Peoria County, Illinois Genealogy Trails
Est. Nov. 6, 1849
Elmwood Township History [from "The History of Peoria County, Illinois; Johnson & Co., 1880. Transcribed by Karen Seeman]
Elmwood Township History [From Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois and History of Peoria County, Edited by David McCulloch, Vol. II; Chicago and Peoria: Munsell Publishing Company, Publishers, 1902. ]
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Peoria County, IL Genealogy Trails
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William E. Phelps and Edwin L. Brown
The geographical designation of Elmwood is Township Nine North of the Base Line, Range Five East of the Fourth Principal Meridian. It is somewhat broken by the branches of the Kickapoo Creek and was originally about one-half prairie and one-half timber. The prairie soil is rich and well adapted to agriculture, while abundance of coal is found in the bluffs along the creek.
The first settler was John Ewalt, a Pennsylvanian, who had lived some time in Ohio and Indiana, after which he came to Illinois and resided two years in Edgar County, arriving in Elmwood, May 1, 1831. He settled on the edge of the grove in the southeast quarter of Section 20. Isaac Harkness having settled on the east side, in what is now Trivoli Township, in the year preceding. Ewalt and his four sons spent the summer breaking prairie, fencing his land and building a house, living meanwhile in their wagon and in a tent. In the autumn he brought the rest of his family from Edgar County.
One year later, May, 1832, Isaac Doyle located the southwest quarter of Section 20. In July, 1834, Henry Cone settled on the northwest quarter of Section 18, having laid his claim on the same in 1833.
On September 30, 1834, William J. Phelps landed at Peoria from Connecticut. He had been married on the 10th of the same month and had consumed about three weeks in making the trip. Leaving his wife at Peoria he followed an Indian trail on foot to Farmington, to which point Joseph Cone. Sr., with whom he was acquainted, had preceded him. A day or two later he got Isaac Harkness to go with him for his wife and their baggage. In the spring of 1835, they located on the southeast quarter of Section 18, which for many years continued to be their homestead, noted for its hospitality and good cheer. Fountain Watkins came from Fulton County and settled on the northwest quarter of Section 29, in the winter of 1835, and, in the same year, Joseph Cone Jr., settled on the southeast quarter of Section 7, and Andrew M. Wiley near the same place. Justus Gibbs and Roldon Pierce came in 1836, and Avery Dalton, Ichabod Smith, Thomas and George Hurff, Samuel McCann, Stanley Butler and Mr. Hunkerford in 1837. Joseph Miles built the mill that long bore his name in 1837 or 1838, and Henry and Joseph Cone built a saw-mill on the northwest quarter of Section 18 in the year 1843. Joseph Miles was joined by his son Freeman and his family about 1838, and by his brother Eli a year later. James Jackson, Ichabod Rowley, Isaac West and John Jordan were also among the earliest settlers. Although the township was intersected by a State road, yet it never became a stage-route nor a thoroughfare of travel. Two incipient hamlets sprang up on the route called Newburgh and Southport, but, being left to one side when the rail-road was built, they never became of any considerable importance. The situation prior to the building of the railroad was thus described by William J. Phelps in a public address, delivered some years ago:
"It is still within the recollection of a few of our number, when this village site and the surrounding country was a wild and unbroken waste. When standing on that eminence [the Mound —ed.], still so inviting on our western border, 300 feet above the level of Peoria Lake and looking abroad over the thousands and thousands of rich acres, stretching away as far as the eye could reach, we could nowhere find a trace or a sign of civilization, where, in musing reverie, we would forecast the future of this tenantless domain which a prince might envy. A century would not, in our imagination, accomplish so much as our short lives have already done, nor could we descry within limits of our then horizon one-half the taste, the culture, the refinement, the religious tone, or the wealth, the commercial strength, the civil and political force, or the moral power which is exhibited today.
"And, although our numbers grew by the influx of emigrants, and our industry was rewarded with a sufficiency for the support of physical life, still our condition was that of poverty and destitution. Our cabins were poor, and we had no lumber to build houses. Our implements and utensils were few and imperfect. Our means of transportation almost none—roads and bridges a luxury beyond our means. There was no thoroughfare of travel, and no focalized point of trade or social life; no post-office, few newspapers or books. But we were young, bold, energetic, hopeful, courageous. Our location was isolated and seemed unfortunate, but we could not help it. On the south, the great stage line from Peoria to Fort Madison swept by us, throwing off its daily mails at Farmington, which was already assuming considerable commercial importance. On the north was another great line of travel from Peoria to Burlington, giving a daily mail to Brimfield, which was already a little arrogant, with its stage-house, stores and shops. And the churches and schools, in both places, were rising in importance and usefulness. We traded to the right and left, but Farmington, being the larger town, received the greatest share. There, too, we formed religious associations and fed on the crumbs which fell from their well spread tables."
A few of the antiquities of the township are the following: Section 29 seems to have been the historic center. There the first pioneer, John Ewalt, located in 1831. There the first house was built and there the first white child, Harriet Rebecca Ewalt, was born April 1, 1833. There the first blacksmith shop and the first wagonshop were located, the former by Jacob Wills in 1840, the latter by William George about the same time. On the same land George Ewalt made the record in splitting rails, he having split 800 in one day.
The first marriage in the township was that of Abner H. Smith and Eliza Ann Doyle, solemnized by James P. Harkness. J. P., on March 10, 1835. The first school seems to have been taught by Justus Gibbs in the winter of 1836-37, in a log building afterwards used for a wagon shop near Mr. Isaac Harkness. The first school house was near a spring on the creek south and east of where Henry Harkness now resides, in which Daniel Fash was the first teacher. But this honor is also claimed for Southport, where Eliza Rowley was the first teacher. A station of the "Under-Ground Railroad" was also maintained by Fountain Watkins on Section 29. where he received passengers headed for the North Star from Deacon Berge, of Farmington, and transported them on free passes to Rochester.
The following sketch is furnished by Hon. W. E. Phelps:
"The country about here was first known as Harkness Grove, from Isaac Harkness. the first settler, and the large body of timber around which the first settlements were made. It was afterwards called Harkness Precinct.
"Elmwood was first the name of the home of William J. Phelps, then the name of the Post Office. When, in 1850, the county adopted township organization, it became the name of the township. Justus Gibbs was the first Supervisor, and the first meeting of the Board was in April, 1850. As a natural consequence the railroad station and the village were also called Elmwood. For many years it was the only place of the name in the United States, and for that matter in the world. Now, however, there are two or three Elmwoods in other States.
"Isaac Doyle was elected first Justice of the Peace in 1833. William J. Phelps was elected Justice of the Peace in 1835, an office which he held for a number of years, and which gave him the title of "Squire" Phelps, by which he was known during the remainder of his life. He officiated at a large number of weddings. He marred Mr. A. M. Wiley and Miss Mary Ewalt in 1838.
"The early Justice's Court was a very unique, and often amusing, institution. Usually the litigants managed their own cases, often very ably. Judge Wells, of Connecticut, the grandfather of our townsman, Mr. W. T. Wells, was a guest at Mr. Phelps' log cabin during, the trial of a cow case. The cabin was crowded, and a number of witnesses were examined by the plaintiff and defendant, after which they argued the case. The Judge said he had been very much interested, and was surprised to see how clear an idea each one of them had of what he wished to prove, and just what bearing the evidence had on the case. He was more than ever surprised when Mr. Phelps told him that neither man could read or write. He could scarcely believe it, and said that frontier life had developed and broadened these men to an extent that would have been impossible anywhere else.
"In 1836 William J. Phelps was elected County Commissioner, and in 1840, after a hotly contested campaign, he was returned to the Legislature over Judge Norman H. Purple by a majority of eight votes, while the Harrison Electors were defeated by thirty-two votes. Judge Purple contested the election, and, after a long fight, Mr. Phelps was sustained in a Democratic Legislature. John Dougherty, afterwards Lieutenant Governor, one of the Democratic members of the Election Committee, said boldly, 'Politics is one thing, but right is another. I believe that Phelps has been elected, and I shall support him.'
"These early settlers were not without their amusements. There was a log-rolling now and then, and, once or twice a year, a general roundup hunt. Then, too, there was the neighborhood dance, and the spelling-school, and greatest of all, sugaring off time in the maple woods in the spring. The women did a good deal of visiting. They went early, spent the afternoon and staid to supper.
"Every now and then there was a quilting, on which occasions there was the usual amount of gossip. At one of these the ladies present got into a discussion of the comparative merits of their husbands. One was good-natured, but slack and a bad provider; another always kept the house well supplied, but was a constant fretter— and so on around until Mrs. ————————— was reached. She raised her spectacles on her forehead, crossed her hands on the quilt and said: 'Well, women, I'll tell you what it is; if I never had married, I know I never would.'
"In 1847 Mr. Phelps secured the establishment of the Elmwood Post Office. He was Postmaster and Mail Contractor, the mail being brought twice a week from Farmington, although, if I remember right, the pay was only for one mail each week. At twelve years old I qualified as Deputy Postmaster, and also as Mail Carrier. The office was first kept in the house of Mr. William J. Phelps, in a cherry desk which was made for the purpose by the neighborhood cabinet-maker, Isaac West. It is still preserved in the family as a historic relic. Mr. Phelps after-
wards built an office twelve or fourteen feet square by the roadside near the house. When the Post Office was moved to town, this building was sold to Mr. Neagly for a shoe shop."
CITY OF ELMWOOD.
The city of Elmwood is the outgrowth of the location of the Peoria & Oquawka Railroad up the Kickapoo Creek instead of by Farmington, as it was originally intended. William J. Phelps was one of the directors. He owned large tracts of land in the immediate vicinity, which would be greatly enhanced in value by having a ready market for their out-put. How far his influence extended in securing the location of the road to this point does not appear in the records, but being a man of wealth, influence and business ability, it may safely be inferred that he had much to do with it.
The first settlement on what is now the Town of Elmwood was made by John Jordan on the southwest quarter of Section 8. He built a house of hewed logs and enclosed about thirty acres with a sod fence. The house was located on or near what is now lot six or seven in Block "W." Mr. Phelps purchased this tract in 1851. He, at the same time, owned and had under improvement the east half of the southwest quarter of Section 7, and the southwest quarter of the northwest quarter of Section 8. They were all fenced with a "six rail worm fence, staked and double ridered—regular eight rail Virginia fences"—of rails made in the vicinity. From the early part of 1852 the railroad was regarded as a certainty, and arrangements were made to lay out and build a town. Mr. Phelps, not wishing to make a final plat until the railroad tracks and station were located, made measurements and sold building lots assuring the purchasers that, if there should be any failure in the building of the railroad, he would take them off their hands and repay them the prices. The first house was built in the summer of 1852 by George Rodenbaugh on lot 3, Block V. About the same time Dr. Swisher built on lot 2. Block V, the Elmwood Hotel property; Levi Richardson put up a house on lot 4 or 5, Block R. In the spring of 1853, Porteus B. Roberts, a civil engineer on the railroad, erected a house on lot 4, Block Q.
"In the winter of 1852-3 an arrangement was made with Mr. A. S. Andrews, who had a store at Newburgh, to remove his buildings and business to Elmwood, and in the latter part of the winter or early spring the new store commenced business and the first goods were there sold in Elmwood. It was on the northeast corner of Lot l, Block W. In the latter part of the summer Addison L. Tracy and Waller T. Brewster built a brick store on the northwest corner of lot l, Block Q. Nelson Burnham. of Farmington, now of Peoria, was the contractor. This building has, in recent years, been enlarged and remodeled by Mr. Nelson Criger, and is now a very handsome and attractive structure."
Elmwood was incorporated as a village, February 37, 1867, and, as a city, May 24, 1892. It had a population of 1,582, according to the census of 1900.
The first coal discovered in this region was found on the land belonging to William J. Phelps, near the village of Elmwood in the year 1835. It was obtained in small quantities for black-smiths' use by stripping off the overlying surface. In course of time other deposits were found, and gradually coal-stoves were introduced for heating purposes. For some years all the mining was done by drifting into the hillsides. In 1866, William E. Phelps formed a partnership with James Lee, which firm put down the first shaft in the timber west of the residence of Mr. William J. Phelps, on the southeast quarter of Section 18, which was worked by horse power for a year. About this time Mr. William J. Phelps joined the firm and, in the autumn of 1867, a shaft was sunk nearer the town on the southwest quarter of Section 17, which was operated by steam-hoisting machinery. Two years later another shaft was sunk near by, and the two being connected, the first one was converted into an escapement shaft, which is supposed to have been the first in the State affording absolute security to the men below.
In 1869, the Elmwood Coal Company built a narrow-gauge railroad to the mines and fitted up shipping and retail yards in the village. In 1873, another shaft was sunk by the same company, which then consisted of William J. Phelps and his son William E. Phelps, since which time the mines have continued to do an extensive business, employing from 100 to 200 men. In December, 1899, however, this company being unable to meet its obligations, its property went into the hands of a receiver, by whom it was operated for a considerable time, and is probably yet in the hands of creditors, but being quite valuable, it will doubtless soon go into hands that will operate it upon a substantial scale.
The first bank in Elmwood was established about 1865, by William J. Phelps, with Harlan P. Tracy as cashier, and occupied modest quarters in the rear of the "long brick store," as Tracy's dry-goods store was known. A commodious bank building was soon erected, which has been the home of the financial institutions during the intervening years, and is yet so occupied by Messrs. Clinch, Schenck & Lott. Phelps & Tracy became the banking firm, and about 1875, Mr. Tracy assumed the whole and his nephew, Fred B., became cashier and partner, the business known as H. P. Tracy & Co. The Tracys failed in 1883. The "Farmers and Merchants Bank" was immediately organized by the brothers, Edwin R. Brown, of Elmwood, and Deloss S. Brown of Peoria, which was sold at the end of about three years to Thomas Clinch and W. H. Lott, who had, in the meantime, opened another bank. At that time Henry Schenck was taken in as a partner and the name of Clinch, Schenck & Lott adopted, under which name the bank has had, and now maintains, a successful position. The deaths of Thomas Clinch and Wm. H. Lott have changed the personnel of the concern, which now consists of W. A. Clinch, Henry Schenck, M. T. Lott and Harry Schenck.
In 1891 the Elmwood State Bank was organized with a capital of $25,000, later increased to $50,000. In 1898 it was placed in the hands of J. D. Putnam as receiver, who is yet in charge of its assets, having paid a large per cent to its depositors.
In May, 1898. George Smith and his son Charles opened the Bank of Elmwood, closing it and paying off their depositors at the end of one year.
Elmwood has the varied experience with manufactories that is common to all towns in a new and developing country.
The principal enterprises, which endured for many years or are yet in operation, are coalmining, paper-making, wagon and foundry shops, brick and tile factories, and many smaller industries. The coal interests were developed by James Lee and W. E. Phelps, on the extensive lands of W. J. Phelps, and, for thirty years, have been in operation almost continuously. Through most of this period W. E. Phelps has been the sole owner, incorporated as the Elmwood Coal Company. In December, 1899, Mr. Phelps' property passed into the hands of receiver H. W. Lynch, of Peoria. The town property of the estate and the farm lands have passed into various hands.
Straw paper manufacture was begun in 1867 by Hugh Armson and continued by the Elmwood Paper Company, with a capital of $30.000. H. P. Tracy secured control of the property after a few years and operated it until his failure in 1883. The mill was bought at receiver's sale by E. L. Brown, who enlarged and operated it until its destruction by fire in 1893, he having sold it to the Columbia Straw Paper Company a few months previously.
During his ownership of the paper mill Mr. Brown had established, in 1891, the Elmwood Electric Light Company, which he still owns and operates, lighting also Yates City. Knox County, three miles distant, and having the largest number of lights in operation of any station in the United States, proportioned to population of the constituent towns. The company maintains a model station with service and prices which make the electric light a feature of the attractiveness and life, both commercial and social, of the two towns thus favored.
Besides many small industries and those above detailed. Elmwood has a brick and tile factory, making building and paving brick, and the Advance Canning Factory, owned by D. H. Gray & Son, having a large output of corn and tomatoes.
Congregational church.—Pursuant to a notice publicly given, persons who had taken letters of recommendation from their respective churches, and who were desirous of uniting in organizing a Congregational Church in Elmwood, met for that purpose at the house of W. T. Brewster, on Monday, June 5, 1854. Mr. William J. Phelps was appointed Moderator, and Mr. W. H. Chapman. Scribe. The church was duly organized consisting of the following members: William J. Phelps, Mrs. Olive B. J. Phelps, Walter T. Brewster, Mrs. Emily C. Brewster, Zeno E. Spring, Mrs. Avella G. Spring, Warren H. Chapman, Mrs. Susan S. Chapman, Mrs. Ann L. Tracy.
A constitution, articles of faith and church covenant were adopted, and W. T. Brewster and W. H. Chapman were chosen Deacons.
Rev. F. Orton, then a recent graduate of Union Theological Seminary, New York, became the acting pastor, June, 1834. He died in Elmwood, August 20, 1855, greatly beloved and mourned by his people. During his pastorate nine members were added to the church by letter.
During the years 1854 and '55, the church and society erected a house of worship. Previous to the time of its completion, the congregation worshipped in an upper and unfurnished room over the store of Mr. A. L. Tracy. Rev. R. Rudd supplied the pulpit for a few months, commencing December 16, 1855. From some time in March, 1856, until August of the same year, the church had no stated ministerial supply, but there were added to the church, during that time, twelve members by letter, and three on profession. Rev. J. Steiner became an acting pastor of the church, in August, 1856, and labored as such until May 31, 1858.
Rev. Sherlock Bristol received a call, November 18, 1858, and became the acting pastor of the church, and labored as such nearly two years. Rev. W. G. Pierce commenced his labors with the church, April 21, 1861, and soon after received a call from the church and society to become their pastor. He was duly ordained and installed, November 20, 1861. During the progress of the War of the Rebellion he acted as Chaplain of the Seventy- seventh Regiment of Illinois Volunteers, something more than a year, the church granting him leave of absence for that purpose. He was also absent for a few weeks in the service of the United States Christian Commission, in the Army of the Potomac.
Mr. Pierce closed his ministry with the church in 1871. For some months the church was without a pastor, being supplied by different clergymen and candidates. In 1872 Rev. Albert Fitch preached as supply one year. The church then called Allen J. Van Wagner, who had just graduated from the Chicago Theological Seminary. Mr. Van Wagner at once entered upon his labors, and, in October, following, was duly ordained and installed as pastor of the church. He was succeeded by Rev. L. R. Royce, Rev. W. R. Butcher, Rev. W. S. Pressy and the present pastor, Rev. Arthur Miles, who entered upon his ministry December 1, 1896.
The first house of worship was a plain brick building, with lecture or Sunday-school rooms on the first or basement floor and auditorium on the second. It was remodeled and its appearance greatly improved in the year 1893, at the cost of about $10.000. It now has a large corner tower with bell. The auditorium is still on the second floor, the first being divided into parlors, classrooms and large Sunday-school rooms. It is heated by two large furnaces, lighted with electric lights, comfortably furnished, and has a seating capacity of about four hundred.
Methodist Episcopal church.—This Church like every other Methodist Church, began with the class. Prior to the year 1850, a class or society was organized in the home of Absalom Kent, then living near the grove a short distance southwest of where the town is now located. Among the early members were Abner Smith and his wife Eliza, Absalom Kent and his wife. Rufus Kent and his wife, David Morey and his wife, and John Jordan and his wife. It was at first a preaching station in the Canton Circuit, but a few years later the Canton Circuit was formed which included the station at Kent. There was no church building. The people at first worshipped in private houses, afterwards in an "upper room" over the store of Mr. Snyder. David Morey was class-leader and John Jordan, Elder. In the spring of 1854, the preaching was removed to Elmwood, then a village with but few houses.
In the fall of 1854, the Elmwood Circuit was formed, which included Elmwood, Goulds near where Yates City now is, Remington's School House near Maquon, the Stone House near Spoon River, north of Elmwood, and French Creek. Rev. Jarvis G. Evans, late President of Hedding College, was preacher in charge. In the spring of 1855, the congregation began the erection of a house of worship on Silock Street, which was completed and dedicated in the fall of the same year by Rev. Silas Bolles, of Chicago, who had recently been pastor for two years of the First Church, Peoria. The first house of worship having served its day, a new one was erected, in the year 1893 on Main Street, at a cost of $10,000. The first Sunday-school was a Union school held in the store- room, David Morey being Superintendent. The first distinctively Methodist Sunday-school was- organized in
the church soon after its erection. Francis Minor was its first Superintendent.
Since the year 1855 this church has had a continuous supply of ministers, among whom may he mentioned, as worthy of special note, Revs. John Borland, Jarvis G. Evans, Andrew Magee, Milton L. Haney, Martin D. Heckard, James Ferguson, E. P. Hall, H. K. Metcalf, George W. Gue and S. J. G. Worthington.
Some of the well known ministers who have been Presiding Elders are the following: Richard Haney, S. J. G. Worthington, L. B. Kent, W. H. Hunter, M. V. B.. White, C. O. McCulloch and F. W. Merrill.
The church maintains a Sunday-school averaging about eighty in attendance, of which Dr. C. P. Burt is Superintendent. It also has an Epworth League of about forty members, of which Dr. Cara E. Duth is Superintendent.
Rev. S. J. Cummings is the present pastor. The church is in a prosperous condition.
Presbyterian church.—Pursuant to appointment, a committee of Presbytery, consisting of Rev. Daniel F. McFarland, Rev. William A. Fleming, Rev. John C. Hanna and Ruling Elder Andrew Rogers, met at the Methodist Episcopal Church on June 5, 1856, for the purpose of organizing a Presbyterian Church. Fourteen persons were received by letter from other churches, and a church was organized with the following officers: Andrew D. Rogers, Ruling Elder, and M. Bush, John Bodine, George Griggs and Levi Richardson, Trustees. The sacrament of the Lord's Super was first administered in the Methodist Episcopal Church on June 8th, Rev.
D. F. McFarland officiating.
After struggling along for about three years, the minister having moved away and many of the members having united with other churches, it was deemed best to reorganize. Application for that purpose having been made to Presbytery, a new committee was appointed which met on December 20, 1859, when twenty-three persons were received as members and the church was reorganized under its former name of "First Presbyterian Church of Elmwood." The Elders elected at that time were William Simpson, George L. Lucas and Joseph Warne. The first two having been formerly ordained to that office, were, on January 15, 1860, duly installed in this church.
After the reorganization a house of worship was purchased from the Congregational Society, which they had formerly erected at Newburgh, about two miles from Elmwood. and it was moved into the village. It was at first located where the West Park is now, but, in the year 1877, was removed to the site of the present church building.
Rev. James E. Marquis was pastor from the time of its reorganization, in 1859, until his death, which occurred, February 22, 1863. Rev. George N. Johnson then supplied the pulpit for about one year, when in June, 1864, Rev. James H. Smith was called to the pastorate. He continued to fill that office until the fall meeting of Presbytery, in the year 1867, when by mutual consent the pastoral relation was dissolved. In November of that year Rev. John R. Reasoner began preaching for the church as a supply and, at the next meeting of Presbytery, received a call to become pastor, which he accepted. He remained pastor of the church until the year 1880, after which, until 1885, the pulpit was filled by supplies, among whom were Rev. A. C. Wilson, 1882-83, and Rev. C. C. Kerlinger in 1885. In the latter year, Rev. C. C. B. Duncan was called to the pastorate and remained until 1890. He was succeeded in 1890 by Rev. W. H. Mason until 1894. In June, 1895, the present pastor. Rev. B. Y. George, became pastor.
The purchase, removal and fitting up of the first house of worship cost about $1,200. In 1891 a very neat and commodious building was erected at the cost of $7,000. Regular services are maintained every Sabbath, and there is a Sabbath-school numbering sixty-five in average attendance, with a home department of twenty-five. The church members number 153, and the contributions to the benevolent work of the denomination are regular.
The Press of Elmwood has had a fitful experience. When the town was' only three or four years old, John Regan came from Knoxville and established the "Elmwood Observer," the first number of which appeared, January 6, 1858, and it continued to be issued regularly until May, 1859. when its publication ceased.
On May 19, 1860, "The Chronicle" was started by Woodcock & Son. who had come here from Peoria. Its publication came to a close in September, 1862, in consequence of Mr. O. F. Woodcock, the son, having enlisted in the Seventy-Seventh Regiment of Illinois Volunteers.
No paper was published from that time until July 19, 1866, when, with the assistance of some of the citizens, Mr. John Regan revived "The Observer." About the same time Mr. O. F. Woodcock revived "The Chronicle" as a Republican paper, which continued to be issued until November 9th of the same year. On the 17th of that month, J. A. Somersby took it up and continued its publication until May 9, 1872, when he was succeeded by R. P. Childs until July 4th of the same year. Mr. E. R. Brown, of Elmwood, and Joseph F. Barrett, of Peoria, then assumed control, who, on August 15th, sold to Alpheus Davidson & Son, who ran it until the close of the Presidential campaign of that year in support of President Grant, soon after which time the press and type were removed to Canton.
On March 6, 1874, Mr. John Regan began the publication of "The Messenger," which met with good success and was continued by him until the year 1891, when, owing to old age and ill health, he sold it, after which, until the year 1895, it underwent several changes but finally suspended, by passing into the hands of "The Courier."
On May 30, 1874, Mr. J. A. Somersby commenced the publication of "The Industrial Journal," which lasted until January 6. 1876.
On June 7, 1876, W. P. Gifford and A. M. Swan commenced the publication of "The Central Illinois News," which lasted only six months.
On July 3, 1877, Mr. John C. Snyder, who had just closed his career in college, commenced the publication of a semi-weekly paper which he named "The Express." On October 4th, he changed it to a weekly and devoted its editorials to the advocacy of the Greenback faith. After two weeks further efforts he closed it out.
The first number of "The Gazette" was issued in Brimfield, November 4, 1875, and continued to be published there until July 2, 1879, when it was removed to Elmwood. The first number was issued from its new quarters, July 10, 1879, as an eight-column folio, and continued to be issued in that form until December 5th, when it was
changed to a six-column folio semi-weekly, and so continued for some time.
In 1881, or thereabouts, "The Gazette" became involved financially and the plant passed into the hands of Hon. W. E. Phelps, who continued the paper until July, 1883, when the present proprietor, M. H. Spence, took charge of it. From that time the paper has steadily increased in business until it is to-day on a solid foundation, financially, having the distinction of being the only paper ever printed in Elmwood that made the proprietor money.
In December, 1894, Albert McKeighan, of Yates City, started "The Elmwood Courier," and in 1893, he purchased "The Messenger" outfit, and dropping "The Messenger," still continued the publication of "The Courier." From 1895 to 1899, "The Courier" changed hands a number of times. In June, 1899, Beardsley Brothers of Princeville, purchased "The Courier" office, and resurrected the old "Messenger," and are now publishing that paper—"The Courier" having suspended.
A few scattered district schools were established earlier in the history of the township, but the founding of the Elmwood Academy, in 1855, marked the beginning of a literary and educational prestige which has never abated. Prof. Don Carlos Taft and Miss Anna M. Somers were the tutors in its earlier years, and the school acquired a renown and enjoyed a patronage extending over a wide scope of country. The basement main floor of the Congregational Church building was its home during ten years, and until its merging into a union of districts and the establishment of the graded schools. Elmwood has two Alumni Associations—the Academy and the High School—and the large numbers who assemble at their reunions, and the worthy and distinguished places which their members fill in the world, at home and abroad, reflect the impulse they gained from their Elmwood school days, felt all through life as their most valuable asset. A school building, adequate in its time, was erected and, later, doubled in capacity. It was destroyed by fire, few years since, and replaced by a much larger one, complete in its appointments of handsome outline and substantially built of brick and stone. The best and ablest of Elmwood's citizens have been proud to give of their time and energy, in official or private capacities, for the highest advancement of the schools which have always attracted generous attendance from abroad, as they have had the enthusiastic support of the entire home population. A board of seven members and a faculty of twelve teachers are in immediate charge.
A History Club and a Shakespeare Society are among the literary and social attractions of the city, which has always been noted for the excellence of its musical talent. The vigorous blood of New England was liberally drawn upon in the early settlement of the city and surrounding country, and that nucleus has always attracted its like; and. therefore, in spirit, in energy, in taste, Elmwood holds a position often favorably remarked upon. The general classes of trade are housed in fine buildings, large stocks and liberal dealing being a natural accompaniment, as a large extent of country has grown to know Elmwood as headquarters in life and business. Large residence portions are well and uniformly improved with handsome and commodious homes; social doors are often open in welcome, and those who come to visit or to dwell in Elmwood always leave it with regret.
As noted in Part I. of this work, Elmwood was well represented in the army during the Civil War. Its veterans have maintained close social relations ever since in the maintenance of a Soldiers' Union Association, and, latterly, in the organization of a Post of the Grand Army of the Republic. It has also Masonic and Odd Fellow Lodges, with the usual complement of other benevolent associations.
Although of late years Elmwood has suffered some reverses, yet, from its contiguity to extensive coal-mines, and its railroads leading to all points of the compass, there seems to be no good reason why capital may not flow into it, nor why it should not continue to be the second city in the County of Peoria.
From Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois and History of Peoria County, Edited by David McCulloch, Vol. II; Chicago and Peoria: Munsell Publishing Company, Publishers, 1902.
[from "The History of Peoria County, Illinois; Johnson & Co., 1880. Transcribed by Karen Seeman]
Elmwood is in town nine north, range five east, and is one of the western tier of townships in Peoria county. It was originally about one half prairie and one half timber, and possesses a superior soil. The surface is gently undulating and well adapted to agriculture. Some parts are slightly broken by the branches of Kickapoo creek, along which are some of the finest coal mines in the county. The township is crossed by two branches of the C. B. & Q. railroad, which form a junction at Elmwood city. The Peoria branch connects it with that city, twenty-five miles distant. Elmwood city is located on sections seven and eight, was laid out in 1854, and is a flourishing place of 2,000 population; is next to Peoria city the largest and most important commercial manufacturing town in Peoria county. During the year ending June 1, 1879, 681 cars of produce, and 1010 of coal were shipped from Elmwood.
First Settlers-- John Ewalt was the first settler of Elmwood township. He came from Sangamon county, Ills., on the 1st of May, 1831, located on section twenty-nine, and broke the first soil. Isaac Doyle was the next, settling on Section thirty, May 1, 1832. In the Fall of 1834, W. J. Phelps settled on section eighteen, where he now resides. During the Winter of the same year Fountain Watkins settled and made improvements on section twenty-nine. Avery Dalton settled on section nineteen in 1837, coming from Fulton county. The early pioneers went thirty-five miles to mill. One barrel of Kanawha salt cost them $20.58. Isaac Doyle was the first justice of the peace, elected in 1833. The first marriage was that of Abner Smith to Eliza Ann Doyle, in March, 1834. The first child born in the township was Rebecca Ewalt, February, 1834. Daniel Fast was the first school teacher. The post office was established in the township in 1847, at the residence of Hon. Wm. J. Phelps, which was first called Elmwood, before the name was given to the township. Mr. Phelps was the first postmaster.
For some time after Mr. and Mrs. Phelps settled in their new home the township including it was not laid out, nor was there at first any post office nearer than Peoria or Canton, though a little later one was established at Farmington, Fulton county. They felt it necessary that their place should be known by some more specific designation than that which described it as a "place in Peoria county," and accordingly decided to call it "Elmwood," from the beatiful grove of elms near their dwelling. And in this way Elmwood became noted as the home of Mr. Phelps long before the township or the village had been so called. Mr. Phelps succeeded in getting the mail route extended from Farmington to his place. Subsequently when the township was laid out it took the same name as did the village and railroad station, all taking their names from Elmwood, Mr. Phelps' home.
Little did he think when he gave that appropriate name to his rural home that in a few years a town taking the same name would spring up within a mile of him, containing many first-class stores, a bank, fine church buildings, such as Elmwood is to-day. Mr. Phelps has always been a public spirited man and has been intimately identified with the progress and development of Elmwood. He owned the land where Elmwood is located and laid out the town in 1854. And being desirous that it should be the home of intelligent and moral people, he used his best efforts to induce only that class to come and settle here. With this view he decided not to sell a town lot to a saloon-keeper, or for any other purpose incompatible with the noral interests of the community. Thus the young town got well started, and was the legitimate offspring of a high and noble purpose. Who can tell how much Elmwood is indebted to-day to its good beginning?
Congregational Church--Pursuant to a notice publicly given to persons who had taken letters of recommendation from their respective churches, and who were desirous of uniting in organizing a Congregational Church in Elmwood, met for that purpose at the house of W. T. Brewster, on Monday, June 5, 1854. Mr. Wm. J. Phelps was appointed moderator, and Mr. W. H. Chapman, scribe. The church was duly organized, consisting of the following members: Wm. J. Phelps, Mrs. Olive B. J. Phelps, Walter T. Brewster, Mrs. Emily C. Brewster, Zeno E. Spring, Mrs. Arvella G. Spring, Warren H. Chapman, Mrs. Susan S. Chapman, Mrs. Ann L. Tracy.
A constitution, articles of faith and church covenant were adopted; Brothers W. T. Brewster and W. H. Chapman were chosen deacons.
Of the nine original members sevean are now numbered with us. Rev. F. Orton, then a recent graduate of Union Theological Seminary, N.Y., became the acting pastor, June, 1854. He died in Elmwood, Aug. 20, 1855, greatly beloved and mourned by his people. During his pastorate nine members were added to the Church by letter. Four of these are still connected with it.
During the years 1854 and '55, the church and society erected the edifice now used for the worship of God. Previous to the time of its completion, the congregation worshipped in an upper and unfinished room over the store of Mr. A. L. Tracy. Rev. R. Rudd supplied the pulpit for a few months, commencing December 16, 1855. From some time in March, 1856, until August of the same year, the church had no stated ministerial supply, but there were added to the church during the time twelve members by letter, and three on profession. Rev. J. Steiner became an acting pastor of the church in August, 1856, and labored as such until May 31, 1858.
Rev. Sherlock Bristol received a call November 18, 1858, and became the acting pastor of the church, and labored as such nearly two years.
Rev. W. G. Pierce commenced his labors with the church April 21, 1861, and soon after received a call from the church and society to become their pastor. He was duly ordained and installed November 20, 1861. During the progress of the war of the rebellion he acted as chaplain of the 77th Regiment of Illinois Vol's, something more than a year, the church granting him leave of absence for that purpose. He was also absent for a few weeks in the service of the U. S. Christian Commission, in the Army of the Potomac. (The church exercised a very large liberality in carrying on the war, in gifts both of men and money.)
Mr. Pierce closed his ministry with the church in 1871. For some months the church was without a pastor, being supplied by different clergymen and candidates. In 1872 Rev. Albert Fitch preached as supply one year. The church then called Allen J. Van Wagner, who had just graduated from the Chicago Theological Seminary. Mr. Van Wagner at once entered upon his labors, and the October following was duly ordained and installed as pastor of the church. His pastorate still continues. During his ministry thus far, forty-one have been added to the church on profession of their faith, and some thirty by letter. He has baptized forty. The church membership is now one hundred and sixty-five. The audiences are large; the Sunday-school and prayer meeting alive and well sustained. The church is in a harmonious, healty condition. It recently celebrated its twenty-fifth anniversary, and the sixth of its pastor. Letters were read from absent ministers, historical papers by Deacon W. T. Brewster and Hon. W. J. Phelps. Addresses were given by Revs. W. G. Pierce and A. J .Van Wagner, and with gratitude to God and hope for the future, the church moves onward towards its half century of existence and effort.
Presbyterian Church--In pursuance of an appointment by the Presbytery, of a committee for the purpose of organizing a Presbyterian church in Elmwood, said committee met on June 5, 1856, in the M. E. Church, for that purpose. Said committee consisted of Daniel F. McFarland, Wm. A. Flemming and John C. Hanna. After a sermon by Rev. John C. Hanna fourteen persons presented letters from Evangelical churches, requesting of the committee to be organized as a church, to be called the First Presbyterian Church of Elmwood. The following persons were elected as officers: Andrew D. Rodgers, elder, and W. Bush, John Bodine, George Grigg and Levi Richardson, trustees. The first Lord's supper, under the administration of the present organization, was held in the M. E. church June 8, 1856. Members of session: D. F. McFarland, moderator and clerk; A. D. Rodgers, elder. After the organization of the church in Elmwood they bought a house of the Congregational society, they had erected out in the country, and had it moved into Elmwood, as a house of worship.
After struggling along for about three years in a half dead and lifeless condition, toward the latter part of 1859 it was found the organization existed only in name and not in fact, the minister and most of the former members having moved away or joined elsewhere, it was, on the consideration of the then existing state of affairs, thought advisable to apply to the Presbytery for a reorganization. Such application being made, the Presbytery appointed a committee, which met on the 20th of December, 1859, when twenty-three persons presented testimonials with letters, desiring to be organized into a congregation and still to hold the former name, First Presbyterian Church of Elmwood. Officers elected: Messrs. Wm. Simpson, George L. Lucas, Joseph Warne, elders. Messrs. Simpson and G. L. Lucas having been previously elected and ordained to the office of ruling elder, were duly installed as ruling elders in this church on the 15th of January, 1860, James E. Marquis being moderator of session. Rev. James E. Marquis was pastor of the Elmwood church from the year 1859 until his death, February 22, 1863, when Rev. George N. Johnson supplied the pulpit about one year, when Rev. James H. Smith was called as pastor of the church June, 1864, and continued as pastor up to the Fall Presbytery of 1867, when the pastoral realtions were dissolved by mutual consent. In November of the same year Rev. John R. Reasoner commenced preaching for the church; and received an almost unanimous call to become its pastor at the Spring meeting of the Presbytery. The call was accepted, and he still remains pastor. May 30, 1879, the number of members was 108. Wm. Cratty is clerk of session.
The Church of Elmwood has for the most part of its existence, been under the care of the Board of Home Missions or Board of Sustentation, the members being, to considerable extent, minors and persons in quite moderate circumstances.
The Sabbath school averages seventy-five or eighty members, and is superintended by S. N. Coe. The present officers of the church are: J. R. Reasoner, pastor; L. F. Mathews, J. N. Rodman, S. N. Coe, elders; John N. Crow, Wm. Cratty, clerks.
Methodist Episcopal Church--This church was organized in the Spring of 1851, by Rev. G. W. Miller, and was connected with the Brimfield church under the pastorage of N. J. Gidding. The original members were Mrs. A. E. Smith, Mrs. Huldah Bradley, David Mowrey and Elizabeth Mowrey, Mrs. Jacob Doyle, Perry Jarman and Nancy Jarman, Annette Washburn, Mr. and Mrs. John Bevins, Mrs. Betty Gibbs, and May Doyle. David Mowrey was appointed leader for some time and held meetings at Mr. A. H. Smith's, afterwards occupied a little log school-house east of Elmwood. Subsequently the society held service alternatively with the Congregational church in the room over A. L. Tracey's store. The society began their church building in 1856. In the Spring of 1857 it was dedicated by Rev. Silas Bowles of Chicago. During twenty-eight years the society has never been without a pastor. In the year 1862 the pastor, B. C. Swartz went into the army as chaplain, but his colleague Rev. G. W. Gue took charge of the work immediately. Seventeen ministers has had the direct care of the people, assisted by twelve others, all of whom, with the exception of Rev. M. D. Heckard, still live. The first ten years the society was connected with some other work. In 1865, Elmwood became a station, Rev. J. Sanders, pastor. From 1865 to 1879, they have had seven pastors.
United Brethren Church, Southport, Elmwood township, was organized about 1872, at the school-house in Southport, with some fourteen or sixteen original members, viz.:E. M. Lawrence and Mrs. E. J. Lawrence, John Knox, Charles Ivett, C. M. Clough, Rachael Clough, M. F. Haynes, Mary Haynes, Matilda Swartz, Mary Briggs, David Brandt, Emma Brandt, a Mr. Church, Stephen Lee and Harriett Lee, Otis Smith and wife.
The church was organized by J. H. Snyder. They still held services every two weeks in the Southport school-house. The officers are E. M. Lawrence, steward, and Chas. Ivett, class leader.
Christian Temperance Union of Elmwood--Was organized on the 6th day of May, 1879. Its membership includes many of the best and most influential citizens of Elmwood. The temperance tidal wave first reached Elmwood April, 1879, when Mrs. Russell, of Chicago, inaugurated quite a reform revival. The interest she excited was carefully fostered by the Christian men and women of the town. Some time in April, 1879, Mrs. Russell, who was laboring in Lewiston and Farmington, Illinois, was invited by a committee of the churches and good people of the community to deliver a series of lectures, which was largely attended and resulted in the organization of a Christian Temperance Union that numbered over eleven hundred members. Rev. J. R. Reasoner called to the chair. Mrs. R. stated the object of the meeting to be the organization of a Christian Temperance Union at Elmwood. The constitution was then read by the acting secretary and was adopted. The following persons were elected as officers: S. N. Coe, president; T. H. Tracy, James Lee and S. S. Graham, vice-presidents; W. I. Plum, secretary; Edison Watton, assistant secretary; Dr. J. J. Lobaugh, corresponding secretary, and A. L. Tracy, treasurer. The executive committee consisting of A. G. Vandervort, Samuel Allewatt, W. W. Jones, J. M. Rodman, C. W. Spangler, N. S. Barber, W. H. Kellogg, Rev. J. R. Reasoner, Rev. Ferguson, John Regan, Henry Schenk, J. Hepenstall, C. H. Keightlinger, C. E. Wiley, Geo. Dixon, G. S. Smith and Rev. A. J. Van Wagner.
Music committee: Dr. Tompkins, Wm. H. Turner, Miss Sanders, Miss L. Purcell, Mrs. E. C. Wiley, Mrs. D. D. Mendenhall, Miss C. Jordan and Mrs. Wm. H. Kellogg.
Blue ribbon committe: Mrs. C. W. Spanglers, Mrs. Samuel Farrar, Mrs. C. P. Watton, Jennie Bowers, Amy McNay, Hattie Hepenstatt, Mollie Duggins and Laura Ramsey.
Recruiting company: E. C. Wiley, Capt.; T. H. Tracy, 1st Lieut.; Wm. Smith, 2d Lieut.; Wm. Humphrey, Orderly Sergt.; Wm. Cowser, 1st Sergt.; C. H. Keightlinger, 2d Sergt.; Silas Caldwell, 3d Sergt.; J. H. Foster, 4th Sergt.; A. G. Bartholomew, 1st Corpl.; O. Bigelow, 2d Corpl.; E. C. Wing, 3d Corpl.; Thos. Black, 4th Corpl.; Frank Walton, 5th Corpl.; Wm. Brain, 6th Corpl.; Henry Elliott, 7th Corpl.; Wm. Cleve, 8th Corpl.
Meetings are held in the different churches every Tuesday evening. The influences of the organization are spreading, and effective temperance meetings are largely attended and judiciously managed.
Graded school organized in the Autumn of 1863. Began operations January, 1864, under charge of Prof. Tompkins. Present school-house was erected in 1866 and has five school rooms, one recitation room and one library room. The building cost about $20,000. Eight teachers are employed. A building in the east end of town is used for a primary school. Number enrolled per term for the past five years, from 350 to 400. Mr. Crow, present principal, has had for two years $1,200. School year embraces eight months, of twenty-two days to the month. Assistant to principal, Miss Magee, has had for two years $55 per month. Grammar teacher, $50; all the others have had $44. The cost of running the school has, for two years, been about $5,000, which includes repairs, additions to library apparatus, insurance etc. The present Board of Directors are P. H. Hopkins, president; J. J. Lobaugh, clerk, and William Forbes. At the first graduation, in 1872, eleven graduated--ten ladies and one gentleman; in 1879, eight--five ladies and three gentlemen.
The trustees of the State University at Champaign have an arrangement by which high schools of proper standing may, upon examination by the president, send their graduates to the University without preliminary examination.
In accordance with this arrangement Dr. Gregory visited the Elmwood school in May of 1879, and examined the classes in the high school. He accepted the school as being of the proper standing, and students can now enter the University upon graduating there.
Elmwood Press--In the month of June, 1857, John Regan, who had the previous Spring discontinued the publication of the Knoxville Journal, which with a circulation of 1,600 weekly copies was borne down under the credit system, brought to Elmwood a new printing press and material to start a weekly paper in the place, which, though only three or four years old, gave promise of becoming a prominent town. On the 6th of January, 1858, the Elmwood Observer made its appearance. The place being small, several of the more prominent citizens agreed to contribute various sums as a bonus toward its support, and though some of these were never paid, the paper by great economy and hard work continued to be published regularly up to May, 1859, when the press and materials were shipped to Taylor's Falls, Minn. During the short career of the Observer an edition of about 200 copies was printed for Yates City, then lately made a station on the Peoria & Oquawka R. R. This edition was styled the Western Watchman. This continued for only eighteen weeks, ceasing for want of support. Another edition of 150 copies was furnished for Maquon, styled the Maquon Times, which continued for a year and a half.
On the 19th of May, 1860, Woodcock & Son, printers from Peoria, came to town and started the Chronicle, which continued to be published to the 6th of September, 1862, when O. F. Woodcock, the son, enlisted in the 77th regiment of volunteers. No paper was published here from that time till July 19, 1866, when the Observer was again started by the previous publisher -- J. Regan. A few of the citizens contributed about $150 by way of loan, to assist the paper to make a start. The Observer thus re-established continued to appear regularly for ten months, also an edition for the same time. O. F. Woodcock having returned from the army, purchased the press and materials, and resumed publication of the Chronicle. Up to this time the papers were neutral in politics, but the revived Chronicle came out as a republican paper, and so continued under Woodcock till he retired September 14, 1871, leaving all the printing material behind him, in the hands of his creditors. The paper continued under control of the Chronical Co. to November 9th, the same year. On the 17th of the same month J. A. Somerby obtained a lease of the office, and published the Chronicle till the 9th of May, 1872, when R. P. Childs, a compositor in the office, took control of it, but he only continued till the 4th of July, same year. On the 18th of the same month Jos. P. Barrett, a Peoria compositor, took it up, with Mr. E. R. Brown as editor. Finally on August 15, 1872, the office was sold to Alpheus Davison & Son, who continued the paper under the same name to November, 1873 -- the close of the presidential contest, in which it favored the election of Grant. The Chronicle was discontinued, after a fitful existence in many hands of about eight years and eight months and press and type were removed to Canton.
The Winter of 1873-4, found Elmwood without a paper once more.
On the 6th of March, 1874, the first number of the Messenger, a seven-column folio, was published by Mr. J. Regan, and obtained a good patronage in subscription and advertising from the first, which has been continued up to the date of this sketch February, 1880, with a regular weekly issue for the past year of 720 copies.
The success of the Messenger has caused others to attempt rival publications in the town, of which the following is the record: On the 30th of May, 1874, J. A. Somerby commenced the publication of the Industrial Journal, which was continued to January 6, 1876, and then ceased, and the office fell into the hands of creditors.
On the 7th of June, 1876, W. P. Clifford and A. M. Swan commenced to publish the Central Illinois News. On the 6th of September, same year, they took in as a partner a printer named Bowman, and styled themselves the "News Printing Co." On the 20th of October, Clifford and Bowman dropped out, and A. M. Swan attempted to carry it on alone, but suspended December 1st, after a total career of six months only. The paper was published during that time with a different heading as the East Knox News, and both ceased together.
Undeterred by the rocks on which former enterprises were wrecked, John C. Snyder, a young man who had lately been attending college, commenced the publication of a semi-weekly paper, the Express, on the 3d of July, 1877. This it was thought would certainly be a taking feature, and promised success. John labored hard to make his little paper a success, and kept it up to the end of September. On the 4th of October he came out with the weekly Express, and announced that it would be devoted to the advocacy of the greenback faith. But this made little impression, for about the middle of the same month he sold his press and news type to Colville Bros. of Galesburg, and after continuing a few months working on jobs, he traded off the remnant of the office to W. E. Phelps, and left town.
The first number of the Gazette was issued in Brimfield, November 4, 1875, and continued publication to July 2, 1879. During the time of its existence at that place it enjoyed the confidence of the business men and residents. Believing that Elmwood was a better point, and needing a live local newspaper to represent the town, it was removed to that place. The first number was issued July 10, 1879, and continued up to December. December 5th, same year, it was changed from an eight column folio-weekly to a six column-folio, and issued as a semi-weekly, and at this date has a patronage second to none of any local newspaper in the county, although its contemporary has attempted time and again to weaken its influence, and has signally failed. The semi-weekly Gazette has become a living factor of the place and already proved, notwithstanding other failures, that the citizens will support an unprejudiced and liberal newspaper.
Elmwood, Ills., February 28, 1880.
Mr. Regan, who twenty-two years ago printed its first paper, still prosperously conducts the Messenger.
Fire Department--The Neptune Fire Company, Engine No. 1, was organized June 18, 1869, is in complete running order with a force of thirty-four reliable and efficient men, with Stephen Adams as foreman, who has taken a great interest in the company since its organization. The company has been the means of saving a great deal of valuable property, and the town should be proud of their department. The officers are as follows: Stephen Adams, foreman; Wm. Dailey, second assistant; J. H. Spring, secretary; Jas. Hepenstall, treasurer. The town is well supplied with water, having eight public cisterns, with a capacity of 2,000 barrels. They have just been fitted up with 500 feet of new hose and putting in cisterns, so they feel tolerably safe. C. H. Keighttenger is always on hand to do his duty as nozzleman, and never shrinking from his post.
Masonic Lodge -- Horeb Lodge, No. 363, A. F. & A. M., located at Elmwood, Ills., met first as a lodge (U.D.) November 22, 1860. Chartered October 1, 1861. Charter members: Hugh Armson, S. S. Buffum, E. F. Bartholomew, Lewis Corbin, W. H. Chapman, C. G. Eggleston, M. L. R. Huse, A. Hull, P. H. Hopkins, N. D. Jay, L. H. Kerr, J. E. Knable, Benj. Rillie, J. J. Lowe, John Martz, Eph. Marshall, J. C. Riner, Harrison Steele, W. M. Suisher, Geo. W. Smith, Philip Snyder, J. H. Truax, A. N. Wilcox, A. J. Wiley, H. H. Wood. First officers of the lodge: L. H. Kerr, W. M.; J. E. Snable, S. W.; Lewis Corbin, J. W. Masters of the lodge: L. J. Kerr, 1860-61-66; N. D. Jay, 1862-63-64-73; A. J. Wiley, 1865-75; James Lee, 1867-70; J. R. Secord, 1868-69-71-72-76. Harrison Steele in 1874, and P. V. R. Dafoe, 1877-78-79. The present officers are: P. V. R. Dafoe, W. M.; A. J. Wiley, S. W.; James Hepenstall, J. W.; W. H. Bentley, Secretary; John F. Caldwell, Treasurer; W. W. Stalker, S. D.; L. H. Collings, J. D.; H. J. Morris, S. S.; Jacob Fry, Tyler.
The present membership is about seventy-five. Hall on the corner of Hawthorn and Magnolia Streets. The lodge meets on Tuesday evening of or preceding the full moon. Annual election of officers at the regular meetings preceding the anniversary of St. John, the Evangelist. Installation of officers December 27. Transient brethren are cordially invited to visit the lodge. C. G. Eggleston gave the lodge its name by honor of being the oldest Mason.
Arcaneus Lodge, No. 102, I. O. O. F., was first instituted at Brimfield, Peoria county, Ills., April 9, 1852, with District Deputy G. M. Linneli in the chair. Charter members consisting of the following, viz.: L. S. Robinson, Robert C. Hart, Thos. J. Moore, Jacob Sapping and John Smiles. Surrendered charter, turned over books and regalia to Grand Lodge Nov. 19, 1863. Re-organized under the same charter in Elmwood, through the influence of Mr. J. B. Reed, a former member of the Brimfield Lodge, July 7, 1873. The charter members of this organization were as follows: Thos. W. Keene, W. S. Ritchie, D. B. Jones, Wm. Hurlbut, Samuel Alluvelt, Silas Caldwell and J. B. Reed. The first officers were Thos. W. Keene, N. G., W. S. Ritchie, V. G., J. B. Reed, Sec. and Samuel Alluvelt, Treas. The present officers are Dr. W. T. Sloan, N. G., H. B. Webster, V. G., A. G. Bartholomew, Sec., Jacob Fry, Treas., J. P. Bradshaw, sitting Past Grand. They have a good hall in connection with the Masonic Lodge, in Vandervort's block, out of debt. The Lodge is composed of the best men in the city.
Salem Grange was organized June 11, 1874, with 39 charter members. The officers were Josiah Strain, master; Walter M. Evans, secretary. The present membership is fifty-one. In March, 1878, erected a hall, at a cost of $500. Regular meetings on first and third Saturdays of every month. The present officers are Samuel Gordon, master; H. A. Harrison, secretary.
Soldiers' Union Association, Elmwood, Illinois -- The Soldiers' Union Association was organized in Elmwood, April 25, 1876, electing the following officers: J. J. Rose, president; M. O'Shea, vice-president; W. H. Bentley, secretary, and George S. Smith, treasurer. Names of members: J. B. Reed, 14th Ill. Cav.; D. C. Harkness, 13th Minn. Inf.; D. C. Harkness, 1st Minn. Art.; J. S. Herbert, 17th Ill. Inf.; W. H. Bentley, 77th Ill. Inf.; 77th U. S. Col. Inf., 10th U.S. Col. Art.; J. J. Rose, 47th Ill. Inf., 77th Ill. Inf.; G. B. Olney, 40th Ohio Inf.; L. F. Matthews, 112th Ill. Inf.; S. P. Oldfield, 102d Ohio Inf.; R. R. Adams, 4th Ohio Cav.; Rob't Girvin, 9th Ohio Ca.; S. Adams, 60th N. Y. Inf.; F. T. Wilson, 32d Ill. Inf.; R. J. Biggs, 77th Ill. Infa.; O. Daniels, 102d Ill. Inf.; C. H. Kightlenger, 8th Mo. Inf., 11th Ill. Infa., 47th Ill. Inf.; W. H. Rillie, 1st Col. Vac.; Geo. S. Smith, 77th Ill. Inf.; 132d Ill. Inf.; W. Shireley, 22d Penn. Cav.; Chas. Autan, 17th Ill. Cav.; A. G. Bartholomew, 132d Ill. Inf.; S. M. Birkest, 18th Va. Cav. (confederate); Chas. E. Tappen, 21st N. J. Inf.; E. Van Patten, 86th Ill. Inf.;I. E. Hurff, 8th Mo. Inf.; J. Bostorf, 4th Mo. Cav.; M. O'Shea, 8th Mo. Inf.; R. Darby, 77th Ill. Inf.; Chas. Turner, 72d Ill. Inf.; J. C. Coe, 7th Ill. Cav.; J. R. Secord, 77th Ill. Inf.; C. D. Bowen, 4th Ia. Cav.; W. Gabriel, 86th Ill. Inf., 14th Ill. Cav.; W. D. Mathews, 112th Ill. Inf.; D. Beck, 77th Ill. Inf.; R. Atherton, 77th Ill. Inf.; D. M. Cowser, 32d Ill. Inf.; J. McLaughlin, 47th Ill. Inf.; M. Boland, 77th Ill. Inf., 130th Ill. Inf.; S. A. Harper, 17th Ohio Inf., 52d Ohio Inf., 61st Ohio Inf.; Wm. Forbes, 11th Ill. Cav.; Geo. W. Oldfield, 16th Ohio Inf., 178th Ohio Inf.; W. D. Cone, 77th Ill. Inf.; H. W. Marsh, 3d Mich. Cav.; I. C. Murphy, 12th Mich. Inf., 5th Ohio L. Art., 6th Ohio L. Art,; J. Forbes, 55th Ill. Inf.; Joseph Wheeler, 47th Ill. Inf.; G. D. Hollinger, 99th Ohio Inf.; A. J. Crow, 7th W. Va. Inf.; 62 members. The assocation has met yearly to decorate the fallen soldiers' graves.
Coal Mining and Manufacturing Interest -- Elmwood Coal Company -- The first coal mined in this region was found on land belonging to W. J. Phelps, contiguous to the village of Elmwood, in the year 1838, at which time it was only needed by the country blacksmith. Gradually a few coal stoves were introduced and as the supply in the bed of the stream became exhausted, tunnels were run into the side hills for the small quantity wanted.
In 1866 W. E. Phelps formed a partnership with James Lee, who had, for some time, been working a "breaster" mine, for the more systematic development of the coal business. The style of the firm was James Lee & Co.
A shaft was put down in the timber west of the residence of W. J. Phelps and worked by horse power for a little more than a year, when it was deemed advisable to look for coal nearer the village. About this time W. J. Phelps joined the firm. In the Autumn of 1867 a shaft was opened and fitted with an engine. This was operated about two years, when it was found best to sink still another shaft, leaving this one for an escapement shaft -- supposed to be the first one in the State affording absolute security to men below in case of fire or other accident.
In the Autum of 1869 a tramway a little more than a mile long, laid with sixteen pound tee rail, was constructed and a coal yard opened in the village. This track was also connected with the railraod chutes for coaling engines, and also wtih the side track for shipping coal in car loads. A year or so later a track was run into the engine room of the paper mill, furnishing it with fuel direct from the mine.
The next year Mr. Lee retired leaving W. J. Phelps and W. E. Phelps owners of the concern, which has since been operated under the style of the Elmwood Coal Company. In 1873 the present shaft was put down and fitted up the following season. The amount of coal mined averages about five hundred thousand bushels a year, more than three-quarters of which is shipping to other points. The number of men employed as miners, day men, drivers, and outside helpers, varies with the season from seventy-five to one hundred. The seam worked is what is known as No. 6, or the mud seam vein. Borings have been made which show that there are two good workable veins below, and a comparison of the strata indicate the existence of yet two more veins still lower down. Arrangements are in progress for the development of these lower coals on a large scale at an early day.
W. J. Phelps and Son. The manufacture of brick by machinery was commenced by James Lee & Co. in 1867. In 1875 W. J. Phelps & Son resumed the business and have made over a million each year. They are also contracting builders and have erected several of the principal business houses as well as a number of small residences in the village. Four years ago they attached a saw mill to the engine that drives the brick machine which they operate in Winter. They also get out each Winter a quantity of railroad wood which is sawed ready for engine use at the mill. This business employs from forty to fifty men and boys in the Summer and about half that number in the Winter.
W. E. Phelps & Co. In 1866 W. J. Phelps, A. L. Tracy. J. A. Vandervoort, L. F. Jones, J. J. Rose, H. P. Tracy and W. E. Phelps organized a stock company for the purpose of working in wood and iron. A machine shop, foundry, wood shop and blacksmith shop were built and fitted with necessary machinery. The company also became proprietors of Rose's tin upsetter, punch and shears, then just patented.
The works were superintended consceutively by J. J. Rose, L. F. Jones, William Douglas and Samuel West. Various manufacturing ventures were tried, but the concern lost money, and finally stopped business altogether. W. J. Phelps, A. L. & H. P. Tracy, and Jones & Vandervoort, however, paid all the debts, and as a consequence, became owners of the property.
In 1874 W. E. Phelps purchased the interests of A. L. & H. P. Tracy and Jones & Vandervoort, and with W. J. Phelps formed the present concern of W. E. Phelps & Co. The principal business is the manufacture of tin upsetters, punches and shears, tin binders, tyer irons of various patterns, all kinds of wagon castings, sled shoes, and bridge work, wood-sawing machines, field rollers, stalk cutters, and various other articles for the wholesale trade. A large amount of work is turned out for Chicago and St. Louis jobbing houses. They are also prepared to furnish mining supplies, and to execute job work of all kinds in both wood and iron. A few wagons are turned out each year, and house building is done as opportunity offers. The shops have been considerably enlarged and much new machinery put in. The business is prospering, and now furnishes constant employment to about twenty men.
Elmwood Paper Manufacturing Company organized 1867, with a capital of $20,000, which was increased in 1869 to $30,000. The property was sold in 1871 under trust deed, and purchased by H. P. Tracy, who has operated it continuously since, turning out 8,000 pounds straw wrapping per day. Use some 2,000 tons straw annually; 300 bushels coal delivered daily by Elmwood Coal Co. Market for paper, Peoria and Missouri river towns, G. E. C. Wheeler & Co., Peoria, taking 1,000,000 pounds annually.
An event which caused much excitement in Elmwood, was the murder of Charles McNeil, a colored barber, by another negro, named Berkley Lisbon, on Saturday night, May 28, 1868. The incentive to the murder, as given by Lison in his confession, was anger, because McNeil owed him money and he could not get it. McNeil was killed in his own house. Mrs. McNeil, the wife of the murdered man, was an accomplice in the terrible deed. Both were convicted; Lisbon was sentenced to the penitentiary for life; and Mrs. McNeil for fourteen years.
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