Founder of Edgington and Buffalo Prairie Townships
The name of Edgington is a well known one throughout Rock Island county. It is the name of one of the county's most prosperous little villages, named in honor of one of the founders of that family, John Edgington, the subject of our sketch, a man who in is long lifetime spent in this county, lived to see it grow from a waste of prairie and wilderness into a wonderfully fertile farming community, dotted here and there with busy little villages and cities devoted to manufacture and commercial enterprise.
John Edgington was born July 4, 1809, at Steubenville, O., and died in March, 1896, at the home of his son, James Edgington, of Reynolds, in this county. He received his education in the common schools of Steubenville, his birthplace, and in his young manhood followed the occupation of trading and merchandising in Steubenville. In July, 1834, he made a trip on horseback from Steubenville to Rock Island seeking farm land, and stopping at a point in this county decided to permanently settle here. He took up a farm in what afterwards became Edgington Precinct, this being named after him. This precinct was afterwards divided into Edgington and Buffalo Prairie townships, Mr. Edgington's farm being located in the latter townshiip.
On February 17, 1834, previous to settling in Rock island county, Mr. Edgington was married to Miss Susan Crabbs, a young lady of Steubenville, and to the wilds of what was then an unsettled frontier, he brought his young wife. Nine children were born of this union, their oldest child, James, being the first white child born in Rock Island county south of Rock river. Their other children were: Sarah; William, who died in infancy; Jane, now Mrs. Rufus Walker; Casandra; Margaret, wife of C. E. Dodge; Drusilla, wife of S. H. Parvin, and Harriet, wife of Fred Titterington. All of the children re now deceased, with the exception of Mrs. Walker and Mrs. Dodge. To her children Mrs. Edgington often recounted her experience when she came to Rock Island county a bride. For the first six months after coming here, she never saw another white woman, and she was in constant fear of the Indians who then roamed over the country. They took a great fancy to her first born son, James, the first white baby they had ever seen, and the young mother received frequent and urgent offers to trade a papoose for the white baby. This added to her fears, for she was in constant terror lest the Indiansâ great desire to possess her offspring might lead them to make a forcible exchange at some time when her husband was absent. Mrs. Edgington died at the home of Mrs. Rufus Walker, in Reynolds, in October, 1886.
But to return to our account of Mr. Edgington. He cleared and cultivated his farm in Buffalo Prairie, where he made his home until 1894, when he sold his farm and moved to Reynolds to make his home with his son, James, where, as has been stated, he lived until his death two years later. He lived the busy life of a farmer, but found time to take an interest and an active part in all that pertained to the advancement of the county. He was justice of the peace and school director for more than thirty years. He served as supervisor from his township for several terms and served as a juror at the first term of court ever held in this county. He was a hospitable and genial man and there was always a place at table and hearth fire for the strange and wayfaring man of those times who was seeking a home.
In religious faith Mr. Edgington was a Presbyterian and he helped to build the first church of that denomination that was built below Rock river in this county. He also helped hew the logs and erect the first schoolhouse built in the lower end of the county. It was located about an eighth of a mile east of his evidence. The school was supported for several years by private subscription and if there was any deficit in the amount necessary to carry on the work of education, Mr. Edgington was always prompt in making up the balance himself. In politics Mr. Edgington was always a staunch democrat and with his party he was a firm adherent until the silver question became their paramount issue. Then, not agreeing with the majority of his party upon this question, he cast his vote for William McKinley, but it cost him a hard struggle to do so. During his lifetime he accumulated a considerable competence and the farm that he owned became enhanced in value as the years went by until it, in itself, became worth a very considerable fortune. He was a man of great public spirit, a man beloved and esteemed by those who knew him, and his long and busy life was crowned with success. [Pgs. 1119 - 1120, Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois and History of Rock Island County; Submitted by Mary Lou Schaechter]
Harry D. Elwell
Tho comparatively a new comer to Rock Island, Ald. Harry D. Elwell, of the Sixth Ward, has won a deservedly large acquaintance and popularity. Having a natural inclination toward a more than ordinary interest in matters political, and being endowed with those qualifications which equip one of the intelligent performance of a public office, he became an immediate favorite in the democratic councils of his ward when aldermanic timber was up for discussion. The idea of entering the race was never seriously considered by himself, for he realized that there were those who were entitled to the honor of a nomination more than he, but when they joined in the chorus advocating his candidacy he acquiesced. The rest is known. He was elected by a comfortable majority and in a republican ward at that. He is now serving his second year as a member of the municipal assembly. His term will expire in the spring and Harry’s friends say he can have the nomination again if he wants it, with his election assured.
Native of New Jersey
Mr. Elwell is a native of Deerfield, Cumberland County, New Jersey, where he was born Nov. 20, 1862. He attended the common schools until 13 years of age, when he entered the Friends’ Willow Grove Institute, from which he was graduated. Early in life he learned the machinist trade, but since 1887 has devoted himself to the study of refrigeration, having superintended the erection of some of the largest plants in the country. For several years he has been employed as chief engineer for the Rock Island Brewing Company.
Mr. Elwell was married June 8, 1890 at Selma, Ala., to Miss Annie L. Clancy. They have one son, Jack.
Mr. Elwell’s administration as alderman has been all that his friends expected, and more. Well informed on all matters pertaining to the welfare of his ward and the city, he is always found doing what in his opinion is for the best interests of all. Enterprising, yet conservative, his official acts are never hastily done. He is the kind of man that can be trusted to properly guard the public affairs. [Rock Island Argus., December 17, 1899, Page 7; About Rock Island Argus. (Rock Island, Ill.) 1893-1920]
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