Spring Bay Village
Woodford County, Illinois Genealogy Trails
Source: Past and Present of Woodford County, Illinois, 1878, pg 305-06


This little village is situated on the Illinois River, about ten miles above Peoria.  It was surveyed and laid out in 1838 for Day, Matson & Brush, who owned the land, and had purchased it form one Jacob Woodcock, an old settler, of whom but little deffinite information could be obtained.

The first house in the village of Spring Bay was built by a man named Benjamin Merithew, who, it seems, had once owned the land or had pre-empted it, or something of that kind, and was built before the village was laid out.  It was a small log cabin, and stood where Genoways' store house now stands.  The first store house put up was the one now occupied by Lewis Williams and was built in the early part of 1838, and only weather-boarded and covered when Genoways came to the neighborhood.  When he returned from Ohio to this place, in 1840, nothing further had been done, nor did the village begin to improve to any great extent until about the year 1843.  A man named Rice had a little store up in the brush, just within the present limits of the town, which consisted chiefly of whisky and tobacco - articles that have remained staple in
this section down to the present day. This was not only the first store in the village, but the first in what is now Spring Bay Township. In 1843, Ira Y. Munn came to the place and opened a store in the building above alluded to, as belonging now to Williams, which was finished up for the purpose Munn, Peter Willard and William Scott had a store in Fremont, (a village in Tazewell County) which place was rather overdone in mercantile business. Mr. Genoways chanced to meet Munn and Scott in Washington, some ten miles distant from Spring Bay, and they told him they were looking for a good location for a store. He at once set to work to try to induce them to go to Spring Bay, and, obtaining their consent, conducted them in a roundabout way to the village, that they might be favorably impressed with the populous neighborhood. After taking a look they decided to locate, and engaged Genoways to go immediately to Fremont for a load of good. Munn & Scott conducted the business at Spring Bay, while Willard remained at Fremont to close up and settle affairs there, after which he opened a branch of the Spring Bay house in Metamora, of which further notice is made in that part of this work. Scott was soon taken sick and returned to Fremont, where he died, and his brother, George Scott, came to Spring Bay and took his place in the store. This firm continued in the mercantile business here and at Metamora, and also handled grain extensively for a number of years. After amassing quite a fortune, Munn and Scott went to Chicago, and there embarked in grain; but in attempting to make "a corner" in wheat, got beyond their depth and sunk disastrously. Rising again, they went to Denver and started a quartz mill, where, it is said, they failed again. Peter Willard lives in Chicago. a prosperous and enterprising merchant.

Just after Munn commenced business, a. man by the name of Thornton built a residence, which was the first one erected in Spring Bay Village. C. A. Genoways and Samuel S. Burt built the first grain warehouse in 1844, and after finishing it sold it to Munn & Scott for $400. It was a frame building, 30x60 feet, with a capacity of 8,000 or 10,000 bushels. Richard Dement built a grain warehouse soon after; also, Lewis and, Jackson Williams, and for many years did a large business in grain, pork packing and general merchandise, and in which they made a small fortune. Lewis Williams owns, in addition to his other property, the old homestead in Worth Township. Hoshor and Dement built the warehouse now standing on the river bank. The one now owned by Genoways and used as a storehouse was built by Moses McManus. None of these warehouses are standing at the present day, except the last two mentioned; the others have not survived the day of their usefulness. For about twenty years, beginning at 1844, the grain trade at this place equaled any point on the Illinois River. In its most prosperous day, Munn & Scott, Dement, McManus, William Hefelbower, were all. handling grain, and all doing a heavy business. Nearly the whole county hauled grain to this place, and a hundred wagons on the streets in one day was a common occurrence. The amount of grain shipped from this point, before the era of railraods, was truly wonderful, and more than one handsome little fortune was made in this uprentending village.


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