Rock Island County, Illinois Genealogy Trails

Andalusia Township


From the time the white man settled in Rock Island County until the Civil War the white man was a neighbor to the Indian. Whites settled in the area which is now the town of Andalusia, originally a "paper city" called Rockport, while the Indians used the area west of Andalusia for hunting and fishing. Eventually the struggle for supremacy ensued. The white man won and remained; the Indians lost and vacated.

At the end of the Black Hawk War in 1832 Captain Benjamin W. Clark of Virgina arrived in Andalusia and built a log house near the mouth of West Creek, with logs he had hauled across the ice from Davenport. His house was the only home between Joshua Van Druff's at the foot of Black Hawk's Tower and Erasmus Dennison at the Upper Yellow Banks, now New Boston. Capt. W. L. Clark, son of Capt. Benjamin W. Clark of Rock Island, settled in Andalusia in 1833.

Erastus Dannison established a ferry service across the Mississippi, the most important one north of St. Louis at the time.

Other cabins were soon built south of the Rock River: Hockley Sams at the mineral (white sulpher) springs; John Vanatta, east of Andalusia built a house that was later bought by Jonathan Buffum.; Jonathan Mosher had a farm east of Vanatta's property; and James Rabrion built near the southwest township line. In 1834 Dunlap, Dan and John Edgington came and settled lands north of where Edgington is now. They returned to Steubenville, Ohio for their families. Clark ordered 500 apple trees for them to bring back with them. In 1835 the Edgingtons returned with Mr. McNutt, his son John, who was a carpenter, Moses Titterington, Charles and two other brothers and their families. Charles and Harry Eberhart brought their families as did Adolph Dunlap, a gunsmith.

In 1841 Jonathan Buffum built a grist mill on Fancy Creek. Its capacity was 50 bushels of corn, wheat, or buckwheat per day. No toll was taken for grinding this grain as the patrons' horses turned the wheel.

Captain Clark moved to Buffalo, Iowa in 1836 after selling his property to Col. Stevenson, S.W. Hamilton, and Sam Whiteside. These three pioneers platted Rockport, never more than a paper city. This speculation effort attracted investors such as Daniel Webster, who also purchased land in Rock Island City, another paper town. Lots remained unimproved and were eventually sold for back taxes.

Daniel Webster
Daniel Webster,
Famous Orator and Statesman

Other early settlers in Andalusia included Napolean B. Buford, Sr. of Rock Island. He bought the site of Rockport at a tax sale. Although he built a warehouse and store in Andalusia he never lived in the city. However, in 1845 his wife, Katherine Buford, rechristened the town, Andalusia, after a town she knew of in Spain. Andalusia became the market place for the surrounding area.

The land around Andalusia was valuable and beautiful. The ferry was below the Rock River making it easier to reach Black Hawk's purchase. Clark could have claimed the area where Davenport is, but he liked Andalusia better. Timber was abundant, and there were coal resources near the creeks.

Settlers here used split rail fences for many years.

In 1833 B. W. Clark moved to Black Hawk's purchase. Here he ran a ferry until 1836 when he sold it for $17,000 to Col. Stevenson, W. W. Hamilton and Mr. Whiteside of Galena.

These three laid out the town of Rockport. They took the map to Washington City (D.C.) where they sold thousands of dollars worth of town lots to Daniel Webster and other easterners. Rockport died a natural death and eventually was sold for taxes to Napolean Bonaparte Buford who laid out the town of Andalusia. In 1845 his wife, Katherine, suggested they name the town Andalusia, because it was a pretty name.

During its heyday Andalusia had three warehouses in operation. They took in 100 wagon loads of grain a day throughout the fall. A rush of teams would arrive by 10:00 a.m. Workers would stop for lunch at 2:00. During the winter they would receive corn which they would ship to the South. One shipment of 25,000 bushels would take a week to load.

In 1864, The Rockford, a daily steam packet operated by S. M. Boney, Capt. S. R. Buffum and John Buffum increased river traffic after the Civil War.

Other steamboat owners were: Capt. Samuel Mitchell of Davenport who owned the Lone Star, Capt. William Jones of Andalusia owner of the Louisa, and Capt. J. C. Bromley, who ran the steam ferry called the Wheeler. Other boatmen included Capt. Nathaniel Smith, A.F. Ekstrom, J. W. Ballard, Daniel Roe and S.R. Buffum.

Joseph Garnett bought land which he later sold to Seth Buffum. However, the property included his wife's grave so he bought back one acre to start a cemetery

Other early settlers:

James Hill (considered a genius)
Dan Kelley, a cobbler
Mr. Hoath
Henry Thompson, owned a lumberyard
Robert Garnett, lumber salesman in 1858
Mr. Cobb
Mr. Boney
James Robinson
Edward Wright

Settlers in Andalusia in 1854:

Seth Buffum
Almon A. Buffum
John B. Buffum
Milton B. Buffum
Joe Buffum
Joseph Garett
E. F. Edstrom
Alfred Bing, teacher
M. V. Spencer
Sam Kenworthy
A. Morey
J. Ballard, wagon maker from Virginia who arrived in Andalusia barefoot and without a coat.
William Dorman, storekeeper
Elijah Simmons
Mr. Wenks
Joel Dean
Mr. Conger and John Woods, preachers at the schoolhouse


The following came later (around the turn of the century):

Delos Holmes
Paul John
Mr. Segar
Henry Springmeier
Mrs. Mount
James Hill
Mr. Britton
R. E. Reede, grandson of Edward Wright




The early settlers quickly realized they needed to build a schoolhouse for their children. It was called Greenbush. Another school was named Rockport, and there was competition between the two. The following students attended Greenbush:

John Kenworthy
Two Garnett boys
John Richards
William Richards
Three Walton boys
Jabez Cobeldick
E. E. Parmenter
Andrew Simmons
Theodore Simmons
several Roberts boys
Henry Ballard
Eli Jones
Sarah Buffum

In 1868 the school became the Baptist Church



In 1885 the residents of Andalusia established a Memorial Committee with a chairman and a historian. Its purpose was to honor deceased veterans of the Civil War. In 1904 it became the Andalusia Memorial Association which compiled genealogical records of the township and encouraged reminiscences of the past and held reunions.

In 1916 the reunions became known as Andalusia Homecoming. The last one was held in 1946.

These notes were taken from Home on the River which was compiled and edited by Mary Slovar.
Her sources included:
Past and Present of Rock Island County, 1877, Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois, Vols. I and II, and the History of Rock Island County, 1914.

Rock Island County, Illinois
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