Knox County Illinois
When, in 1818, Illinois was admitted to the Union, it contained fifteen counties, the most northerly of which was Madison, which then included all the northwestern part of the State. An Act of Legislature, approved June 30, 1821, organized Pike County, which originally embraced all the territory lying north and west of the Illinois River. (Later, Schuyler County was organized from this district.) By a subsequent Act, of February 10, 1826, Knox County, as such, was attached, in common with the territory north and west of it, to Fulton County, for governmental purposes. These changes explain why, when the land records were completed, it was not infrequently necessary to go to Lewiston, Rushville, Pittsfield, Edwardsville, and Kaskaskia — the county seat when Illinois was but one county — to secure a complete chain of title to land conveyed.
PIONEERS AND EARLY SETTLERS.
Daniel and Alexander Robertson and Richard Matthews, who settled in the edge of Henderson Grove in February, 1828, are usually considered the pioneers in Knox County. Yet it seems certain that in 1826 or 1827, a man named Palmer, said to have been a bee hunter, came to the township now called Maquon and built a house on Section 3. (See Maquon Township.)
Whoever may have been the first settler, however, he was soon followed by others, and on 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, the only physician and the most popular man for miles around, Riggs Pennington, then the most prominent citizen in Northwestern Illinois, and John G. Sanburn, afterward a leader in county affairs, were appointed to address a petition, praying for the organization of Knox County, to Richard M. Young, Judge of the fifth Judicial circuit, then comprising Adams, Fulton, Jo Daviess, Peoria, and Schuyler Counties. This petition was presented to Judge Young at Lewiston, where he was holding court, by Pennington, Hansford, Stephen Osborn, the first Sheriff, and Philip Hash, one of the first County Commissioners. They convinced the Judge that Knox contained three hundred and fifty inhabitants, the number required by law, and on June 10, 1830, he declared the county organized, and a little later, at Galena, fixed the date of the first election as July 3, 1830. The election was held at the house of John R Gum, on Section 32, in Township 12 North. Range 1 East, a place now four miles northwest of Galesburg; the whole county forming but one election precinct.
FIRST COUNTY SEAT.
The county being thus organized, a law was approved on January 15, 1831, which fixed the county seat on the southwest quarter of Section 28, Township 11 North, Range 26, where the Commissioners platted a village called Henderson (name afterward changed to Knoxville) and defined the county boundaries. As originally fixed, these included the territory at present included within the limits of Knox County, together with Sections 12 and 13 North, Range 5 East, which now form a part of Stark County, and are known as West Jersey and Goshen. The county gradually grew in wealth and population. A court house and Jail were built in l831-2; roads were laid out from Knoxville in almost every direction; bridges were built as rapidly as the county's finances would permit, and everything possible was done to stimulate prosperity.
To the early settlers, Knox County afforded exceptional advantages for comfortable sustenance and rapid improvement. Material for shelter and for fuel was to be had in the groves; game was abundant at all times, and wild fruits in their season; honey could be found in the hollow trees; acorns, walnuts, hickory and hazel nuts were plentiful fur the swine; and good grazing for stock and hay to cut were in sight of the cabin door. Small fields for immediate cultivation were easily made by felling the trees, or in the rich, mellow soil from which hazel bushes had been torn. The prairie sod was tough; but after the first breaking, the ground proved fertile, easily worked and in the highest degree productive. To the settler with moderate means, no prospect could be more alluring. Needed improvements could rapidly be made. His buildings were sheltered by the groves, his rich, loamy fields, in front and beyond, afforded unlimited range for his stork. To the rugged pioneer of limited means, ease of present subsistence and the virtually unlimited opportunity offered to industry, energy, and prudence, were attractive. No country, new and remote from markets, could offer better inducements to the man without capital, seeking to work his way by the labor of his own hands, to competence and comfort. His own toil provided for his essential wants. For the walls of his house, he cut logs from small straight trees; from free-splitting oak or walnut, he made his shingles; from basswood logs he split planks; for chimney and hearth he procured stones, sticks, and clay; and for nails he used wooden pins or thongs of hide or hickory bark. His rifle or shotgun supplied him with meal; a small piece of ground, from which he grubbed the hazel bush, yielded him what grain and vegetables he needed: and a little corn, reduced to meal by pounding or grating, furnished flour for his bread. A coon skin made him a cap. Mocassins were made from skins dressed by himself. When his sheep were sheared, his wife, with her wheel, loom, and needle, made the clothes for the family. The few things beyond his reach, he obtained by barter in some, perhaps distant, town, offering in exchange the skins of animals, captured or slain through his own prowess; or honey, found in cavities of trees. Crops never failed; starvation never stared him in the face. Despite all the privations incident to pioneer life, the condition of the Knox County pioneer was luxurious, when compared with the lot of the man who chose his home in the dense forest, or on the plains of the far West, many of whose wants were to be supplied only by purchase, the means for which were often precarious, and meager at the best.
EARLY LAND TITLES.
How he should meet the payments to be made for his land was to him an after-consideration. Before they became a matter of solicitude, he was more than able to meet his living expenses, and had a surplus. If he had settled on Government land, he had to meet the cost of entry. Most of the land, however (the school sections, on which the neighboring settlers fixed the price, excepted), was included in the list of bounty lands, awarded to the soldiers of the War of 1812, and granted ten years before the first settler appeared in this county. Very few of the grantees paid any attention to the title to their lands. They sometimes disposed of them, at nominal prices, to speculators, and most of them were sold for taxes, the tax titles being bought and held on speculation. The settlers did not hesitate "to squat" on these lands. The comity of neighbors secured them from any danger of someone buying from under them, whether the settlement was on government or school lands, or on lands of private persons. Owners were not likely to find profit or pleasure in evictions, or to find it to their interest to refuse terms of sale which might be considered fair in the neighborhood. Indeed, mutually satisfactory arrangements were more easily obtained because of the low cost to the holder and the questionable character of his title, and for the additional reason that it was well-nigh impossible to arouse any compunction in the breast of the average pioneer, as to the unlimited use of timber belonging to non-residents.
In those times, not only saloons but also stores of all kinds were licensed by the Commissioners' Court. It is an interesting and significant fact that, while the fee charged for a general store in 1836 was eight dollars per annum, William Denby was compelled to pay fifty dollars for the privilege of peddling clocks for three months. The explanation seems to be that the peddler was a Yankee; shrewd, perhaps tricky, and an object of suspicion and distrust, as were most of those who hailed from a different locality; for the majority of early settlers were Kentuckians.
IMMIGRATION TO KNOX COUNTY
Take the map of the United States, and draw a line from Galesburg through Vincennes, Indiana. When prolonged, it will penetrate the heart of the blue grass country. Along that line, as a sort of main channel, with countless outpourings on either side, flowed the tide of settlement from Kentucky, Tennessee, and Virginia. Down to 1832, the year of the Black Hawk War, Knox County settlers came mainly from these States, either directly, or from temporary homes in southern Indiana and Illinois. Later, with the termination of Indian hostilities, when immigration was resumed, the tide, at first, set chiefly from the same sources, although the number of settlers from the Northern States gradually increased.
Eastern immigration set in in full force in 1836, the year of the arrival of the Galesburg Colony. It was an era of such enterprises, and many colonies of Easterners sought to found cities in the West. But in one respect the Galesburg Colony stands alone. It was not a money-making enterprise. These colonists sought to build up a community, and those original members of the colony, who could not come to live on their lands, were encouraged to surrender their holdings to permanent settlers. This was in direct contrast with the action of other colonies, where most of the members remained at their Eastern homes, and held their lands simply for speculative purposes. It is this element of contrast, perhaps, which largely promoted Galesburg’s rapid growth, as compared with the more tardy development of other enterprises of a like general character.
The immediate addition to the population was considerable. From that time forward the Southern immigration began to decline, and New York, New England, Ohio and Pennsylvania supplied the majority of the new arrivals. The first considerable European accession was the Scotch settlement in the northeastern part of the county, chiefly in Copley. In 1846, a religious and communistic colony, under the leadership of Eric Janson, settled at Bishop Hill, in Henry County, near the northeastern corner of Knox. Influenced by Rev. Jonas Hedstrom, a Methodist clergyman, who had emigrated from Sweden and who was then living in Victoria, a considerable number seceded from this colony and settled on farms near Victoria. Steady immigration from Sweden followed. Some of the new arrivals devoted themselves to agriculture, but more, either preferring, or better prepared for, work in town, came to Galesburg, whose rapid growth from 1850 to 1857 created a demand for their labor. They are now to be found in all parts of the county, engaged in all descriptions of occupations; while in the northern towns and in Galesburg, the Swedish element constitutes a large proportion of the population.
The Irish first appeared in force in 1854, as laborers on the railroad. For some time they remained content with this employment, but, little by little, they began to seek other outlets for their energy, many going to work upon farms. Accession to their numbers followed through immigration from the old country. Other foreign countries have contributed but little to the county’s population. Negroes are found mainly in the cities, occupying substantially the same positions as in other centers in Illinois.
All the land between the Illinois and Mississippi Rivers, as far as the north line of Mercer County, is in the Military Tract, so called because the Government patented most of it as bounty to soldiers of the War of 1812. When the United States survey was made, the surveyors reported the character of each quarter section. From these reports the patents were made out, and great care was taken to give the soldiers the lands which were well timbered and watered. What was left of such desirable pieces was open to pre-emption by the first settlers. Aside from the manifest convenience incident to the conjunction of prairie and woodland in close proximity, the Southerners found the flat lands objectionable for many reasons. Cold winter winds swept over the open expanse, and these were, at times, unbroken, even by the groves and thickets which furnished the wood for their cabins and fences. These immigrants from the southland, moreover, brought with them modes of building and styles adapted to a warmer country. Before Eastern immigration had assumed considerable proportions, the residents believed Knox County to be quite thoroughly settled. There were few localities left where both good wood and prairie land could be found together. And they thought it better for themselves that their long, broad ranges for stock should not be disturbed. The settlers who came from the East, however, were accustomed to rigorous winters and severe outdoor labor in cold weather. They knew no fear of prairie winters, whose winds were offset by the refreshing breezes of summer. Their modes of building and dress were suited to the climate. They brought stoves, hitherto unknown in this new section, which reduced the labor of providing fuel. They were willing to take their farms on the prairie and their wood lots in the heart of the grove. Still, the distance from wood was an element not to be ignored in fixing the value of land. The greater the distance, the greater the cost of improvement and maintenance, as well as of the indispensable fuel. For many years, prairie land was practically unsalable unless woodland was offered in connection with it. Gradual changes took place which made the prairie farms more and more desirable. Coal mines were opened, and, in some extent, coal began gradually to supplant wood as fuel. Improved facilities for transportation made lumber cheaper, and revised and more stringent stock laws made less fencing necessary. Hedges began to be planted, and railroads established stations in the center of the largest prairies. Still, in 1850, many of the larger tracts of prairie land remained unenclosed, and were for sale at low prices. Yet so steady was the appreciation in the value of these farms, that by 1858, practically no open prairie was left unoccupied.
The consumption of wood for improvements, fuel, and repairs reduced the area of timber land. Only a small proportion of the original forest, or even of the second growth, remains. Yet the wood famine, so long predicted, has been averted. The importation of lumber and the changes in the style of building and fencing, together with the substitution of coal for wood as fuel, have made the timber yet standing of comparatively little value to the farmer. The woodland, stripped of trees, was long left unoccupied, except in small tracts by persons of very limited means, who found partial occupation in teaming, mining, wood-cutting, and casual labor for others. It was considered inferior to the prairie, and, encumbered with stumps, bushes and worthless trees, it was not easily ploughed. As the prairie range for cattle disappeared, however, these lands were enclosed for pasturage. As Western competition in cattle made grazing land less valuable, these cleared lands began to offer greater inducements for cultivation. Decay of stumps, and destruction of bushes and sprouts through grazing, removed obstacles, and the turf of blue grass and white clover, following the removal of the shade, prepared the soil for the plough.
After the founding of Galesburg the county grew rapidly. Its population steadily increased until near 1870, when the census returns showed a larger population than ever before or since. The cultivation of the land has been more extensive and thorough; but the number employed in agricultural work has decreased. The farms are made and the labor that was needed in their making is no longer required, while cheaper methods of building and fencing have reduced the labor necessary for maintenance. More work is done, too, by casual help, living in towns. Holdings are larger than they were, and fewer hands, proportionally, are employed on large than on small farms. Another reduction in the amount of manual labor needed has resulted from the adoption of better methods of planting, cultivating, and harvesting, three and four horse teams and machinery having taken the place of men. That class of small farmers who occupied a portion of their time at other work has disappeared. There is an increased tendency, on the part of those not wholly devoted to agriculture, to seek homes and employment in the towns; and this statement holds good even of those owners who prefer to lease their lands or place them in the hands of hired men, in order to give their families the convenience and comforts of a town residence.
Woodcutters and coal miners are less numerous, consumption of wood for fuel having decreased owing to the substitution of coal, oil, and gas, while even the wood and soft coal of this county are largely displaced by the output of others.
With the construction of railroads, villages sprang up and grew rapidly. Their growth was checked and followed by a decline, a circumstance attributable to various causes, such as the falling off in the surrounding population, the competition of other stations on subsequently constructed railroads and the enlarged facilities for reaching and trading in larger towns.
From 1870 to 1890, the population outside of Galesburg fell off twenty-five per cent, although considerable compensation for this loss was found in the growth of the city itself. Since 1890, however, the falling off in the townships has been checked, while the population of Galesburg has steadily increased. A table of the population follows:
11,333 votes for President
In 1840, Henderson was the most populous township, having eight hundred and fifty-six residents. Knox ranked second with seven hundred and thirty-three, and Cedar third, with six hundred and sixteen. Since 1860, Galesburg has been in the lead, with Knox second and Cedar third.
Prior to 1854, the most important events in the history of Knox County, after the county seat had been laid out and the county machinery put in motion were the coming of the Galesburg Colony. In 1836-37, the building of a new court house in 1839, and a new jail in 1841, and the changes of government from County Commissioners to County Judges in 1849, and to township organization in 1853. During all this time, the county was never in debt, although taxes were very low, never exceeding fifty cents on the hundred dollars.
In 1854, the railroad came, imparting a great impetus to the county’s growth. From 1850 to 1860, the percentage of increase in population was larger than in any other decade of its history, except the first. Galesburg profited more from this than the rural districts, containing, in 1860, more than one-half of the total population; while in 1850 it had but one-twelfth. This led to the agitation of the questions of transferring the county seat to Galesburg, which finally ended in its removal in 1873.
With a rising tide of immigration, pauperism came to be a perplexing problem. An almshouse was first built in 1866. Additions were made in 1876 and again in 1890.
WAR OF REBELLION
In 1861, came the war, and Knox County’s duty was nobly done. She furnished three thousand eight hundred and seventy-six troops, only eighty-seven of whom were “hundred day men”; a record exceeded by only seven counties in Illinois. Of these, one hundred and twenty-three were killed in action, one hundred and sixty-eight were wounded, three hundred and forty-four died, and ninety-six were captured. (For a list of Knox County soldiers see “Knox County Roll of Honor,” published in 1896 by the Memorial Hall Committee of the G.A.R.). At home, too, as well as in the field, the county bore its part with cheerful zeal and patriotic devotion. The people were most liberal, one township vying with another in striving to lighten the burdens of the soldiers. What was privately contributed cannot even be estimated; but Galesburg Township alone gave $62,340 in addition to the aid rendered volunteers’ families after the war had ended. The Board of Supervisors was ever active and generous in providing for these, and the records of that body are full of resolutions and orders looking to this end. Large sums were borrowed for the payment of bounties, the amount reaching $58,610 by January 12, 1863, and being subsequently materially augmented. The total outlay by Knox County on this account and for aid to soldiers’ families exceeded $400,000. Even as late as May 1, 1866, the Board voted to continue to extend assistance to the latter when actually needing and deserving relief.
NEW COUNTY BUILDINGS
The removal of the county seat rendered the provision of suitable county buildings at Galesburg imperative. The city had already donated to the county twenty thousand dollars toward the erection of a jail, besides giving as a site for the structure the ground on Cherry Street on which the “fire-proof building” now stands. In addition, the municipality had agreed to provide a court room for ten years.
The first consideration was the building of the jail, and on January 15, 1874, the contract therefore was given to I.R. Stevens, the consideration named being $34,900. It was occupied October 3, following. The old Opera House, on the southern side of the public square in Galesburg was secured and utilized for the purpose of a court room, and no haste was shown in the erection of a permanent edifice. In fact, it was not until September, 1886, that such a building was completed. It is one of the best arranged and handsomest court houses in the State. The old offices, in the “fire-proof building” on Cherry Street, had become utterly inadequate to the needs of the county, and when the latter vacated them, the city took possession of the building, and at present, some of the municipal offices are located there.
The chief industries of Knox County have always been agriculture and stock- raising. Manufactures have never played an important part in its economic history. There is no water transportation, and the river counties naturally had great advantages over it prior to the building of the railroads across its surface. The lead thus obtained has been steadily kept. Brick manufacture, however, has thrived since steam gave better transportation facilities, and some of the largest and best brick plants in the United States are at present located here. The machine shops of the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Company also employ a large force. What manufacturing is done is mainly at Galesburg, Abingdon, and Knoxville, to which captions the reader is referred for more detailed information.
The county is everywhere underlaid with coal of good quality, but the veins are too thin to be profitably worked on a large scale. It has been supposed that in Copley and Victoria coal existed in paying quantities, and to tap these coal fields the Galesburg and Great Eastern Railroad was built from Wataga to Etherley.
The soil and climate are well adapted to the growth of all cereals and grasses common to this latitude, while for stock raising they are unsurpassed. The attention given to each branch of farming has varied, from time to time, with the changes in conditions, reduction in the cost of transportation, the opening of new markets, changes in methods of cultivation due to the introduction of machinery, and the lowering of profits through the competition of newer settlements.
In the early history of the county, vegetables and grain were raised for consumption by the settlers themselves. As more and more land was placed under cultivation, the unmerchantable surplus was utilized in the raising of stock.
Wheat was the first grain raised for transportation, the acreage sown increasing year by year for a considerable time. It was sold in Peoria and Oquawka, and, before the opening of the Illinois and Michigan Canal, was sometimes hauled to Chicago, the farmers bringing back salt and pine lumber.
The cost of transportation and of harvesting determined the extent of the crop. It was cut with cradles, bound by hand, and threshed by tramping with horses. Extra hands in harvest were not easily secured, and wages were relatively high. The fist threshing machines were introduced about 1842; the first reapers, about 1847. Primitive and inefficient as they were, compared with those at present in use, they saved labor and rendered the extension of cultivation possible, while the improvements, made each year upon the crude patterns of the early days, have increased their practical value a hundred fold. The light snow falls left the young plants exposed to the extreme cold of winter, which sometimes destroyed them, especially on the bleak, unprotected prairie. On newly broken ground, the fall growth was usually vigorous enough to pass safely through this danger; but on land which had been for some time cultivated, the crop was a precarious one, and its continued culture was due to the introduction of improved varieties of spring wheat. As competition from newer settlements grew and the ravages of insects became more fatal, less wheat was sown, until in the sixties, wheat-culture was abandoned on most farms.
About 1883, press drills began to come into use, and many farmers discovered that by employing this valuable agency, preparing the ground more carefully, this cereal might be raised with better chance of success. Its cultivation was therefore resumed, and continued for twelve years with satisfactory results. The past three or four years, however, have proved less profitable.
The principal crop of the county is, and always has been, corn. On most farms, the acreage is limited, by necessity of such diversification of crops as will give occupation to the farmer and his men outside the corn season, proper rest to the soil, and pasturage and hay for stock.
But little corn was reported from the county before the coming of the railroads. In 1844, the first attempt was made. Prices were enhanced at the seaboard by the excitement caused by the Irish famine. Lorentus E. Conger, John L. Clay, and Joel Graham, living southwest of Galesburg, collected their surplus corn, purchased a large crop on the neighboring Gale farm, hauled it to Oquawka, and loaded it there on a flat boat. They had no corn-shellers, and they shelled their corn by tramping with horses. They carried it to New Orleans, where they sold it, returning with its value in groceries and silver dollars. Even since the construction of railroads, the great bulk of Knox County corn has been consumed at home. The acreage was never greater than now, and the raising of live stock has been greatly reduced; yet only a fraction of the crop is exported.
Next to corn, the crop most extensively raised is oats. A large proportion of this goes out of the county. Its relative worth for shipment as compared with its feeding value at home is greater than that of corn. Although a less valuable crop than the latter, its cultivation on some portion of the farm permits a more continuous occupation of the working force, as well as a change the following year to grass or clover.
Rye and barley are good crops, but generally regarded as less desirable than either wheat or oats. Millet, in all its varieties, is often profitably raised, especially on farms not well supplied with meadow, or on ground that has proved too wet for early planting.
Broom corn is also cultivated in some sections with profit. The country around Galesburg and Galva was among the first localities in the West to make this crop a farm product, and for several years was the chief Western growing district for broom corn. Its cultivation has proved, on the whole, very profitable, but owing to a fall in prices and a distaste for the character of the work which it requires, it has greatly fallen off.
A considerable amount of maple sugar was formerly made, the maple growing extensively in some parts of the county, notably along the branches of Henderson Creek. The fine old trees have nearly all disappeared, having been felled to furnish fuel for the fires of the cities and villages, while pastures and fields of grain and grass occupy the places where it grew.
For some time, between 1850 and a date subsequent to the close of the Civil War, there was an extensive cultivation of sorghum, for the manufacture of molasses for domestic use or for barter at the store. But as sugar grew cheaper, and the demand for other farm products improved, the industry gradually declined; so that at present very little of this variety of sugar cane is raised.
From the beginning, cattle and hogs have been among the county’s staple products. Mast furnished food for the hogs, and all surplus corn could thus be easily used with profit. Until the railroads provided easy means of transportation, live hogs were sometimes driven to the packers. As a rule, however, the animals were dressed at home, and sold in late autumn or early winter. For many years, they were the farmer’s chief reliance for raising ready money.
The first purchasers of cattle were drovers from Ohio, who bought for feeders. The next were the packers at the river points and in Chicago. To meet the demand, the cattle were pastured on the prairie and wintered on prairie hay and straw, and some corn. There was little full feeding until the railroad reached Chicago from Buffalo, furnishing a route thence to New York by rail and water for live stock driven to Lake Michigan. All rail transportation followed afterwards. From that time nothing but full fed cattle went from Knox County. With the loss of open range, and the increase in cultivation of farm products, feeding became more and more the rule. But western competition, the requirements of a growing urban population for supplies, and the increased exportation of corn, oats and hay, have altered the policy and practice of the farmers, and reduced the number of cattle and hogs fattened for shipment.
Dairying has never been prominent among the county’s industries. Farmers keep cows to supply the domestic requirements and often export a surplus to the towns. There are a few small dairies, however, whose products are sold chiefly directly to consumers.
From 1836 to 1840, some farmers immigrating from the dairy districts in Herkimer and Oneida counties, New York, brought with them their methods of cheese making. About 1880, there was begun the establishment of cheese factories and creameries, after the pattern set by Elgin. Several were started and very good work was done; but the industry, as a whole, was foreign to the habits of Knox County farmers and laborers, and all but one or two have been discontinued, notwithstanding the fact that the country is well adapted to dairying. The supplying of milk to the towns is now a business of some importance and is growing.
The early settlers who made their own clothing kept sheep. About 1840, large flocks were brought in, the inducements being the little care needed for keeping, cheapness of feed, the high price of wool in comparison with that of other products and the ease of transportation. Yet sheep have gradually given way to cattle and hogs, and now only a few, small, scattered flocks are to be found.
The methods employed in farming and the habits of the people in both city and country require a large supply of horses. The county has always raised more than were needed for the use of its own people. At all times, a great deal of attention had been paid to the propagation and rearing of this variety of stock, and Knox has never been without animals of high breeding.
HAY AND GRASS SEED
Meadows and pastures occupy a large portion of the entire area. Until after 1850, cattle were kept on the open range, only cows kept for milking or high bred stock being found within fenced fields. With close feeding, the old prairie grass soon disappeared, giving place to weeds, which in time were followed by a volunteer growth of red top, blue grass, and white clover. Some timothy was sown as early as 1835, but there seemed little inducement to give up ground to the preparation of artificial meadows and the increase of meadow land was slow. Straw was too abundant to have any value, and corn was cheap enough to feed to stock in winter. Even down to 1858, the area of meadow land, although gradually increasing, was small. A large proportion of the farms had none, relying, perhaps, on a small piece of prairie, never ploughed or pastured. In 1840, Nathan O. Ferris began the saving and shipping of timothy seed and soon had a large part of his nine hundred acre farm devoted to this crop. The seed brought considerable better prices in New York than did eastern seed on account of its quality and supposed freedom from weeds. He was followed by G. W. G. Ferris and W. S. Gale, on neighboring farms. In 1859, there were five hundred acres of meadow in timothy on the Gale farm. It was kept for a seed crop, the cost of cutting it for hay and the great difficulty in getting the work done at all, together with the greater value of the seed, preventing any other use. The seed was saved with comparatively little labor. But as mowing machines were improved, the saving of the hay became possible. There was by this time a large increase in the acreage of meadow land in the county, and the crop a fine one, for which there was a strong demand in the Southern markets. Watkins and Brothers, in Galesburg, and W. S. Gale, on his farm procured hay presses, and were the first to introduce that work into Knox County. Within two years the war demand sprang up, while an improvement of presses permitted the shipping of heavier loads to the car; and an industry was established that is still of importance in the county.
A CANAL-BOAT JOURNEY
One of the most romantic episodes of Knox County history was the journey hither by water, undertaken by some of the Galesburg colonists. In the spring of 1836, John C. Smith, of Oneida, N.Y., who owned some boats on the Erie Canal, proposed that some of the colonists should journey to Illinois in a canal-boat. The proposition was accepted, a canal-boat was purchased on shares, and thirty-seven persons, varying in age from three weeks to fifty years, embarked for the long voyage, with Mr. Smith as captain. The starting point was at Utica, but the various families joined the party at different places on the way to Buffalo, where the passengers and baggage were transferred to a steamer which towed the empty barge. A storm arose, and the boat was abandoned by all except the captain, who remained on board and brought it safely into Cleveland, six days after the steamer had landed the colonists there.
From Cleveland, the party went by canal to Portsmouth and thence down the Ohio to Cincinnati, where they had a sort of propeller made to take them up the Mississippi, and part way up the Illinois rivers. It was not a first-class machine; but they made it answer the purpose on the Mississippi, and part way up the Illinois, until finally they had to tie to a steamer, which conveyed them to their landing place at the mouth of Copperas Creek. The hot weather had been very severe, and upon their arrival, every one of the party was ill. The man most capable of traveling, at once started on horseback for Log City. The settlers there sent wagons for the party; but Captain Smith died before reaching Log City, and was the first to be buried in the colony cemetery. Soon after Mr. Lyman and Mr. Mills also passed away.
Notwithstanding the difficulties, discouragements, and illness, the trip had its bright side. All were good-natured and ready to help one another. On Saturday afternoons, they would find a good landing place and tie up the boat for over Sunday. If near a town, they would look up a school house and hold service in it, inviting the neighboring residents to attend. There was one object in common to them all, and that was to establish the Christian religion in the new country, and it was this thought that made them so companionable and gave them fortitude to endure the hardships that accompanied their journey of eleven weeks.
(Taken in part from an article ready by Mrs. George Avery at thesemi-centennial of the Old First Church.)
ROADS AND BRIDGES
Early Knox County settlers found little difficulty in traveling for want of roads. There were no high hills, and the streams were fordable, during ordinary stages of the water, at points near each other. The deepest valleys were easily reached through the swales. The marshy margins of streams were covered with thick turf which, with tall grass, furnished support in crossing. When continued travel cut this up, it was only necessary to turn to either side.
As settlement and travel increased, roads were laid out, the most important of which ran from the county seat to the principal points in other counties. As early as 1835, Knoxville was the center of a network of such roads; some were laid out by commissioners appointed by the Legislature, to be changed only by act of Legislature, others by the County Board, subject to alteration by the same. The roads, as nearly as possible, ran straight to the objective point with but slight variations made by the character of the ground, avoiding all difficult work and respecting the property of actual settlers, but paying little attention to the interests of non-residents. When settlement increased, the regard for occupants and consequent following of property lines—section and half section—the roads were less direct, and often diverted from their original course for the convenience of the new land-owners. Prior to 1853, the County Commissioners (who were, from 1849 to 1853, the County Judges) managed the roads and bridges, giving as much as three-fourths of their official time to this business; for in the early days, when wagon roads were the only means of communication, their making was an important undertaking. In accordance with the law of March 1, 1827, the Commissioners divided the county into road districts, appointing a road supervisor in each, who reported annually to the County Court at the December term, when they were appointed for the ensuing year. In 1832, there were two road districts, one comprising the county south and east, the other all north and west of Spoon River; in 1837, the number of districts was sixteen, and by 1849, it had reached sixty-three.
Bridges were built as soon as they could be afforded, the first ones being constructed in 1836, one each over Pope and Court Creeks, two over Haw Creek, and one over Henderson, five in all, at a total cost of $571. In 1839, the first Spoon River bridges, one at Coleman’s Ford, Section 30 of Truro Township, and one near Maquon, about half a mile south of the present Maquon bridge, were contracted for and finished by September, 1840, at a cost of a little more than $1500.
Upon the adoption of township organization, the town authorities were given control of all the roads in Knox County, including the State roads, excepting the streets of incorporated cities and villages. In each township, three highway commissioners are elected for three year terms, one being chosen each year. They collect and apply the land tax and a poll tax on every voter, unless, as has generally been done, the voters at the town meeting abolish the poll tax. County aid is authorized under certain conditions and has been extended to the partial construction of bridges over large streams.
Knox County has throughout a mellow soil almost without gravel or sand, with little material for road building. The conditions have been fairly met. The difficulties, fortunately not great when people were few, have increased with the population, and as the growing travel came to be confined to highways enclosed by fences, the necessary bridging, grading, and draining have increased. The roads are regularly worked, culverts are made for the sloughs, and over the streams are good bridges, often built with stone abutments and iron girders. Except in the city of Galesburg, there are no paved streets. Knox County farmers do not favor to any great extent the “good roads movement”. They do not care “to trade their farms for a road to town”. But careful drainage and the judicious use of scrapers and plows have made the roads fairly good, except for a short time in the spring and fall. These occasional inconveniences are mitigated by the splendid system of railroads spreading out from the county seat and bringing every farm within a short distance of the station.
This stream is said to have received its name from the circumstance that a party of sportsmen, in the early days, lost their spoons while fishing on its waters, near the present site of London Mills.
It enters Knox County from Peoria County, near the northern line of Section 12, in Truro Township, and leaves it at about the central part of Section 34, in Chestnut, after winding more than forty miles through Truro, Haw Creek, Maquon, and Chestnut townships, and for a little way on the edge of Elba and Persifer townships. It is by far the largest stream in the county, four-fifths of which it drains. Once it was thought possible to make it a navigable stream, but the decadence of river traffic stopped effort in that direction. It is a tributary of the Illinois.
Besides Spoon River, only two streams in Knox County are of sufficient size to merit any detailed description—Pope and Cedar Creeks. The others are small tributaries of these, or of the Henderson, a river rising in Henderson Township and flowing into the Mississippi, but becoming important only in counties west of Knox.
Cedar Creek flows for a few miles through Sections 30 and 31 of Indian Point. It is a tributary of Spoon River, and nearly as large as the Spoon, at their junction a little way south of London Mills, in Fulton County. It is sometimes called the South Fork of Spoon, and is formed by the union, in Warren County, of several smaller streams. It drains a little of Galesburg and Chestnut townships, and most of Cedar and Indian Point. “Rock House,” a peculiar rock formation on Cedar Creek, in Warren County, is a favorite picnic ground for many Knox County people.
Pope Creek rises in Ontario and flows west to the Mississippi, into which it empties near Keithsburg, leaving Knox in Section 6 of Rio. It drains about half of the township last named and a little more than half of Ontario.
Among the more important of the minor streams is Cedar Fork, running in a westerly course through Galesburg Township and uniting with the Henderson in Warren County. Court Creek rises near the east line of Knox Township and flows east about twenty miles to join Spoon River in Persifer, just below Dahinda. The two branches of Haw Creek rise, one near Knoxville and one in the northwestern part of Haw Creek. They unite near the southwestern corner of Orange, and then flow nearly due south, emptying into the Spoon in Section 24 of Chestnut.
Brush Creek, the largest branch of Haw Creek, rises in Section 34 of Galesburg, and after draining a little more than the eastern half of Cedar, the western half of Orange and northwestern quarter of Chestnut, joins Haw Creek near the line between Sections 1 and 2 of Chestnut. Willow (Litter’s) Creek runs west through Salem and Maquon, emptying into Spoon River, on Section 25 of Chestnut. French Creek rises in Peoria County, drains the greater part of Elba, and parts of Haw Creek and Salem townships, and empties into the Spoon on Section 20 of Maquon. Walnut Creek is formed by the union, in Walnut Grove, of several small streams. It drains all of Lynn and Walnut Grove and part of Ontario, Sparta, Copley, and Victoria, and joins Spoon River in Peoria County. The Kickapoo is a small tributary of the Illinois River, and flows about five miles to the southwestern portion of Salem.
This attractive body of water lies about two miles east of Galesburg, and the first house upon its banks was built about fifteen years ago by George Washington Brown. It is three-fourths of a mile long with a width of from ten to thirty rods. It is fed by springs and its greatest depth is about twenty feet. A driveway runs around it, and there is a pleasant park here. A little steamer carries passengers on it, and row boats are kept for hire. There is also a natatorium, and the street cars from Galesburg run close by. It is a favorite resort for Galesburgers. Soangetaha, the society club of Galesburg, has its house, open only to members, on the northwest side of the lake, and the clubhouse has been the rendezvous for most delightful picnics and dancing parties.
Of mining and building stone there is but little in the county. From Section 16, in Township 11 North, Range 2 East, a fairly good quality of sandstone has been obtained and there is also found there a conglomerate stone that has been largely used in laying foundations throughout the county. In some places, noticeably just south of Yates City, the limestone ledge lies just above a coal vein. A quarry in Section 6 has been worked for commerce. It is from one to four feet thick, and yields a fairly good building stone.
There is accessible coal in nearly every township in the county. In the northeastern and southeastern portions, vein No. 6 is the surface vein. It is of good quality, and four and one half feet thick. The other veins range from two and one-half to five feet in thickness. In Henderson and Rio Townships, the surface vein is extensively worked. All the coal veins in the county have been located save the opening of No. 5 and, perhaps, of No. 1. There are, however, comparatively few extensive mining operations conducted, owing to the fact that in most instances the mines are remote from the railroads. Consequently there is not enough coal mined in the whole of Knox County to meet the needs of the larger towns, which are in no small measure supplied from mines in neighboring counties, where better railroad facilities afford cheaper transportation to market. The time is coming, however, when the large resources of this county will prove valuable. The ease with which coal can be procured by the farming community from the numerous small local handlers, at low cost, forms one of the most promising features in the present outlook.
The following list shows the estimated original coal acreage of the county: Rio, 4,000; Sparta, 6,000; Walnut Grove, 2,000; Truro, 2,000; Henderson, 6,000; Knox 2,000; Copley, 7,000; Elba, 1,000; Cedar, 2,000; Orange, 2,000; Maquon, 6,000; Salem, 1,000; Indian Point, 2,000; Chestnut, 2,000; Victoria, 7,000. Total acreage 52,000.
There is also some coal obtainable in the other townships.
More or less limestone was formerly burned on Section 24 of Township 12 North, Range 2 East, but the industry is now dead.
To a limited extent, brick were made in Knox County at an early date. They were certainly made in Rio Township as early as 1836, but there could have been only a small demand, for few homes could boast of a chimney or hearth of better material than clay. The available materials were not good; and as the yellow clay underlying the prairie surface soil, or exposed in broken timber land, was used, the product was from very poor to barely fair.
In 1867-8, Joseph Stafford and his friends found in the upper Court Creek valley, on the west line of Knox Township, a large exposure of shale, which seemed to be a good material for roofing, when mixed with tar. A not very successful attempt was made to bring it into extensive use for that purpose, but in working it, it proved to be well suited for the making of drain tile. With further treatment, an excellent quality of building brick was made, but difficulties were met in its profitable use for that purpose, and its proper adaptation was ultimately found in the production of paving brick.
There was some demand in Galesburg for this commodity, and soon its value came to be known in other localities. A gradually growing market was found, notwithstanding that the works were experimental and the facilities for transportation were not the best, the works being nearly three miles from a railroad. The construction of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe line through Court Creek valley was promptly followed by a branch from the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy road, and shipment of the product was rendered far easier.
With the improvement in transportation facilities, new companies were formed and large additional works constructed, whose product, being found unexcelled by that of any other locality, and equaled by the output of only a few, soon gained a wide and extensive market.
Brick were made in Uniontown, Salem Township, in 1841, where the industry was continued for ten or fifteen years. Very early, also, they were manufactured in Knoxville, Galesburg and perhaps at other points.
The first brick made from shale, the old yards using potter’s or prairie clay, were made in the Court Creek valley by the Galesburg Pressed Brick and Tile Company in 1883.
In 1875, F. P. Folz and C. Piester started a tile and brick works about two miles west of the city of Abingdon, using potter’s clay. In 1884, Reed, Duffield and Sons established a plant which was converted into a paving brick manufactory by Frank Latimer, in 1885. An excellent quality of shale is found just north of the city, at a depth of about fifty feet. In 1892, the business was put in the hands of a stock company—the Abingdon Paving Brick and Tile Company—which now continues it.
In recent years brick making has become one of the great industries of Knox County. In several places, notably in the Court Creek valley, a peculiar shale is found, which makes a most excellent quality of paving brick; so good, in fact, that “Galesburg Brick” are now the standard mentioned in paving contracts west of Indiana. This shale is a fine-grained, slaty rock, somewhat resembling soap stone, and it is chiefly (almost exclusively) used for the manufacture of paving brick, for which it has been found best adapted. The brick are generally large, measuring two and five-eighths or three inches, as this size seems most desirable for paving.
It is impossible to determine the precise extent of the shale beds. They are found near Abingdon, Knoxville and Wataga; but the largest deposits are in Knox Township, along Court Creek. The so-called Galesburg Brick are made in the valley of this creek by four Galesburg companies. The Galesburg Brick and Terra Cotta Company, the Purington Paving Brick Company, the Galesburg Paving Brick Company, and the Galesburg Vitrified Brick Company. These four factories have a total capacity of 450,000 to 500,000 brick per day. The last named has its plant in Sparta Township, near Wataga, the other three being located in Knox Township, near Randall; but all are in the valley of Court Creek or its branches. The pioneer concern in this locality was the Galesburg Pressed Brick and Tile Company, which was incorporated April 4, 1883. It had a capacity of about 45,000 brick per day. For a number of years it was successful, but finally met with reverses, and was closed in 1894.
The Purington Paving Brick Company was incorporated May 15, 1890, for the manufacture of paving bricks. The organization of this concern was primarily due to the perseverance of Asa A. Matteson, who had great faith in the superiority of the deposit of shale in Court Creek valley. Mr. D.V. Purington, who had for many years been one of the largest manufacturers of brick in the United States, becoming acquainted with Mr. Matteson, joined with him; the result being the formation of a company with a capital stock of $200,000. The first officers were D. V. Purington, President; W., S. Purington, Vice-President and General Manager; Asa A. Matteson, Secretary and Treasurer. The officers and stockholders of the company caught the fever of enlargement, and a new corporation, called the St. Louis Paving Brick Company was organized in January 1893, the stockholders of which were largely those of the Purington company. When it was completed a consolidation of the two was effected, with a capital of $500,000. The works of the present corporation are the largest in the United States. Its plant covers seventy-five acres, gives employment to three hundred and fifty men and has a capacity of 300,000 brick per day.
The Galesburg Vitrified Brick Company was organized in 1891, and has a capacity of 25,000 to 40,000 brick per day.
In the process of manufacture the shale is first ground and then thoroughly mixed with water. It is then pressed by machinery into the desired shape, and the green brick, thus made, and dried for a certain length of time in the drying houses, heated by hot air. They are next put in kilns and burned until vitrification takes place. They are then impervious to moisture and withstand any degree of heat or cold without cracking, which is the feature which renders them so durable for pavement.
Brick were made at Knoxville from prairie clay at a very early day. The present plant has been in existence for many years, and for a short time paving brick were made. The works are now closed.
THE STEEL PLOW
It is only just to Knox County that we should perpetuate in history the fact that it furnished the first steel plow in America. This invention alone increased the material wealth of the Mississippi Valley many millions of dollars annually; for the same steam power can now do the work better in one day than in two prior to 1842, the year the steam plow was invented. Before that time, except along some water courses and strips of sandy soil, all plowmen had to stop about every ten rods and scrape the dirt off the moldboard.
Mr. Harvey Henry May, the inventor of this valuable agricultural implement, was born in Washington County, New York, and moved with his family to Galesburg, Knox County, Illinois in 1837, thus becoming identified with the interests and advancements of the town from its earliest settlement. Almost immediately on his arrival in the West, he commenced experiments in making a plow that would scour bright in the prairie soil, and after many disappointments he finally discovered that plow shares of fine steel, instead of cast or wrought iron, would adequately answer this purpose. Mr. May soon began the manufacture of these plows, which were sought far and near, and that they continued to be made after the May patterns for a long time after, the following remarks of the presiding judge in the famous trade-mark suit of Deere and Company vs. the Moline Plow Company, which took place from 1867 to 1871, amply confirm. He refers to the point in the following language: “May, of Galesburg, manufactured a plow in shape nearly the form it is manufactured now. The share and moldboard were combined at that time and May was the first man that laid any claim to the improved steel plow. There is no improvement in the May steel plow as made in 1843 up to this time. In the plow afterward made at Palestine, in Lee County, by a person named Doan; afterward at Grand De Tour by W. Denney and Deere and Andrus; afterward in Moline by Deere, Tate and Gould in the fall of 1848; afterward by Buford and Tate in 1856, the working models are all copied strictly after the May plow. I essentially consider May the sole constructor in form of the western steel plow.”
THE BLACK HAWK WAR
So far as Knox County was concerned, the Black Hawk War of 1831-33 was more imaginary than real. No one in the county was either killed or hurt by the Indians, with the exception of one man in Orange Township, who, tradition says, was shot. The fighting, however, was near enough to keep the settlers in a state of uneasiness, and they organized what was known as the Volunteer Rangers, a company of forty-one men, with William McMurtry as Captain, Turner Roundtree as First Lieutenant, and George Latimer as Second Lieutenant. The members wore no uniform and were in service only about sixty days, receiving eighty-six cents a day each for their time and subsequently being given eighty acres of land by the government.
Four forts, or rather stockades called forts by courtesy, were built in the county; Fort Aggie, in Section 27, in Rio; Fort Lewis, on Section 33; an unnamed fort on Section 10, in Henderson; and one a few miles southeast of Knoxville, in Orange. Many of the settlers hurriedly dug holes in which they placed such of their property as could not be loaded in wagons, and with the remainder departed, to stay in other counties until the danger was past.
The chief incident of the war in Knox County was the terrible fright given the settlers by a young man named Atwood, living in Warren County. One who lived here at the time says, in writing of the affair: “A fellow named Atwood reported a band of Indians in the neighborhood and showed a scratch across his breast which he claimed was made by one of their bullets. The report was not doubted at the moment; but it was soon discovered that no one else had seen any Indians or heard of any, only at a distance, and Atwood’s account was so well understood to be a falsehood that he had to make himself scarce to escape the punishment at the hands of an indignant people which he so richly deserved.”
In August, 1832, Black Hawk surrendered, and life here, so rudely broken into for a year, continued as before. In 1833, there were rumors of another uprising; but they proved to be without foundation, and since then Knox County has pursued the even tenor of her way, free from Indian scares and other disturbing elements.
COUNTY GOVERNMENT [trbkt]
Under the Constitution of 1818, the government of each county was committed to three commissioners, all being elected in August of every alternate year on a single ticket. The first chosen in Knox were: Riggs Pennington, Philip Hash, and Charles Hansford, who were elected July 3, 1830, when the county was organized. This Board was to hold office until their successors were chosen, the following month. They first met at the house of John B. Gum on July 7 of that year, and after appointing John B. Gum Clerk, adjourned. Two days later they again met and appointed John G. Sanburn Clerk, Gum having declined to serve. That gentleman, however, was made Treasurer, and gave bonds conditioned in five hundred dollars. On July 17, the Commissioners met again, and divided Knox into two precincts for the coming election; one of these was known as "Henderson", and included that portion of the county north of the north line of Township 10 North, Range 1 East; and the other as "Spoon River", which embraced the rest of the county. Knox had been attached to Fulton County for governmental purposes; so the Commissioners addressed a memorial to the Fulton Hoard requesting the latter to furnish a tax list for the newly organized county and relinquishing to the former the right to collect its own revenues.
The election was held August 2, 1830, and the first Board of Commissioners for a definite, stated term was chosen; two of those elected the previous month being reelected, and Alexander Frakes taking the place of Charles Hansford. Stephen Osborn was elected Sheriff. This completed Knox County's organization. It now had its regular officers, elected for full terms, and was duly empowered to levy and collect its own taxes. Four times a year, on the first Mondays in March, June, September and December, the Board held regular terms of Court, as the Commissioners' meetings were called. Special terms were convened on the call of any commissioner. In this Court, the county business was transacted, and its variety was almost infinite. County finances, roads and bridges, suits to determine ownership of estrays, the selection of jurors, filling vacancies in minor offices, the binding out of apprentices — all these things, and many more, called for discussion and consideration.
LOCATION OF COUNTY SEAT.
One of the first important acts to be performed was the laying out of the county seat. A law, approved January 15, 1831, had set off for this purpose the southwest quarter of Section 28, Township 11 North, Range 2 East, now Knox Township. On March 12, 1831, the Board let the contract for laying out this land to Andrew Osborn, for fifteen dollars, and at the aame time, awarded that for building the Court House. On March 26, President Jones was authorised to go to Springfield and enter, on behalf of Knox County, the land which the Legislature had designated for the county seat. On April 23 was held the first sale of lots in the new town, then called Henderson. Seventy-nine lots were disposed of at auction for twelve hundred and fifty-six dollars, Riggs Pennington paying the highest price, sixty-one dollars. Roads and bridges occupied a large share of the Commissioners' attention, forming, next to county finances, the most important question with which they had to deal. (See Roads and Bridges.)
Licenses were granted for nearly every kind of business; and perhaps their issuance ranked third in importance among the matters considered by the Board. In 1837, this licensing came to an end, and business was conducted as at present.
HENRY COUNTY ATTACHED.
By the same law which defined the boundaries of Knox and located its county seat. Henry County was attached to it for governmental purposes, and so remained until 1837. The first act in relation to Henry County seems to have been the licensing of Asa Crooks on June 1, 1835, for two dollars, to operate a ferry across Rock River. Before there were bridges, the demand for ferries was great, and with each one licensed, the Board established special tolls which the ferryman might charge. At Crook's ferry the rates fixed were:
Wagon with four horses or oxen........$1.00
Wagon with two horses or oxen.......... .75
Wagon or carriage, with one horse...... .50
Man and horse .................................. .25
Man................................................... 12 ½
Each head of cattle, led or driven....... .05
Sheep and hogs, per head................. .03
The first ferry in Knox was about one-half mile below the present Maquon bridge over Spoon River, and was conducted by Simeon Dolph. In September 1834, he agreed to build a boat for the county for forty-five dollars. It was completed in March 1835, and the Board in consideration of the payment of two dollars, licensed Dolph to run this ferry for one year, upon his giving a bond to keep the boat safe. Cattle and hogs were allowed to run at large, and each owner could identify his own by a private mark, which he might register in a book kept by the County Clerk for that purpose. Under this system, animals often strayed from their owners. To facilitate their recovery, an "estray pen" was kept by the Sheriff of each county, where estrays were impounded. They were advertised for some time, and then, if no owner appeared to claim them, were sold by the Sheriff at public auction, to defray the expense incurred in keeping them, the balance, if any, being turned into the county treasury. Such a pen was built for seventeen and one-half dollars by Sheriff Osborn in 1832 on the Court House lot.
The foregoing gives an idea of the general character of the business transacted by the Commissioners. Let us now examine their method of doing it. They divided the county into districts, called "Justice Precinct," each of these being a polling district. In the county seat precinct, four Justices and four Constables were elected at the regular August election; and in each of the others half as many. On July 17, 1830, only two precincts were established, as has been already said. In 1839 Galesburg had been started, and the Townships 12 and 13 North, Range 5 East, now the towns of Goshen and West Jersey, had been taken from Knox and made a part of Stark County, so that the Board redistricted the county as follows:
"Pope Creek" — the present Rio and Ontario; "Henderson" — the present Henderson and Sparta: "Galesburg" — the present Galesburg, except Sections 25, 26, 35 and 36; "Knoxville"— the present Knoxville and Sections 25, 26, 35 and 36 of Galesburg; "Cherry Grove" — the present Cedar and Indian Point; "Brush Creek" — the present Orange and Chestnut; "Fraker's Grove" — the present Walnut Grove and Lynn; "Victoria" — the present Victoria, Copley and Truro, north of Spoon River; "Haw Creek"— the present Persifer and Haw Creek, west of Spoon: "Spoon River" — the present Elba, Haw Creek, east of Spoon and Truro south of that stream; "Litler's Creek" — the present Maquon and Salem.
So the districts stood until September 5, 1842, when the present Salem was made a district by itself, called "French Creek".
The county was also divided into road districts, in each of which a road supervisor was appointed by the Board to take charge of the road fund and expend it judiciously. In 1841, there were thirty-four of these districts; in 1849, sixty-three. In 1838, the law requiring all the Commissioners to be elected every other year was changed. On August 6, 1838, John Jackson, Jonathan Rice and J. H. Wentworth were elected and drew lots for one, two and three year terms. J. H. Wentworth drew the longest, John Jackson the two year term, and Jonathan Rice the shortest. Thereafter, one Commissioner was elected every year. At elections as then conducted, a citizen might vote in any precinct of the district for which the election was held, and the voting was all viva voce. For county officers a resident of Knoxville might vote in Galesburg, or Victoria, or anywhere else in the county. For State officers he could vote anywhere in the State. The government by Commissioners was both economical and judicious. The taxes were never higher than fifty cents on the one hundred dollars, and were usually much lower, often not exceeding twenty cents, as in 1841, and falling to ten cents in 1845. Yet by September 1834, so much money had been accumulated that the Treasurer was directed to loan one thousand dollars of the county money. Meanwhile, many roads had been laid out; expensive bridges freely built; a jail and Court House, costing nearly $25,000, had been erected, and not a dollar had been borrowed. The bills were met from the regular tax receipts, plus a sum received from the State under the provisions of a law approved February 27, 1837, known as the Internal Improvements Act. It provided for State construction of various railroads and canals, and also that those counties through which no railroad or canal was to be built by the State should receive the sum of $200,000 to UO divided among them, according to population. Just how much Knox received cannot now be determined, but it was somewhere between six and fifteen thousand dollars. October 12, 1849, Merriweather Brown, Alfred Brown, and Amos Ward, then the three Commissioners, met for the last time. When they adjourned it was "until Court in course" but they never reassembled.
By the Constitution of 1848, the offices of County Commissioners and Probate Justice were abolished, and the office of County Judge created. He succeeded to the duties and powers of the Probate Justice, and was to exercise such other Judicial functions as the legislature should prescribe. The power of county government, previously exercised by the County Commissioners, was now vested in the County Judge and two Associate Judges, provided the Legislature should authorize their appointment, which it did. A plan of township organization was also authorized, to be applied to such counties as might adopt it by a vote of a majority of the electors. During the four years of this description of government, George C. Lanphere, of Galesburg, was County Judge and Alfred Brown, of Henderson, and James M. Hunter, of Salem, were Associate Judges. They were elected November 6, 1849.
Their method of government was substantially that of the Commissioners. Nothing of more importance than the usual routine business came before them. Their last meeting was held on March 4, 1853. The county, on April 5, 1853, adopted township organization and elected Supervisors. Before that there were two attempts made to change the system of county government in Knox. On November 6, 1849, seven hundred and twenty-eight votes were cast in favor of, and four hundred and twenty votes against, the new measure. The County Court declared the plan adopted, and appointed Joel Lee, M. B. Mason and John Arnold a committee to divide the county into towns. (See Towns and Townships.) They constituted each congressional township one town, and Monday, January 14, 1850, was appointed as the day for the citizens living in each of these new towns to meet and select by ballot a name for their respective towns. The present names were chosen, except in the case of Cedar, Haw Creek, Copley and Elba, which were respectively called Cherry Grove, Ohio, Ritchfield and Liberty. These names the Secretary of State refused to register, on the ground that other towns in Illinois had already legally received the same. Accordingly, on June 6, 1853, the Supervisors gave these four towns their present names.
The first Board of Supervisors was elected in the Spring of 1850, and met on May 6 of that year. It transacted some unimportant business, and adjourned. Yet township organization had not been legally adopted. The vote on November 6, 1849, showed a majority of votes cast on that question to be in favor of the system, but not a majority of all the votes cast at that election. Soon after the first meeting of the Supervisors, the Supreme Court, in a case coming before it from another county, where the conditions were the same, held that a majority vote of all the legal voters in the county was necessary to the adoption of the plan of township organization. In consequence, the Supervisors never met again, and the County Court resumed its legislative and executive powers.
On November 5, 1850, another election was held, when six hundred and seventy-three votes were cast for the project and three hundred and seventeen against it. Under the decision referred to, this meant another defeat for the friends of, township organization. But finally, in 1853, the plan was adopted.
Under this system, each town elected a Supervisor (and one Assistant Supervisor if the town contained eight hundred or more votes), two Justices, and two Constables, for a term of four years each; a Clerk, a Poormaster, an Assessor, a Collector, and three Highway Commissioners. In each town were held annual town meetings, for the transaction of public business, these meetings being, by statute, given some of the powers formerly exercised by the County Commissioners.
The duties and powers of the old County Court, not expressly given to the towns, devolved on the Board of Supervisors.
The first members of this Board, twenty in number, met for the first time on June 5, 1853, and organized by electing Daniel Meek chairman. By a subsequent law, the duties of the Poormaster were transferred to the Supervisor. By Act of 1873, the provision for the election of an Assistant Supervisor was changed, so as to apply only to towns of four thousand inhabitants, with an additional assistant for every two thousand, five hundred of population in excess of that number. In January, 1866, the Board divided the town of Galesburg, as it then existed, into the towns of Galesburg and West Galesburg, the line running through the city. Each of these towns was entitled to two Supervisors, but only once did the voters exercise their right, for the reason that in 1867 these towns were, by law, reunited. The city of Galesburg was taken out of their jurisdiction, and made a town by itself, town powers being vested in the city officers. It was found entitled to five Supervisors, the town of Galesburg to one, and an Assistant Supervisor was assigned to Knox. In 1891, on account of increase in population, another Supervisor was given to the city of Galesburg. In this way, the number throughout the county has grown from twenty, in 1853, to twenty-seven, at the present time.
The duties of the Board of Supervisors have been mainly those of routine, already described as having been performed by the County Commissioners. The care of the paupers and insane, the removal of the county seat, and the building of a new court house have been among the chief problems that have confronted the members. (See Knoxville and Court House.)
WAR OF THE REBELLION.
During the War of 1861-5, the Board was fully alive to the responsibilities of its position, and met them without flinching. Large bounties were offered, and over $400,000 was expended in their payment and in aiding soldiers' families.
The affairs of the county have been well managed ever since the creation of the Board.
The expenditures, while carefully made, have been liberal. The public buildings and bridges have been well constructed and well maintained. No county in the State has more generously or judiciously provided for its poor. The credit of Knox has always been unquestionable. Claims have invariably been promptly, yet carefully, considered and paid without delay, when found to be meritorious. No debts have been incurred, except for short periods, in anticipation of taxes levied to meet unexpected or extraordinary calls. Compared with surrounding counties, the rate of taxation has been light. Notwithstand-ing the long and sharp controversy growing out of questions connected with the county seat removal, the Board has been in other matters harmonious in its proceedings, free from personal difficulties; a Board of business men, usually chosen with little regard for partisan politics, and possessing the confidence of their constituents.
Generally speaking, the county may be said to have been fortunate in its choice of officers. In particular, the office of Clerk, the most important in many respects, has been held by a succession of honest and able men, especially qualified to discharge its duties.
Following is a list of County officers:
Riggs Pennington, Philip Hash, Charles Hansford, Alexander Frakes, Thomas Maxwell, Humphrey Finch, John D. Roundtree, Eldert Runkle, Samuel B. Anderson, Amos Ward, James Ferguson, Alfred Brown, Joseph Rowe, Jonathan Rice, John H. Wentworth, John Jackson, Asa Haynes, Daniel Meek, M. B. Mason, Merriweather Brown.
- George C. Lanphere, 1850-54; H. G. Reynolds, 1855-58; Leander Douglass, 1859-62; A. M. Craig, 1863-66; Dennis Clark, 1867-86; P. H. Sanford, 1887-98; P. S. Post, 1899.
- William McMurtry, 1832-40 C. K. Harvey, 1840-47; T. J. Hale, 1847-49; William H. Whitton, 1849-53; J. H. Noteware, 1853-55; P. H. Sanford, 1855-61; J. H. Knapp, 1861-65.
In 1865, the office of Commissioner was legally changed to that of Superintendent, and the list below comprises the names of the Superintendents since that date:
J. H. Knapp, 1865-69; Frederick Christianer, 1869-73; M. A. West, 1873-82; W. L. Steele, 1882-85; G. W. Oldfather, 1885-90; S. C. Ransom, 1890-93; M. Andrews, 1893-98; E. S. Wilkinson, 1899.
- John B. Gum, 1830-33; Charles Hansford, 1833-35; George Newman, 1835-37; John Eads, 1837-43; Henry Arms, 1843-46; Zelotes Cooley, 1847; David Edgerton, 1848-49, 1852-53; Charles Rodgers, 1850-51; William H. Whitton, 1854-55; William McGowan, 1856-59; George Davis, 1860-61; T. A. E. Holcomb, 1862-63; John A. West, 1864-65; Thomas Harrison, 1866-67; Homer Gaines, 1868-69; Edwin T. Ellet, 1870-71, 1874-75; Francis M. Sykes, 1872-73; J. L. Burkhalter, 1876-86; Moses O. Williamson, 1887-90; Leon A. Townsend, 1890-94; J. M. McKie, 1895-98; H. M. Reece, 1899.
-John B. Gum, 1830; John G. Sanburn, 1830-37; H. J. Runkle, 1837-47; Zelotes Cooley, 1847-56; John S. Winter, 1857-64; James S. Egan, 1865-69; John S. Winter, 1869-82; Albert J. Perry, 1883-90; Moses O. Williamson, 1891 to the present time.
-John G. Sanburn, 1830-45; Achilles Shannon, 1845-46; Alex Sanders, 1846-47; T. J. Hale, 1847-52; H. T. Morey, 1852-56; Cephas Arms, 1857-60; John H. Lewis, 1861-64; John Aberdein, 1865-68; James W. Temple, 1869-72; George L. Hannaman, 1873-84; Josiah Gale, 1885-89; G. W. Gale, 1889; Charles G. Gibbs, 1889-90; S. V. Stuckey, 1890 to the present time.
Josiah Gale was killed in a railroad accident, August 29, 1899. The Court appointed G. W. Gale, who held the office through September and October, when Charles G. Gibbs was elected. He remained in office till his death, February 6, 1890. S.V. Stuckey was then appointed by the Court and chosen Clerk at the next election, since when he has held the office.
-John G. Sanburn, 1835; H. J. Runkle, 1836; R. L. Hannaman, 1837-39,1843-49; William King, 1839-43. In 1849 the office was merged in that of County Judge.
-Stephen Osborn, 1830-35; Henry D. Bell, 1836-38; Peter Frans, 1839-47; Henry Arms, 1848-51; S. W. Brown, 1852; John Eads, 1853-54; Cornelius Runkle, 1855-56; George M. Enke, 1857-58; Andrew Thompson, 1859-60; Elijah C. Brott, 1861-62; J. C. Cover, 1863-65; James Soles, 1866; D. W. Bradshaw, 1867-68; Wilkins Seacord, 1869-70; S. F. Patton, 1871-72; A. W. Berggren, 1873-78; John A. Stuckey, 1879-86; James Richey, 1887-90; R. G. Matthews. 1891-94; O. J. Aldrich, 1895-98; R. G. Matthews, 1899.
- Thomas Ford, 1830-35; W. A. Richardson, 1836-37; Henry L. Bryant, 1838-39; William Elliot, 1840-482: R. S. Blackwell, 1849-52; H.G. Reynolds, 1853-54; William C. Goudy, 1855; James Stewart, William C. Goudy, 1855; James H. Stewart, 1856-65; J. A. McKenzie, 1866-72; J. J. Tunnicliff, 1873-92; E. W. Welch, 1893 to the present time.
- Joseph Henderson, 1851-52, 1855-56; J. W. Brewer, 1853-54; William Hamilton, 1857-58; A. H. Potter, 1859-60; Reuben Bailey, 1861-62; Giles Cook, 1863-64; Levi Massie, 1865-70; J. W. Kimball, 1871-72; A. S. Slater, 1873-76; D. W. Aldrich, 1877-82, 1885-87; A. S. Slater, 1883-84; G. L. Knowles, 1887-92; G. S. Chalmers, 1893 to the present time.
- Parnach Owen, 1830-38; G. A. Charles, 1838-42; David Kendall, 1842-48; A. A. Denny, 1848-51; E. T. Byram, 1852-53, 1856-57, 1860-61, 1874-75; R. Deatherage, 1854-55; Alexander Knapp, 1858-59; R. Voris, 1862-69; David Wilts, 1870-71; W. H. Robinson, 1872-73; Henry Vaughn, 1876-79; Ralf Voris, 1880-85; Mills G. Voris, 1885-92; C. S. Richey, 1893 until the present time.
- Richard M. Young, 1831-36; James H. Ralston, 1836-39; Peter Lott, 1839-40; Stephen A. Douglas, 1840-43; Jesse B. Thomas, 1843-45; N. H. Purple, 1845-49; William A. Minshall, 1849-50; William Kellogg, 1850-53; H. M. Weed, 1853-55; John S. Thompson, 1855-60; Aaron Tyler, 1860-61; Charles B. Lawrence, 1861-64; John S. Thompson, 1864-66; Joseph Sibley, 1866-67; A. A. Smith, 1867-94; J. J. Glenn, 1877; G. W. Pleasants, 1877-97; H. H. Bigelow, 1894-97; George W. Thompson and John A. Gray, 1897.
One Judge was elected in each circuit down to 1877. Then the Appellate Court was created, and three Judges were chosen. A. A. Smith was Judge of the Knox County circuit and G. W. Pleasants for that of Rock Island County. These two circuits were consolidated, and J. J. Glenn was elected as the third Judge. In 1894, Judge Smith resigned, on account of ill health, and Judge Bigelow was elected to fill the vacancy. In 1897, the circuits were reapportioned by the Legislature, and Knox was thrown into a new circuit.
At the second meeting of the County Commissioners, held on July 9, 1830, it was ordered: "That the temporary seat of justice for Knox County shall be at the home of John B. Gum, in said county." Mr. Gum's residence was a two room, one story log cabin, on Section 32, in Henderson Township. This continued to be used as the Court House until October 22, 1831.
LOG COURT HOUSE.
March 12, 1831, the county seat having been fixed at Knoxville, the Commissioners contracted with William Lewis to erect a log Court House, for seventy-eight dollars, and with Parnach Owen to finish it in consideration of the payment of the further sum of one hundred dollars. Extra windows, underpinning and furnishing brought the total cost up to $395.43. The site was the southwest corner of Lot 10, in Block 5, of the village of Henderson, the name of which has been since changed to Knoxville. The building was twenty-eight feet long by twenty feet wide, two stories high, and constructed of hewed logs, placed on stone pillars one foot high. It was finally finished, December 2, 1833, but it had been occupied since the previous October.
SECOND COURT HOUSE.
This log Court House was soon outgrown, and on December 5, 1836, the County Clerk was ordered to advertise in the Peoria Register and Springfield Republican for bids for a new edifice. On March 24, 1838, the contract was let to Zolotes Cooley and Alvah Wheeler, for $15,450, they agreeing to complete the work by May 1, 1840. They afterwards added a cupola, at an expense of seven hundred and fifty dollars. This structure was of brick, sixty-two feet five inches long, and forty-two feet five inches wide. It had six rooms on the lower floor, with a broad hall running through the center, from the north end of which a double stairway led to the court room. The court room, the jury room, and the sheriff's office occupied the upper story. A wide portico, with heavy columns, ran across the front, or south side of the building. About thirty years afterwards, the building was remodeled under the supervision of Mr. Cooley, the stairs being placed outside, thereby considerably enlarging the court room. In all the buildings planned by this architect, the construction was thorough and in good taste. At the time of its completion, the Knox County Court House was justly regarded as one of the handsomest buildings in the State.
In 1854, after some agitation, the Board of Supervisors adopted a plan drawn by Mr. Cooley for the construction of a fireproof building on the Court House grounds, to contain two rooms, for the occupancy of the Circuit and the County Clerk. On January 27, 1854, Samuel Fox contracted to erect the building for $5,375, the Board naming Zelotes Cooley to superintend the work. After the removal of the county seat to Galesburg, the Supervisors relinquished to Knoxville all right to the Court House, Clerk's Offices, and Jail.
COUNTY SEAT CONTROVERSY.
The original location of the county seat at first appeared a fortunate one. Although two-thirds of the area of the county lay to the east of it, the western portion contained the bulk of the population, and seemed likely always so to do. The topographical character of the county was such that no point nearer the center could be found equally accessible by highways. The location, a prairie ridge with timber coming close up on each side, was naturally beautiful. It gave every promise of permanency, a promise that would have been fulfilled but for the changes brought about by railroad construction.
Five years later, the near location of Galesburg aroused, in the breasts of the people of Knoxville, a spirit of rivalry, yet its situation, only four miles from the county line, seemed to rule it out as a competitor for the honor of being the county seat.
During the first fifteen years of Galesburg's history, the political and commercial supremacy of Knoxville was unquestioned. But when the young and growing city had overtaken and passed Knoxville in population, and was seen to be rapidly gaining in trade, its growth aroused ambition on one side and apprehension on the other.
There followed a struggle for advantage in railroad location with Galesburg victorious, and becoming the railroad center of the county. Then it became apparent that Knoxville was confronted with a powerful rival, if she would hold her position as the county seat. The influence of this question became more and more potent every year in political conventions, and in the meetings of the County Board. In the Constitutional Convention of 1862, a proposition of W. Selden Gale, delegate from Knox, to give to County Boards the power to call elections for county seat removals was adopted, but left out in final revision, as possibly endangering the popular vote in some localities on the adoption of the proposed new organic law. The hope was that, by taking such action away from the Legislature, the question might be eliminated as a disturbing element in political conventions, relegating it to its proper place as a purely county issue. The "Knox Republican" editorially approved the measure. In the session of 1863, an act was introduced applying the principle to Knox County, but before final passage an amendment limited its operation to two years, thereby destroying its value to the people of Galesburg, since no one contemplated or desired an election at that time.
In the session of 1865, under the influence of some enthusiastic and sanguine citizens of Galesburg, an act was passed providing for the removal of the seat of government of Knox County, if such change were favored at an election to be held April 4, 1865. An active effort to carry the election was promptly put on foot. A gift to the county of $75,000, to be used in constructing a court house, was pledged, and secured by a bond, executed by many of the wealthiest men in Galesburg. A building site without cost was promised. Plans for an elegant building, with jail included, to cost not more than $75,000, were procured and exhibited. Liberal (and even irresistible) as the offer appeared to those proffering it, it met with a cold reception in the county. Every town except Galesburg and one other voted against it, most of them by large majorities.
At the same election, Mr. Gale, who had two years before left the Board after ten years service, was sent back, and Henry R. Sanderson accompanied him. They found only three of their associates who had favored Galesburg on the question of removal. The friends of Knoxville felt themselves in the ascendant, and were disposed to carry out a moderately aggressive policy, and planned to extend and improve the county buildings. The Galesburg members could only make themselves useful in the con-duct of the county business, and cultivate the confidence and friendship of their brethren on the Board. At the last meeting of the year, an order was passed dividing the town of Galesburg into two towns, of about equal population, for the ostensible reason that the number of voters was too large for one polling place, and there could be found no authority for the division of a town" into precincts by order of the County Board. If the far-reaching effect of the measure had been understood, it might have met with more opposition. As the law then stood, a town with eight hundred voters was entitled to two Supervisors; no town could have more. Care was taken in drawing the dividing line, so that eight hundred voters might be found on either side. Messrs. Gale and Sanderson came back in 1866, reinforced by A. C. Clay and L. E. Conger.
In 1867, an act making the city of Galesburg one town and the remainder of the township another, passed the Legislature-prepared by Mr. Gale, and introduced and energetically pushed by John Gray, of Wataga, a member from Knox County. It was very vigorously opposed by a Knoxville lobby, with John S. Winter and P. H. Sanford at its head, aided by John B. Colton, of Galesburg. The provisions of this act secured to Galesburg one Supervisor from the town and five from the city. In the Board of 1867, the former members were further reinforced by R. H. Whiting and Major Thomas McKee. Captain G. A. Charles, of Knoxville, returned after four years' absence, with a claim to additional representation for that town on account of population, his pretension being good-naturedly allowed by the majority on slight evidence, and H. N. Keightly was brought in.
From that time forward, the sectional lines were closely drawn in the Board. By virtue of increased representation and growth of sympathy in the country towns, Galesburg was able to hold its own until, in 1873, it gained a small majority in the Board. For two years that body was tied, thirteen to thirteen, the balloting for Chairman having run one year for three days, being at times suspended for the informal introduction of business to be referred to committees. when appointed. By agreement a committee, consisting of W. S. Gale and G. A. Charles, was appointed to recommend a Chairman. Agreeing to vote together, each faction named its man. A dollar was tossed up for choice, and Galesburg won.
In the Republican County Convention of 1868. the county seat question came up as an issue in the nomination of candidates for the legislature, and W. S. Gale was nominated over R. W. Miles, of Persifer, on this issue. The democrats nominated A. M. Craig, of Knoxville. The election was hotly contested, the local issue taking precedence of every other. Mr. Gale won by a very narrow majority. He introduced a bill for the removal of the county seat, which was unsuccessfully fought by the Knoxville lobby at Springfield, with the utmost vigor and skill.
THE PROPOSITION OF GALESBURG.
The act, as passed, gave power to the Board of Supervisors to appoint commissioners, who should be authorized to contract with the city of Galesburg and with other persons for gifts of property, or money, or service, conditioned upon the removal. The bill passed March 10. 1869. On March 25, the commissioners reported to the County Board an ordinance of the city of Galesburg, and submitted a bond, signed by the Mayor, and authorized by such ordinance, for the performance of the stipulations; the city to provide for the county, free of expense.
Dunn's Hall (or other suitable rooms) for court and jury rooms for the period of ten years; to convey to the county a site for a clerk's office, and erect thereon a fireproof building, to be larger than the one at Knoxville, the plans for the same to be approved by the county; to pay all expenses of removal; to convey a suitable lot for the erection of a jail and to pay $20,000 towards the cost of building it; to convey, as a site for a court house, Block 39, conditioned on its being occupied for that purpose; and to grant the right to build a court house on the public square. The Commissioners also reported deeds delivered to them for Block 39 and a lot for a jail, also two certificates of deposit in the First National Bank of Galesburg, each for $10,000. The report was printed and scattered broadcast throughout the county, and the voters were thoroughly canvassed, within the limited time allowed, by able advocates on both sides.
It was urged that the Galesburg contracts gave the county a full equivalent (and more) for every loss incurred through removal. The clerks' offices were to be far better than the county then had, and would be valuable as property to sell, when the erection of a new court house rendered their use no longer necessary. The sites for the court house and jail, too, were better, it was urged, than those at Knoxville: twenty thousand dollars would go far toward building a new jail, and the old one was no longer fit for use. The accommodations offered for the courts, free for ten years, would be better than those then in use, and in ten years, or soon thereafter, the county would call for a new court house wherever located.
Against these seductive arguments of the men from Galesburg, it was insisted that the pledges were not made in good faith, and, in one way or another, would be evaded. The vested rights of Knoxville; the wrong of inflicting unnecessary disappointment on those who had made permanent settlement there for the purpose of being at the county seat; the danger of making Galesburg too powerful; all these were dwelt upon. Knoxville had one strong, geographical argument in its favor, and one which forcibly appealed to a multiplicity of private interests. To more than half the residents of the county. it was more accessible than Galesburg, owing to the lay of the land and the location of roads in its early settlement. Most of the inhabitants. either necessarily or for convenience, passed through Knoxville on the way to Galesburg. A large proportion never had much intercourse with the latter city, either Peoria, Canton or some other trading point being as near, or nearer. Throughout the county, habit, as well as old associations, personal acquaintance and political influence all told in Knoxville's favor. In addition, there was that potent force of conservatism which is inherently opposed to every change, and to this was joined the dread of increased taxation as a consequence of removal. On the other hand, the advantage of greater nearness to the county seat was not realized by the many, who had seldom or never called there on business.
On the face of the returns, the majority was against removal, and for the time, Knoxville appeared to have won the fight. But the result did not receive the acquiescence of the seemingly defeated faction, and the question was soon brought before the courts. Sundry facts were made to appear upon the hearing. The vote in Galesburg was about one-third larger than ever before, and about one-fourth of it was made the object of attack, on evidence brought forward. Of purely fictitious voting, little could be shown. There was some proof of personation of absent voters, some votes were received of persons under age, some of persons whose residence in the voting precinct was too short, and a great many votes were cast by persons of foreign birth, not naturalized. In Knoxville, nearly three times as many votes were cast as ever before. There were extraordinary irregularities in the conduct of the election, the same persons casting vote after vote without disguise and giving each time fictitious names. The returns were held back until after the last were known to have been received from the country towns, creating the suspicion that preparations were made to extend the poll books and stuff the ballot boxes as far as might seem necessary to give that town a prima facie majority.
The Knoxville managers evidently assumed that a large fraudulent vote would be cast in Galesburg, and that they could only secure a majority on the face of the returns by a vote at Knoxville equal to several times their voting population. With an apparent majority they would retain possession; and if, in contest, their vote should be thrown out, by the same ruling Galesburg's would share the same fate, and they would win on the vote of the other towns.
THE QUESTION LITIGATED.
The hearing was at Macomb, before Judge Higbee. The Court held the Galesburg returns regular, concluding that, while some illegal votes were cast, the votes could be found and their right determined; that the votes should be received and counted, throwing out those proved to be illegal; but that the election at Knoxville was fraudulent throughout, and the returns of no value as evidence. On appeal, the decision was affirmed in the Supreme Court. In the Circuit Court the Galesburg attorneys were T. G. Frost, E. P. Williams, A. Kitchell and B. P. Arnold. For Knoxville there appeared A. M. Craig, P. H. Sanford, H. M. Weed and Messrs. Beckwith, Ayer, and Kales. When the case was called, the Galesburg cause appeared to be lost, owing to the splendid presentation of evidence prepared by P. H. Sanford and G. L. Hannaman. But an adjournment for a few days was secured, and in that time the Galesburg attorneys, through the valuable suggestions and management of Henry R. Sanderson, had overcome the weight of Knoxville's evidence by an equally clever arrangement and presentation of their own. In the Supreme Court, J. A. McKenzie took the place of Kitchell and Arnold, while Curtis K. Harvey succeeded Sanford and Weed.
The decision was published in January, 1873 (63 111. Rep. 405), nearly four years after the election. The records were removed to Galesburg, to rooms in readiness for them. That city, immediately after the election in 1869, purchased and deeded to the Commissioners appointed by the County Board a lot on Cherry street, and erected a building for clerks' offices in compliance with their contract, the building remaining ready for occupancy while the suit was pending. The city also secured to the county the right to hold court for ten years in the then recently erected Opera House, on the south side of the public square, and jury rooms in the same block.
In 1870, while the county seat case was pending in the courts, the Constitutional Convention was held, Hon. A. M. Craig, of Knoxville, being a member. The interests which Knoxville might have, if another election should be thought of after the decision of the then pending case, were well and jealously guarded. It was provided that elections might be held for removal of a county seat not oftener than once in ten years. Removals might be made to a place nearer the geographical center by a majority vote, but to a point further from such center a three-fifths vote was required.
The decision in Galesburg's favor was soon followed by a call for an election for removal to Knoxville, which was held in November, 1873. The county was more thoroughly canvassed than before, and many considerations in favor of Knoxville had somewhat lost force. It could not be said that the Galesburg propositions were not made in good faith, its promises having all been handsomely met. Moreover, the force of the arguments in favor of that point had been tested. The aversion to a change in existing relations was no longer a potent factor against her. A wholesome provision of the new law permitted, in every precinct within the towns from which and to which removal was proposed, a challenging board from the rival town. The election was fairly conducted, and resulted in a majority against removal.
As the time limiting the obligation of the city to provide for the county approached, a feeling of jealous distrust appeared. There were apprehensions that the city influence would attempt to secure expensive buildings, involving the county in debt, with a burden of taxation to be borne for years. The Galesburg Supervisors felt that the county was not suffering for accommodations, and were willing to wait the development of a better sentiment. At the expiration of the term of the city's liability, the same rooms were reoccupied, but at the expense of the county. On September 22, 1881, partly with a disposition to make the necessity for a court house appear less, the Board ordered that a contract be let for adding a second story to the building occupied by the clerks' offices, one half of it to be used as a court room.
NEW COURT HOUSE.
In 1883, a majority of the Supervisors favored building a new court house, some of the country members being desirous of proceeding at once. Mr. Sansbury, of Victoria, prepared a resolution for the appointment of a committee to report plans to the Board at its next meeting. Yet many doubted whether they would be sustained by their constituents in favoring such action, and it was the prevailing sentiment that it was not safe to raise the issue, since it might endanger the return of some members. In 1884, the members came back, reporting a more favorable sentiment than they had expected. A committee to investigate was appointed April 15, 1884, authorized to procure plans for a suitable court house, the cost not to exceed $100,000, if the outlay could be possibly kept within that limit. The committee was selected with care; one member from Galesburg, one from Knoxville, and one from each of the four quarters of the county. It was constituted as follows: W. S. Gale, of Galesburg; A. G. Charles, of Knoxville; William Robson, of Sparta; John Sloan, of Salem; M. B. Hardin, of Indian Point; and William H. Leighton, of Copley. The next year, Mr. Charles having ceased to be a member of the Board, his place on the committee was filled by R. W. Miles; and a year later L. A. Townsend succeeded M. B. Harden, who was no longer a Supervisor. It was intended to have every interest in the county represented on the committee. Old members, accustomed to take prominent parts in the Board's proceedings, in whom their townsmen had shown their confidence by frequent re-elections, were named; it being supposed that, when they agreed, their conclusions would be sustained by the entire Board and approved by the people.
After taking due time jointly to examine the newest and best court houses in this and other States, and to investigate the questions of new building methods and materials, they procured plans from several prominent architects and submitted their report. On their recommendation the plans of E. E. Myers, of Chicago, were preferred. Bids were called for, and opened October 3, 1884. None of the proposals proving satisfactory as to price, the Supervisors advertised for others, which were opened October 24, 1884. The contract for the construction of the building was finally awarded to Dawson and Anderson, of Toledo, Ohio, for $114,311.52, the entire work to be completed by September 1, 1886. The corner stone was laid June 24, 1885, under the auspices of the Masonic Grand Lodge of Illinois. The edifice was partially occupied in November, 1886, but not fully completed until January 26, 1887, when the Board held a public reception in it.
It is a handsome building, of solid masonry, with iron beams, and practically fire proof, no timber entering into its construction. The exterior is of Cleveland sandstone. Its interior arrangement and furnishing are well adapted for the uses for which it is designed. The original plan as to dimensions and arrangement of rooms was devised by the committee, and few departures from their scheme were made. In matters of construction, however, the architect was given virtually full control. The style was a new departure in court house architecture. It was proposed by the committee, with a view to allowing greater irregularity in outline, in order to permit the desired interior arrangement. The cost, including all furnishings and outlay on grounds, was $156,261, and it was met from the ordinary tax levies made during the time of construction. The amount thereby added to the taxes of these years was so small a per cent, of the total levies, and so little felt, that there was some incredulity expressed when the people of the county were told that there was nothing more to pay. The building was immensely popular, and nowhere more so than among those who had opposed its erection through fear of debt and taxation. It stands a monument to the judgment and good taste of the people of Knox County.
The first jail in Knox County was built at Knoxville by John G. Sanburn. The County Commissioners, at their June meeting in 1832, determined that a jail must be constructed. On September 14, 1832, Mr. Sanburn contracted to build one for $240. It was soon finished; but, as may be judged from the price, it was not a very pretentious prison. It was a square building, two stories in height, with a door leading into the upper story only. There was a trap door in the floor and through this the prisoners were let down to the lower room, then the trap door was closed, and the prisoner was supposed to be safely incarcerated. This temporary structure sufficed for a time; but in 1840, the Commissioners ordered the Clerk to advertise for bids for a new jail. The successful bid was made by Zelotes Cooley and the contract was closed January 26, 1841, the cost to be $8,724. But the Commissioners, after due reflection, considered this amount too excessive, so they gave Mr. Cooley $300 for his plans, and made a new contract with Alvah Wheeler, the price being $7,724, which, however, proved too small to insure first class work, and the building soon became dilapidated, causing the county large expense for repairs and the hire of men to guard the prisoners.
After the removal of the county seat to Galesburg, the Board of Supervisors appointed a committee to prepare plans for the construction of a jail on a lot on Cherry street, which had been purchased by the city. The committee visited other counties for the purpose of inspecting their jails and procured the plans upon which, with some modifications, the county building has since been constructed. These plans were adopted, and on March 18, 1873, bids were revised. On that same day, an injunction, granted by Hon. Thomas F. Tipton, Circuit Judge of McLean County, at the instance of Knoxville citizens in anticipation of an election to be held to decide on the removal of the county seat back to Knoxville, was served on the Board of Supervisors, prohibiting them from proceeding with the building. The election, however, having been determined adversely to Knoxville, bids were received on January 15, 1874, and the contract awarded to Ira K. Stevens for $34,900. To extend the grounds the Board, on January 16, 1874, bought of A. Burlingham an adjacent lot fronting on Cherry street and another lot of A. N. Bancroft, adjoining but facing South street, a part of which was afterward sold. The building was well planned and very substantially constructed, and presents a good appearance. It is of red brick, with foundations and trimmings of gray limestone, two stories in height, with a high basement. The sheriff's residence is in front, and the main prison is in the rear. The floors and ceilings of the latter are constructed of large slabs of limestone, and similar slabs line the walls. Corridors the height of the two stories surround the room on three sides, and on each side of the center is a row of cells, back to back, in three tiers, comprising thirty in all. The back, the sides, the floor and ceiling of each cell is a single slab. Besides these cells, there is a dungeon, rarely used, and five cells in the front part of the building used for the insane women and for boys. The structure has proved secure and is well arranged for the supervision and control of prisoners, and is well heated, ventilated, and drained. It was first occupied by Sheriff A. W. Berggren, October 3, 1874.
For twenty-five years after the organization of Knox County, the paupers were farmed out to the lowest bidder; but after township organization was adopted, this system was thought inadequate, and the Board of Supervisors, finding a convenient tract of land for sale cheap, determined to purchase a county poor farm. On March 5, 1856, they purchased of M. G. Smith for the sum of $3,000, the west half of the southwest quarter of Section 21, Knox Township. The farmhouse already on the land was converted into a poorhouse; but it furnished wretched accommodations, and the complaints that ensued were loud and frequent, even the committee of supervisors exclaiming against it.
Finally, in 1866, the Board determined to erect a new almshouse and R. W. Miles, L. E. Conger, and Cephas Arms were appointed a committee on building. The people of Knoxville, being naturally a great deal interested in the matter, prepared plans and submitted them to the Board. But the plans were for a building as large as the present one, which rather dismayed many of the supervisors and temporarily stopped the project. Then the Galesburg members proposed a committee, appointed in April, 1866, to secure a location for the building. At the instance of W. Selden Gale, L. E. Conger bought for this committee the northwest quarter of Section 24, Galesburg Township, for $8,000. On behalf of Galesburg, W. S. Gale offered the Board $10,000 to locate the almshouse on this site. But the Knoxville people rallied their friends, asked that only a portion of the proposed building be built and secured the erection of the almshouse on its present site. The Board sold the Galesburg property for $9,000 and purchased, on June 15, 1866, thirty-six acres adjoining the old poor farm, from William Y. Miller, for $2,340; and two days later, thirty-three acres from John Bads, for $3,000.
The contract for the main building and west wing was let to William Armstrong, for $26,000. The furniture, heating, and the stocking of the farm brought the total cost to $39,037.21. The east wing was built by Parry and Stevens, of Galesburg, in accordance with the original plans, the contract being let August 21, 1876, for $17,400. The design was by W. W. Boyington, of Chicago, in Gothic style. The building is constructed of brick and limestone, 166x80, with two stories and a basement.
In 1890, the number of insane in Knox County was larger than the state asylums would take from the county, so the erection of an annex for the insane became necessary. W. S. Gale, J. S. Simpson, William Robson, H. M. Sisson, and James Rebstock were appointed a committee to consider the matter, and they adopted plans of I. A. Coleman (really their own plans approved by Mr. Coleman) for a three-story building, corresponding to the almshouse, to be attached to the west wing by a corridor. March 18, 1890, P. O. Munson, of Galesburg, contracted to build it for $26,459. In 1898, the building was again found inadequate, and the Board determined on an annex for insane females, to be erected at the east side of the building, according to plans prepared by Gottschalk and Beadle. The contract was awarded to Munson and Tingleaf for the sum of $20,000, exclusive of heating and lighting, which will probable be $6,000 more.
The contract was let in the latter part of July, 1898, and the annex was finished in the summer of 1899. A new laundry building also became a necessity, and the contract for this was awarded F. W. Hawk, of Knoxville, on September 27, 1898, for $16,000, the work to be done as soon as possible. It was finished early in 1899, and, with these improvements, the almshouse was one of the handsomest and most convenient in the state. The poor farm comprises about one hundred and fifty acres.
When the almshouse was built, Dr. L. J. Cleveland and his wife took charge. Soon after Dr. Cleveland died, and Dr. M. A. McClelland was appointed to the place. Mrs. Cleveland (afterwards Mrs. M. A. McClelland) was a most efficient matron and superintendent, and retained her position until March 1, 1886, when M. P. DeLong was appointed superintendent, which position he filled until February, 1892. The Board at that time appointed John Cook, the present superintendent, the change being made on account of Mr. DeLong's ill-health.
Six companies own the railroads in Knox County. To the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Company belongs a line running from Galesburg towards Chicago, originally built by the Central Military Tract Company, crossing the northern line of the county five miles from its northeastern corner; the line from Galesburg to Quincy, crossing the southern line of the county at St. Augustine, first built by the Northern Cross Railroad Company; the lines built by the Peoria and Oquawka Railroad Company, from Galesburg towards Burlington and towards Peoria, crossing the eastern line of the county between Yates City and Elmwood; the line running south from Yates City, built by the company itself under the Jacksonville and Savannah charter; the line built by the Rockford, Rock Island and St. Louis Company in 1870, crossing the northern and western lines of the county in Rio Township; and the line from Galesburg to Rio, which the company built in 1886.
The main line of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad (running into Chicago), built in 1887, crosses the county from east to west, passing through Galesburg and through the central tier of townships.
The Iowa Central, entering the county in Cedar Township, two miles west of Abingdon, and running through the city of that name, as well as Indian Point and Chestnut Townships, and crossing the southern line of the county at London Mills, was built in 1880 by the Peoria and Farmington Railroad Company.
The Fulton County Narrow Gauge Railroad, from Galesburg to the Illinois River at Havanna, crossing the corner of Cedar Township and running through the townships of Orange and Chestnut, and leaving the county at London Mills, was built in 1882.
The Galesburg and Great Eastern Railroad was built in 1894, from Wataga to the coal mines in the southeastern part of Copley Township; and in 1898, a branch was built, extending the line into the village of Victoria.
The Rock Island and Peoria Railroad enters and leaves the township of Lynn, a mile and a half from the northwestern corner of the county.
ATCHISON, TOPEKA AND SANTA FE RAILROAD.
The Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad Company had traversed the country from the Missouri River to the Pacific with its trunk line and branches, its vast system centering and terminating at Kansas City. It became apparent that its great volume of business demanded an outlet of its own to Chicago. For two or three years it was known that the engineers of that company were employed, at intervals of relief from other duty, in unostentatiously making surveys, and it was presumed that its officers might be in possession of knowledge that might materially assist in prompt selection of a route when the time for action came.
In the summer of 1885, it was understood in Galesburg that the construction had been deter-mined upon and that surveys were in progress, looking to a definite location.
A straight line from Kansas City to Chicago would run close to Fort Madison and Galesburg, and avoid the crossing of the Illinois River, passing close to the great Hennepin Bend. It seemed that Galesburg might reasonably expect to be a point on the best and most available line.
Correspondence was opened and interviews had by Colonel Carr with Mr. Strong, the President of the road. The policy of the company was declared to be to secure the best possible line for through traffic; local traffic to be a minor consideration. The most direct line with low grades to be obtained, without an unwarranted expense, was to be sought and adopted. It was agreed that the situation and the importance of Galesburg was likely to secure it a place in the line. Assurances were asked for and given that the citizens of that place would assist in exerting an influence friendly to the road and in procuring the right of way.
The result of surveys fixed the Mississippi crossing at Fort Madison, but showed the country northeast of Galesburg, on the direct line, impracticable in view of the low grade determined upon.
A route most nearly fulfilling the conditions of distance, grade and cost, ran north of and nearly parallel with the line of the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy road, which was from sixteen to eighteen miles shorter than the line-as it now runs. The purchase of the Hinkley road, covering more than one-third the distance from Fort Madison to Chicago, made a more southern route, crossing the Illinois River, a necessity. At no point can the valley of that stream be directly crossed without great difficulty in reaching the upland, on one side or the other.
After much time given to thorough surveys, Chillicothe was selected as the most available point. This threw Galesburg off the direct line between the rivers, and in September the confident expectations of the people of that place were dashed by information given to Colonel Carr by Mr. Strong that the road could not come there. Mr. Strong said that Mr. Robinson, the chief engineer, had found a route twelve miles south of Galesburg, which was three miles shorter and not more expensive in construction. Expressing his personal sympathies and regrets, he believed Galesburg would be taken care of, would be provided with a branch after the building of the main line, and he hoped the company would still enjoy the good will and assistance of the citizens. It was, apparently, a final blow, but after consulting with Mr. Gale, it was determined to make an effort to bring pressure to bear on Mr. Robinson. Writing to Mr. Strong, Colonel Carr insisted that a road crossing the county which avoided every town in it could have no friends and could expect no local business; that its construction would be a menace to, and earn the hostility of, Galesburg. The road could not afford to lose the business and the friendship of the city, whose population was rapidly increasing and already included one-third of the whole county of which it was the center of influence. In strongest terms he urged that Mr. Robinson should visit Galesburg, and make a personal examination of the situation, the knowledge of which he possessed only through reports of subordinates and from maps and profile drawings.
He said: "Is it not possible that your splendid engineer has heretofore built through an unsettled country? I fear he does not appreciate the difference between a new country, where centers of business are to be created by the railroad, and one where the centers are already established." Colonel Carr further appealed for assistance to, and received assurance of sympathy from, officers of the road, his personal friends, George R. Peck, General Solicitor; C. W. Smith, Traffic Manager, and J. E. Frost, Land Commissioner. A visit from Mr. Robinson was promised, and on December 4, he came to Galesburg. He was able to appreciate the appearance of its population, business and thrift, and withal the unexpected and extraordinary opportunity afforded by the Cedar Fork Valley for a cheap and direct route through the very heart of the city. He promised to report the situation to the Directors, and held out the encouragement that a decision in favor of Galesburg would be rendered, but only on condition that the necessary depot grounds and right of way through the city should be donated by the municipality or private owners. He added that it would be impossible for the company to form any reliable estimate of their cost, and said that in any case there would be a further addition to the outlay necessary for the construction and future operation of the longer line.
A committee had previously been appointed to look after the interests of the city with the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Company, at a meeting in the rooms of the Galesburg Club, Mayor Foote presiding. W. S. Gale, Clark E. Carr, E. P. Williams, J. T. McKnight and A. C. Clay composed the committee. At their call, a large audience assembled in the Princess Rink, then the largest hall in the city, on December 9. Mayor Foote presided. The citizens were already aroused, and the object of the meeting well understood. Mr. Gale, for the committee, submitted a full statement of the correspondence with the officers of the road, and explained the terms upon which a station on the line was practically assured to the city. He urged that the citizens of Galesburg should not forfeit the most favorable opportunity ever presented, and probably the last to be offered, to secure that for which they had so long hoped and labored in vain, a good railroad, fairly competing with the one line on which the city then depended.
After addresses from several prominent citizens a series of resolutions were adopted, presented by D. H. Frisbee, calling on the citizens to provide the means required, and on the City Council to render all necessary aid possible by ordinances, or otherwise. A canvassing committee was appointed, by whom subscription papers were prepared and actively circulated, the subscriptions being liberal and promptly made.
In the meantime, the line as located interfered, more than had been expected, with valuable improvements, and was evidently to be more expensive than had been contemplated. It was feared that the load would prove too heavy to be carried, as the money must all be raised by private, voluntary subscriptions, no hope for return being offered the subscribers except through the general improvement of the city.
On December 17, the committee informed Mr. Robinson that they would be able to give the company a written guarantee, executed by responsible men, that upon the building of the road through the city the depot grounds required would be conveyed, with right of way west of Broad street, and one-third the cost of right of way east of Broad street. Three days later, a dispatch was received from Mr. Strong, from Boston, addressed to Messrs. Carr and Gale. It read as follows: "Directors are in session; road will be located through Galesburg if right of way and depot grounds are furnished; otherwise on the line south of Galesburg; till three p.m. next day given for reply." Calling for explanation, a second dispatch told that "nothing but the entire cost of depot and right of way would be accepted."
The situation was serious. The subscriptions were incomplete; there was more or less uncertainty as to the cost of the ground demanded; the most public-spirited citizens might be expected to hesitate about assuming personal obligations to an indefinite amount, relying on voluntary aid of others, prompted by sympathy only, after the object had been secured.
A circular was at once sent to sixty of the most responsible and public-spirited citizens, informing them that the committee had matters of supreme importance to communicate, and calling on them to meet at the court house at ten o'clock next morning, promptly and without fail. The committee spent the evening of December 20 in consultation and preparation for the work of the next day. A draft of an instrument of guarantee, presented by Mr. Gale, was carefully and critically considered, that it might be seen that every essential point was fully covered and that there was no ambiguity . in expression, or room for doubt in construction. The meeting of the twenty-first was fully attended. The situation was thoroughly explained and the proposed guarantee presented. There was little discussion. B. F. Arnold, George W. Brown and E. P. Williams led off with expressions of willingness to sign the guarantee. T. J. Hale, declaring there was no time for debate, but only for immediate action .offered resolutions that the meeting approved the giving of the depot grounds and right of way,- and would join in the guarantee, and called for a rising vote. The vote was unanimous, the paper was signed by all present and afterwards by others, the Directors in Boston were notified at once, and a reply was received that Mr. Robinson had been directed to proceed with the location accordingly.
It was a grand exhibition of public spirit and mutual confidence, and no one has been known to regret his part in it.
The subscriptions to the funds continued to be made. In the end the number of subscribers reached four hundred and ninety-five, the sums ranging from one dollar to two thousand. The total amount raised was $64,243.55. Mr. J. T. McKnight and Asa A. Matteson were appointed to collect the subscriptions and purchase the right of way. The selection was fortunate, since between them these gentlemen possessed qualifications eminently useful in the complicated work, and ably and energetically carried it through.
In their final report very few subscriptions appeared uncollected, and after all costs and expenses had been paid, a balance of $2,451.41 remained. This was ordered distributed among the subscribers pro rata, making a rebate of 4% per cent on the amount paid by each.
From first to last, no misunderstanding with the company or its officers was had. At the close the company's solicitor expressed the pleasure felt by the railroad officials at the fair and honorable manner in which they had been treated by the city of Galesburg and its people. The Directors showed their appreciation by erecting in the city much the finest depot on their line from Kansas City to Chicago.
In answer to insinuations that the action of the company in requiring contributions from Galesburg was "making a bluff" and not actually made in good faith, Mr. Strong has recently said, in a letter to a friend: "But for the correspondence between Colonel Carr and the railroad officials the road would never have come to Galesburg, and if the required pledge had not been made on the day set for it, the road would have been located on another line."
THE CHICAGO, BURLINGTON AND QUINCY RAILROAD.
The act incorporating the Peoria and Oquawka Railroad was passed in 1849. Peoria and Oquawka were at the time connected by a daily line of stage coaches. No intermediate points were named in the charter, but it was expected the chief towns on the stage line - Knoxville, Galesburg and Monmouth - would be served, but that for the stage line between Peoria and Knoxville the older route, by way of Farmington and Maquon, would be taken. In 1849, an organization was made, public meetings held, and some interest excited; in 1850, a more serious effort was made, and James Knox, of Knoxville, was made President of the road. At Galesburg, the interest felt gradually cooled. Notwithstanding the assurances of Mr. Knox, there were fears that the jealousy of the other towns, on which Galesburg was gaining in population and business, would secure a location that would leave that place at one side. It was believed by some, that another line, of greater value to Galesburg, would be called for from the Mississippi, below the lower rapids, to the terminus of the Illinois and Michigan Canal, construction of the latter having been resumed; and that such a line would be forced, by the nature of the country, to follow the divide between the rivers, and pass through that place, and it would be well to reserve the strength of the town to aid in its construction. At the close of the year, the people of Galesburg had cut loose from the Peoria and Oquawka project, and were committed to another scheme.
February 10, 1851, the Peoria and Oquawka charter was amended, fixing as points on its line Farmington, Knoxville and Monmouth; authorizing the company to acquire the right of way, and the old grade of the Peoria and Warsaw line, between Peoria and Farmington, belonging to the State, a relic of the collapsed internal improvement system; and empowering it to construct a branch to the Mississippi River near Burlington.
On the first of the same month, the Northern Cross Railroad Company, chartered,in 1849 to occupy the old State line from Quincy to Meredosia, was authorized to build a branch to the terminus of the Illinois and Michigan Canal, on the most eligible route through the Military-Tract, not east of Knoxville.
On the fifteenth of the same month, the Central Military Tract Railroad Company was chartered to build from Galesburg to connect with the Rock Island and LaSalle line, in either Henry or Bureau Counties.
In 1851, Colonel Richard P. Morgan, Chief Engineer of the Rock Island and LaSalle Company, left that road and was appointed on the Peoria and Oquawka. He condemned the Farmington route, and insisted on the Kickapoo Valley as the only one available westward from Peoria. In 1852, an amendment to the charter authorized construction without reference to Farmington; it also permitted the establishment of a ferry at Burlington, and the extension of the road to the eastern limit of the State. The abandonment of the route over the high, well cultivated prairie, and leaving Farmington (then a thriving, enterprising town), was severely criticised, and the character and motives of the engineer bitterly attacked. Colonel Morgan was an old engineer, of large experience and high standing and a thoroughly honorable gentleman. Nobody who knew his opinions on railroad construction, or had observed his work on the Hudson River, the Galena and Chicago, and the Rock Island railroads, wondered at his selection of a route in locating the Peoria and Oquawka line. He cared little for curves, but he abhored steep grades. The line was located to run past Galesburg, more than two miles south of the public square. Oquawka having given no sufficient aid, the western end of the main line was not located, the Burlington branch practically superseding it. The people of Burlington became the most active promoters of the road, prominent among them being James W. Grimes, Charles Mason and William F. Coolburgh. In Peoria and Warren counties, municipal bonds were issued in aid, the indifference at Oquawka and the hostility at Galesburg preventing like action in Henderson and Knox counties.
Two divisions were made, Knoxville becoming the separating point, and all aid given was to be expended in the division in which it was obtained. Work was begun at once, and prosecuted from each end of the line. By the fall of 1854, the road was partially built, and the means of the company and the contractors exhausted. Near the close of 1850, when the claims of the Peoria and Oquawka were being discussed in Galesburg, Mr. Marcus B. Osborhe, a director of the Rock Island and LaSalle Company, whose road was not then located but was designed to connect the upper Mississippi with the Illinois River, at the terminus of the Canal, informed W. S. Gale that the Directors of that road had accepted a proposition made by Sheffield and Farnham, the contractors building the Michigan Southern road, then approaching its intended terminus at Chicago. The Directors were to secure a change of charter, giving right to extend the line to Chicago, reorganizing their company, and secure an entrance into that city. The Michigan Southern would connect near Chicago and run in on the same line. Sheffield and Farnham would construct the Rock Island and Chicago road for $22,000 per mile, taking one-half in bonds of the road, one-third in stock, and would accept municipal bonds, as far as offered, for the remainder. Mr. Osborne expected the road to follow the stage route and make points at Cambridge and Witherfield, coming within a little more than thirty miles of Galesburg and making a short line over the then open prairie. He had no doubt the contractors would be glad to take up so valuable a feeder, as a branch to Galesburg would be on quite as easy terms as were offered for the main line. Mr. Gale was associate editor of the News Letter, and the next issue of that paper contained an account of the situation as reported, urging the feasibility of securing the construction of such a branch, the importance it would give to Galesburg as a point to which would be drawn the lines seeking an outlet to the canal and lake from the south and west. Southwick Davis, editor of the Register, replied in his next issue, opposing the scheme as an interference with the Peoria and Oquawka line, the construction of which could be secured and on which Galesburg would be a point if its assistance were given. The result was a discussion on the streets, followed by a called meeting of the citizens. The question was thoroughly debated. The strongest presentation of the Peoria side was by C. S. Colton and H. H. May. They insisted that the Peoria line could be more certainly secured, and that it had more value than a direct route to Chicago, being so short in comparison, and that from Peoria there was water transportation in every direction. That in the end Peoria would get railroad connection with Chicago, and through it railroad transportation to that city would be but little longer than by way of the Rock Island road. The argument of the friends of the Chicago route prevailed, and at the conclusion, by unanimous agreement, a committee was appointed to prepare and secure the passage of a charter for a branch of that road.
It was feared opposition might be met with in the Legislature, and that Galesburg would be at a disadvantage. The State and the Legislature were overwhelmingly democratic. Galesburg had no good political standing. It was known as an abolition town, and in 1851, abolitionists were, in most sections of Illinois, cordially hated. The Senator and the Representative from Knox County were Whigs and from Knoxville, and individually were greatly interested in the Peoria and Oquawka Company. George C. Lanphere, an active advocate of the new project, was County Judge and a democrat, and was selected to go to Springfield in the interest of the charter. The Lieutenant Governor, William McMurtry, was from Henderson; that town, it was supposed, would share with Galesburg the benefit of the scheme. Colonel McMurtry was very influential in his party, and popular both at home and at Springfield, where he had represented his district both in the House and in the Senate. His aid was counted on. Judge Lanphere met at Springfield Onias C. Skinner, of Quincy, a prominent lawyer and leading democratic politician,.afterward a Judge of the Supreme Court, and a native of Whitesboro. His nearest relatives were at Galesburg. He had a bill authorizing the Northern Cross Railroad to build a branch to LaSalle. The first proposition was to adapt his bill to the case and carry out the Galesburg scheme under it, but after protests from that city to the effect that it must have its own bill, and that its work must be under its own control, it was agreed that more might be effected by first securing the Galesburg end of the line, since, with that accomplished, the Quincy end would easily follow. Judge Skinner gave the name Central Military Tract to the Galesburg road, indicating the ultimate design of the scheme. Governor McMurtry was the first President of the road. Committees were appointed to meet the Rock Island Directors and contractors at Rock Island and Chicago. Galesburg's representatives were cordially received. Mr. Farnham gave ample assurance that when the Rock Island road was finally provided for, he would take up the Central Military Tract line on like terms. Major William P. Whittle was appointed Chief Engineer, with B. B. Wentworth and George Churchill, assistants.
The preliminary surveys were disappointing. The Rock Island line had been located farther to the north, and on low ground, nowhere reaching the high prairie. Points where easy descent from the high ground could be made were few. Unlooked for difficulty was found in crossing Pope and Edwards valleys. The most favorable route found was fifty-four miles in length, and was substantially that on which the road was finally constructed, as far as the Coal Creek valley, between Neponset and Buda. From thence it turned at a right angle and ran down the valley, touching the Rock Island road at its summit, on the farm of Green Reid, at which point, in anticipation of the junction, the town of Sheffield was laid out.
It was expected here to suspend operations, and wait until arrangements could be made to secure the full cost of construction before further expenditure of money, which might prove ill applied. But under the influence of the Chief Engineer, a more progressive policy was attempted. Stock subscriptions were to be canvassed for, in expectation of raising enough money to grade the road and be able to place bonds to provide for superstructure and equipment.
Complete surveys and estimates were made, and bids for construction called for, received and opened. But the cost was not sufficiently provided for. The Rock Island contractors seemed slow in coming forward to take up the road as expected, and other connections were looked for.
The Aurora Branch Railroad had been chartered in 1849, and under the charter a road constructed from Aurora to a point on the Galena and Chicago road, thirty miles west of Chicago. The Central Military Tract Railroad, by lengthening its lines about one-half, might reach Aurora, thus securing a still more direct line to Chicago. Correspondence was begun with the Galena Railroad, but a change in the management of that company was then pending and interfered with definite action. The Burlington Directors of the Peoria and Oquawka road took great interest in the Central Military Tract line from its first inception. They regarded it as of more value to them, if a connection could be made with it, than the Peoria end of their own line. They tried, but without success, to effect an agreement between the two companies to connect at Galesburg, to act in concert, and to secure municipal aid for both roads from Knox County.
The Michigan Central and the Michigan Southern, originally planned to terminate on the eastern shore of Lake Michigan, were in warm competition, each working westward, and each seeking a terminus in Chicago. The Central had secured an entrance by a combination with the Illinois Central, the Southern through the Rock Island. Its Rock Island connection gave that line the advantage as regards securing the south-bound travel on the Illinois and Mississippi Rivers. The Central had a scheme to meet this competition by obtaining control of the Aurora Branch, with its running rights over the Galena road, and to extend its line forty miles, to the proposed line of the Illinois Central, north of LaSalle, and run trains from their depot in Chicago to the last named point. Governor Grimes, of Burlington, was informed of this plan while in Boston, and saw an opportunity for the Central Military Tract Railroad. Finding Mr. Colton in Boston, they had an interview with the Michigan Central management, showed the advantage to be secured by taking an interest in the Central Military Tract line and extending it to meet the proposed Aurora extension, and secured a promise that Mr. Joy, when going out to examine the Aurora Branch, would visit Galesburg. Word came to that city through William J. Selden, who traveled with Governor Grimes on his way home, that nothing should be done on the road till Mr. Joy arrived. Further explanation was had when Mr. Colton returned. While Mr. Joy was being awaited, Mr. Farnham and Norman B. Judd, the latter the attorney for the Rock Island Company, came to Galesburg to make arrangements for building the road. A month earlier they would have been gladly welcomed, but just then their proposition could be neither accepted nor rejected with safety. They were put off for a few days, on the plea that the Quincy people must be consulted and be committed, in advance, to follow the lead taken by Galesburg, as it would never do to leave them free to make combinations with others, which might result in bringing a competing line into the territory. A committee was sent to Quincy, and secured an agreement that the two companies should stand together. Very soon afterward Mr. Joy arrived. He was delighted with the country and its prospects. He proposed a reorganization of the company, an extension of its line to the line of the Illinois Central, there to meet the Aurora extension. The men he represented would subscribe to the stock of both these roads the amount necessary for their construction, beyond the local subscriptions and the proceeds of such bonds as could, with profit to the stockholders, be placed on the roads. He urged an increase in the local subscriptions, however, in order that Eastern people might see that the country had sufficient wealth to support the road, and that the people on the line had enough interest in the road to secure its protection. His propositions were approved, and time given to make up the desired increase. No great difficulty was found in securing the stock subscriptions, since it was thought that there was a certain profit to be made, and as Mr. Joy had given assurance that the instalments would be called for only as the work proceeded, that after twenty-five per cent of the amount had been paid the stock would be security for any additional instalments called for, and that the earnings would return the money within a few years. Among the large subscribers were: Silas Willard, and C. S. Colton, $25,000 each; Silvanus Ferris, Henry Ferris, James Bunjce, Patrick Dunn, Ehos Mc-Enlear, William J. Selden, and W. Selden Gale, $10,000 each; George W. Gale, $6,500.
At the time of his visit Mr. Joy was told of the understanding with the people of Quincy, and was induced to go over that route. He did not hesitate to give assurances that with such local aid as they were able to raise, he could find market for the securities necessary to build the line.
In January, 1852, acts were passed giving a new charter to the Central Military Tract Railroad, with the right to connect with any road running towards Chicago; authorizing the Aurora Branch road to extend its line to a point at least fifteen miles north of LaSalle and connect with any road running north from that point; and changing its name to the Chicago and Aurora Railroad.
In the reorganization of the Central Military Tract Company, John W. Brooks, General Manager of the Michigan Central, was made President; John McPherson Berrien, Chief. Engineer; W. W. Duffield, Treasurer. The local Directors were from the large stockholders - Willard, Colton, Bunce, Selden and G. W. and W. S. Gale. The offices were opened at Princeton, work beginning at and progressing from the eastern end. It reached Galesburg in the latter part of December, 1854.
The Chicago and Aurora and the Central Military Tract roads were then put under joint management, which method continued until their consolidation under the name of the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy, in 1856.
In 1854, negotiations were opened for aid to be extended by the allied roads to the Peoria and Oquawka, to be used in construction of its western division. An agreement was reached and a contract entered into at Monmouth. At that conference there were present James W. Brooks and James F. Joy, of Detroit; James W. Grimes and William F. Coolbaugh, of Burlington; George C. Bestor, of Peoria; Abner C. Harding and Ivory Quimby, of Monmouth, and W. Selden Gale. James Knox had promised to be present but failed to appear. Of these men the only one now living is Mr. Gale, the young-est of the company. The line of the road was to be re-established between Cameron and Knoxville so as to connect with the Central Military Tract road at Galesburg, the people of that city to furnish four acres of ground for a depot. The allied roads would provide money to complete the western division, and were to remain in possession until the obligations were paid, accounting for net profits, and were to have continuous running rights over the road. Under that agreement the western division was completed to Galesburg in 1855.
By 1856, the Peoria and Oquawka Company had completed the line from Galesburg to Peoria. In 1856, the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Company acquired title to the road from Peoria to Burlington by purchase of securities and process of foreclosure.
The construction of the Northern Cross Railroad, from Quincy to Galesburg, which was begun in 1852, was completed in 1855, having been aided by the Chicago and Aurora and the Central Military Tract companies. Soon after completion it was placed under the management of the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy, and was afterwards bought by that corporation at sale under foreclosure.
On November 11, 1870, the Rockford, Rock Island and St. Louis road was completed from Rock Island to St. Louis, at a cost of about $11,000,000, and on April 21, 1876, it passed under a foreclosure sale for $1,600,000 into the possession of the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy. It runs for a few miles through Rio Township. To make connection with it the new owners, in the summer of 1880, built a branch line from Galesburg to Rio. In this year also the double track from Chicago to Burlington was finished.
In 1860-61 the line running south of Yates City to the county line was completed under the charter of the Jacksonville and Savannah. (See Salem.)
In 1884, the new passenger station was finished. It is a very large and handsome building, and reflects great credit upon both the railroad and the town.
The following table shows the growth of the line in reference to its importance in Knox County:
TRAINMEN EMPLOYED IN KNOX COUNTY. Monthly wages.
Total number of men employed in Knox County:
James T. Shields Post No. 45, Galesburg, was instituted August 8, 1869, with thirty charter members. It was first organized as Galesburg Post, but was changed to the present name after the death of General Shields. Its first officers were: Rowley Page, C; James E. Hall, S. V. C; D. W. Bradshaw, J. V. C; S. F. Flint, Adjt; C. B. Hyde, Q. M.; L. S. Lambert, Sec'y.
The present officers are: R. I. Law, C; H. F. Fritz, S. V. C; T. G. Cook, J. V. C.; L. C. Way, Adjt.; Miron Rhodes, Q. M. The Post now has one hundred and fifty members.
Post No. 58, Abingdon, was instituted July 16, 1879, with thirty members, the number now being fifty, who meet in Masonic Hall. The first officers were: C. W. Bassett, C; A. M. Hopper, S. V. C; G. M. Bowden, J. V. C; J. H. Miller, A. M.; A. W. Cochrun, Adjt. The present officers are: S. D. Letheo, C: T. H. Roe, S. V. C; D. M. Wiley, J. V. C; A. D. Underwood, Q. M.; A. W. Cochrun, Adjt.
George W. Trafton Post No. 239, Knoxville, was instituted May 11, 1883, with thirty-six members which has since increased to sixty. Meetings are held in Charles' Hall, corner of Main and Mill streets. The first officers consisted of the following: J. C. McClanahan, C; G. G. Stearns, S. V. C; H. L. Clapp, J. V. C; J. B. Tate, Q. M.; Charles Egan, Adjt. The present officers are: J. W. Tate, C; George W. Witheral, S. V. C; J. P. Rogers, J. V. C; H. H. Beamer, Q. M.; H. L. Clapp, Adjt.
Hancock Post No. 552, Maquon, was organized January 26, 1886, with twenty-three members. The present officers are: Albert Smith, C: John Jones, Adjt.
Morgan L. Smith Post No. 666, Yates City, had for its first officers the following: J. N. Burch, C; William S. Kleckner, S. V. C; B. F. Pittman, J. V. C; J. B. Reed, Q. M.; J. O. Wren, Chap.; M. W. French, Adjt.; R. B. Corbin, Surg.; F. W. Brown, Officer of the Day; R. A. Lower, Officer of the Guard; Wilson Adams, Sergt. Maj.; D. M. Carter, Q. M. S. The present officers are: J. A. Hensley, C; T. F. Cunningham, S. V. C; H. C. Soules, J. V. C; O. P. Fetters, Q. M.; J. O. Wren, Chap.; L. A. Lawrence, Adjt. The present membership is fifteen.
T. G. Tait Post No. 698, Victoria, consists of thirty-five members, and the following officers- C. W. Harrison, C; G. W. Reynolds, S. V. C. Thomas Woolsey, J. V. C; C. A. Sayer, Q. M., S. G. Jarvis, Adjt.
G. W. Parker Post No. 700, Williamsfield, was instituted July 22, 1890, with fourteen members, which number has been increased to twenty. They met first in Tucker's Hall, but are now given the use of the I.O.O.F. Hall. The following were the first officers: John Cole, M. D., C; Samuel Tucker, S. V. C.; William M. Pierce, J. V. C; John Oberholtzer, Q. M.; E. M. Sweeny, Adj. The present officers are: A. Diefenderfer, C; A. Hurd, S. V. C; O. J. Oberholtzer, J. V. C; John Cole, M. D., Q. M.; E. M. Sweeny, Chap.; Jacob Lafallett, Officer of the Day; Frank Bates, Officer of the Guard; C. A. Zenor, Adjt.; James King, Surg.
James T. Shields Corps No. 121, W. R. C, was instituted August 16, 1888, with twenty-three members, the present number being fifty-seven. They meet in G. A. R. Hall. The first officers were: Mrs. E. R. McCullough, Pres.; Mrs. Ella Bradshaw, Sec'y; Mrs. Sarah Green, Treas. The present officers are: Mrs. Miron Rhodes, Pres.; Mrs. Jennie Freer, Sec'y; Mrs. Stella McDougal, Treas.
THE SWEDISH AMERICAN OLD SETTLERS' ASSOCIATION OF KNOX COUNTY.
By Nels Nelson.
This Association was organized for the purpose of bringing its members into closer acquaintance with each other and gathering such information as could be gained from the experience and observation of those who emigrated from Sweden and settled in this county. These people and their descendants form nearly one-fourth of the population of the county at the present time.
An organization had been proposed and discussed for some time before it was effected, and finally, on June 20,1894, Messrs. Swan Peterson, of Knoxville; John N. Holm and George Eckstrand, of Galesburg, called a few of the old Swedish settlers together at the school house
of the First Lutheran Church in the last named city. At this meeting Hon. A. W. Berggren, of Galesburg, was chosen chairman; Swan Peterson, of Knoxville, secretary; and committees on constitution and permanent organization were appointed as follows: Lewis L. Gibson, Nels Nelson and Lewis Burgland were named on the former; Captain C. E. Landstrum, John Peterson and George Eckstrand, composed the latter.
At a subsequent meeting, held on July 2 following, the committees reported and the organization was completed by the adoption of a constitution and the election of the following officers for one year: President, Hon. A. W. Berggren; Vice-President, Swan Peterson; Secretary, M. O. Williamson; Treasurer, S. W. Swanson; and Historian, Nels Nelson.
The constitution provided that all those born of Swedish parents, who had resided in Knox County thirty years, were eligible for membership in the association, and that annual meetings should be held for the discussion of past experiences and for social enjoyment. The first annual meeting was held at Lake George Park, on September 27, 1894, several hundred people being present, and the gathering a source of much enjoyment to those in attendance. Meetings have been held regularly each year since, and have been well attended. The reminiscences given on these occasions have been as instructive as they are interesting.
Although it is not possible, within the limits of this article, to devote much space to the recalling and recital of personal experiences, a brief reference to the first Swedish settlers in the different parts of the county and the present number and condition of these people is essential, and forms a valuable part of the history of the county.
The best information obtainable shows that Jonas J. Hedstrom was the first Swede to settle in Knox County. He arrived in the year 1843, and settled at Victoria. As that village was situated on the boundary line between Victoria and Copley townships, and as newcomers settled at or near the village, the two townships were, virtually, settled simultaneously, and are therefore both included in this account of the settlement in that locality.
Two families, by the name of Olof Olson, arrived there in 1845; and in 1846 Olof Delain and another family, by the name of Olof Olson came. In 1847, there arrived Nels Yelm, Jonas Hedin, Olof Nordlund, Swen Larson, Jonas Johnson, Olof Beck, Peter Skoglund, Jonas Hellstrom, Lewis Hillberg, Hans Hanson, Carl M. Peterson, Swen and Louis Larson, George Craft, Mr. Seeboldt and Peter Anderson.
Jonas J. Hedstrom, above mentioned, was a blacksmith by trade, but was very zealous in his efforts for the spiritual welfare of his countrymen; and although he had to support himself by his labor at the forge, he conducted religious meetings regularly, at which he acted as leader, preaching to his people; and as early as 1846, with only five members, he organized a Methodist Church. He was an energetic and intelligent man, who was a great help to his countrymen. The church he then organized is still in existence, and has a membership of one hundred and fifty.
The number of Swedish-Americans now in Copley and Victoria townships is six hundred and forty-eight.
The following arrived and settled in Sparta Township in the year 1849: Lars Olson and family, Peter Erickstm and family, Olof Olson and wife, Andrew Danielson and family, Olof Paulson and family and Mrs. Martha Nystrom. The next year came William and Lars Williamson, with their families, as well as N. J. Lindbeck and Jonas Peterson and wife. Considerable accessions to this number were made in the years immediately following, so that the Swedish-American population there now is three hundred and seventy-five.
Knoxville seems to have received the first Swede settler in Knox Township, in the person of Christian Johnson, in 1848; and in 1849 there arrived Adolphus Anderson and wife, Mrs. Christina Olson and daughter, John Charlson and Andrew Bergquist. The following year there came a Mr. Lofquist and wife, Nels Jacobson, Mr. Bostrom and Mrs. Rundquist. During the next four years a large number came there from Sweden, and additional arrivals afterwards increased the number, together with their descendants, to four hundred and seventy at the present time.
In the city of Galesburg the first arrivals from Sweden were John Youngberg and family, Anders Thorsell, Nels Hedstrom, Olof Nelson, Christina Muhr and Mr. Modin and family, all of whom came in 1847. The five following years only a very few of the Swedish immigrants settled in Galesburg; but in 1852 Rev. T. N. Hasselquist and family came, with some others, who took up their residence there. A large number arrived annually for many succeeding years, the result being that the number of Swedish-Americans in the city of Galesburg at present (1899) is 5,494.
Henderson Township was first settled by Swedes in 1849, when Jonas Hanson entered a claim there. He was followed, the next year, by Hans Williamson, and in 1851 by Jonas Peterson. In 1855, Peter S. Nelson moved to Henderson Grove, and from that time forward a considerable number of families settled there each year; and at the present time there is a Swedish-American population of three hundred and twenty.
George E. Bostrom was the first arrival from Sweden in Ontario Township. He settled there in 1848, and Andrew Settergren came in 1849. E. J. Peterson moved to Oneida in 1850, and many others settled in Ontario Township soon afterward. Their present number is three hundred and thirty-two.
In Walnut Grove Township, the first arrivals from Sweden were evidently Mr. Snygg and family, who settled there in 1849. The following year N. P. Peterson and G. A. Erickson followed. George Chalman, Peter Newberg, L. Carlson, E. Krans, Peter Olson and George Erickson settled there not long afterward. For-several years following 1858 a large number of Swedish settlers came, so that the present number of Swedish-Americans in Walnut Grove Township is five hundred and ninety-two.
The eight townships named contain a larger number of Swedish-Americans than any other in the county; yet the other twelve contain more than nine hundred.
The following church organizations and other societies are composed of Swedish-Americans only:
Swedish M. E. Church, Victoria; organized in 1846; present membership, one hundred and fifty, with a Sunday-school of seventy-five. Swedish Lutheran Church, Knoxville;; organized 1853; present membership, one hundred and sixty-five; Sunday-school, ninety-eight. Swedish Lutheran Church, Wataga; organized 1856; present membership, one hundred and forty-six; Sunday-school, one hundred and thirteen; Young People's Society, thirty-five. Swedish M. E. Church, Wataga; membership, fifty; Sunday-school, twenty-five. Swedish Lutheran Church, Altona; organized in 1859; membership, three hundred and twenty-two. Sunday-school, one hundred and thirty-two. Swedish Lutheran Church, Henderson Grove; organized in 1870; membership, two hundred and three; Sunday-school, sixty-three.
In the city of Galesburg there are the following:
First Swedish Lutheran Church, organized in 1850; membership, 1,145; Sunday-school, 561. Swedish Methodist Church, organized in 1851; present membership, 300; Sunday-school, 250. Mission Church, organized in 1868; membership, 225; Sunday-school numbers 175.
Swedish Baptist Church, organized in 1888; present membership, 60; conducts three Sunday-schools, with an attendance of 100.
St. John's Episcopal Church; membership 150; Sunday-school, 80.
Zion's Lutheran Church, organized 1895; present membership, 85; Sunday-school, 70.
There are also the following societies composed, chiefly, of Swedish-Americans: First Scandinavian Lodge No. 446, I. O. O. F., membership, 54; Svea Lodge, I. O. of G. T., membership, 64; Scandia Lodge, I. O. of G. T., membership, 75; Vasa Lodge, A. O. U. W., membership, 35; Svea Court Independent Order of Foresters, membership, 24; Monitor Union, membership, 140.
It must not be forgotten that a very considerable proportion of these people came to this county early, when it was but very sparsely settled; and that they were forced to undergo not only the usual hardships of the pioneer in any new country, but were "strangers in a strange land," understanding not a word of the language spoken by the people, among whom they found themselves thrown. Moreover, the methods of work were new to them; they were not accustomed to the climate, and the food was altogether different from that to which they were used. In addition to these disadvantages, most of them had used nearly, if not quite, all the small means they possessed in order to come to America. Yet, to their unspeakable credit be it said, one would seldom find any of them discouraged or dissatisfied. They were strong and active, and eager to secure work. The earlier settlers of the county welcomed these sturdy sons of the North with warm hands, and extended to them all kindness and encouragement. The men secured work on the farms, and the young women found places as domestics in families in need of their services. That it required much patience on the part of both employer and employe to learn to understand each other goes without saying; but forbearance and patience, on the one hand and eager determination to learn, joined to absolute fidelity on the other, overcame these difficulties in a surprisingly short time.
The Swedes became Americanized very readily, and they love and appreciate the free institutions of their adopted country. A very large percentage of those capable of bearing arms volunteered to aid in the protection of our government during the War of the Rebellion, bearing their full share of the suffering and sacrifice entailed by that memorable struggle.
As has been pointed out, the Swedish people began coming to this county early in its history, and they have contributed no mean portion to the development of its resources. As a rule, they are honest, industrious, law-abiding citizens. In looking over the docket of any term of court it is surprising how few cases there are to which Swedish-Americans are parties. It will be observed that out of a total population of 9,088 of this description in the county, there are 3,000 who are members of churches and 1,742 scholars in Sabbath schools organized by themselves; while there is a large number in addition who are members of other churches. In fact, it may be said, without fear of successful contradiction, that more than one-half of that part of the population of Knox County who trace their lineage to Swedish ancestry are within church organizations of various denominations.
The early settlers from the peninsula in the far north of Europe were at first compelled, like all pioneers, to devote themselves exclusively to securing homes for their families, together with such scanty comforts as hard, honest toil could secure. But coming from a country where illiteracy is practically unknown, they well knew the value of a good education and fully appreciated the worth of the cultivation of the mind. They organized for religious worship, according to the dictates of conscience, as soon as it was possible; and as their children grew up they afforded them every opportunity within their power to secure the best education within their reach. They are now met in every walk of life in this county. In the country they are, as a rule, good farmers, and the majority own the farms they occupy; in the cities they are well represented in every department of activity; in the public schools they are found both as scholars and as teachers; in the colleges and conservatories of music they are met as students; in every branch of mercantile business they are largely represented as both clerks and proprietors; and the same self-evident proposition holds good as to the factories and mechanical trades of all kinds. A large proportion of the population mentioned in the foregoing paragraphs were born in this county, and are in every sense of the word as much American as any other native-born citizen. There is not now, nor has there ever been, any class distinction among the people of Knox County on account of nationality; but those settlers who came here from the fatherland many years ago, and who underwent many hardships that were not common among the other old settlers of the county, felt that it would be eminently fitting for them to meet together, once each year, to exchange reminiscences and to talk of matters best known to themselves by experience. In this way was formed the Swedish-American Old Settlers' Association of Knox County, Illinois.
KNOXVILLE, KNOX COUNTY, FARMERS MUTUAL FIRE AND LIGHTNING INSURANCE COMPANY
This company was organized in March, 1875, under the general law of the State in relation to township insurance companies, approved March 21, 1874. Its field embraced the townships of Knox, Persifer, Haw Creek, Orange, Chestnut and Indian Point. It was reorganized in September 1877, under the general law relative to county insurance companies, approved June 2, 1877. It has a Board of Directors composed of nine members, whose term of office is three years; three being elected each year. From their number they choose a President and Treasurer, annually. They also elect a Secretary, who may or may not be a member of the company. J. C. Eiker, of Orange Township, is President, and J. Hamilton, of Galesburg, Secretary. Both have held their positions since the organization of the company. E. B. Reynolds, of Knox Township, was the first Treasurer, but soon resigned. He was succeeded by Robert Young, of Persifer, who still holds the office. The company's business is done on the mutual plan; and, through the Judicious management of its Board of Directors, it has steadily grown from the beginning. At present, the corporation has outstanding, in policies, about $2,000,000. Its losses are promptly adjusted by a committee of three of its members, appointed by the President and Secretary. The result is a great saving to the farmers of Knox County; the average annual cost being only about fourteen mills on the dollar. It is strictly a farmers' insurance company and offers to the agricultural communities in which it operates a protection which is at once safe and inexpensive. It insures against loss or damage to buildings and their contents by either fire or lightning.
COVENANT MUTUAL LIFE ASSOCIATION.
One of the most important of the business organizations in the city of Galesburg, is the Covenant Mutual Life Association, which was incorporated in 1877. It was intended originally exclusively for members of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, but later the general public were admitted to membership. It was organized under the name of the Covenant Mutual Benefit Association. The word life was substituted for benefit in 1895. It has been exceptionally prosperous, the statement of 1896 showing over $100,000,000 in insurance in force, and a surplus of $1,000,000. The first officers of the Association were: A. W. Berggren, President; Jacob Hoffheimer, Vice President; E. Frisbee Phelps, Secretary; Luke W. Sanborn, Treasurer. The present officers are: W. H. Smollinger, President; Luke W. Sanborn, Vice President; B. F. Reiumund, Secretary; A. W. Berggren, Treasurer.
THE SCANDINAVIAN MUTUAL AID ASSOCIATION
This company, with its headquarters at 347 East Main street, Galesburg, was organized in the Fall of the year 1883, by the Swedish-American citizens of that city, for the purpose of securing life insurance at actual cost. The first officers elected were: Rev. S. P. A. Lindahl, President; N. J. Oleen, Vice President; Nels Nelson, Secretary; Jonas A. Johnson, Treasurer; and Dr. J. T. Wilson, Medical Director. With the exception of Dr. Wilson, who died in November, 1896, and was succeeded by Dr. C. G. Johnson, as Medical Director, the official staff chosen the first year has been annually reelected, each member filling his original post.
At the fifteenth annual meeting of the Association, held on the fourth Wednesday of January, 1899, the reports of the officers showed a membership of 12,640 and $15,330,0O0 worth of policies in force, the company having paid during the past fifteen years $1,354,880.52 to beneficiaries of deceased members, and accumulated a fund, to be used only for losses when the rate of mortality is phenomenally high, amounting to $147,935.54 on January 1, 1899.
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