The History of Henry County
Its Tax-Payer and Voters
Chicago: H. F. Kett & Co., 15 Lakeside Building
The first school in Kewanee was taught in a small frame building, built by George A. Morse, and donated by him
for educational purposes. It stood north of the railroad tracks, on Main Street. School was held here for a year or
two, when this structure was removed farther into town, and placed on the lot now occupied by the east
school-house, and afterwards removed to that now occupied by Parker & Merritt's store. The growth of the town
demanding more room, the trustees rented a building of Mr. Austin Sykes, and a room in the upper story of Mr.
Striver' s store. These were occupied till about 1858, when the building known as the East School-house was
erected. This was occupied during the Winter of 1858. It contained two commodious rooms, and was ample for the
demands at that time. The pioneer school-room was sold, and for some time was used as the office of the Henry
County Dial; afterwards removed, and occupied as a Christian Church, and is now a dwelling. In the year 1865, the
East School-house having become entirely inadequate, steps were taken for the enlargement of this building and the
erection of two others. During the vacation of 1866, the east building was enlarged to double its former capacity,
and the two brick structures, known as the North and West Schools, were determined upon. They were erected in 1867,
and occupied January 1, 1868. Each contains two rooms. The schools were thoroughly re-graded in 1866 by the
superintendent, S. M. Otter, now State Superintendent of Public Instruction. Mr. Etter was principal here about
three years, and laid the foundations of the grading of the schools now so successfully carried out by Mr. W. H.
Russell, present superintendent.
The brick buildings were erected by William C. Loomis, and cost the city about $$6,000. In addition to these,
the High School building, erected in 1856, and a one-room building, are occupied. This latter is called the
There are now six hundred and eighty pupils enrolled. The average daily attendance for January, 1877, was six
hundred and twenty-one. They require the services of fourteen teachers, including the superintendent. Their names
and positions are as follows:
Mr. W. H. Russell, Superintendent.
High School - Mr. E. S. Martin, Principal; Miss Lillian D. Riley, Assistant.
Grammar School - 1st room, Miss Anna Keller; 2d, Miss L. A. Searle.
East Building - Intermediate, Miss A. A. Johnson, Miss Alice Barker; 2d Primary, Miss Esther Loomis; 1st
Primary, Florence Gamble.
West Building - 2d Primary, Miss Lizzie Lewis; 1st Primary, Miss Frank Rockwell.
North Building - 2d Primary, Miss S. Folsom; 1st Primary, Miss Jennie Halline.
Northville - Miss Mary Bradbury.
The Board of Education consists of the following named gentlemen:
S. T. Miles, President; Adoph Maul, Secretary; W. H. Day, W. W. Stevens, M. H. Hinsdale, Jas. C. Blish.
The annual aggregate expense of the schools amounts to $10,000, which is abundantly repaid in the elevated tone
of society, and the good morals attendant upon such an outlay of money. The appended sketch of the High School is
from the pen of one of the pupils now connected therewith:
The High School was established in 1856. It grew out of a desire for a higher grade of education than the
village schools afforded at that day. After some exertion on behalf of each of the villages of Kewanee and
Wethersfield, in the endeavor to secure its location in their midst, the matter was settled by locating the
building on the dividing line between them. Mr. James Elliott donated two and a half acres for that purpose, and on
this site the present building was erected. Only the upper story was completed ready for school purposes, the lower
being used for lectures, lyceums, and a public hall. Among the prominent persons who lectured here were John B.
Gough and Horace Greeley. School was opened under the principal ship of Rev. Mr. Waldo, who was assisted by Miss
Atwood. At that time the school was furnished with rude pine desks and benches, reaching half across the room,
making but three aisles. The oldest pupils occupied the rear row. Among the young ladies were Laura Pratt, now Mrs.
Northrop; Lillie Burns, now Mrs. Raymond; Nellie Little, now Mrs. George Perkins; Libbie Cutter, Helen and Lucy
Lyle, Fannie Lay, Ella Way, Addie Cheany, Lottie Talcott - the latter now Mrs. T. P. Pierce.
There being no sidewalks in earlier years, it was almost impossible in the winter to get to the school-house,
and a large wagon was the general conveyance for the scholars.
At the close of the second year Mr. Waldo resigned. His successor was Mr. Blodgett, who was assisted by Miss
Stocking. During his administration an exhibition was held, and from the fund raised the school-room was properly
Mr. Blodgett was succeeded by Mr. McPheran, who was succeeded by Mr. Bradford. Greek and Latin were among the
higher studies of the school at this time, and pupils were fitted for college. Mr. James K. Blish, a lawyer of the
town, went from this school to Ann Arbor. Mr. E. B. Wight, the Washington correspondent for a Chicago paper, went
from the academy to Chicago University.
"Mr. Bradford was succeeded by Mr. Tabor, who first graded the school, and arranged a course of study which he
had printed. He was followed by Mr. Beckington, and he by Mr. Etter, present State Superintendent of Public
Instruction. Mr. Etter was succeeded by Mr. Russell, the present superintendent. During Mr. Etter's administration
eighty-three dollars had been raised at a school entertainment, with which to purchase books for a library. This
fund was increased during Mr. Russell’s time in a similar manner. With this fund a library has been purchased. In
September, 1870, the town of Kewanee purchased the interest of Wethersfield in the academy, and has since had
entire control. Mr. Russell served a year or two as principal of the schools at Moline. During this interval Mr.
Gray and a Mr. Carver acted as principals. Upon the latter's resignation Mr. Russell was again called, and is now
superintendent of the Kewanee schools. Mr. E. S. Martin, in 1875, was appointed principal of the High School, which
position he still retains. He is assisted by Miss Lillian D. Riley."
The first paper issued in Kewanee was the Henry County Dial. The citizens saw the necessity of a paper in
their midst, and through the influence of some of the more prominent ones, among whom were R. A. Tenney, H. G.
Little, Nelson Lay, Geo. A. Morse and others, a subscription was raised, and the above mentioned paper
It was brought to the town Friday, August 15, 1855, its advent being signaled by the firing of guns and the
cheers of the populace. Mr. J. H. Howe had been secured as editor for one year.
The buildings occupied for some time were the Phillips Block and the old school-house, the latter now a
residence. It was continued until September 13, when Mr. C. Bassett, present editor of the Kewanee
Independent, who had come hither at the solicitation of some of his friends, purchased the entire stock and
fixtures. He was a practical printer, and assumed the business control, Mr. Howe remaining editor for the balance
of the year. It was conducted in this way until June 12, 1856, when Mr. Bassett sold the office to Mr. Howe and Mr.
H. M. Patrick. These gentlemen conducted the paper until November 13, when Mr. Howe sold his interest to his
partner, who associated Mr. O. White with himself as editor, and under this management the paper was printed till
January 8 following, when Mr. White retired. Mr. Patrick carried on the paper about one year, when he sold the
office to L. D. Bishop, who published the paper two or three years. J. E. Wheeler, one of the original founders of
the Chicago Tribune, had charge of the Dial from 1858 or 1859 till December 8, 1866-the longest term
of any one editor. He was a most estimable man, and one highly respected by the citizens of Kewanee. He was
considered one of the ablest editors connected with the Dial, and died at his post. He purchased it, and
leased the office to Mr. O. White, who again became editor. He also published a paper at Toulon, Stark County. He
was succeeded in the editorial chair by Hiram Wyatt, who associated with himself Mr. Shurtleff during the campaign
of 1868. Mr. Shurtleff was succeeded in a few months by Geo. W. Wilson, who purchased the office, thereby becoming
editor and proprietor. He almost immediately sold to N. W. Fuller, who changed the name to the Kewanee
Radical. He continued until May or June, 1870, when he failed, and the paper was discontinued. Oh July 1
following, the entire office and outfits were purchased by Mr. C. Bassett, who again entered the sanctum. He
started a weekly paper, calling it the Kewanee Advertiser. After six months he changed the latter name to
Independent, and as such still issues an excellent county paper. He is the oldest editor in Kewanee, and has
been a printer forty-four years.
On January 1, 1856, Tenney, Hardy & Co. issued a monthly, called Tenney, Hardy & Co.'s
Advertiser, published it one year and sold it to Mr. C. Bassett, who issued it as a monthly until December 13,
1863. The first copy of this paper is in possession of Mr. R. A. Tenney, now a resident of Chicago.
July 4, previous to his discontinuing the Advertiser, Mr. Bassett commenced the publication of a weekly
paper, called the Union Democrat. This he continued to publish until November 24, 1864, when he discontinued
it. April 26, 1866, he issued the first number of his weekly, called the Kewanee Advertiser, which he
published until November 23, 1867.
The Public School Messenger, a small, sprightly paper, was commenced in January, 1870, under the
immediate control of the Superintendent of Schools, Mr. W. H. Russell, as editor. This was issued about two years,
being published by Mr. Fuller one year, and C. Bassett the remainder of the time.
The Kewanee Courier was established March 22, 1876, by Mr. C. N. Whitney, who brought the material for
the office from Princeton, Bureau County, where he had published the Herald for nearly five years preceding.
Although established less than a year, the Courier has grown into a wide circulation, and is filled with
advertising patronage. The Courier office is the only steam printing establishment in the county, and is well
equipped with machinery and material. It is an eight-column quarto, and takes a leading position in local
journalism in this part of the State.
The idea of building a town upon this site was first entertained in the year 1853. While Messrs. J. M. and Wm.
L. Wiley were traveling from Peoria County to Rock Island in the Spring of that year, they were attracted by the
beauty of the surrounding country, and halted their team on the ground that now forms College Park, across which
the old trail led. Standing in their buggy and looking out upon the scene, one of them remarked to the other: "Let
us buy the land and lay out a town." At this time there were only two or three buildings to be seen from that
point, and the country around was one vast sea of prairie, over which the deer were still roaming at will. The land
was shortly purchased by them, and, after negotiating with the C. B. & Q. Railroad Company a full year, they
finally secured the location of a depot upon their purchase by donating the land now owned and occupied by the
company in the center of the town. In the Fall of the year succeeding it's purchase (1854), and about the time that
the arrangement with the railroad company was effected, the town was laid out, in its present shape, by the
gentlemen mentioned. The cars commenced running in December of the same year.
After the depot was located the Messrs. Wiley purchased about fifty acres of land, on the south side of the
town, from George Farr, and subsequently sold an undivided interest in a certain number of lots to the Bishop Hill
Swedish Colony, then in their most prosperous days, and afterwards a large number of lots to Jacob Emery. Both of
these parties gave their money and influence to forward the interests of the new town. Owing to the large purchases
of the Swedish Colony in the new town, they were granted the privilege of being its sponsors in baptism and
bestowing upon it the name which it was to bear. Olof Johnson, one of the earliest settlers, accordingly christened
it Gefle, the name of a populous town in Sweden. This name was afterward corrupted or anglicized to Galva, a name
new and unheard of but corresponding as nearly as possible to the Swedish name in pronunciation.
The first house of the new town was built in the Fall of 1854, and is a part of the one formerly belonging to
John I. Bennett, and which is now owned by A.J. Rockafellow and occupied by Mr. E.A.Lynd; it was built by the
Bishop Hill Colony and was used as a boarding house or hotel. The first store was built during the first Fall, and
is the one now occupied by C. F. Bodinson as a grocery, between the two railroads and just south of and adjoining
Smith & Smalley's Agricultural Warehouse. It was then occupied by George Farr, the Bishop Hill Colony and the
Col. E. Fuller was the first station agent appointed by the railroad company, and he continued to hold that
position up to the time of his death, or very nearly.
The Winter of 1854-5, following the completion of the railroad, was unusually mild and open, allowing
out-of-door work to go on without interruption until 21st of January, when there occurred the severest snow storm
ever known in this region, accompanied by a terrific wind. This resulted in blocking up the railroad and preventing
the running of any trains for over two weeks. It was during this time, when the inhabitants of the new town were
shut off from communication with the outside world, that the first child was born. Mr. and Mrs. David Emery were
the happy parents, and they exclaimed: "Unto us a child is born, a girl is given, whose name shall be called
The town having been laid out and a depot established in 1854, the following season witnessed a rapid growth and
quite an influx of population, no less that seventy-five men having settled here before the great fire which
occurred in November, 1855. Although the settlement of the town took place only about a score of years ago, the
larger part of this number are gone---not dead, but, moved by the same restless spirit which impelled them to take
up their abode here when the place was new, they have emigrated to other and newer towns. Only twenty-six of the
original seventy-five still remain here---about one-third---while thirty-seven, or nearly one-half of them, are
living in other localities. The list of dead numbers twelve, or about one-sixth of the pioneers of Galva. A part of
these, however, removed before their death, so that but a small fraction of the original settlers have found their
long home in the quiet cemetery to the south of the town.
When Dr. A. D. Babcock arrived here on the 5th of May, 1855, there were already sixteen buildings in the place,
twelve of which were dwelling-houses; when Mr. Seeley arrived, on the 26th of September, the number of buildings
had increased to thirty, and carpenters were in great demand and all busily employed.
It was during this season that the old brick warehouse, on Exchange Street, so recently devoted to the purpose
of a new manufacturing com pany, was built by the Bishop Hill Colony, and used for the storage of grain, pork, and
broom-corn. The first hotel was also built then, by Mr. J. E. Wolever, occupying a portion of the lot where Mr. A.
W. Albro now resides, on the corner of Main and Locust Streets. It was known as the "Galva House."
The first surgical operation which Dr. Babcock was called upon to perform was for Augustus C. Bergman who was
injured while working on the railroad; the first death was that of Mr.O.P.Bigelow, who died on the 12th of
September, 1855. The first male child born in the place was a son of Absalom Wood. The first fire occurred on or
about the 8th of November, 1855, and originated in Dr. Babcock's drug store. It was caused by carrying a lighted
lamp too near a barrel from which varnish had been drawn and which had been spilled upon the floor.
The whole business portion of the new town was laid in ashes by this disaster, no less than six business firms
being burned out. They were, first: Dr. A.D. Babcock, whose stock consisted of drugs, groceries, paints, oils,
liquors and cigars; second: A.M. Black, shoe shop and its contents; third: Hamlin, Beecher & Davis, dealers in
hardware; fourth: A. J. Curtis, dealer in furniture; fifth: Babcock & Clark, who do not appear to have any
stock of goods in the building at the time; and sixth: Hurd & Driscoll, whose stock of dry goods were still in
the boxes as received, not yet unpacked, and therefore easily saved by rolling them into the street. With this
exception the building and its contents were a total loss, as there was no insurance upon either. At the time that
the fire broke out, most of the citizens were in attendance at a railroad meeting then in progress at the
Mr. D. E. Jacobs was then living in the house now occupied by Mr. H. L. Dickenson, and which was the third
dwelling-house built in Galva. His mother perceived the fire by the glow of light which shone in at the window,
from the burning building, when her candle was accidentally put out, and send him to apprise the citizens at the
school-house. He rushed to the door and informed them that the Wiley House was on fire, and in two minutes' time
the speaker was left to talk to empty benches.
On the night of the 20th of November, 1875, occurred the great fire which devastated the town, and laid almost
all the business places, as well as many private residences, in ashes, inflicting almost as great a comparitive
injury upon Galva as the great fire in Chicago. More than forty places of business, with their contents, were swept
away, and many citizens turned homeless and houseless out into the night. The morning following was the gloomiest
that had ever dawned upon the town, and men might well have been disheartened by seeing the fruits of years of toil
blotted out of existence in a few hours. The fire was discovered a little after midnight, having originated in the
Post-office, which was then kept in a wooden building just north of S. P. Johnson's store, on the site of his
present tailor shop, or between the two buildings, which is a disputed question. If, as some allege, it was the
work of an incendiary, he must have had the spirit of a fiend of the pit to have looked with satisfaction upon the
work he did that night. A strong southerly wind prevailed at the time, and the flames soon caught upon the Mansard
roof of Beck's block, upon the opposite side of Exchange Street, and then leaped across to the north side of Main
Street, leaving only charred ruins in its track. The three- story building of Mr. Beck's had just been newly
roofed, and Music Hall, which occupied its upper story, furnished the finest assembly rooms between Galesburg and
THE BUSINESS AND SOCIAL
Galva is situated at the crossing of the Peoria, Rock Island and C.B.& Q.R.R., and contains a population of
about thirty-five hundred. The business of the town is chiefly trade with the surrounding people, there being but
two manufacturing establishments in the place. The older of thses was established about the year 1848 by Thomas S.
Guthrie, and is now carried on by his sons, William and Thomas. They are founders, and deal especially in engine
and boiler material. A manufacturing company now occupy the brick building erected in the early life of Galva, and
are engaged principally in making windmills and farm machinery.
The town supports a large number of stores, all well fitted up, and bearing a very neat appearance.
The first bank was started by Claudius Jones about 1858 or '59. In 1862 he sold to L. W. Beck, a merchant who
carried on an exchange business until the First National Bank was organized in 1865. He was Cashier of this bank
about nine months. Two or three years later he started another bank-a private institution. This he owned until the
Spring of 1876, when he sold to the present proprietors, E. A. Lynd and L. M. Yocum, who are now engaged in a most
successful business. The First National Bank was organized in 1865, the Wiley family, so early identified with the
history of Galva, being the principal projectors. It has a capital of $50,000, and a surplus of $30,000. Mr. D.L.
Wiley is President, and W. F. Wiley, Cashier.
The town is now entirely temperate, no license for the sale of spirituous liquors being given, and saloons are
The schools are in an excellent condition, are held in two buildings known as the North and South buildings, and
are under the able superintendence of Mr. E.E. Fitch.
The first school-house was built by the founders of the town, Messrs. J.M. and Wm. L. Wiley, near where Dr.
A.C.Babcock now resides, and was 12x20 feet in size. This building was also used as a church, and it was here that
the first Baptist Church of Galva, was formed, consisting of seven members, Mrs. Thomas Getty and Mr. Wm.L. Wiley
being constituent members. The Congregational and Methodist Churches were also organized during the same year,
1855, and met in the same building. The Congregational Church was organized on the fifteenth of September, with
The original school building on the north side of the railroad, known as the North School, was commenced during
the Autumn of 1855, and was soon completed, the money being borrowed for that purpose, all in gold, J.M. Wiley,
William L. Wiley and Geo. Farr giving a joint note therefore until a tax was levied and collected for the amount
required. The building contained two rooms. These were afterwards divided into two rooms each, and in this manner
the building was used until 1876. That year it was enlarged and remodeled, three rooms being added making a very
commodious seven-room building.
The South School building was erected in 1865. It originally consisted of one room, but that soon proving
inadequate, in 1867 it was enlarged and remodeled and made a building of four roons and as such is still used.
In the Galva schools there are now employed, including the Superintendent, thirteen teachers, whose names and
stations are as follows: E.E.Fitch, Superintendent; North School; Mrs. E.B. Humphreys, Principal; Niss Lucy Magu,
Grammar; Miss Rebecca Watson, Intermediate; Miss Frankie Smith, First Prim.; Miss Mary Maddox, Miss Anna Gladding,
Primary. South School: Miss S.B.Littlefield, Principal; Miss Matilda Watson, Intermediate; Miss Anna E. Ayres,
First Primary; Mrs. Emma J. Day, Miss Jennie Dyson, Primary. There are about 260 pupils in the North School, and
nearly 200 in the South, and aregular attendance of over 400. The annual outlay for educational purposes in the
city is about $10,000.
There are six congregations of religious worshipers. These occupy neat, commodious churches, and are in a very
The oldest religious organization in Galva is that of the Methodist Episcopal. It was organized June 26, 1855,
in the school-house. Meetings had been held here to complete the organization, and for some time after. At this
time the first Board of Trustees were elected. This Board consisted of the following persons: Isaac M. Witter, John
T. Carran, Isaac E. Dennis, Amos Dennis, William Pierce, John B. Nixon, and Norman E. Pomeroy. They were the most
active members then in the church, which in addition to these men, possessed but few members. In 1857 they erected
their present house of worship, costing $3,000. Among the prominent ministers of the church have been the following
divines: Rev. John Morey, who called the meeting held to organize; Rev. W.P. Graves, Rev. A.D. McCool, Rev. A. H.
Hepperley, Rev. G. W. Arnold and others. The present pastor, Rev. B.C. Dennis, is now serving his third year. The
church is in a prosperous condition. The membership is over 200, and an attendance of more than 100 scholars is
regularly maintained in the Sunday school.
The Congregational. Church was organized in the school-house, Sept. 15, 1855. The constituent members were the
following persons: George Farr, Rebecca Farr, Charlotte M. Cholette, George Fairlamb, William H. Fairlamb, Henry H.
Parker, Mary Fairlamb, Hannah Carrigan, Thomas Harrison, M.E. Harrison, Elizabeth J. Hill, and George Hill, Jr.
Rev. S.G. Wright was soon called to the pastorate of this congregation, serving one-half his time. He remained
until April, 1864, when he resigned. In November following Rev. R.B. Guild, the present pastor, was installed. From
a membership of twelve, the church has grown to one hundred and fifty, and sustains a Sunday-school of nearly the
same number of scholars. The congregation erected a church-edifice in the Autumn of 1856. In 1866 this was sold to
the Free Methodist Church, and the present commodious building erected. This latter was dedicated May 29, 1869, and
cost about $12,000.
The Swedish Methodist Episcopal Church was organized on the fifth of January, 1866, with fifteen members. Two
years afterwards, they erected their present house of worship, costing $3,000. Their pastors have been as follows:
Rev. A.J. Anderson, three years; O.C.. Simpson, one year; A.P. Wigren, one year; H.W.. Eklund, one year; C.A.
Wiren, two years; and A.T.. Westergren, two years. Charles A. Stenholm is the present pastor. There are now 87
members, 47 probationers, and 100 Sunday-school children.
The Free Methodist Church. In the Autumn of 1866, seventeen Persons, principally from the M.E. Church, formed
themselves into a separate body, under the care of this church. For some time they met for worship at Mr. D.P.
Reed's, one of the main members, and often at the residences of other members desirous of promoting the welfare of
the church. In 1866, the purchased the Congregational Church, and have since occupied it. The membership is now
about 20, sustaining a Sunday- School of 30 scholars.
The first pastor of this church was Rev. D.W. Drake, who remained two years. He has been succeeded by Rev.
William Cooley, Rev. J.T. Terry, Rev. G.C.. Coffee, Rev. W.W. Kelley, Rev. J. Whitney, Rev. James Thaxter, and the
present pastor, Rev. James Kelso, who is also pastor at Kewanee.
The Swedish Lutheran Church. The people professing this faith held meetings several years before effecting a
regular church organization. This was accomplished in December, 1869, with forty-four members. In 1873 they erected
their present house of worship, a comfortable brick building, costing about$3,000. At present there are over 90
members, and a Sunday-school of about 40 scholars. The Rev. P.M. Sandquist was the first pastor here. He was
followed by Rev. N. Nordgren, who remained about one year, and he by Rev. A. Lindholm, the present pastor. This
latter lives in Altona, and is not often in Galva, the pulpit being generally supplied by students from the College
at Rock Island.
The First Baptist Church of Galva. The earliest meetings were held in the school-house. The first meeting for
the transaction of business was held in the school-house June 28, 1855, at which time the preliminary steps were
taken to organize a Baptist church. The church was organized Aug. 14, 1855, the meeting being held in the
school-house. The original members were: Wm. L. Wiley, and Mrs. Louise Wiley, from the Baptist Church, Saxton's
River, Vt.; H.D. Ward and Mrs. Angelina Ward, from Canton, Ill.; J.M.. Corson and Mrs. Ann D. Corson, from
Brimfield, Ill.; Mrs. Margarett Bushnell, from LaFayette, Ill.; Mrs. Dorothy Getty, from Brimfield, Ill.; Henry H.
Clark, from Alden, N.Y.; O. P. Bigelow, from Boston, Mass.
The first church building was erected in 1856. It was located near the business center of the town, and cost
about $2,000. The second building, and the one which the church now occupy, was built 1867 and 1868. It is located
on the east side of, and fronting, College Park, and cost, carpets and bell included, about $25,000. The bell in
the tower of the present church building was also used in the old church, and rung for public service the first
time January 24, 1864.
First pastor was Rev. M.H.. Nevus, from organization until December, 1856; second, Rev. A. Gross, between two
and three years; third, Rev. J. T. Westover, between two and three years; fourth, Rev. J.D. Cole, D.D., about three
years; fifth Rev. L.D. Gowan, five years; sixth, Rev. C.W.. Clark, three years; seventh, Rev. J. M. Coon, now in
his third year.
The present membership is a little over two hundred.
Sabbath school was organized in 1856; the number of scholars is about one hundred and fifty. The church is now
free from debt, and expects to remain so, and is in a flourishing condition.
The Church of the Holy Communion (Episcopal). The first religious meetings held in Galva were in a room in Union
Block, 1866. About that time the Ladies' Church Aid Society was formed, and through their efforts a small church
was built, called the "Holy Communion" (Episcopal). The building and lot cost a little over $800, and was erected
on the northeast corner of Railroad Square, in the year 1868. Mrs. and Mrs. More, Mr. and Mrs. Whittle, SM. Ether
and wife, Mrs. Somme's, Mrs. Trowbridge, Mrs. Craine, C.J. Whittle, Mrs. Redness, Mrs. Hot, L. P. Epson, were among
the original members. Its pastors were Rev. Mr. Tifford, Rev. Dr. Flayed, Rev. Dr. S. Chase; also Rev. Mr. Russell,
who officiated over two years; C.J. Whittle, now rector at Manville, R.I.; and S. M. Ether, superintendent of the
State Schools, were both prominent in the religious affairs and doings of the church. The present membership is
fourteen; Sabbath school scholars, twenty.
In 1857 a paper called the Galva Watchman was started. This was published but a year or two, and probably
discontinued. The Galva Union was started Dec. 5, 1862 by B. W. Season. Some time afterwards it was controlled by
Capt. Erick Johnson, and after that by John I. Bennett, proprietor, and J. M.Edson, editor. It was changed to the
Galva Republican, the first number of which was issued about October 1, 1867.
At the same time the Illinois Swede was in circulation, being printed by the proprietors of the Republican, and
suspended about the same time.
On the 9th of February, 1872, the present paper, the Journal, was started by W.J. Ward, editor and proprietor.
In April of 1873, he sold to his brother, F.P. Ward, who conducted the paper until March 20, 1874, when he sold the
one half interest to J.J. Balch. In September, the latter's interest was purchased by the present editor, H.W.
Young, who on the 20th of February, 1876 purchased the share of F.P.Ward, and thus became sole owner. Mr. Young is
now conducting a paper which is a credit to any town, having enlarged the Journal, and added many important
Present officials:--Pres., G.W. Butters; Sec., T. Atwood; Treas., L. M. Young, Councilmen, Peter Herdien and
Charles Williams. Police Marshal, E.F. Short.
The land on which the town of Cambridge now stands was, prior to the year 1843, the property of Rev. Ithamar
Pillsbury, so well known in the early history of the New York and New England Colonies finding homes in Henry
County. As soon as the site received legislative sanction-the act having passed that body February 21, 1843,--he
deeded to the Board of County Commissioners, at a special meeting held on April 19, 1843, the fractional parts of
two forty-acre lots. These were at once accepted, and steps taken to lay out a town. A contract had been made
between the county and Geo. Brandenburg and _____ Corey for constructing a jail and court-house at Morristown. A
small frame court-house was already built, but at this time was still unfinished, and but little work had been done
on the jail. By consent of these parties this contract was annulled, the settlement being left to Marcus B. Osborn,
N.W. Washburn and Luke C. Sheldon, as referees. They gave their decision at the regular term of the court, held on
the 6th of June following. This was to pay the contractors $127.26, and keep the building. A day or two after the
court met again, at the cabin commenced by J. Tillson and finished by A.H.Showers, in Sugar Tree Grove, for the
transaction of any business relating to the new town.
On June 9th the Court proceeded to lay out the town of Cambridge-a name suggested by Judge Tillson-and ordered a
sale of lots to take place on the 26th of the same month; to which date it was adjourned. The town is laid out on
two fractional quarters, N.W. and S.W.7, 15, 3, some 36 acres on each. It has two public squares, which, including
the streets, extend the breadth of the town from east to west. They were recorded as Court Square (west) 20 by 40
rods, and College Square (east) 20 rods square. The lots facing the squares were 10 by 20 rods, the others were 20
rods square, save two on the north end of town, which are 20 by 36, and the cemetery, which is 16 by 20 rods.
On the 28th of June the Court met and "appropriated fourteen dollars to Charles C. Blish for surveying town of
Cambridge, one dollar and fifty cents for services rendered at same time, and two dollars to Sullivan Howard for
specifications and plan of a court-house."
It was ordered that the Court proceed forthwith to the sale of lots in Cambridge, on the following terms:
One-third to be paid in six months after date of sale; one-third in twelve months, and the remainder in eighteen
months; and that purchasers have the privilege of paying in building materials, on or before the 1st day of the
George McHenry, being in his place as auctioneer, a full board, and a good attendance of citizens, the sale
proceeded. Twenty lots were sold on that occasion, aggregating the sum of $558. For the benefit of those
interested, the list of purchasers and number of lot, and amount of sale, in the order in which they appear on
record, are given: Joseph Tillson, 1, $20; John Russell, 4, $23; Joseph L. Perry, 7, $21; Jas. Roe, 12, $25; Albert
Jagger, 3, $26; Wm.H. Lockwood, 14, $40; Lennan Thurston, 13, $39; Thos. K. Thompson, 10, $26; Wm. A. Ayers, 18,
$23; Jos. Tillson, 9, $15; Wm. H. Lockwood, 16, $39; Alex. Qua, 17, $33; Wm. H. Lockwood, 16, $31; Jas. Montgomery,
15, $35; Thos. K. Thompson, 21, $15; Wm. Dawson, 5, $30; James M. Allan, 20, $40; John Jones, 11, $30; Alexander
Qua, 8, $21. There were thirteen purchasers, and out of that number but few are known to be living in the county or
in the state. Qua lost his life in a stone quarry, one-half mile northeast of Cambridge, where he was crushed by a
bank he had undermined.
The growth of the town was not at all in proportion to the necessities of some of the purchasers, and instead of
paying for their lots, either in materials or money, as the payments became due, several of them begged off, and
their lots went back to the county.
To effect a healthy growth in the new town, roads must be opened, post routes established through it, and a
post-office in it, and public buildings had to be erected and a population invited. The sequel will show that many
opposed to the growth of the place scarcely ceased to underrate the locality and its facilities for a healthy
growth, and the idea of settling in it or about it was often derided. A mail route leading from Wethersfield to
Geneseo was established through the place, and for a while the few inhabitants enjoyed the luxury of a semi-weekly
mail from Peoria. By some means the route was altered so as to leave Cambridge out. Previous to the change of route
by the department, the carrier refused to go to Cambridge, but would throw out a bag of mail matter put up at
Wethersfield expressly for Cambridge, at the "Corners," ten miles east of town. No office being there, a boy
employed for the purpose would proceed at his leisure, pick up the bag and take it to its destination. More that
once mail matter has been sent from Cambridge for the east and returned at the end of the week with other matter
designed for Cambridge. Those who had important business to transact were afraid to mail their letters at the
county town, because of the delays to which its mail was subjected. Many and unsuccessful were the efforts to have
that route re-established through the village, nor till 1856 had the tardy justice of a tri-weekly mail from
Geneseo to Kewanee been accorded to the county town. A weekly mail from Princeton, in Bureau County, to Millersburg
or New Boston, on the Mississippi River was the only one from which, for several years, news from the east could be
obtained. A weekly mail running from Rock Island to Cambridge was also established for the particular benefit of
the settlements between the two places. For a short time, about the year 1853, a route was established from a point
on the Illinois River, known as Lancaster, to Cambridge; but it afforded no conveniences for any office on the
route, and was soon discontinued. The mail to Rock Island was carried for many years by a Mr. Robinson, familiarly
known as "Uncle Bobby." He was a very honest, trusty man, and made more money by attending to errandsat Rock Island
for his neighbors than by carrying the mail.
The growth of the town was remarkable only for its slowness. The impression that the county seat would certainly
and speedily be removed gave way with great difficulty. People were afraid to venture in, and by little improvement
was made for several years. The county had a court-house, but it was unfinished and in Morristown. At that place
courts were to be held till suitable arrangements could be made for their accommodation in Cambridge. They were
then being held in the dwelling-house made over to the county by the proprietors of Morristown. It was argued by
many citizens about Cambridge, among whom are found the names of Stackhouse, Hanan, Mascall, Cady, Osborn, Malcolm,
and others, that the unfinished house might be moved to where it was wanted. These gentlemen made a proposition to
the Court to the effect that if it would give them the house outright they would move it to Cambridge, finish it
off, and furnish room in it for the use of the courts till the new court-house should be built.
On the 5th of September, 1848, the Court contracted with them to move the house to Cambridge, and to finish it,
giving them ten dollars and the use of the house for schools and other public purposes when not wanted for courts,
for the term of three years. The building was placed upon runners, and in two days hauled or moved, by ox teams, to
Cambridge, a distance of more than twelve miles, and placed on southeast corner of College Square. Several terms of
the county court and two terms of the circuit court were held in it-the first term of the latter in September,
1844. It was afterwards sold to the Messrs. Gaines, who put a small addition to it, and placing their families and
a stock of dry goods and groceries in it, did a good business on a small scale for several years.
On June 18, 1844, notice was given that a contract for building a court-house, according to a plan and
specifications, drawn by John G. Wilcox (for which the Court paid him $22), would be let on the 29th of July
following. A contract was made with Sullivan Howard, September 3, 1844, and the building was completed and accepted
July 28, 1845.
From that time, at least for several years, the court-house was open forschools, lectures, debating societies,
stump speeches, three-penny shows, class meetings, prayer meetings, Masonic meetings, singing and dancing schools
(the benches were movable) and preaching. Presbyterians, Congregationalists, Methodists, Baptists and Universalists
all worshiped there, often three of them in one day, at different hours.
The first building erected in the new county seat was a small unhewn log house, put up by John Russell-commonly
known as "Lord John"-and was used by him for a blacksmith shop. For a short time after its completion, he occupied
it as a dwelling, until he could erect a cabin for his family. This small structure was covered with
"shakes"-clap-boards-held down by weight poles, and stood on the site now occupied by Medbury's grocery; his
dwelling occupied the site of Mr. S.D. Alfred's present residence.
Judge Tillson erected the second house in the town. It was a hewn log building, and many additions were made to
it, as his wants required and means allowed.
A log cabin was erected almost opposite the stable connected with the Cambridge House, by W. Augustus Ayres, the
following Summer-1844. Here the Indian, known as John, was confined for the murder of a half-breed by name of Jim.
"John" escaped from this insecure "jail" and joined his tribe, the Pottawattomies at Shabbona Grove. He was
immediately followed by the officers, who, on coming to the camp, and addressing the chief, who was none other than
the noted personage Shabbona, inquired for "John" who killed "Jim." He was at once pointed out by Shabbona (this
name was pronounced Shah-pan-nee; or Sh'a-p'a-nee, by the Pottawattoomies), and again taken into custody. At the
preliminary examination before Justice Tillson, he was committed for trial before the circuit court; but the grand
jury, failing to find a bill (they stood eleven for and (?) against), he was set at liberty.
The first hotel built in town was erected by A. H. Showers, about the year 1848. He kept it for some time, and
rented to others until it was finally converted into a residence, and as such is now the property of Michael
McFadden. Mr. Showers, several years after, erected the present Cambridge House, which in 1856 he sold to A. and N.
B. Gould, who added the third story. They kept it five years, and sold to James M. Wier, who in turn sold to Joshua
Bushnell, about February, 1864. He enlarged it to its present capacity, and in February, 1876, sold to the present
proprietor, J. W. Hartzell. Mr. M.W. Thatcher was connected with this house about eight years as landlord. The
Central House was built about 1857, by A.M. Randall.
No manufactures exist in town, and not until the completion of the railway in 1871, did the town grow in a
thriving manner. From that time good stores were erected, and a fine trade with the surrounding farmers at once
sprang into life.
The project of having railroad connection with the eastern and western markets was agitated by the more
prominent citizens as early as 1863. The object was again discussed in 1866, and more definite steps were taken.
The Rock Island Railroad was opened in 1856 to the coal fields, and the citizens of Cambridge began an earnest
effort to secure the continuance of the road through their town. In 1867, Mr. Orin E. Page was sent by the citizens
to procure a charter for the road, under the name of the Peoria and Rock Island Railway. This was accomplished, and
subscription-books were immediately opened in the city of Peoria, in Galva, Cambridge, and at Osco and Weston. The
city of Peoria subscribed $100,000, and the county the same amount. The township of Galva, $50,000; Galva, $25,000;
Cambridge, $50,000; and Osco and Weston, $30,000 each.
By these figures, aggregating $385,000, it will be observed that the road was built mainly by municipal
subscriptions. For all this outlay, the corporations were abundantly repaid in the increase of wealth and rapid
development of the towns. Cambridge, from a population of between four and five hundred in 1871, has grown to four