Newton Bateman.

Historical encyclopedia of Illinois online

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and was duly empowered to levy and collect its
own taxes.

Four times a year, on the first Mondays in
March, June, September and December, the
Board held regular terms of Court, as the Com-
missioners' meetings were called. Special terms
were convened on the call of any commissioner.
In this Court, the county business was trans-
acted, and its variety was almost infinite.
County finances, roads and bridges, suits to de-
termine ownership of estrays, the selection of
jurors, filling vacancies in minor offices, the
binding out of apprentices — all these things,
and many more, called for discussion and con-


One of the first important acts to be performed
was the laying out of the county seat. A law.
approved January 15, 1831. had set off for this
purpose the southwest quarter of Section 28,
Township 11 North, Range 2 East, now Knox
Township. On March 12, 1831, the Board let the
contract for laying out this land to Andrew
Osborn, for fifteen dollars, and at the same
time, awarded that for building the Court House.
On March 26, President Jones was authorized
to go to Springfield and enter, on behalf of
Knox County, the land which the Legislature
had designated for the county seat. On April
23 was held the first sale of lots in the new
town, then called Henderson. Seventy-nine lots
were disposed of at auction for twelve hundred
and fifty-six dollars, Riggs Pennington paying
the highest price, sixty-one dollars.

Roads and bridges occupied a large share of
the Commissioners' attention, forming, next to
county finances, the most important question
with which they had to deal. (See Roads and

were granted for nearly every kind
of business; and perhaps their issuance ranked
third in importance among the matters consid-
ered by the Board. In 1837, this licensing came
to an end, and business was conducted as at


By the same law which defined the bounda-
ries of Knox and located its county seat, Henry
County was attached to it for governmental pur-
poses, and so remained until 1837. The first act
in relation to Henry County seems to have been
the licensing of Asa Crooks on June 1, 1835, for
two dollars, to operate a ferry across Rock
River. Before there were bridges, the demand
for ferries was great, and with each one licensed,
the Board established special tolls which the
ferryman might charge.

At Crook's ferry the rates fixed were:

Wagon with four horses or oxen $1,00

Wagon with two horses or oxen ,75

Wagon or carriage, with one horse 50

Man and horse 25

Man 12V2

Each head of cattle, led or driven 05

Sheep and hogs, per head 03


The first ferry in Knox was about one-half
mile below the present Maquon bridge over
Spoon River, and was conducted by Simeon
Dolph. In September, 1834, he agreed to build
a boat for the county for forty-five dollars. It
was completed in March, 1835. and the Board,
in consideration of the payment of two dollars,
licensed Dolph to run this ferry for one year,
upon his giving a bond to keep the boat safe.

Cattle and hogs were allowed to run at large,
and each owner could identify his own by a pri-
vate mark, which he might register in a hook
kept by the County Clerk for that purpose.
Under this system, animals often strayed from
their owners. To facilitate their recovery, an
"estray pen" was kept by the Sheriff of each
county, where estrays were impounded. They
were advertised for some time, and then, if no
owner appeared to claim them, were sold by
the Sheriff at public auction, to defray the ex-
pense incurred in keeping them, the balance, if
any, being turned into the county treasury.
Such a pen was built for seventeen and one-
half dollars by Sheriff Osborn in 1832, on the
Court House lot.

The foregoing gives an idea of the general
character of the business transacted by the
Commissioners. Let us now examine their
method of doing it. They divided the county
into districts, called "Justice Precincts," each

K X X (' U N T Y


Online LibraryNewton BatemanHistorical encyclopedia of Illinois → online text (page 132 of 207)