El Paso Township
Synopsis from the El Paso section of "The Woodford County
El Paso Band - 1912
Thomas and Permelia Radcliff Dixon settled in Kansas Township
about 1829 and operated a water-powered "corn cracker" grist mill on the
Mackinaw River near the ford which still bears his name. He purchased several
parcels of land in that area before moving in 1833 to El Paso Township. The
house was located south of the present Harold Kring home. Because they did not
patent the land until April 16, 1841, there has been some confuion as to the
identity of the first residents of the township.
John and David Hibbs and their wives patented land in Section 28 in 1835, as had another brother, William. John and Hanna Hibbs and David and Susan Hibbs located in this section in 1839.
Caleb and Elizabeth Horn settled about 1842, in the triangle between the stage route between Bloomington and Hennepin. Here they operated a post office known as Roxan, though no one seems to know the source of the name.
By 1853 at least 17 families had settled in the township. Most of the homes were small, though few were built of logs. Some of the lumber was hauled from as far away as Pekin, while others were built from lumber sawed in mills along the Mackinaw or in Greene Township.
El Paso Township was organized in April 1855 with W. W. Sears the first supervisor.
The Illinois Central Railroad was built in 1852-53
from LaSalle to Bloomington, largely with grants of land in alternating
sections. Town sites were surveyed along the route and named by the
railroad officials. Kappa received its name from the 10th letter of the
Greek alphabet because it was No. 10 station, counting south from
El Paso requested the transfer of the county seat from Metamora to El Paso in 1867, arguing that the two railroads provided better transportation facilities. Robert G. Ingersoll represented El Paso before the board of supervisors, offering the board $30,000 if the transfer was made. El Paso lost in the election held June 3, 1867 by a vote of 1,911 to 1,901. Roanoke and Metamora also sought to be named county seat, but in 1894 Eureka offered its city square as a site for the new courthouse and the offer wad accepted in the following election. The courthouse was completed in 1897.
William M. Jenkins was appointed postmaster on
March 21, 1857, and opened the office in a section of the Jenkins Bros.
general store. He was succeeded by Hezekiah Buckley on March 19, 1861.
Mrs. Martha Robinson was appointed February 28, 1863; Otha P. Richards
March 9, 1865; and Mrs. Robinson reappointed August 14, 1866.
Between 1856 and 1873 El Paso had grown from a
railroad crossing on the prairie to a town with eight churches, two flour
mills, a brrel factory, a brewery, a rundhouse, an iron foundry, plow and
wagon factories, two lumber years, a planing mill, several livery stables,
three buggy and carriage factories, three elevators, a newspaper, several
hotels, ikn addition to a number of stores and four three-story
The first volunteer fire department was authorized
by the City council on October 14, 1875, and the first fire house was
built in the fall of 1877.
John G. Ferguson and E. T. Disonay established the
first bank in El paso in 1864. After several changes in the partnership,
the firm of Shur, Tompkins & Company built the Eagle Building in
1871-72. The bank was moved to the ground floor of the new building;
Tompkins later bought out the other members of the firm. The bank failed
in 1883, and depositors received abut 7% of their deposits in the
The Ladies Library Association was organized in February 1873, and shares were sold at $3 each to provide funds for the new project. Members of the new organization donated their services as librarians. Some of the librarians were: Mrs. S. H. Worthington, Mrs. S. T. Curtiss, Mrs. W. G. Johnson, Miss Sarah Gough, Mrs. Carrie Tucker, Miss Nortense Ferrell and Miss Katherine Jenkins. Mrs. R. A. Burster has been librarian since 1944; Mrs. Lloyd Pfister, Mrs. Merval Byerly and Mrs. Max Lemon are assistants.
Five newspapers began publication in El Paso
between February 1, 1863 and November, 1896, but only one had more than a
few months of life. The Gazette, a four-page pagper, was published by
Robert Cauch; The True Patriot, a ‘states’ rights’ advocate, by Charles R.
Fiske; The Woodford County Republican by M. T. Hyer; The El Paso Press;
and the Saturday Review by Curtiss and Williams have left but a few
scattered references which tell of their existence. Hyer moved to Eureka
in 1896; The True Patriot was purchased by J. W. Wolfe and consolidated
with The El Paso Journal in November 1865.
The El Paso Cemetery Accociation was organized
August 11, 1859 to solicit funds for the purchase of a site for a
cemetery. Section 4, located east of the village, was a part of the
Illinois land grant to the Illinois Central Railroad, which agreed to sell
the NE 1/4 of the SE1/4 for $1,000. Alexander Hawthorn, Dr. Samuel L.
Kerr, Robert McClellan, George L. Gibson, and L. B. McOmber made up the
committee which completed the purchase. Stock was sold at $10 per share.
The purchase agreement was approved and Governor Yates approved the
charter February 14, 1861.
Doctors: Before 1894 most doctors came to El Paso
and statyed for a few months, a decade at most. Among the early ones were
Alanson V. Stockwell, Albert Reynolds, Jr., Dnaiel Lewis, L. B. Martin, J.
M. Berry, and John quincy Adams.
Only one of the businesses which were in operation
a century ago is still in operation (1968). A lumber yeard, which was
started in 1858 by George L. and Cyrus Gibson, was purchased in 1868 by A.
S. McKinney, of Elmwood, and James Hotchkiss, of Peoria. McKinney bought
out his partner; then in 1890 bought the stock from the Lee S. and Guy
Straight yard on the east wye and moved the entire operation west to the
area between the west wye and the two railroads.
Many early hotels were destroyed by fire with the
exception of the Campbell House. George H. Campbell built the Campbell
House in 1862 on land he leased from the Illinois Central Railroad. The
building combined a railroad depot and hotel. Mr. Campbell died in 1896,
and his son, Harry, continued the business until 1914. Later a number of
companies and individuals leased it, in whole or in part, but the rapid
decline of passenger traffic on the railroads made it unprofitable. The
building was vacant for several years and was razed in 1938.
Those in the military
Six men from El Paso were killed in the Civil War
while in action; 27 died of wounds or disease. Some were buried on the
battlefield. None were returned home. Some of those men who served in the
Civil War are:
January 1, 1895 Dr. R. E. Gordon opened his
office. Before this he had been in Benson just under a year. The oldest
son of Dr. Jerry Taylor and Mary Annas Gordon, he was born in Carlyle,
Illinois, September 5, 1873.
Not so pleasant events
Ransom, who was mayor of El Paso in 1877-78,
shot and killed Walter Bullock, an El Paso attorney, on May 2, 1888. The
shooting occurred as the result of a quarrel which began in a political
disagreement. Since local feeling ran high against Ransom, he took a
change of venue and was tried in Lacon. In January, 1882, he was acquitted
on a plea of self-defense.
John Seggerman died November 3, 1949, at his home in El Paso, from a shotgun would inflicted by his wife following a quarrel. She was acquitted of a charge of murder on her plea of self-defense.
For more details on the history of El Paso please turn to the "El Paso Centennial Publication"