The History of Bureau County, Illinois

Taken from the "Earliest Historical Facts of Marshall-Putnam Counties Also Bureau and Stark Counties", Embracing an Account of the Settlement and Early Progress, complied and published by Mr. Henry A. Ford, 1860


During the years following the Black Hawk war, the country improved slowly.  A post-office or two was created, no no new towns were laid off until the speculative times of 1836-7, when they suddenly became numerous.  

The first was Windsor situated nine miles west of Hennepi, which was surveyed Jan. 15th, 1836, for Augustus Langworthy, proprietor. It was a fine looking town - ON PAPER.  A "Great Public or County Square" was conspicuous in it; and there were roads branching from it in every direction - towards Ottawa, Hennepin, Knoxville, Rome and Peoria, Boyd's Grove, Galena, Rock Island, and the Rapids of the Rock River.  A "Market Square" and "Liberty Square" were devoted to the uses of the public, and there were reservations for churches and seminary purposes.  It was a very fair specimen of the "paper towns" of that inflated age.  In Marsh of the same year, a large addition was made under the name of "West Windsor", with streets bearing the sounding names of Washington, Jefferson, Franklin, etc., and a "Judicial Square" and "Pleasant Square" by way of parks, or breathing places for the (prospectively) crowded popultion.  This addition was vacated in less than a year.

Another - a very small addition - was laid off by Mr. Langworthy in 1837, just before Bureau became independant of Putnam.  The village of Indiantown afterwards sprang up in the immediate vicinity; and in 1840, the Legislature united the two, giving the new town the name of Tiskiwa.

Kin-nor-wood was the fanciful title (obtained by joining the first syllables of the proprietors' names) applied to a town located between the Illinois river and Bushy Creek, a few miles below Peru.  Col. H. L. Kinney, of Nicaragua celebrity, Geo. H. Norris, and Robert P. Woodworth, were the proprietors; March 11th 1836, the date of the survey.

The next town in the order of time was Concord, four miles north of Princton, on the road from Galena to Hennepin.  It was founded March 26, 1836, by Jos. Brigham, and vacated Feb. 28, 1837.

Greenfield, a town site of considerable size, was laid off twelve miles northeast of Princeton on the 15th of April, 1836, by John Kendall and Tracy Reeve.  There being several other towns of the same name in the State, another disgnation was afterwards found advisable; and in 1840 it name was changed by Legislative act to Lamoille.

Fairmount, seven miles northeast of Princeton, was called into being June 18th, 1836, by Eli Nichols.  It was vacated by act of Legislature, Feb., 1840, after the bubbles of speculation had burst.

Within two miles of Fairmount, in a southwest direction, Livingston was laid off July 1st 1837, by Eli Lapsley.

Providence (from the capital of Rhode Island, whence the colony that settled it came) dates from the 14th of July, 1836, when it was founded by Edward Bayley, Larned Scott, and Simeon G. Wilson.  The greater part of the colony for whom this beautiful prairie site was selected, consisting of thirty or forty families, arrived a year after, and wre cordially welcomed by the local press and people.  (See the Hennepin Journal for May 11, 1837; Peoria Register and Northwestern Gazetteer for June 3rd. '37.)

At the formation of Bureau County; its population was estimated at about 2,000 mainly scattered about the vicinity of the towns mentioned above. .  The large county of Putnam had grown cumbersome as the number of its inhabitants increased; and a division was now imperatively called for.  The proper petitions were forwarded to the Legislature; and on the 28th of February, 1837, an act was approved creating the county of Bureau.  (This name though French, is said to be derived from that of some Indian chief. Hennepin Herald, Feb. 1847.)

Its boundaries were defined as "beginning at the northeast corner of Putnam county, running thence south on the east boundary line of said conty to the centre of the main channel of the Illinois river to the place where the line dividing townships fourteen and fifteen north intersects said river, thence west on said line to the west line of said county, thence north of the western line of said county to the northern boundary thereof, and thence east with said county line to the place of beginning."  A considerable county was thus set off, embracing 814 square miles.  Additions have been made since, from the western border of Putnam, so that the county now comprises nearly 25 townships.

The provisions of the act, however, were not to be carried into effect unless a majority of the voters in Putnam county, including those of the contemplated county, should elect to make the division.  The election came off on the first Monday in April, and was one of the most exciting ever witnessed in the county.  

The voters west of the river, within the proposed limits of Bureau, voted almost en masse for the division; those on the east side were almost as strongly opposed; except a few in certain localities, who believed the removal of the county seat of Putnam probable, if Bureau were set off, and that their local interests would thus be promoted.  The proposition prevailed by a majority of between thirty anf forty.  So much interest was felt in the result, that a general rejoicing took place throughout Bureau when it was fully known.  By the citizens of Princeton the news was greeted with many huzzas, bonfires, torch light processions and other tokens of joy (Sketches of Princeton, page 45.)

William Stadden, Peter Butler and Benj. Mitchell were appointed Commissioners to designate the seat of justice for the  new county.  Ther performed their duty in May, and located the county seat at Princeton.  On the first Monday, in June, the first election was held, when Arthur Bryant, R.C. Masters and Wm. Hoskins were chosen County Commissioners; and Bureau entered upon its separate history.

Back to Bureau County Illinois History and Genealogy

Miscellanous Information

The Hennepin Canal was built between 1890 and 1907 across Bureau County to connect the Illinois and Mississippi Rivers.


Settlements of Bureau County

Back to Bureau County Illinois History and Genealogy