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Knox County Illinois
Genealogy and History

History of Galesburg

Source: "Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois"
Chicago: Munsell Pub. Co., 1899

Originally Transcribed by Kathie Mills and Foxie Hagerty
Formatted and Additional data transcribed by K.T.



The township of Galesburg, in which the city of that name is situated, occupies the territory designated by the United States survey as Township 11 North, Range 1 East. This was originally a prairie township. It lies on the “divide”, between the Illinois and Mississippi Rivers, and its highest elevation is nearest its center, at the present site of the railroad stockyards. From this point the early pioneer could obtain a view extending far beyond the township lines and circumscribed only by the woods skirting the water courses that left the divide in every direction. To the east lay the timber growing along the waters of Court and Haw Creeks, the former barely touching the boundary line, while the latter extended into the township, to a point half way between its eastern line and its center. The woods of Brush Creek reached to a point within a half mile of its southern boundary, and on the west stretched Cherry Grove, as it was afterwards called, distant a mile and a half from the township’s extreme sectional line. Half a mile west of the middle of this line also lay the heart of the Cedar Fork timber, connected with which and with each other stood two little groves, covering between fifty and a hundred acres each, one on the line and the other extending to within two miles of the township’s center; and stretching from the west to a point near the middle of the northern boundary was what was known as the Henderson timber.

The surface was level or gently undulating, and the rich, virgin, prairie soil was covered with a luxuriant growth of grass and flowering plants, enchanting to the eye and mutely inviting the settler to occupy and till it. Yet notwithstanding its beauty and fertility only nineteen quarter-sections—sixteen in the southeast and three in the northeast—were pre-empted by soldiers on bounty warrants, the remainder being considered undesirable, because not accessible to timber.

In 1835 settlers occupied, or had claimed and were about to occupy, the timber land and adjacent prairie in the southeastern part of the township, as well as the little groves and surrounding land in the west, while the Henderson settlements included a portion of the land in the northern tier of quarter-sections. The unoccupied prairie was supposed to be of little value, except as a free range for the stock, and was believed to be destined forever so to remain.


In 1834, Rev. George W. Gale, of Whitesboro, New York, who had been engaged in educational work for many years, conceived the idea of building a college in what was then called the Far West. To endow this college he proposed to buy government lands at $1.25 per acre and sell them to settlers at five dollars, the profit to be given to the institution. This idea Mr. Gale set forth at length in a printed circular, which he sent to his personal friends and to others interested in education.

Early in 1835, thirty-three persons had given their approval of the plan and had subscribed $21,000 toward carrying it into execution. They were: Revs. G. W. Gale, H. H. Kellogg, John Waters, Timothy B. Jervis, Phineas Camp, John Gray, and John Frost, and Messrs. Nehemiah West, John McMullen, John C. Smith, J. S. Fitch, Smith Griffith, Lewis Kinney, Amatuo Robbins, Chauncey Pierce, Gordon Grant, Samuel Bond, Silvanus Ferris, N. H. Losey, Sylvester Bliss, Sylvanus Town, H. T. Avery, George Avery, James Barton, J. B. Marsh, Thomas Gilbert, Thomas Simmons, Jeremiah Holt, George Stedman, Benjamin P. Johnson, Walter Webb, Sidney Rice, and Miss Armaminta P. Rice.


On May 6, 1835, they met at Rome, New York, and chose a “Prudential Committee,” its members being George W. Gale, H. H. Kellogg, John C. Smith, N. West, Thomas Gilbert, and Walter Webb. This committee was directed to select certain of its members to visit those portions of Indiana and Illinois lying between the fortieth and forty-second parallels of latitude. Nehemiah West, Thomas Gilbert, and T. B. Jervis were selected for this task, while Mr. Gale was chosen as General Agent, to secure new members of the colony.

On their return from the west the committee reported that no desirable or suitable land could be secured east of Illinois, and that even in that State they had not found a place where an entire township could be had in a desirable location, with an adequate supply of wood and water. The tide of immigration was at its flood, and the securing a suitable tract of sufficient size for the establishment of a colony was daily becoming more difficult. Any land selected, unless paid for at once, might be occupied in whole or in part by others. If anything was to be done, it must be through a committee with an abundance of money and plenary power to act. The report was far from encouraging. To purchase a smaller tract than had been originally contemplated would be to weaker then enterprise at a vital point. To wait until a sufficient amount could be secured and collected through subscription would mean the loss of valuable time. Moreover, as the chance for securing a desirable location grew less, the difficulties in the way of securing subscriptions would multiply. A crisis was presented, and it seemed imperative to act promptly. From such subscribers as were then prepared to pay, seven thousand dollars were collected and a loan of ten thousand dollars was obtained from a bank on a note signed by Messrs. Ferris, Sears, and Gale. The next step was the appointment of a purchasing committee, composed of Messrs. George W. Gale, Nehemiah West and Silvanus Ferris, who were fully empowered to take immediate action. Such of the subscribers as might desire to accompany them were made advisory members of the committee. Western Ferris, a son of Silvanus, went with them, and they were joined on the route by Rev. John Waters, Thomas Simmons, and Samuel Tompkins. At Detroit, Mr. Gale became sick, and the committee went on without him. Mr. Gilbert, of the original exploring committee, had found in the township south of Knoxville a beautiful prairie, in every other way desirable, but not so large as was considered necessary. He had there bought land for himself and advised the committee to look at it.


Going first to Knoxville, they found accommodations at the house of Dr. Hansford, then and long afterwards a prominent citizen of Knox County. On learning their mission, he assured them that he could and would show them all the land they wanted, an offer which was gladly accepted. No time was lost on the way to the Quincy land office, where they entered all the land available for that purpose in the northern two-thirds of the township. Certain members of the committee had come prepared to make entries on their own individual account after the purchase for the colony had been completed. Mr. Ferris wished to give to each of his six sons and to his daughter an entire section.

On taking a second look at the prairie where their purchase had been made, they discovered that more land might be secured in and near the township than their combined ready cash would enable them to pay for; but on their return to the land office, to make further entries, they learned that Richard Bassett, a land speculator, having been informed of the aims and acts of the colonists, had entered one-half of each quarter-section on the tier of townships directly south of their purchase. He evidently supposed that the alternate eighty acre lots would be regarded as undesirable by settlers unless more land, adjoining, could be obtained, and no doubt his intention was ultimately to take these up also. The committee felt confidence in its ability to checkmate this wily scheme, and accordingly entered all the remaining land in the township, as well as a little in the one adjoining.

It was decided that the colony lands should be selected from the entire amount purchased, in such locality and form as might be deemed best calculated to promote the final success of the original project, and in the end it was taken in a compact tract toward the north and east, its total area, including the school section, being nearly equal to that of half a township.

In order the better to provide for the shelter and comfort of the colonists as they might arrive, the committee bought three improved farms lying in the western part of Section 33, adjacent to this prairie and extending into Henderson Grove. They also contracted for a tract of timber, that the colonists might the more easily supply their urgent need for wood, for fuel and fencing. The committee reported at Whitesboro, on January 7, 1836, and a plan was formulated and approved for the disposal of the land. Reservations were made of the farms at Henderson Grove, and of a tract two miles in length, from east to west, and one mile and a half in breadth, of which Section 15 was the center. The eastern half of Section 16 (the school section) not being at the disposal of the company, was not taken into consideration. A strip of land on the north, half a mile wide and divided into equal parts by the sectional line, was set apart to be platted as a village and for outlying lots, and the remainder of the territory secured was devoted to sale for the founding and endowment of the college. This was divided into forty and eighty acre lots, and appraised at from three to eight dollars per acre. Each purchaser of an eighty acre tract was to be guaranteed the privilege of buying eight acres of woodland and the right, for twenty-five years, to name one student who should receive gratuitous tuition at the college. Subscribers were accorded the first right to buy, and after them actual settlers.


The first meeting for the sale of lands was held in Whitesboro in the session room of the Presbyterian Church. Great cares had been taken that the rules governing the sale should be equitable and prove satisfactory. Should two or more persons select the same tract, it was to be awarded to the one offering the highest premium, and if any purchaser, on seeing the land which he had chosen, should feel dissatisfied, he was to be allowed to exchange it for any other, not taken, at the appraised valuation. Not all the subscribers, however, were prepared or desired to go. Some had subscribed merely to aid in promoting a good cause, while others had found it impossible to complete the arrangements necessary to their emigration to a new country. Those who did not expect to become colonists were encouraged to withdraw their subscriptions, as it was evident that the sales would fully repay the outlay, and non-resident land ownership was considered undesirable.

Other details were arranged at the same meeting. It was decided that the title to the property should be vested in Messrs. Ferris and West, until such time as a charter could be obtained from the State, when it was to be conveyed to the corporation, from whom the individual purchasers were to derive their titles until legal incorporation should be effected under the law of Illinois. The affairs of the infant colony were to be administered by a provisional Board of Trustees, which was granted full powers. The name Galesburg was chosen for the settlement, and Prairie College for the institution; and all profits accruing from sales of land were to be set apart as an endowment fund for the college.


The general plan for the laying out of the village and the disposition of the adjacent realty, to which reference has been already made, also received attention. It was determined that the village plat should be one-half mile square and should be divided into thirty-six blocks, each of which should be subdivided into from eight to twelve lots. The principal avenue, to be known as Main Street, was to run along a line separating the southeast quarter of Section 10 from the Northeast quarter of Section 15. Crossing this thoroughfare at its center, at a right angle, was to run Broad Street, and at their intersection four quarter blocks were to be reserved as a public square. On either side of the land set apart for the college there was an additional reservation of ten acres—one for a Female Seminary and the other for a Boy’s Academy. The two institutions were to face each other, the one on Seminary and the other on Academy Street. Midway between them, at the head of Broad Street, was to stand the educational institution, whose conception in the mind of George W. Gale had given birth to the entire enterprise. In the naming of other streets the members of the purchasing committee received the recognition which their services merited, West, Ferris, Waters, Simmons and Tomkins being among the cognomens selected.

Both east and west of the village plat other lands were reserved from immediate sale, a plot being retained to be used as a cemetery, and the remainder divided into small parcels of two and one-half, five and ten acres each.


The first colonist to take up actual residence was Henry, the fifth son of Silvanus Ferris. He was a theological student, in delicate health, and in the hope of finding a more favorable climate he left his school at Whitesboro and joined the anti-slavery missionary school of Dr. Nelson, in Missouri. Meeting his father at Quincy, he temporarily abandoned his studies and came to the new settlement in November 1835. The next, Abel Gooddel, from Maine, left his location in Hancock County on hearing of the colony, and built him a cabin on the colony plantation, in which he spent the winter of 1835-36.

In June, 1836, the colonists began to arrive. Those who brought their families and effects usually traversed the entire distance overland, although in some cases coming by canal and lake to the head of Lake Erie. Some came merely to survey the situation and prepare for the removal of their families, whom they expected to bring later in the season or the following year.

The overland route was long and tedious, there being no railroad west of Whitesboro. Mr. John C. Smith, one of the trustees and an active, energetic man, gathered together a company, purchased a canal boat, and undertook the journey by way of the Erie and Ohio canals, and the Ohio, Mississippi, and Illinois rivers. This party hoped to save time and avoid unnecessary fatigue, but they underestimated the difficulties to be overcome and the danger of exposure to a malarial climate. Long and anxiously expected, they were met by their friends at Copperas Creek, forty miles from Galesburg, and, suffering from fever and ague and bilious fevers, were taken to the colony, where Smith, Colonel Mills and Mr. Lyman, members of the expedition, soon died.

The subscribers to the plan comprised only a fraction of the actual colonists. Friends and neighbors came with them, and others, hearing of the enterprise, followed. Intending emigrants on exploring trips came, and being pleased with the conditions, bought land. Among them was a company from Vermont, under the leadership of Matthew Chambers and Erastus Swift, which became an influential element in the future history of the settlement. C. S. Colton, from Maine, looking for a location, visited his old friend, Mr. Gooddel, and remained.

In December 1836, about forty families were on the ground. Some had found accommodations for the winter, sharing the cabins or occupying the outbuildings of the neighboring farmers, a majority of the colonists buying from the company. They occupied the buildings left by the former owners, and built cabins, some of logs and some of split boards, along the very imperfect roads which they built, skirting the edge of the timber. Only one, Mr. William Hamlin, with his family, spent the winter on the prairie in a cabin of boards, at a point near the present eastern limits of the city.


The industrial life of the new settlement was active, and pleasant social features were not wanting. The novelty of the life and the community of plans and hopes formed perennial topics of discourse. A mutually helpful spirit permeated the entire colony, which was, for the greater part, composed of men and women of intelligence and culture.

It was not long after the arrival of the early colonists that the first marriage was solemnized, the contracting parties being Henry Ferris and Elizabeth Hudson, the lady a member of a family who arrived during the first summer.

The regular conduct of religious services was soon commenced, Revs. John Waters and George W. Gale preaching alternately. Rev. John Thomas Avery also conducted a series of protracted meetings, shortly after the founding of the church.

The first school was opened by N.H. (afterwards Professor) Losey and Miss Lucy Gay, in a rude house of split boards, and this was the nucleus of Knox College.

In the spring and summer of 1837 most of the first comers had left for their new homes on the prairie, some taking their houses with them. The buildings left, together with others subsequently erected, afforded temporary shelter for those who came later, and were similarly used by those who followed them. The little village came to be known as Log City, and very early in its history presented a thriving appearance. The title to the unsold land—with the timber lots allotted to colonists—remained vested in the trustees; but, its mission accomplished, the original settlement gradually fell into decadence and has now entirely disappeared.

The colonists of 1836, whose intention was to settle on farms, had spent their time in preparing for their prairie homes, and in the following year they were to be found occupying their new possessions, with houses hastily built, but which were to be enlarged and improved, or replaced by better ones in the future.

The tough sod of the prairie too severely taxed the strength of horses, and the settlers contracted with owners of ox teams for its breaking, from four to six yoke being employed and the price paid (in 1837) being $2.50 per acre. A year was usually required for it to decay sufficiently for cultivation, although corn was sometimes planted in holes cut in the sod with an axe. Markets were too far away and too inaccessible to justify the farmer in raising more than was needed for his own wants, particularly when help had to be hired and ready money was extremely scarce. There was little fencing and stock were suffered to graze in common on the unenclosed lands. This custom obviated the necessity for meadows, which could not be prepared and improved until the primitive growth had been subdued and one or more crops raised, and hay was made on the open prairie. Prairie fires were not infrequent as late as 1850, and it was not until 1856 that all the farms in the township were enclosed.

Very little of the unreserved colony land remained unsold in 1838, and most of it was occupied. The remainder, no longer offered on the original terms, was gradually disposed of at advancing prices, the last being sold at thirty dollars per acre. The school section was laid off and offered for sale at the average value of ten dollars per acre. The alternate half-quarter sections entered by Barret in 1835 were sold in 1837 to Messrs. Clay, Williams and others from Vermont. By exchange and distribution, quarters were united and a settlement was formed in the southwestern part of the township; and with the adoption of township organization in 1853. Township 11 North, Range 1 East, became the township of Galesburg.


The township as such had no separate political existence. The inhabitants, being joint beneficiaries of the school fund, elected school trustees, but in creating school districts little attention was paid to township boundaries, which were constantly overlapped. The election precinct and justice district of Galesburg consisted of only thirty-two sections; the four in the southeast corner belonged to the Knoxville precinct.

As a social community Galesburg included the original colonists as well as those who afterward had attached themselves to the enterprise, boundary lines being disregarded. Earlier settlers retained their old associations with their neighbors in adjoining townships. A school house, answering for a meeting house, with a cemetery adjacent, on the Joseph Williams farm on the northwest corner of Section 30, was the center of a neighborhood in this and the adjacent townships.


In December 1865, the town of Galesburg was divided by the County Board, a part being called West Galesburg. A year later an act of the Legislature reunited the two towns, but provided that the city of Galesburg, with its three square miles, should not be under the jurisdiction of the town. The town house was built at the southeastern corner of Section 7.

In 1837 the ground reserved for the village plat and outlying lots, of which mention has been already made, was laid off by Professor Losey. Some modifications were made in the original plan, among the most important being those enumerated below. The ground in the center of the half mile square being found poorly adapted for use as a public square, another tier of blocks was added on the west, and the public square and Broad Street were moved one block in that direction. The original plat showed a long line of lots, extending from Main and Broad streets to the corner of the square, each of which was offered at one hundred dollars to any one who would establish a store upon it. The lots covering the north half of the west side and the south half of the east side had been purchased, the one by C.S. Colton and the other by Matthew Chambers. The remaining lots having a frontage on the square were divided into smaller parcels. A village lot was offered, free of cost, to any one who would build and occupy a house upon it in 1837, and sixteen dwellings were built and occupied that year. From the beginning the character of the Galesburg houses was better than that of those in other towns of the same age and size, no log structures being permitted on the village plat. The predecessors of the Galesburg colony in Henderson Grove substituted planks for sawed boards in building their cabins. These were split from linn logs and the clapboards were of oak, four feet long and rived and shaved, like shingles. When the colonists arrived there was at Knoxville a steam saw-mill, owned by Eldert Runkle. The first lumber used in the colony was obtainable only by hauling logs from Henderson Grove, ten miles distant, two-thirds of the board being the price demanded for sawing. A steam saw-mill was built on colony land in Henderson Grove by John Kendall, being completed in 1837. The next year Western, Olmstead and William, sons of Silvanus Ferris, built the second, two miles farther northwest, and the third was constructed very shortly afterward by Nehemiah West, Erastus Swift and George W. Gale, who were associated with Elisha H. King, a practical millwright.

The latter mill was established at Galesburg, being located on the north side of Ferris Street, between West and Academy. Although distant four miles from the nearest timber it met a real want, and its output was needed and used at the point where it was turned out.

For a time the product of all three mills consisted chiefly of hardwood lumber, walnut and linn being used for interior work, until the building of railroads rendered it possible to secure a liberal amount of pine, of which only a small quantity had been at first obtainable.

In the early days of the Galesburg settlement, few villages in Illinois could boast of painted houses, and the white dwellings of the embryo city attracted the pleased attention of eastern travelers. This distinction was rendered possible by the oil mill built and operated by Leonard Chappell, on Kellogg Street, between Main and Ferris. There oil might be had in exchange for the flaxseed raised on the farms.

While a majority of the earlier homes were put up in haste, being intended for temporary occupancy rather than permanent residence, many of them continued to present a respectable appearance for years to come.


It is of interest to note some of the earlier structures. The first “house raising” occurred in 1836, and the owner of the building, Phlegmon Phelps, completed a substantial (and for those days roomy) house the following year. That was not an era of rapid construction. Mr. Colton prepared the material for his home in Henderson Grove in the winter of 1836—timbers and clapboards of heavy oak, carefully selected and well worked—and had it ready for occupancy early in 1837. It was used for many years as a dwelling and store, but with the erection of the present brick block upon its former site it was removed to another part of the city. The house built by Silvanus Ferris, in 1839, is yet standing at the corner of Tompkins and Cherry streets, and has undergone but few changes. The early home of George W. Gale was built upon what was then his farm, but is now the corner of Quincy and Grove streets. It was originally a double log cabin, and was afterwards clapboarded without and plastered within. He vacated it after a year, to occupy a house built upon the southwest corner of his farm, now the northeastern corner at the intersection of Cherry and North streets. The latter house is still standing, its main part substantially unchanged, although the wings have been rebuilt. Daniel Williams built at the corner of Tompkins and Prairie streets. Only the best work was done by George W. Brown and William Beswick. It was only recently removed, to make room for the Catholic Lyceum.

In the collapse that followed the high tide of speculation which culminated in 1837, Galesburg could not fail to share. That by comparison with other towns in the State it sustained itself so well was at the time a surprise, and afforded palpable proof of the soundness of its foundation and the character of its people. With immigration checked, speculation dead and markets paralyzed, money had well-nigh disappeared in Illinois. But want of money did not prevent progress and improvement in Galesburg. If the amount of currency per capita was small, brains, muscle and energy were not lacking.

All building materials with the exception of glass, hardware and white lead, were the product of the neighborhood and were shaped and placed by local laborers and mechanics. Most of the food and much of the clothing was produced at home. The storekeepers sold goods on credit, taking in payment such produce as would bear transportation to market. The present financial system of trade, resting upon money and checks, was scarcely necessary in view of the exchanges of labor and property and the prevalence of book accounts, notes being given payable—either in terms or by understanding—in farm produce or other merchantable goods.

Throughout its history, the city has been a town of liberal distances. The original lots were large, and few of the first settlers were satisfied with a single one. Most purchases included a corner lot. The early selections of land were scattered over the whole plat, and the buildings fronted toward either street, as the taste or whim of the builder might dictate. Most of the dwellings were surrounded by lawns and gardens, and the holdings, generally, were miniature farms. Little labor on streets was required, paths from house to house running across vacant lots, and planks thrown across the water courses, as necessity or convenience might demand, being considered sufficiently good bridges. In fact, the opening of streets upon any regular, well defined plan was deferred, and buildings were erected almost at random.

The tendency to expansion exists to this day. It is encouraged by the situation, good building ground, requiring little labor of preparation, being obtainable in every direction. The large amount of land always available, together with the comparative absence of active speculation during the greater part of the life of the town, have checked any incipient tendency to excessive valuation. The salient features of the situation have allowed the gratification of the desire for ample lawns and gardens, besides permitting laborers to obtain, at no inconvenient distance from their work, good lots at moderate cost and on easy terms, on which their own labor in spare hours may be utilized, and the pleasures and profits of the garden secured. There are in Galesburg no blocks especially devoted to residences, no crowded quarters, no tenement districts, no squatters shanties; but it is a city of pleasant homes, the comfortable cottages of the workingmen and the handsome residences of the well-to-do being alike the pride of the people.


It was the work of the early prairie settlers to plant trees and shrubbery. Pending the decay of the long roots of prairie grass which held together and compacted the soil below the reach of the plow, but few of those first transplanted from the forest survived. A substitute, however, was found in the beautiful black locust, with its delicate foliage and fragrant blossoms. Raised from the seed and with its lateral roots near the surface, its first growth was amazingly rapid. The village became in a few years so completely embowered that, at a short distance, it appeared to the ‘stranger and the pilgrim’ almost as charming as the groves of Daphne. Perhaps the most terse statement in all the Old Testament writing is that “God prepared a worm.” In the history of Galesburg foliage only two years were required to the “borers” to ruin all this beauty and in 1850 no shade was left but that afforded by the fruit trees, only a few of the denizens of the original woods remaining. Yet the early agriculturalists were not easily discouraged, and no time was lost in the effort to renew the shade. The soft maple was at first the chief resource. It was discovered that some varieties of forest trees could find a congenial soil, and again the streets began to be shaded, and the parks and lawns to be once more illumined by the checkered, fitful, filtered light of the golden, glowing sunset, as the splendor of the dying day was at once softened and rendered more beautiful by the leafy luxuriance.


It had not been the hope of the early colonists that Galesburg would be more than a respectable country village—a town for pleasant residence, yet strong enough to sustain church and schools, and to exert a wholesome moral influence, and furnish healthful, attractive surroundings to the college. But the location had been especially well chosen. It stood in the center of a richly fertile agricultural district and was easily accessible, its natural advantages surpassed those of any near-by town, and the effect was soon perceived in the growth of population and wealth. In less than twenty years it ranked third among the towns in the Military Tract, being surpassed only by Peoria and Quincy. Although a majority of the early colonists were of the Presbyterian faith, there was no proscription on account of religious creed, and many of the leading denominations established churches early in the history of the village. In 1848 began the immigration of the Swedes, whose high moral sense, industry and thrift have done so much toward building up the city. The Liberal Institute, or Lombard University, was founded in 1852, thus adding to the educational influence of the young settlement, and rendering it a more desirable home for many having young sons for whose higher education they were solicitous. In 1855-56 progress was marked and accelerated by the building of Brown’s Corn Planter Factory, and growth had already become rapid when the struggle for railroad connections began, the successful issue of which brought to the city new life, and marked the opening of a new era of improvement and of active, though legitimate and healthful, speculation. The demand for real property became more active. Lots were sold and after a short interval resold, and always at a profit. The location of the railroad shops and depots on college ground added materially to the resources of Knox College, as the large reservation of one thousand acres still lay adjacent to the town, substantially unimpaired. Important additions were laid out by the college, and by other land owners, on every side of the original plat. Large lots were subdivided.


In August 1857, when speculation was at its height, there came, like a killing frost, the effect of the bank failures, beginning at Cincinnati and spreading a financial panic over the entire country. Fortunately there was in Galesburg a solid foundation for much of the apparent prosperity. While realty had appreciated, it was yet lower than in other towns of less merit, the increase in the valuation of well situated property having rested only on the anticipation of a few years’ growth. But for many years succeeding the panic of that year the town, while increasing in population, suffered from a decadence. Real estate speculation was dead. Well located property was frequently sold, for actual occupancy, at prices about the same as those of former days; rarely at a higher valuation. Yet some in locations considered especially desirable, was often taken for investment. Not a few outlying lots came to have a mere nominal value, and some additions were vacated, for more advantageous use as farms.

With the outbreak of the civil war, however, the aspect of the situation began materially to improve. There was a marked influx of population, and both building and business began to revive. From 1861 to 1886 the number of inhabitants steadily increased, though from year to year in a varying, and on the whole declining, ratio. Important improvements of every kind were made during this period. Large churches, schoolhouses, hotels, public halls and the Burlington depot were built; the county seat was removed to the city, and county buildings erected, the number of stores and dwellings doubled, and the streets and parks were vastly improved. With the location of the Santa Fe railroad, in 1886, came a rapid rise in the value of real property, and a new era of land speculation began, accompanied by a speedy growth of population. Once more property was in demand, not only for improvement but for investment and speculation as well. Again additions and sub-divisions were made, vacant lots occupied, street pavements—already begun—annually extended, and the street car system developed. New churches, large and stately, took the place of the earlier houses of worship; old schoolhouses were enlarged and remodeled, and new ones, of more modern style, erected, to meet imperative demands. A new theatre and a new post office were built; the business streets were extended, and new and finer business blocks replaced the original structures, which proved inadequate to meet the requirements of a constantly growing trade. Old dwellings gave place to new; streets were laid out and handsome residences erected, and older thoroughfares extended. Such improvements as these, with others, have combined to make the city one of the most beautiful in the State. New institutions were added, and the large suburb of East Galesburg was built up and connected by an extension of the street car system.

Since 1895 there has been some apparent falling off in the ratio of increase of population. The speculative inquiry for real property has not been so large nor have so many dwellings been erected; yet there has been little, if any, falling off in business, none in the public improvements, and none in the valuation of the best property.


The town (village) of Galesburg was incorporated in 1841. Its territory embraced two square miles, the measurement being two miles from east to west, and one from north to south. It included not only the first plat, but also such addition as was obtained by extending the boundary lines one-fourth mile on the south and the same distance toward the north. At that time its outline was defined by the present Losey, Pine and Knox streets, and (on the west) by a line running one-half mile west of what is now called Henderson Street.

In 1857 the city of Galesburg was incorporated. The municipal limits included an area of nine square miles, the boundaries on each side being of equal length. The center line coincided with that of the Government survey which separated the southeastern quarter of Section 15 from the northeastern quarter of Section 16. It ran along Main Street, three rods east of Cherry. A considerable acreage in farm lands was added, but a reduction of the limits, in order to secure a square, compact form, would have excluded a part of the land already platted. The number of wards was fixed at six, two of which were located in the half-mile square in the center. The first ward lay south, and the second north of Main Street. The others were equal in area and alike in form. The third included the territory north and northeast of the central square; the fourth that lying east and southeast; the fifth, the section south and southwest; and the sixth, the area on the north and northeast. The population of the several wards was not grossly unequal, although the first and second, notwithstanding their small territory, were the most populous. The increase of population around the railroad years virtually necessitated the creation of a seventh ward in 1870. Its limits included the territory embraced within the railroad grounds, covering parts of the original fourth and fifth wards. No further change in the number or boundaries was made until 1894, when the greater growth of the third, then considered as outlying, made the relative distribution of population disproportionate. Thus, the fourth ward had nearly twice the number of inhabitants to be found in the first and second, combined. A new division extended the two central wards, and the boundaries of the other five were re-adjusted, so as measurably to equalize the population, having regard, at the same time, to compactness of territory and community of interest.

By an act approved in 1867, and confirmed by subsequent legislation, the city is granted the same proportionate representation in the Board of Supervisors as is any town in the county; that is to say, an additional Supervisor for every 2,500 inhabitants in excess of 1,500.


The political creed of the early colonists embraced two fundamental tenets: --opposition to slavery and hostility to the use of alcoholic stimulants. They came from a section where these principles were regarded as being, if not essential to salvation, at least requisite for respectability. When they reached Illinois they were brought into close and constant touch with a people of different dress, speech, and habits of thought. At first they were regarded as pre-eminently “peculiar”. They were Presbyterians, abolitionists and teetotalers; they were, therefore, objects of mild curiosity and viewed with a distrust which amounted almost to suspicion. Their assimilation with their new neighbors was a task calling for time and mutual concession, and among the points of difference between the two classes of settlers perhaps the most prominent was the divergence in political creeds.

The first election of any real importance was held in 1838. In that year Stephen A. Douglas and John T. Stewart were opposing candidates for Congress in the district which comprised nearly all of the State north of the Illinois River. Neither was known in Galesburg, but the colonists from New York, who were chiefly Whigs, voted solidly for Stewart, who won the seat by a very narrow majority. It is said that the first visit of Abraham Lincoln to Knox County was in behalf of his friend Stewart, in anticipation of a possible contest, seeking to verify the unexpected vote. In 1840 candidates of the “Liberty” party secured a portion of the suffrages of the Galesburg abolitionists, and after that date the same political organization captured the greater part of this vote. In one word, Galesburg was politically isolated. It had no party affiliation with any other town in the county, and its influence in elections was only felt when it happened to hold the balance of power. Gradually, with the arrival of newcomers, and the maturing of a younger generation, there came a shifting of political conditions. The coalition of the abolitionists with Van Buren’s friends drew the allegiance of democrats while repelling many of those who were of Whig antecedents, and a respectable vote was given Taylor in 1848. When organized, the republican party absorbed almost the entire voting population of Galesburg. The few democrats who yet made party fealty an article of faith found recruits only among new residents, more especially among the Irish employed in railroad construction; but in politics the city has ever been and still is overwhelmingly republican. The new alignment increased the political influence of Galesburg, and gave it a controlling influence in the counsels of the dominant party in the county. In local elections the lines have been usually drawn very closely parallel to those laid down in national issue, and no candidate running on a ticket supported by a dissident minority has ever succeeded in securing an election. During the sixteen years of village organization the issues were chiefly personal. “Aristocracy” and “workingmen” were terms not infrequently employed as war cries, and shortly before a municipal charter was secured “Young America” was the slogan used against “Old Fogies”, those raising this cry claiming to represent the progressive, as against the conservative element. The leader of this party, Richard H. Whiting, was the last President of the village.

The temperance question had much to do with the organization of the “Young America” party. At the foundation of the colony an attempt was made forever to prohibit the sale of liquor within the limits of the village to be founded, by the insertion of a provision forfeiting to the college the title to any lot conveyed by the institution itself on which liquor should be sold. The character of the original population was such as to make whiskey selling as unprofitable, as it was likely to be unpopular and no attempt to introduce the liquor traffic was made until the railroad introduced a new population of different training and diverse habits. With that the struggle for enforced prohibition began, but the advocates of the movement lacked organization at the outset, and the party in control of the village affairs was too liberal to take any effort toward advancing it.

The original draft of the city’s charter vested the right to license and control the liquor traffic in the council. To this strong objection was made, and a separate vote was taken on the adoption of that clause, the majority against license being large. Under the new government, the “Young America” party retained its organization, and calling itself the Liberal party, appeared in nearly every election down to 1897. It has included the saloon interest, as well as temperance men who do not favor extreme measures. The line between it and the opposing party has been loosely drawn, and at all times affected by other questions and personal and local interests. A liberal Mayor was elected in 1859, and again in 1864, ’65 and ’66. Having never, prior to the year last named, been in control of the council, the main object actually accomplished by the opposition was to hold in check and counteract the efforts of the party in the majority. The saloons continued to exist, either by sufferance or successful resistance of the intermittent efforts to drive them out. In 1867, Charles P. West being Mayor, a vigorous effort was made for suppression, and a considerable sum expended for this end; but the result was a disheartening disappointment to those who had been most interested in the cause of prohibition. For the next four years temperance men controlled the administration, yet little attempt was made to do more than preserve order. For a portion of the time saloon keepers were periodically arrested, and subjected to the payment of a light fine. In 1872 it appeared that no fines had been collected, and that there were twenty-two open saloons, besides numerous places in the outskirts of the city where the traffic was carried on in a small way. The temperance people seemed to have given up the fight as hopeless. Mr. Field, then Mayor, proposed the passage of an ordinance legalizing the sale of liquor, but imposing a license fee so high that few would care to pay it. With the aid of these licensees, who would have a peculiar interest in driving out illegitimate dealers, the traffic might be regulated and controlled. While the want of special power in the charter to grant license might tend to invalidate the protection from prosecutions under the State law thus offered to dealers, the guarantee of exemption from attack by the city would, it was thought, induce acceptance of it. An ordinance was passed fixing the license fee at six hundred dollars, a sum of that time considered an extreme rate. The policy was approved by leading citizens, who were strongly opposed to the traffic, as likely to afford the best practicable measure of relief possible from an evil which it was thought impossible wholly to eradicate. Yet very soon there was developed a feeling of hostility to the measure as immoral, and in 1874 the ordinance was repealed. In 1875, on that issue, the Liberals elected the Mayor but failed to secure a majority of the council. In 1876 the temperance party secured control of both the legislative and executive branches of the city government, and, with the whole force of the city at command, a vigorous and unrelenting war was made upon the sale of liquors. A stubborn resistance was encountered and large sums were expended by both sides to the controversy. An intensely bitter feeling was engendered, disturbing social and even domestic relations, and ending in the practical defeat of the temperance party, with heavy costs to be paid by the city and county. In the middle of the year, upon petition of the citizens, an election was called on the proposition to adopt, in place of the old special charter, the general law for the government of cities. The proposition was carried by a decisive majority and the announcement of the result was followed by bonfires and illuminations. In 1877 a Liberal Mayor was elected, and thirteen of the fourteen aldermen were of the same municipal party. A license ordinance was passed, which, with amendments made from time to time in the direction of more careful restrictions, is still in force. The rate of license was in 1884 advanced to one thousand dollars. Prohibition districts had been established, saloons being prohibited from the vicinity of churches, schools, depots, public buildings, and parks, as well as from principal thoroughfares and residence districts, and confined to localities already occupied and within reach of police supervision. Places for the sale of stimulants in Galesburg are few in number, compared with those in other cities of like population. Their increase has not kept pace with the growth of the city.


The civil war aroused great enthusiasm here as elsewhere. From its first settlement Galesburg was an abolition town, and the first anti-slavery society in this part of the country was organized there the winter of 1836-7. The settlement was a recognized station on the famous “underground railway”, and many a fugitive slave was helped to Canada and freedom by Galesburg citizens. Jonathan Blanchard, the President of Knox College from 1845 to 1857, was one of the most noted abolitionists in the entire Northwest, and his views were shared by many. As may be supposed, the place furnished few sympathizers with the Mexican war, but when the Kansas trouble came, sympathy and aid were heartily offered to the Free State Kansans, not only by the city but also by the entire country, the first carload of supplied for the Kansas sufferers being sent from Knox County. So, in 1861, there went from Galesburg 554 volunteers, made from one hundred day men, to join the Union army. The bounty money given amounted to $24,000. More than $25,000 was given to purchase soldiers’ supplied, and about $16,000 to aid soldiers’ families. A Soldiers’ Aid Society, organized in the county, derived a large share of its support from Galesburg. Meetings were frequently held, where the utmost enthusiasm prevailed. Chaplain McCabe held one in the Old First Church, and gave his reminiscences of life in Libby Prison. He called for contributions, and the citizens responded with nearly two thousand dollars. Even the children remembered the soldiers. About four dozen little girls organized a “Juvenile Soldiers’ Aid Society”, and worked many months preparing articles for the sick and the wounded.


In 1876, the question of gravelling the streets was agitated, and finally Main Street and a few others were treated in this way. It proved an unsatisfactory substitute for paving, but much better than the soft prairie mud. In 1884 the first block of brick pavement was laid on Main Street, between Kellogg and Seminary. Today more than twenty miles of streets have been thus paved, and the city has let contracts for many more. Before this paving it was not unusual to see vehicles completely mired on the principal streets, and during an entire winter merchants were compelled to deliver goods in hand carts.


The city draws its main commercial support from the farmers of the surrounding country. The railroad shops employ a large number of men, but of manufactories there are few. Attempts have been made, by offers of bonus, to induce the location of many concerns of various kinds, but so far none of these have been accepted. The principal factories at present are these:

Brown’s Corn-Planter Works. The buildings occupy nearly all of Block 30 and one hundred and thirty-five men are employed.

Frost Manufacturing Company. The founder of this concern was J. P. Frost, who, in 1838, opened a small shop in the Ferris steam saw-mill, in Henderson Grove. In a few years he moved to Galesburg, and in 1856, in company with Andrew Harrington, put up a building for a machine shop and foundry. Soon W. S. Bellows and L. C. Field came into the business, which increased largely. In 1867 the company was incorporated and it now employs about seventy-five men. C. A. Webster is the President, and Andrew Harrington the Secretary and Treasurer.

Colton’s Foundry, formerly called the Novelty Works, was established by G. D. Colton, in 1838. In 1865 Mr. Cheney became a partner, who, after his death, was succeeded by C. S. Colton. From that time the business has been generally prosperous. The present manager, O. J. Colton, at one time attempted to remove the factory to a site northeast of Galesburg. The new building there erected was once burned and once unroofed by a storm and the plan was abandoned, the works still standing on Block 84.

In 1844 Lucius Nutting came to Knox County and worked his way through school by making brooms. From such a modest beginning has developed the present Boyer’s Broom Factory which does an extensive business, employing thirty-five men. A. A. Boyer, the proprietor, is blind, but is nevertheless one of the most expert broom makers in the country, and an inventor of much useful broom machinery.

The first steel plow and the first successful wood bender were invented in 1842 and ’44 by H. H. May, then a Galesburg citizen. His sons, S. W. and H. L. May, invented and manufacture new styles of pumps and wind mills. An extensive factory in that line, on Block 52, is now operated by the last named.

The Willis Cornice Works, established in 1891, is now a large plant. Barrett’s Machine Shop, Fuller’s Sash and Door Factory, and Kimber’s Box Factory, which is owned and operated entirely by women, and the College City Soap Works complete the list of Galesburg’s more important factories.


Gas and electric light are supplied by a private company. In 1860 R. H. Whiting and other citizens organized the Galesburg Gas Light and Coke Company, with a capital of $100,000; and in 1865 the making of gas was begun. In 1886 the arrangements for furnishing electric lighting as well as gas were completed, and the name of the company was changed to the Galesburg Gas and Electric Light Company.

The telephone system was established here by the Central Union Telephone Company, about 1882. There are now five hundred and fifty telephones in the exchange.

The Street Car Company was formed in 1885, and horses were used for traction. It was then called the College City Street Railway Company. The first line ran from the Union Hotel to the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy depot, and the first car was started June 22, 1885. In 1890 the Galesburg Street Car Company was formed, to build the North Broad Street line, which was opened in 1891, when the two companies were consolidated. The present corporation, the Galesburg Electric Motor and Power Company, was chartered May 13, 1892, and the necessary city ordinance, empowering it to use the streets, was passed eighteen days later. The motive power was changed to electricity, a power house was built on Main Street, just east of the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy track, the necessary equipment was obtained, and on December 16, 1892, electric cars began running. The company now has ten motor cars and twenty-seven trailers and fifteen and one-half mile of track. It employs sixty men. In 1897 the line was extended to Knoxville, and the first car was started August 18, of the same year.


Prior to 1857 public entertainment were given in some one of various halls or in the churches. In that year Dunn’s Hall was erected on the southeast corner of Main and Prairie streets, and the first regular theatre was built, by Inness and Murdoch, in 1864. It was named Caledonia Hall, and has since been remodeled into the present Opera House. Another theatre, now commonly called the Old Opera House, on the south side of the public square, was built in 1872 and burned in 1886. In 1890 the present Auditorium was finished. The situation of the city renders it a convenient stopping place for companies on their way west from Chicago. Owing to this and to the activity of Mr. Berquist, the Auditorium manager, Galesburg hears better companies than does any other town of equal size in the State.


Galesburg’s Fire Department is well equipped and efficient. The first effectual step toward its organization was taken in 1856, when the council bought an engine named “The Prairie Bird” and a volunteer company was organized, composed of a majority of the business men of the community, with H. R. Sanderson as chief. In 1862 the “Pioneer Hook and Ladder Company” was formed, which disbanded in 1863. For several years volunteer companies were the only ones, but in 1879 a paid fire department was established, with Gus Peterson as chief. At present the force numbers ten regular and two call men, beside the chief. The equipment consists of a hose carriage, hose wagon, a ladder truck, a steam engine, a double chemical engine, eight horses and 2,200 feet of hose. The first fire attended by the department occurred May 19, 1879. James C. O’Brien is chief, and John E. Cater, assistant.


The Public Library had its inception in 1857 or ’58, when the Young Men’s Literary and Library Association was organized. In the winter of 1858-59 and 1859-60- lectures were given for the benefit of its library fund, and on February 4, 1860, the association had four hundred volumes and over one hundred dollars worth of furniture in their hall. In 1866 the number of books had increased to 2,850; and on May 26, 1874, the entire collection, 3,732 volumes, was donated to the city, upon its agreeing to assume future management and become responsible for all expenses incident thereto. Annual appropriations—at first $2,500, now $4,000—are made by the council. At present there are 142 periodicals and 2,200 volumes in the library. It is kept open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. every week day. The sum of five thousand dollars has been appropriated by the municipality for the erection of a library building, on the northwest corner of Prairie and Ferris streets. It will be thoroughly modern in plan and construction, and the value of the library to the people will be greatly enhanced. Miss Celia A. Hayward is now Librarian, with Miss Anna F. Hoover as assistant.


Although the white population of the city is very largely American, there is a considerable admixture of the foreign element. There are also about a thousand negroes. In the early years of its history the white inhabitants were almost wholly Americans and the number of negroes was small. With the building of the railroad came very many Irish, attracted by prospect of work in the construction gangs. A large Swedish immigration soon came, citizens of that nationality now forming by far the most numerous element of the foreign-born population. Large numbers of them may be found in all the wards except the first and fifth. The Irish live mainly in the fifth and seventh. The negroes have two settlements—one in the western part of the fifth ward, and another, about a third larger, in the fourth, extending east and west of the Knoxville road. The following table of population, taken chiefly from the United States Census returns, shows the growth of Galesburg in more detail:














1,400 (est.)



4,000 (est.)



















20,500 (est)


The number of foreign-born given in the table includes the total for the whole county. In 1890 that total was 4,697. Assuming the ratio to have been the same in 1880, the number of residents of foreign birth in the city in that year was about 3,300.

The social life of Galesburg is very active. The place is in touch with the outside world to a larger extent than is common with small places, owing to its excellent railroad facilities, and therefore does not fall into the rut of provincialism so deeply or easily as is often the case with towns of small size. This social life, however, in a sense radiates from the colleges. It is largely due to their influence that so many clubs exist here. Literary clubs, musical, social and business clubs fill a large part of Galesburg life. Besides these there are numerous fraternal organizations for mutual aid. All these have caused the city to become widely known as most sociable and hospitable. The atmosphere of the higher social life is distinctively literary, a fact doubtless attributable to the influence of the schools as well as to that of the many literary clubs here among the ladies.


Through the fraternities have grown up two large life insurance companies: the Covenant Mutual Life Association, originally restricted to Odd Fellows, and the Scandinavian Mutual Aid Association. They do a very large amount of business. In fact, it is chiefly due to the immense volume of mail received and sent out by them that the Galesburg post office ranks eighth in the State as regards postal business and second in reference to money order receipts. In 1883 the free delivery system was established, the first delivery being made April 1, 1883. In 1894 the office was moved into the new Government building on the southwest corner of Cherry and Simmons streets. The first post-master was Professor Nehemiah H. Losey.


Galesburg history may be divided into four periods. The first extends from the inception of the town to the coming of the railroad, and includes the years between 1835 and 1854. During this period Knox College was the life of the place. Then, too, Lombard was founded, and new growth was made, aside from Knox.

The second period is from 1854 to 1860. This was a time of great growth and activity, induced by the building of the railroad and the general spirit of speculation then everywhere prevailing. It was also a time of great depression, following the disastrous bank failures of the country and the consequent collapse of speculation. The city charter was obtained in this period.

The third is from 1860 to 1887. The troubles growing out of the war, the grading of the public schools; the county seat controversy; the incorporation in 1876 under the general law; the erection of new county buildings; the coming of the Narrow Gauge railroad in 1882, and the building of the Rio branch of the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy in 1886; the building of waterworks and the introduction of street paving; these are the features of these twenty-seven years. Speculation was dead, and the growth of the city was in small ratio, but preparation was made for the growth that has come in the years that have followed. The culmination of the third period was the $60,000 subscription which secured the entry of the Santa Fe railroad.

The building of this road in 1887 ushered in the last period, extending from 1887 to the present time. This has been marked by increased activity in every line. New city improvements, waterworks, electric lights, twenty miles of paving, electric street cars, a new post office building, new houses and new business blocks have increased land values and improved the city almost beyond recognition. The times of panic have been a severe test of the worth and character of past development. It is therefore proof of the solid basis of Galesburg’s growth, that there have not been any serious failures, and it is the unanimous testimony of all observers that Galesburg has endured the strain of hard times better than any other place of similar size in the West.


According to the last census there were in Knox County seventy-eight churches, worth $432,026, and 83 congregations, with 11,383 communicants.


First Baptist Church—organized with 30 members, January 15, 1848. Edifice, northwest corner of Broad and Tompkins streets; dedicated in 1851; sold, with lot, for $2,000 in 1865 to the Board of Education. Frame building erected on Cherry Street and dedicated April 9, 1868; cost $30,000; burned December 19, 1892. Present church dedicated January 21, 1894; cost $33,800. In 1857 seceding members formed the Cherry Street Church, Rev. S. Kingsbury being the first pastor. The division sorely tried both churches, and Rev. I. Fargo, pastor of the Cherry Street Church, earnestly sought reunion, which finally was suggested by the First Church in a courteous note sent the Cherry Street congregation on October 9, 1864. The reunion was effected November 9, following, Rev. W. W. Moore being pastor. Rev. W. H. Geistweit is now pastor. It has 560 members; 150 in the Young People’s Union, and 300 in the Sunday School, which has been made one of the strongest in Galesburg by the efforts of E. R. Drake, Superintendent from 1880 to the present time, with the exception of eighteen months.

Second Baptist Church (African)—organized in the fall of 8165 by Revs. J. W. Jackson and R. DeBaptiste, with 10 members. Edifice, corner South and Cherry streets; purchased in 1867; property worth about $5,000. First pastor, Rev. William Falkner; present pastor, Rev. D. E. Murff; membership, 108.

Swedish Baptist Church—organized in November 1888. Meetings first held at 314 East Main Street. 66 members, and about the same number of scholars in three Sunday schools, conducted at the hall, near Lincoln Street, and in East Galesburg. First pastor, Rev. G. Karlson. In 1893, the congregation erected a fine new edifice on North Chambers Street, at a cost of about $4,000. It is a handsome church, though small. Dedicated December 18, 1898. Present pastor, Rev. Axel Webster.


St. Patrick’s Church, corner Academy and Third streets. Corpus Christi, corner Prairie and South streets. Rev. J. O’Neil, came to St. Patrick’s in 1857, being its first pastor. His successor, Rev. J. Power, completed the erection of the church edifice in 1863. In the spring of 1864 came Rev. M. Howard, who remained till 1877. Rev. Joseph Costa then came to act as pastor, and to build Catholic schools. St. Patrick’s was considered too small and inconveniently located. Therefore, in May 1884, the corner stone of Corpus Christi was laid, the building being dedicated by Bishop Spaulding of Peoria, October 4, 1885. Cost, including lot, $35,000. Rectory just north of church. In 1888 the congregation was divided, half going back to St. Patrick’s where Rev. J. Tonello is pastor. About 400 families in both parishes. Rev. Joseph Costa, still pastor of Corpus Christi, deserves most of the credit for the new church.


Organized April 11, 1872. Building purchased May 26, 1872; abandoned, 1892. New church erected on West Street, near Ferris, in that year; cost, $12,000. First pastor, Rev. J. B. Allen; present, Rev. S. B. Moore. Membership 332. Sunday school enrollment, 140. W. D. Godfrey, Superintendent.


At one time the denomination had a church organization here, with John Wheeler as preacher. There is no preacher at present, but meetings are held every Sunday in Carr Hall.


Old First Church—its organization was almost coincident with the founding of Galesburg. In February, 1837, several meetings were held by Galesburg colonists, which resulted in the adoption of a Confession of Faith, on the twenty-fifth of that month. First pastor, Rev. George W. Gale; first installed pastor, Rev. H. H. Kellogg, installed by Knox Presbytery February 3, 1846. By the end of 1845, 342 members names were on the church roll. So many had been Congregationalists that a compromise with the strict Presbyterian form was necessary. In 1854 anti-slavery resolutions were passed, and the attention of the Presbytery called to them. That body would not recede from its position, and on October 6, 1855, the church formally withdrew from connection with the Presbyterian communion, and in 1856, called itself the “First Church of Christ”, instead of “Presbyterian Church of Galesburg”, the original name. At first it had contained all the Galesburg Christians. Hence, when any denomination grew large enough, its adherents withdrew from the First Church and organized one of their own creed. Thus the First Church came to be known as the “Mother of Churches.” Probably to this is due the fact that for several years all good enterprises requiring support from any large part of the community found their starting point in the “Old First.” The building was a great task for the early days. The work required several years, for the colonists had to be their own architects and contractors, masons and carpenters. The first Knox College Commencement exercises were held here in June 1848. The audience room was for a long time the largest in Galesburg. The principal meetings of all kinds were held there, and the church came to be the most venerable landmark in the city. But it became unsafe, and on January 1, 1895, the congregation reunited with the First Congregational Church, which had gone out in 1855, and the old building was torn down. Its last pastor (the first pastor of the reunited Central Church) was Rev. O. F. Sherrill. There had been a total membership of 1,828, of whom 478 were active members when the reunion was effected.

First Congregational Church—organized November 9, 1855, by 47 members of the “Old First”. By February, 1858, 82 more had joined from the old church. The first pastor was Rev. Edward Beecher. In 1856 the “Brick Church” on Broad Street, between Simmons and Tompkins, was built at an outlay of $15,000. The great storm of May 13, 1858 blew over the tall spire, which was replaced by the short tower now surmounting the edifice. To aid in this repairing, Henry Ward Beecher, brother of the pastor, lectured in Galesburg, donating the proceeds to the church. Mrs. Henry Hitchcock presented the parsonage, on the corner of Broad and North streets. Rev. H. A. Bushnell, the last pastor, resigned in 1894. 1,062 had joined the church, of whom 331 were members when the union with the First Church was agreed upon.

Knox Street Church—this society grew out of the Old Mission Sunday School, and was formed to meet the demand for a church in the southeastern part of the city. Organized in August 1894, by Rev. W. H. Wannamaker, with 22 members. Edifice, corner of Day and Knox streets; dedicated June 24, 1895; cost, $3,700. Ground is owned for a parsonage. First pastor, Rev. E. E. Day; present pastor, Rev. J. R. Stead. 36 members; 193 Sunday school scholars, and 65 members of the Young People’s Society of Christian Endeavor.

East Main Street Church—organized August 8, 1894 as the Union Congregational Church of Galesburg. Present name adopted in September 1895. The congregation uses the chapel of “Old First”. Cost of lot, where is room also for parsonage, and of moving chapel was $4,100. Present membership, 71, with 120 in the Sunday school, which was organized August 15, 1894. E. R. Gesler is Superintendent. Rev. B. F. Cokely, first pastor; Rev. Leroy Royce, present pastor.

Central Church—organized January 1, 1895, by the reunion of the First and First Congregational Churches. The congregation met in the “Brick Church” until December 4, 1898, when it moved into its new edifice, on the southwest corner of the public square, where the “Old First” had formerly stood. This is the handsomest church building in the county. It is of raindrop sandstone, and cost $74,000. It seats nearly two thousand, has ample Sunday school room and a large choir loft. It is the pride of all Galesburg, and a lasting monument to local skill and industry, for architects and contractors are Galesburg men; Gottschalk and Beadle being the architects, and O. C. Housel the contractor. Rev. W. A. Vincent is pastor, and W. H. Spinner Sunday school superintendent. There are 850 communicants, and 600 in the Sunday school; while the Young People’s Society of Christian Endeavor has a membership of 160.


St. John’s Church—organized by Rev. C. A. Nybladh, with about 250 members of the First Lutheran Church of Galesburg, some of whom afterward returned to the Lutheran faith. A fine edifice has been started on the corner of Kellogg and Ferris streets, but it has not yet been completed, owing to lack of funds.

Grace Church—organized in the spring of 1858. Church built in 1859, on the southwest corner of Prairie and Tompkins streets. Property now worth $7,000. Rev. William T. Smithetle, first rector; at present Rev. E. F Gee is in charge of the parish. Present membership, 195, with 60 scholars in Sunday school.


First Swedish Evangelical Lutheran Church—organized August 24, 1851 by Rev. L. P. Espjom. The congregation bought the old Methodist Episcopal Church building. Present Church, corner Seminary and Waters streets, built 1869. Parsonage two doors south of the church. Property worth $27,000. First pastor, Rev. F. N. Hasselquist; at present, Dr. Peter Peterson. Membership, 1200. Sunday school enrollment, 556.

Zion Lutheran—in 1889 two hundred families left the first Lutheran Church, under the guidance of Rev. C. A. Nybladh, to form an Episcopal Church, now St. John’s. Some wished to return to the Lutheran faith, and accordingly formed a church of their own. They meet in McKnight’s Hall, but have no pastor at present.

German Lutheran Church—organized 1864. Bought the old Universalist Church building and held services there until 1882, when the present edifice was built on Tompkins, near Seminary Street. Parsonage just east of church. Rev. A. E. Reinke, of Kewanee, preaches here every third Sunday. First pastor, Rev. G. Gruber. Church has 25 members and a Sunday school with 20 scholars.


The first church organization was formed in 1847 by Rev. J. J. Hedstrom. A small edifice was erected in 1851, on the corner of Kellogg and Tompkins streets, where the present church stands. Peter Cartwright preached the dedicatory sermon. It was merely an appointment in the Knoxville circuit until 1855, when Rev. M.S. Haney was assigned as a regular pastor. In 1872, the old parsonage was torn down and its site, which adjoined that of the church, was thrown into the church lot, and the adjacent property on the west was purchased. On the site thus obtained the present church building was begun. Dedicated February 27, 1876. Its cost was $32,000. In 1895 extensive repairs and improvements were made, involving an outlay of $20,000. The church has 820 members, and 625 in the Sunday school. The Epworth League is flourishing. Rev. T. W. McVety is the present pastor.

African Methodist Episcopal—edifice on Tompkins Street, between Cherry and Prairie; erected in 1876; value about $4,000. Membership about 250; and an enrollment of 100 in the Sunday school. Rev. J. W. Malone is pastor.

Swedish Methodist Episcopal—organized in 1851 by Rev. J. J. Hedstrom. First pastor Rev. A. J. Anderson, who came in 1857, just after the first church was built. The present edifice, which stands on the corner of Waters and Kellogg streets, was erected in 1872, at a cost of $17,000. Parsonage completed in 1886 on lot just east of church. Membership 310; Sunday school attendance, 265. Present pastor, Rev. Olof Johnson.

Swedish Mission—organized in August 1868 by 40 members of the Lutheran Church, who had belonged to the Free Church of Sweden. Church built on Simmons Street. Property worth $10,000. First pastor Rev. Mr. Bergenskold. Rev. John Selstrom is pastor at present. The church has 200 members and a Sunday school enrollment of 160.


First Presbyterian Church—(See “Old First” Church, under Congregational.)

Second Presbyterian Church—organized May 29, 1851 by a committee composed of G. W. Gale, D. D., Chairman, with 32 members from the First Church. Merged in “Prebsyterian Church” in 1870. Rev. Dr. Gale was the first and Rev. S. Pratt the last pastor. Edifice built on South Street, just east of Cherry, and used till 1856. Then was built a new church, at the corner of Main and Kellogg streets, as a cost of $2,500. On June 12, 1864 the corner stone of a new building on Cherry Street, south of Tompkins was laid. This was completed in 1865, and involved an outlay of $25,000.

Presbyterian Church—organized December 30, 1894 by Revs. R. C. Matthews and T. S. Vaill, with 18 members. Merged in a union church in 1870. Revs. T. S. Vaill, I. N. Candee, D. D., G. Norcross, D. D., and S. T. Wilson, D. D., have been its pastors. Edifice built in 1857, at the southwest corner of Cedar and North streets; removed in 1865 to a lot on Simmons Street, at the head of Boone’s Avenue.

Presbyterian Church of Galesburg—formed by union of the two churches last mentioned on March 1, 1870. Rev. L. Pratt was the first pastor. At that time there were about 300 members. Rev. W. H. Spence is the present pastor. The church has about 500 communicants, and the Sunday school enrollment exceeds 300. The Young People’s Society of Christian Endeavor has a membership of 150. The congregation occupied the edifice of the Second Church on Cherry Street, until it burned, November 30, 1891. The present building, on the corner of Ferris and Prairie streets, was dedicated December 3, 1892. It is a handsome structure of gray sandstone, and cost $62,000. It was the first of the new stone churches here, and is the finest, with the exception of Central Church. It seats 900 in the auditorium proper, and 2000 when the Sunday school rooms are thrown open.


Only one branch in Knox County. Located at Galesburg with headquarters in its hall on south side of the public square.


The society organization was completed in January 1855. The church was organized under Dr. O.A. Skinner in the fall of 1857. In the autumn of 1855 the building of the Second Presbyterian Church was purchased. A new edifice was dedicated in January 1864, its cost, including lot on the corner of Tompkins and Prairie streets, where the present church stands, being more than $11,000. It was torn down May 6, 1894. The present edifice, a stone building costing $27,000, was dedicated May 5, 1895. membership, 160, with a flourishing Sunday school. First pastor, Rev. William S. Ballou; present pastor, Rev. G. B. Stocking.


Organized in the early part of 1896, at the time of the great split in the Salvation Army.


Founded in 1858 by members of the Presbyterian and Congregational churches. Later other denominations joined in the work, but ultimately withdrew. At first a railroad car was used as a meeting place, being furnished through the kindness of Superintendent H. Hitchcock. In 1861 a chapel was built on ground belonging to the Burlington road, and this was moved, in 1866, to its present location, on South Seminary Street, near the Peoria track. At first a city missionary was appointed, Deacon Leonard serving until his death, February 11, 1865. But for some years no such appointment has been made. Much good has been accomplished through this medium, and one church (Knox Street Congregational) has grown out of it.


The first newspaper in Knox County was the “Knox Intelligence”, edited and printed by Rev. C. R. Fisk, and first published in the early part of 1849. It lived about two years, during a part of which time the office was on the southwest corner of the public square. The second paper, the “Northwestern Gazeteer”, was first issued September 23, 1849, Southwick Davis being editor and manager. It also suspended publication after about two years. These papers were religious journals, the first being a Presbyterian and the second a Congregationalist publication.

The “News-Letter” was started in the latter part of 1850 by W. S. Gale, G. C. Lanphere and Dr. James Bunce, taking the place of the “Intelligencer”. It was the especial champion of the railroad project, and published some very good articles on the subject. Its office was on the west side of the public square. About 1852, it was purchased by S. G. Cowan, who changed its name to the “News-Letter and Henry County News.” At first neutral in politics, it inclined to Free Soil doctrine toward the end of its existence. In the fall of 1853, J. W. Lane purchased the paper, and it became the “Western Freeman”. Mr. Lane injected an intense anti-slavery spirit into its columns, and it lived but two months. The plant was purchased by Southwick Davis and William H. Holcomb, who issued the first number of the “Galesburg Free Democrat” January 5, 1854, which was also anti-slavery in politics. November 30, 1854, William J. Woods purchased the paper and B. F. Haskins became the editor, and was succeeded by C. J. Sellon, March 8, 1855. On July 26, 1855 it was bought by R. H. Whiting, S. W. Brown, and D.H. Frisbie. November 1, 1855, S. D McDonald took charge of it, and December 11, 1855, W. J. Woods again bought it, Mr. Belloon once more becoming editor. In August, 1856, Mr. Woods sold out to J. H. Sherman, who, March 17, 1857, changed the name to “Daily Free Democrat”. In 1865 Messrs. Bailey and McClelland purchased the plant and from it published the “Free Press”. On November 20, 1872, they disposed of the journal to General M. S. Barnes, who for some time published both a daily and weekly edition. He changed the name to the “Leader” and later, in June 1882, to “Press and People”. In February 1883, Gershom Martin bought the paper and published it as a democratic weekly until his death, early in 1894. In March of that year it passed into the hands of the proprietors of the “Spectator”, and was consolidated with that paper, which was at that time the only democratic paper in Galesburg.

The “Spectator” had been founded about May 1, 1890, by M.F. Cunningham and A. G. Husted. They published it as partners until August 1894, when Mr. Cunningham bought out Mr. Husted. March 20, 1895 he sold a half interest to J. A. Andrews. They conducted the paper until October 30, 1895, when Mr. Cunningham disposed of his interest to George Gallarno. Up to March 15, 1896, the journal was run under the firm name of Gallarno and Andrews. Then Mr. Gallarno sold to his partner and Mr. Andrews published and edited the paper alone up to September 15, 1898, when E. F. Sooy purchased a half interest. It is now a six column quarto weekly, and has a circulation of about 1100.

The “Knox County Observer” was published in 1865, by Louis V. Taft, but lived only a short time.

The “Liberal” was started in 1867 by Stephen R. Smith as a weekly. He discontinued it in 1870 and sold the material.

The “Galesburg Republic” was founded January 1, 1873 by Judson Graves. It was an eight column folio, and for three months was issued as a semi-weekly; after that as a weekly. In December 1879, Messrs. Henry Emrich and Iram B. Biggs, the present proprietors, purchased the office. The paper is an eight column quarto, published weekly. It is staunchly republican, and has taken an active part in politics, in which field it has had considerable influence. It has always viewed practical questions from high, moral ground, opposing questionable means and methods. It has enjoyed the confidence of party leaders, of whom its editor, Mr. Emrich, is one, and it has a fair patronage.

“The Republican Register”, the old leading journal of the county, is a seven-column quarto, having both daily and weekly editions. It is the result of the consolidation of the “Register” and the “Republican”, both Galesburg papers. The former was established in 1866 by Stephen R. Smith, William J. Mourer and H. D. Babcock, and, after several changes, was bought by E. F. Phelps in 1872. The latter first appeared in 1870, it’s proprietors and publishers being C. E. Carr and J. M. Prior, who sold to S. W. Grubb in 1872. In December of that year, the union was consummated. A company had been formed, styled the Galesburg Printing Company, for the especial purpose of becoming the owner of these two papers. J. B. Boggs is President; L. F. Wertman, Vice-President; and S. W. Grubb, Secretary and Treasurer. The management of the journal is under the control of S. W. Grubb, a practical printer of over half a century’s experience. The paper is uncompromisingly republican in politics. It receives the Associated Press dispatches, and the local columns are usually full and well arranged, and embrace all the happenings of the city, and, indeed, of the entire county, its list of regular correspondents in various parts of the county contributing well prepared articles on the news of their district each week. It has the largest circulation in the county. Fred R. Jelliff is editor, with Eugene M. Weeks and George M. Strain for assistants. Four years ago the Galesburg Printing Company erected a new, modern building on Simmons Street, between Prairie and Cherry, equipped with new machinery.

The Evening Gazette was published at Galesburg for a short time after the great strike on the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad. The officials of that road were very much dissatisfied with the course pursued by the “Republican-Register” during the labor troubles, and so transplanted the “Monmouth Gazette” to this city. But the paper could not live here and after a brief struggle suspended publication.

The “Galesburg Evening Mail” was started May 13, 1891. It was the outcome of a factional fight in the republican party of Knox County, which had spread throughout the tenth Congressional district. The leaders of the two factions were General Philip Sidney Post and Colonel Clark E. Carr. Both men were ambitious to represent the district in Congress. Colonel Carr’s candidacy was vigorously supported by the one daily paper in Knox County at that time, the “Republican-Register”. The need of having an active organ in the field to compete with this influence gave impetus to the project already under consideration to found in Galesburg another daily paper. The original promoters were W. Bennett Barnes, son of General Barnes, who was for years prominent in Illinois journalism, in Galesburg and elsewhere, and the proprietors of the Colville job printing office, George W. and William R. Colville. A stock company was formed, in which a majority of the stock was held by Colville Brothers and Mr. Barnes. General Post and his friends were well represented. The company organized with S. H. Bateman President, and G. W. Colville Secretary. The first Board of Directors included, in addition to these gentlemen, F. A. Freer, H. L. May, W. B. Barnes, and W. R. Colville. Mr. Bateman was succeeded later by W. O. Lovejoy and the company as then organized remained intact until further transfer was made in 1895. The paper as first published was a seven column folio. It obtained the United Press franchise, and began to be felt as an important factor in the community from the first. In keeping with the original idea of promoting the interests of the Post faction in republican politics, the “Mail” was for years partially, and at times wholly, edited by F. A. Freer and Philip S. Post, a son of General Post, and others alive to the General’s interests. The success of the latter in securing the nomination and election to Congress eventually removed from the paper a certain part of its political responsibility, but it remained in the newspaper field in active competition. The paper was subsequently edited by G. W. Colville, while W. R. Colville was business manager. On March 18, 1895, the interest held in the company by the Colville brothers and W. B. Barnes was transferred to D. H. and Benjamin B. Hampton, formerly publishers of the “Macomb By-Stander”. Benjamin B. Hampton succeeded G. W. Colville as secretary of the company and became the active manager. D. H. Hampton was made editor. Within a short time the office was moved from the old Colville job office into a new building erected for it at 50-52 North Cherry Street, and in August 1899, to more spacious quarters in the Marquette Building on South Cherry Street. Its form has been changed to a six column quarto, although frequently publishing ten, twelve and even sixteen pages. The growth of the paper in the past few years, in spite of hard times, has been rapid. Many additions have been made to its equipments, among others being a Linotype machine. Under the present management the name of the paper was changed from “The Galesburg Daily Mail” to “The Galesburg Evening Mail”, which it now bears. A weekly edition is also issued, and has reached a position of influence throughout Knox County. The paper holds the Associated Press franchise and features its important news items in metropolitan style. Its excellent news service, both telegraphic and local, has gained for the paper a clientele of readers which has made it a valuable advertising medium. It remains thoroughly republican in politics.

The “Galesburg Labor News” is published every Saturday from the Plaindealer Printing Company’s office by H. C. Smalley, who started the paper September 14, 1895, in connection with J. A. Smith, whom Mr. Smalley bought out in 1898. It is a six column folio, devoted to the interests of organized labor and wage workers generally, and is endorsed by the Trades and Labor Assembly of Galesburg, of which it is the official organ.

“Liberty” was established in 1892. It was a six column quarto, published every Saturday by W. C. Holden. It was strictly independent in politics, but opposed to Catholicism. After a somewhat checkered career it ceased publication in 1897.


As a rule, banking in Knox County has been conducted on safe, conservative principles. The failures have been few, and the business has steadily grown, in extent and volume, as population and wealth increased. At present, the number of banks in the county is 19, located at 9 different points, 5 being established at Galesburg. Their aggregate paid up capital exceeds $1,100,000, while their surplus and undivided profits amount to more than $260,000. Their total annual deposits average about $1,750,000, and their loans reach $2,250,000 each year.

The history of the institutions throughout the country at large may be found under the caption of the city or town in which located. A brief account of the inception, growth and present condition of banking in the city of Galesburg is given below.

“Reed’s Banking House” was the earliest, having first opened its doors in July 1855, as a private bank. Its founders and sponsors were A. D. and Horatio Reed and E. L. Chapman. In 1857 a charter was obtained under State law and it became a bank of issue. It was successful, notwithstanding the financial panic of that year, its notes never falling below par. In 1860 Mr. Reed erected a new building at the northwest corner of Main and Cherry streets and the bank was moved into more spacious quarters. A few years later, Mr. Reed removed to Chicago, and its affairs were wound up.

In the same year in which Reed’s Banking House was founded, T. L. McCoy, who had shortly before opened a packing house at Galesburg, established a “wild cat” bank in connection with his business. It was called the Nemaha and was nominally located at Brownsville, Nebraska. It issued a large volume of currency, which found ready circulation, but in the early days of the war it fell together with scores of similar ventures.

The Knox County Savings Bank was the outgrowth of and successor to the business of Sidney Meyers and Company, a banking firm organized in 1861. Mr. Meyers soon removed to Chicago, and Josias Grant conducted the business under the new name until lack of funds compelled the closing of the doors. The shareholders lost heavily, but the depositors were paid in full.

The First National Bank was organized in January 1861, with C. H. Matthews, President; Frans Colton, Vice-President; and E. L. Chapman, Cashier. Its capital stock was originally $100,000, but was increased to $150,000. In 1866 the present bank building on the northeast corner of Main and Cherry streets was erected. This bank, largely through the efforts of Timothy Moshier and Francis Fuller, its President for many years, has built up a very large business. L. F. Wertman is now President, Fred Seacord Vice-President; and Lorin Stevens Cashier. Its surplus and undivided profits are $74,852; its deposits $350,000, and its loans $375,688.

In May 1864, the Second National Bank was organized, with a capital of $60,000, which was afterwards increased to $100,000. David Sanborn was the first President; Edwin Post, Vice-President; and Albert Reed, Cashier. In a sense this bank may be said to be a continuation of the old Reed bank, taking much of that concern’s business and occupying the same quarters, at the northwest corner of Main and Cherry streets. The present President is A. J. Perry, while Andrew Harrington and J. G. Vivion are Vice-President and Cashier. Its surplus and undivided profits amount to $50,000, while its average deposits are $225,000 and its loans $230,000.

The Farmers and Mechanics Bank was established in 1870 with $100,000 capital, which has since been increased to $200,000. First officers: C. S. Colton, President; C. E. Grant, Vice-President; W. Little, Cashier. Until 1880 this bank also conducted a savings department. It has been a very prosperous and popular institution. The present officers are: J. L. Burkhalter, President; G. D. Crocker, Vice-President; Leon A. Townsend, Cashier. Its surplus is $30,000; deposits $350,000; loans $100,000.

The Galesburg National Bank was founded in 1884 with $100,000 capital. W. W. Washburn was the first President; A. A. Smith, Vice-President; and James H. Losey, Cashier. It was first located on the northeast corner of Main and Prairie streets, but in 1897 was moved into a fine, new building of its own, on the diagonal corner. P. F. Brown is now President; William Robson, Vice-President; and James H. Losey, Cashier. Surplus $25,000; undivided profits $100,000; deposits $235,000; loans $385,000.

The Bank of Galesburg, a State bank, was established in 1889, and incorporated in 1891, with $100,000 capital. It is located in the Fraternity Block at the corner of Main and Kellogg streets. The officers are: A. M. Craig, President; N. O. G. Johnson, Vice-President; P. N. Granville, Cashier. It has a surplus of $50,000; deposits of $435,000; and loans amounting to $457,000.


Considering its size Galesburg has not had many hotels, and of the few it has had, which now are gone, but little is known, probably because their history was too uneventful to awaken a lively interest in its preservation.

The “Galesburg House” was the first hotel here. It stood on the southwest corner of Main and Cherry streets—a large frame building. Messrs. Brown and Beswick built it as early as 1841 for Sebastian Adams, the first owner and proprietor, who sold out to Rev. H. H. Kellogg. While he owned it Levi Sanderson was the proprietor. Other proprietors were Abraham Neely, Clarendon R. Palmer, who was one of the early postmasters, and T. G. Hadley, who was the last proprietor. The building was not used as a hotel after 1860, and finally it burned down.

The second hotel was the “Haskell House”, built by George Haskell and his father a little before the coming of the railroad, on the north side of Main Street, about midway between Cherry and Prairie streets. It was a three-story frame building, quite pretentious for the times. It was sold to a man named Bonney and called “Bonney House” till it burned in 1859 or ’60. It was noted as the first place in Galesburg where liquor was sold.

Next came the “Willard Hotel” on the southwest corner of Main and Chambers streets. It was cut up into dwelling houses about 1860.

Fourth was a frame building near the “Five Points”. It burned soon after erection.

Fifth was the “Bancroft House”, the first brick hotel in Galesburg. It was built on the corner of Prairie and Warehouse streets in 1857 by A. N. and G. C. Bancroft, who were the proprietors for ten years. Si Hall and a Mr. Cowan were later proprietors. For some time this was the best hotel in Galesburg, but it gradually deteriorated until it became almost worthless. Under the names “Lindell” and “College City” it was kept as a hotel until about 1890.

The “Transient House” was the sixth hotel here. It was built in 1855 by George Hinckley on the west side of West Street between Simmons and Tompkins. J. Milton Smith, a great horseman, came here about that time, bought the place of Hinckley and became the first proprietor. In 1856 he sold out to Daniel Henshaw, who ran the place for fourteen years as the “Henshaw House”. In 1871 it was cut up into dwelling houses.

The “Clifton Hotel,” the seventh Galesburg hotel, was built in 1858 on the southeast corner of Main and Kellogg streets, and was at first known as the “Kellogg House” and later as the “Commercial Hotel”. When the Fraternity Block was erected the Clifton was moved to its present location on Seminary Street, and enlarged and improved. It is a frame building, and was for some years the leading hotel of Galesburg. Among the proprietors have been, first, Jerry Roberts, then Messrs. Barton, Owens, Blossom, Captain Lipe, James Boyd, J. J. Jhons, Joe Sayles, and Matt Gibson.

The “Union Hotel”, the eighth here, was opened in January 1870. It was built by a stock company, of which Captain Grant was President and C. S. Colton the chief stockholder. Finally it passed into the hands of the Colton family. It was burned early in 1871 and was rebuilt the same year. For a number of years it has been one of the best hotels in Illinois. The proprietors have been: Hi Belden, a Mr. Redy, from Joplin, Missouri; Redy and Hamilton, Maj. C. E. Hamilton, a Mr. Wormley, Gorham and Mundy, Mundy and Brownell, Brownell, Dixon and Stansbury, Maj. Stansbury, Henry Gardt and Company, and George J. Mills. It is now owned by Henry Gardt and Company, who lease it to Mr. Mills. It occupies the block at the northwest corner of the Square and Broad Street.

The ninth hotel in Galesburg was “Brown’s Hotel”, which, ever since it’s opening on November 1, 1872, has been one of the two leading hostelries in the place. It was built by a stock company of which Geo. W. Brown and Charles H. Matthews were the principal stockholders. It is a large brick edifice on the southwest corner of Main and Kellogg streets, and has been altered and improved two or three times since its first building. In 1891 Norman Anthony purchased it and still owns it. For the first two years of his ownership it was run by McMurtry Brothers and Kirch. Since then Mr. Anthony has run it himself. The other proprietors in order were Frank Poindexter, Messrs. Mead, Benjamin Lombard, Sr., and Captain H. C. Case.

The next hotel here was the “European Hotel” on Seminary Street at the head of Tompkins Street. It was built about 1890 by Ben Buckley, who has owned it ever since. It is a frame building, not very large but a very pleasant place.

The “Arlington Hotel” was built by Crocker and Robbins on Seminary Street opposite the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad Depot and opened for business April 20, 1896. It occupies part of the first and all of the second and third stories of a large brick building. No meals are served here, but owing to its location and the tact and skill of its proprietor it has secured a very large share of the transient business of Galesburg. Charles D. Hall has been the proprietor ever since the opening of the house.


The city is situated on a prairie, with no large stream within its borders or in its vicinity.

Wells sunk in a retentive sub-soil afforded a satisfactory water supply until within a few years. In the early days the average well sunk to the level of the hard blue clay, and ordinary depth of from sixteen to twenty feet, seldom failed to supply the domestic wants of a family. A shaft sunk to greater depth, in the underlying strata, was likely to pierce into a sand vein, with which the clay was penetrated, and might liberate a strong underground current, which sometimes rose to nearly the surface of the ground.

A mammoth well on the grounds of the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad for many years supplied all the wants of the company at this, a division point, even after the establishment of the Stock Yards. Gradually, however, there came to be felt a necessity for fire protection. Cisterns were placed at points of convenience, to be filled from wells and kept in readiness for emergencies. The well at Brown’s Corn Planter works not only supplied this extensive manufacturing plant, but was also utilized for filling the public cisterns.

The first agitation for the establishment of a system of public water works had its origin in the appreciation of the necessity of better protection of the city against conflagration.

Court Creek, a part of the head waters of which rise within the city limits, enters Galesburg about two miles from the heart of the city through a deep valley extending twelve miles eastward to Spoon River. The elevated lands upon either side are cut by rapidly falling valleys, becoming narrow and deep, and affording a natural sluice-way for the drainage of the country for many miles on both sides. George W. Brown had, upon his own land, formed a small artificial lake in one of the valleys for his own pleasure. Afterwards, he excavated another, much larger, now known as Lake George, a charming and favorite resort, a more particular description of which is given on another page. There was also a public well upon his premises, and another on the grounds of the Frost Manufacturing Company.

The Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad Company, needing a more abundant supply of water, had excavated a lake in Court Creek Valley, with pipes running thence to the depot grounds. At this time the entire municipal supply consisted of a reservoir on Seminary Street, holding eleven hundred barrels, and one on West Street with a capacity of fifteen hundred barrels. Two steam pumps and twelve hydrants constituted the distributing force.

During Mayor Foote’s administration, in 1883-84, it was proposed to follow the example of the railroad company, and to create a lake in one of the valleys connected with Court Creek Valley, from which a supply of water might be obtained for general municipal purposes. It was pointed out that no limit could be placed upon the city’s needs for years to come, as its wants were likely to increase beyond any provisions first made; and that an additional chain of lakes was a feasible project, which might furnish a water-shed of one hundred square miles.

The proposition was followed by an offer on the part of Nathan Shelton to construct a system of water works, requiring of the city only a franchise and an agreement to pay a given price per annum for a fixed number of hydrants for fire supply.

Under an agreement, such a system was constructed, with several miles of pipe and a water tower, the supply being obtained from a single well some eighty feet in depth and sunk through a fifteen foot gravel seam. Worthington duplex pumps were to be installed, with a capacity of 4,500 cubic feet per day. A standpipe, fifteen feet in diameter and one hundred and thirty-three feet high, was also included. Nine miles of water main were laid and eighty hydrants put in. The annual cost to the city was to be eight thousand dollars.

Mr. Shelton was the promoter of the company, whose plant was located near the Burlington tracks, on North Street. The supply proved inadequate, and citizens who had, in the anticipation of its success, provided for taking water, found themselves without return. Yet the project proved sufficiently successful to float a mortgage, with bonds enough to reimburse the promoter.

The city refusing longer to pay for the service, a protracted litigation followed, resulting in the release of the municipality from the company’s claim. In the meantime (July 1890), Galesburg had commenced the construction of a system of its own, and subsequently purchased the Shelton works.

The Cedar Fork Valley, near the west line of the corporate limits, was chosen for the site. The supply is obtained from wells sunk into an extensive, water-bearing stratum beneath the valley of Cedar Creek. These were subsequently re-enforced by artesian wells, penetrating the Trenton and St. Peter’s limestone. The wants of the public are so fully met that there is no reason to doubt that the supply from the same sources can be indefinitely increased, and, should necessity arise, there is still Court Creek Valley, with its unlimited subterranean and surface springs. Seventy-six tubular wells are now in operation, connected by twenty-seven hundred feet of sixteen inch suction mains. A pump-house has been erected with two Gaskell-Holley, non-compound condensing engines, and three one hundred horse power boilers. A storage reservoir, with a capacity of four million gallons, has been constructed near the pump-house. In 1896, two artesian wells were drilled, which are operated by the Hewlitt air-lift system. There are twenty-seven miles of distributing mains, from four to sixteen inches in diameter, and two hundred and ninety-four hydrants. This system has cost the city about $230,000. At present 1,500,000 gallons of water can be furnished daily, 1,000,000 of which are obtainable from the drift tubular wells.

By J. V. N. Standish

Parks and boulevards are the pride and joy of every city. They are sources of pleasure and health to everyone. Emerson says: “No labor, pains, temperance, property, nor exercise, that can gain health, must be begrudged; for sickness is a cannibal which eats up all the life and youth it can lay hold of, and absorbs its own sons and daughters.” No city should neglect to provide parks and pleasure grounds for its people. If she does, she becomes a laggard in the onward march of civilization. Civilization has its foundation in beauty and refinement. Take away these, and a nation of people would soon relapse into barbarism. The man that opposes public parks is not a benefactor, but an enemy of his race.

The parks of Galesburg are small, covering but a few acres. They are ornamental and attractive, and are kept in the neatest manner. A large variety of shrubs and trees decorate the green lawn, and an abundance of flowering plants give life and beauty to the scene. They are under the supervision of a Park Commission of six members, created by the City Council.

April 13, 1876, the Horticultural Society of Galesburg presented a memorial to the Council, asking that a Park Commission be created of three or more members, who should have the control and supervision of the parks, and who should serve without compensation. On June 5, an ordinance was passed, defining the duties and powers of the commission, and by the mayor, George W. Brown, the following were appointed commissioners: J. V. N. Standish, O. T. Johnson, B. F. Arnold, T. J. Hale, John McFarland, and George Churchill. By the terms of the ordinance, those appointed were required to draw lots for length of service. O. T. Johnson and B. F. Arnold drew for one year: J. V. N. Standish and John McFarland, for two years; and T. J. Hale and George Churchill, for three years. The board was organized by electing T. J. Hale, president, and George Churchill, secretary. Mr. Hale served four years as president, and Dr. Standish, the present incumbent, has served nineteen years.

May 12, 1880, an ordinance was passed to connect the City Park with the Central Park by a boulevard, which was planned by Dr. Standish. This driveway is regarded as the most beautiful in the city.

In the spring of 1887, the president of the Park Commission, with the approval of his associates, presented to the Council a plan for improving and beautifying Central Park, which was adopted. This park, in one year, was made so beautiful as to be a rival of a most artistic park. It has won praises from all who have seen it. The parks of Galesburg are neat and attractive. Their influence is felt in every nook and corner of the city, and even in the county.

The present board is composed of the following: J. V. N. Standish, president; Loren Stevens, secretary; Hiram Mars, C. A. Webster, N. W. Boon, P. M. Stromberg. At different times the following have been members of this commission: O. T. Johnson, B. F. Arnold, T. J. Hale, John McFarland, George Churchill, Francis Fuller, George C. Lanphere, M. L. Comstock, Isaac Perkins, O. F. Price, E. P. Williams, W. Selden Gale, and Henry Gardt.


The first military companies in Galesburg were organized before the Civil War, probably in 1857, certainly not before 1856. There were three of them, all formed about the same time. At that period there was no State militia, although the State furnished equipment for volunteer companies. Probably the first of those enlisted here was the Galesburg Light Guards. This was an infantry company, and numbered, perhaps, fifty men. Prominent in organizing it were L. D. Rowell, Charles Sheeley, James Andrews, Daniel Farrell and a Mr. Huntoon. The company drilled on the second floor of a building near the northwest corner of Main and Prairie streets. At the time of the Lincoln-Douglas debate they acted as a bodyguard for the great contestants, escorting them to and from the college campus, where the speaking was heard. The first officers of this company were: L. D. Rowell, captain; Charles Sheeley, first lieutenant; James Andrews, second lieutenant; and Daniel Farrell, orderly sergeant. The organization disbanded before 1861.

The Scandinavian Rifles was the second Galesburg Company. It was organized in 1857, and disbanded a year or so before the war. Nearly all the members enlisted in the Union army. With the exception of one “section”, of about twelve men, who were from Victoria, it was composed of Swedes living in Galesburg. There were from fifty to seventy members. They drilled on the ground east of Chambers and south of North Street, and at first used a room in Dr. McCall’s water cure establishment for their armory, but subsequently had their headquarters in a building on the north side of Main Street, just west of the public square. They also acted as an escort of honor to Lincoln and Douglas. Their officers, in order of service, were: Captains, Leonard Hommberg, A. Stenbeck and Olof Staul, who was afterward known as Captain Olof S. Edvall, of the Forty-third Volunteer infantry. First lieutenants, Olof Staul and a Swede by the name of Shanstrom, Second lieutenants, O. P. Pearson, C. E. Lanstrum and Nels P. McCool. A few of the original members still live in Galesburg, among them being Swan Anderson, John Erickson, C. E. Lanstrum, William O. Nelson, and Nels Olson.

There was also in those days an artillery company in the city, which had but few members and whose battery consisted of one gun. It was organized in 1857 or 1858, and after a year or two disbanded.

The three companies which have been mentioned, together with a Knoxville cavalry company, united to form what they styled the “Knox County Battalion”, which drilled on the prairie, half way between Knoxville and Galesburg. The officers were Colonel T. J. Hale, Lieutenant Colonel L. D. Rowell, Major Leonard Holmberg, and Sergeant Major Cal. Cover.

There were no other military organizations here until after the enactment of the law creating a State militia. The first company recruited here under that law was Company B., of the Fourth Infantry, which was mustered into the State service about September 27, 1878, and Hon. Frank Murdoch acting as mustering officer. There had been more or less talk of forming such a company for a year or two before, and E. R. Drake had circulated a paper calling for its organization, which had received several signatures. William Whiting was colonel of the regiment, and O. L. Higgins lieutenant colonel.

Early in the eighties, the Illinois militia was reorganized, and this company became Company C, of the Sixth Infantry, I. N. G. The officers, in order of service, have been as follows: Captains, E. F. Phelps, J. M. Martin, Howard Reed, G. P. Hoover, W. S. Weeks, H. A. Norton, A. W. Stickney, C. E. Fitch, E. C. Elder, and T. L. McGirr; first lieutenants, Charles Wells, E. R. Drake, Guy B. Dickson, W. S. Weeks, H. A. Norton, H. M. Tompkins, A. W. Stickney, C. E. Fitch, Frank L. Andrews, V. N. Ridgeley, Fred W. Porter, and C. A. Byloff; second lieutenants, Fred Brooks, C. F. Hamblin, Charles Waste, Frank Thulin, C. E. Fitch, Robert Hillier, E. C. Elder, C. Hoffman, F. S. Montgomery, V. N. Ridgeley, W. L. Arkels, E. A. Johnson, and Daniel K. Smyth.

Company C’s first active service was in 1886, during the labor troubles at East St. Louis. On April 21, 1886, Captain Weeks received the following order:

“Report with your company at East St. Louis via Q. Road. J. W. Vance, Adjutant General.”

The company left at once, and rendered excellent service, being on duty for about three weeks.

In 1894, it was twice called upon to preserve order on occasion of disturbances by striking miners. On June 10, the men were ordered to Pekin, where for four days they guarded the city, and especially the jail, where thirty-seven prisoners were confined. Again, on July 8, they were ordered to Spring Valley, to protect the town from riot and the lawlessness attendant upon the great coal miners’ strike, then in progress, remaining there one week.

In September, 1898, the company was once more called into service. It was ordered to report at Fulton, where there was some apprehension of trouble over the removal of the headquarters of the Modern Woodmen. The train was made up, but just as the men were about to board it, the orders were countermanded.

The great opportunity in its history, however, came to Company C when war was declared against Spain. It left Galesburg for Springfield, April 26, was mustered into the Federal service May 11, and reached Camp Alger nine days later. The men arrived at Charleston, S. C., July 7, Soboney, Cuba, July 15, and Guanica, Porto Rico, July 25. From Guanica they marched to Uauca, Ponce, Adjuntas and Utuado, and thence back to Ponce, where they embarked for home on September 7, reaching New York on the 13th, Springfield on the 17th and Galesburg on the 21st. Until November 20 they were on furlough, and on the 25th of that month were mustered out. Every member of the company returned home, a fact which reflects great credit upon its officers. The company underwent its share of the hardships of camp life and campaigning. It spent about seven weeks in the Island of Porto Rico, cheerfully undergoing hardships and privations which greatly taxed their strength, and winning respect and admiration for the manly and soldierly qualities which the men displayed.

On their return to Galesburg the men were received with honor, and welcomed as heroes of a war toward the successful issue of which they had materially contributed.
Their captain, T. L. McGirr, has recently received a captain’s commission in the United States provisional army, and has left the company after the longest term of service ever rendered by any of its officers. He was elected Captain on March 14, 1891, and served continuously from that date until September 1899.

Battery B, of Galesburg, enjoys a reputation second to that of no other artillery company in the State. It was organized in March 1897 as an independent company, under the name of the Galesburg Light Artillery. No one was admitted to membership who had not had experience in military affairs and who could not show special qualification as a horseman, sharpshooter, or in some kindred department of athletic sport. The members were uniformed and equipped at their own expense, and bought their horses and part of their ordnance. The battery was allowed the use of two field pieces of the latest pattern, loaned by the government of Knox College, and was materially assisted at the beginning by Dr. J. H. Finley, president of that institution, and by Lieutenant (now Captain) W. A. Phillips, of the regular army, military instructor at the college. The battery took part in several competitive drills and military tournaments, and on request of the State authorities, joined the National Guard, being mustered into service as Battery B of the Artillery Battalion, I. N. G., on July 7, 1897. Captain C. C. Craig, its former commander, was elected Captain, and F. C. Henry, first lieutenant. F. W. Wolf was chosen second lieutenant. Lieutenant Wolf soon afterward resigned, and J. F. Hamilton and W. W. Smith succeeded him. Just prior to the Spanish war the company received from the State its full equipment as a machine gun battery, and recruited and drilled until its complement was filled and it had reached a high degree of efficiency. The members, to a man, volunteered for the war, and were called out, but failed to see active service.

In September 1898, the battery was ordered by telegram to proceed to Pana, to preserve order and protect lives and property, which were endangered by riots resulting in conflicts between the striking miners of that vicinity and the civil authorities. In two hours, after being notified, the company was on the way. At Springfield rifles were issued, and only two of the Gatling guns were retained. On arriving at Pana, though numbering but seventy men, the battery soon had the situation under control, and all disorder came to an end. While in camp there, the command improved every opportunity for instruction and drill, and became very proficient, particularly in the use of the Gatling arm.

On October 13, telegraphic orders were received to proceed to Virden, where a serious conflict had started between some two thousand striking miners and their sympathizers and about two hundred Pinkerton guards and a force of deputy sheriffs, employed to protect the mines there. In forty minutes the command had broken camp, packed its equipment and stores, and was at the railway station, where an engine and freight cars were in waiting, and the men started for Virden. In the meantime, fifteen men had been killed and thirty or more wounded at that town. The strikers had driven the deputies and guards inside a fortified stockade surrounding the mines, which they were preparing to blow up with dynamite. The artillerymen landed from the train outside the town shortly after dark, and supported by the Gatlings, made a charge, separated the warring factions, and occupied the points of vantage. Before morning every non-combatant had been disarmed, the ringleaders arrested, and all disorder quelled. Only one man was killed on either side after the arrival of the battery. For prompt and effective work at Pana and Virden, Captain Craig and his men were honored by a letter of thanks from the Governor.

The company has always maintained the high standard of its personnel, and has been especially well known for the character of its members and the excellent discipline observed.

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