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History of Atkinson Township

Source: Portrait and Biographical Album of Henry County Illinois, 1885

Copied by Linda Lang; Transcribed by Susie Martin-Rott


Atkinson was named after Charles Atkinson, now of Moline, one of the early settlers of this county. He owned large quantities of land in the township and all the land on which the village is situated. The first settler in Atkinson Township was Andrew Taylor. He died here many years ago. One of his sons, John, lives in Cornwall, and a daughter, Mrs. S. J. Hamilton, lives in Geneseo.

The next was John B. Taylor, who came and put up a cabin in 1837. He died in September, 1839.

In 1852 there were but two families in this township, namely: H. Fane's and Rozel W. Little's.

Asa Crook is probably the oldest settler now living in the township. He made his improvement on section 18. J.W. Little was one of the early settlers. John Welch was another early settler and was quite a prominent man while he lived here. He went to Nebraska. One of his daughters is still in the township; married her cousin B.F. Welch. The most important family were the Nowers, Thomas Nowers, Sr., and his sons and daughters, David Walters, the Trekells and Trekell's brother-in-law, D.W. Wonderly. The last named are all now in Nebraska. R.M. Besse and Henry Bass are both well known early settlers.

A large part of this township is in the Green River swamps. There were very few settlers came into it until after the building of the railroad in 1854, and the extensive drainage of the swamp and overflow lands, which were commenced in 1856. Jacob Meyers came in 1855; the same year Robert W. Milar. Otis W. Mankins came in 1854. John K. Trekell came to the county in 1836. He is a native of Ohio. His wife was Theresa Walters of Ohio. They were married Feb. 13, 1860.

The Village of Atkinson

W. Milar came from Ohio and settled in what is now the town in 1856. He found living in this vicinity when he came Lorenzo Eldridge, now of Chicago; Stephen Trekell, who left for California and died on the way on shipboard; Henry Bass, living two and a half miles north; E. R. Lucas, the present Town Street Commissioner; Benj. Shearer, who returned to his old home in the East; James W. English, Z. Welch, Hiram Grant and Michael Milar (the last four deceased), and John Crosby, now living in the southern part of the county;   George Rummell, living in Geneseo; David Walters, in Nebraska; John Rummell, in Iowa; John Heller, in Missouri; Asa Crook, living near the village; John Bowen (deceased) ; Harry and Henry Fanes, now in Kansas; George Williams, living north of Green River; C.J. Gearheart, living on Green River; M.W. Taylor (deceased); E.F. Rose, in Chicago, George Lowbaugh, in Geneseo; Andrew Miner, in Iowa; Sperry Howard (deceased), and some think he was about the first settler in the township; and Wally Smith, who went West years ago.

R.W. Milar's family were the first that got moved into the village proper. He built the first dwelling. There were two other houses going up at the same time, but Mr. Milar it seems worked the fastest and was a day or two ahead of the others. The first house occupied is now the property of Fred Kizer. One of the other two houses is now the hotel of the place. It was built by Trekell. The other building was the first store room in the place, by N. W. Taylor. It is now a harness shop on State Street. Taylor was the first store-keeper and Postmaster.

With this flush start for a good town, the people put up as a fourth building, a school-house.