History of Knox County, Illinois

Over a half century has rolled its years away since this section of Illinois was first chosen for a home by the white man. The trials, sufferings and struggles that were experienced in converting even this fertile land from its virgin wildness into the luxuriant and densely populated country now existing can never be fully portrayed. Although, as in many frontier settlements, the ground was not consecrated by the blood of pioneers and their families, yet human tongue or pen can never accurately picture the vicissitudes and trials of the advanced guard of civilization who pitched their tents in Knox county. Their labors were as trying to their mind as to the body. Physical and mental strength waste together, and the memory of names, dates and events becomes lost by the confusion of accumulating years. Events that were fresh in memory ten to twenty years after their occurrence are almost if not entirely forgotten when fifty years have passed. If not entirely obliterated from memory's tablet, they have become so dim that when we call for information concerning the past it is often given with many doubtings and much hesitancy; while others were positive and often as immovable as to their correctness as Gibralter. For instance, one man insisted that the Black Hawk war was in 1830. Again, we were informed that Michael Fraker came to Lynn township in 1828. The information came from reliable sources, yet from other facts we had deemed the date incorrect and set about a careful investigation; and after weeks of patient labor found the date of his settlement to be 1830. We refer to these to show how apt people are to let their memories betray them. The best memories will differ in the particulars of past events, some seizing upon one detail and some on another; hence often arises honest difference. Many may question the dates given in this work. Indeed it is more than likely some are wrong, for it is not expected that it is so perfect as to be above criticism, for the book is yet to be published that can justly claim perfection; but it is the Publishers' hope, as it is their belief, that it will be found measurably correct and generally accurate and reliable. Industrious and studied care has been exercised to make it a standard book of reference as well as of interest to the general reader. If in such a multiplicity of names, dates, etc., some errors are not detected it will be strange indeed.

It may be claimed that many important events of early history are omitted, or but casually mentioned. For this we can say we are not at fault. For weeks and months we begged for information. In the very incipiency of our labor no pains were spared to interest the people of all parts of the county in the work. We published 25,000 copies of the Historic Record and sent them broadcast over the county; appeals were made through the various papers; beside these, hundreds of letters have been written and hundreds of journeys made. We have been willing and anxious to get every important scrap of history. The items gleaned from public records are full, complete and correct. We doubt if the public journals will ever be read more carefully than the perusal we gave them. From July 7, 1830, the date of the opening of the first record, to the present time, every page of the many musty old volumes was carefully read. The chain of official events was followed from the first.

Every item given we were careful to have correct, and not being satisfied with our own knowledge of facts had the various articles read by responsible parties who were known to be acquainted with particular events. We have had much of the early history read and corrected by Major Thomas McKee, who every one knows is perhaps the best posted man in the county on pioneer history. We have also had Hon. W. Selden Gale, State's Attorney J. J. Tunnicliff, County School Superintendent Miss Mary Allen West, and many others of well known authority, read manuscript and proof and make needed corrections and suggestions.

Our soldiers' list is full and was very carefully compiled. Months of labor were bestowed upon this one item; and should there be a soldier whose name is not recorded here we believe the omission not our oversight; and investigation will show him credited to some other county. It was impossible to obtain the correct spelling of some of the names.

In the latter part of the work the educational and religious history and sketches of cities and towns we were compelled to condense more than we would have done could it have been avoided. As it is we give to our subscribers a book of 750 pages instead of one of 600 pages, which is as large as we ever promised to any one. By additional pages and smaller type we have increased the amount of matter by at least one-half. From comparison with other county histories we believe it to be more full and complete than any similar work published in the State, and trust, with all of its imperfections, it will prove satisfactory to all. In this confident belief we submit to the enlightened judgment of those our subscribers for whose benefit it has been prepared, in the assurance that it will be kindly received.

We have avoided indulging in general reflections or mere speculations, excepting such as naturally rose out of the subject under consideration, preferring to give a minute narrative, omitting no particular that was characteristic of the persons, the events or the times, and endeavoring to place every fact in such a point of view that the reader might see the county in all its various stages of progression. We have labored faithfully and conscientiously, with no thought of swindling or humbugging the people, as we believe our work will show.


Table of Contents

I. Early Settlement, 100

First Settlers, 100 Knox County, 106 Prairie Fires, 110 The Big Snow, 116 Going to Market, 117 Money, 119 First Celebration, 120 Militia, 121 Bee-Hunting, 121 Courts, 125.

II. Important Labors of the County Commissioners' Court, 128

Organization, 128 First Meetings of the Court, 129 Circuit Court, 132 Revenue, 133 First Court House, 133 County Seat, 137 Judicious and Liberal Commissioners, 137 School Commissioner, 139 Log Jail, 140 Knoxville Named, 141 Licenses, 14 1 Brick Court-House, 143 Jail at Knoxville, 145 Escape of Prisoners, 145 Horse-Thieves, 146 Last Meeting, 146.

III. Black Hawk War, 149

IV. Geology of Knox County, 161 Surface Geology, 161 Economical Geology, Stone for Building, 165 Limestone for Lime, 166 Coal, 166.

V. Zoology and Botany, 168

Quadrupeds, 168 Birds, 168 Fishes, 175 Trees and Shrubs, 176 Vines, 180 Herbaceous Plants, 180.

VI. Archaeology, 185

VII. Pioneer Life, 188

Log Cabins, 188 Selections of Homes, 189 Milling, 190 Native Animals, 193 Cooking, 197 Implements, 197 Women's Work, 199 Pleasures of Pioneer Life, 200.

VIII. Underground Railroad, 201

Black Laws, 201 Mode of Running the U.G.R.R., 202 Aunt Sukey, 203 Bill Casey, 206 Galesburg Station, 210 Ontario Station, 211 Hitchcock Station, 311 Arrest of the Rev. John Cross, 312 Rev. John Cross Again, 313.

IX. Railroads, 216

X. Criminal Record, 227

First Murder, 227 Other Murders, 228-233 Gilson Murder, 233 Horse Stealing, 240. XI. Old Settlers' Association, 241

XII. Important Labors of the Board of Supervisors, 247

County Court, 247 Township Organization, 249 Alms-house, 253 War Record, 262.

XIII. The War At Home, 274

The Tocsin of War, 274 Liberality of Those at Home, 281 Soldiers' Aid Society, 289 The Close, 302.

XIV. The War - In The Field, 305

The War, 305 Stone River, 305 Prison Life, 306 Incidents of Enlisting, 308 The 102d, 30 9 Knox County Volunteers, 312-379 The 4th Regiment, I.N.G., 379 Band, 381 Regimental Officers, 382 Drum Corps, 382 Company A, 383 Company B, 383 Company C, 383 Members of Battery, 384.

XV. Resources of the County, 385

XVI. Political, 404

XVII. Personal Incidents and Miscellany, 422

Historical Items from Rev. Wright's Journal, 433 Indian Boy Killed, 437 Big Storms, 437 Sudden Changes, 439 Cold Weather, 439 Wet Season, 430 A Ferocious Dog, 430 Lost Children, 431 Race to Quincy, 433 Early Milling, 437 Canada Thistles, 438 Bee-Raising, 439 Pop-Corn and Mustard, 440 Prizes for Hogs, 441 Matrimonial, 443 Catamount, 448 Wolves, 448 His First Trip, 448 An Old Hatter, 449 Aerolite, 449 Table of Distances, 450 County Funds, 450 First Things, 450.

XVIII. The Bar and Officials of the County, 452

The Bar, 452 County Commissioners, 460 Treasurers, 463 County Clerks, 463 Circuit Clerks, 463 Sheriffs, County Judges, County School Superintendents, Coroners, Surveyors, 464.

XIX. Temperance, 465

XX. Township Histories, 479

Indian Point, 479 Cedar, 480 Galesburg, 483 Henderson, 484 Rio, 484 Chestnut, 486 Orange, 486 Knox, 486 Sparta, 487 Ontario, 495 Maquon, 496 Haw Creek, 497 Persifer, 498 Copley, 500 Walnut Grove, 501 Salem, 502 Elba, 503 Truro, 504 Victoria, 507 Lynn, 508.

XXI. Blooded Stock, 512

XXII. Manufactories, 516

Frost Manufacturing Company, 516 The Steel Flow, 519 The Novelty Machine Works, 521 Brown's Corn-Planter Works, 521 Broom Factory, 529 Hemstreet Carriage Manufactory, 530 Marble Works, 530 May Brothers' Windmill, 530 Cheese Factories, 531. XXIII. The Press, 533

Newspapers of Galesburg, 534 - Kuoxville Papers, 537 - Abingdon Papers, 540 Oneida and Maquon Papers, 543. XXIV. Education, 544

Early Schools, 544 Holiday Treating, 548 The Loud School, 551 Knox College, 553 Cherry Grove Seminary, 563 Lombard University, 563 Abingdon College, 571 Hedding College, 579 St. Mary's School, 585 Western Business College, 595 Ansgarl College, 596 Knox Agricultural School, 598 Galesburg Public Schools, 602.

XXV. Religious, 604

Old School Baptists, 604 Methodist Episcopal, 604 Christian, 609 Presbyterian, 610 First Church, Galesburg , 6ll Baptist, 614 Congregational, 617 Lutheran, 618 Christian of Christian Connection, 618 Universalist, 619 Catholic, 619 Protestant Episcopal, 619 United Brethren,- 620 Protestant Methodist, 620 United Presbyterian, 620 Swedish Independent, 620 Galesburg City Mission, 620.

XXVI. Cities and Towns, 622

Knoxville, 232 Henderson, 623 Galesburg, 623 Maquon, 640 Hermon, 641 Abingdon, 641 Union Town, 642 Victoria, 643 Oneida, 643 Altona, 644 Wataga, 644 St. Augustine, 645 Summit, 645 Gilson, 645 Yates City, 645 Rio, 646. Biographical Sketches, 647


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The Territory of Illinois was formed into a State by an act of Congress April 18, 1818. In July and August of the same year, a convention was held at Kaskaskia for the purpose of drafting a constitution. This constitution was not submitted to a vote of the people for their approval or rejection, it being well known that they would approve it. It was about the first organic law of any State in the Union to abolish imprisonment for debt; The first election under the constitution was held on the third Thursday and the two succeeding days in September, 1818. Shadrach Bond was elected Governor, and Pierre Menard Lieutenant Governor. Their term of office extended four years. Their December 3, 1818, Congress by a resolution declared Illinois to be "one of the United States of America, and admitted into the Union on an equal footing with the original States in all respects. " At this time the State was divided into fifteen counties, the population being about 40,000. Of this number by far the larger portion was from the Southern States. The salary of the Governor was $1,000, while that of the Treasurer was $500. The Legislature re-enacted, verbatim, the Territorial Code, the penalties of which were unnecessarily severe. "Whippings, stocks and pillory were used for minor offenses, and for arson, rape, horse-stealing, etc., death by hanging was the penalty. These laws however were modified in 1821."