Rock Island County, Illinois Genealogy Trails

Hampton Township

Hampton Town Hall
Hampton Town Hall
Donald Bush, from Rock Island, is a descendent of John Gerhart Frels who settled in Hampton Township.
 Frels came to this county in the 1840s, settled there, farmed and was also a black smith.

His brother Henry Frels joined him in the early 1850s. Henry's daughter married Marx Hauberg. This would make her the mother of John Hauberg the lawyer of Rock Island. This information is from the book,
A Sailor Goes Farming written by John Hauberg in the 1950s.

John Gerhart Frels lived just a short time into the 1850s. He died and was buried on the farm in Hampton township. In the past few months that Cemetery was visited by family members for the first time since the 1960s. It is a deeded property and sits in the middle of private property. The owner of the property helped us remove the stones this past fall so they could be cleaned and repaired. I have them at my house in Rock Island at this time. We plan to set the stones again in the spring or summer.
As you may have guessed the cemetery was grown over and if I did not have my cousin with me who worked on the cemetery in the 1960s we never would have found it.  Submitted by Donald Bush
Hampton War Memorial
Hampton War Memorial


The first school was started here in 1833-34 in a log cabin located north of Albert Altman's farmhouse, near the river. It was taught by Lucius Wells.
The scholars attending the little school were the Wells, Mcneals, Danforths, Richardsons and Thompsons. Other teachers in this school were John and Wm. Kelley and Mr. Thurston.

After this for some months, a small school was kept in a cabin east of the present Hampton cemetery. The teachers being John Lamberson and
H. G. Reynolds. This school was supported by the parents of the scholars. During the summer of 1839, a log schoolhouse was built especially for a public school, and was located just south of the present school building. The first school teacher in this new school was Samuel Lamberson.

In 1844 a one-story brick school building was erected beside the log schoolhouse. The town had grown larger now, there being 20 housed here, and a better school was needed. The first two teachers in the brick school were Philip and Addison Chamberlin.

A two-story brick school building was erected in 1857 on the same site as the present school house. It was there, I (George McNabney) going to school,
Miss Sawyer and Miss Blanchard being the teachers. This building stood many years until October 29, 1879, when it caught fire while school was in session and burned down.

The school was then held in the old Catholic church which stood at the foot of the hill near Wilkens farm and also in a small house east of the present
Catholic church -- both have since been torn down.

The teachers were W. C. Smith, Carrie Spencerr and Mary Hobert. After the two-story brick school building was built in 1857, the old one-story brick school building was sold on January 21, 1858, to the German Lutheran Church for $400.

On Dec. 5, 1864 the Lutheran Church decided to erect a new building and sold the old schoolhouse to the town of Hampton for $200. Here they held their town meetings and elections.

On May 2, 1904, it was sold for $50 to the School Trustees to be used as a playground. The old building on it was razed.

The present school house was erected in 1880. The first teachers in it were W. C. Smith, Miss Merritt and Miss Robert.
The Hampton schools have been well managed and have kept up with the educational standards of the times.

The present (1938) teachers are Paul W. Powell, Principal; Helen Mangrove, Intermediate Department, and Grace C. Kerns, primary department.
The present directors are Harry Kipp, Glenn Tompkins and Ralph Meeske.

The first trustees of Hampton township who hold the title of all school buildings and grounds were Geo. R. McMurphy, John Skinner, and Geo. C. Parker,
who were appointed by the county commissioners at the Sept. term 1836.

The township was divided Feb. 19, 1842. The Hampton district, which originally was No. 2, is now N. 29.

The first school directors here were Wm. E. McLellan, Robert Harvey and Lucius Wells. The fist school census taken was Dec. 29, 1843; the number of children listed in the township under 21, was 222.

The present (1938) school secretary and treasurer is E. C. Dennhardt of Silvis.
The present school trustees are Chas. E. Sikes, Louis A. Schave and Henry Johnson.

Information submitted by Mary and Rock Nelson of  the Hampton Historical Society A History of Hampton, Illinois 1838-1938; by George McNabney



What was considered old Coaltown was more of a locality than a village, embracing a territory contingent to numerous coal mines in the southeast portion of the present township of Hampton and a small part of South Moline Township, and a very active locality it was in the early days. At one point where Samuel Bowles, who came to this county in 1835, discovered the first coal bed in this vicinity, and at one time built a church there. The vicinity was called Bowlesburg; another vicinity Tinkerville. The Silvis mines are still running, and a branch of the D.R. I. & N.W. Railway run there.

Source: "Historic Rock Island County : history of the settlement of Rock Island County from the earliest known period to the present time : embracing references of importance, and including a biography of Rock Island County's well-known citizens."  Rock Island, Ill.: Kramer & Co., 1908 Transcribed by K. Torp, 2006


We are reminded every Memorial Day that there is an unknown soldier buried in Hampton Cemetery. The grave marker is near the main entrance and is the traditional GAR stone. It reads "US soldier, 1st US Cavalry".

How did he come to be buried here? If he were some kind of vagrant or tramp, how would they know if he was a Civil War veteran, much less what unit he belonged to. We have heard, but never verified, that there existed an organization after the War that would arrange for a community to have an unknown soldier buried in their cemetery. A macabre idea, but possible. One would think some record of some kind or media article would exist but none has come to light. Maybe it is so gruesome the media wouldn't touch it. That's hard to believe.

We can surmise a few things. Since the unit was "1st US Cavalry," this meant he was in the regular army. If you examine other Civil War tombstones in the cemetery, they will say something like "89th Illinois Infantry" or "6th Maine Cavalry". During the Civil War the states had the responsibility of recruiting soldiers. Right after South Carolina seceded, Lincoln called for 75,000 troops to put down the rebellion. 100,000 joined up, but only for 3 months. This caused the frantic rush that ended at the battle of Bull Run with a defeat of the Union's half trained troops by the Confederate half trained troops. Fortunately for the Federal cause, the Confederates were as disorganized by victory as the Union was by defeat, or the war might have ended right there.

The second call for volunteers signed men up for 3 years. There was a regular army before the war. Something like 15,000 men mostly scattered around the west trying to protect settlers from the Indians and vice-versa. It was possible to join the regular army throughout the war but few men did, partly because you often received a bonus, called a bounty, for joining a State unit, but didn't receive it for joining the regulars.

Consequently, those who joined the regular army were usually men who didn't know better, generally new immigrants. Often men would come from Europe and when they found the streets weren't paved with gold, didn't know what to do. Sometimes they joined the regular army which was ironic since escaping military service was one of the motives for coming to the United States. It could be that our unknown soldier was one of these, with little facility in English, and with no identification. ID badges were not issued in the Civil War, though many soldiers bought them privately. All of this is blind speculation of course.

Another mystery is why Henry McNeal and Joel Thompson decided to build their cabins here in 1828. They went into business supplying wood for the growing steamboat business but as to why this particular place was chosen is not known. Perhaps Hampton Historian Morris Heagy had the answer. He believed they stopped here because of the beauty of the surroundings, which was the same reason Heagy returned to his old home town after years of working as a banker in Rock Island, and built the house on 1st Avenue now occupied by the Clarks. Heagy called it "Sunset View". Take a walk by it some evening and you'll see why.

See Businesses for the Brettun and Black General Store Mystery.

Rock Island County, Illinois
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