Annuals of Knox County, Illinois

typed by Ann Maxwell the whole book for publishing here at American History & Genealogy Project

 

Town of Victoria

By Mary Fifield Woolsey

The town of Victoria is located in the northeast part of Knox County, Illinois. It is a political unit of the County and comprises the same territory as Township Twelve North, Range Four East. The larger part of the Village of Victoria lies in, and along the west line of, the town of Victoria, about two miles south of its intersection with Walnut Grove and Lynn. The west part of the village lies in the Town of Copley. It is interesting to note that, when Knox County was divided into political towns, in 1850, Copley was first called Prince Albert and Lynn was for many years known as Fraker’s Grove, while the first name given to the thirty-six sections comprising the present Town of Victoria was Worcester. However, in a year or two, the official name became Victoria, the same as the village, and has so remained to this day.
In writing of the coming of the first white settlers, the uncertain facts in regard to the Indians can be told but briefly. And, in relating these matters concerning the natives, fact and fiction necessarily blend. Roving bands of Indians crossed the township even within the memory of some still living there, and at one time as many as five hundred went that way when they moved from near Peoria across into Iowa. But the recent Black Hawk War, in 1832, had left Knox County no longer Indian country. The earliest settlers told of a small Indian village, on the Southeast Quarter of Section Twenty, near what came to be known as “Old Salem” and it was no doubt, occupied by Indians when the first white men came. Mr. John K. Robinson, a son of Moody Robinson, still points out the spring from which they used water and tells of the Indian relics he and his father had found there.


The first to settle in the township was a Mr. Frazier, Edward Brown and John Essex. These men came, at least, as early as 1834. Brown built his cabin a half mile south of what is now the Lundeen place, southeast of Etherley. Mr. Frazier’s cabin was just west of the Robinson place on Section Twenty and he lived there for five or ten years. John Essex soon moved up to Fraker’s Grove. Edward Brown remained for some time and Archibald Robinson moved into Brown’s cabin when he left. Next came Moses Robinson, Moody Robinson, Pasons Alldredge, Coonrod Smith, John Smith, William Overlander and John Arnold. The Smiths and Overlanders came from Ohio, where they had first come from Little York, Pennsylvania. The Robinsons and Alldredges came from Tennessee. These came in 1835. All built permanent homes, and a log-cabin for a school house, and called it Salem, the “Old Salem” mentioned above. William Overlander settled on the “Overlander place,” John Smith where the Lundeen place now is, the Alldredges where Ulysses Ives now owns, Moses Robinson on the next farm north, Moody Robinson on the farm now owned by Ena Mosher, a descendant of his, and the Arnolds south of the present Salem schoolhouse. Then came George E. Reynolds, Henry Shurtliff, Isaiah Berry, Silas Locke and their families, Twenty-one persons in all, from Barrington and nearby points in New Hampshire, and settled on or near the present site of the Village of Victoria. Mr. Reynolds lived during the first winter in a cabin in Forman Grove, northeast of Victoria. This cabin had been started by a still earlier settler, who had abandoned it through fear of the Indians. The first winter was, of course, full of hardships. Mr. Alldredge and Moody Robinson were away from home for 18 days, searching for a little corn and for a place to get it ground into meal. As they said, they were hunting “a grist.” But the next summer more comfortable cabins were built and the people began the usual strenuous life of early pioneers, beset with difficulties abut determined to make of this new country the comfortable land of their dreams.


For several years, the children of these New Englanders went through the timber, more than three miles, to "Old Salem” to school. Captain George W. Reynolds, lately deceased, was then a school boy and has often told the writer of these early paths to learning. Parts of the stone foundation and the old fireplace still mark the place where the boys and girls of those days studied the “three R’s” and McGuffy’s spelling Book, and more studiously, evaded the watchful eye of their teacher. This “Old Salem” is located about a mile northwest of the site of the present Salem school house, on the Pasons Alldredge place. This was also used as the first church of that community and there one may still see the graves of many of the oldest settlers. Some of the first teachers were Hannah Olmsted, Charlotte Arnold, Vatch Metcalf, Silas Locke, Henry Shurtliff and Mrs. Minard. One of her pupils tells that Mrs. Minard brought her three small children, including a wee baby, and taught the school, and also cared for her own children at the same time; there was a cradle in the schoolroom for the baby, and the girls helped take care of it, thus taking the first course in Domestic Science ever given in the county. And, when they “stood up and spelled down,” the baby was carried back and forth from side to side as the girls were chosen.


The first white child to be born in the Township was Sarah, daughter of Moody Robinson, November 16th, 1836. She became the wife of Manford Mosher and is still remembered by all the people of the community. The first death was that of Mrs. Frazier in 1837 and the first marriage was that of Peter Sornberger to Phoebe Wilber in 1838.


Captain Allen built the first frame house, on Section 17; it was always known as the “Old Victoria House.” It was built for a tavern and will be more fully described below. The early conditions were naturally characterized by their simplicity—log cabins in the woods, fireplaces and chimney’s made of stone, all chinked together with mud. These earliest pioneers stayed close to the wooded lands and did not venture out on the more fertile prairie, because they needed the timber for shelter and fuel. Each family took care of nearly all its own wants; it did its own blacksmithing, spinning, etc. Threshing was done with flails and every house was largely a law unto itself. The grinding was done in the rudest manner, by rotating a round flat stone above another. A pair of these stones can be seen at the home of a descendant of “Old Billy McBride” in Lynn Township, and were once the property of Michael Fraker, after whom that community was called Fraker’s Grove. The first grist mill of any importance was built by Clark Stanton at Rochester on Spoon River, (Elmore) in Peoria County, and the first sawmill by Coonrod Leek at Centerville on Walnut Creek. The folks from Victoria would drive down to Rochester with their grain and sometime be compelled to wait there several days for their grist. Much later, in about 1856, Mons Olson and a Mr. Renstead built a grist mill in the south part of the Village of Victoria and this was long a blessing to the community and a mill on that location is still within the memory of most of our people. The house of Frederick Becker is now about where this old mill stood. Travel was usually by oxen and the people of those days would not believe their eyes if they could now see their descendants dashing madly about in automobiles and farming with tractors. The roads followed the paths of least resistance and were usually on the old Indian trails. Stone for foundations and fireplaces was quarried, in many cases, from the very land where the farm buildings were built. In spite of the hardships and difficulties, these pioneers had many a rollicking good time at their log-rollings, house-raisings, cornhuskings, quilting parties and their spelling and singing schools to say nothing of hunting deer and wolves.
 

The present village and, later, the Town of Victoria, was named Victoria after the Queen of England, who was crowned in 1837. Before there was ever any village on its present site, Captain Allen had started the “Old Victoria House” and Milton Shurtliff, who owned about a thousand acres of land east and south of the present village of Victoria, had platted a village near the center of the north half of Section Seventeen, a little more than a mile east and a little south of the present village. The survey for this earlier village, planned by Milton Shurtliff, was made August 30, 1837, by George A. Charles, Knox County Surveyor, and a record of same can be found in Vol. 4, page 128, Deed Records of Knox County. There was to be Public Square, Main Street, North Street, South Street, Alton Street and Shurtliff Street, and there were ten blocks. As a part of his plan, others had been induced to build nearby and Captain Allen’s tavern was, no doubt, also prompted by Milton Shurtliff, who had given him an agreement for a deed. Being operated by Allen and on land that belonged, in a way, to Shurtliff, it was variously known as Allen’s Tavern, Allen & Shurtliff’s Tavern, Shurtliff’s Tavern and the “Old Victoria House.” Captain Allen died before the “Old Victoria House” was fully completed and, there being an indebtedness of $200 in favor of Milton Shurtliff, he caused the rights of “Aunt Allen,” as Captain Allen’s wife was affectionately called, to be forfeited to him. “Aunt Allen” thereafter lived with Dr. John Landon Fifield at Rochester until her death in 1848. The Fifields lived in the “Old Victoria House” from 1848 to 1850. Dr. Fifields has told of stopping at Captain Allen’s Tavern as early as 1840, and sleeping in an unfinished attic, on the floor, with sixteen other men, who like himself, had been traveling that way and had been caught in a severe storm. Near at hand was a blacksmith shop and a large barn and a few cabins. The house of Brazail White stood just east of the "Old Victoria House” and was later moved to the Charles J. Carlson farm where it can still be seen. There was a semi-official post office and a store in the tavern. This “Old Victoria House” became the home of “Uncle Alex” Sornberger in 1850 and remained such until his death, he having lived in a cabin a half mile south of there until 1850. The “Old Victoria House” stood a few feet southeast of the house now occupied by Clifford Sornberger and the old door stone (6 ft. by 4 ft.) can still be seen on the premises, at the end of the east walk. The house itself was torn down in 1868. In Vol. 2 of the County Commissioners Record at page 27, made during the March Term of 1838, is a petition asking for a road to be marked, running from about the present site of West Jersey to the center of Section Thirty now in the Town of West Jersey, thence in a westerly direction by “the nearest and best route to Victoria in Township 12, North, Range 4 East.” The Court appointed William Overlander, John Brown and William Webster (West Jersey) “to view, mark and locate said road.” And on page 81 of this Record appears the report of these road-viewers and their field notes. They described the road as beginning at the center of Main Street at the east side of Victoria, “situated on the East one-half of the Northwest Quarter and also the West one-half of the Northeast Quarter of Section Seventeen, Township Twelve North, and Four East.” On page 67 of this record (in 1838) the voting place for the “Walnut Creek District” was changed from Centerville to “Shurtliff’s Tavern” and remained there for about ten years. This same Record, at page 205, shows that new voting districts were formed by the County Commissioners in March of 1839 and what are now Copley and Victoria and the part of Truro, north of Spoon River, were put together in the “Victoria District,” the election still to be held “at the house of Allen & Shurtliff in Victoria.” Again in 1841, this Record (page 255) shows the location of a road from about the present site of Arkansas (also known as Truro and “Four Corners”) on a diagonal line, northwest, “to Victoria on Section 17”, still taking no notice of any other Victoria. This road has now been put largely on section lines, but still shows some of its slant lines in the present “timber road” to Williamsfield, via East Truro. It ran on to Peoria on the south and to Andover on the north. Again, in Vol. 3 of this Record at page 81, is the description of a road from “Eugene,” southwest of what is now Williamsfield, “to the Public Square of the Town of Victoria just north of the center of Section Seventeen” (May 18, 1842). Isaiah Berry later kept this Shurtliff’s tavern and elections were held there until about 1848, when the voting place was moved to the schoolhouse in what is now the Village of Victoria. So, too, the first survey Vol. 4 of these Commissioner’s Records, at page 257), of a road showing the location of the present Village, was July 13th, 1848, being from “Trenton” (south of Dahinda) “to Victoria, on the west side of Sections Seven and Eighteen.” As late as 1845, a road was surveyed from the Mound Farm, just over in Copley on Section Thirteen, right through the present Village of Victoria to the Rock Island and Peoria Road running through Shurtliff’s Victoria, but no notice was yet taken of the site of the present village. So, whenever Victoria is mentioned in the public records, up to the year 1848, “Old Victoria” is meant, and for ten years it bid fair to the metropolis of what even later (after1850) became the Town (or Township) of Victoria.


Meantime, George F. Reynolds remembered even yet as “Deacon Reynolds,” and his neighbors, up on the west line of the township, were not willing to let the village grow up around the “Old Victoria House,” without doing their utmost to bring it to their own land. Mr. Reynolds had built a double log cabin near the west side of what later became the east village park, and his hospitality made his hostelry the stopping place of many a traveler. The stage line from Chicago to Burlington now passed the Reynolds hostelry and aided in bringing the village to the new site. Two large frame houses were moved to Victoria on sleds, with oxen, from Centerville, which was situated just over the town line, in Lynn. One was owned by Dr. John W. Spaulding and was used as his home and office, in Victoria, and is now known as Carlson’s shoe store; the other was owned by Alex Albro, a great uncle of the wife of Judge George W. Thompson, and this house is now known as the Young’s house. A room in the Albro house was used temporarily, for school purposes. Both of these houses are still in good repair. Mr. Reynolds deeded off lots and did all he could to “steal the town” from Milton Shurtliff, who lived in Tazewell County. Our county records show a deed to Jonas J. Hedstrom in 1843, five acres at $3 per acre, and deeds to John Becker, two acres at $5 per acre. Mr. Hedstrom had the first blacksmith shop and Mr. Becker had the first general store. Later “Dick” Whiting and Norton Kelsey started some competition for Mr. Becker in the Albro house. Joseph Freed bought a lot in the east part of the village and built the house where Gus Stout now lives and there he conducted a shoe shop for many years. The lot just east was purchased by John L. Knapp, a carpenter and cabinet maker, and he built the house that stood there until about five years ago. In 1849, the Village of Victoria was platted by John Becker, John W. Spaulding, George F. Reynolds, Jonas J. Hedstrom, William L. Shurtliff, Joseph Freed and John I Knapp, as proprietors, and the question as to where the village was to be was finally decided. However, the Village of Victoria was not incorporated until as late as 1886, with Charles S. Robinson, mentioned above, as President, and William McKendree Woolsey, R.B. Hodgerman, George Luther Hedstrom, Charles S. Clark and William Aten, as trustees. The village has never voted “wet” and is proud of the fact that it has never had saloons. Dr. Spaulding, the Whitings, the Beckers, the Copley’s, Dr. Fifield, Jonas J. Hedstrom, George F. Reynolds, the Tabors, and the Olmsteds were among the early chief promoters of the schools and other helpful institutions of the village. Still others of the early families were leaders in organizing the first churches in the village and these will be mentioned below in a paragraph relative to the churches. George Sornberger should be mentioned among the early pioneers. He was a Revolutionary soldier and members of his family have had a large part in the life of the community. Three sons, Alex, Peter and Anson, and seven daughters settled in and near the village. His descendants number over three hundred and many still reside there and are among the best citizens.


As related above, the first schoolhouse was at “Old Salem,” but in a few years the settlers up on the site of what was later the Village of Victoria began to plan for a school of their own. In March, 1838, the County Commissioners appointed George F. Reynolds, William Overlander and Archibald Robinson as school trustees for Township Twelve North, Four East. The earliest known local record of school matters, there in Victoria, dates from August, 1847, the time when the present village began to be at all important. There can be found such items as the following in the minute-book of its first school directors: “At a meeting, held according to law for the purpose of locating and building a schoolhouse, on the 31st day of August, 1847, John I. Knapp elected chairman, Dr. J.W. Spaulding, secretary. Voted that the lot east of William Shurtliff’s house be purchased for $4, containing one-half acre. Also voted to buy a log building for school purposes.” “Treasurer of Victoria School District pay ten dollars on schoolhouse, eighty cents for interest and nine and 59/100 dollars to Mary Ann Stanley on schedule March 29th, 1848.” Signed by Isaiah Berry and Hiram Andrews, School directors. “Sold G.F. Reynolds the roof of the old schoolhouse for $4 which paid him for the schoolhouse lot.” Signed by J.W. Spaulding, Treasurer. This was at the time when the school lot, just west of what is now known as George M. Nelson’s residence and wagon shop was purchased, and there was where the children of the Victoria district attended school for about forty-five years. Others of these early teachers in the district were Mary Ann Leighton, Miss Maxfield, Miss Willmot, Harriet Foote, Miss Pratt, Byron Dorr, Nancy Burt, Electa Strong, Mary Hauver, Olivia Martin and many others. Salaries averaged around $3.50 per week and “board around.” During the early part of this period a so called “select-school” were “Young & Raymond,” Miss Ellithorpe (Arnold), and Miss Julia Wilber (Boardman). In about 1867 and for a few years thereafter there was a combination of the two districts (Victoria and the “West School,” in Copley), and the higher grades and a few high-school studies were taught in the basement of the Methodist church. Mr. Lewis B. Aiken, Robert Arnold, Lizzie Gordon (Robson), Emily Bristo (Robinson) and L.K. Byers were some of the teachers in the “graded” school, as it was called. In 1852, May 1st, a meeting was held in the Victoria School District, for the purpose of levying a tax to build a new frame school house, with John L. Fifield, chairman, and John Becker, Secretary. There the list of taxable inhabitants of Victoria School District are set out as follows:

Hiram Andrews, Mons Olson, Anson Sornberger, Walter Britton, Lewis Bissell, Joseph Freed, Isaiah Berry,  John T. Smith, Samuel P. Whiting,  Charles Reynolds, Norton Kelsey, David Tripp, Elam Pease, John Becker,Sanford Rodgers, Jonas Hedstrom, Josiah D. Bodley,  Peter Challman, Alexander Sornberger, Erick Skogland, John L. Fifield, Mathew Challman, George F. Reynolds, George Challman, Richard H. Whiting, Gustavus Janson,Theodore D. Case,  John I. Knapp
Needham Rodgers,  Jonas Helstrum, Thomas Force, John Spaulding, William Burgess, Albert Arnold, George W. Reynolds, George Cadwell


The building referred to above was later known as the “big room” of the old school building, vacated in about 1892, and in its last days was presided over by A.W. Ryan, M.E. Barnes, and P.C. Hankins, as principals. For about the last twenty-seven years, school has been held in a four-room frame school house on the north side of the village. Lately, the Victoria school has become a consolidated district school, merging the: “West School” and the “North School” with the old Victoria district. The other district schools in the township are: Union, Sixteen, Fairview, Cravens, Stump Valley, Center Prairie, Salem and Etherly.


The Early Roads


The early roads of the Town and community were very often utterly impassable. The prairies were full of bog holes. Tiling and ditching and building bridges have combined to make the town very different with respect to the roads and now hard roads are being advocated. When the Albro and Spaulding houses were moved from Centerville, it was necessary to leave them on the open prairie until the roads dried up in the spring. Even the road from the village to the nearby cemetery was impassable for weeks at a time, almost within a stone’s throw from the houses of Joseph Freed and Jon I. Knapp. Almost everything was regulated by the condition of the roads, in those early days. A map of the roads of Knox County as they were in 1841 (back part Vol. 3, Commissioners’ Record) shows important roads coming together at Centerville and many at Shurtliff’s Victoria. The roads ran at all angles, much as the crow flies, and the map referred to looks like a number of spider webs all connected with each other. An important State Road ran from Enterprise in La Salle County to Knoxville and was the regular road to Chicago, over which the produce was sometimes taken by the Victoria farmers to Chicago itself. This road missed the present Village of Victoria nearly two miles to the northeast. Another important State Road was the one from Peoria to Rock Island and to Hennepin, by way of Andover; this road ran through Shurtliff’s Victoria, but not through the present village. A part of it still exists where the road runs on a slant from the Goodspeed to the Carlson farm. Still another important road was the one from Henderson to Victoria and on to the east. This passed through both the old and the new Victoria. When the road from Burlington to Chicago was laid out to pass through the present site of the village, it was the controlling features in the question as to where the Village should be and it was moved to the west line of the town, much the same as the coming of railroads later changed the location of other villages. William Overlander, in March of 1838, was appointed supervisor of roads in the Victoria vicinity. The records of the county show that he was allowed the munificent sum of $10 for building a bridge over Walnut Creek near Centerville. At page 160 of Vol. 2 of the County Commissioners’ Record is as follows: “We, Pasons Aldredge and Barzilla Shurtliff, _____________ have viewed, marked and located a road by blazing the trees in the timber and sticking stakes on the prairie on the nearest and best route commencing about 80 rods east of the southeast corner, Section 31, in TP. 5 N., R. 5E., thence running west to the H. McClanihan Ford, thence to Victoria and thence to the big mound west of George F. Reynolds’s, where it intersects the State Road, heading from Enterprise (in La Salle Co.) to Knoxville, and we consider said road to be of public utility on account of being the nearest and best route to Hennepin and Chicago, ____________. Dated, February 27, 1839.” This report was approved and the treasurer of the county was ordered to pay each of the road viewers $1.25 for his services. Pasons Aldredge and Coonrod Smith had much to do with the opening of the roads in the Town.


Churches


The early inhabitants of the Town of Victoria were more than ordinarily religious. As soon as Old Salem school house was built, it became the place of holding divine services. Rev. Charles Bostic and others preached there and in the various homes and a Methodist church was organized by them there at Old Salem in 1836, and they afterwards built a frame church in the Village of Victoria, just over the line in Copley, in 1854. The first church building to be erected in the village was built in 1851, by the Congregational Society which had been organized April 30th, 1841. The meeting to organize was held at the home of George Foster. He and his family, Columbia Dunn, and Henrietta Olmsted Gaines, George F. Reynolds and wife, and others were the organizers. The Rev. S.G. Wright was its first pastor and he was followed by Rev. Daniel Todd, Rev. William Beardsley, B.F. Haskins and others. Among the many “supplies” who preached there were Jonathan Blanchard, president of Knox College, and Rev. Jenny, the father of the much esteemed church visitor of the central Congregational Church of Galesburg. A religious class for Swedish people was organized December 15th, 1846, in a log house in the Village, by Rev. Jonas J. Hedstrom, and in 1853, the Swedish people erected the second church in the village, over in the Town of Copley. It is the first Swedish Methodist Church in the world; the building is still standing, and being used by the same society. The Center Prairie Swedish Church is a branch of the above and was built in 1869. The third church building was erected as related above by the Methodists whose organization commenced at Old Salem in 1836. It was a two-story frame building, the upper room to be used for church purposes and the lower room for school purposes. The building was constructed by Sanford Tabor, as contractor. It was commenced in the fall of 1854 and in September, 1855, it was dedicated. The upper part was paid for by the Methodists and the lower part by popular subscription. Some of the pastors the writer recalls were D.A. Falkenbury, “Uncle Billie” Smith, W.P. Graves, U.J. Giddings, Jacob Mathews, J.D. Smith and many others. The old church building was sold in 1909, and torn down. A new brick building was erected in its place and dedicated June 5th, 1910, the fourth church building to be build in the village. Some years later a fine new parsonage was erected.


Mail Delivery


Mail was delivered for a long time at the “Old Victoria House” and Captain Allen and Isaiah Berry took care of the mail in an unofficial sort of a way. But George F. Reynolds was the first postmaster to be appointed by the government, in about 1848. His successors in order were Isaiah Berry, E.A. Pease, Ephriam Russell, H.K. Olmsted, Lew Emery, Lee Shannon, Samuel Jarvis, Cass Sornberger, Samuel Jarvis, (again), Ralph B. Woolsey, Arthur Van Buren, Grace Van Buren and Miles Sloan, the present incumbent. After many migrations the office is now located in a good brick building constructed for the purpose by J.E. Welin. For many years, mail came to Victoria, by the lumbering stage-coach on its way from Chicago to Burlington. After the C.B. & Q. Railroad came through; a “hack” was driven from Victoria to Altona and return every day, carrying the mail. Some of those who drove this mail-hack were John I. Knapp, Henry Olmsted, Seneca Mosher, Jacob McGrew, Joe Moore, John Mahnesmith, and Aaron Olmsted. After the C. B. & Q. came, Centerville was for the time a sub-station of Victoria. The Post office began to be of more importance in 1898 when rural service was established at Victoria. The first rural service established by the Department anywhere in the United States was authorized as effective October 1st, 1896, at Charlestown, Halltown and Uvilla, all in West Virginia. The first in Illinois were three routes, established at Auburn on December 10th, 1896. The service at Victoria was established June 1st, 1898. The carriers, John Dale and Clark Herrold, have been continuously in the service ever since the date of its inauguration at Victoria, and no complaints or charges of irregularity have ever been made against them. In 1899, the Galesburg, Etherly and Eastern R.R. was extended to Victoria and this greatly facilitates the mail service, giving the office two mails a day.


The Political Side


Politically, the people of the Town of Victoria have always taken an active interest in all elections from President of the United States down to the lowest office. It was not organized as a political Town until 1850 and was not called the Town of Victoria until about 1852. Until 1849, the county was the smallest political unit and it was divided into such voting precincts as the three County Commissioners chose to make. The people of what is now the Town of Victoria voted at first up on Walnut Creek in the “Fraker’s Grove Precinct.” In Vol. 2 of the Commissioners Record at page 11, (Dec. Term 1837), appears the following: “Coonrod Leek presented a petition from sundry citizens of Fraker’s Grove, praying for a removal of the place of holding elections to the house of Caleb B. Harley, living on the N.W. 1/4 Section 4, Tp. 12 N., R., 4 E. Order that the election be hereafter held at the house of said Harley, in said Fraker’s Grove Precinct, until otherwise ordered by this Court.” The two townships of Stark County in which West Jersey and Lafayette are now situated were then in Knox County and on page 27 of the above Record appears the petition of sundry citizens of 12 N., 5 E. (West Jersey), presented by Newton Mathews, a resident of that township, asking for a road to be laid out from West Jersey to Victoria. On page 55 of this record, the “Fraker’s Grove Precinct” was divided and the later Towns of Copley, Victoria, West Jersey and the south tier of sections of the next township north were constituted a Justices and Constables District.” (March Term, 1838. It was also “ordered that Henry McClanihan, Silas Locke and Barzel Sturtliff be and they are hereby appointed Judges of Election for Walnut Creek District” page 58.) About this time, the voting place was changed to the “Old Victoria House,” as related above. Peter Van Buren was for many terms a Justice of the Peace. Silas Locke was appointed, by the County Commissioners, as the first assessor for what are now Copley, Walnut Grove, Victoria and Lynn. Then came a new districting of the and what is now the Town of Victoria was grouped with Copley and that part of Truro north of Spoon River as related above, and called the “Victoria District.” When the State Legislature passed the law adopting “Township Organization,” George C. Lanphere became the County Judge in place of the Commissioner’s Court composed formerly of the three County Commissioners, and a supervisor was to be elected from each Town to do the work formerly done by the three commissioners. At the December Term in 1849, Judge Lanphere appointed a committee of three, of whom John Arnold of Victoria was one, to divide the County into Towns. The committee decided to let each congressional township be a political Town and issued a call for an election of all the voters in each township to determine the name of its Town. Township 12 north range 4 (Victoria) chose the name of Worcester, but in a couple of years it adopted the more suitable name of Victoria. The first Town meeting chose George F. Reynolds as Moderator and M.D. Minard as temporary clerk. The election resulted as follows:
 

John L. Jarnagin – Supervisor
J.F. Hubble – Town Clerk
M.D. Minard – Assessor
Charles Shurtliff – Collector
John Smith, Moses Robinson – Justices of the Peace.
A.B. Codding, Peter Van Buren, Joe W. Moshier – Commissioners of Highways
Alex Sornberger, Seneca Mashier – Overseers of Poor


From the date of this first election, the records of the Town are readily available in the hands of the Town Clerk and the County Clerk, to show what has transpired politically since the Town of Victoria was first constituted. Its Supervisors, in order, are:

J.L. Jarnagin;  C.P. Sansbury, M.C. Hubell, Alex Ingles, J.L. Jarnagin, C.P. Sansbury, Thomas Whiting, C.S. Clark, Samuel Coleman, John McCrea, J.H. Copley, Charles Sayere,Wash Lynes, W.B. Elliott, Henry Vaughn, Jesse McIlravy, M.B. Ogden, Will Sandquist, Henry Vaughn, Frank Peterson, Homer Gaines

The Town of Victoria has, especially on Center Prairie and near the Village, some of the most fertile farmlands in the county or anywhere. Most of the land is under laid with coal. Some of the unimproved land is worth as high as $300 per acre and some moderately improved land has sold as high as $375 per acre, but most of the owners will not put any price on their land. The railroad, now the Galesburg & Great Eastern, runs from Wataga to Galesburg, and is owned by the people who do not seem to require outside capital to finance their institutions. There are many new brick building in the village and business is particularly good in all lines. The Town is, and may well be, proud of its history and of the substantial development of its people.
 

Respectfully submitted, this 1st day of June, 1919. Mary Fifield Woolsey
 

 

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