization — 7,
68, 102, 143. 170. 174. 178,
Travel, Methods of — 67. 84,
Trenton — 152.
Truro Township — 178-181.
129, 145. 161, 174,
— U —
Uniontown — 172.
!0, 173. 175.
Victoria, Village — 186, 187.
Victoria Township — 184-196.
— AV —
Walnut Grove — 197.
War — 16, 17, 63, 124, 132, 144. 165. 172.
War Record — 58. 72, 92.
Wataga — 175.
West. Mary Allt-n — 32.
Williamsfield — 67. 179.
Yates City — 224.