BIOGRAPHICAL ALBUM OF KNOX COUNTY, ILLINOIS, by Chapman Brothers
CHICAGO: BIOGRAPHICAL PUBLISHING COMPANY, 1886
Time is ever moving on. The deeds
and actions of to-day form the subject of history to-morrow. From the record of
these deeds men form opinions, and their actions in the present and future are
governed thereby. Knox County furnishes the world a record that is of great
interest, a record that tells of heroic deeds of its pioneers, how that vast
territory was secured from savage tribes and made the home of civilized man.
In Rock Island County
originated the troubles, and from this county nearly every movement was made, in
the Black Hawk War, and here the chiefs gathered together in council, and
treaties were made, resulting in lasting peace. Upon the lovely island and
magnificent bluffs that overlook the river, the red men were wont to stray, and
many beautiful and touching legends are told of their presence here. The white
men came, and that country so lovely in nature has been greatly changed, but it
can never be robbed of its great beauty. The island and the bluffs still exist,
and the valleys are transformed into fields of waving grain. The trails of the
hunters and the wily red man have given place to railroads, and broad
thoroughfares, school-houses, churches, mills, post-offices, manufactories and
elegant dwellings are now to be seen upon every hand. The record of the
marvelous change is history, and the most important that can be written.
It is but little more
than half a century since the white men came to this beautiful land for the
purpose of securing homes, but in that time what great and startling events have
transpired! Monarchies since then have crumbled into dust and republics have
been reared upon their ruins. Inventions that have revolutionized labor have
been given to the world, and in much of what has been done the people of Knox
County have borne a leading part……
We desire, previous to
entering upon the discussion of the history of Knox County, to give a brief
account of the settlement and organization of the State of Illinois, which is
essential to the proper understanding of the condition of the country in this
part of the State prior to its settlement. The entire territory now embraced in
this State at one time belonged to the aborigines. The time of their settlement
here has never been definitely fixed by history. They have never, however, been
treated by historians in other than a nomadic sense; never having been
recognized as citizens, or even occupants, of this continent. Therefore, we
will make our bow to the illustrious precedents that have been established by
historians, and pass on. We will say, then, that this territory was originally
a part of Florida and belonged to the Spanish Government; that the Spanish
chevalier, Fernando de Soto, with his band of followers, was the first to
discover this beautiful land. This was as early as 1541. The Spanish, however,
never took possession of it, and it was first occupied by the French, who, after
having planted settlements along the St. Lawrence and in Canada, fitted out one
of their Jesuit missionaries and sent him westward up the St. Lawrence. Thence
he was to take the Mississippi and follow its course. This explorer was the
famous Father Marquette. He reached the great “Father of Waters” in the
spring of 1673, hoisted the sails on his little bark canoes, and, with his
companions and two Indian guides, with joy unspeakable floated down the majestic
river between the broad plains of Illinois and Iowa. While descending the
Mississippi he discovered an Indian trail and immediately moored his boats and
took the trail. After walking about six miles they came to an Indian village,
when the inhabitants advanced to meet them, and, through their calumets, the
pipe of peace was smoked. In saluting Father Marquette they addressed him in a
language familiar to him. “We are Illinois,” they said. “How beautiful
is the sun, O Frenchman, when thou comest to see us. Our village awaits thee;
thou shalt enter in peace all dwellings.” He remained with these hospitable
people a few days and then descended the Mississippi River until he was
satisfied that it entered into the Gulf of Mexico, when he returned, and,
reaching the 39th degree of north latitude, entered the Illinois
River and followed it to its source. He was cordially invited by the Illinois
Indians to occupy its banks and remain with them. Desiring, however, to
continue his travels, he declined their generous offer and was conducted by one
of the chiefs, accompanied by several of his warriors, to a point near Chicago,
if not that point, where he remained to preach the Gospel to the Miamis,
sending his companions back to Quebec to announce his discoveries. This may be
said to be the inception of the settlement of Illinois by the Caucasian race.
discoveries and his fame thrilled the hearts of many adventurers in France, and
among these was Robert Cavalier de la Salle. La Salle came to this
country, remained awhile, and then returned to France. He sought an interview
at once with Louis XIV, whom he inspired with his own enthusiasm, and from whom
he received with his own enthusiasm and from whom he received a commission to
explore the Valley of the Mississippi. He returned with a number of mechanics,
military stores, merchandise, etc., in the year 1678. After leaving the St.
Lawrence and Niagara Rivers and crossing Lake Erie, he reached Green Bay, and
next entered St. Joseph River. At these places he established trading-posts.
He then descended the Illinois River as far as Lake Peoria, where he was met by
a large party of Illinois Indians, who offered him the calumet and with whom he
formed an alliance. He was received with great joy, and when they learned that
he was to establish a colony among them their happiness knew no bounds. Thus
began the first white settlement in this fair territory.
A long war arose between
England and France over the possession of this country. Peace was concluded
between these two countries Feb. 10, 1763, by virtue of which France ceded to
England the Canadas, Nova Scotia, Louisiana (east of the Mississippi) and her
possessions on the Mississippi and Ohio, which included the territory of
Illinois. At this time the white population numbered about 3,000 souls. These
resided along the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers, the largest towns being Kaskaskia
Although Illinois was
ceded in 1763, it was not taken possession of by England until 1765, when
Capt. Sterling, sent by Gen. Gage, then Commander-in-Chief of the
British forces in America, assumed control in the name of Great Britain.
Illinois remained in the possession of the British until 1778, when Col.
George Rogers Clark was secretly fitted out by the Commonwealth of Virginia
with seven companies, money, arms, ammunition and military stores, and clothed
with all the authority he could wish. After a brief resistance, he took
possession in the name of Virginia. Reporting his signal triumph to the
Governor of that State, the Legislature passed an act in October, 1778,
establishing “As the county of Illinois all that part of Virginia west of the
Ohio” (which surpassed in dimensions the whole of Great Britain), and appointed
Col. John Todd Civil Commander and Lieutenant-Colonel of that county. After
establishing garrisons at Kaskaskia, Cahokia and the Falls of the Ohio (on the
site of Louisville), Col. Clark exerted his great influence to bring about a
good feeling between the Indians and the Americans.
After the close of the
Revolutionary War and the surrender of Cornwallis with his whole army, Oct.
19, 1781, to the Americans, a treaty of peace was signed between England and the
United Colonies, by virtue of which the independence of the latter was
recognized, and all the land east of the Mississippi and south of Lakes Ontario,
Erie, Huron and Superior and the Lake of the Woods, which included Illinois, was
ceded to the Americans. All this territory, by virtue of the conquest
through that renowned soldier, Col. George Rogers Clark, was claimed by
Virginia; in part it was also claimed by New York, Massachusetts, and
Connecticut, but, having in view the all-paramount object, a union among the
states of the confederacy and the establishment of a permanent government, the
people of these States, influenced by their patriotism, ceded all their right to
this territory, which was called the Northwest Territory, to the Federal
Government. Subsequently Congress, in the summer of 1787, passed a general law
for the government of the Territories of the United States. This law provided
for a Governor, a Secretary, a court of three Judges, Representatives, and a
Legislative Council, which was to be appointed by Congress. The Legislature was
authorized to elect by joint ballot a Delegate to Congress. Gen. Arthur St.
Clair, a distinguished officer of the Revolutionary Army, was appointed to
the governorship (which was the first to be appointed to the Northwest
Territory) and Commander-in-Chief of the Territory. The new government,
however, was not destined to remain in peace, for the Indians again commenced
hostilities, incited by English gold and also by the hope of recovering their
favorite hunting grounds. St. Clair, being in feeble health and unable to
properly command his troops, was disastrously defeated by the Indians. To
remove the disgrace of this defeat and retrieve the credit of the American arms,
the gallant Gen. Wayne was sent out, who completely routed the Indians
and once more restored peace.
In 1803 a new Territory
was formed, called the Territory of Indians, which embraced the whole
Northwest Territory, with the exception of that part from which Ohio was formed,
and William H. Harrison was appointed Governor. This government remained
until 1809, when another change was made and Illinois was erected into an
independent Territory, with Ninian Edwards as Governor. Peace had been
made, and the whole people commenced again their agricultural pursuits on ground
which had been occupied by the red man. This condition remained until the
second conflict with England, known as the War of 1812. A bold, daring
chief, Tecumseh by name, taking advantage of this war between the two
countries, incited his people again to battle, and joined the British forces,
who again occupied a part of this Territory. This war was carried on chiefly in
the Northwest Territory, and Gen. Harrison was one of the chief actors. The
conflict was hot and decisive, and the Americans were again victorious. The
defeat of the British by Com. Perry, on Lake Erie, and on land at the
battle of the Thames by Gen. Harrison and the gallant Col. Johnson
(in which battle Black Hawk took part), the killing of Tecumseh and the
rout and slaughter of his warriors, terminated this conflict in the Northwest
Territory, which was once more a peaceful part of the Republic.
In 1812, under the
ordinance of 1787, a Delegate was sent to Congress and a Territorial Government
established. In this manner the Territory existed, with Ninian Edwards
as Governor, until 1818. The population at the close of the War of 1812 did not
exceed 12,000 souls. In 1818 the inhabitants numbered 50,000. At the
beginning of this year the people of the Territory unanimously resolved to enter
the Union as a State, and instructed their Delegate, Nathaniel Pope, who
was then in Congress, to bring the subject before that body and take such means
as were necessary to accomplish this result.
The bill for the
admission of Illinois into the Union as a State was passed in April, 1818. An
election was held under the provisions of this act, for State officers, and
Shadrach Bond was chosen Governor, and entered upon the discharge of his
duties in October of the same year, with the seat of government at Kaskaskia.
Subsequently Ninian Edwards and Jesse B. Thomas were chosen
Senators. In 1822 Edward Coles, and anti-slavery man, was elected to
succeed Gov. Bond. In 1826 Gov. Coles’ term expired, and Ninian Edwards was
elected to succeed him. This brings the history of the State, the principal
points of which have only been touched, down to the period when the settlement
of Knox County begins, and at this point the former is left, that the history of
the latter may be taken up.
Knox County is
situated in the Military Tract, and has for its boundary lines Henry County on
the north, Stark and Peoria on the east, Fulton on the south, and Warren and
Mercer on the west. The Military Tract is situated between the Illinois and
Mississippi Rivers, extending as far north as the northern line of Mercer
County. It was so called because it was set aside by the Government for the
soldiers who were in the War of 1812, and patented to them in quarter-sections.
Very few of these soldiers placed any value on this land, and a still less
number entertained any idea of occupying it. But immigrants came, entered
Government lands and “squatted” on “patent” or military lands, improved them and
made them valuable. It was seldom that a “patentee” could be found when wanted
by the settlers, and many of them believed that the owners would never be
known. In a great many instances, after the patented land had been improved and
rendered valuable, the original patent would be presented by someone, who would
evict the occupant, or squatter, and take possession. If he was an honest man,
the occupant would be paid for his improvements; otherwise, as would often
happen, he would get nothing. This condition of affairs invited what were very
properly called, in those days, “land-sharks”, who would come into this section
of the country and work up cases, ostensibly for the original patentees, but in
reality for themselves.
Among these land-sharks
was Toliver Craig, who made a business of forging patents and deeds. He
carried his knavery on quite extensively, and at one time had 40 forged deeds
put on record at Knoxville in one day. He was arrested in the State of New York
in 1854, by H. M. Boggess, of Monmouth, and taken to Cincinnati, where he
was lodged in jail. Here he attempted suicide by taking arsenic. He remained
in jail about a year, when he was released.
The Legislature of the
State, at its session during the winter of 1822-23, laid out into counties,
together with other unorganized territory, the Military Tract. On the admission
of Illinois into the Union, the territory now embraced by Knox County formed a
part of Madison County. Subsequently, by an act of the Legislature, it was
placed within the boundaries of Pike, the oldest county within the Military
Tract. It then embraced the whole country north and west of the Illinois
River. By an act of the Legislature approved Feb. 10, 1826, its present
boundaries were defined, and it was attached to Fulton County for judicial and
When the Military Tract
was laid off into counties, most of them were named after the military heroes of
the country. This county was named after that distinguished General and
statesman, the beloved and confidential friend of Washington, Gen. Henry Knox.
It is on the divide between the Illinois and the Mississippi Rivers, with the 41st
parallel of north latitude running a little north of its center. It is very
liberally supplied with timber, and well drained by streams running east and
west from the divide. Its soil is deep and fertile and underlaid with coal-beds
and good building stone.
The first settlement made
in this county was by Daniel Robertson, in February 1828, who located
first on the northwest quarter of section 15, in Henderson Township. He was
very soon followed by his brother Alexander, and his brother-in-law,
Richard Matthews. During the spring and summer following, quite a number of
settlers came in, among whom was Maj. Thomas McKee. Those who located
in this neighborhood, or in Henderson Township, were the only settlers who came
to the county in 1828, except a man by the name of Palmer, who was noted
for his eccentric habits and for his success in bee-hunting. He dwelt for
awhile at the deserted Indian village on Spoon River, and then went on
westward. Of these pioneers of 1828, only two are now living—Daniel Robertson
and Major McKee. For a more particular account of these early settlers, the
reader is referred to the history of Henderson Township.
The first white child
born in the county was a son of Mr. and Mrs. Zephaniah Gum, in January,
The first death in the
county was that of Philip Nance, who died Jan. 7, 1829.
The first school taught
was by Franklin B. Barber, in 1830, in a log schoolhouse near the grove.
The first sermon preached
was by Rev. Jacob Gum, in a log cabin, in 1829; but the first church to
organize was the Baptist, and the Universalists came next.
The first mill, or
corn-cracker, was put up in 1830, on Henderson Creek.
turned the first furrow in the county in 1828, with a rudely-shaped plow, which
he brought with him. This plow is still in his possession. It was known as the
“barshare” plow. His first crop, which was corn, yielded about 40 bushels to
who was one of the 1828 settlers, returned with his family to Rock Island, where
he died in June, 1829. The pioneers of Knox, hearing of his death, sent two of
their number to ascertain the condition of his family. It was anything but
favorable. They concluded to bring the widow and her children, four in number,
to Henderson, and started off Thomas McKee, with a wagon and two yoke of
oxen, for this purpose. He was at the time but 19, yet he was hardy and brave,
and they had confidence that he would do his errand well. On his return to Rock
River, as there were no bridges or ferries, he started to ford it, which he
accomplished successfully, though a dangerous undertaking without a guide. He
also crossed Mill Creek safely; but a little this side his wagon got bogged, and
in attempting to pull out he broke the neck-yoke. He was obliged to return to
Rock Island for a new yoke, and, returning, reached his wagon about dark. Here
the party were obliged to remain all night. A heavy rain fell, and in the
morning the water was up to the bed of the wagon. He unloaded and pulled the
wagon out. There were some heavy goods, and among them a barrel of meat. It is
to-day a wonder to the Major how he ever handled that barrel, as he had no help
from the widow or her children. Going on, he again got stalled, and was obliged
to unload and reload again. At Edwards River he was bogged again and had to go
through the same process. Here there was a steep embankment, and he was obliged
to roll the goods up this to the wagon, and by skillful engineering got them
in. He came into Rio Township about dusk, and as he found a slough confronting
him he concluded to rest for the night. The next day he arrived home, after a
journey of four days. The Major says he became quite well acquainted with those
barrels before he arrived at home.
This is a specimen of the
many trials which the pioneers had to pass through at this period.
There was but one
traveled road in the county, which ran along the western line. This was known
as the old “Galena Trail”, and was made by the Galena miners in going to
and from their homes in the central part of the State to the mines.
In the fall of 1829 a
settlement was made in Haw Creek by Mrs. Elizabeth Owens and family.
During this year also there was a settlement made in Knox Township by Parry
Morris, John Charles, and John Montgomery, who located near the
present site of Knoxville. Prior to this, in 1828, a settlement was made in the
territory now embraced in Cedar Township, by Asel Dorsey and family,
Mr. Finch and Rev. Hiram Palmer. This settlement was increased in
1829 by Rev. Abraham D. Swartz and wife. In 1830 Joseph Wallace
commenced the improvement of a farm in Orange Township. During this year the
pioneers, James Millan, William Darnell, and William Parmer, made
a settlement in Maquon Township. Michael Fraker put him up a cabin in
Lynn Township in 1830 and commenced housekeeping, and was soon found here by
others. Rio was not left unoccupied this year, for Joseph Rowe, Reese Jones
and Joseph Halliday came in and began their pioneer labors.
The settlers came in so
rapidly, and there were such favorable prospects for a steady flow of
emigration, that in the early part of 1830 the people began to consider the
question of the organization of the county. A meeting was called at the store
of Samuel White, in Henderson Township, May 15. This store had been used
as a tavern. It was a log cabin, about 16 feet square, and contained but one
room. Riggs Pennington was chosen chairman of this meeting and John
G. Sanburn, secretary. Among those present at this meeting were the two
citizens above mentioned, and Philip Hash, Stephen Osborn, Dr. Charles
Hansford (the first physician to open practice in the county), Henry
Bell, Jacob Gum, Nicholas Vailes, and John B. Gum. Dr. Hansford,
Riggs Pennington and John G. Sanburn were appointed a committee to
draft a petition to Hon. Richard M. Young, Judge of the 5th
Judicial District, praying for the organization of the county. Another
committee consisted of Messrs. Pennington, Hash, Hansford and Osborn
to present the petition and address the Judge in behalf of the organization.
This committee proceeded to Fulton County, where the court was in session, and
laid their petition before the Judge, who, believing that the county contained
350 inhabitants, the number required by law, and that it was the wish of the
people of the county that an organization be had, granted the prayer of the
petitioners. An order was also issued by the Court on the 10th of
June, declaring the county of Knox organized and entitled to the same rights and
privileges as other counties of the State. Subsequently an order was issued by
Judge Young for an election to be held on the 3d day of July, 1830, for the
purpose of electing three County Commissioners. This order was issued at
The election was duly
held, the judges and Clerks being Jacob Gum, Nicholas Vailes, Stephen Osborn,
William McMurtry and Jonathan Reed. The election resulted in the
unanimous choice of Riggs Pennington, Charles Hansford and Philip Hash.
On July 7 the
Commissioners held their first meeting at the residence of John B. Gum,
who was by them chosen Clerk. Mr. Gum’s house was a double log cabin,
containing two rooms, and was situated on section 32, Henderson Township, and
here the first seat of justice of Knox County was located. On the 9th
of July the Commissioners held their second meeting. At this meeting John G.
Sanburn was appointed Clerk, John B. Gum having declined to serve.
The latter, however, was appointed by the Court Treasurer of the county, in
which position he qualified himself by taking an oath, and filing a bond of
$500. Mr. Gum was really Clerk of the county for two days, yet, inasmuch as he
did not discharge any of the functions of this office, Mr. Sanburn is regarded
as the first Clerk of the county.
In the organization of
this county, townships 12 and 13 north, range 5 east, were included within its
boundaries. In 1837, when Stark County was organized, these two townships were
taken from this county and attached to that. The town of La Fayette, in Stark,
is located in this section, and consequently was originally in Knox County. It
was through the influence of Riggs Pennington that these townships were
attached to Knox County. They contained a beautiful grove, which he thought
would not only add to the wealth, but materially to the beauty of this county.
Hence his efforts to secure them.
An election was ordered
by the Court for county officers to be held Aug. 1, 1830. At this time there
was but one election precinct, and the territory was larger by two townships.
Jacob Gum, Nicholas Vailes, and Thomas Maxwell were appointed
Judges of the election. A special term of the County Commissioners’ Court was
held July 17. At this session the county was divided into two districts for the
election of Justice of the Peace and Constables. The election was held August
7, being the day of the general election throughout the State. Riggs
Pennington, Philip Hash, and Alexander Frakes were elected County
Commissioners. The first term of the Circuit Court was held on Friday, Oct. 1,
1830, at the house of John B. Gum. It held only one day.
Having placed the
pioneers in the full enjoyment of civil and political government, we will leave
this line of history, which will be found in detail in another part of this
work, and take up the more general incidents connected with their history. The
settlers up to 1833 were obliged to send or go to Kushville for their
mail, which was a great inconvenience to them. Upon petition to the Postmaster
General by the Commissioners, a post office was established at Knoxville (then
called Henderson), the county seat having been located there in January 1831.
John G. Sanburn was appointed Postmaster. The peace of the early
settlers was much disturbed by the Indian troubles and the Black Hawk war, and
the settlement was greatly retarded. Many of the people left the county until
the war was over, and some located elsewhere. Forts had been constructed for
the protection of the settlers, and whenever anything would occur to create a
suspicion of an attack, the people, particularly the women and children, would
gather into these forts. The fright and anxiety proved to be unnecessary, as
there were no Indian raids in the county.
One of the enemies the
early settlers had to fight and to be constantly on their guard against was
prairie fires. They sometimes threatened the destruction of the entire
community. Sometimes these fires were caused by accident, and often through
wantonness, or with a view of bewildering the game. The offense became so
serious that persons were indicted and tried for it. The best way they had for
fighting the fires was by “burning back”. These fires, with their columns of
livid flame mounting heavenward, were grand to look at, and, when the settlers
were out of immediate danger, they would gaze on them with awe and admiration.
In 1830 the big snowstorm
came, which caused a great deal of suffering. Snow began to fall on the night
of the 29th of December, and continued for three days. The average
depth was four feet, but in places it drifted to the height of 20 feet. It
remained on the ground until after the 1st of April.
The early settlers
carried their produce, which was chiefly wheat and hogs, to Chicago or Peoria.
The roads were oftener bad than good, and the journey was long and tedious,
taking several days to make the trip. They would take their cooking
utensils—frying pan and coffee pot, and their provisions, bread and bacon, and
camp by the roadside. Prices were never very high, and, if labor and time were
counted, they would be largely the losers when they returned home.
Judge R. L. Hannaman,
in an early day, thought he would get up a little corner on hogs. He gathered
up some 1,300 head and drove them to Chicago, employing 16 boys to drive them.
The hogs and the boys arrived at the Garden City on the 16th day.
The hogs were slaughtered, packed and shipped to New York and Boston. The Judge
made in this speculation $5,000 on the debit side. He states that he could have
bought any quantity of land there at that time for almost nothing, but he would
not take it as a gift.
One of the great events
in the early days of Knox County was the arrival of the Galesburg Colony,
a part of which came in 1836, and a part in 1837. Their advent created quite a
flutter among the settlers, and gave the county an impetus forward that was very
auspicious. They brought with them energy, brains and money, and went to work
with a will that soon made them felt in the county. The party of Hugh Conger
and Nehemiah West, who came overland, as they were nearing the site of
their colony, on the 1st of June, 1839, stopped for the night near
what is now known as Victoria. They were short of provisions, and the family on
whom they called had no meal. Corn was ground in a hand-mill, and then
“corn-dodgers” were made for supper. The next day they dealt out their scanty
supplies to the younger members of the party, and weary and hungry they
proceeded on their journey to Henderson Grove. Here they gathered up what they
could from the settlers for supper, and took their first meal in the colony on a
door from an old cabin, resting on boxes.
The first national
anniversary celebration was held in Sanburn’s Grove, near Knoxville, in 1836.
This celebration came very near having everybody in the county at its
festivities. Rev. Gardner Bartlett made the opening prayer, and Hon.
James Knox delivered the oration. After the ceremonies were over, the
procession was formed, and marching to the tables which were spread beneath the
protecting boughs of shade trees, the more enjoyable part of the celebration was
begun. The meats were cooked in a pit; the other eatables were brought already
prepared by the celebrators. This celebration will be remembered as long as
there is anyone living who was present. For enthusiasm and hearty, patriotic
enjoyment, it probably will never be equaled in Knox County.
The early settlers
invariably located in groves or along the borders of timber. It was many years
before anyone had the rashness, or so little judgment, as was then thought, as
to make a claim out in the “wild prairie grass.” This is not so strange when it
is considered that these settlers mostly had been brought up in clearings or
lived in the shelter of groves. To live out away from timber was something
foreign to their habits, and then again they had no confidence in the productive
qualities of this prairie soil.
The cabins were rude
structures for habitation, but then they were cheerful and homelike. The large
fireplaces would send their radiating heat out, glowing on the domestic circle
around. This served for heating, cooking, and ventilation. There was seldom
more than one room; but there were always convenient contrivances, and a
stranger or traveler was never turned away, though there might be a dozen in the
There are some who are
rather prone to give the dark side of pioneer life only. While there were many
discomforts, and what would now be considered by those accustomed to all the
conveniences of modern civilization privations, yet there were many pleasures
and much happiness. There were their quilting-bees, corn-huskings, apple-bees,
for both sexes, and for the men the log-rollings and house-raisings; and no end
to the little social amusements. Then there was that grand fraternity of
feeling, that bond of human sympathy, unalloyed and unaffected, which
There was a good deal of
excitement in Knox County during the early period of its history, caused by the
establishment and operation of the Underground Railroad, as it was
called. In the settlement of the county there were many who did not believe in
human bondage, and who were willing to aid in every way possible the oppressed
slave in securing his freedom. The murder of Lovejoy, at Alton, in 1837,
stimulated this feeling, and largely increased the anti-slavery party in the
county. Growing out of this agitation and the formation of the anti-slavery
party was the organization of what its operators were pleased to call the
Underground Railroad, the object of which was to aid the fugitive slave in his
escape to the land of freedom.
In this organization
there were no particular signs or passwords, but each relied on the honor of the
other, and their faith in the just cause that moved them. It was no place for
cowards or weak-minded men, and few were connected with this transportation.
They had the most bitter opposition from the slave-holders and the pro-slavery
men, yet they were never daunted and never wearied in their good work. The
northern terminus of this railroad was in Canada; when once reached by the
slave, he was free—free from the lash and the manacles of the slave-power, and
free from the teeth of the bloodhound. At that end of the road stood Rev.
Hiram Willson, ready to receive the fugitive and to provide for him. The
Queen had declared in February, 1841; “That every fugitive from United States
slavery should be protected as a British subject the moment his or her foot
touched the soil of the domain.” Arrangements were made to have all
supplies or goods shipped to the fugitives admitted free of duty.
One of the peculiar
features of this railroad company was that, while people knew very well who was
engaged in operating it, and where the depot was located, freight was seldom
found after the most diligent search. Space will permit us to deal only with
generalities on this subject. One of the principal stations in Western
Illinois, if not of the whole State, was Galesburg. This station was generally
managed by Nehemiah West, George Davis and Samuel Hitchcock, and
others. A station was at the latter-named gentleman’s house for many years.
There was another station in Ontario at the residence of C.F. Camp.
Hod Powell was generally the conductor here. The trains were always run
through in the night-time, and there was never any whistling, for down brakes or
The first record of any
convention is a Democratic one, which was held in Henderson during the campaign
of Martin Van Buren. The Whigs at this period were in the minority. The
candidate’s name and office for which he was running were announced by the
persons voting and taken down by the Clerk of the election.
The first Whig
Representative from the county was John Denny, who was elected in 1840.
A year prior to this the first Anti-Slavery Society was organized. It was
organized at Knoxville in the winter time, and was presided over by Wm.
Holyoke. He was afterward one of the Presidential Electors of the Liberty
party in 1840, when James G. Birney ran for President. The list of those
who had the nobility and manhood at this time to come out and take a firm stand
against slavery was comparatively small. There were 13 in this county who voted
for Mr. Birney, and their names should be perpetuated in history. They were
William Holyoke, Levi Spencer, Patrick Dunn, John McMullin, Samuel Metcalf,
Thos. Simmons, John G. West, L. C. Conger, G. A. Marsh, George Avery, Abram
Tyler, Leonard Chapel and Horatio Foote. From this time the
Liberty party increased until they numbered enough to hold the balance of
power. In 1854-56 came the disintegration of the Whig and Democratic parties,
and a new party was formed from these—the Liberty party, known to the world
since as the Republican party, the standard of which the bold members of the
Liberty party followed to victory in 1860.
The most exciting
political contest in Illinois, probably, was that between Abraham Lincoln
and Stephen A. Douglas, in 1838, for the United States Senatorship. They
had a joint debate at Galesburg, October 7, at which were gathered some 25,000
people. The topic discussed was almost solely that of slavery, and the
attendance there showed the interest the people had taken in it. Douglas was
the successful candidate, but his election only increased the ardor of the
The campaign of 1859 was
a continuation of the struggle. It is claimed the Republicans of this county
were the first to bring out Lincoln for the Presidency. Hon. R. W. Miles,
from Persifer, sat by Abraham Lincoln at the secret caucas held in the
library-room of the capital at Springfield, held in June, 1859. This was soon
after the Legislature had elected Douglas to the United States Senate. A
gentleman in making a speech said that they were going to bring out Abraham
Lincoln as a candidate for President in 1860. Mr. Lincoln at once arose and,
with considerable emotion, exclaimed: “For God’s sake, let me alone! I have
suffered enough!” It was not, however, for Mr. Lincoln to have his way.
We have somewhat
anticipated in following out some leading features in the political history.
In 1847 an election was
held for members of the Constitutional Convention. A new constitution was
prepared and submitted to the people, which was adopted in 1848. One of the
provisions of this constitution was the establishing of a County Court and the
doing away with the County Commissioners’ Court. It provided for a County Judge
and two Associate Justices, if the Legislature saw proper to so order it, which
The last meeting of the
County Commissioners’ Court was held Oct. 12, 1849. On the 3d of December
following, the first term of the County Court was held. This court had charge
of the affairs of the county until the township organization system was adopted,
which was in 1853. The new constitution gave the counties the privilege of
either adopting the County Court or the Supervisors.
At the fall elections of
1849 a vote was taken “for” or “against” township organization, which resulted
in favor of it by 728 votes against 420. At this time there were 12 election
precincts—Brush Creek, Pope Creek, Fraker’s Grove, Victoria, Haw Creek, Spoon
River, Littler Creek, French Creek, Cherry Grove, Galesburg, and Knoxville. It
was decided that the election was in favor of organization. It was subsequently
decided that township organization was not adopted, inasmuch as it did not
receive a majority of all the votes in the county. During this discussion it
was claimed by many that the law was unconstitutional.
rendered an opinion that the township organization had not been legally adopted,
which opinion was sustained by the Supreme Court of the State. In the spring of
1850 a Board of Supervisors was elected, but it held but one session. The
County Court ordered another election, which was held Nov. 5, 1850, the result
of which was 673 votes ‘for’ and 317 ‘against’ organization. This was not a
majority of all the legal voters in the county, and the measure was again lost.
It will be seen by these elections that there are a large element against it.
Another election was
subsequently held, which resulted in favor of township organization. On the 5th
day of April, 1853, an election was held for Supervisors. This board held its
first meeting at Knoxville, June 6, 1853. The last meeting of the County Court
was held March 4, 1853.
In the fall of 1843, the
first railroad was completed through the county, which much increased its
prosperity and development. Following this came manufactories, the most
important of which was that of Geo. W. Brown. In the spring of 1857 the
Peoria Branch completed its line to Galesburg. In August, 1870, the Rockford,
Rock Island & St. Louis Railroad completed its track across the northwestern
corner of the county, and, in the spring of 1883, the Central Iowa ran its
trains across the southwestern corner. With all these lines of road crossing
the county from every direction, it was given the most ample facilities for
One of the most
troublesome subjects ever brought up before the Board of Supervisors, and also
before the people, was the removal of the county seat to Galesburg. This
question began to be agitated soon after the advent of the railroads. The
people of Galesburg, believing that their city was to be the important town in
the county and was the railroad center, thought they ought to have the seat of
justice there. Several elections were held for the purpose of voting on the
removal, but each time it was defeated. But Galesburg was growing rapidly, and
she thought that her having the county seat would be only a question of time
and, perhaps, a little money. April 6, 1869, another election was held. When
the returns were made up the result showed 247 votes against removal. The
question of fraud was raised by the Galesburg party, and the case was carried to
the courts by Geo. Davis, who, on behalf of himself and the people of the
county, brought suit against the Board of Supervisors and county officials to
impeach the election returns and purge the poll-book of illegal returns. The
case came up in the Circuit Court of the county, when a change of venue was
taken to the Circuit Court of McDonough County. It was called up at the
September term of 1871 when Judge Higbie decided, after throwing out what
he decided to be illegal votes, in favor of the removal of the seat of justice
The Knoxville party took
an appeal to the Supreme Court of the States, when, after some three years from
the time of the holding of the election, Judge Walker rendered a decision
confirming the decree of the lower, or Circuit Court.
Jan. 30, 1873, the Board
of Supervisors ordered all records to be moved to Galesburg. Wagons were in
waiting at Knoxville pending the order, and it lives yet vividly in the memory
of many, that no public records were ever transferred with such rapid dispatch
as those from Knoxville to Galesburg. It took a long time to get them started,
but when they did move, they went as though they were on the wings of air; and
here, in charity, perhaps, it is well to drop this subject and “lay this sheet
of sorrow on the shelf.”
The Board of Supervisors
held their first meeting in the new county seat, Feb. 27, 1873. In
consideration of the removal of the county seat to Galesburg, that city
officially and the citizens individually gave the county the following lands and
money: A deed to the lots on Cherry street; a deed to the lots where now stands
the jail; a deed from the city of Galesburg for the east half of College Park,
provided the court house should be constructed thereon. The city also agreed to
furnish a court-room for ten years, and to pay all expenses incurred in removal
of the county records and property; and also gave two certificates of $2,000
each, and $2,000 toward the building of a jail. At their meeting in January,
1874, the Board of Supervisors ordered all the county property in Knoxville,
consisting of the court house and jail, to be deeded to the city of Knoxville
for the consideration of one dollar. A grand county building has been commenced
on the site donated by the city, and it is expected that it will be completed by
the end of this year. The jail was completed in 1874, and is a credit to the
When the Rebellion broke
out, and a call to arms was made, Knox County was among the first to respond,
and made during that long and bloody conflict an enviable reputation for her
patriotism and devotion to the country.
Knox County has 20 full
townships, all of which are subject to a high state of cultivation. This would
give her 460,800 acres of land, hardly an acre of which but what could
advantageously be tilled. It is claimed for one of its townships, Ontario, that
for richness of soil and completeness of cultivation it is equal to any township
in the country.
The population of this
county in 1880 was 38,344, with an assessment value, as shown by the reports of
1885, of $6,305,295 on lands; town lots, $1,954,641; personal property,
For beauty of location,
for richness of soil, for its railroad facilities, for its educational
institutions, and the culture of its people, Knox County is unsurpassed by any
county in the State. From the time of the settlement of the Robertsons,
it has been steadily developing, improving its farms, building railroads and
manufactories, establishing extensive business towns, erecting church edifices
and institutions of learning until it stands out today in beautiful, bold
relief, a complete civilization, wrought out from a wilderness within a half
century, and commanding the admiration of the world.
There are four old
settlers living who have been closely identified with the county almost from its
first settlement, whom we think it would not be out of place to mention before
closing this sketch, and in doing so we think it will give pleasure to all, and
these are: Maj. Thomas McKee, George W. Brown, Judge Dennis Clarke and
Judge Robert L. Hannaman. These worthy pioneers and noble citizens,
while they have, with but one exception, never been possessed of very much of
this world’s goods, yet their hearts have ever been ready to sympathize, and
their hands ever prompt to help the poor, the unfortunate and afflicted. Many a
widow, many an orphan, many a poor man has had frequent occasion to bless them
for their acts of kindness.
Civil Government was
inaugurated in Knox County, July 7, 1830, by the assembling of the County
Commissioners and the organization of the County Commissioners’ Court at the
residence of John B. Gum, on section 32, Henderson Township, then the
temporary seat of justice. The court was composed of Riggs Pennington,
Philip Hash and Charles Hansford. There was but little
business transacted at this session beyond that of organizing. One of the first
orders made was to grant a license to Samuel S. White to keep a tavern,
which they were careful to give under certain restrictions. As they may be
interesting to the newer generation, they are given below: For each half
pint of whisky, he was allowed to charge 12 ½ cents; half pint of brandy, 18 ¾
cents; for each half pint of wine, 25 cents; for each meal of victuals, 25
cents; for lodging for one person one night, 25 cents; for a feed of corn or
oats for a horse, 12 ½ cents; for feed and stabling for a horse one night, 25
About the next order of
the Commissioners was one given to the Clerk, who was requested to notify the
Postmaster General “that the county of Knox is organized, and that the seat
of justice for said county is at the residence of John B. Gum, Esq., and request
him to supply the said county with mail as soon as practicable”.
Knox had been attached to
Fulton for judicial purposes, and this year the assessment of taxes had been
made by the Assessor of Fulton. The Commissioners requested of the
Commissioners of Fulton County to be allowed to collect all taxes for the past
year, the assessment of which had been made by that county. This request was
granted, and Sheriff Osborn was directed to make the collections. Mr.
Osborn collected, after riding over the entire county, $19.32, and his
commissions on the same were $1.56 ¾.
The first session of the
Circuit Court opened on Friday, Oct. 1, 1830. Hon. Richard M. Young
presiding; John G. Sanburn, Clerk; Stephen Osborn, Sheriff; and
James M. Strode, State’s Attorney pro tem., in absence of Thomas
Ford. The session lasted only one day, but little business was transacted,
and the juries were discharged.
In December there was
another session of the Commissioners’ Court, beginning Monday, the 6th.
At this term the Commissioners made an order to pay themselves for their
services, which, at least, could not be called exorbitant charges, allowing for
their salary about 50 cents a term. Sheriff Osborn was paid $3. for attendance
at all the terms. The sum of $4. was appropriated to pay John B. Gum for
the use of his house for court and election purposes.
In March, 1831, Treasurer
Gum made his report, which was the first made in Knox County. The largest
revenue at this period was from the State; the tax on personal property was ½ of
1 per cent.
About this time began to
be considered the propriety of having a court house and of building up a town.
An act was procured from the Legislature locating the county seat and
authorizing the Commissioners to lay off the town. The county seat was laid off
on section 28, township 11 north of range 2 east, and was christened
Henderson, but was afterward changed by the Legislature to Knoxville.
This act of the Legislature, which also defined the boundaries of the county,
was approved by the Governor, Jan. 15, 1831.
The next important act of
the Commissioners was the erection of a court house. At a special meeting held
March 12, 1831, they adopted plans and submitted them to the public, with the
announcement that the contract for the erection of the building would be let to
the lowest bidder. The contract for the erection of the building was let to
Wm. Lewis, and for the completion to Parnach Owen. The total cost of
this court house, with furniture as itemized, was as follows: Erection of
building $78.; completion of same $100; six extra windows $6; chinking, daubing,
underpinning $37.50; upper floor $18; jusges’ stand, tables, benches and fitting
window $43; stove and pipe $38; and laying of floor, stairway and window
shutters $74.93. Total $395.43. And yet this building was thought at this
time to be rather an imposing structure. This building stood on the northwest
corner of lot 10, block 5. Even as small as this sum was, the Commissioners had
to advance money to the contractors to enable them to finish their work.
Parnach Owen, who
was the first Surveyor of the county, was employed to lay off the county seat,
for which he received 12 ½ cents per lot of one quarter-acre each. To Andrew
Osborn was let the job of furnishing the posts and stakes, for which he
received $15. Owen’s job amounted to $18.25.
This site was on
“Congress land”, and consequently the Legislature had no power to convey title.
This power rested with the U.S. Government. The County Commissioners could,
however, pre-empt it for county purposes, and this was done. Rees Jones
was sent to the Land-Office at Springfield and made the necessary pre-emption.
The price was $1.25 per acre, and embraced one quarter-section. Rees Jones was
paid $8. for his services.
Saturday, April 23, 1831,
was the day appointed by the Commissioners’ Court for the public sale of lots.
Settlers attended this sale from all parts of the county. The lots were readily
sold and at very fair prices. There were 79 lots sold, aggregating $1,256. The
highest price paid for a lot was $61, and the lowest was $2.
These Commissioners were
liberal-minded and awake to the wants of their fellow creatures. They did not
want them to come there and stay all day bidding on lots and go home hungry;
accordingly they provided refreshments for them, and at the next meeting of
their court paid to Morton Carver $1.75 from the county funds. Corn
dodgers and whisky were cheap in those days.
The Commissioners of
those days were very judicious and very careful of the use of the public money.
They were exceedingly particular that the law should be strictly complied with.
There is no settlement long without its poor people. Knox County had them, but
her people were very liberal and charitable to them. In May 1831, the first
record appears of a pauper, who was let by the County Commissioners’ Court to
In the fall of 1832
William McMurtry was appointed Commissioner of School Lands, Abraham D.
Swartz having declined the position the year before. He served in this
capacity many years and proved a most excellent officer, advancing the
educational interests of the county very much. He gave bonds in the sum of
$12,000, which was large for those days.
A session of the Circuit
Court was held in June. The Grand Jury made their report, stating “that they
had no business before them, and that they knew of no violation of law which it
was made their duty to report.”
There is no community but
has its bad characters, who are either members of it or are passing through.
Knox County was not an exception to this rule, and the Commissioners, indorsed
by the people, decided that they should have a jail. A contract was accordingly
let to John G. Sanburn to build a jail, which was to cost $250. Though
this sum was not large, yet the Commissioners deducted $5.25 from it before they
accepted the work, and this was not done until June 7, 1838, though the jail had
been completed and occupied for several years. It was constructed of logs and
was 20 feet square, and stood on the west side of the Square.
It seems that in those
days the people had some idea of high license, for we find the Commissioners in
1834 increasing the tavern or saloon license to $5, while they reduced the price
of whisky to 6 ¼ cents per half pint. It is probably they saw in the traffic of
spirits too great a profit, and, having the welfare of their people in view,
reduced the price. License for peddling clocks was raised the year following
from $12.50 per year to $50 per year. Undoubtedly the Commissioners saw that
these peddlers were imposing on their constituency, and raised the license to
keep them out of the county.
One of the provisions of
the law in those times was that stock was allowed to run at large, having
certain ear-marks, which it was made the duty to have recorded by the County
Clerk. In each county seat was an estray-pen, where all unknown and unclaimed
stock was confined.
For many years, or until
1837, Henry County was attached to this county for judicial purposes, and
embraced at that time a part of Whiteside County. All taxes were collected over
this territory by Knox County, and elections were ordered and Judges appointed
by the Commissioners. Licenses were granted, roads opened and other matters
were attended to by them.
The increase in
population required, in the minds of the Commissioners, an increase in court
house facilities, and accordingly we find them in September 1836 ordering the
Clerk to advertise for plans. On the 10th of March, 1838, the
contract was let to Alvah Wheeler and Zelotes Cooley for $15,450,
and it was to be completed by May 1, 1840. A cupola was afterward added at an
expense of $725. (See article on court house.) The Commissioners ordered that
the old court house be sold at public auction on the 1st of April,
1840, and it was bid off to Alvah Wheeler for $89.50. It was
subsequently moved about a mile west of Knoxville, onto Mr. Wheeler’s farm.
Prior to the building of the new court house, or in 1836, the old court house
was moved from its original site to a lot on the corner of Smith and West
streets. It was moved by John Carnes for $67.50. The old site was
ordered to be subdivided into nine lots by the Commissioners and sold. Eight of
these lots sold for $39.01 each, the other lot sold for $37.50.
Soon after the completion
of the new court house it was determined by the County Commissioners’ Court to
have a new jail. At their January term, 1841, a contract was let to Zelotes
Cooley for $8,724. This contract was rescinded and another made with
Alvah Wheeler, who in 1845 completed the building. It is now used for a
tenement house. Prisoners escaped from this new jail as well as the old. There
were many horse thieves in those days, and they were very bold and troublesome
to the settlers. In order to protect themselves and to get rid of these
thieves, if possible, the citizens banded together and formed what was known as
the “Knox County Society for the Detection of Thieves”. In this they had
the cooperation of the Commissioners, who, in 1845, offered a reward of $50 for
the detection of anyone stealing a horse.
The last meeting of the
Commissioners’ Court was Oct. 12, 1849. At this time Manyweather Brown,
Alfred Brown and Amos Ward were members, and all were present. After
transacting the business they had before them they adjourned “until court in
course,” but they never met again. And thus passed away this institution of
county government, to the economical administration of which the county of Knox
was much indebted for its favorable financial beginning and its continuous
On Dec. 3, 1849, the
first term of the County Court was held. The duties of this court were, in a
legislative capacity, identically the same as those of its predecessor, the
County Commissioners’ Court. In addition to the legislative power, the members
of this court, under the act by which it was established, were allowed the
exercise of judicial authority, having the same jurisdiction as Justices of the
Peace. It consisted of a County Judge and two Associate Justices. The Judge
and the Associates acted together in the transaction of county business only.
The Justices had an equal vote with the Judge and received the same salary while
holding court, which as $2 a day. Two of the three constituted a quorum for the
transaction of business. George C. Lanphere was the first County Judge,
with James M. Hunter and Alfred Brown as Associate Judges. During
the existence of this court township organization was brought forward, discussed
and finally adopted, which relieved this body from further charge of county
matters. Its last meeting was held March 4, 1853, when it adjourned sine die.
BOARD OF SUPERVISORS
During the spring
elections of 1853 a Board of Supervisors was elected, which consisted of one
Supervisor from each township, there being 20 townships. This Board held its
first session June 6, 1853, in the court house at Knoxville. At this meeting 16
townships were represented by the following named Supervisors: Daniel Meek,
W. S. Gale, Reuben Heflin, J. P. West, G.W. Manly, J.M. Foster, S.S. Buffum,
J.C. Stanley, Augustus Lapham, W.M. Clark, J.H. Nicholson, J.L. Jarnagin, E.P.
Dunlap, Peter Frans, Asa Haynes, and E. Crane. This Board proved
very competent in the administration of the affairs of the county.
The Board first organized
by electing Daniel Meek Chairman. The first order made by them was that
the Clerk issue an order on the Treasurer, in favor of John Miller, for
$9, for extra labor as Road Supervisor for the year 1852 in Road District No.
The Board of Supervisors
for Knox County has generally been composed of men of broad, expansive ideas,
progressive, and partaking largely of that character of human kindness so
It was but a few years
after their first assembling when they took measures to provide a suitable place
for the poor and demented people of the county. The main building and the west
wing were completed in 1866, and in 1877 the east wing was finished.
When the Rebellion broke
out the Board of Supervisors were unflinching in their patriotism and untiring
in their zeal to do all in their power for the preservation of the Union. To
them in a great measure was the State indebted for the ever prompt response of
the people of Knox County to the call for soldiers.
In the early part of 1874
the Supervisors contracted for the erection of a new court house, which was made
in April 1884. The action of the Board was almost unanimous in this matter.
Plans were adopted and contracts were let soon after. As this may justly be
regarded as the crowning act in the administration of the Board of Supervisors,
this brief sketch will close with the names of the members under whose direction
the building was commenced, and who were a committee on construction: R. H.
Mathews, Milton B. Harden, J. S. Latimer, James Paden, W. S. Gale, Gen. W.
Foote, S. H. Olson, M.D. Cooke, Thomas McKee, Samuel Rankin, W. May, L.A.
Townsend, Luther Clark, A.G. Charles, H. Montgomery, William Robson, J. M.
Allen, Jason Boynton, James Rebstock, E .J. Wyman, W. H. Leighton, J.W. Andrews,
John Sloan, W. H. Parker, C. P. Sansbury Sr., and W. B. Todd.
There is no profession
that occupies so important a position in our political or social system as the
legal. It is associated with the closest of family ties, and is often solicited
to adjust disputes and misunderstandings which are in their nature most vital to
the peace and happiness of domestic life. To this profession are we also
indebted for our constitutions and our laws, and, in a great measure, the
management and direction of our political system. On it must we depend for the
enforcement of our laws, the punishment of its violators, and the maintenance of
peace and good order in our communities. The judicial system of Knox County, as
at present constituted, may be divided into the Justices’ Courts, County Court
and the Circuit Court. Philip Hash was the first Justice of the Peace in
The first term of the
first Circuit Court held in Knox County was opened Friday, Oct. 1, 1830, at the
residence of John B. Gum, in Henderson Township, section 32. Officers
present: Richard M. Young, Judge; John G. Sanburn, Clerk;
Stephen Osborn, Sheriff; and James M. Strode, Attorney pro tem.
The first order was for
spreading on the records previous orders for the organization of the county.
The next order of Judge Young was one appointing John G. Sanburn Clerk of
the Circuit Court, made June 10, 1830. On July 5, he made an order fixing the
days for the holding of the court, which was in such places as may be selected
and provided by the County Commissioners’ Court, on the Thursday after the
fourth Monday in June, and the Friday after the first Monday in October.
The Sheriff returned into court a
panel of the Grand Jurors, consisting of the following named persons, to wit:
Hiram Palmer, Parnach Owen, Benjamin Coy, James Reynolds, John B. Gum, William
Lewis, John Vaughn, Charles Hansford, James McMurtry, Alex. Robertson, Daniel
Robertson, Robert Grunwell, Solomon Denbow, Alex. Osborn, and Jacob Gum.
The jury, after having been sworn, retired to their room. The jury soon
returned into court, made a report in relation to the jail, which was ordered to
be filed. They also stated to the Court that there were no cases for them to
examine and asked to be discharged, which was done by the Court.
The Petit Jurors were
called and answered to their names. There being no cases before the court for
them to try, they were ordered to be discharged.
On the second day, it
appearing that there was no other business before the court but to order that
the County Commissioners’ Court pay Stephen Osborn, Sheriff of Knox
County, for two days’ service of the court, and then it was ordered that the
court adjourn “until court in course”.
The next term, June 1832,
was more remarkable than the first. They had a Grand Jury, but it was at sea;
it had no business before it and knew of no violations of law, and asked that
they be discharged, which was done. There being no cases on the docket, either
criminal or civil, the court adjourned.
The first case heard
before the court was a suit for divorce by Rhoda Tanner, complainant,
against John Tanner, at the October term 1832. This case was continued
for the defendant’s answer this term, and was finally disposed of at the
September term, 1834, by granting the prayer of the complainant.
The first murder trial
was that of John Root, a Swede, from Henry County. He had been educated
as an American, but became attached to a young Swedish girl who had recently
came over from Sweden, and who belonged to the Bishop Hill colony. A man by the
name of Eric Jansen was the autocrat of this colony and refused to allow
Mrs. Root to leave it be live with her husband among the Americans.
Mr. Root brought suit
against Jansen at Cambridge, and while the case was pending, shot and killed him
in the court room, while the people were mostly out at dinner. Root was
indicted for murder and was brought to Knoxville for trial, where he was
convicted of manslaughter and sentenced by the court to the penitentiary. He
served about a year and was pardoned.
Ephraim J. Young
was tried for murder at the October term of 1857, and was sentenced for
manslaughter for a term of six months.
The most important murder
trial was that of John M. Osborne for the murder of Mrs. Adelia M.
Mathews, about a mile west of Yates City, Aug. 5, 1872. He was a short time
in the army, and subsequently became a member of the “Western Bandits”.
He was sent, for crimes committed while with this band of outlaws, to the
penitentiary of Iowa for two and a half years. After his release he came to
McDonough County under the name of Frank Clark, and worked awhile. From
there he came to Galesburg and remained awhile. In 1871 he went to live with
his aunt near Yates City, where he married his cousin. He then went to work for
Mr. Mathews, the husband of the murdered woman. On the day of the murder
he went to the house of Mr. Mathews, where he found Mrs. Mathews alone. As she
was going down cellar for some butter for his dinner, he followed, and while she
was stooping over to take some butter out of a tub, he struck her on the back of
the head with a brickbat, then with a board, and finally cut her throat with a
knife. He did not run away, but joined in the pursuit of the murderer.
Suspicion was finally directed to Osborne; he was arrested, indicted at the
October term of Court, 1872, and at the February term of 1873 was tried and
convicted of murder in the first degree. After a most exciting trial of eight
days, he was sentenced on February 20 to be hung. He was executed in the jail
yard at Knoxville and was buried in Hope Cemetery. State’s Attorney J.J.
Tunnicliff prosecuted the case, assisted by A.M. Craig. George W.
Kretzinger and A.L. Humphrey defended the prisoner. This was the
first and only criminal executed in Knox County.
Following the above there
were several trials for murder, none of which resulted in more than a
penitentiary sentence. The most important of these was that of Frank Rande,
who had several aliases, but whose real name was Charles C. Scott, who
was from Fairfield, Iowa, and tried for what was known as the Gilson
murder. It occurred Sunday afternoon, Aug. 5, 1877. A burglary had been
committed, tracks discovered of the burglar, and pursuit was made by a number of
armed people. He fired several shots, wounded Willie Helter, James Pickrel,
Charles McKown, and killed Charles Belden. He escaped, but was
subsequently captured in St. Louis, MO., after killing one of the officers in
their attempt to arrest him. He was also wounded. He was brought back to Knox
County, and after a long and exciting trial, in which State’s Attorney J.J.
Tunnicliff nobly acquitted himself, was found guilty and sentenced to the
penitentiary for life.
Another noted murder trial was that
of Belle Spaulding for the killing of Martin O’Connor,
formerly her husband. This was an affair of jealousy. O’Connor had been riding
out with a woman by the name of May Robinson, and returned to the livery
stable at the same time that Belle did, who had been driving with Carrie Reed.
Belle reproached May for keeping company with O’Connor, and a furious combat of
words ensued, during which O’Connor withdrew. Returning to the stable, Belle
commenced on him, quarreling with him as they walked along Simmons street. They
had proceeded but a little way when Belle drew a revolver and shot her former
husband twice, inflicting a mortal wound. He died within an hour. After
shooting, Belle shot herself, the ball entering her left breast. For several
days she was hovering between life and death, but finally recovered sufficiently
to be taken to the jail. She was the daughter of Dr. J.W. Spaulding, who
was at one time one of the leading physicians of Galesburg. She was tried and
The officials of the
court and the members of the bar did not have in the early days the luxurious
modes of travel nor the pleasant places of habitation that they now enjoy,
neither was it possible to surround the court with that dignity which has always
been thought necessary, and which our modern civilization offers. Judge
Richard M. Young and State’s Attorney Thomas Ford were wont during
the early times to travel about their extensive district together. On one
occasion, while going from Galena to Knoxville, they wandered from the main
trail and became lost. They traveled on, but failed to reach their destination
or any other habitation. Night came on and they found themselves in darkness,
and in a strange country without food or shelter. They made their bed upon
Mother Earth in the wild forest, and passed the night. When daylight dawned
they arose and started on their journey, but failed to reach the little log
court house in the new town of Knoxville. At last they came to Mrs.
Elizabeth Owen’s cabin in Haw Creek Township, and from there were directed
to Knoxville. The tavern at Knoxville was a double-room log cabin, in which
there was also a store, both kept by Mr. Newman. There was a low garret,
and into this place the two principal officers of the court were directed for
their nightly repose. A ladder was placed in one corner, on which they
ascended, and after groping around for awhile laid themselves down on their rude
couches for that sleep that comes to the high and the low. Judge Young was
afterward a distinguished United States Senator, and Attorney Ford Governor of
The Probate Court was
established under a law passed in 1836, which provided for a Probate Justice of
the Peace, who had charge of all probate matters, and who was also vested with
the same power and jurisdiction in civil cases as was given to Justices of the
Peace. The first term of this court was held Aug. 26, 1836, with H. J.
Runkle presiding. The first act of this court was to issue letters of
administration to Peter Godfrey, on the estate of Joseph Godfrey.
Judge Runkle served until 1837, and was succeeded by R.L. Hannaman. This
system remained in force until 1849, when a County Court was established.
In 1849, the General
Assembly, under the constitution of 1848, passed an act, which was approved
February 12, providing for a court of record to be styled the County Court, and
to be presided over by a County Judge. Under this act the County Court was
vested with all the powers and jurisdiction heretofore vesting in the Probate
Court; and in addition thereto, it was further provided that the County Judge,
with two associates, should sit as a County Court and have all the powers that
were vested in the Commissioners’ Court, the latter under this act being
The first term of this
Court was held Dec. 3, 1849, Judge George C. Lanphere presiding. This
court had charge of county matters until the organization of the Board of
Supervisors in 1853.
In 1872 the General
Assembly passed an act giving it concurrent jurisdiction with the Circuit Court
in all civil cases, where the value of property in controversy should not exceed
$500; and in all criminal cases, where the punishment was not imprisonment in
the penitentiary or death.
JUDGES, STATE’S ATTORNEYS AND MEMBERS OF THE BAR
Space will only permit a
brief history of the Judges who have presided at Knoxville and Galesburg, and of
the State’s Attorneys and members of the bar. Hon. Richard M. Young, who
resided at Galena, was the first Judge to preside in this circuit. In 1833 he
transferred his residence to Quincy. He remained in office until January 1837,
when he resigned to take his place in the United States Senate. He was born in
Kentucky, and was among the first settlers in Northern Illinois. He was of
unimpeachable character, a good lawyer, and did much to give tone and dignity to
the bench and the bar.
This circuit was changed
to the 10th, then to the 8th, and back again to the 10th,
embracing, as it is constituted at present, the counties of Knox, Warren,
Mercer, Henderson, Henry and Rock Island. Hon. James H. Ralston, also a
native of Kentucky, succeeded Judge Young. He resigned the same year on account
of ill health. In 1840 he was elected to the State Senate. Hon. Peter Lott,
formerly from New York, succeeded Judge Ralston, and served till January 1841.
He was afterward appointed Circuit Clerk of Adams County, and served until
1852. He went west and died in Kansas.
Hon. Stephen A.
Douglas was elected as Judge of the District in 1841, and continued in
office until the summer of 1843, when he resigned to take his seat in the United
States Congress. The ability he showed as a judge and his popularity on the
bench were accessories to his political elevation. His sociability also made
him popular. While a suit was pending he watched every point of law, and kept
track of all the proceedings, while at the same time he would leave the bench,
go back among the spectators—“the boys”—talk with Tom, Dick or Bill, take or
give a cigar, and enjoy a social smoke with them, oftentimes sitting on their
laps, at the same time closely following the cause on trial.
Hon. Jesse B. Thomas
succeeded Judge Douglas, and served until 1845, when he resigned. He had a
clear, judicial mind, and made an excellent judge, discharging his duties with
credit to himself and satisfaction to the people. He was subsequently appointed
to another circuit and died soon after.
Hon. Norman H. Purple
was the next judge to preside over this circuit. He was elected in 1845, and
served till 1849, when he resigned. He was distinguished for his legal
attainments and executive ability.
Hon. William A.
Minshall, a native of Tennessee, was elected in May 1849, and served till
his death, in October 1851. He had been prominent in politics before his
election, having been a member of the Legislature and also of the Constitutional
Convention. He was a good lawyer and an excellent judge. He has been dead
these many years.
Hon. William Kellogg
succeeded Judge Minshall, and remained on the bench till 1852. He was from
Canton, and was an eminent lawyer and made a fair and impartial judge. He has
been dead some years.
Hon. H.M. Weed
presided on the bench from 1852 to 1855. He was a fair lawyer, but did not
achieve much distinction as a judge. He died in Peoria.
Hon. John S. Thompson,
from Mercer County, served from 1855 to 1860, and again from 1860 to 1864. He
was not brilliant, but was a careful judge and gave general satisfaction. He
went to California, where he accumulated a fortune and is still living to enjoy
Hon. Aaron Tyler,
from Knoxville, served from 1860 to 1861. He was only a medium lawyer, and
achieved no special distinction as a judge. He was appointed to fill a
vacancy. He died in Knoxville some years ago.
Hon. Charles B.
Lawrence presided on the bench from 1861 to 1864. As a lawyer he was good
in all branches of the profession, except in criminal cases. He presided with
distinction, and was an ornament to the bench. He was one of the ablest judges
that ever presided in this circuit. He was promoted to the bench of the Supreme
Court of the State, where he remained several years, adding new laurels to his
judicial fame. His health giving way, he made a visit to the South in 1884,
with the hope that change of air and rest would restore his physical power and
renew his vital energies. But it was too late. He died before he reached home,
and his remains were brought back and interred in Mount Hope Cemetery at
served from 1866 to 1867. He was a fair judge, discharging his duties
Judicial District is represented at present by three judges: Arthur A. Smith
of Galesburg, John J. Glenn of Monmouth, and George W. Pleasants
of Rock Island. The judges divide their work between them, but generally
arrange so that they sit in the courts of their respective counties. Arthur
A. Smith assumed the ermine in the fall of 1867. He was reared in this
county, where he secured his legal education. He is a good, sound lawyer, and a
man of strict integrity. John J. Glenn was elected in 1877. He had
distinguished himself as a lawyer and advocate before he was promoted to the
bench, and had a good practice. Judge Glenn is a man of fine executive ability,
very ready and clear in his solution of legal question, sound in his judicial
decisions, and irreproachable. He is noted, also, for the large amount of
judicial business dispatched during his sessions in court.
George W. Pleasants
was elected to this circuit in 1879, but seldom presides at Galesburg. He is
well-read in his profession, of good executive ability, very correct in his
decisions, and conscientious in the discharge of his duties.
In 1877 this circuit was
changed from the 8th to the 10th. The 8th
Circuit, comprising Knox, Warren and Henderson Counties, was consolidated with
the Northern Circuit, consisting of Mercer, Henry and Rock Island Counties, and
is now called the 10th Judicial District.
Below is given a brief
notice of the State’s Attorneys of the districts of which Knox County has formed
a part. One of the most talented and distinguished of all the bright galaxy of
men who have held this position in this District was the first, Hon. Thomas
Ford, who served from the organization of the county to 1835. He possessed
a high and noble mind and was an assiduous law student, untiring in his
application to his professional duties, and of strict integrity. He was,
subsequent to his retirement from this office, elected Judge of one of the
northern districts. In 1842 he was elected Governor of Illinois. His term of
office embraced the period of the Mormon and Mexican Wars, which was a very
critical era in the history of the State. He discharged his trusts, however,
with eminent ability. He was a man also of literary tastes and wrote one of the
most authentic histories of the State ever published. He was born in Uniontown,
Pa., in the year 1800, and died at Peoria, IL., Nov. 2, 1850.
The successor of Mr. Ford
was Wm. A. Richardson, who served till 1837. Like his predecessor, his
character and public services are too well known to require much comment. He
had the perseverance and courage to carry out his convictions, and was
conscientious in the discharge of his official duties. He was an able lawyer
and a fine advocate.
Henry L. Bryant
followed Mr. Richardson, serving from 1837 to 1839. He was a good lawyer and
acquitted himself in this office creditably.
was the next incumbent. He served the long period of 11 years. He was an able
lawyer, successful before a jury, and distinguished himself as a prosecuting
attorney. He was a warm-hearted, genial man and much attached to his friends.
R. S. Blackwell,
from Rushville, succeeded Mr. Elliott. He was one of the most distinguished
lawyers in the State, and had no superior at this bar. He was pre-eminent in
criminal practice, and a great advocate, carrying most of the attorneys and jury
with him. In social intercourse he was a desirable companion, possessing great
wit and fine conversational powers.
Harman G. Reynolds,
from Rock Island, served as attorney from 1852 to 1854. He made a fair
prosecutor. After his term expired he moved to Springfield, where he lived
awhile, and then went to Kansas.
William C. Goudy,
from Fulton County, succeeded Mr. Reynolds, serving in Knox County for about one
year. Mr. Goudy was a genial man, a good lawyer and advocate, discharging his
duties as Prosecuting Attorney with ability and satisfaction to the public. He
was a prominent politician, taking part in all the conventions of his party,
which was Democratic, and was a member of the State Senate at one time. He
moved to Chicago and is still in practice there.
James H. Stewart
was Mr. Goudy’s successor. He was elected and re-elected, serving ten years,
until 1865. Mr. Stewart was an able lawyer and a good prosecuting attorney.
James A. McKenzie
served from 1865 to 1872. He was a strong prosecutor, eloquent in his addresses
before a jury, and very effective.
J. J. Tunnicliff
succeeded Mr. McKenzie in 1872, and is the present incumbent, having been three
times re-elected. He was born in Pen Yan, N.Y., March 17, 1841, and was
educated at Hamilton College, N.Y.
Mr. Tunnicliff is a good
lawyer and an able advocate. He is one of the best prosecuting attorneys that
has ever held the position in this district. He is indefatigable in the trial
of a cause, careful in all the details, and forcible in his arguments before a
jury. It is very seldom that a criminal brought before him escapes punishment.
Julius Manning was
one of the most brilliant lawyers of the Knox County bar, and had in his day few
equals in the State. He was born in Canada, but was educated at Middleburg
College, N.Y. He came to Knoxville in 1839, and opened his office with Hiram
Swift, under the firm name of Manning & Swift. The latter died at an early
age. He was a well-read lawyer, but not brilliant. In 1844, Manning formed a
partnership with Robert L. Hannaman, under the name of Manning &
Hannaman, which partnership continued for seven years.
In 1853 Mr. Manning moved
to Peoria. He was at one time County Judge, member of the Legislature, and
member of the Constitutional Convention. He was a man of fine appearance, and
eloquent speaker, and almost unrivaled before a jury. He died July 4, 1862 at
Knoxville and his remains were interred in Knoxville Cemetery.
Robert L. Hannaman,
one of the first men to open practice in Knox County, was born in Portsmouth,
Ohio in 1803. He received a common-school education and then studied
surveying. He subsequently studied law and was admitted to practice in 1831.
When he first came to Knoxville he embarked in the mercantile business. In 1837
he was elected Probate Justice and was re-elected, holding the position until
In 1844 he formed a
partnership with Julius Manning, which was dissolved in 1851. Subsequently Mr.
Hannaman formed a partnership with T.J. Hale, and afterward Clayton
Hale came in, the firm being then Hannaman, Hale & Co. This firm continued
until the war broke out, and the junior partner went into the army. The old
firm was continued until Hale was elected Circuit Clerk. Judge Hannaman was a
good lawyer, both as a counselor and an advocate, conscientious and successful.
(See his biography).
Curtis K. Harvey
was a very prominent and promising young lawyer of Galesburg. He was born in
Knoxville and educated at Knox College, where he was graduated. He was admitted
to the bar in 1869, and subsequently formed a partnership with Leander
Douglass of Galesburg. He was a man of fine ability, talented, and an
eloquent and forcible pleader. He died March 2, 1878, in the prime of life and
just at the beginning of what promised to be a useful and successful career.
Hon. G.C. Lanphere,
recently deceased, was one of the reliable and prominent members of the bar for
PRESENT MEMBERS OF THE BAR
The present bar is
composed of Robert L. Hannaman, J.J. Tunnicliff, James A. McKenzie, George
Tunnicliff, O.P. Cooley, George W. Thompson, George A. Lawrence, Edgar A.
Bancroft, Zelotes Cooley, A.M. Brown, Albert J. Perry, W.C. Calkins, Arthur A.
Smith Jr., E.P. Williams, Fletcher Corney, F.A. Willoughby, F.S. Murphy, George
W. Prince, William B. Bradford, Charles S. Harris, A.C. Mason, J.L. Hastings, J.
B. Boggs, R.C. Hunt, Eugene W. Welch, Josiah Gale, William Andrews, F. F. Cook,
T.L. McGirr, J.L. Wells, L,K, Byers, A.S. Curtis, E.H. West, P. H. Sanford, E.A.
Corbin, W.H. Clark, S.H. Ritchey, Charles H. Nelson, A.P. Richercau, T.J. Hale,
and H.N. Cately.
The first court house,
which was only temporary, was the residence of John B. Gum, on section
32, Henderson Township, where the first term of the Circuit Court was held,
Friday, Oct. 1, 1830. After the location of the county seat at Knoxville, in
1831, the County Commissioners contracted for the erection of a court house.
The entire cost when finished and furnished was $395.43. It was completed in
the spring of 1831, and was a log building, two stories high, containing several
windows, and was quite an imposing structure for those days.
In 1836 the County
Commissioners decided to have a new court house, and on September 6 instructed
the Clerk to advertise for plans. On the 10th of March, 1838, the
contract was let for the sum of $15,450, with the agreement that the building
should be completed by May 1, 1840.
It was erected in the
center of the northern portion of the Public Square at Knoxville, where it still
stands. It is a two-story brick and contains six rooms. At that day it was
regarded as a very fine court house. Since the county seat was removed to
Galesburg, it has been used for offices, and as a hall for entertainments.
The new court house
served the purposes of the county until 1873, when the county seat was removed
to Galesburg. Here a temporary building was erected for county offices and
court room, which is still occupied. The question of building a new court house
commensurate with the demands and the wealth of the county had long been a
subject of thought and conversation by the people of the county and their
representatives, but it was not until 1884 that the subject assumed any form.
At the annual spring elections of this year most of the townships instructed
their Supervisors to take steps for the erection of a county building.
Accordingly, at the meeting of the Board in April, the matter was brought up and
it was determined to have a new court house, which was the most important work
undertaken since the organization of the county. A committee was appointed from
the Board to especially look after the matter, consisting of Messrs. Gale,
Robertson, Sloan, Charles, Hardin and Leighton. The first thing to
determine was the needs of the county, and then what the county could or ought
to pay. This done, plans and specifications were called for. The design
selected was the one presented by E.E. Myers, of Detroit, Mich. The
site, the east half of College Park, had already been donated by the city of
Galesburg. It was hoped by the committee that the court house could be built in
accordance with the plans for $100,000. But the lowest bid received, which was
$114,311.52, by Dawson & Anderson, of Toledo, was accepted, with the agreement
that the building should be completed on or before Sept. 1, 1886. The
corner-stone was laid June 24, 1885, under the auspices of the Masonic Grand
Lodge of Illinois. Some 40 lodges were here from different parts of the State.
Grand Master Alex. T. Darrah and nearly all the officers of the Grand
Lodge were present. After the deposit of records, papers, etc., the Grand
Master laid the stone with the beautiful and impressive rites of the fraternity.
The architecture of the
new court house is almost purely Norman. It is three stories high, with a
basement, and stands facing the east. On the northeast corner rises in
beautiful proportions the tower to a height of 141 feet, on a bed of concrete 18
inches thick. Up to the grade line the walls, which are heavy, are stone, and
above this line brick, with stone facings of Bedford limestone.
In the basement are the
steam heating arrangements, and also a complete ventilating apparatus with
exhaust fan and pipes, which connect with every room in the building. The
courtroom is provided with a grate, and so arranged that the ashes drop into a
pit in the basement. The foundation for the floor of the first story is of
wrought-iron beams, stayed with cross rods, with a formation of brick arches
between and leveled up with concrete. The other floors are similarly
constructed. Iron stairways lead from one floor to the other. The windows are
of heavy plate glass, and are shaded with inside blinds. The floors in all the
rooms are made of hard pine, that of the corridors of marble and encaustic
tile. The roof is constructed with iron rafters, with corrugated-iron arches
between, filled up with concrete and covered with slate. On the first floor are
located the offices of the County and Circuit Clerks, the offices of the
Sheriff, County Superintendent, Recorder and Treasurer, and County Judge.
On the second floor is
the Circuit Court room, the County Court room, the law library, private rooms
for the Judges, State’s Attorney’s and Master in Chancery’s offices,
consultation and witness rooms. The courtroom is 47 X 57 feet in dimensions,
with high ceiling and a commodious gallery for the use of visitors. The hall on
this floor is a spacious one, with fine arches over the passage ways. The third
floor is arranged principally for jury-rooms, but has a small court-room, or
hall, for the use of the Supervisors or other purposes. This structure is
elegant in every way, inside and out. In the inside there is no attempt in the
finishing and furnishing at much embellishment, but everything is neat, tasteful
and substantial. The building is a credit to the good taste and judgment of the
people who erected it, and a monument to their culture and refinement.
The first jail erected in
the county was constructed of logs. The contract was let to John G. Sanburn,
Sept. 14, 1832, for $250. It stood north of the courthouse, on the west side of
the Square. With the growth of the county came the increase of offenses against
the law, and this primitive log prison became too small for its patronage. In
1841 a contract was let Alvah Wheeler to build a brick jail, who in 1845
completed the building. It was a two-story brick and stone building and stood
on the northeast corner of the Square. It is now used as a tenement-house.
In the latter part of
1873 the Board of Supervisors finally decided to erect a new jail, and
advertised for plans and bids. The plan of William Quagle was accepted,
and January 14, 1874, a contract was let to Ira R. Stevens for $34,000.
The building was completed in the fall, and was occupied by the Sheriff Oct. 3,
1874, and subsequently the prisoners were transferred from the old jail at
Knoxville. It is a two-story building with basement, and attractive in its
architecture. In front are rooms for the residence of the Sheriff and offices.
The basement is of stone, the superstructure of brick, trimmed with stone. The
jail contains 30 cells, 4 ½ by 7 feet, and 7 ½ feet in height, with 6-inch stone
walls. The doors of the cells are all locked from the dining hall, and so
arranged that the attendants are not required to come in contact with the
prisoners. In the rear portion of the second story of the dwelling part are the
female and debtors’ apartments, consisting of three large and airy rooms. Here
also is a sleeping apartment for the Turnkey and a bath-room. A good fence
surrounds the grounds, which are well kept, adding much to the general
The present condition of
the building is indicative of the good and efficient management at the hands of
the county’s able and gentlemanly Sheriff, J.A. Stuckey.
For many years after the
settlement of the county, the provisions for the poor were very limited. In
1856 there was a farm and a small building for the keeper’s family and the
inmates, who were necessarily crowded together. Many of the paupers who were
idiotic or insane were assigned to two small chambers. A very small cell was
fitted up for “crazy Hannah” so that she could not hurt herself.
March 5, 1856, the Board
of Supervisors purchased the west half of the southwest quarter of section 21,
Knox Township, for a Poor Farm, for $3,000. In 1866 the Board of Supervisors
appointed a committee, consisting of Rufus Miles, L.E. Conger, and
Cephas Arms, to superintend the construction of an almshouse. Another
committee was appointed to select a location. A majority of this committee
selected and purchased the northwest quarter of section 24. Galesburg Township,
for which they paid $8,000; but this was not used and the land was subsequently
sold for $9,000. The Board of Supervisors secured additional land adjoining the
old farm, and decided to make that the permanent location. When this was
determined, a contract for the erection of a building was let to William
Armstrong, for $26,000. This amount was increased to $39,037.21, for
furniture, heating apparatus, and stocking the farm. This only completed the
main building and the west wing.
In 1876, in accordance
with the original plan, a contract for building the east wing was awarded to
Parry & Stevens, for $17,000. The work was soon completed, which gave to Knox
County one of the finest and best arranged almshouses in the State. It is of
gothic style of architecture and constructed of brick and limestone. The design
was the work of W.W. Boyington, of Chicago. It is two stories high, with
basement. It has 166 feet front by 80 feet in depth, and having in all about
100 rooms. In the male department on the main floor are dining hall, sitting
room, chapel, and sleeping rooms with bathrooms attached. In the chapel,
religious services are held. This room is also used for funeral services. The
whole is heated by steam, the heat being supplied by radiators. Several of the
rooms are made additionally attractive by the presence of beautiful and fragrant
flowers. There are at present 115 inmates, who are about equally divided
between the sexes. The farm embraces 140 acres of rich land, and is located
about one mile north of Knoxville. Twenty cows are kept for the use of the
The almshouse has been
under the management for many years of Dr. McClelland, the County
Physician, who seems to be endowed with special qualities to take charge of an
institution of this kind. Dr. McClelland is also well qualified for his
position, and is affectionately regarded by the inmates. The institution
altogether seems as complete in all its arrangements as is possible, and that
reflects great credit upon the people of Knox County.