Stockton Township

Jo Daviess County, Illinois

  City Hall - postcard above dated 1915

Main Street Looking South 1906 - Stockton IL

This name was suggested by Alanson Parker, who desired it named after a town in the East, and, also, as suggestive of the future development of the township, as one devoted to the raising of stock. The prophetic eye which foresaw this, was not in error, for today the farmers of this township are nearly all exclusive stock-raisers, and the beautiful prairies through it are devoted to pasturage or meadows; and stacks of hay are far more numerous than piles of straw, while the stubble is that of grass and corn, rather than of oats and wheat.

The first settler of the township was Henry Rice, who moved from Galena to Section 3 in 1832 with Philip Rice and others, who have been referred to more at length in the history of Rush Township. John Hayes moved to this township in 1836, from Indiana, where soon after his little daughter died . this being doubtless the first death of a white person in Stockton Township. Discouraged by the hardships of Western life, Mr. Hayes sold his claim and cabin, in 1837, to Elisha C. Hamilton, and returned to Indiana. Mr. Hamilton continued to live there until the time of his death, gaining a large circle of friends and being elected the first Supervisor of his township.

The fourth settler of this beautiful valley was Nathaniel Morris, who built a cabin on section 24, in 1838. He afterwards sold out to Mr. Jesse Wilson, and moved to Missouri, where he died. Mr. Wilson still resides in the original log house erected by Mr. Morris.

The next resident was John Wilkins, who settled in 1838, on the north of section 28, where he died. After 1839 the country became more rapidly inhabited. In that year Alanson and Benjamin Parker settled on section 24. Then followed Whipple C. Ward, Wm. Richards, Fred Tucker, and J. R. Patridge.

School was first taught by Sarah Miner, who afterwards married Aratus Haskell, one of the early settlers of Nora. The first school-house was built in 1843, of logs, on section 23. In this building Ben. F. Parker was the first teacher.

In the north half of the township the Wilsons were prominent among the early settlers. They took up large tracts of lands, and made extensive farms. Wm. Stayner was also an early settler. Ashael Morse came in 1841, and settled in the southeast corner of the township, on the site of Morseville. George L. Dow, Chester Parker, Orange Gray, the Lyons . , and Stephen Johnson soon followed. A school-house was built where Morseville now stands in the year 1846, where Betsy Lyon first taught. In 1855 a stone school-house was built on the same lot, and in 1871 a new two-story wooden building was erected, the stone structure being sold for a residence. Here C. C. Waldo first gave instruction. At present the teacher is J. Hamilton.

The first school records were made in 1843, when E. C. Hamilton, J. R. Patridge and B. F. Parker were appointed trustees by the Commissioners Court. An enumeration of school children was made that year and it was found that there were seventy-five in the township. In 1868 there were 670, and at the present time there are 559. In 1843 the township was divided into two districts; now there are eight school-houses and a number of joint districts with other townships.

The early history of Stockton and Ward . s Grove Townships is intimately connected, and many men who are now residents of Stockton Township, came to Ward . s Grove as early as 1835 to . 38. The Tyrrells came in 1838; Miles and Frank are now living in Stockton Township. James Blair was also an early settler of Ward . s Grove, although now living in Stockton. The vicinity of Morseville has been a trading point for a great many years; a blacksmith shop in 1851 by Jonathan Parker, and store, was one of the early institutions. In 1852, Miles Tyrrell purchased the business of Talbot, and has since been continually connected with the business interests of the place. In 1866, Ashael Morse had the Village of Morseville platted and recorded. In 1871 he built his hotel there, and, during the same year, the greater part of the buildings in the village were erected. In an early day the people were poorly provided with post-offices, although the township now has five. There was a post-office in the south part of the township known as West Plum River, but that was abandoned in 1842. Another office was established at or near the same place about 1849. During Buchanan . s administration it was removed to Morseville, and Miles Tyrrell made postmaster. R. Strickland at present manages the office.

In the Spring of 1862 another office was established, known as Yankee Hollow, and G. L. Dow made postmaster. He held the office until 1865, when B. F. Parker took it and held it until his death in 1874. His daughter was commissioned in Feb., 1875, and now holds the office. At quite an early day an office was established near the centre of the township known as Stockton, and Fred. Tucker was made postmaster. He went to California several years ago, when his wife took charge of the office, and continued to discharge the duties until May, 1875, when it was removed to Geo. Justus, and he was made postmaster. A post-office called Pitcherville was established in the northeast part of the township in 1868, and Mr. Pitcher officiated as postmaster. S. T. Eade now has charge of the office. In 1874 an office named Winters was established near the centre, with Henry Winter as ptstmaster. He still acts in that capacity. There are two church buildings in the township; one at the centre, and one at Morseville. The centre church nominally belongs to the Free Will Baptists, but the organization is very weak, and maintains no regular services. It was built in 1868. The church at Morseville is a Union church which was erected in 1870, and any denomination is welcome to the use of it. The Winebrenarians have a feeble organization, but do not hold regular services.

In 1875, an insurance company, known as the . Stockton and Ward . s Grove Mutual Fire and Lightning Insurance Company, . was organized under the act of 1874. . he present officers are M. K. Hammond, President, Geo. Justus, Secretary, and Samuel Tyrrel, Treasurer. The company has had only one loss, which amounted to $425. They now have 135 policies in force, and $150,000 liable to assessment. There is a Masonic Lodge at Morseville, known as Plum River Lodge No. 554. It was chartered Oct. 1, 1867. The present officers are Francis Tyrrell, Master; A. B. Byrum, S. W.; C. Tiffany, J. W.; Wm. Farrell, S. D.; S. E. Waldo, J. D.; J. N. Sharp, Chaplain; Samuel Tyrrell, Treasurer; F. S. Tyrreil, Secretary; Millard J ohnson and W. H. Starkey, Stewards; Jno. F. Tyrrell, Tyler. When the lands came into market the north half of this township was held as a mineral reserve, but the south half has proven the most valuable in mineral. More or less has been taken out since the country was first settled, but about 1871 the greatest quantity was found, and Morseville bid fair to become a lively mining town. But the lead suddenly gave out, and but very little has been done at it since. The manufacture of cheese was commenced, and two factories built. The work was abandoned, however, after a short time. At Morseville, H. F. Hastings has been in business in a general store for a number of years. He has always lived in the West, and is a thorough Western man. There are two blackmith shops in Morseville, also two wagon shops, one harness shop, one tin shop, one drug store, and one hotel. The latter was originated by Ashael Morse, who was killed about a year ago by being thrown from a wagon. Geo. A. Bixby now runs the hotel business. At the centre, Winter & Johnson are engaged in a general country store, and at Pitcherville, S. T. Eade is likewise engaged.

Stockton Centre Church is situated in the centre of the Town of Stockton. It was erected in the year 1868, by a Baptist organization then numbering about 100. It is a beautiful and substantial structure, size 34 by 44 feet, and cost $2,5oo. It has 56 seats, capable of seating 280 people. Elder Torrey was their pastor. Unfortunately, however, the Baptist organization proved to be short lived. The work of erecting the building having been done during an excitement created by a revival, the members retreated from the ranks one after another, until there remain but few members.

The Township of Stockton has never been modified since its organization in 1853. It had, in 186o, a population of 1,044, and in 1870, 1,214. Township Officers. . Supervisor, A. B. Byrum; Town Clerk, Joel G. Ball; Assessors, Win. H. Starkley; Collector, Ira T. Benton; Commissioners of Highways, Chester Parker and Martin T. Carpenter, the third place being vacant since the decease of Mr. John Phelps.

It is quite probable that the early settlers, of the Township of Stockton were attracted to that part of the county by its lead mines, as the county was pretty thoroughly prospected for such mines, and quite a quantity of lead ore has been raised within its borders. Henry Rice, John Hayes, John Wilkins, Elanson and Benjamin Parker, William Stainer and Asahel Morse were among its earliest settlers. George L. Dow, Chester Parker and the Johnsons came at a later date. In the southeast part of the township, near where the lead mines were, Mr. Morse planted a village which was called Morseville, but it never became incorporated. For a time it was a very busy, thriving place, and was a point of considerable importance. Later the Chicago Great Western Railroad Company built its lines through the northern portion of this township, and a village was laid out in Sections 11 and 12 called Stockton. It became incorporated on the 15th of April, 1890, and from the day it was first platted, it has continued to grow until, today, it is one of the most important villages in the county. Its people are intelligent and progressive. It has the finest and best equipped public school building in the county. It owns its water plant and, from the hill where the standpipe is located, is one of the finest views in the State. It is fast becoming a great shipping point for stock.
(Excerpt from the book History of Jo Daviess County 1904 and transcribed by Dori Leekley)