The history of Adams County, Illinois

Could Time's eternal scroll have been unrolled by some magic hand, and three score years of his close-mouthed secrets been portrayed in panoramic view to the astonished gaze of John Wood, as he stood upon the rugged crest of the bluff where the city of Quincy now is, and took a survey of the Great River, as it flowed on in silent, resistless grandeur, with bosom unruffled by paddle or oar; or turning to greet the sunrise, scanned Nature's undressed and ever varying landscape of undulating woodland and prairie, stretching far away until the green and blue blent in misty haze, how would his brave heart, like a caged bird, have fluttered to be free from its narrow house, that the disenthralled spirit might rise heavenward to mingle with the forest choristers his meed of praise to the God of Nature and of Time.

More than fifty-eight eventful years have been erased from the eternity of the future and written in the eternity of the past since that day, and still the grand old man lives to see the scroll of time unrolled.

When Mr. Wood stood upon the site of Quincy, in February, 1819, and resolved that he would plant civilization on that spot, there was no mark of the "white man's presence in the unbroken wilderness of what is now Adams County. The woodman's despoiling ax had leveled no tree of the primitive forest, nor had the then rude implements of the husband-man disturbed a wisp of the prairie virgin sward. The herds of sleek deer leisurely cropped the tender herbage of the thicket, or lay lazily ruminating in the shaded glen, without knowledge or fear of the argus-eyed huntsman; the saucy wolves galloped in gangs about the prairies, in search of victims on which to glut their greed for blood, regardless of the near coming of their most deadly foe; while the wild Indian indolently floated about in his bark canoe fishing, or wandered over his "happy hunting grounds" in search of game, with no thought of being dispossessed of his domain by the encroachments of the greedy pale face. But what change busy mind and hand hath wrought in little more than half a century ' In the year 1832, John Wood returned to put his former resolution into execution and planted the nucleus of the new order of things by erecting the first cabin, in December of that year. Willard Keyes built the second one, on the site of Quincy, while Justice I. Perigo and Daniel Lisle settled in other parts of the county about the same time. Thus began white man's history in Adams county, now one of the most populous and wealthy in the great "North West."

It is to gather up and arrange in chronological order and historic form the important events that have transpired during this marked transition of the wild wilderness to the beautiful cultivated farms, the "Red man's" wigwam to the palatial home, and the teeming towns and cities, with their fine business blocks, their splendid school houses, colleges and church edifices, and from the diminutive Indian pony to the iron horse and the harnessed lightning, as vehicles of burden and thought, that we, with our corps of helpers have many months been engaged. This volume is the result of these months of diligent labor and earnest research.

The value of a history depends upon its accuracy. Truth must ever be the motto of the historian, else his book is but a prosy, pointless fable. It has been the purpose and effort of the publishers of this work to compile a reliable and valuable reference book for the posterity of those heroic fathers and mothers who battled with nature and won. Many were their labors, hardships and privations during those years of pioneer life, but grand have been the results. To gather up the fragmentary facts of nearly sixty years, many of them hitherto unwritten, and only treasured in the minds of those early settlers who were the actors in, or observers of, what transpired, the details and important connections of which have slipped through the meshes of memory — and rivet them into a faultless chain of history, is beyond mortal ken. But neither time nor effort has been spared to procure the "missing links" and bridge the chasms, so as to present to our readers as complete a record as possible. How well we have succeeded in the object sought they must judge; but we trust not rashly, for in seeking for information to establish points of historical interest, while generally we and our assistants received the kindest of treatment and ready responses to such inquiries, there are other instances where every attempt was baffled, either by the inexcusable delay in furnishing promised matter, or willful indifference of the persons appealed to. Then, too, there are frequently differences of opinion as regards the dates, names, etc., in which cases some one will declare the record of them in this work at fault; but in every instance the most reliable date were obtained and published. As far as the history is founded upon recorded facts, it can be safely said to be trustworthy for it was written with great care with reference to dates and proper names.


Table of Contents

The Northwest Territory
History of Illinois

Chapter I.
Boundaries — Geological — Carboniferous — St. Louis Sand Stone — Kinderhook Group — Economical Geology — Bituminous Coal — Limestone for Lime — Clay and Sand for Brick - Soil and Timber 239

Chapter II.
French Missionaries — Discovery of the Mississippi - History Prior to State Organization — First While Settlement of the County — Organization of the County — Origin of Names of County and County Seat — First Election — Court Seals — Entry of County Seat Land — Quincy Platted — First Sale of Town Lots — First Marriage 257

Chapter III.
First Court House - County Commissioners' Court — Town Rates - Rules of County Commissioner's Court— Lead Mine Excitement — Suckers - School and Temperance - First Stock of Goods — First Perry Rates — Maine Street Opened In Quincy — Fiscal — First County Jail - First Preaching — Brick Made — Deep Snow 266

Chapter IV.
First Flouring Mill — Land Office Investigation — Tavern Rates Established — Weather in 1832 — Black Hawk War— Anecdotes — Causes of Slow Growth — Cholera — Population — Prices of Produce — Wild-cat Schemes — Agricultural — Mails-Prices in Quincy — The Jail - Election Precincts — Incorporation — County Seat Contest — Columbus - Highland County 272

Chapter V.
The Mormons - The Quincy Riflemen - The Mexican War 296

Chapter VI.
The California Excitement - The Asiatic Cholera, Etc. 307

Chapter VII.
Township Organization — Origin — Report of Commissioners - Division of County into Townships — First Meeting of Board — Names of Members-Election Precincts — Aid to Soldiers' Families — Difficulties in Paying Taxes — Bounty Act — County Line 312

Chapter VIII.
Burning of the Court House - County Seat Election - The New Court House — Proceedings of the Board of Supervisors in Relation to the Building — Description of the Building as Completed — Occupancy 322

Chapter IX.
The Civil War — Cairo Expedition — Col. B.M. Prentiss takes Command — Ten Regiments of Infantry and Cavalry — Cavalry— Independent Regiments —New Call — General Call — Recruiting again Slopped — Recruiting for Old Regiments - Excitement in May — Last Calls — Appointments and Promotions 330

Chapter X.
Adams County — War Record 351

Chapter XI.
Early Settlements — By Whom and How Made — First Settlers — Old Settlers' Society - List of Members — Early Experiences — First Ferry — Early Customs — Lost Children — First Mill — Their Life and Work 395

Chapter XII.
Bench and Bar — Judges of Circuit Court — Primitive Practice — Early Members — Legal Contests — Bar Association 407

Chapter XIII.
Miscellaneous Mention — County Officials — Precinct Elections, 1835 — First Court — First Probate Matters - High Water - Agricultural Society 420

Chapter XIV.
The Press 429

Chapter XV.
Horticultural — Medical Society 435

Chapter XVI.
History of Quincy 453

Chapter XVII.
Township Histories 503


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This renowned chief, the "noblest Roman of them all," was born at the Sac village on Rock river, about the year 1767. His first introduction to the notice of the whites seems to have been in 1804:, when William Henry Harrison, then the Governor of Indiana Territory, concluded his treaty with the Sac and Fox nation for the lands bordering on Rock river. Black Hawk was then simply a chief, though not by election or inheritance, of his own band of Sac warriors, but from that time he was the most prominent man in the Sac and Fox nation, lie considered the action of the four chiefs who represented the Indians in making this treaty as unjust and refused to consider it binding. The territory ceded embraced over fifty-one millions of acres, extending almost from opposite St. Louis to the Wisconsin river. He claimed that the chiefs or braves who made the treaty had no authority to make it, and that they had been sent to St. Louis, where the treaty was negotiated, for quite a different purpose, namely: to procure the release of one of their people who was held there as a prisoner on charge of killing a white man. The United States regarded this treaty as a bona fide transaction, claiming that the lands were sold by responsible men of the tribes, and that it was further ratified by a part of the tribes with Gov. Edwards and Auguste Choteau, in September, 1815, and again with the same commissioners in 1816. They claimed that the Indians were only to occupy the lands at the Sac village on Rock river until they were surveyed and sold by the government, when they were to vacate them. The treaty of St. Louis was signed by five chiefs instead of four, although Black Hawk claimed that the latter number only were sent to St. Louis for a different purpose. One of these was Pash-e-pa-ho, a head chief among the Sacs.