Newton Bateman.

Historical encyclopedia of Illinois online

. (page 135 of 207)
Online LibraryNewton BatemanHistorical encyclopedia of Illinois → online text (page 135 of 207)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

There was little discussion. B. F. Arnold,
George W. Brown and E. P. Williams led off
with expressions of willingness to sign the
guarantee. T. J. Hale, declaring there was no
time for debate, but only for immediate action
offered resolutions that the meeting approved
the giving of the depot grounds and right of
way,' and would join in the guarantee, and called
for a rising vote. The vote was unanimous,
the paper was signed by all present and after-
wards by others, the Directors in Boston were
notified at once, and a reply was received that
Mr. Robinson had been directed to proceed with
the location accordingly.

It was a grand exhibition of public spirit and
mutual confidence, and no one has been known
to regret his part in it.

The subscriptions to the funds continued to be
made. In the end the number of subscribers
reached four hundred and ninety-five, the sums
ranging from one dollar to two thousand. The
total amount raised was ?64,243.55. Mr. J. T.
McKnight and Asa A. Matteson were appointed
to collect the subscriptions and purchase the
right of way. The selection was fortunate, since
between them these gentlemen possessed
qualifications eminently useful in the compli-
cated work, and ably and energetically carried it

In their final report very few subscriptions
appeared uncollected, and after all costs and
expenses had been paid, a balance of $2,451.41
remained. This was ordered distributed among
the subscribers pro rata, making a rebate of 4Vi
per cent on the amount paid by each.

From first to last, no misunderstanding with
the company or its officers was had. At the
close the company's solicitor expressed the
pleasure felt by the railroad oSicials at the fair
and honorable manner in which they had been
treated by the city of Galesburg and its people.
The Directors showed their appreciation by
erecting in the city much the finest depot on
their line from Kansas City to Chicago,

In answer to insinuations that the action of
the company in requiring contributions from
Galesburg was "making a blulT" and not actually
made in good faith. Mr. Strong has recently

said, in a letter to a friend: "But for the cor-
respondence between Colonel Carr and the rail-
road officials the road would never have come to
Galesburg, and if the required pledge had not
been made on the day set for it, the road would
have been located on another line."


The act incorporating the Peoria and Oquawka
Railroad was passed in 1849. Peoria and
Oquawka were at the time connected by a daily
line of stage coaches. No intermediate points
were named in the charter, but it was expected
the chief towns on the stage line — Knoxville,
Galesburg and Monmouth — would be served, but
that for the stage line between Peoria and
Knoxville the older route, by way of Farming-
ton and Maquon, would be taken. In 1849, an
organization was made, public meetings held,
and some interest excited; in 1850, a more
serious effort was made, and James Knox, of
Knoxville, was made President of the road. At
Galesburg, the interest felt gradually cooled.
Notwithstanding the assurances of Mr. Knox,
there were fears that the jealousy of the other
towns, on which Galesburg was gaining in pop-
ulation and business, would secure a location
that would leave that place at one side. It was
believed by some, that another line, of greater
value to Galesburg, would be called for from the
Mississippi, below the lower rapids, to the ter-
minus of the Illinois and Michigan Canal, con-
struction of the latter having been resumed;
and that such a line would be forced, by the
nature of the country, to follow the divide
between the rivers, and pass through that place,
and it would be well to reserve the strength of
the town to aid in its construction. At the
close of the year, the people of Galesburg had
cut loose from the Peoria and Oquawka project,
and were committed to another scheme.

February 10, 1851. the Peoria and Oquawka
charter was amended, fixing as points on its line
Farmington. Knoxville and Monmouth; author-
izing the company to acquire the right of way,
and the old grade of the Peoria and Warsaw
line, between Peoria and Farmington. belong-
ing to the State, a relic of the collapsed internal
improvement system; and empowering it to
construct a branch to the Mississippi River
near Burlington.

On the first of the same month, the Northern
Cross Railroad Company, chartered in 1849 to
occupy the old State line from Quincy to Mere-



(losia. was authorized to build a branch to the
terminus of the Illinois and Michigan Canal, on
the most eligible route through the Military
Tract, not east of Knoxville.

On the fifteenth of the same month, the Cen-
tral Military Tract Railroad Company was
chartered to build from Galesburg to connect
with the Rock Island and LaSalle line, in either
Henry or Bureau Counties.

In 1851. Colonel Richard P. Morgan, Chief
Engineer of the Rock Island and LaSalle Com-
pany, left that road and was appointed on the
Peoria and Oquawka. He condemned the Farm-
ington route, and insisted on the Kickapoo
Valley as the only one available westward from
Peoria. In 1852, an amendment to the charter
authorized construction without reference to
Farmington; it also permitted the establish-
ment of a ferry at Burlington, and the extension
of the road to the eastern limit of the State.
The abandonment of the route over the high,
well cultivated prairie, and leaving Farmington
(then a thriving, enterprising town), was
severely criticised, and the character and
motives of the engineer bitterly attacked.
Colonel Morgan was an old engineer, of large
experience and high standing and a thoroughly
honorable gentleman. Nobody who knew his
opinions on railroad construction, or had ob-
served his work on the Hudson River, the
Galena and Chicago, and the Rock Island rail-
roads, wondered at his selection of a route in
locating the Peoria and Oquawka line. He cared
little for curves, but he abhored steep grades.
The line was located to run past Galesburg,
more than two miles south of the public square.
Oquawka having given no sufficient aid, the
western end of the main line was not located,
the Burlington branch practically superseding
it. The people of Burlington became the most
active promoters of the road, prominent among
them being .James W. Grimes. Charles Mason
and William F. Coolburgh. In Peoria and War-
ren counties, municipal bonds were issued in
aid. the indifference at Oquawka and the hos-
tility at Galesburg preventing like action in
Henderson and Knox counties.

Two divisions were made. Knoxville becoming
the separating point, and all aid given was to
be expended in the division in which it was
obtained. Work was begun at once, and pros-
ecuted from each end of the line. By the fall
of 1854. the road was partially built, and the
means of the company and the contractors

Near the close of 1850, when the claims of
the Peoria and Oquawka were being discussed
in Galesburg, Mr. Marcus B. Osborne, a director
of the Rock Island and LaSalle Company, whose
road was not then located but was designed to
connect the upper Mississippi with the Illinois
River, at the terminus of the Canal, informed
W. S. Gale that the Directors of that road had
accepted a proposition made by Sheffield and
Farnham, the contractors building the Mich-
igan Southern road, then approaching it.s in-
tended terminus at Chicago. The Directors
were to secure a change of charter, giving right
to extend the line to Chicago, reorganizing their
company, and secure an entrance into that city.
The Michigan Southern would connect near
Chicago and run in on the same line. Sheffield
and Farnham would construct the Rock Island
and Chicago road for |22,000 per mile, taking
one-half in bonds of the road, one-third in
stock, and would accept municipal bonds, as
far as offered, for the remainder. Mr. Osborne
expected the road to follow the stage route and
make points at Cambridge and Witherfield,
coming within a little more than thirty miles
of Galesburg and making a short line over the
then open prairie. He had no doubt the con-
tractors would be glad to take up so valuable
a feeder, as a branch to Galesburg would be on
quite as easy terms as were offered for the main
line. Mr. Gale was associate editor of the News
Letter, and the next issue of that paper con-
tained an account of the situation as reported,
urging the feasibility of securing the construc-
tion of such a branch, the importance it would
give to Galesburg as a point to which would be
drawn the lines seeking an outlet to the canal
and lake from the south and west. Southwick
Davis, editor of the Register, replied in his next
Issue, opposing the scheme as an interference
with the Peoria and Oquawka line, the con-
struction of which could be secured and on
which Galesburg would be a point if its assist-
ance were given. The result was a discussion
on the streets, followed by a called meeting of
the citizens. The question was thoroughly
debated. The strongest presentation of the
Peoi-ia side was by C, S. Colton and H. H. May.
They insisted that the Peoria line could be more
certainly secured, and that it had more value
than a direct route to Chicago, being so short
in comparison, and that from Peoria there was
water transportation in every direction. That
in the end Peoria would get railroad connection
with Chicago, and through it railroad trans-



portation to that city would be but little longer
than by way of the Rock Island road. The
argument of the friends of the Chicago route
prevailed, and at the conclusion, by unanimous
agreement, a committee was appointed to pre-
pare and secure the passage of a charter for a
branch of that road.

It was feared opposition might be met with
in the Legislature, and that Galesburg would
he at a disadvantage. The State and the Legis-
lature were overwhelmingly democratic. Gales-
burg had no good political standing. It was
known as an abolition town, and in 1851, aboli-
tionists were, in most sections of Illinois,
cordially hated. The Senator and the Repre-
sentative from Knox County were Whigs and
from Knoxville, and individually were greatly
interested in the Peoria and Oquawka Company.
George C. Lanphere, an active advocate of the
new project, was County Judge and a demo-
crat, and was selected to go to Springfield in
the interest of the charter. The Lieutenant
Governor, William McMurtry, was from Hen-
derson; that town, it was supposed, would
share with Galesburg the benefit of the scheme.
Colonel McMurtry was very influential in his
party, and popular both at home and at Spring-
field, where he had represented his district both
in the House and in the Senate. His aid was
counted on. Judge Lanphere met at Springfield
Onias C. Skinner, of Quincy, a prominent lawyer
and leading democratic politician, afterward a
Judge of the Supreme Court, and a native of
Whitesboro. His nearest relatives were at
Galesburg. He had a bill authorizing the North-
ern Cross Railroad to build a branch to LaSalle.
The first proposition was to adapt his bill to the
case and carry out the Galesburg scheme under
it, but after protests from that city to the
effect that it must have its own bill, and that its
work must be under its own control, it was
agreed that more might be effected by first
securing the Galesburg end of the line, since,
with that accomplished, the Quincy end would
easily follow. Judge Skinner gave the name
Central Military Tract to the Galesburg road.
Indicating the ultimate design of the scheme.
Governor McMurtry was the first President of
the road. Committees were appointed to meet
the Rock Island Directors and contractors at
Rock Island and Chicago. Galesburg's repre-
sentatives were cordially received. Mr. Farn-
ham gave ample assurance that when the Rock
Island road was finally provided for, he would
take up the Central Military Tract line on like

terms. Major William P. Whittle was appointed
Chief Engineer, with B. B. Wentworth and
George Churchill, assistants.

The preliminary surveys were disappointing.
The Rock Island line had been located farther
to the north, and on low ground, nowhere
reaching the high prairie. Points where easy
descent from the high ground could be made
were few. Unlooked for difficulty was found in
crossing Pope and Edwards valleys. The most
favorable route found was fifty-four miles in
length, and was substantially that on which the
road was finally constructed, as far as the Coal
Creek valley, between Neponset and Buda.
From thence it turned at a right angle and ran
down the valley, touching the Rock Island road
at its summit, on the farm of Green Reid, at
which point, in anticipation of the junction, the
town of Shefiield was laid out.

It was expected here to suspend operations,
and wait until arrangements could be made to
secure the full cost of construction before
further expenditure of money, which might
prove ill applied. But under the influence of
the Chief Engineer, a more progressive policy
was attempted. Stock subscriptions were to be
canvassed for, in expectation of raising enough
money to grade the road and be able to place
bonds to provide for superstructure and equip-

Complete surveys and estimates were made,
and bids for construction called for, received and
opened. But the cost was not sufficiently pro-
vided for. The Rock Island contractors seemed
slow in coming forward to take up the road as
expected, and other connections were looked for.
The Aurora Branch Railroad had been char-
tered in 1849, and under the charter a road con-
structed from Aurora to a point on the Galena
and Chicago road, thirty miles west of Chicago.
The Central Military Tract Railroad, by length-
ening its lines about one-half, might reaeh
Aurora, thus securing a still more direct line to
Chicago. Correspondence was begun with the
Galena Railroad, but a change in the manage-
ment of that company was then pending and
interfered with definite action. The Burlington
Directors of the Peoria and Oquawka road took
great interest in the Central Military Tract line
from its first inception. They regarded it as of
more value to them, if a connection could be
made with it, than the Peoria end of their own
line. They tried, but without success, to effect
an agreement between the two companies to
connect at Galesburg, to act in concert, and to


Online LibraryNewton BatemanHistorical encyclopedia of Illinois → online text (page 135 of 207)