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Rock Island County, Illinois Genealogy Trails

Drury Township

 

Loud Thunder
Fall Colors at Loud Thunder

 

Looking towards Illinois from Muscatine, Iowa
Looking towards Illinois from Muscatine, Iowa

Drury Township is on the Mississippi River at the farthest most western point of Rock Island County. The county is very narrow so Mercer County settlers were important to Drury Township. Drury Township is also directly across the Mississippi from Muscatine. Both communities have the same zip code and until recently were served by the same postmaster.

Since Mercer County and Iowa figure so prominently in Rock Island history there will be some stories in this section of the Rock Island County website that deal with these areas as well. It's important to understand the entire Quad City area as a whole in order to understand how the various cities became what they are today. And, the Iowa stories are great pioneer stories! All of these selections have been submitted by Mary Lou Schaechter.

Drury township was organized in 1857 and was named in honor of the Drury family, the earliest pioneers of the township. It is situated in the extreme southwest corner of Rock Island county. It contains one full Congressional township and fractional parts of three others and is the largest township in the county.

Those townships bordering upon the river naturally were settled first because of their position, for the pioneers recognized the advantage of being within easy reach of this great highway of commerce. In the early days the Mississippi river, with its many tributaries, was even more important than it is today, owing to the fact that nearly all of the commerce of the country was carried on by means of it. The building and improvement of the mighty railroad systems have changed conditions materially, although land in the river front townships is still the most desirable.

Some time prior to 1837, Isaiah, Miles, Reynolds and Eli Drury settled in what was afterwards to be known as Drury township, named in honor of them. At this time the land was totally undeveloped; dense forest covered much of the acreage, and wild game multiplied undisturbed. These pioneers were experienced men, who knew how to make the most of their surroundings, and they at once began to build their log cabins, and lay plans for the erection of a mill to grind their grain, as well as to saw their lumber.

Soon after their arrival, others followed, among them being James, William and Drury Reynolds, J. A. Seiver, William Huff, Ithamar Reynolds, Anthony Rickertt, William Womacks, Solomon Simpson, Jeremiah Lequatte, I. B. Essex, James Essex, Benjamin Essex, I. V. Reed, Valentine Reed, John Ballard, John Harbaugh, James Mcpherson, S. Prentiss, Henry Hampton, Charles Bean, William Peeney, Mr. Fox, William Hays, M. H. Johnson, John Boruff, Joseph Blair, Antoine Blair, and others. All of these men were married and had families, with the exception of one.

When these early settlers came to Drury township, they found conditions considerably different from those at present. The township now includes 30,225 acres of land and is bounded by the Mississippi river on the north and west Mercer county on the south, and on the east Buffalo Prairie township. Of late years much of the swamp land has been redeemed by a proper system of drainage, and this acreage is remarkably rich. The other land which has been developed, is exceedingly fertile, and crops are uniformly large. The farms in this section are well cultivated, and the buildings of modern structure, and well kept.

Reynolds Drury was the first storekeeper of the township. He opened his little store at the landing that bore the name of his family, and he was the only trader within a number of miles, did a large business. In return for the grain and pork of the settlers, he furnished them with the bare necessities of life. Probably weeks went by without the exchange of a single cent of money, for currency was scarce in those days. There was but little need of it, the merchant readily accepting produce in trade for his goods.

To the Drury family is also due the establishment of several mills, Isaiah and Silas Drury building a grist-mill, a sawmill and a Wool-carding machine, quite a novelty in those days, on Copperas creek, as early as 1837. To these mills, operated by water power, came the settlers from miles around, carrying their grain on horse-back, or in flat-boats, if they made the trip by water. Going to the mill was a journey those days, and often was used as a reward of merit, to be bestowed upon the best worker on the family farm.

Miles Drury's barn held the first religious gatherings, presided over by a wandering preacher, who visited the township from time to time.
The first school was held in a log cabin on Miles Drury's farm, and a little later another was kept in what was known as the "bull pen."


Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois and History of Mercer County, 1914, Submitted by Mary Lou Schaechter

 

Drury's Landing
by John G. Powell

For a number of years, the site of the settlement of the Drury family was called Drury's Landing, and considerable business centered about it. The present city of Muscatine is about four miles below the old settlement. The energy of the Drury family resulted in the establishment of a general store, a post office, and the up building of a large trade in grain and pork, and during the early days Drury's Landing was one of the principal trading points between St. Louis and Rock Island. As long as the country depended upon the Mississippi river for the carrying of its commerce, the landing was a stopping place for the steamers, but now the place is abandoned, and it only exists in the memory of the old settlers, as a commercial center.

Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois and History of Mercer County, 1914,Submitted by Mary Lou Schaechter

 

 

Reynolds Drury was the first storekeeper of the township. He opened his little store at the landing that bore the name of his family, and he was the only trader within a number of miles, did a large business. In return for the grain and pork of the settlers, he furnished them with the bare necessities of life.

Probably weeks went by without the exchange of a single cent of money, for currency was scarce in those days. There was but little need of it, the merchant readily accepting produce in trade for his goods.

To the Drury family is also due the establishment of several mills, Isaiah and Silas Drury building a grist-mill, a sawmill and a Wool-carding machine, quite a novelty in those days, on Copperas creek, as early as 1837. To these mills, operated by water power, came the settlers from miles around, carrying their grain on horse-back, or in flat-boats, if they made the trip by water.

Going to the mill was a journey those days, and often was used as a reward of merit, to be bestowed upon the best worker on the family farm.

Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois and History of Mercer County, 1914; Submitted by Mary Lou Schaechter

 

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