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Hello, one and all...

I was going to break these all down into sections but have thought better of it and am just going to leave them in the places - books - they were in.  I want to eventually have all three 1800 books on the history of Knox county online.  It will take Kathy and I some time but I think we are up to the task.  This way you will also know where the information came from and be easier for you for your source information. George Candee Gale had a big hand in the completion of this work and would like to dedicate this online version in his name. He was one great, intelligent gentleman to help in the founding of Knox County, IL.  This is part two in this history Book on the History of my county.

You can possibly find some of this information elsewhere on this site; but have decided to put book information with book as am getting Kathy a couple of the history books for all her hard work plus, she wants more to type up and be easier for her to go online and see where we are at in these books to have them online. I can't believe we've come this far in this one.  But we have and am proud of Kathy & myself included as it is much work to get this online for your enjoyment.  Have a wonderful fantastic day.... Thanks, Kath!!! and I know everyone out there who reads these pages thanks you, too!!!

All our best as your host ~ Foxie ~ & as typist Kathy

1899 Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois ~~

Knox County  

page #659 -- ending page #684

PART I

IMMIGRATION TO KNOX COUNTY

             Take the map of the United States, and draw a line from Galesburg through Vincennes, Indiana.  When prolonged, it will penetrate the heart of the blue grass country.  Along that line, as a sort of main channel, with countless outpourings on either side, flowed the tide of settlement from Kentucky, Tennessee, and Virginia.  Down to 1832, the year of the Black Hawk War, Knox County settlers came mainly from these States, either directly, or from temporary homes in southern Indiana and Illinois.  Later, with the termination of Indian hostilities, when immigration was resumed, the tide, at first, set chiefly from the same sources, although the number of settlers from the Northern States gradually increased.

            Eastern immigration set in in full force in 1836, the year of the arrival of the Galesburg Colony.  It was an era of such enterprises, and many colonies of Easterners sought to found cities in the West.  But in one respect the Galesburg Colony stands alone.  It was not a money-making enterprise.  These colonists sought to build up a community, and those original members of the colony, who could not come to live on their lands, were encouraged to surrender their holdings to permanent settlers.  This was in direct contrast with the action of other colonies, where most of the members remained at their Eastern homes, and held their lands simply for speculative purposes.  It is this element of contrast, perhaps, which largely promoted Galesburg’s rapid growth, as compared with the more tardy development of other enterprises of a like general character.

            The immediate addition to the population was considerable.  From that time forward the Southern immigration began to decline, and New York, New England, Ohio and Pennsylvania supplied the majority of the new arrivals.  The first considerable European accession was the Scotch settlement in the northeastern part of the county, chiefly in Copley.  In 1846, a religious and communistic colony, under the leadership of Eric Janson, settled at Bishop Hill, in Henry County, near the northeastern corner of Knox.  Influenced by Rev. Jonas Hedstrom, a Methodist clergyman, who had emigrated from Sweden and who was then living in Victoria, a considerable number seceded from this colony and settled on farms near Victoria.  Steady immigration from Sweden followed.  Some of the new arrivals devoted themselves to agriculture, but more, either preferring, or better prepared for, work in town, came to Galesburg, whose rapid growth from 1850 to 1857 created a demand for their labor.  They are now to be found in all parts of the county, engaged in all descriptions of occupations; while in the northern towns and in Galesburg, the Swedish element constitutes a large proportion of the population.

            The Irish first appeared in force in 1854, as laborers on the railroad.  For some time they remained content with this employment, but, little by little, they began to seek other outlets for their energy, many going to work upon farms.  Accession to their numbers followed through immigration from the old country.  Other foreign countries have contributed but little to the county’s population.  Negroes are found mainly in the cities, occupying substantially the same positions as in other centers in Illinois.

            All the land between the Illinois and Mississippi Rivers, as far as the north line of Mercer County, is in the Military Tract, so called because the Government patented most of it as bounty to soldiers of the War of 1812.  When the United States survey was made, the surveyors reported the character of each quarter section.  From these reports the patents were made out, and great care was taken to give the soldiers the lands which were well timbered and watered.  What was left of such desirable pieces was open to pre-emption by the first settlers.  Aside from the manifest convenience incident to the conjunction of prairie and woodland in close proximity, the Southerners found the flat lands objectionable for many reasons.  Cold winter winds swept over the open expanse, and these were, at times, unbroken, even by the groves and thickets which furnished the wood for their cabins and fences.  These immigrants from the southland, moreover, brought with them modes of building and styles adapted to a warmer country.  Before Eastern immigration had assumed considerable proportions, the residents believed Knox County to be quite thoroughly settled.  There were few localities left where both good wood and prairie land could be found together.  And they thought it better for themselves that their long, broad ranges for stock should not be disturbed.  The settlers who came from the East, however, were accustomed to rigorous winters and severe outdoor labor in cold weather.  They knew no fear of prairie winters, whose winds were offset by the refreshing breezes of summer.  Their modes of building and dress were suited to the climate.  They brought stoves, hitherto unknown in this new section, which reduced the labor of providing fuel.  They were willing to take their farms on the prairie and their wood lots in the heart of the grove.  Still, the distance from wood was an element not to be ignored in fixing the value of land.  The greater the distance, the greater the cost of improvement and maintenance, as well as of the indispensable fuel.  For many years, prairie land was practically unsalable unless woodland was offered in connection with it.  Gradual changes took place which made the prairie farms more and more desirable.  Coal mines were opened, and, in some extent, coal began gradually to supplant wood as fuel.  Improved facilities for transportation made lumber cheaper, and revised and more stringent stock laws made less fencing necessary.  Hedges began to be planted, and railroads established stations in the center of the largest prairies.  Still, in 1850, many of the larger tracts of prairie land remained unenclosed, and were for sale at low prices.  Yet so steady was the appreciation in the value of these farms, that by 1858, practically no open prairie was left unoccupied.

 TIMBER LANDS

             The consumption of wood for improvements, fuel, and repairs reduced the area of timber land.  Only a small proportion of the original forest, or even of the second growth, remains.  Yet the wood famine, so long predicted, has been averted.  The importation of lumber and the changes in the style of building and fencing, together with the substitution of coal for wood as fuel, have made the timber yet standing of comparatively little value to the farmer.  The woodland, stripped of trees, was long left unoccupied, except in small tracts by persons of very limited means, who found partial occupation in teaming, mining, wood-cutting, and casual labor for others.  It was considered inferior to the prairie, and, encumbered with stumps, bushes and worthless trees, it was not easily ploughed.  As the prairie range for cattle disappeared, however, these lands were enclosed for pasturage.  As Western competition in cattle made grazing land less valuable, these cleared lands began to offer greater inducements for cultivation.  Decay of stumps, and destruction of bushes and sprouts through grazing, removed obstacles, and the turf of blue grass and white clover, following the removal of the shade, prepared the soil for the plough. 

IMPROVED CONDITIONS

            After the founding of Galesburg the county grew rapidly.  Its population steadily increased until near 1870, when the census returns showed a larger population than ever before or since.  The cultivation of the land has been more extensive and thorough; but the number employed in agricultural work has decreased.  The farms are made and the labor that was needed in their making is no longer required, while cheaper methods of building and fencing have reduced the labor necessary for maintenance.  More work is done, too, by casual help, living in towns.  Holdings are larger than they were, and fewer hands, proportionally, are employed on large than on small farms.  Another reduction in the amount of manual labor needed has resulted from the adoption of better methods of planting, cultivating, and harvesting, three and four horse teams and machinery having taken the place of men.  That class of small farmers who occupied a portion of their time at other work has disappeared.  There is an increased tendency, on the part of those not wholly devoted to agriculture, to seek homes and employment in the towns; and this statement holds good even of those owners who prefer to lease their lands or place them in the hands of hired men, in order to give their families the convenience and comforts of a town residence.

            Woodcutters and coal miners are less numerous, consumption of wood for fuel having decreased owing to the substitution of coal, oil, and gas, while even the wood and soft coal of this county are largely displaced by the output of others.

            With the construction of railroads, villages sprang up and grew rapidly.  Their growth was checked and followed by a decline, a circumstance attributable to various causes, such as the falling off in the surrounding population, the competition of other stations on subsequently constructed railroads and the enlarged facilities for reaching and trading in larger towns. 

POPULATION

             From 1870 to 1890, the population outside of Galesburg fell off twenty-five per cent, although considerable compensation for this loss was found in the growth of the city itself.  Since 1890, however, the falling off in the townships has been checked, while the population of Galesburg has steadily increased.  A table of the population follows:

 

 

 

1830

Estimated

     400

1840

United States Census

  7,060

1850

United States Census

13,279

1860

United States Census

28,663

1870

United States Census

39,522

1880

United States Census

38,344

1890

United States Census

38,752

1896

Estimated

45,000

1896

11,333 votes for President

 

            In 1840, Henderson was the most populous township, having eight hundred and fifty-six residents.  Knox ranked second with seven hundred and thirty-three, and Cedar third, with six hundred and sixteen.  Since 1860, Galesburg has been in the lead, with Knox second and Cedar third.

 EARLY DEVELOPMENT

            Prior to 1854, the most important events in the history of Knox County, after the county seat had been laid out and the county machinery put in motion were the coming of the Galesburg Colony.  In 1836-37, the building of a new court house in 1839, and a new jail in 1841, and the changes of government from County Commissioners to County Judges in 1849, and to township organization in 1853.  During all this time, the county was never in debt, although taxes were very low, never exceeding fifty cents on the hundred dollars.

            In 1854, the railroad came, imparting a great impetus to the county’s growth.  From 1850 to 1860, the percentage of increase in population was larger than in any other decade of its history, except the first.  Galesburg profited more from this than the rural districts, containing, in 1860, more than one-half of the total population; while in 1850 it had but one-twelfth.  This led to the agitation of the questions of transferring the county seat to Galesburg, which finally ended in its removal in 1873.

            With a rising tide of immigration, pauperism came to be a perplexing problem.  An almshouse was first built in 1866.  Additions were made in 1876 and again in 1890. 

 WAR OF REBELLION

             In 1861, came the war, and Knox County’s duty was nobly done.  She furnished three thousand eight hundred and seventy-six troops, only eighty-seven of whom were “hundred day men”; a record exceeded by only seven counties in Illinois.  Of these, one hundred and twenty-three were killed in action, one hundred and sixty-eight were wounded, three hundred and forty-four died, and ninety-six were captured.  (For a list of Knox County soldiers see “Knox County Roll of Honor,” published in 1896 by the Memorial Hall Committee of the G.A.R.).  At home, too, as well as in the field, the county bore its part with cheerful zeal and patriotic devotion.  The people were most liberal, one township vying with another in striving to lighten the burdens of the soldiers.  What was privately contributed cannot even be estimated; but Galesburg Township alone gave $62,340 in addition to the aid rendered volunteers’ families after the war had ended.  The Board of Supervisors was ever active and generous in providing for these, and the records of that body are full of resolutions and orders looking to this end.  Large sums were borrowed for the payment of bounties, the amount reaching $58,610 by January 12, 1863, and being subsequently materially augmented.  The total outlay by Knox County on this account and for aid to soldiers’ families exceeded $400,000.  Even as late as May 1, 1866, the Board voted to continue to extend assistance to the latter when actually needing and deserving relief.


NEW COUNTY BUILDINGS

             The removal of the county seat rendered the provision of suitable county buildings at Galesburg imperative.  The city had already donated to the county twenty thousand dollars toward the erection of a jail, besides giving as a site for the structure the ground on Cherry Street on which the “fire-proof building” now stands.  In addition, the municipality had agreed to provide a court room for ten years.

            The first consideration was the building of the jail, and on January 15, 1874, the contract therefore was given to I.R. Stevens, the consideration named being $34,900.  It was occupied October 3, following.  The old Opera House, on the southern side of the public square in Galesburg was secured and utilized for the purpose of a court room, and no haste was shown in the erection of a permanent edifice.  In fact, it was not until September, 1886, that such a building was completed.  It is one of the best arranged and handsomest court houses in the State.   The old offices, in the “fire-proof building” on Cherry Street, had become utterly inadequate to the needs of the county, and when the latter vacated them, the city took possession of the building, and at present, some of the municipal offices are located there. 

INDUSTRIES

            The chief industries of Knox County have always been agriculture and stock- raising.  Manufactures have never played an important part in its economic history.  There is no water transportation, and the river counties naturally had great advantages over it prior to the building of the railroads across its surface.  The lead thus obtained has been steadily kept.  Brick manufacture, however, has thrived since steam gave better transportation facilities, and some of the largest and best brick plants in the United States are at present located here.  The machine shops of the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Company also employ a large force.  What manufacturing is done is mainly at Galesburg, Abingdon, and Knoxville, to which captions the reader is referred for more detailed information.

            The county is everywhere underlaid with coal of good quality, but the veins are too thin to be profitably worked on a large scale.  It has been supposed that in Copley and Victoria coal existed in paying quantities, and to tap these coal fields the Galesburg and Great Eastern Railroad was built from Wataga to Etherley.

AGRICULTURE

             The soil and climate are well adapted to the growth of all cereals and grasses common to this latitude, while for stock raising they are unsurpassed.  The attention given to each branch of farming has varied, from time to time, with the changes in conditions, reduction in the cost of transportation, the opening of new markets, changes in methods of cultivation due to the introduction of machinery, and the lowering of profits through the competition of newer settlements.

            In the early history of the county, vegetables and grain were raised for consumption by the settlers themselves.  As more and more land was placed under cultivation, the unmerchantable surplus was utilized in the raising of stock.           

            Wheat was the first grain raised for transportation, the acreage sown increasing year by year for a considerable time.  It was sold in Peoria and Oquawka, and, before the opening of the Illinois and Michigan Canal, was sometimes hauled to Chicago, the farmers bringing back salt and pine lumber.

            The cost of transportation and of harvesting determined the extent of the crop.  It was cut with cradles, bound by hand, and threshed by tramping with horses.  Extra hands in harvest were not easily secured, and wages were relatively high.  The fist threshing machines were introduced about 1842; the first reapers, about 1847.  Primitive and inefficient as they were, compared with those at present in use, they saved labor and rendered the extension of cultivation possible, while the improvements, made each year upon the crude patterns of the early days, have increased their practical value a hundred fold.  The light snow falls left the young plants exposed to the extreme cold of winter, which sometimes destroyed them, especially on the bleak, unprotected prairie.  On newly broken ground, the fall growth was usually vigorous enough to pass safely through this danger; but on land which had been for some time cultivated, the crop was a precarious one, and its continued culture was due to the introduction of improved varieties of spring wheat.  As competition from newer settlements grew and the ravages of insects became more fatal, less wheat was sown, until in the sixties, wheat-culture was abandoned on most farms.

            About 1883, press drills began to come into use, and many farmers discovered that by employing this valuable agency, preparing the ground more carefully, this cereal might be raised with better chance of success.  Its cultivation was therefore resumed, and continued for twelve years with satisfactory results.  The past three or four years, however, have proved less profitable.

            The principal crop of the county is, and always has been, corn.  On most farms, the acreage is limited, by necessity of such diversification of crops as will give occupation to the farmer and his men outside the corn season, proper rest to the soil, and pasturage and hay for stock.

            But little corn was reported from the county before the coming of the railroads.  In 1844, the first attempt was made.  Prices were enhanced at the seaboard by the excitement caused by the Irish famine.  Lorentus E. Conger, John L. Clay, and Joel Graham, living southwest of Galesburg, collected their surplus corn, purchased a large crop on the neighboring Gale farm, hauled it to Oquawka, and loaded it there on a flat boat.  They had no corn-shellers, and they shelled their corn by tramping with horses.  They carried it to New Orleans, where they sold it, returning with its value in groceries and silver dollars.  Even since the construction of railroads, the great bulk of Knox County corn has been consumed at home.  The acreage was never greater than now, and the raising of live stock has been greatly reduced; yet only a fraction of the crop is exported.

            Next to corn, the crop most extensively raised is oats.  A large proportion of this goes out of the county.  Its relative worth for shipment as compared with its feeding value at home is greater than that of corn.  Although a less valuable crop than the latter, its cultivation on some portion of the farm permits a more continuous occupation of the working force, as well as a change the following year to grass or clover.

            Rye and barley are good crops, but generally regarded as less desirable than either wheat or oats.  Millet, in all its varieties, is often profitably raised, especially on farms not well supplied with meadow, or on ground that has proved too wet for early planting.

            Broom corn is also cultivated in some sections with profit.  The country around Galesburg and Galva was among the first localities in the West to make this crop a farm product, and for several years was the chief Western growing district for broom corn.  Its cultivation has proved, on the whole, very profitable, but owing to a fall in prices and a distaste for the character of the work which it requires, it has greatly fallen off.

            A considerable amount of maple sugar was formerly made, the maple growing extensively in some parts of the county, notably along the branches of Henderson Creek.  The fine old trees have nearly all disappeared, having been felled to furnish fuel for the fires of the cities and villages, while pastures and fields of grain and grass occupy the places where it grew.

            For some time, between 1850 and a date subsequent to the close of the Civil War, there was an extensive cultivation of sorghum, for the manufacture of molasses for domestic use or for barter at the store.  But as sugar grew cheaper, and the demand for other farm products improved, the industry gradually declined; so that at present very little of this variety of sugar cane is raised. 

STOCK RAISING

             From the beginning, cattle and hogs have been among the county’s staple products.  Mast furnished food for the hogs, and all surplus corn could thus be easily used with profit.  Until the railroads provided easy means of transportation, live hogs were sometimes driven to the packers.  As a rule, however, the animals were dressed at home, and sold in late autumn or early winter.  For many years, they were the farmer’s chief reliance for raising ready money.

            The first purchasers of cattle were drovers from Ohio, who bought for feeders.  The next were the packers at the river points and in Chicago.  To meet the demand, the cattle were pastured on the prairie and wintered on prairie hay and straw, and some corn.  There was little full feeding until the railroad reached Chicago from Buffalo, furnishing a route thence to New York by rail and water for live stock driven to Lake Michigan.  All rail transportation followed afterwards.  From that time nothing but full fed cattle went from Knox County.  With the loss of open range, and the increase in cultivation of farm products, feeding became more and more the rule.  But western competition, the requirements of a growing urban population for supplies, and the increased exportation of corn, oats and hay, have altered the policy and practice of the farmers, and reduced the number of cattle and hogs fattened for shipment.

            Dairying has never been prominent among the county’s industries.  Farmers keep cows to supply the domestic requirements and often export a surplus to the towns.  There are a few small dairies, however, whose products are sold chiefly directly to consumers.

            From 1836 to 1840, some farmers immigrating from the dairy districts in Herkimer and Oneida counties, New York, brought with them their methods of cheese making.  About 1880, there was begun the establishment of cheese factories and creameries, after the pattern set by Elgin.  Several were started and very good work was done; but the industry, as a whole, was foreign to the habits of Knox County farmers and laborers, and all but one or two have been discontinued, notwithstanding the fact that the country is well adapted to dairying.            The supplying of milk to the towns is now a business of some importance and is growing.

            The early settlers who made their own clothing kept sheep.  About 1840, large flocks were brought in, the inducements being the little care needed for keeping, cheapness of feed, the high price of wool in comparison with that of other products and the ease of transportation.  Yet sheep have gradually given way to cattle and hogs, and now only a few, small, scattered flocks are to be found.

            The methods employed in farming and the habits of the people in both city and country require a large supply of horses.  The county has always raised more than were needed for the use of its own people.  At all times, a great deal of attention had been paid to the propagation and rearing of this variety of stock, and Knox has never been without animals of high breeding. 

HAY AND GRASS SEED

             Meadows and pastures occupy a large portion of the entire area.  Until after 1850, cattle were kept on the open range, only cows kept for milking or high bred stock being found within fenced fields.  With close feeding, the old prairie grass soon disappeared, giving place to weeds, which in time were followed by a volunteer growth of red top, blue grass, and white clover.  Some timothy was sown as early as 1835, but there seemed little inducement to give up ground to the preparation of artificial meadows and the increase of meadow land was slow.  Straw was too abundant to have any value, and corn was cheap enough to feed to stock in winter.  Even down to 1858, the area of meadow land, although gradually increasing, was small.  A large proportion of the farms had none, relying, perhaps, on a small piece of prairie, never ploughed or pastured.  In 1840, Nathan O. Ferris began the saving and shipping of timothy seed and soon had a large part of his nine hundred acre farm devoted to this crop.  The seed brought considerable better prices in New York than did eastern seed on account of its quality and supposed freedom from weeds.  He was followed by G. W. G. Ferris and W. S. Gale, on neighboring farms.  In 1859, there were five hundred acres of meadow in timothy on the Gale farm.  It was kept for a seed crop, the cost of cutting it for hay and the great difficulty in getting the work done at all, together with the greater value of the seed, preventing any other use.  The seed was saved with comparatively little labor.  But as mowing machines were improved, the saving of the hay became possible.  There was by this time a large increase in the acreage of meadow land in the county, and the crop a fine one, for which there was a strong demand in the Southern markets.  Watkins and Brothers, in Galesburg, and W. S. Gale, on his farm procured hay presses, and were the first to introduce that work into Knox County.  Within two years the war demand sprang up, while an improvement of presses permitted the shipping of heavier loads to the car; and an industry was established that is still of importance in the county. 

A CANAL-BOAT JOURNEY

             One of the most romantic episodes of Knox County history was the journey hither by water, undertaken by some of the Galesburg colonists.  In the spring of 1836, John C. Smith, of Oneida, N.Y., who owned some boats on the Erie Canal, proposed that some of the colonists should journey to Illinois in a canal-boat.  The proposition was accepted, a canal-boat was purchased on shares, and thirty-seven persons, varying in age from three weeks to fifty years, embarked for the long voyage, with Mr. Smith as captain.  The starting point was at Utica, but the various families joined the party at different places on the way to Buffalo, where the passengers and baggage were transferred to a steamer which towed the empty barge.  A storm arose, and the boat was abandoned by all except the captain, who remained on board and brought it safely into Cleveland, six days after the steamer had landed the colonists there.

            From Cleveland, the party went by canal to Portsmouth and thence down the Ohio to Cincinnati, where they had a sort of propeller made to take them up the Mississippi, and part way up the Illinois rivers.  It was not a first-class machine; but they made it answer the purpose on the Mississippi, and part way up the Illinois, until finally they had to tie to a steamer, which conveyed them to their landing place at the mouth of Copperas Creek.  The hot weather had been very severe, and upon their arrival, every one of the party was ill.  The man most capable of traveling, at once started on horseback for Log City.  The settlers there sent wagons for the party; but Captain Smith died before reaching Log City, and was the first to be buried in the colony cemetery.  Soon after Mr. Lyman and Mr. Mills also passed away.

            Notwithstanding the difficulties, discouragements, and illness, the trip had its bright side.  All were good-natured and ready to help one another.  On Saturday afternoons, they would find a good landing place and tie up the boat for over Sunday.  If near a town, they would look up a school house and hold service in it, inviting the neighboring residents to attend.  There was one object in common to them all, and that was to establish the Christian religion in the new country, and it was this thought that made them so companionable and gave them fortitude to endure the hardships that accompanied their journey of eleven weeks.

(Taken in part from an article ready by Mrs. George Avery at thesemi-centennial of the Old First Church.)

 ROADS AND BRIDGES

             Early Knox County settlers found little difficulty in traveling for want of roads.  There were no high hills, and the streams were fordable, during ordinary stages of the water, at points near each other.  The deepest valleys were easily reached through the swales.  The marshy margins of streams were covered with thick turf which, with tall grass, furnished support in crossing.  When continued travel cut this up, it was only necessary to turn to either side.

            As settlement and travel increased, roads were laid out, the most important of which ran from the county seat to the principal points in other counties.  As early as 1835, Knoxville was the center of a network of such roads; some were laid out by commissioners appointed by the Legislature, to be changed only by act of Legislature, others by the County Board, subject to alteration by the same.  The roads, as nearly as possible, ran straight to the objective point with but slight variations made by the character of the ground, avoiding all difficult work and respecting the property of actual settlers, but paying little attention to the interests of non-residents.  When settlement increased, the regard for occupants and consequent following of property lines—section and half section—the roads were less direct, and often diverted from their original course for the convenience of the new land-owners.  Prior to 1853, the County Commissioners (who were, from 1849 to 1853, the County Judges) managed the roads and bridges, giving as much as three-fourths of their official time to this business; for in the early days, when wagon roads were the only means of communication, their making was an important undertaking.  In accordance with the law of March 1, 1827, the Commissioners divided the county into road districts, appointing a road supervisor in each, who reported annually to the County Court at the December term, when they were appointed for the ensuing year.  In 1832, there were two road districts, one comprising the county south and east, the other all north and west of Spoon River; in 1837, the number of districts was sixteen, and by 1849, it had reached sixty-three.

            Bridges were built as soon as they could be afforded, the first ones being constructed in 1836, one each over Pope and Court Creeks, two over Haw Creek, and one over Henderson, five in all, at a total cost of $571.  In 1839, the first Spoon River bridges, one at Coleman’s Ford, Section 30 of Truro Township, and one near Maquon, about half a mile south of the present Maquon bridge, were contracted for and finished by September, 1840, at a cost of a little more than $1500.

            Upon the adoption of township organization, the town authorities were given control of all the roads in Knox County, including the State roads, excepting the streets of incorporated cities and villages.  In each township, three highway commissioners are elected for three year terms, one being chosen each year.  They collect and apply the land tax and a poll tax on every voter, unless, as has generally been done, the voters at the town meeting abolish the poll tax.  County aid is authorized under certain conditions and has been extended to the partial construction of bridges over large streams.

            Knox County has throughout a mellow soil almost without gravel or sand, with little material for road building.  The conditions have been fairly met.  The difficulties, fortunately not great when people were few, have increased with the population, and as the growing travel came to be confined to highways enclosed by fences, the necessary bridging, grading, and draining have increased.  The roads are regularly worked, culverts are made for the sloughs, and over the streams are good bridges, often built with stone abutments and iron girders.  Except in the city of Galesburg, there are no paved streets.  Knox County farmers do not favor to any great extent the “good roads movement”.  They do not care “to trade their farms for a road to town”.  But careful drainage and the judicious use of scrapers and plows have made the roads fairly good, except for a short time in the spring and fall.  These occasional inconveniences are mitigated by the splendid system of railroads spreading out from the county seat and bringing every farm within a short distance of the station.

SPOON RIVER 

            This stream is said to have received its name from the circumstance that a party of sportsmen, in the early days, lost their spoons while fishing on its waters, near the present site of London Mills.

            It enters Knox County from Peoria County, near the northern line of Section 12, in Truro Township, and leaves it at about the central part of Section 34, in Chestnut, after winding more than forty miles through Truro, Haw Creek, Maquon, and Chestnut townships, and for a little way on the edge of Elba and Persifer townships.  It is by far the largest stream in the county, four-fifths of which it drains.  Once it was thought possible to make it a navigable stream, but the decadence of river traffic stopped effort in that direction.  It is a tributary of the Illinois.

 CREEKS

            Besides Spoon River, only two streams in Knox County are of sufficient size to merit any detailed description—Pope and Cedar Creeks.  The others are small tributaries of these, or of the Henderson, a river rising in Henderson Township and flowing into the Mississippi, but becoming important only in counties west of Knox.

            Cedar Creek flows for a few miles through Sections 30 and 31 of Indian Point.  It is a tributary of Spoon River, and nearly as large as the Spoon, at their junction a little way south of London Mills, in Fulton County.  It is sometimes called the South Fork of Spoon, and is formed by the union, in Warren County, of several smaller streams.  It drains a little of Galesburg and Chestnut townships, and most of Cedar and Indian Point.  “Rock House,” a peculiar rock formation on Cedar Creek, in Warren County, is a favorite picnic ground for many Knox County people.

            Pope Creek rises in Ontario and flows west to the Mississippi, into which it empties near Keithsburg, leaving Knox in Section 6 of Rio.  It drains about half of the township last named and a little more than half of Ontario.

            Among the more important of the minor streams is Cedar Fork, running in a westerly course through Galesburg Township and uniting with the Henderson in Warren County.  Court Creek rises near the east line of Knox Township and flows east about twenty miles to join Spoon River in Persifer, just below Dahinda.  The two branches of Haw Creek rise, one near Knoxville and one in the northwestern part of Haw Creek.  They unite near the southwestern corner of Orange, and then flow nearly due south, emptying into the Spoon in Section 24 of Chestnut.

            Brush Creek, the largest branch of Haw Creek, rises in Section 34 of Galesburg, and after draining a little more than the eastern half of Cedar, the western half of Orange and northwestern quarter of Chestnut, joins Haw Creek near the line between Sections 1 and 2 of Chestnut.  Willow (Litter’s) Creek runs west through Salem and Maquon, emptying into Spoon River, on Section 25 of Chestnut.  French Creek rises in Peoria County, drains the greater part of Elba, and parts of Haw Creek and Salem townships, and empties into the Spoon on Section 20 of Maquon.  Walnut Creek is formed by the union, in Walnut Grove, of several small streams.  It drains all of Lynn and Walnut Grove and part of Ontario, Sparta, Copley, and Victoria, and joins Spoon River in Peoria County.  The Kickapoo is a small tributary of the Illinois River, and flows about five miles to the southwestern portion of Salem.

 LAKE GEORGE

             This attractive body of water lies about two miles east of Galesburg, and the first house upon its banks was built about fifteen years ago by George Washington Brown. (Foxie's 4rd great-uncle) It is three-fourths of a mile long with a width of from ten to thirty rods.  It is fed by springs and its greatest depth is about twenty feet.  A driveway runs around it, and there is a pleasant park here.  A little steamer carries passengers on it, and row boats are kept for hire.  There is also a natatorium, and the street cars from Galesburg run close by.  It is a favorite resort for Galesburgers.  Soangetaha, the society club of Galesburg, has its house, open only to members, on the northwest side of the lake, and the clubhouse has been the rendezvous for most delightful picnics and dancing parties. In later years, they renamed this Lake and I've never understood why??????

 MINING—BUILDING STONE

             Of mining and building stone there is but little in the county.  From Section 16, in Township 11 North, Range 2 East, a fairly good quality of sandstone has been obtained and there is also found there a conglomerate stone that has been largely used in laying foundations throughout the county.  In some places, noticeably just south of Yates City, the limestone ledge lies just above a coal vein.  A quarry in Section 6 has been worked for commerce.  It is from one to four feet thick, and yields a fairly good building stone.

            There is accessible coal in nearly every township in the county.  In the northeastern and southeastern portions, vein No. 6 is the surface vein.  It is of good quality, and four and one half feet thick.  The other veins range from two and one-half to five feet in thickness.  In Henderson and Rio Townships, the surface vein is extensively worked.  All the coal veins in the county have been located save the opening of No. 5 and, perhaps, of No. 1.  There are, however, comparatively few extensive mining operations conducted, owing to the fact that in most instances the mines are remote from the railroads.  Consequently there is not enough coal mined in the whole of Knox County to meet the needs of the larger towns, which are in no small measure supplied from mines in neighboring counties, where better railroad facilities afford cheaper transportation to market.  The time is coming, however, when the large resources of this county will prove valuable.  The ease with which coal can be procured by the farming community from the numerous small local handlers, at low cost, forms one of the most promising features in the present outlook.

            The following list shows the estimated original coal acreage of the county:  Rio, 4,000; Sparta, 6,000; Walnut Grove, 2,000; Truro, 2,000; Henderson, 6,000; Knox 2,000; Copley, 7,000; Elba, 1,000; Cedar, 2,000; Orange, 2,000; Maquon, 6,000; Salem, 1,000; Indian Point, 2,000; Chestnut, 2,000; Victoria, 7,000.  Total acreage 52,000.

            There is also some coal obtainable in the other townships.

            More or less limestone was formerly burned on Section 24 of Township 12 North, Range 2 East, but the industry is now dead.

 BRICK MANUFACTURE

            To a limited extent, brick were made in Knox County at an early date.  They were certainly made in Rio Township as early as 1836, but there could have been only a small demand, for few homes could boast of a chimney or hearth of better material than clay.  The available materials were not good; and as the yellow clay underlying the prairie surface soil, or exposed in broken timber land, was used, the product was from very poor to barely fair.

            In 1867-8, Joseph Stafford and his friends found in the upper Court Creek valley, on the west line of Knox Township, a large exposure of shale, which seemed to be a good material for roofing, when mixed with tar.  A not very successful attempt was made to bring it into extensive use for that purpose, but in working it, it proved to be well suited for the making of drain tile.  With further treatment, an excellent quality of building brick was made, but difficulties were met in its profitable use for that purpose, and its proper adaptation was ultimately found in the production of paving brick.

There was some demand in Galesburg for this commodity, and soon its value came to be known in other localities.  A gradually growing market was found, notwithstanding that the works were experimental and the facilities for transportation were not the best, the works being nearly three miles from a railroad.  The construction of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe line through Court Creek valley was promptly followed by a branch from the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy road, and shipment of the product was rendered far easier.

With the improvement in transportation facilities, new companies were formed and large additional works constructed, whose product, being found unexcelled by that of any other locality, and equaled by the output of only a few, soon gained a wide and extensive market.

Brick were made in Uniontown, Salem Township, in 1841, where the industry was continued for ten or fifteen years.  Very early, also, they were manufactured in Knoxville, Galesburg and perhaps at other points.

            The first brick made from shale, the old yards using potter’s or prairie clay, were made in the Court Creek valley by the Galesburg Pressed Brick and Tile Company in 1883.

In 1875, F. P. Folz and C. Piester started a tile and brick works about two miles west of the city of Abingdon, using potter’s clay.  In 1884, Reed, Duffield and Sons established a plant which was converted into a paving brick manufactory by Frank Latimer, in 1885.  An excellent quality of shale is found just north of the city, at a depth of about fifty feet.  In 1892, the business was put in the hands of a stock company—the Abingdon Paving Brick and Tile Company—which now continues it.

In recent years brick making has become one of the great industries of Knox County.  In several places, notably in the Court Creek valley, a peculiar shale is found, which makes a most excellent quality of paving brick; so good, in fact, that “Galesburg Brick” are now the standard mentioned in paving contracts west of Indiana.  This shale is a fine-grained, slaty rock, somewhat resembling soap stone, and it is chiefly (almost exclusively) used for the manufacture of paving brick, for which it has been found best adapted.    The brick are generally large, measuring two and five-eighths or three inches, as this size seems most desirable for paving.

It is impossible to determine the precise extent of the shale beds.  They are found near Abingdon, Knoxville and Wataga; but the largest deposits are in Knox Township, along Court Creek.  The so-called Galesburg Brick are made in the valley of this creek by four Galesburg companies.  The Galesburg Brick and Terra Cotta Company, the Purington Paving Brick Company, the Galesburg Paving Brick Company, and the Galesburg Vitrified Brick Company.  These four factories have a total capacity of 450,000 to 500,000 brick per day.  The last named has its plant in Sparta Township, near Wataga, the other three being located in Knox Township, near Randall; but all are in the valley of Court Creek or its branches.  The pioneer concern in this locality was the Galesburg Pressed Brick and Tile Company, which was incorporated April 4, 1883.  It had a capacity of about 45,000 brick per day.  For a number of years it was successful, but finally met with reverses, and was closed in 1894.

The Purington Paving Brick Company was incorporated May 15, 1890, for the manufacture of paving bricks.  The organization of this concern was primarily due to the perseverance of Asa A. Matteson, who had great faith in the superiority of the deposit of shale in Court Creek valley.  Mr. D.V. Purington, who had for many years been one of the largest manufacturers of brick in the United States, becoming acquainted with Mr. Matteson, joined with him; the result being the formation of a company with a capital stock of $200,000.  The first officers were D. V. Purington, President; W., S. Purington, Vice-President and General Manager; Asa A. Matteson, Secretary and Treasurer.  The officers and stockholders of the company caught the fever of enlargement, and a new corporation, called the St. Louis Paving Brick Company was organized in January 1893, the stockholders of which were largely those of the Purington company.  When it was completed a consolidation of the two was effected, with a capital of $500,000.  The works of the present corporation are the largest in the United States.  Its plant covers seventy-five acres, gives employment to three hundred and fifty men and has a capacity of 300,000 brick per day.

The Galesburg Vitrified Brick Company was organized in 1891, and has a capacity of 25,000 to 40,000 brick per day.

In the process of manufacture the shale is first ground and then thoroughly mixed with water.  It is then pressed by machinery into the desired shape, and the green brick, thus made, and dried for a certain length of time in the drying houses, heated by hot air.  They are next put in kilns and burned until vitrification takes place.  They are then impervious to moisture and withstand any degree of heat or cold without cracking, which is the feature which renders them so durable for pavement.

Brick were made at Knoxville from prairie clay at a very early day.  The present plant has been in existence for many years, and for a short time paving brick were made.  The works are now closed.

 THE STEEL PLOW

It is only just to Knox County that we should perpetuate in history the fact that it furnished the first steel plow in America.  This invention alone increased the material wealth of the Mississippi Valley many millions of dollars annually; for the same steam power can now do the work better in one day than in two prior to 1842, the year the steam plow was invented.  Before that time, except along some water courses and strips of sandy soil, all plowmen had to stop about every ten rods and scrape the dirt off the moldboard.

Mr. Harvey Henry May, the inventor of this valuable agricultural implement, was born in Washington County, New York, and moved with his family to Galesburg, Knox County, Illinois in 1837, thus becoming identified with the interests and advancements of the town from its earliest settlement.  Almost immediately on his arrival in the West, he commenced experiments in making a plow that would scour bright in the prairie soil, and after many disappointments he finally discovered that plow shares of fine steel, instead of cast or wrought iron, would adequately answer this purpose.  Mr. May soon began the manufacture of these plows, which were sought far and near, and that they continued to be made after the May patterns for a long time after, the following remarks of the presiding judge in the famous trade-mark suit of Deere and Company vs. the Moline Plow Company, which took place from 1867 to 1871, amply confirm.  He refers to the point in the following language:  “May, of Galesburg, manufactured a plow in shape nearly the form it is manufactured now.  The share and moldboard were combined at that time and May was the first man that laid any claim to the improved steel plow.  There is no improvement in the May steel plow as made in 1843 up to this time.  In the plow afterward made at Palestine, in Lee County, by a person named Doan; afterward at Grand De Tour by W. Denney and Deere and Andrus; afterward in Moline by Deere, Tate and Gould in the fall of 1848; afterward by Buford and Tate in 1856, the working models are all copied strictly after the May plow.  I essentially consider May the sole constructor in form of the western steel plow.”

            THE BLACK HAWK WAR

So far as Knox County was concerned, the Black Hawk War of 1831-33 was more imaginary than real.  No one in the county was either killed or hurt by the Indians, with the exception of one man in Orange Township, who, tradition says, was shot.  The fighting, however, was near enough to keep the settlers in a state of uneasiness, and they organized what was known as the Volunteer Rangers, a company of forty-one men, with William McMurtry as Captain, Turner Roundtree as First Lieutenant, and George Latimer as Second Lieutenant.  The members wore no uniform and were in service only about sixty days, receiving eighty-six cents a day each for their time and subsequently being given eighty acres of land by the government.

Four forts, or rather stockades called forts by courtesy, were built in the county; Fort Aggie, in Section 27, in Rio; Fort Lewis, on Section 33; an unnamed fort on Section 10, in Henderson; and one a few miles southeast of Knoxville, in Orange.  Many of the settlers hurriedly dug holes in which they placed such of their property as could not be loaded in wagons, and with the remainder departed, to stay in other counties until the danger was past.

The chief incident of the war in Knox County was the terrible fright given the settlers by a young man named Atwood, living in Warren County.  One who lived here at the time says, in writing of the affair:  “A fellow named Atwood reported a band of Indians in the neighborhood and showed a scratch across his breast which he claimed was made by one of their bullets.  The report was not doubted at the moment; but it was soon discovered that no one else had seen any Indians or heard of any, only at a distance, and Atwood’s account was so well understood to be a falsehood that he had to make himself scarce to escape the punishment at the hands of an indignant people which he so richly deserved.”

In August, 1832, Black Hawk surrendered, and life here, so rudely broken into for a year, continued as before.  In 1833, there were rumors of another uprising; but they proved to be without foundation, and since then Knox County has pursued the even tenor of her way, free from Indian scares and other disturbing elements.

 

Tuesday, March 02, 2010 01:01:33 PM last update

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