Winnebago County, Illinois
1st County Election
Elections in those days were not conducted as they now are. Written or printed ballots were not then in use in Illinois, and hence citizens voted viva voce. And without previous organization and without statutes to guide them in their duties, it may be readily imagined that the first election in Winnebago County was conducted without much form. Mr. H. R. Enoch, editor of the Rockford Journal, in speaking of this election through his paper, said:
"Neither one of the judges knew anything of the election laws of Illinois, and not a statute was to be obtained in the county. Of the judges, Mr. Kent knew something of the laws of Virginia and Alabama; Mr. Robert J. Cross was familiar with those of New York and Michigan, and Mr. Griggs with those of Ohio. D. A. Spaulding had some knowledge of the laws of Illinois, so he was selected as one of the clerks, and intrusted with the duty of making the poll books, and upon him devolved the honor of principally conducting the first election in the county."
There were no "split tickets" at that election - the settlers generally voted straight, and there was not much difficulty or confusion in making out the tally sheet. The poll book showed that 120 votes had been cast. There beings but one voting precinct in the county, the settlers from all parts of the county voted here. The following names represent the voters at that election:
David Caswell, George Caswell, David Barnes, P. P. Burnham, Thomas Crane, Milton S. Mason, Timothy Caswell, Thatcher Blake, Seth Scott, Joshua Fawcett, John Barrett, Jeremiah Frame, John F. Thayer, William Randall, John Welch, Joshua Cramer, John Slavins, David Blake, William Barlow, Joseph B. Baker, Daniel Fairchild. Livingston Robbins, Alfred Shattuck, Alva Trask, William Smith, Ira Haskins, John Burts, Simon P. Doty, Charles H. Payne, Royal Briggs, Solomon Watson, Abraham Watson, Ralzimond Gardner, Mason Sherburne, John K. Towner, John G. Lockridge, John Allen, John Lovesse, A. E. Courtright, Henry Enoch, Ephraim Sumner, S. Brown, A. R. Dimmick, Samuel Hicks, H. M. Wattles, T. R. J. English, Oliver Robbins, J. P. Griggs, Aaron V. Taylor, Luke Joslyn, Wm. Sumner, David D. Elliott, John Handy. Jacob Pettyjohn, Daniel S. Haight, Jacob Keyt, John Lefonton, John Kelso, William R. Wheeler, M. Ewing, Charles Works, Sidney Twogood, Phineas Churchill, Thomas B. Talcott, Austin Andrews, Thomas Lake, Benjamin McConnell, Benjamin DePue, Benjamin White, Lewis Harkins, Aaron B. Davis, Joel Pike, R. M. Waller, Julius Trask, William Carey, Ephraim Wyman, P. D. Taylor, Wm. Brayton, Israel Morrill, Harlyn Shattuck, David DeWitt, James B. Young, Abel Thurston, John Kandler, John Adams, Milton Kilburn, Richard H. Enoch, Joseph Chadwick, Daniel Piper, John Hance, Henry Enoch, Jr., Jacob Enoch, Peter Moore, Sylvester Sutton, V. B. Rexford, William G. Blair, Daniel H. Whitney, James Jackson, Isaac Adams, Isaac Harrell, E. A. Nixon, John Wood, William Mead, Joseph Rodgers, A. C. Gleason, Henry Hicks, John Brink, E. Gregory, L. C. Waller, James Thomas, G. Kent, Chauncey Mead, George Randall, W. H. Talcott, William E. Dunbar, S. A. Lee, Charles Reed, Charles Sayres, Robt. J. Cross, and D. A. Spaulding.
Of the above 120 voters at the first election in Winnebago County, only fifteen are living at the date of this writing, Oct. 1, 1877. Of these, Thatcher Blake, Ephraim Sumner, Charles Works, Phineas Churchill, Thomas Lake, and Ephraim Wyman are living in Rockford, or its immediate vicinity. Thomas B. Talcott, Isaac Adams of Rockton, and A. C. Gleason live at Cherry Valley; Simon P. Doty, at Belvidere; Harlyn Shattuck, at Shattuck's Grove, Boone County (P. O. Belvidere); H. M. Wattles (at last authentic account, one year ago), in Minnesota; W. R. Wheeler, Colorado Springs, Colorado; R. M. Waller, Charles City, Iowa; Israel Morrill, Minnesota; David Caswell, Iowa.
The following is the official report of the election above quoted:
For Member of Congress. - William L. May had 73 votes; John T. Stuart had 44 votes. Majority for May, 29.
For Representative to the State Legislature. - John Turner had 74 votes; Charles R. Bennett had 73 votes; Elijah Charles had 34 votes; James Craig had 40, and L. H. Bowen had 8 votes.
For Sheriff - Daniel S. Haight had 83 votes; Henry Hicks had 31 votes. Majority for Haight, 52 votes.
For Coroner - Eliphalet Gregory had 95 votes, and no opposition.
For County Commissioners. - Thomas B. Talcott had 83 votes; Simon P. Doty had 68 votes; William E. Dunbar had 60 votes; G. Kent had 35 votes; Seth Scott had 46 votes; Levi Moulthrop had 32 votes, and Isaiah Courtright had 4 votes. Talcott, Doty and Dunbar were elected.
For County Surveyor. - D. A. Spaulding had 81 votes, and John Kelso had 28 votes. Spaulding's majority, 53.
For Recorder. - Daniel H. Whitney had 72 votes; John E. Vance had 41 votes, and James Boswell had 1 vote. Whitney's majority, 30 votes.
The first Monday in August, 1836, was also the first day of the month. On Wednesday, the third, the second day after their election, the commissioners met at the house of Daniel S. Hnight, on the east side of the river, and, there being no Justice of the Peace nearer than Galena, Ottawa, Joliet or Chicago, proceeded to administer the oath of office to each other.
[It may be well to state that previous to this organization all that part of the country east of Rock River, including the present counties of Boone, McHenry, DeKalb, and a part of Ogle, and probably a portion of some of the others adjoining, was known as LaSalle County. All west of Rock River, including the present counties of Jo Daviess, Carroll, Lee, and that part of Ogle lying west of Rock River, was known and recognized in the courts of the state as Jo Daviess County, named in honor of Col. Jo Daviess, of Kentucky, who bore a conspicuous part in the campaigns of Gen. Harrison against the Indians.]
[pgs. 243-244, "The History of Winnebago County, Ill: its past and present" By Kett, H. F. & co., Chicago, pub. 1877 - Sub. by K.T.]
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