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          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.

          Father Marquette’s 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 and Cahokia.

          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 recording purposes.

          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, 1829.

          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.

          Daniel Robertson 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 the acre.

          Thomas Sheldon, 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. GumDr. 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 Galena.

          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 family.

          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 overshadowed all.

          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 crossroads.

          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 Rupublicans.

          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 it did.

          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.

          Julius Manning 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 transportation.

          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 to Galesburg.

          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 county.

          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, $2,833,922.

          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 cents.

          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 Stephen Osborn.

          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 prosperity.



          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.



          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. 27.

          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 commendable.

          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 county.


          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: 

          William McMurtry, 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. CraigGeorge 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 acquitted.

          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 State. 


          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 abolished.

          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.



          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 it.

          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 Galesburg.

          Joseph Sibley served from 1866 to 1867.  He was a fair judge, discharging his duties faithfully.

          This (10th) 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.

          William Elliott 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 1849.

          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 many years.



          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 appearance.

          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 almshouse.

          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.


          No greater evidence can be adduced of the patriotism of the people of Knox County than that presented in her record of the War for the Union.  The love of country implanted here by the early settlers did not die out, but was strengthened by time.  The report of the great guns which sent their destructive shot against Fort Sumter had hardly ceased to echo before the people of Knox County rushed to arms, and call after call was responded to with alacrity during the years of the
Rebellion, and neither age, infirmities nor youth kept them from offering their services, their lives on the alter of their country.  Over 4,000 of as brave men as ever marched against an enemy went out from Knox County, many never to return; some to die before the deadly missiles, some in trenches and on battle-fields, others in horrid, cruel prisons and in hospitals.

          The first to resent the act of treason in Knox County, and probably the first in the State, were G.W. Bainbridge, Wm. McBride and Joseph Gibbs.

          When the fall of Fort Sumter had been flashed by the electric wires over the country, Mr. Bainbridge, though in the middle of the night, mounted his horse and rode to Jonathan Gibbs’ in Lynn Township, and calling the old “squire” up, made known to him the news, exclaiming, with bated breath, “Our country is in danger and we must go to her aid”.  Mr. McBride and young Gibbs, who had been aroused from their slumbers, then came in, and here, before the midnight lamp, this trio of young patriots took a solemn oath, administered by “Squire Gibbs”, “that they would remain true and loyal to the Union.”  To make the scene more impressive, the old gentleman, in trembling tones, exhorted them to be faithful and true and he would look to them for protection.  Could the people of the Southern States have witnessed this scene, it is not unreasonable to suppose that, at least, there would have been less States to secede.

          Early the next morning these brave boys rode into Knoxville to offer their services to the country.  No call had been made yet for troops, and no enlistments could be received, but they left their names.  Subsequently they enlisted in the 1st Illinois Volunteer Cavalry.

          At the first call for troops Knox County very quickly more than raised her quota, and so continued until nearly the end of the struggle.

          President Lincoln issued a call Dec. 21, 1864, which was his last, for 300,000 volunteers.  At this time there were comparatively few able-bodied men in the county, enlistment was slow, and it was thought that, unless there was some extra inducement offered, a draft, which patriotic people much disliked, would have to be made to meet the quota.  A draft had been ordered to take place Feb. 15, 1865.  Accordingly the Board of Supervisors, who had ever been prompt and ready to do everything in their power to assist the cause of the Union, passed a resolution offering a bounty of $300 for each acceptable recruit.  A resolution was also offered and passed at this time exempting soldiers in the field, or those that might hereafter be, widows who have sons in the army, or who may hereafter volunteer, from the payment of the bounty tax levy.

          From the first appeal to arms, the people of Knox County, with a generosity and a devotion unexcelled by any county in the Union, looked after the boys in the field and provided for their families at home.

          Soon after the first enlistment, the Board of Supervisors, made an order for the support of volunteers, pending marching orders.  At the same meeting (May 13, 1861) a resolution was passed for a committee to be appointed to inquire into the expediency of the Board appropriating a sum of money for the support of families of citizens who had entered the service of the country.  The following day the Committee reported:  “The Committee are of the opinion that the county should make provisions to secure from want the families of volunteers during their absence on service”.  There were many acts of this Board during the war equally as generous and patriotic, which were fully sustained by the people.  Another resolution was, that the Sheriff be required to erect on the courthouse a suitable standard with the flag of the American Union thereon, which should be displayed during the sessions of the Board and the Courts.  Bounty funds were liberally appropriated by this Board, and everything was done that could be to assist those in the field and provide for those they left behind at home.

          Space will only permit a brief mention of the war or the incidents connected with it.  We think this work would be incomplete if it did not mention Mrs. Bickerdyke, “Mother Bickerdyke”, as she was affectionately called, who went from the county to the camps and hospitals to alleviate the sufferings of the wounded and cheer their hearts.  She was one of the first to go into the camps and the last to come out.  She instituted many reforms in the hospitals and made many a poor soldier happy.  One of her memorable acts was to come North and secure 200 cows and 1,000 chickens and take them back to Memphis for the use of the soldiers.

          The Soldiers’ Aid Society also did a noble work.  They were ever active and untiring in their zeal to comfort the soldier and relieve his wants.  These noble women could not fight, but they could aid and comfort the wounded and sick who did fight to save the life of the nation.  Volunteers from Knox County were in most of the hard-fought battles of the Southwest—Fort Donelson, Pea Ridge, Shiloh, Stone River, Vicksburg, Chattanooga, Nashville, and many others, and in all they distinguished themselves for their bravery.  There were soldiers from the county in the 7th, 8th, 10th, 14th, and 16th Infantry.  In the 17th Infantry, which was mustered into the service at Peoria, Ill, May 24, 1861, there were 131 volunteers from Knox County.  In all the regiments of infantry, to the 148th, Knox County was more or less represented.

          In the cavalry service Knox County was well represented, in all 605 men.  In the 1st Cavalry there were 152; in the 7th, 212; in the 11th, 108; in the 14th, 72; and a few in the 8th, 9th and 12th.  There were also enlistments in the 1st and 2nd  Light Artillery, and quite a number of colored men who went out to join colored regiments.  The service rendered by Knox County in battling against treason, and in the preservation of the Union, is one to be proud of by her citizens, although many of her bravest sons fell in the conflict for freedom and sleep in Southern graves, or returned to die and be buried at home, and although many seats were made vacant around her. 


            During the Civil War there enlisted from Knox County 3,876 men, eighty-seven of them for one hundred days, and one hundred and seven for one year.  Their names can be found in a pamphlet published under direction of the Memorial Hall Committee of the G.A.R. posts of Knox County in 1896.  There also will be found a full account of the Memorial Hall given by Knox County, which is located on the third floor of the court house and which is under the immediate charge of Post No. 45, of Galesburg.  There is space here only to say that in the hall are many relics of more than passing interest and that both the hall and the war museum are due to the efforts of the G.A.R. posts of this county.

            In December, 1895, the members of the Galesburg G. A. R. and W. R. C. determined that a soldiers’ monument should be erected in Galesburg, and Colonel Lew Ginger, of Colorado Springs, Colorado, was secured to come here and aid in raising funds.  A fair was held in Company C’s armory January 29-31, 1896, when nearly $1,850 was raised and a committee, composed of L. S. Lambert, L. W. Sanborn, Mrs. F.A. Blazer, and Mrs. E.R. McCullough, was appointed to contract for a suitable monument.  Hope Cemetery authorities gave the site, at the northeast corner of the cemetery, and about $45 was spent in improving the grounds.  April 30, 1896, George Craig contracted to furnish the monument for $1,800.  The shaft was unveiled October 7, 1896, the exercises being presided over by Mrs. Mary Mc Caulla and W.G. Cochran, State Commanders respectively of the G. A. R. and W. R. C., and under the auspices of those organizations, of Galesburg.  Robert T. Lincoln and Chauncey M. Depew were the speakers of the day.  The monument is of gray Vermont granite, twenty-one feet high, including the base, and is admirably situated to bring out its beauty of design—the figure of a private soldier at “parade rest”.  It is both beautiful and appropriate and will long bear witness to the veneration of Galesburg for Knox County’s “sons in blue”.

            James T. Shields Post No. 45, Galesburg, was instituted August 8, 1869, with thirty charter members.  It was first organized as Galesburg Post, but was changed to the present name after the death of General Shields.  Its first officers were:  Rowley Page, James E. Hall, D.W. Bradshaw, S.F. Flint, C.B. Hyde, and L.S. Lambert.  The present officers are:  R.I. Law, H.F. Fritz, T.G. Cook, L.C. Way, and Miron Rhodes.  The Post now has one hundred and fifty members.

            Post No. 58, Abingdon, was instituted July 16, 1879, with thirty members, the number now being fifty, who meet in Masonic Hall.  The first officers were:  C.W. Bassett, A.M. Hopper, G.M. Bowden, J.H. Miller, and A.W. Cochrun.  The present officers are:  S.D. Letheo, T.H. Roe, D.M. Wiley, A.D. Underwood and A.W. Cochrun.

            George W. Trafton Post No. 239, Knoxville was instituted May 11, 1883, with thirty-six members which has since increased to sixty.  Meetings are held in Charles’ Hall, corner of Main and Mill streets.  The first officers consisted of the following:  J.C. McClanahan, G.G. Stearns, H.L. Clapp, J.B. Tate, and Charles Egan.  The present officers are:  J.W. Tate, George W. Witheral, J.P. Rogers, H.H. Beamer and H.L. Clapp.

            Hancock Post No. 552, Maquon, was organized January 26, 1886, with twenty-three members.  The present officers are:  Albert Smith and John Jones.

            Morgan L. Smith Post No. 666, Yates City, had for its first officers the following:  J. N. Burch, William S. Kleckner, B.F. Pittman, J.B. Reed, J.O. Wren, M.W. French, R.B. Corbin, F.W. Brown, R.A. Lower, Wilson Adams, and D.M. Carter.  The present officers are:  J.A. Hensley, T.F. Cunningham, H.C. Soules, O.P. Fetters, J.O. Wren, and L.A. Lawrence.  The present membership is fifteen.

            T.G. Tait Post No. 698, Victoria, consists of thirty-five members, and the following officers:  C.W. Harrison, G.W. Reynolds, Thomas Woolsey, C.A. Sayer, and S.G. Jarvis.

       G.W. Parker Post No. 700, Williamsfield, was instituted July 22, 1890, with fourteen members, which number has been increased to twenty.  They met first in Tucker’s Hall, but are now given the use of the I.O.O. F. Hall.  The following were the first officers:  John Cole, Samuel Tucker, William M. Pierce, John Oberholtzer, and E.M. Sweeny.  The present officers are:  A. Diefenderfer, A. Hurd, O.J. Oberholtzer, John Cole, E.M. Sweeny, Jacob Lafallett, Frank Bates, C.A. Zenor, and James King.

            James T. Shields Corps No. 121, W.R.C. was instituted August 16, 1888, with twenty-three members, the present number being fifty-seven.  They meet in the G.A.R. Hall.  The first officers were:  Mrs. E.R. McCullough, Mrs. Ella Bradshaw, and Mrs. Sarah Green.  The present officers are:  Mrs. Miron Rhodes, Mrs. Jennie Freer, and Mrs. Stella McDougal.

This was typed and emailed to me for processing by Kathy Mills.  Isn't she a doll.  She keeps it up we'll have all the books online here pretty soon.  I'm far behind in processing what she has typed for me on both my county sites.  Have to get busy and get things going here.  Thanks Kathy.....

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