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35; Svea Court Independent Order of Foresters,
membership, 24; Monitor Union, membership,

It must not be forgotten that a very consid-
erable proportion of these people came to this
county early, when it was but very sparsely
settled; and that they were forced to undergo
not only the usual hardships of the pioneer in
any new country, but were "strangers in a
strange land," understanding not a word of the
language spoken by the people, among whom
they found themselves thrown. Moreover, the
methods of work were new to them; they were
not accustomed to the climate, and the food
was altogether different from that to which
they were used. In addition to these disad-
vantages, most of them had used nearly, if not
quite, all the small means they possessed in
order to come to America. Yet, to their un-
speakable credit be it said, one would seldom
find any of them discouraged or dissatisfied.
They were strong and active, and eager to secure
work. The earlier settlers of the county wel-
comed these sturdy sons of the North with
warm hands, and extended to them all kindness
and encouragement. The men secured work on
the farms, and the young women found places
as domestics in families in need of their serv-
ices. That it required much patience on the
part of both employer and employe to learn to
understand each other goes without saying;
but forbearance and patience, on the one hand.

and eager determination to learn, joined to
absolute fidelity on the other, overcame these
difficulties in a surprisingly short time.

The Swedes became Americanized very read-
ily, and they love and appreciate the free in-
stitutions of their adopted country. A very
large percentage of those capable of bearing
arms volunteered to aid in the protection of our
government during the War of the Rebellion,
bearing their full share of the suffering and
sacrifice entailed by that memorable struggle.

As has been pointed out, the Swedish people
began coming to this county early in its his-
tory, and they have contributed no mean por-
tion to the development of its resources. As a
rule, they are honest, industrious, law-abiding
citizens. In looking over the docket of any
term of court it is surprising how few cases
there are to which Swedish-Americans are par-
ties. It will be observed that out of a total
population of 9,088 of this description in the
county, there are 3,000 who are members of
churches and 1,742 scholars in Sabbath schools
organized by themselves; while there is a large
number in addition who are members of other
churches. In fact, it may be said, without fear
of successful contradiction, that more than one-
half of that part of the population of Knox
County who trace their lineage to Swedish
ancestry are within church organizations of
various denominations.

The early settlers from the peninsula in the
far north of Europe were at first compelled,
like all pioneers, to devote themselves exclus-
ively to securing homes for their families, to-
gether with such scanty comforts as hard, hon-
est toil could secure. But coming from a coun-
try where illiteracy is practically unknown, they
well knew the value of a good education and
fully appreciated the worth of the cultivation
of the mind. They organized for religious
worship, according to the dictates of conscience,
as soon as it was possible; and as their i-hil-
dren grew up they afforded them every oppor-
tunity within their power to secure the best
education within their reach. They are now met
in every walk of life in this county. In the
country they are, as a rule, good farmers, and
the majority own the farms they occupy; in the
cities they are well represented in every de-
partment of activity; in the public schools (hey
are found both as scholars and as teachers; in
the colleges and conservatories of music they
are met as students; in every branch of mer-
cantile business they are largely represented


K N OX CO U N l \


as both clerks and proprietors; and the same
gelf-ovident proposition holds good as to the
factories and mechanical trades of all kinds.

A large proportion of the population men-
tioned in the foregoing paragraphs were born
In this county, and are in every sense of the
word as much American as any other native-
born citizen. There is not now, nor has there
ever been, any class distinction among the peo-
ple of Knox County on account of nationality;
but those settlers who came here from the fath-
erland many years ago, and who underwent
many hardships that were not common among
the other oiu settlers of the county, felt tliat it
would be eminently fitting for them to meet
together, once each year, to exchange remi-
niscences and to talk of matters best known to
themselves by experience. In this way was
formed the Swedish-American Old Settlers'
Association of Knox CouniT Illinois.




This company was organized in March, 1875,
under the general law of the State in relation to
township insurance companies, approved March
21, 1874. Its field embraced the townships of
Knox, Persifer, Haw Creek, Orange, Chestnut
and Indian Point. It was reorganized in Sep-
tember, 1877, under the general law relative
to county insurance companies, approved June
2, 1877. It has a Board of Directors composed
of nine members, whose term of office is three
years; three being elected each year. From
their number they choose a President and
Treasurer, annually. They also elect a Secre-
tary, who may or may not be a member of the
company. J. C. Eiker. of Orange Township, Is
President, and J. Hamilton, of Galesburg, Sec-
retary. Both have held their positions since
the organization of the company. E. B. Rey-
nolds, of Knox Township, was the first Treas-
urer, but soon resigned. He was succeeded by
Robert Young, of Persifer, who still holds the
office. The company's business is done on the
mutual plan; and, through the judicious man-
agement of its Board of Directors, it has stead-
ily grown from the beginning. At present, the
corporation has outstanding. In policies, about
$2,000,000. Its losses are promptly adjusted by
a committee of three of its members, appointed
by the President and Secretary. The result is a
great saving to the farmers of Knox County;
the average annual cost being only about four-

teen mills on the dollar. It is strictly a farmers'
insurance company and offers to the agricultural
communities in which it operates a protection
which is at once safe and inexpensive. It in-
sures against loss or damage to buil(^ings and
their contents by either fire or lightning.


One of the most important of the business or-
ganizations in .the city of Galesburg, is the
Covenant Mutual Life Association, which was
incorporated in 1S77. It was intended originally
exclusively for members of the Independent
Order of Odd Fellows, but later the general pub-
lic wore admitted to membership. It was or-
ganized under the name of the Covenant Mutual
Benefit Association. The word life was substi-
tuted for benefit in 1S95. It has been excep-
tionally prosperous, the statement of 1S9C show-
ing over $100,000,000 in insurance in force, and
a surplus of $1,000,000.

The first officers of the Association were: A.
W. Berggren, President; Jacob Hoffheimer, Vice
President; E. Frisbee Phelps, Secretary; Lake
W. Sanborn, Treasurer. The present officers
are: W. H. Smollinger, President; Luke W.
Sanborn, Vice President; B. F. Reinmund, Sec-
retary; A. V/. Berggren, Treasurer.


This company, with its headquarters at 347
East Main street, Galesburg, was organized In
the Fall of the year 1883, by the Swedish-
American citizens of that city, for the purpose
of securing life insurance at actual cost. The
first officers elected were: Rev. S. P. A. Lin-
dahl. President; N. J. Oleen, Vice President;
Nols Nelson, Secretary; Jonas A. Johnson.
Treasurer; and Dr. J. T. Wilson, Medical Direc-
tor. With the exception of Dr. Wilson, who
died in November. 1S96, and was succeeded by
Dr. C. G. Johnson, as Medical Director, the offi-
cial staff chosen the first year has been annually
reelected, each member filling his original post.

At the fifteenth annual meeting of the Asso-
ciation, held on the fourth Wednesday of Janu-
ary, 1809, the reports of the officers showed a
membership of 12.640 and $15,330,000 worth of
policies in force, the company having paid dur-
ing the past fifteen years $1,354,880.52 to bene-
ficiaries of deceased members, and accumulated
a fund, to be used only for losses when the rate
of mortality is phenomenally high, amounting
to $147,935.54 on January 1. 1899.

Part II.

The township of Galesburg, In which the city
of that name is situated, occupies the territory
designated by the United States survey as Town-
ship 11 North, Range 1 East. This was origin-
ally a prairie township. It lies on the "divide,"
between the Illinois and Mississippi Rivers, and
its highest elevation is nearest its center, at
the present site of the railroad stockyards.
From this point the early pioneer could obtain
a view extending far beyond the township lines
and circumscribed only by the woods skirting
the water courses that left the divide in every
direction. To the east lay the timber growing
along the waters of Court and Haw Creeks, the
former barely touching the boundary line, while
the latter extended into the township, to a point
halt way between its eastern lice and its cen-
ter. The woods of Brush Creek reached to a
point within a half mile of its southern boun-
dary, and on the west stretched Cherry Grove,
as it was afterwards called, distant a mile and
a half from the township's extreme sectional
line. Half a mile west of the middle of this line
also lay the heart of the Cedar Fork timber,
connected with which and with each other stood
two little groves, covering between fifty and a
hundred acres each, one on the line and the
other extending to within two miles of the town-
ship's center; and stretching from the west to a
point near the middle of the northern boundary
was what was known as the Henderson tim-

The surface was level or gently undulating,
and the rich, virgin, prairie soil was covered
with a luxuriant growth of grass and flowering
plants, enchanting to the eye and mutely in-
viting the settler to occupy and till it. Yet
notwithstanding its beauty and fertility only

nineteen quarter-sections— sixteen In the south-
east and three in the northeast — were pre-
empted by soldiers on bounty warrants, the re-
mainder being considered undesirable, because
not accessible to timber.

In 1S33 settlers occupied, or had claimed and
were about to occupy, the timber land and
adjacent prairie in the southeastern part of the
township, as well as the little groves and sur-
rounding land in the west, while the Henderson
settlements included a portion of the land in the
northern tier of quarter-sections. The unoccu-
pied prairie was supposed to be of little value,
except as a free range for the stock, and was be-
lieved to be destined forever so to remain.


In 1.S34, Rev. George W. Gale, of Whitesboro,
New York, who had been engaged in educational
work for many years, conceived the idea of
building a college in what was then called the
far West. To endow this college he proposed
to buy government lands at $1.25 per acre and
sell thcra to settlers at five dollars, the profit
to be given to the Institution. This idea Mr.
Gale set forth at length in a printed circular,
which he sent to his personal friends and to
others interested in education.

Early in 1S35, thirty-three persons had given
their approval of the plan and had subscribed
$21,000 toward carrying It into execution. They
were: Revs. G. W. Gale, H. H. Kellogg, .Tohn
■Waters, Timothy B. Jervis, Phinoas Camp, John
Gray and John Frost, and Messrs. Nehemiah
■West, John McMulIen, John C. Smith, J. S.
Fitch, Smith Griflith, Lewis Kinney. Amatuo
Robbins. Chauncey Pierce, Gordon Grant. Sam-
uel Bond, Silvanus Ferris, N. H. Losey, Sylves-



ter Bliss, Sylvanus Town, H. T. Avery, George
Avery, James Barton, J. B. Marsh, Thomas
Gilbert, Thomas Simmons, Jeremiah Holt,
George Stedman, Benjamin P. Johnson, Walter
Webb, Sidney Rice and Miss Araminta P. Rice.


On May 6, 1835, they met at Rome. New York,
and chose a "Prudential Committee," its mem-
bers being George W. Gale, H. H. Kellogg, John
C. Smith, N. West, Thomas Gilbert and Walter
Webb. This committee was directed to select
certain of its members to visit those portions of
Indiana and Illinois lying between the fortieth
and forty-second parallels of latitude. Nehemiah
West, Thomas Gilbert, and T. B. Jervis were
selected for this task, while Mr. Gale was chosen
as General Agent, to secure new members of the

On their return from the West the committee
reported that no desirable or suitable land could
be secured east of Illinois^ and that even in
that State they had not found a place where
an entire township could be had in a desirable
location, with an adequate supply of wood and
water. The tide of immigration was at its flood,
and the securing a suitable tract of sufficient
size for the establishment of a colony was daily
becoming more difficult. Any land selected, un-
less paid for at once, might be occupied in whole
or in part by others. If anything was to be
done, it must be through a committee with an
abundance of money and plenary power to act.
The report was far from encouraging. To pur-
chase a smaller tract than had been originally
contemplated would be to weaken the enterprise
at a vital point. To wait until a sufficient amount
could be secured and collected through sub-
scription would mean the loss of valuable time.
Moreover, as the chance for securing a desirable
location grew less, the difficulties in the way of
securing subscriptions would multiply. A crisis
was presented, and it seemed imperative to act
promptly. From such subscribers as were then
prepared to pay, seven thousand dollars were
collected, and a loan of ten thousand dollars
was obtained from a bank on a note signed
by Messrs. Ferris, Sears and Gale. The next
step was the appointment of a purchasing com-
mittee, composed of Messrs. George W. Gale,
Nehemiah West and Silvanus Ferris, who were
fully empowered to take immediate action. Such
of the subscribers as might desire to accompany
them were made advisory members of the com-

mittee. Western Ferris, a son of Silvanus, went
with them, and they were joined on the route
by Rev. John Waters, Thomas Simmons and
Samuel Tompkins. At Detroit, Mr. Gale became
sick, and the committee went on without him.
Mr. Gilbert, of the original exploring committee,
had found in the township south of Knoxville a
beautiful prairie, in every other way desirable,
but not so large as was considered necessary.
He had there bought land for himself and ad-
vised the committee to look at it.


Going first to Knoxville, they found accommo-
dations at the house of Dr. Hansford, then and
long afterwards a prominent citizen of Knox
County. On learning their mission, he assured
them that he could and would show them all
the land they wanted, an offer which was gladly
accepted. No time was lost on the way to the
Quincy land office, where they entered all the
land available for that purpose in the northern
two-thirds of the township. Certain members
of the committee had come prepared to make
entries on their own individual account after
the purchase for the colony had been completed.
Mr. Ferris wished to give to each of his six
sons and to his daughter an entire section.

On taking a second look at the prairie where
their purchase had been made, they discovered
that more land might be secured in and near
the township than their combined ready cash
would enable them to pay for; but on their re-
turn to the land office, to make further entries,
they learned that Richard Bassett, a land spec-
ulator, having been informed of the aims and
acts of the colonists, had j entered one-half of
each quarter-section on the tier of townships
directly south of their purchase. He evidently
supposed that the alternate eighty acre lots
would be regarded as undesirable by settlers
unless more land, adjoining, could be obtained,
and no doubt his intention was ultimately to
take these up also. The committee felt confi-
dence in its ability to checkmate this, wily
scheme, and accordingly entered all the re-
maining land in the township, as well as a little
in the one adjoining.

It was decided that the colony lands should
be selected from the entire amount purchased,
in such locality and form as might be deemed
best calculated to promote the final success of
the original project, and in the end it was
taken in a compact tract toward tha north and



east, its total area, incliuiius the school section,
being nearly equal to that of half a township.

In order the better to provide for the shelter
and comfort of the colonists as they might ar-
rive, the committee bought three improved
farms lying in the western part of Section 33,
adjacent to this prairie and extending into
derson Grove. They also contracted for a tract
of timber, that the colonists might the more
easily supply their urgent need for wood, for
fuel and fencing. The committee reported at
Whitesboro, on January 7, 1S36, and a plan was
formulated and approved for the disposal of the
land. Reservations were made of the farms at
Henderson Grove, and of a tract two miles In
length, from east to west, and one mile and a
half in breadth, of which Section 15 was the
center. The eastern half of Section 16 (the
school section) not being at the disposal of the
company, was not taken into consideration. A
strip of land on the north, half a mile wide and
divided into equal parts by the sectional line,
was set apart to be platted as a village and for
outlying lots, and the remainder of the 'erri-
tory secured was devoted to sale for the found-
ing and endowment of the college. This was
divided into forty and eighty acre lots, and
appraised at from three to eight dollars per
acre. Each purchaser of an eighty acre tract
was to be guaranteed the privilege of buying
eight acres of woodland and the right, for
twenty-five years, to name one student who
should receive gratuitous tuition at the college.
Subscribers were accorded the first right to
buy, and after them actual settlers.

The first meeting for the sale of lands was
held in Whitesboro, in the session room of the
Presbyterian church. Great care had been taken
that the rules governing the sale should be equit-
able and prove satisfactory. Should two or more
persons select the same tract, it was to bo
awarded to the one offering the highest prem-
ium, and if any purchaser, on seeing the land
which he had chosen, should feel dissatisfied, he
was to be allowed to exchange it for any other,
not taken, at the appraised valuation. Not all
the subscribers, however, were prepared or de-
sired to go. Some had subscribed merely to aid
In promoting a good cause, while others had
found it impossible to complete the arrange-
ments necessary to their emigration to a new
country. Those who did not expect to become

colonists were encouraged to withdraw their
subscriptions, as it was evident that the sales
would fully repay the outlay, and non-resident
land ownership was considered undesirable.

Other details were arranged at the same meet-
ing. It was decided that the title to the prop-
erty should be vested in Messr§. Ferris and
^Ye3t, until such time as a charter could be ob-
tained from the State, when it was to be con-
veyed to the corporation, from whom the indi-
vidual purchasers were to derive their titles
until legal incorporation should be effected un-
der the law of Illinois. The affairs of the infant
colony were to be administered by a provisional
Board of Trustees, which was granted full pow-
ers. The name Galesburg was chosen for the
settlement, and Prairie College for the institu-
tion; and all profits accruing from sales of land
were to be set apart as an endowment fund for
the college.


The general plan for the laying out of the
village and the disposition of the adjacent
realty, to which reference has been already
made, also received attention. It was deter-
mined that the village plat should be one-half
mile square and should be divided into thirty-
six blocks, each of which should be subdivided
into from eight to twelve lots. The principal
avenue, to be known as Main Street, was to run
along a line separating the southeast quarter of
Section 10 from the northeast quarter of Sec-
tion 15. Crossing this thoroughfare at its cen-
ter, at a right angle, was to run Broad Street,
and at their intersection four quarter blocks
were to be reserved as a public square. On either
side of the land set apart for the college there
was an additional reservation of ten acres — one
for a Female Seminary and the other tor a Boys'
Academy. The two institutions were to face
each other, the one on Seminary and the other
on Academy Street. Midway between them, at
the head of Broad Street, was to stand the edu-
cational institution, whose conception in rhe
mind of George W. Gale had given birth to the
entire enterprise. In the naming of other streets
the members of the purchasing committee re-
ceived the recognition which their services mer-
ited. West, Ferris. Waters, Simmons and
Tomkins being among the cognomens se-

Both east and west of the village plat other
lands were reserved from immediate sale, a plot
being retained to be used as a cemetery, and the



remainder divided into small parcels of two and
one-half, five and ten acres each.

The first colonist to take up actual residence
was Henry, the fifth son of Silvanus Ferris. He
was a theologifal student, in delicate health, and
in the hope of finding a more favorable climate
he left his school at Whitesboro and joined the
anti-slavery missionary school of Dr. Nelson, in
Missouri. Meeting his father at Quincy, he tem-
porarily abandoned his studies and came to the
new settlement in November, 1835. The next,
Abel Gooddel, from Maine, left his location in
Hancock County on hearing of the colony, and
built him a cabin on the colony plantation, In
which he spent the winter of 1835-36.

In June, 1836, the colonists began to arrive.
Those who brought their families and effects
usually traversed the entire distance overland,
although in some cases coming by canal and lake
to the head of Lake Erie. Some came merely
to survey the situation and prepare for the re-
moval of their families, whom they expected to
bring later in the season or the following year.
The overland route was long and tedious,
there being no railroad west of Whitesboro. Mr.
John C. Smith, one of the trustees and an active,
energetic man, gathered together a company,
purchased a canal boat, and undertook the jour-
ney by way of the Erie and Ohio canals, and the
Ohio, Mississippi and Illinois rivers. This party
hoped to save time and avoid unnecessary fa-
tigue, but they underestimated the difliculties to
be overcome and the danger of exposure to a
malarial climate. Long and anxiously expected,
they were met by their friends at Copperas
Creek, forty miles from Galesburg, and, suffer-
ing from fever and ague and bilious fevers,
were taken to the colony, where Smith, Colonel
Mills and Mr. Lyman, members of the expedi-
tion, soon died.

The subscribers to the plan comprised only a
fraction of the actual colonists. Friends and
neighbors came with them, and others, hearing
of the enterprise, followed. Intending emi;
grants on exploring trips came, and being
pleased with the conditions, bought land.
Among them was a company from Vermont,
under the leadership of Matthew Chambers and
Erastus Swift, which became an influential ele-
ment in the future history of the settlement. C.
S. Colton, from Maine, looking for a location,
visited his old friend, Mr. Gooddel, and re-

In December, 1836, about forty families were
on the ground. Some had found accommoda-
tions for the winter, sharing the cabins or occu-
pying the outbuildings, of the neighboring

Online LibraryNewton BatemanHistorical encyclopedia of Illinois → online text (page 137 of 207)