pub Chas. C. Chapman & Co..

History of Tazewell county, Illinois ; together with sketches of its cities, villages and townships, educational, religious, civil, military, and political history; portraits of prominent persons and biographies of representative citizens. History of Illinois ... Digest of state laws online

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Online Librarypub Chas. C. Chapman & Co.History of Tazewell county, Illinois ; together with sketches of its cities, villages and townships, educational, religious, civil, military, and political history; portraits of prominent persons and biographies of representative citizens. History of Illinois ... Digest of state laws → online text (page 21 of 79)
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Thus Funk had at last gained a victory over his enemy, Bogar-
dus, and no doubt was content. Abner Eads, however, was not
satisfied with having Bogardus ousted, but applied for a ferry at the
same place ; but this the Court promptly refused. Bogardus again
petitioned for a ferry across the river at Fort Clark, but the Court
not wishing more trouble, refused to grant it.


In Sept., 1831, the Court granted to Laman Case a license to ped-
dle clocks. For this privilege for three months they assessed him
$25.00. To Case belongs the honor of being the first peddler in
Tazewell county.

At this time the Court was charging for yearly licenses to " vend
merchandise," ^9; for liquors, $3. The former price of saloon
license was $2 per year, while for selling clocks the Court charged
$100. They evidently regarded time-pieces as a luxury they could
easily do without, while they looked upon liquors as a necessity.

At the June term, 1832, one Morrison, "a man of coullor," pre-
sented his certificate of freedom from his owner, William N. Burnett,



and had it confirmed by the Court. Thus Morrison was the first
slave to be emancipated in Tazewell county.


In June, 1832, John Summers was allowed $78 for keeping old
man Miller. In the June previous Summers came into Court and
explained that a certain Nicholas Miller, a pauper, was living at
county expense while he had a well-to-do son named Joseph, who
should, both in equity of the law and from filial affection, support
his father. Thereupon the Sheriff was posted after the undutiful
Joseph. It appears, however, that Joseph was not found at the time,
nor until 1834, if we rely upon the records for imformation, for no
mention is made of him until that time. He then appears and gives
as his reason for not supporting his parent, " inability to do so."

At the same time appeared Hosea Stout and Benjamin Jones, rel-
atives of Sarah Stout, the first pauper, and gave the same reason for
not "taking charge of their poor relation,"

Thus the veteran and venerable paupers were thrown back upon
the county, whereupon the Court ordered " Nathan Dillon and Wm.
McClure to dispose of said paupers at public sale or private con-
tract. It seems that they were not regarded as valuable paupers and
not one bid was made for them. But all through the records for
years are bills allowed for their maintenance. In 1835 the Court,
being worried with the many claims for bills for supporting Miller,
lifted up its voice and peremptorily commanded the Sheriff to sell
him. The poor old man had outlived his years of usefulness and
even became a burden to the indulgent county.


A statement of the fiscal concerns of the county for the year 1832
was made as required by law. We give this in full, thus showing
the receipts and expenditures for the sixth year of the county's ex-
istence. It will be seen that the expenses for all purposes were
scarcely more than half a year's salary of the poorest paid official of
the present day.




Commissioners' fees $71.00

Clerk's fees 60.00

Keeping poor 161.00

Cost of elections 72.00

Criminal charges 32.00

Sheriff's fees 72.75

Clerk's office rent 24.00

Viewing roads 55.00

Assessor's fees 40.00

Sundry account 31.75

Keeping estrays 70.00

Total expenses $689.50


Revenue from tax $463.12

Treasurer's receipts 122.62

State paper 9.00

Fines assessed in 1831 5.00

Fines assessed in 1832 24.00

Ferry tax 10.00

Tax on merchants' licenses 82.00

Tax on merchants' permits 5.00

Town tax 8.50

Total income $729.24


The first inquest held in the county, according to these records,
was on the body of little Hamilton Porter, a widow's son, in 1833.
The boy, who was nine years old, was accidentally shot. Andrew
Tharp, Coroner, was allowed $18.75 for performing this duty.


We come now to a period wherein the county-seat again took
a move. The removal which we are about to refer to was in com-
pliance with the order of three Commissioners appointed by the Leg-
islature "to select a permanent location for the seat of justice of
Tazewell county. " Before proceeding further, however, on this
particular move we will give the history of all the county-seat
ramblings from the beginning, away back in the early part of the
year 1829.

On the 22d day of the first month of that year the Legislature
passed an act making and defining a new boundary for Tazewell
county. This act, no doubt, was procured by ambitious persons
dwelling in other parts of the county than Mackinaw and vicinity,
who desired to secure the county-seat. By this act the county was re-
duced in size very materially, yet it still extended over a vast region,
containing 79 townships and parts of townships. In 1830 the town
of Pekin was laid oif, and she being anxious to supplement her many
advantages by adding thereto the county-seat, which it was alleged
she desired done. We have no reason to doubt that such allegation
was true. Mackinaw, the county-seat, however, being so near the
center of the county, she had little hope of success unless she could
cut off a portion of the eastern part of the county, thus throwing
Mackinaw near the boundary line.


At the succeeding election for members of the Legislature,
William L. D. Ewing, of Vandalia, was chosen Senator, and
William Brown, of Pekin, Representative. Brown was easily
induced to consent to cut off from Tazewell county, for the county
of McLean, all that portion of Tazewell county embraced in ranges
1, 2 and 3 east, and 1 west of the third principal meridian, contain-
ing over 100,000 acres. On the 25th of December of the same
year (1830) McLean county was created by the Legislature. Two
months later John T. Stewart, Matthias Chilton and William
Porter were appointed by the General Assembly to select a
permanent county-seat for Tazewell county. In the meantime
courts and public offices should be at Pekin. These commissioners
failed to make any selection of a location. Indeed they neglected
to consider the matter at all so far as any records of their actions
are concerned. Year after year came and went until July 12,
1835, before anything further was done. At that date the Legisla-
ture appointed John C. Calhoun, of Sangamon county, James
Gaylord, of Putnam, and Isaac C. Pugh, of Macon, as a commis-
sion to permanently locate the county -seat, in lieu of the former,
which failed to act.

This able commission convened Sept. 17th, and gravitated toward
Tremont, where they met the generous and enterprising John
H. Harris. This gentleman, to secure the county-seat for
Tremont, offered to donate to the county 20 acres of land. This
tract was just south of the town of Tremont on the northwest
quarter of section 19, Tremont township. A further donation of
$2,000 in money, to aid in erecting public buildings, was proffered
by the citizens of Tremont. This was placed in the State bank, at
Springfield, to await the decision of the commission. They
were satisfied with the location and looked no further. Two
thousand dollars in money and 20 acres of rich prairie land were of
great consideration in the eyes of the worthy gentlemen, for at
the time the annual revenue of the county did not reach $1,400.
As might have been expected this selection was very unsatisfactory
to Pekin.

The commission made an elaborate report, which for smooth,
oily wording and rhetorical finish excels any other report, petition
or order spread upon the records of this Court. At the conclusion
of this well- written document the commissioners say : "The point
named was selected with a view to the convenience of the present


and future population of Tazewell county. It is a position as
nearly central to the present and probable future population of the
county as we could select and at the same time secure the other
advantages for the healthy and favorable site for the building
of a town."

The Court records and public offices were moved to Tremont in
1836, where the county-seat remained until 1850. In the mean-
time the county was greatly developed; Pekin became the me-
tropolis and the principal seat of commerce of the county. The
State, during the great internal improvement excitement, — from
1836 to 1840, — had began the construction of a railroad from
Pekin to Tremont, and the former town had increased rapidly.
About the year 1839 complaint was raised by the people at Pekin
against the county-seat being at Tremont, and thereupon began a
bitter warfare between the two places. It is alleged that in order
to hold the county-seat and cripple Pekin, the people of Tremont
conspired with parties desiring new counties and county-seats,
around Tazewell county, and in 1841 had an act passed by the
Legislature cutting oif the south half of township 21, range 2, to
DeWitt county, and all Tazewell county west of range 4, and south
of township 22 and west of range 5, and south of the middle of
town 23, to the county of Mason. A month scarcely elapsed
when, Feb. 27, another act was passed taking all that part of
Tazewell county, being the northeast quarter of township 25 north,
and of the east half of 26 north, range 2 east, and all of townships
27 and 28, westward to the Illinois river, and forming of it the
county of Woodford. After having these large slices taken off, for
the formation of the counties named, it seems that both the most
liberal and the most selfish should have been satisfied ; but it appears
they were not. Again, in February, 1843, it was proposed, and an
act so passed by the Legislature, to cut off for Woodford county
that part of this county east of section 29, township 26, range 4,
and all of townships 26, range 2, and 26, range 3. This was,
however, on the condition that the people should approve the
measure by ballot. At an election held in May, 1843, the proposi-
tion was rejected, and a stop made to this dividing up and cutting
off of Tazewell's territory. Had they continued it much longer
there would have been nothing left of the county but Pekin and
Tremont. Then, we doubt not, a division would have been made
and both towns have at last gained a county-seat.


At the time the Legislature passed the last mentioned act it also
authorized the people of the county to vote at their regular August
election upon the proposition of the removal of the county-seat
from Tremont to Pekin. This they did and defeated the proposi-
tion. During the following winter Pekin and the western por-
tion of the county suffered seriously from a malignant scarlet fever,
which caused the death of over fifty of the inhabitants of Pekin.
This checked the progress of that city for a time and nothing
further was done toward moving the county-seat until 1849. On
the 2d day of February of that year the Legislature again passed
an act authorizing the people to vote upon the measure of removal
the first Saturday in April of the same year. At that election
Pekin at last triumphed and won the long-coveted county-seat,
which she has since retained.

The question having been finally and definitely decided the court-
house was immediately erected by the citizens of Pekin, in fulfill-
ment of their promise. The last meeting of the Board of Super-
visors, which had come in vogue in the mean time, that was held
at Tremont was Aug. 26, 1850, when it moved in a body to their new
and more commodious quarters, and on the same day dedicated
the edifice by holding therein their first meeting at Pekin.

During these twenty years of local war, of course the bitterness
of feeling was intense, and great injury was done to all parts of the
county. Many of the older citizens attribute very largely the
prosperity and commercial advantages attained by Peoria over
Pekin to the bitter feuds engendered during this long and
eventful strife.


We will return to the immediate labors of the Commissioners'
Court and follow their proceedings during its last decade of service.

At the January term, 1836, the people, or tliat portion of them
who were dissatisfied with the location selected for the county-seat,
petitioned the Court in the following language :

"We, the undersigned, citizens of Tazewell county, respectfully
solicit the Commissioners to suspend proceedings in the county-seat
matter until better ground can be obtained, either by re-location or
a legal removal of the donation ; and we individually and collect-
ively pledge ourselves to support you in this matter."

The petition was signed by 115 persons. No action was taken
upon it.


Messrs. Pugh and Gaylord, two of the State commissioners, pre-
sented their bills for locating the county-seat, which were as follows :
Gaylord, 35 days' work at $3 per day, $105 ; Pugh, 36 days' work
at $3 per day, $108, Owing to the ill feeling still so manifest in
regard to the location chosen by these gentlemen, the Court refused
to take any action on these bills at that time. At the March term,
however, they allowed the two gentlemen, — the third never having
sent in his bill, — the moderate sum of $27 a piece, or at the rate of
77|^ cents per day. It must have been rather humiliating to those
" $3-a-day " gentlemen to have had their services so lightly appre-
ciated. They do not molest the Court further, however, but are
resigned to its dictation.

clerk's office AT TREMONT.

December 11, 1835, a one-story frame building, 18 by 24 feet,
was ordered erected on a private lot in Tremont, for Clerk's office.
The contract was let to Theo. Fisher for $285. To secure the faith-
ful performance of the work he was compelled to give bonds in the
sum of $1,000.

Thomas P. Wilson, County Surveyor, in 1836 laid off" into lots
the twenty acres of land given by Harris at Tremont. The Clerk
was then ordered to advertise the sale of these lots in the following
papers : Sangamon Journal, Missouri Republican, Louisville Adver-
tiser, and Cincinnati National Republican.

The sale occurred in May, 1836. The aggregate amount received
from the sale of lots was $18,636. Of this $4,271.18 was paid in
cash, and $12,440.12 in notes secured by mortgages on the property.
The highest price paid for any lot was for lot 1 in block 5, bought
by James Wibrav for $620.


After settling up all their business and liquidating all their little
bills at Pekin, the Court bid farewell for once and forever to the old
Methodist church edifice which had sheltered their judicial heads for
half a dozen years. They filed out, closed and barred the door, and
turned their faces Tremont-ward, where, June 6, 1836, they assem-
bled in the Clerk's office.

They must have more imposing and commodious apartments,
however, and accordingly ordered the Clerk to advertise for bids for
building a temporary court-house. This was a two-story frame, 20


by 40 feet. The contract was let to William Dillon, June 25, for
$1,150. Of course the court-house could not entirely fulfill its
purpose without a jail near. Being very economical, and having
a jail at Mackinaw, the Court ordered it removed to Tremont. The
jail had not followed the Court on their travels but remained at its
original site. The contract for removing the prison was given to
John T. Bird, who was to receive $138 for the same. It was re-
moved and veneered with brick, and a brick addition was erected
as a residence for the Sheriff's family.


At the August term, 1836, John C. Morgan was ordered to con-
tract for plastering and building the chimney for the Clerk's office.
This was the last official act of the faithful Morgan. He had been
Clerk of the Court for eight long years, going with it as it moved
from place to place, and always discharging his duties with greatest
fidelity. He had seen Commissioner after Commissioner occupy the
Judge's bench, yet he still remained. At the September term he
tendered his resignation and J. H. Morrison succeeded him. It
appears that the newly elected Commissioners, Messrs. Railsback,
Hull, and Fisher inclined to be more favorable toward Morrison,
and to prevent an unmerited removal Morgan resigned.


In December a plan for a court-house was adopted and the con-
tract ordered to be let in January, 1 837. It was to be a brick build-
ing, two stories above basement in height; 60 feet long, including
portico of 10 feet, by 40 wide. The specifications conclude with
the following finishing touches for the structure : " The windows to
be closed with good blinds and painted four coats, two of French
green ; the outside doors to be fitted with best locks, and the entire
building to be fitted in full Grecian order of architecture. All
plates referred to are in Shaw's second edition of Architecture, 1832.
Said building is to be surmounted by a cupola, finished with octa-
gon blinds and containing a good bell deck, and the dome to be
surmounted with an iron rod supporting three gilt balls."

The contract for its erection was let to William F. Flagg, Jan.
13, 1837, for $14,450. The building was first occupied in Septem-
ber, 1839. Flagg was an extensive contractor and builder, and
withal a man of great mechanical skill and genius. He built a


court-house for Putnam county, and a court-house and jail for La-
Salle, and a court-house for this county within a period of four
years. In 1848 he commenced the manufacture of reapers, and was
sued for an infringement of patent by C H. McCormick, and dam-
ages laid at $20,000. Abraham Lincoln was employed to defend
him. The suit was carried on for two years in the United States
courts and finally McCormick was beaten. Shortly after this Mr.
Lincoln met Mr. Flagg on the street in Bloomington and sauntered
into his shop, who inquired of him how much his fee was for
gaining the case for him. Mr. Lincoln leaned on the counter,
rested his head upon his arms, and after a little consideration said :
" I think ten dollars will pay me for my trouble." Nor would he
accept more.

After the transaction of this business the Court "adjourned to
meet to-morrow at 9 o'clock a.m," which we see was a more fash-
ionable hour and in keeping with the modern spirit of the age.
The early Commissioners away back in 1827 and '28 met at 7
o'clock promptly ; but the customs of civilization began to make
themselves felt, and the honorable Commissioners would fain
indulge in a second morning nap and not don the ermine until the
" third hour of the day." A few years later we find 10 o'clock was
the stated time for opening court. The Circuit Court, when Stephen
T. Logan was judge, "adjourned to meet at 6 o'clock to-morrow


During the years 1840 and '41 we find a remarkable increase in
the number and amount of bills allowed for keeping paupers.
Throughout the record during these two years are bills upon bills of
this nature. The increase seemed surprising to the Commissioners
themselves, and they made particular inquiry into the status of
aifairs before granting the bills. It seems the county was imposed
upf)n in several instances by the unnatural actions of those who
preferred that their relations should be kept at the county's expense
rather than their own. One Jane Morrill it was found had a hus-
band living able to provide for her.

Poor old Nic. Miller, the ancient pauper, was still on hand, but
his bill these years was curtailed to nearly one-half. Year after
year the customary bill for his support was handed in, until through
familiarity the name of "Nic. Miller" became a by-Avord. We


doubt not that when the old veteran died, and no more bills for
his care were presented to the Court, the generous, kind-hearted
Commissioners dropped a tear, felt a pang of sorrow steal through
the tender cords of their heart, and softly muttered, " Poor old Nic.
Miller is no more !" Death, the poor man's best friend, called the
old gentleman away during the year 1845. The poor old man who
had been refused bread by his own son, and who had been buffeted
about by many adverse winds, now returned to trouble them no

It appears that many of the paupers duringjth§ two years above
referred to rightly belonged to McLean ci)unty, for we find the
Court held a special session in June, 1841, to take some action in
regard to the exodus of paupers from that county into this.


The census of 1846 is the first spread upon the records. We find
every few years census-takers were appointed, but the enumeration
was never recorded in the Court records. Why they were thus
omitted we know not. We give the enumeration for 1846 :

Washington precinct, _____ 1,987

Tremont " _____ 1,967

Pekin «__ - _- 2,354

Union " - - - - - - 771

Delevan «______ 508

Mackinaw «_____- 1,136

Sugar Creek « - - - 384

Total population of the county - - 9,107


In September, 1847, the Commissioners bought land for a poor-
farm for which they gave $965.25. The laud is located near the
present county farm in Elm Grove township. William Woodrow
was given the contract for erecting a house on this farm, but the fol-
lowing Commissioners annulled the contract and re-let it to John

In December, 1848, the Clerk was ordered to advertise for bids
for building a jail, costing $3,500, but in the early part of 1849 all
proceedings looking toward a new jail were postponed. No doubt
this was owing to the agitation of the removal of the county-


seat to Pekin, for on the records we read, in speaking of the post-
ponement, " Circumstances having recently transpired rendering the
letting of said jail impolitic. "

At the April term, 1849, the usual large number of orders were
granted, — among them one to Abraham Lincoln for $10, being
his fees as the county's attorney in the case of the County vs.

Wednesday, Nov. 7, 1849, the last meeting of the County Com-
missioners' Court was held. After transacting such business as
properly came before them, the Commissioners adjourned never to
re-assemble, and so passed away the time-honored and economical
system of county management by a trio of commissioners.




IN 1831, Black Hawk and his band had crossed to their old
homes on Eock river, but had negotiated a treaty and returned to
the west side of the Mississippi, promising never to return. But
on April 6th, 1832, he again crossed the Mississippi Avith his entire
band. It was not on a war raid that brought him over in 1832^
but as there are diversity of opinions in regard to his motives we
will briefly give a few of those of most credibility. It is claimed
that he was invited by the Prophet to a tract of land about forty
miles up Rock river. Others say he crossed with no hostile inten-
tions but to accept an invitation of a friendly chief, Pit-ta-wak, to
spend the summer with him. Still others who agree that he did
not come to fight, sav when he retired to the west side of the
Mississippi the previous year he received a large quantity of corn
and other provision, but in the spring his provisions were gone, his
followers were starving and he came back expecting to negotiate
another treaty and get a new supply of provisions.

There is still another explanation that may enable the reader to
harmonize the preceding statements and to understand why Black
Hawk returned in 1832, It is well known that in nearly all the
treaties ever made with the Indians, the Indian traders dictated the
terms for their allies and customers, and, of course, received a
large share of the annuities, etc., in payment for debts due to them.
Each tribe had certain traders who supplied them. George
Davenport had a trading post at Fort Armstrong. His customers
were largely the Sacs and Foxes and he was held in high esteem by
them; in fact, his word was hnv. It is said that Black Hawk's
band became indebted to him for a large amount and were unable
to pay. They did not have good luck hunting during the winter
and he was likely to lose heavily. If Black Hawk, therefore,
could be induced to come to this side of the river again and the


people so greatly alarmed that a military force would be sent in

Online Librarypub Chas. C. Chapman & Co.History of Tazewell county, Illinois ; together with sketches of its cities, villages and townships, educational, religious, civil, military, and political history; portraits of prominent persons and biographies of representative citizens. History of Illinois ... Digest of state laws → online text (page 21 of 79)