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

. (page 23 of 79)
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 23 of 79)
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at the base of the Drift, a bed of cemented gravel or conglomerate,
showing sometimes an irregular stratification, similar to that of
beach deposits. A ledge of this material 9 or 10 feet thick may be
seen in the north-western quarter of section 7, Groveland township,
up one of the side ravines which comes down through the Illinois
river bluffs, a little south of Wesley City, and other similar ledges
appear in various places in the vicinity of Fond du Lac and also on
the Mackinaw in the eastern part of the county. Another similar
bed of cemented gravel, of, however, a comparatively insignificant
thickness, may be seen about half way up the face of the bluff at
the steamboat landing in the city of Pekin, where it does not appear
to be more than a few inches thick.


All the stratified rocks which outcrop within the limits of this
county, as before stated, belong to the coal measures, and the actual
exposures are confined, for the most part, to a thickness of about 60
or 80 feet of the middle portion of the formation. In the whole
county there is but one boring which affords an artificial section of
the beds down to the base of this formation. This one is that made
by Voris & Co. on the bottom lands of the Illinois river directly
opposite the city of Peoria. The first bed of the coal measures
which is met with in the boring is about 40 feet below the lower
coal seam, which is worked in this section, No. 4 of the Illinois
river section as given by Prof. Worthcn. The following is a sec-
tion of the first 459 feet of the boring. Below that depth the
records kept by Messrs. Voris & Co. were not completed as to the
thickness and material of all the different beds :


1. Alluvial soil of river bottom, - - - 4

2. Sand, - - - - 4

3. Gravel (boulder drift), - - - - 20

4. Clav shale, - - - 59

5. Bituminous slate, - - - 3

6. Fire clay, - - - 15

7. Clay shale, - - - - - - 15




Coal, -_ - -




Clay shale, - - -




Sandy and argill shale (very hard).




Sandstone, _ - - - -




Nodular argill, limestone, - - -




Compact, fine-grined sandstone,




Hard, dark blue, sandy shale.




Coal, - - -




Sandy and argill shale, - - -




Bituminous shale, with bands of limestone.



" Cherty rock," _ - - -




Hard, silicious rock, mainly chert, -




Fine-grained sandstone, - - -





As nearly as the limits of the formation can be made out from
this section it may be referred to the coal measure. The greatest
depth reached in boring was 774 feet, and the lowest rock was a
gray, porous limestone, the fragments of which, brought up by the
instruments, were exactly similar in appearance to some of the upper
limestones of the Niagara group, exposed in the northern part of the
State, with which formation this bed may doubtless be properly

Passing up a small branch which comes down through the bluffs
from the southward, just back of the village of Fond du Lac, we
observe a striking exposure, of about 25 feet of verticle thickness,
of concretionary sandstone, sandy shale and soft sand rock. The
more shaly beds contain numerous ironstone concretions, and the
more massive portions, indistinct vegetable impressions, but no other
fossils. Along the Illinois river bluffs, between Fond du Lac and
Wesley City, there are several points where coal is now or has been
worked. In the vicinity of Pekin there are but few natural expo-
sures of the underlying rocks, but the lower coal is mined at several
points in the neighborhood of the city. At Mr. Hawley's place,
about 5 miles southeast of Pekin, a shaft was sunk which passed
through both the upper and lower coals, affording a section of the
intermediate beds, which, as reported to us, was as follows :



1. Argillaceous shale, _____ 4

2. Light-colored limestone, - _ _ _ - 2 '

3. Coal, - - - - 4

4. Fine clay, - -.- - - __8

5. Sandstone, - - - -50

6. Bluish-black slate, - - - 4

7. Coal, ________ 4

8. Fire claj^, - - -.- - - -8

In the central and eastern portions of the county there are a few
localities where borings, etc., have been made, but satisfactory
records, in all cases, could not be obtained in regard to the varia-
tions in the strata. - At Ropp's mills, near the centre of the north
line of section 20, Elm Grove township, a shaft was sunk to the
depth of 85 feet, and, as it was reported to us, struck limestone at
that depth. The shaft, however, was abandoned before completion,
on account of keeping it free from water. At Delavan, in the
southeastern part of the county, a boring was made which was re-
ported to have passed through 60 feet of sandstone, and below that,
75 feet more of arenaceous and argillaceous shales. No coal was
reported in this boring.

We find by the boring opposite Peoria, by Voris & Co., two
seams of coal at the depths of 120 and 230 feet, and respectively 4
and 3 feet in thickness, which are most probably the equivalents of
Nos. 1 and 3 of the general sections referred to. Although we have
no positive data as to the existence of these or other beds under the
coal No. 4 in other portions of the county, yet, from their existence
at this point, and from our general knowledge of the coal measure
in this portion of the State, it seems quite probable that these seams
of coal might be found at the proper depth in other portions of this
and adjoining counties. A boring of from 200 to 250 feet below
the known horizon of No. 4, or from 500 to 700 feet below the sur-
face in different parts of the State, would probably penetrate all the
coal measures, and settle all the questions in regard to the existence
and development of the underlying coal seams.


This county is not abundantly supplied with building stone;
Along the Illinois river, however, the sandstones of the Coal
Measures have been quarried to some extent to supply local demand.


and in some localities appear to afford a stone suitable for founda-
tion, cellar walls, etc. The limestone beds which also occur in the
Coal Measure strata in this region, though generally of inconsider-
able thickness, may also furnish a limited supply for the same
purpose, as well as for the manufacture of lime. Dimension stone
etc. when used in this county are brought from beyond its limits, in
great measure from the quarries at Joliet.

Clay and loam suitable for the manufacture of a fair quality of red
brick, are found here and have been made use of in all the different
towns in the limits of the county. Sand for building purposes is
also sufficiently abundant.


We may properly mention again under this head, the artesion
well sunk by Messrs. Voris & Co. on the edge of the bottom land
along the Illinois river opposite Peoria, in which a current of water,
holding in solution sulphuretted hydrogen, was struck at a depth
of 734 feet. When struck it was stated to have had a head of 60
or 70 feet, and the flow is said to be nearly as strong at the pres-
ent time. This water appears to be derived from the upper portion
of the Niagara group, but before the boring had reached its present
depth a strong current of saline water was met with, at a distance
from the surface of 317 feet.

Copperas and saline springs occur in various places in the county,
and occasionally give names to some of the minor streams. Such
names as Salt creek, and Lick creek, occur here, as in other por-
tions of the State. These springs, however, are few in number, and
can hardly be considered of any economic value.




MANY of the various species of animals that roamed the native
prairies of Tazewell county, or made their homes in the wild
forests within its borders, and lived undisturbed and free from the
haunt of the hound or the crack of the hunter's rifle, are gone from
this section forever. Not even a specimen is preserved in taxidermy.
The buffalo which grazed upon the verdant prairies has been driven
westward. With or before it went the beaver, elk, badger, panther,
black wolf and black bear. Some animals that were quite numerous
have become very rare, such as the gray fox, the catamount, otter,
lynx, and the beautiful Virginia deer.

There still remain many of the different species, mostly inhabiting
the country adjacent to the Illinois river and a few of the other larger
streams. These are, however, fast disappearing, and ere long will be
known only in history, as are the deer, the beaver, and the bison.
Among those still to be found here are the gray wolf, which is
numerous in some parts, the opossum, raccoon, mink, muskrat, the
common weasel, the small brown weasel, skunk, woodchuck, or
Maryland marmot, prairie mole, common shrew mole, meadow and
deer mouse, and the gray rabbit. Of squirrels there are the gray
timber squirrel, the fox, chipmunk, the large, gray prairie squirrel,
the striped and the spotted prairie squirrel, and the beautiful flying
squirrel. The dark brown and the reddish bat are common. Other
small animals have been found here which have strayed from other


Of the 5,000 existing species of birds many have sojourned in this
county, some temporarily, and others for a considerable time. Many
migratory species come only at long intervals, and therefore but little
is known of them.


There is not a more fascinating study than that aiforcled by our
feathered friends. Their free movements through seemingly bound-
less space, the joyous songs of many, and the characteristic tones of
all, their brilliant colors, their lively manners, and their wonderful
instincts, have from earliest ages made a strong impression on the
minds of men, and in the infancy of intellect gave rise to many pecu-
liar and mysterious associations. Hence the flight of birds was
made the foundation of a peculiar art of divination. Religion bor-
rowed many symbols from them and poetry many of its ornaments.
Birds avail themselves of their powers of wing to seek situations
adapted for them in respect to temperature and supply of food.
The arrival of summer birds is always a welcome sign of advancing
spring, and is associated with all that is cheerful and delightful.
Some birds come almost at the same date annually ; others are more
influenced by the character of the season, as mild or severe.

The following list is as nearly correct as can be compiled from the
available information upon the subject :

Perchers. — This order of birds is by far the most numerous, and
includes nearly all those which are attractive either in plumage or
in song. The ruby-throated humming-bird, with -its exquisite
plumage and almost ethereal existence, is at the head of the list.
This is the humming-bird which is always the delight of the
children, and is the only one found in Illinois. The chimney
swallow, easily known from other swallows by its very long wings
and forked tail, and which is a true swift, is quite numerous. Of
the whippoorwill family there are two representatives, — the
whippoorwill proper, whose note enlivens the forest at night, and
the night-hawk. The belted king-fisher, so well known to the
school boy, is the only member of its family in this region. At
the head of the fly-catchers is the king-bird, the crested fly-catcher
and the wood pewee.

Of the sub-order of singers there are the following : The robin,
the wood thrush, Wilson's thrush, the blue-bird, the ruby-crowned
and the golden-crested wren, tit-lark, the black and the white
creeper, blue yellow-backed warbler, yellow-breasted chat, worm-
eating warbler, blue-winged yellow warbler, Tennessee warbler,
and golden-crowned thrush. Shrike family. — This family is
represented by the great northern shrike, red-eyed fly-catcher,
white-eyed fly-catcher, the blue-headed and the yellow-throated
fly-catcher. Swallow family. — This family of birds are very


numerous in Tazewell county. Among them are the barn swallow,
white-bellied swallow, bank swallow, clifF swallow, and purple
martin. Wax-wing family. — The cedar bird is the representative of
the wax-wing in America. Mocking-bird family. — The genera of
this family are the cat-bird, brown thrush, the house and winter
wren. Finch and Sparrow family. — The snow bunting and Smith's
bunting appear only in winter. The purple finch, the yellow bird
and the lark finch inhabit this county. Of the passerine genus of
this family are the Savannah sparrow, the field and the chipping
sparrow, the black snow-bird, the tree sparrow, the song sparrow,
the swamp and the fox-colored sparrow, the black-throated bunting,
the rose-breasted gros-beak and the ground robin. Titmome family
— are represented by the chickadee and the tufled titmouse. Creep-
er family. — There are two specimens of this family, — the white-
bellied nut-hatch and the American creeper. Skylark family. — This
melodious family is represented here by only the common skvlark
of the prairie. Black-bird family. — The rusty blackbird, the crow
blackbird, the cow-bird, the red-winged blackbird, the meadow lark,
the orchard and the Baltimore orioles of this family, are the most
beautiful and brilliant of birds that inhabit this region. Crow
family. — The blue-jay and the common crow comprise the species
of this family.

Birds of Prey. — This order of birds comprises all those, with few
exceptions, which pursue and capture birds and other animals for
food. They are mostly of large size, the females are larger than the
males, they live in pairs, and choose their mates for life. Most rap-
torial birds have disappeared. Among them are the golden eagle,
which was always rare but now no longer seen here ; the bald eagle,
or properly the white-headed eagle, once quite common, now scarce.
Some well preserved specimens of this genus are in the county.
This eagle enjoys the honor of standing as our national emblem.
Benjamin Franklin lamented the selection of this bird as emblemati-
cal of the Union, for its great cowardice. It has the ability of ascend-
ing in circular sweeps without any apparent motion of the wings or
the tail, and it often rises in this manner until it disappears from
view ; when at an immense height, and as if observing an object on
the ground, it sometimes closes its wings, and glides toward the
earth with such velocity that the eye can scarcely follow it, causing
a loud rustling sound like a violent gust of wind among the branches
of the forest. The Hawk family are eight or nine species, some but


seldom seen, others common. The turkey-buzzard has almost, if
not quite, disappeared. Of the owl genera are several species,
though all are but seldom seen because of their nocturnal habits.
Among them are the barn owl, the screech owl, the long and the
short-eared owl, the barred owl, and the snowy owl, the latter being
the rarest.

Climbers. — But few of this order remain in the county, the most
common of which are the woodpeckers. Of the various kinds are
the golden-winged, the pileated, the hairy, the downy, the yellow-
bellied, red-bellied and the red-headed. At an early day the Car-
olina parrot was often seen, but he has now entirely deserted this
section. The yellow and black-billed cuckoos are occasionally seen.

Scratchers. — This order contains but few genera in this county.
The wild turkey, the choicest of game, has almost entirely disap-
peared, and was the only one of its family that ever sojourned here.
In an early day they were in abundance. Grouse family. — The
chiefest among this family is the prairie chicken, which, if not care-
fully protected, must ere long follow the wild turkey, never to re-
turn. The ruffied grouse, wrongfully called " pheasant," has of late
made its appearance. It is quite fond of cultivated fields, and, if
properly protected and encouraged until it becomes fairly settled,
will make a fine addition to the game, and fill the place of the
prairie chicken. Partridge family. — The fate of that excellent bird,
the quail, is only a question of a short time. The Dove family. — The
wild pigeons continue to make their semi-annual visits, but not in
such vast numbers as years ago. Acres of forest were so often filled
at night with these birds that the breaking of boughs and the flying
of pigeons made a noise that could be heard for miles, and the shot
of a sportsman's gun could not be heard at a distance of ten feet.
Highly interesting is the description by Audubon of the enormous
flights which he observed on the Ohio in the fall of 1813; they
obscured the daylight and lasted three days without interruption.
According to a very moderate estimate of his, each flight contained
the stupendous number of one billion, one hundred and fifteen
thousand million, one hundred and thirty-six thousand pigeons.
These flights caused a general commotion among the entire rural
population. Desirous of booty and anxious lest their crops should
be spoiled, the farmers, arming themselves with rifles, clubs, poles,
torches and iron pots filled with sulphur, proceed to the resting-places
of the birds. The work of slaughter being accomplished, every-


body sat down among mountains of dead pigeons, plucking and salt-
ing the birds which they selected, abandoning the rest to the foxes,
wolves, raccoons, opossums and hogs, whole herds of which were
driven to the battle field. The plaintive notes of the Carolina dove,
commonly known as the turtle-dove, are still heard.

Swimmers. — This order of birds, which formerly frequented this
county in large numbers, have almost disappeared. They are mi-
gratory, and in their usual season would appear coming from the
north or south, as winter passes into summer or summer into winter.

Diver family. — The great northern diver or loon, sometimes visits
this section, but inhabits the frigid zone. Gull family. — Of this
family are Wilson's tern and the silvery gull. Pelican family, — The
rough-billed pelican was the only genus of this family that ever
stopped in Tazewell county, and it has now altogether ceased to
make its visits here. Cormorant family. — The double-crested cor-
morant, or sea raven, has been seen here. Duck family. — This
family of migratory birds visited the ponds and streams of this county
in large numbers before it became so thickly settled, both on their
northern and southern passage, but now mostly confine themselves to
the Illinois, where large numbers are found. This family furnishes
most game for sportsmen and for the table. There are the wood
duck, the big black-headed duck, the ring-necked duck, the red-
head, the canvas-back, the dipper, the sheldrake or goosander, the
fish duck, the red-breasted, and the hooded merganser, the mallard
and the pintail, the green-winged and the blue-winged teal, the
spoonbill and the gadwall, the baldpate, the American swan, the
trumpeter swan and the white-fronted goose.

Waders. — Probably less is known of this order of birds than of
any other, because of their slyness and solitary habits. They fre-
quented the marshes, but cultivation has drained their favorite
haunts. Crane family. — The whooping crane, always rare, is now
never seen. The sandhill cranes stop on their journeys north and
south. Heron family. — The great blue heron or crane, least bittern,
the green heron, night heron and the American bittern, compose
those of this family visiting this region. Ibis family. — The glossy
ibis has been seen here. Plover family. — The golden plover, the
killdeer and the king plover comprise this family known here.
Phalarope family. — The Wilson's and the red phalarope have fre-
quented the swamps of this county. Snipe family. — Various birds
of this family have been common in and around the swamps of this


county. Among them were Wilson's snipe, gray or red-breasted
snipe, the least and the semi-palmated sandpiper, the willett, the
tell-tale, the yellow-leg, the solitary sandpiper, the spotted sand-
piper, the field plover, long-billed curlew, the common rail, the
clapper rail or mud hen, and the coot.

Reptiles. — All of the species of this class that ever inhabited this
region are still to be found here except the poisonous snakes. The
rattlesnake, of the genus crotalus, is of a yellowish brown color, and
has a series of horny joints at the end of the tail, which make a rat-
tling sound. These were the most venomous of all snakes found
here, and were numerous in the early settlement. There are two
kinds, the bandy or striped and the prairie rattlesnake, the latter be-
ing still occasionally found. The copperhead was always rare.
Among the harmless snakes are the water-snake, the garter-snake,
the bull-snake, the milk snake, the black-snake, and the blue racer.

Many reptiles found here are erroneously called lizards, but are
salamanders and other like innocent creatures. Lizards are never
found in this county. Among the tortoises or turtles are found the
map turtle, the snapping and the soft-shelled turtle. Of the batra- .
chian, or naked reptiles, there are a few, and, though loathsome to
sight and touch, are harmless. The toad, the bull-frog, the leopard
frog, the tree toad, with some tailed batrachia, comprise the most of
this order.


Although fishes are the lowest class of vertebrates, their varied
forms and colors, which often rival those of precious stones and
burnished gold, the wonderful power and velocity of some, the
wholesome food furnished by many, and the exciting sport of their
capture, combine to render fishes subjects of great interest to the
casual observer, as well as to the amateur and professional naturalist.
The number of known species of fishes is about ten thousand. The
waters of this county are quite prolific of the finny tribe. The
commerce in fish has become quite extensive along the Illinois.
Sickle-backed family. — This family furnishes the game fish, and are
never caught larger than four pounds in weight. The various
genera found here are the black bass, goggle-eye, the croppy, or big
black sun-fish, and the two common sun-fish. Pilce family. — There
is but one species of this family, the pickerel, which is caught
weighing from five to twenty-five pounds. Sucker family. — Of this


tribe are the buffalo, red-horse, white sucker, two species of black-
suckers, mullet ranick. Fish of this family are found in all the
streams of the county. They abound wherever there is water.
Cat-fish family. — Of this voracious family the channel cat-fish, the
mud cat-fish and two species of the small cat-fish inhabit the waters
of this county, and are caught ranging in weight from one to thirty
pounds. Besides these varieties there are the chub, silver-sides and
fresh-water herring, and large numbers of other species denominated
minnows, which are found in the smallest spring branches, as well
as the larger streams.


There are probably over 500 species of plants growing sponta-
neously within the bounds of Tazewell county, but we will not
attempt to give a complete list of the herbaceous plants, or indeed
name any of the mosses, mushrooms, etc.


While Nature has not given a great quantity of these, she has
furnished a liberal variety. In this respect Tazewell county is in
advance of most of the Northern States. No one or two species of
tree monopolizes the ground in the forests, as they do in many
sections of the United States. Some of the less hardy shrubs, like
the wild prairie flowers, are slowly disappearing before the encroach-
ments of civilization, yet we shall endeavor to enumerate them all,
as well as the trees.

Oak Family. — The White Oak is king of the forest trees in this
country in respect to grandeur, strength and general utility, and in
early day afforded "mast," a first-class feed, for hogs running at
large. Those which wintered in the wild woods were often fat
enough for market in the spring, although not fed a grain by
human hand. The Burr Oak is a fine tree, with a rich and beauti-
fully cut foliage. The wood is valuable, and the acorns are sweet.
They are buried in deep, mossy cups, whence the tree is also called

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 23 of 79)