Peoria County, Illinois Genealogy Trails

Kickapoo Township


Est. Nov. 6, 1849
Name changed from Orange (date unknown, probably 1850)
Towns/Villages: Kickapoo, Pottstown and (Edwards Sta. 1875)
Rail Roads: Quincy
Minerals: Had Coal Mines
Other: The Big Hollow Butter and Cheese Factory Company 
Water Ways: Forge Branch Creek, Kickapoo Creek



Kickapoo Township History  [from "The History of Peoria County, Illinois; Johnson & Co., 1880.  Transcribed by Karen Seeman]

Kickapoo 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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This township, 9 North, Range 7 East, is centrally located, and, although somewhat broken by the Kickapoo Creek and its branches, is well adapted to agriculture. It derives its name from the creek which flows through it from west to east. This creek has had a variety of names. It seems to have been known to the English, when the country belonged to them, by the name of Cartineaux; to the early French by the name of de Arescy or Arcoury; to the later French by the name of Coteneau and Gatinan—which latter was probably a corruption—also by the name of Maillet's River; but, by the Indians, it was called "The Kickapoo," which is their name for the Red Bud or Judas tree, which grew in great abundance along its banks. This stream was considered of inestimable value to the early settlers on account of the water power it afforded. This water power was utilized at a very early day in the history of the township.

Hale's Mill.—In 1834, William Hale visited the Kickapoo valley, and, being well pleased with the outlook, selected a mill-site on the north-east quarter of Section 35. Returning home to Oswego County, New York State, he resigned the office of Sheriff, which he then held, and returned again to Illinois in the spring of 1835, accompanied by George Greenwood, John Easton and Waldo Holmes, John L. Wakefield, late of Radnor Township, had arrived early in the year 1834, and, in the autumn of the same year, Francis P. and George O. Kingsley had arrived, also John Coyle and Israel Pinckney. The Kingsleys were from Vermont and Mr. Pinckney was from New York City. He built his cabin on the southeast quarter of Section 12. Samuel Dimon came from Connecticut in 1838 and settled on Section 10, where he resided until death. Joseph Vorhees came in 1839, Gideon Thomas came in 1844, and settled on a farm a short distance east of the Kickapoo Village.

Upon his arrival, William Hale, who had a brother, Asahel, erected a saw-mill on the mill-site he had selected the year before. It appears that. at some date prior to December, 1835, the Hale brothers had obtained from the County Commissioners' Court a writ for the assessment of damages for the erection of a mill-dam on the quarter selected, which writ was returned at the December Term of that year. The jury reported that they had been sworn by the Coroner, there being no Sheriff in the County; that they had been upon the land and, having viewed the site and the land above and below it, were of the opinion that Francis P. Kingsley and George O. Kingsley would sustain damages to the amount of $5.00; that they had located and set apart three acres of land beginning on the east side of the Kickapoo River, on the line dividing Sections 35 and 26, thence to the center of the river, taking three rods from said center east and west on both sides of the center of said river, following up the stream 80 rods; that no other persons would sustain any damage: that no dwelling house, out-house, garden or orchard would be overflowed, and that the health of the neighborhood would not be injuriously affected by said overflowing, said claims being made upon the presumption that the said dam should not be built more than ten feet high above the bed of the stream. This return, dated October 8, 1835, is signed by Horace P. Johnson, Foreman, and Thomas P. Phillips, Israel B. Tucker Henry G. McComsay, C. W. Slanton, Reuben Galley, Thomas Hardesty, Chris Hamlin, Isaac Underhill, Robert Cline, John Donnelson and Fitch Meacham, Jurors. The prayer of the petitioners was granted and they were permitted to build their dam on payment of the damages.

The erection of the mill was then proceeded with and, in the spring of 1836, they had a "raising." No intoxicants were served either then or at any time during its erection. Mr. Hale, during that summer, brought his family by wagon from Albany, New York, and, having procured the necessary machinery in the East, the mill was completed and set to running in the spring of 1837. It was finished in elegant style, the interior works being finished, as is said. equal to good cabinet furniture. It immediately gained an immense custom, being visited by settlers from a distance of thirty or more miles in every direction. It seems that both Asahel Hale add George Greenwood had joint interests in it with William Hale, and it was known as Hale & Greenwood's Mill.

On July 23, 1836, before this mill was completed, and doubtless in view of the numbers of people that would be attracted there, as well as from the fact that coal mines were then beginning to be operated on the adjoining land, Norman H. Purple and Andrew M. Hunt laid out a village of seventeen blocks with Washington Square in the center, on the east one-half or the northwest quarter of Section 35, which they named Hudson. This proposed village was very near the mill, and only a short distance from the present village of Pottstown. On the recorded plat the road to Knoxville, another road from Jones' to Hale & Greenwood's Mill, the mill itself and the location of extensive coal mines, in the immediate vicinity, plainly appear.

Mr. Hale, being a devoted Methodist, donated a tract of land for burial, religious and school purposes, and erected thereon a small house. Rev. Stephen R. Beggs was one of the first ministers to visit the place. He held services there and organized a Methodist congregation, which flourished for a number of years, and is said to have had at one time, one hundred and fifty members, but many years ago it became extinct. The water supply having in a measure failed. steam power was introduced about the year 1848. Mr. Hale continued to own and control the mill until the, time of his death, which occurred in the year 1859. The mill was subsequently converted into a distillery, which was destroyed by fire in the year 1867.

Pottstown.—The coal-mining interests in the immediate neighborhood of Hale's Mill caused a large number of miners to become domiciled there. Samuel Potts was one of the principal operators and the settlement, in course of time, came'to be known as Pottstown. On September 30, 1889, Mrs. Ann Potts, the widow of Samuel Potts, laid out a plat on part of the west one-half of the northwest quarter of Section 36, which has, since then, become a lively village of miners. A few years ago the Presbyterians established a church there, and erected a comfortable house of worship. It still maintains a feeble existence, but it has lately been greatly weakened by dismissals to other churches. It has a Sabbath School of about eighty members. The village has been greatly torn up, and many of the residents compelled to remove their houses, by the appropriation of their property by the Chicago & Northwestern Railroad, which has lately been constructed through it.

Kickapoo Town can boast of an age as great as that of almost any other village in the county. It was laid out by John Coyle on July 3, 1836, on the south-west quarter of Section 6. It occupied almost the whole of an eighty-acre tract, and had a public square in the center. The first house was erected by Mr. Jenkins on the site afterwards occupied by the Old Kickapoo House. It was at first used as a store, but additions were made and it was converted into a hotel, in which capacity it continued to be used for many years. As the village was on the great stage-route from Peoria to the west, a large amount of travel passed through it, and, as this was the first stopping place west of Peoria, the hotel became well known to travelers and did a flourishing business. The village was also the place where political conventions were held, until the coming of the rail-roads, as it was the nearest village to the center of the county. The last convention held there was probably the Democratic convention of 1835, when, the Peoria delegates were taken by rail on flat cars to Edwards, and thence by farm-wagons to the village. The railroad was then finished only to that point, and passenger coaches had not yet been introduced. Until that time, and for some years later, the village enjoyed a large country trade, but it has become greatly diminished. There are now two retail stores of general merchandise, one kept by Nader & Son, the other by Dombaugh Brothers, the latter also dealing in agricultural implements. There are two blacksmiths, John T. Mitler and John Worstfold, each plying his trade.

The Churches.—There are now four churches in the village: Baptist, Methodist, German Catholic and Irish Catholic. It is doubtless true that the Irish Catholic Church is one of the oldest in the county, the precise date of its organization or of the erection of its first chapel not having been ascertained. It is said upon good authority, that "in the '30s, Black Partridge (now Lourds in Woodford County) and Kickapoo were more important places in the Catholic Church than Peoria. In those early days the priest, on Christmas morning, said mass at the stroke of twelve in Kickapoo, then hurrying on to Peoria, offered up the Holy Sacrifice as the sun was rising, only to take the road once more and finish his day's labor with a third mass, about noon, at Black Partridge." It is said the present chapel was erected in 1835, but this is not certain.

The Methodist Episcopal Church was the next in point of time. The first services were conducted by Rev. Whiteman at the house of William Young, about the year 1843. In 1854 Rev. Henry Somers was Presiding Elder in the Kickapoo Circuit, arid Rev. P. F. Rhodes was preacher in charge. Under his pastorate the present church edifice was commenced in 1852 and completed in 1855, at a cost of $1,662.

Episcopal Church (now extinct).—This village being in the immediate vicinity of Jubilee, the residence of Bishop Chase and the headquarters of the Episcopal Church in Illinois, many of that denomination settled in this vicinity. They erected a house of worship in the year 1845, which continued in their possession until 1860, when it was partially destroyed by fire and never afterwards occupied by that denomination.

The German Catholic Church.—In 1861 the German Catholics bought the grounds and the standing walls of the Episcopal Church edifice for $324, and at once commenced to reconstruct the building. Father Fronenhofer was priest at the time and, under his management, the same was completed in the fall of 1862 at the cost of $842. In 1869 an addition was made to the building at a cost of $1,725. Adjoining the church is a parsonage, erected in 1876, at a cost, including lot, of near $2,000. Rev. Father Stewer is pastor of both the Catholic churches.

The Baptist Congregation was organized March 29, 1851, by Rev. Henry G. Weston, of Peoria, who preached a sermon on that occasion. Services had been held at several places in the vicinity for some time, as there were many of that faith settled near the village. The original members were Moses Smith, Evan Evans and wife, Thomas Fallyn and wife, Anthony Fallyn and wife, Joseph Fallyn, George H. Frye and wife, George W. Weston and wife, Elizabeth Bell and Fanny Huxtable. A subscription was started soon thereafter and a house of worship was completed in the year 1854, which is still in use. The congregation at present has no settled pastor.

Edwards Station is on the extreme western boundary of the township where the State road crosses from the east to the west side of the Kickapoo Creek. It has always been considered an important point from the year 1836, when George Berry petitioned the County Commissioners' Court for permission to erect a mill-dam on the northeast quarter of Section 30. When the railroad was finished to that point it became, and continued to be, the principal shipping point until Oak Hill was reached. It has ever since been a place where considerable local trade has been carried on. Extensive coal mines are worked in the immediate vicinity, which fact has been the occasion of the growth of a miners' village at this point. The first settler at the place where the station was afterwards located was Isaac Jones, who died in 1840. The next was Conrad Beck in 1851. E. D. Edwards opened the first store in 1851, and, two years later, built a steam flouring-mill, which was successfully operated for three or four years, when it was destroyed by fire. It has never been re-built.

Coal mining.—Coal mines had been opened near Hale's Mill as early as 1836, but they do not seem to have been operated extensively until the year 1849 or 1850, when Jacob Darst, of Peoria, began "stripping," which he continued for about five years. He then sold some bluff land to Frederick Ruprecht and John Woolenscraft, who commenced "drifting" into the hillside. In 1851, Ruprecht sold out to his partner, who continued to operate the mines for about two years, when he sold to Anderson Grimes and Judge Thomas Bryant, of Peoria, who, in turn, sold to Samuel Potts. Mr. Potts became a very large operator, and continued to carry on the business during the remainder of his life. Other mines have, for many years, been carried on in the same vicinity and between that and Edwards Station.

In 1860 Dr. Justin H. Wilkinson commenced buying coal lands in the vicinity of Edwards Station, and continued to make purchases in Rosefield. as well as in Kickapoo, until at one time he owned about one thousand acres. In December, 1876, he associated with himself Mr. Isaac Wantling, an experienced miner, and together they developed very extensive mines. These two points—Pottstown and Edwards—have in years become two of the most important mining points in the county.

Schools.—Prior to the adoption of the free school system there were very few public schools in the township. In 1840 Mr. Samuel Dimon, who had come to the township in 1838, hauled the logs for the first school house in what is now District No. 1. It was situated on the northeast quarter of Section n, where the present school house now stands. In that house Miss Harriet Hitchcock is believed to have been the first teacher. Samuel Dimon afterwards taught there for two or three terms.

Prior to 1851 there was a school house some distance west of Hale's Mill, known as the Kingsley School House; but it is not known when or by whom it was built. In 1851 Miss Sarah Smith taught the first school at Hale's Mill, occupying a cooper shop for a school house. The school house, now located at Pottstown, is known as No. 4.

The first school house in District No. 5 was located on the northwest quarter of Section 9. It was a frame building erected in the spring of 1851, at a cost of $260. The first school taught there was by H. Gregory, commencing in the fall of that year. This school house was replaced in 1877, by a modern frame house which cost $570.

The first school house in District No. 6 was erected on the southeast quarter of Section 16, in August, 1860. It was a frame building costing $300. School was commenced there in the fall of 1860 by a .teacher named H. M.

The first school house in: District No. 7 was erected in the summer of 1867 6n the northeast quarter of Section 33. Miss H. Pritchard was the first teacher there. She commenced in the winter of that year.

The first school house in District No. 8 was erected in the summer of 1867 on the northwest quarter of Section 13, at a cost of $528. The first school was taught there in the winter of that year by Miss Hattie C. Humison.

The township is now well supplied with school houses of modern style, and the schools are in a prosperous condition.

The Patrons of Husbandry at one time had a strong hold in this township, there having been two granges. No. 446 or South Kickapoo, now extinct, and Orange, having a Grange Hall on the northeast quarter of Section 1 It is
one of the seven yet surviving in the county.

From Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois and History of Peoria County, Edited by David McCulloch, Vol. II; Chicago and Peoria: Munsell Publishing Company, Publishers, 1902.



Kickapoo Township History
[from "The History of Peoria County, Illinois; Johnson & Co., 1880.  Transcribed by Karen Seeman]


Town 9 north, range 8 east, took its name from the creek which flows through it. Kickapoo is an Indian term and signifies red bud. The stream was so named from the abundance of that shrub that grew along its banks. The township dates its settlement from 1834. John L. Wakefield, now of Radnor, claims to have been the first settler, in that year. Francis Pond, George O. Kingsley, came to the township in the Fall of 1834, and kept bach. and shook with the ague in a cabin on the farm where Mr. Mary Kingsley now lives. John Coyle and Israel Pinckney came the same Fall. The former settled on the farm now owned by Joseph Voorhees, and was afterwards one of the proproietors of Kickapoo village. Mr. Pinckney built his cabin on S. E. of Sec. 12. He came from New York city. The Kingsleys were natives of Vermont. They both married and reared families, and died in the township, George in 1869 and Francis in 1873.

Others soon followed these first pioneers. Samuel Dinnon came from Connecticut in 1838 and located on Sec. 10, where he still resides. Gideon Thomas, father of John A., came to the township in 1844 and settled where J. A. Thomas now lives.





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