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 56 of 79)
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was once more offered on the third day. A man in Springfield,
named Harrington, had in the meantime a deadly quarrel with Ma-
jor Perkins, one of the principal claimants, growing out of some
delicate question. Those were chivalrous days and he determined
on revenge. So he placed himself near the auctioneer, armed to the
eyebrows, and when the coveted tract was put up, he bid one dollar
and twenty-five cents an acre, and swore he would blow out any
man's brains who offered a higher bid. Major Perkins was stalking
around the room, armed for battle and hunting blood. There was
immense excitement, and death was felt in the atmosphere, but the
tract was knocked down to Harrington. He complied with the
regulations, and walked out feeling sublime, but the Major and his
friends captured the usurper, conveyed him to a room, and j)er-
suaded him to make out deeds for the prize. From these papers
the original title is derived.

"In the spring of 1830, the proprietors surveyed and laid out the
town, Perkins, Hawley, Haines and Cromwell being the active
agents. Cromwell did the surveying. About this time Perkins
sold out to Thomas Snell, from Cincinnati, Ohio. The gentlemen
were much exercised about the way in which to lay off the celestial
city. The elder Hiatt had a claim upon the Lake shore, but when
the land sales occurred he forgot to bid, and Carpenter bought Ids
tract, also buying eighty acres on the east side of said tract. The
proprietors of the future city included these two tracts in the town-
site. Mr. Hiatt was appeased with a pony purse of seventy-five or
eighty dollars.

" After some property sales, the foreign owners were bought out
and the entire city owned, body and soul, by five persons, namely :
William Haines, Thomas Snell, Nathan Cromwell, William Brown,
and David Bailey. The surveys were finally completed, and it was
found that the lots had cost just twenty-eight cents apiece. The
advertisement for the gale of lots was immediately made, to take


place in April, 1830. The deed of partition was drawn up before
the sale, and is the one now on record."

Jacob Tharp was a large, robust man, and lived almost long
enough to celebrate his centennial birthday. He was born in 1773
and survived till 1872. Much of his life was spent upon the front-
ier, opening up and developing new country for coming generations.
He died at Lancaster, Peoria county, 111., and his remains were
brought to his old home and interred at Pekin. A daughter of his,
Mrs. Mary D. Taggart, and the mother of W. F. Copes, resides in
Cincinnati township. The manuscript, of which the above is an
extract, was put in shape by the old gentleman himself, about 1860,
and revised about 1872.

The survey of the new town was mode by Wm. H. Hodge, the
first County Surveyor, in 1827. He had no surveyor's chain, and,
instead, used a string. Now that the town had been laid off it must
be christened. Mrs. Cromwell, wife of Major Cromwell, was hon-
ored by being called on to perform this important part of founding
their new city. Doubtless with a proplietic eye she could sec a
brilliant future for their town in the not far distant time, and, there-
fore, gave to it the name of Pekin, we suppose after the celestial
city of that name. We should think the streets were also named by
this goodly matron, judging from the feminine names they bear. It
is stated that they were named in honor, and perpetuate the names,
of the early women of the city, and that the older streets, with few
exceptions, bear the given names of the mothers, grandmothers,
wives and daughters of the pioneers. For instance, there is Aman-
da street ; then there are streets that bear such names as these : Ann
Eliza, Caroline, Catharine, Charlotte, Cynthiana, Elizabeth, Har-
riet, Henrietta, Isabella, Jane, Margaret, Matilda, Minerva, Lucinda,
Ruth, Susanna, etc.

A store was soon opened, as recited by Mr. Tharp, The settlers
then wisely turned to look after the welfare of their children. They
erected a school-house in 1831. This pioneer institution was long
known as the Snell school-house. It was a one-storied building and
was erected by Thomas Snell, and stood on the west side of Second
street, between Elizabeth and St. Mary's streets. Its first occupant,
as a teacher, was John S. Snell, a son of the builder, who also dis-
tinguished himself by delivering the first Fourth of July oration to
the citizens of Pekin.

In the same year a warehouse was erected by Thomas Snell, who


seems to have been a prominent man, and a promoter of the com-
mercial and educational interests of the town.

The Asiatic cholera visited Pekin in the beginning of July, 1834,
bringing death to many a household, and sadness and sorrow to the
hearts of those who were left behind. Many prominent citizens,
among whom are mentioned the names of Mr. Smith, Mrs. Cauldron,
Thomas Snell, Dr. Perry, Mrs. Perry, and Mrs. J. C. Morgan, fell
victims to this fearful malady. Drs. Perry, Pillsbury and Griffith
were the representatives of the medical profession here at that time.

July 9, 1835, the first town election of which we have any au-
thentic account was held in the court-house in Pekin, for the elec-
tion of five resident freeholders of the town of Pekin as Trustees,
with the following result : David Mark received 24 votes ; Daniel
Bailey, 24; Samuel Wilson, 17; J. C.Morgan, 22; S. Pillsbury,
24, and S. Field, 12. The five first-named candidates were elected
and qualified before Alden Hull, a Justice of the Peace. The Board
of Trustees met and organized by electing J. C. Morgan, President,
and Benj. Kellogg, Jr., Clerk.

The Board of Trustees met at the court-house, Aug. 1st, 1835,
and passed an ordinance defining the limits of the corporation of
Pekin, which were as follows : " Beginning at a point on the west
side of the Illinois river, opposite the northwest corner of fractional
section 34, in township 25, north of range 5, west of the third prin-
cipal meridian ; thence east on the north line of section 35, in the
township above named, to the middle of last-named section ; thence
south on a line with the middle of said section 35, to Broadway, in
the town of Cincinnati, county and State aforesaid ; thence west
along Broadway to the west bank of the Illinois river; thence north
to the place of beginning."

Benjamin Kellogg, Jr., was appointed Treasurer, and Richard H.
Snell, Collector, by the Board of Trustees, at this meeting. Asses-
sors were afterwards appointed.

The following anecdote is related of Rev. Joseph Mitchel, the
first regular pastor of the M. E. Church at this place : Some of
the neighbors met to hold a religious meeting, when some of the
younger members, thinking instrumental music would add to the
enjoyment of the occasion, as an accompaniment to the singing,
brought a bass viol. When Father Mitchel came in and was seated,
they began to tune up the viol, which brought Father M. to his
feet at once, with the exclamation, " What's that ! " what's that ! "


Some of the brothers explained that it was a bass viol which they
had brought for the purpose above mentioned. The old man ex-
claimed "No such thing! no such thing! it's an ungodly great
fiddle. Take it out ! take it out ! " And thus the brethren Avere
obliged to dispense with the " fiddle " and thereafter content them-
selves with vocal music.

The second election for Trustees was held at the school-house,
Aug. 8th, 1836, when Samuel Pillsbury, Spencer Field, Jacob Ea-
mon, John King and David Mark were elected. John King was
chosen President and Benj. Kellogg Clerk, and on the 23d the
Board approved the bond of David Mark as Assessor.

At the third election, Aug. 8, 1837, David Mark, Samuel Pills-
bury, John W. Casey, John A. Jones and Gideon H. Rupert were
chosen Trustees. The Board chose David Mark, President ; Wm.
M. Sandusky, Clerk ; Irenus N. Henkle, Constable and Collector,
and Alden Hull, Treasurer.

On the 8th of August, 1838, a fourth election was held at Lind-
ley's Hall, on the southwest corner of Second and Court street.
The following were the Trustees elected : Spencer Field, David C.
Alexander, Samuel Pillsbury, Richard H. Snell, and John O. Hyde.
The Board elected Dr. Samuel Pillsbury, President ; AVm. H. San-
dusky, Clerk; and Alden Hull, Treasurer. On Dec. 6, 1838, the
Board appointed Wm. H. Holmes, Clerk, vice Wm. H. Sandusky,
who had removed from the State. John Gridley and David Mark
were appointed Assessors, and J. Peters, Street Commissioner.

On the 1st of April, 1839, the town of Pekin acquired the title
to the Ferry across the Illinois river, by a release of all the right
and interest of Mrs. Lucretia Mount, administratrix of Sexton
Mount. The fifth election for Trustees was held Aug. 12, 1839,
when Harlan Hatch, Middlcton Tackaberry, James W. Tharp, R.
H. Snell, and John W. Casey were elected. Harlan Hatch was
elected President by the Board; Alden Hull, Treasurer; and John
Gridley, Clerk. On Aug. 26, M. Tackaberry was appointed Collec-
tor and Street Commissioner.

At the sixth election for Trustees, held Aug. 10, 1840, Wm. S.
Maus, M. Tackaberry, Benj. Wagenseller, Orlando F. Earnest and
Joseph B. Worley were elected. The Board elected Wm. S. Maus,
President ; Alden Hull, Treasurer ; and John Gridley, Clerk. The
Board resolved, Dec. 29, 1840, that "An eagle of a quarter of a
dollar of the new coinage, be adopted for a seal of the corporation
of the town of Pekin."


On Jan. 20, 1841, Joseph Haines, Sr,, Wm. H. Holmes, and Juo.
Gridley were appointed Assessors for 1841. On Feb. 24, a tax of
four mills on the dollar was levied, and Joseph Haines was appointed
Collector. At the same time John Gridley, Town Clerk, was
" Authorized to procure one fire ladder and two hooks for the cor-
poration." We find no evidence to show that license was given to
sell spirituous liquors until the 21st of April, 1841. On that day
Lawrence Doyle and Henry Schwan were granted a license for that
purpose, for one year, in consideration of the sum of $25.

The seventh election was held Aug. 9, 1841, resulting in the elec-
tion of Wm. S. Maus, John W. Casey, Orlando F. Earnest, Benj.
Wagenseller and Richard Snell. They organized by electing Wm.
S. Maus, President; and John Gridley, Clerk. On Nov. 16th,
Wm. S. Maus tendered his resignation as a member of the Board,
which was accepted, and David Mark elected to fill his place.

In December, 1743, a fearful epidemic overspread the town, spread-
ing disease and death on every hand. It was erysipelas and malig-
nant scarlatina. The physicians in attendance were Drs. AVilliam
Rinehart, Wm. S. Maus, and Wm. Cromwell, and although they
labored faithfully and earnestly to check the disease, it held its sway
for four months, but finally disappered, after having attacked over
five hundred out of a population of about eight hundred, and carry-
ing fifty-two of its victims to the grave.

An ordinance was passed June 4, 1847, declaring the ferry across
the river to be free, and authorizing the Street Commissioners to
receive subscriptions from the citizens to defray the expenses of the
same. The free ferry did not prove a success, however, for on the
28th of August following, the Trustees resolved that "from and
after the 28th day of August, 1847, ferriage shall be charged at the
ferry at Pekin." The ferry was sold in December, 1847, to B. S.
Prettyman, for $1,575.

In 1848, a Division of the Sons of Temperance was organized,
which flourished for some years, but finally died out.

On the 7th of August, 1849, the Board resolved "that the census
of the town should be taken preparatory to a city organization,"
and John App was appointed census taker, with instructions to
report at the next meeting. On the evening of the 9th Mr. App
reported the census completed, which showed that the town contain-
ed 1,500 inhabitants, the minimum number required by law for the
adoption of a city charter. On Aug. 20, 1849, an election was held,


pursuant to previous notice, and an unanimous vote polled in favor
of city organization. Thus Pekin became a city, and the first city
election was held for city officers on the 24th of September, 1849.

The first calaboose was built by John S. Boone, in 1849, and in
the summer of 1868 was set on fire by an inmate and destroyed.

A census of the city was taken in 1850, when it was ascertained
to contain 1,840 inhabitants.

Early one Sunday morning in March, 1851, the citizens of Pekin
were suddenly startled by a terriffic explosion, which brought them
in crowds to the river, where they beheld one of the most sickening
and heart-rending spectacles that could well be imagined. The
boiler of the Prairie State had exploded just as she was about to
land at the levee, and being loaded with passengers, many were pre-
cipitated into the river, some never to rise again, while others lost
some of their limbs, and nearly all were severely scalded, a number
fatally. The sufferers were taken into houses near by, and every
attention given to them that was possible. Many recovered, but
some were so badly injured that they lived but a short time. Some
of the survivors are still living in Pekin.

On April 2d, 1851, John Giblin w^as awarded the contract for
grading the plank road on the opposite side of the river, and on
Oct. 13, 1854, it was completed, having cost the sum of $32,000.
It was a frail affair and soon abandoned, and in 1867 what remained
of it was torn down and replaced by an embankment of earth, erected
by J. A. and T. J. McGrew.

In 1853, D. P. Kenyon and B. Kellogg, Jr., were appointed a
committee to subscribe $100,000 to the Mississippi and Wabash
Railroad, which they did in their individual names, and afterwards
transferred it to the city; and, on Oct. 23, 1856, the city voted to
subscribe $100,000 to the capital stock of the Illinois River Rail-

The first rail was laid on the Illinois River Railroad on July 4th,
1859, and appropriately celebrated by the leading citizens of Pekin
on the anniversary of the birthday of our nation's independence.

About ten o'clock on the night of March 22, 1860, the citizens of
Pekin were startled by an alarm of fire, which had been discovered
in the grocery store of E. Grondenburg. In a few minutes a large
crowd of citizens had gathered to combat the fiery monster, but in
spite of all their efforts it continued to gain headway, and soon the
buildings adjoining, including the office of the Tazewell Register,


were enveloped in flames. All eiforts to check the spread of the
fire were unavailing, and in a short time the buildings on both sides
of Court street were enveloped in flames, and it was not got under
control until it had destroyed nearly all the buildings on both sides
of the street, from Third to Capitol street, including over thirty of
the principal business houses. This was a severe blow to the busi-
ness interests of the city, involving a loss of over $150,000. But
the enterprising citizens soon went to work to rebuild their business
houses, and it was not long before Court street, on both sides, be-
tween Capitol and Third streets, was rebuilt with substantial brick
buildings. Mr. McDonald, of the Register, issued a small sheet to
his subscribers until April 17th, when, having refurnished his office
with new material, his paper was issued in its regular form.

Immediately after the fire above referred to, the people became
enthusiastic over the formation of fire companies. A company was
formed and sent in a petition to the council for the purchase of an
engine, and desired it to be called " No. 1." Another company was
formed, consisting of Germans, and sent to the council a similar
petition. Two engines were ordered, and it appears the council was
somewhat partial to the German company, for it recognized it as
No. 1. The day of the arrival of the engines was a gala day in
Pekin. They came on a boat, and the two companies marched down
to the dock in fine style to get their engines. The German company
found their engine all right, with "No. 1" conspicuously painted
on it. Equally as prominent, on the other engine, was " No. 2,"
which was distasteful to the other company, and they marched away,
leaving it, for they claimed their engine had not come. Thus, the
original fire company of Pekin had but a momentary life.

In June, 1860, one of the Commissioners for taking the census of
Tazewell county, reported the population of the city of Pekin at
5,023 ; the number of dwelling houses, 742 ; trading establishments,
commonly called stores, 49 ; commission houses, 5 ; small establish-
ments of productive industry, with less capital, 21 ; principal ho-
tels, 4 ; drug stores, 6 ; printing offices, 2 ; lager beer saloons, 25 ;
billiard saloons, 5 ; steam flouring mill, 1 ; churches of different
denominations, 11; school-houses, 12; pupils in attendance, 503;
taxable property, $1,900,570, paying a revenue of $29,370.

The call of President Lincoln for troops, at the breaking out of
the Rebellion, elicited a prompt response from the citizens of Pekin,
which furnished for the defense of our country as brave and noble


a band of soldiers as any city of its size in the Union. It is but
just that we shouki Jionor and revere the memories of these brave
men, for many of them laid down their lives, while others suffered
untold miseries in Southern prison pens, to perpetuate the freedom
and unity of this great nation. Col. Frank L. Rhodes was the first
to enlist in this city. He'died at Shawneetown, Jan. 6, 1879.

The death of Stephen A. Douglas was announced to the council
on the 3d of June, and, on motion of Alderman Harlow, appropri-
ate resolutions of sorrow were adopted.

On the 16th of April, 1865, the sad news of the assassination of
Abraham Lincoln cast a shade of gloom and sadness over the city.
All business was practically suspended, crowds of citizens gathered
along the streets, whose hearts were sad and sorrowful, and soon
flags were to be seen floating from numerous business houses and
residences, draped in mourning and displayed at half-mast. Busi-
ness houses and dwellings were also draped in mourning, and a
feeling of sorrow and sadness for the loss of one whom they loved,
and to whose wit, wisdom and eloquence they had listened in years
gone by, pervaded every heart. He had once been an honored
member of the Pekin Bar, and his eloquence and large-heartedness
had won for him a prominent place in the hearts of its citizens.
The city council passed resolutions expressive of their regret and
sorrow for the murdered President.

On the 15th of March, 1869, a new city charter was adopted by
the city council.

On Feb. 28, 1870, the Pekin Agricultural and Mechanical Asso-
ciation was organized, under the general law of the State, the
society having for its object the development and encouragement of
agriculture and the mechanic arts, fixing its capital stock at $50,-
000, divided into 2,000 shares, of $25 each. B. S. Prettyman
was elected President ; Teis Smith, Vice President ; G. R. Cobleigh,
Secretary ; Geo. Greigg, Treasurer ; and Jas. W. Robinson, C. R.
Cummings, J. H. Height, John Stoltz, Peter Weyhrich, H." P.
Finigan and W. W. Sellers, Trustees. Eighty acres of land were
purchased, enclosed with a fence, and stalls, amphitheatres, etc.,
were erected. The first two or three years this enterprise was quite
successful, but was finally abandoned on account of insufficient pat-
ronage, although it was one of the finest and best located fair
grounds in the State.

On the 7th of August, 1877, a meeting was held at Hiberuia


Hall, for the purpose of organizing a military company, and the
following officers were elected : Captain, K. S. Conklin ; First
Lieut., Geo. G. Geiger; Second Lieut., H. L. Koch. The company
was styled the Celestial Guards. On the 20th of the same month,
Captain Conklin was elected Major of the 7th regiment, by accla-
mation, and on Oct. 26, following, Lieut. Geiger was elected Cap-
tain, vice Conklin, promoted, and Wm. L. Prettyman was elected
First Lieutenant, vice Geiger, promoted. On Dec. 27, 1877, the
ladies of Pekin presented the company with a handsome silk flag.
On August 29, 1878, the company competed with the Governor's
Guards, of Springfield, and Morgan Cadets, of Jacksonville, defeat-
ing them by several points, and winning the first prize of $150.
At its organization the company numbered about forty members.
Its membership has steadily increased, until now it numbers about
eighty members. Captain Geiger has proved himself an able and
efficient officer, and has contributed in a great measure to make the
company one of the most perfect in the State.

Having thus given the most prominent events in the history of
Pekin, for the data of which we have largely drawn upon the His-
tory of Pekin, found in the City Directory, pulished by Sellers &
Bates, in 1870, we Avill note some of the business interests of the
city. Before, however, taking up this line of history, we wish to
copy the following extract from that work, which describes the
location of the city of Pekin :

" Beautifully situated on the east bank of the Illinois river, on an
elevated jjlain, two miles wide before reaching the picturesque
scenery of the east bluff, the location challenges a comparison with
any in the West. On the west side it is bounded by the river,
crowded, during the greater portion of the year, with steam packets,
tow-boats, steam propellers, canal boats, barges and other water-
crafts, while the beautiful lake to the northward is made alive of
summer evenings with pleasure boats of every description. Sur-
rounding the city on the other sides is a country teeming with every
product that brings wealth and luxury to the people вАФ the field, the
orchard, the garden and the vineyard, vieing with each other in the
richness and abundance of their yields. The city is located about
midway between Chicago and St. Louis, with direct communication
by rail with both, and, during the season of water navigation, by
daily packet with St. Louis, and by steam propeller, via the Illinois
and Michigan Canal, with Chicago and the lakes. As a railroad


center it has no superior, having now daily communication by rail
in every direction."

We have no doubt the reader will regard the above graphic
description somewhat overdrawn, especially that clause relating
to the river. We presume, however, that Pekin's former historian
was of a poetic turn of mind, and, now and then, indulged in such
bursts of phantasy.

Pekin has a population of about 8,000.


Among the manufacturing establishments of Pekin, the first
claiming our attention is that of T. & H. Smith & Co., corner of
Third and Ann Eliza streets. The business of this firm, which has
grown to such large proportions, was started in 1849, by the pur-
chase of a small shop by Messrs. Teis and Henry Smith, from Mr.
Alright. They established themselves, and with but a small capital,
commenced business. Steam power was out of the question, with
the means at their command, and many of the citizens can well re-
member the horse which walked around the ring from morning till
night, furnishing the power for certain mechanical operations. The
business of the firm steadily increased, and it soon became necces-
sary to erect more commodious buildings. In 1850, Mr. Lupper
came to the city and became one of the firm. As the business con-
tinued to increase, other partners soon came in, and finally new
branches were established in other parts of the city. The following
firms are the outgrowth of T. & H. Smith & Co., in all of which
that firm have an interest at the present time : Smith, Hippen &
Co., grain dealers, organized in 1857; Smith, Velde & Co., dealers
in hardware and agricultural implements, organized in 1858; Teis,
Smith & Co., bankers, organized in 1866; the Smith Plow Com-
pany, manufacturers of plows and cultivators, organized in 1875.

Just before the formation of the latter company, a fire broke out
in the shops of T. & H. Smith & Co., totally destroying the build-
ing and contents. Phoenix-like, it soon rose from its ashes, a larger
and more imposing structure than before. The Smith Plow Com-
pany was organized, and the manufacture of plows and cultivators
transferred to another building, which was fitted up with machin-

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 56 of 79)