John Henry Louie, Parkland postmaster

By Jared L. Olar

Local History Specialist

It was three years ago that “From the History Room” presented a series on the unincorporated communities of Tazewell County. Among the communities that were featured in that series in the little village of Parkland in Spring Lake Township, which was established as a railroad station in the 1800s and dubbed “Prettyman” after the prominent family of Benjamin S. Prettyman who owned land there.

As we noted previously, Prettyman was later formally platted as “Hainesville” on 7 Sept. 1860, though the Hainesville post office continued to be known as the “Prettyman” post office until 1899, when Hainesville – along with its post office – was renamed “Parkland.” The Parkland post office remained in operation until 1918.

During the post office’s years of operation, Parkland’s postmaster was John Henry Louie (1849-1928), whose father was French immigrant to Tazewell County named John Louie (1824-1870), born in Bertrambois, France, and buried in Fon du Lac Township Cemetery in East Peoria.

John Henry Louie, postmaster of Parkland and manager of the Smith-Hippen Grain Co. in Parkland, is shown outside his office, which served as the post office for the village of Parkland.
John Henry Louie is here shown in the Smith-Hippen Grain Co. office in Parkland, which was also Parkland’s post office.
A page from a Parkland post office account book from the Spring of 1899. Note that John Henry Louie, postmaster, identifies the village as “Prettyman,” the original name of Parkland (which was known as “Hainesville” before being renamed “Parkland”).
A page from a post office account book from the Summer of 1899 of the unincorporated village of Parkland in Spring Lake Township, Tazewell County, Illinois.

John Henry Louie was born on his parents’ farm in rural Wesley City (Creve Coeur) on 12 Nov. 1849, later moving to Spring Lake Township and settling in Hainesville. He married Caroline Anna Bender in Peoria on 8 Nov. 1888, and they had a son, Charles Robert Louie, who was born in Manito on 29 July 1890.

John Henry’s obituary, published in the 7 Aug. 1928 issue of the Bloomington Pantagraph, says, “For years Mr. Louie was manager of the Smith-Hippen Grain company at Parkland, conducted a general store there and was postmaster of the village.” The obituary adds that he and his wife Caroline farmed for a while after their marriage, after which he “took employment with the Smith-Hippen company at Parkland and remained with that company 29 years.

The Smith-Hippen Grain Co. was based in Pekin, being one of the firms founded and operated by German immigrant Teis Smith and his relatives (the Smith Wagon Works in Pekin probably being the best known of the Smith firms).

John Henry Louie’s great-granddaughter Cathy (Louie) Janus has graciously supplied the Pekin Public Library with digital images of a number of old photographs and documents pertaining to Parkland and John Henry’s tenure as village postmaster and Smith-Hippen grain elevator manager. These photographs and documents are shared here with Janus’ kind permission.

Cathy Janus says that her father attended school at Parkland, which was the location of Spring Lake Township’s School No. 6. Later, after the school was closed, her father acquired the property and converted it into his home, where Cathy grew up.

Janus also notes that the Parkland passenger train depot appears in Thomas Finson’s video “Tazewell County Memories 1932-1970,” in footage that was taken during the last passenger train to leave Pekin. The train headed south out of Pekin and past Parkland on its way to Havana.

The view from the Smith-Hippen grain elevator in Parkland, Illinois, with prominent features identified by Cathy Janus.
Edward Louie of Parkland, brother of Parkland postmaster John Henry Louie, is shown in this old portrait and photograph, In the photograph, Edward is standing outside his home. The Parkland schoolhouse can be seen in the background.
The obituary of John Henry Louie’s brother Joseph, who like his brother also lived in Parkland.
The Parkland Depot is shown in this screen-capture ftom Thomas Finson’s video “Tazewell County Memories 1932-1970″.

#benjamin-prettyman, #caroline-anna-bender-louie, #cathy-louie-janus, #charles-robert-louie, #edward-louie, #hainesville, #john-henry-louie, #john-louie, #joseph-louie, #parkland, #parkland-post-office, #parkland-school-house, #prettyman, #smith-hippen-grain-co, #teis-smith

Pekin’s feminine street names

This is a reprint of a “From the Local History Room” column that first appeared in December 2011, before the launch of this weblog.

Pekin’s feminine street names

By Jared Olar

Local History Specialist

In a previous post here, we looked into the historical accounts and legends of how pioneer settler Ann Eliza Cromwell named Pekin in 1830. As it happens, Mrs. Cromwell is also said to have chosen the names for most of the streets in the original town of Pekin. History and legend credits her with Pekin’s feminine-named streets.

Most of the standard works on Pekin’s history state unequivocally that Mrs. Cromwell chose the street names. For example, “Pekin Centenary 1849-1949” says she was “responsible for the early naming of the streets and the unique designation of the east and west street series with the names of women.

The same thing is repeated in “Pekin Sesquicentennial 1824-1974” and “Pekin, Illinois: A Pictorial History” (1998, 2004), but with the additional detail that, as it says in “Pekin Sesquicentennial,” the streets were named “in honor of female relatives and friends of the original settlers.” Local historian Fred W. Soady’s 1960 paper, “In These Waste Places,” also says the street names “remain as daily reminders of the pioneer women of the city.

The two earliest published accounts of Pekin’s founding, however, express some hesitation about Mrs. Cromwell’s role in the street-naming. Most remarkably, the 1870 Pekin City Directory of W.W. Sellers & W.H. Bates says it was Major Nathan Cromwell who named the streets: “The streets were named by Maj. Cromwell, assisted, doubtless, by his wife, and the singular femininity of the nomenclature still in a great degree, retained, will be accounted for when we state, on the best authority, that our daily walks are, to a great extent, over the quiet monuments of the early women of our beautiful city – that with but few exceptions the older streets are named to correspond with the given names of the daughters, mothers, grandmothers and wives of the old regime.

Charles C. Chapman’s 1879 “History of Tazewell County” similarly presents Mrs. Cromwell’s role as a likely speculation rather than an indisputable fact: “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 names of the mothers, grandmothers, wives and daughters of the pioneers.

Ben C. Allensworth’s 1905 “History of Tazewell County” presents a handy table identifying the women for whom the streets were named (but leaves out Cynthiana St., and calls Sabella St. “Isabel”):

Ruth – Ruth Stark

Minerva – named for the goddess Minerva

Matilda – Matilda Bailey, sister of Samuel P. Bailey, one of the pioneer lawyers of Pekin, after whom Bailey’s Lake (now Meyers Lake or Lake Arlann) was named

Lucinda – Lucinda Pierce, second wife of William Haines, who was the original purchaser of “Town Site”

Amanda – Amanda Swingle, wife of Major Hugh Woodrow, a pioneer and an officer in the Black Hawk War

Harriet – Mrs. Harriet Sandusky, mother of Mrs. Elijah Mark

Jane – Jane Adams, first wife of William Haines

Catherine – after the wife of Samuel Woodrow

Margaret – for the eldest daughter of Seth Wilson, known as “Grandma Young,” died 1901

Isabel – Isabel Briggs, daughter of one of the pioneer Sheriffs, Benjamin Briggs

Henrietta – Henrietta Shoemaker, cousin of William Haines

Charlotte – Charlotte Amanda Dusenberry, afterwards Mrs. Lincoln

Caroline – Caroline Perkins, whose father, Major Isaac Perkins, was killed in the Black Hawk War

Ann Eliza – the wife of Major Cromwell

Elizabeth – one or both of the wives of Thomas Snell and Gideon Hawley

St. Mary – the Blessed Virgin Mary

Susannah – wife of Major Perkins, who operated a horse mill near Circleville, which was converted into a fort during the Black Hawk War

Sarah Ann – daughter of William Haines, afterwards the wife of the Hon. B. S. Prettyman.

The names of the streets of the Original Town of Pekin (shown here in pink) that are perpendicular to the Illinois River were chosen by Pekin co-founder Nathan Cromwell, who named them about the wives, daughters, mothers, and grandmothers of Pekin’s early settlers.

#amanda-swingle, #ann-eliza-cromwell, #benjamin-briggs, #benjamin-prettyman, #blessed-virgin-mary, #caroline-perkins, #charlotte-amanda-dusenberry, #charlotte-amanda-lincoln, #elijah-mark, #fred-w-soady, #gideon-hawley, #harriet-sandusky, #henrietta-shoemaker, #hugh-woodrow, #isaac-perkins, #isabel-briggs, #jane-adams, #lucinda-pierce, #margaret-wilson-young, #matilda-bailey, #minerva, #nathan-cromwell, #pekin-history, #preblog-columns, #ruth-stark, #samuel-p-bailey, #samuel-woodrow, #sarah-ann-haines, #sarah-ann-prettyman, #seth-wilson, #susannah-perkins, #thomas-snell, #william-haines

Making the Eighth Circuit with Lincoln

By Jared Olar

Local History Specialist

It was a century ago that the Lincoln Circuit Marking Association, led by Lottie Jones of Danville, Ill., under the auspices of the Daughters of the American Revolution, placed historical markers at all of the county courthouses and county-line crossings along the route of the old Eighth Judicial Circuit that Abraham Lincoln and his fellow attorneys traveled from 1847 to 1859.

In observance of the 100th anniversary of the placing of the Lincoln Circuit Markers, on Washington’s Birthday, Monday, Feb. 21, the Tazewell County Courthouse hosted a rededication ceremony. The dignitaries in attendance included 10th Judicial Circuit Chief Judge Katherine Gorman, Tazewell County Presiding Judge Paul Gilfillan, Tazewell County State’s Attorney Stewart Umholtz, Tazewell Circuit Clerk Lincoln Hobson, Mayor Gary Manier of Washington, Mayor Elizabeth Skinner of Delavan, and Tazewell County Clerk John Ackerman. Each of them spoke at the event.

The event’s keynote speaker was Guy C. Fraker, a retired attorney and Lincoln scholar, author of “Looking for Lincoln in Illinois: A Guide to Lincoln’s Eighth Judicial Circuit” (2017). Fraker’s book is a historical tour guide that traces the Eighth Judicial Circuit and highlights aspects of Lincoln’s life and career as an Illinois attorney in the old Eighth Circuit.

As a part of the rededication of the Circuit Markers, and to bring renewed attention to the markers, Tazewell County Clerk John Ackerman donated author-signed copies of Fraker’s book to Tazewell County’s public libraries. The Pekin Public Library’s copy is now a part of the library’s Local History collection.

In his book, Fraker provides detailed directions to each of the courthouses and Lincoln Circuit Markers, as well as some of the more notable Lincoln sites readily accessible along the circuit route. Pages 15-21 of Fraker’s book tell about some of lawyer Lincoln’s Tazewell County connections, including links to Delavan, Tremont, Pekin, and Washington.

Tazewell County, says Fraker on page 15:

“. . . provided Lincoln with a solid political base of support in the 1840s, although that support weakened with the rise of the slavery issue in the 1850s. It was the Circuit’s third largest county in population during this period, and Lincoln had more business there than in any county other than Sangamon and Menard. Tazewell lawyers were some of the best on the Circuit, and they included among their ranks Benjamin Prettyman and William Kellogg of Pekin, Benjamin James and Edward Jones of Tremont, and Norman Purple and Henry Grove of Peoria.”

On page 20, Fraker relates a colorful Lincoln anecdote from the 1850 Tazewell County Courthouse, when courtroom proceedings were interrupted by a bat:

“On one occasion in the Pekin courtroom, a trapped bat flew wildly around the chamber. The judge enlisted the lanky Lincoln to drive it out. At first he tried to do so by twirling his coat after the bat, but when that failed to work, he got a broom and successfully drove the flying rodent out the window.”

Two of the county-line crossing Circuit Markers are associated with Tazewell County. One of them is the Logan-Tazewell County Line Marker, on Delavan Road near the county border, located at the southwest corner of the intersection of County Roads 2000E and 0000N (on page 15 of Fraker’s book). The other is the Tazewell-Woodford County Line Marker, located at the northeast corner of Tazewood and Nofsinger roads a few miles north of Washington.

This photograph of the Logan-Tazewell County Line Marker and a map showing its location may be viewed on the “Springfield to Peoria Stage Road” tab at the Tazewell County Historical StoryMap website.

#abraham-lincoln, #benjamin-james, #benjamin-prettyman, #edward-jones, #eighth-judicial-circuit, #guy-fraker, #henry-grove, #john-ackerman, #lincoln-circuit-marking-association, #logan-tazewell-county-line-marker, #looking-for-lincoln-in-illinois, #lottie-jones, #norman-purple, #storymap-of-tazewell-county, #tazewell-woodford-county-line-marker, #william-kellogg

Carnegie library architect Paul O. Moratz

By Jared Olar

Library Assistant

In her 1902 account of the Pekin Public Library’s early history, Miss Mary Gaither tells of how the library board planned the construction of Pekin’s new $15,000 Carnegie library. In Miss Gaither’s words:

“In January, 1902, a building committee, consisting of four members of the Board, namely, Mr. C. G. Herget, Mrs. Emily P. Schenck, Mr. W. J. Conzelman, and Mr. F. L. Velde, were duly authorized to proceed to the selection of a suitable plan, and the recommendation of an architect. Mr. Paul O. Moratz of Bloomington was chosen as the architect, at a subsequent meeting, and the plans were submitted to the Board on March 13th, 1902.”

Shown is one of the surviving original blueprints of Pekin’s Carnegie library, designed by accomplished Bloomington architect Paul O. Moratz (1866-1939), who also designed many other Carnegie libraries across the Midwest, as well as numerous Bloomington homes and landmarks.
Shown here is another of the surviving original blueprints of Pekin’s Carnegie library, designed by accomplished Bloomington architect Paul O. Moratz.
Shown in this clipping from a 1901 edition of the Pekin Daily Times is Bloomington architect Paul O. Moratz’s sketch of his proposed design for the 1902 Pekin Carnegie Library.

Even 119 years later, it is not difficult to find out who the building committee members were, for they all came from the old, prominent Pekin families, leaders of Pekin society and civic life. “Mr. C. G. Herget” is Carl Herget (1865-1946), nephew of George Herget who had donated the land where the new library was to be built. The Carl Herget mansion at 420 Washington St., which Carl Herget built in 1912, is a well-known Pekin historical landmark – and was (as we noted last week) built at the former site of the Thomas N. Gill residence, where the meeting took place in 1866 founding the Ladies Library Association. We also recalled last week that Carl Herget in early 1901 made a matching donation of $1,000 to supply books for the new library.

Mrs. Emily P. Schenck (1846-1904) was Emily A. (Prettyman) Schenck, daughter of prominent Pekin pioneer settler Benjamin S. Prettyman, a former mayor of Pekin. Her son Ben P. Schenck (1871-1930), that is, Benjamin Prettyman Schenck, was a cashier at the German-American National Bank of Pekin and a long-time library board member, serving in the past as board secretary.

Mr. W. J. Conzelman was William John Conzelman (1865-1916), who served two terms as mayor of Pekin, from 1901 to 1904 and again from 1909 to 1911. Conzelman purchased the grand brick mansion that had been built by John Herget, located at 800 Washington St. As for Mr. F. L. Velde, that was Franklin L. Velde (1866-1963), a partner with William J. Prettyman in the Pekin law firm of Prettyman & Velde. Velde was a long-time library board member who often served as the board president.

When considering an architect for Pekin’s Carnegie library, the building committee did not limit itself to the Pekin-Peoria area, but selected Bloomington architect Paul O. Moratz (1866-1939), who had risen to prominence among central Illinois architects when he became one of three architects chosen to rebuild downtown Bloomington following a terrible fire there in 1900 that destroyed four and half city blocks (45 buildings).

Moratz was a German immigrant, born in Prussia’s Grand Duchy of Posen (today Poznan in Poland) on April 14, 1866, the son of Herman and Emelie (Eisner) Moratz. Paul’s father, a carpenter, came to America in the 1860s, finding work and a place to live in Bloomington, and then in 1868 he sent for Emelie and Paul, then age 2. The three of them are listed in the 1870 U.S. Census as the Bloomington residents “Harmon Moratz,” 29, “Amelia Moratz,” 26, and “Powel Moratz,” 4.

Paul grew up helping his father at carpentry, by which he learned building and construction skills, and conceived an interest in architecture. He studied architectural drawing at an industrial school in Illinois from 1888 to 1889, taking over his father’s business around that time. Moratz oversaw the constructing of planing mills and woodworking factories in Bloomington. In 1893, Paul married Emma Riebsame, a daughter of German immigrants. During their life together, they had two sons, Roland and Armin, and together they lived in homes that Paul built on Wood Street in Bloomington.

In 1897, he received his architect’s license from the State of Illinois, and the same year he built Bloomington’s original “Coliseum” convention center. During his career, Moratz built numerous homes in Bloomington, as well as several schools, libraries, and churches (including Old St. Patrick’s Catholic Church on Locust Street in Bloomington).

The 1903 Carnegie library of Tuscola, Illinois, shown here, was designed by Bloomington architect Paul O. Moratz, who also designed Pekin’s Carnegie library. The libraries of Pekin and Tuscola were built around the same time.

His work on the Coliseum came to the attention of the Lincoln, Neb., convention center building committee, which hired him in 1899 to design the old Lincoln Auditorium. Years later, in 1911 he was hired to design the Carnegie library in Neligh, Neb. Because of these projects, a biographical sketch of his life, on which this column in part relies, was included in “Place Makers of Nebraska: The Architects.”

By the time the Pekin library board’s building committee named him as the architect for our Carnegie library, Moratz had designed or built eight homes, two churches, a convent, three schools, a park bridge, iron and rock gates for a subdivision, two auditoriums, a public library for Loda, Ill., and an addition to Withers Public Library in Bloomington.

The 1904 Carnegie library of Paxton, Illinois, shown here, was designed by Bloomington architect Paul O. Moratz, who also designed Pekin’s Carnegie library, which was built in 1902-1903, a year before Paxton’s library.

After designing Pekin’s Carnegie library, Moratz went on to design or build 11 more Carnegie public libraries in Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, and Nebraska. Moratz also operated his own planing mill in Bloomington, and he invented and patented his own ready-to-install hardwood flooring. Despite the setback of a couple fires in 1925 and 1931, he continued to operate his plant until his death in Bloomington on March 4, 1939. He is buried in Evergreen Memorial Cemetery, Bloomington, with his wife Emma, sons Roland and Armin, and granddaughter Betty (Moratz) Singh Purewal (1920-2007).

Next week we will continue the story of the construction of Pekin’s Carnegie library and tell of the laying of the library’s cornerstone and sealing of its time capsule.

#armin-moratz, #ben-p-schenck, #benjamin-prettyman, #benjamin-prettyman-schenck, #betty-moratz-singh-purewal, #bloomington-coliseum, #carl-herget, #carl-herget-mansion, #emelie-eisner-moratz, #emily-a-prettyman-schenck, #emma-riebsame-moratz, #franklin-velde, #george-herget, #herman-moratz, #john-herget, #mrs-thomas-n-gill, #neligh-carnegie-library, #paul-o-moratz, #paxton-carnegie-library, #pekin-carnegie-library, #roland-moratz, #st-patricks-catholic-church, #tuscola-carnegie-library, #william-conzelman, #william-j-prettyman

A glimpse into the life of Pekin pioneer William Haines

This is a reprint of a “From the Local History Room” column that first appeared in May 2014, before the launch of this weblog.

A glimpse into the life of Pekin pioneer William Haines

By Jared Olar
Library Assistant

Among the pioneer founders of Pekin was a man named William Haines, who is twice mentioned in the historical essay included in the 1870 Sellers & Bates Pekin City Directory, on page 9. Like many of the original settlers of Pekin, Haines came from Ohio.

Born on Sept. 13, 1801, he was the son of Joseph Haines, who came with his children to Tazewell County about 1828 and settled in Cincinnati Township. The first time the 1870 city directory mentions William Haines is in the story of the purchase and laying out of the town site that was to become Pekin.

“At the land sales at Springfield in the fall of 1828, the ‘Town Site’ was purchased by Maj. Cromwell for a company composed of himself, William Haines, William Brown, Thomas Snell, Peter Menard, Dr. Warner, A. Herndon and ____ Carpenter, of Sangamon county, and the purchase was divided in twelve parts. The question as to who should possess so important a piece of ground as the present location of Pekin created considerable excitement and the feeling rose to such a pitch at the land sale that pistols were drawn and bloodshed seem (sic) inevitable. The parties above mentioned, were successful, however, and the matter was amicably adjusted.”

Haines also appears several times in Charles C. Chapman’s 1879 “History of Tazewell County.” For instance, on page 244, Chapman tells of how Pekin was first designated as the county seat on Feb. 16, 1831, and county offices then were moved from Mackinaw to Pekin. “The Clerk’s office in Pekin,” Chapman says, “was located ‘in the upper room of William Haines’ corner building, occupied by William M. Farnsworth.′ The Court paid as rental for this room, where it also subsequently convened, $2 per month. These quarters were retained until Oct. 1, 1831, when the office was moved to Gideon Hawley’s room, where it remained for a month; . . . .

Then on page 563, Chapman quotes from the memoirs of Pekin pioneer settler Jacob Tharp, who wrote,
. . . Major Cromwell came in 1829, and bought out Dillon’s stock in trade . . . . In the same year, Hawley and William Haines built cabins in our town.” Chapman also quotes Tharp’s account of the surveying, platting and sale of Pekin in 1830 on pages 564-565, mentioning that Haines was one of the five original plat holders of Pekin.

Chapman also notes that Benjamin S. Prettyman married William’s daughter Sarah A. Haines in April 1845, while on page 643 of Chapman’s history is a brief biographical and genealogical sketch of William’s son Joseph. The sketch has this to say about William and his children:

″[Joseph] was born in Butler Co., O., and came to the county with his parents, William and Elizabeth (Wilson) Haines, also natives of Ohio, in the year, 1828. . . . William Haines, the father of the subject of this sketch, on coming to this county, located first at Pekin, and was one of the original proprietors. He died in that city in 1834, with the cholera. He owned, at the time of his death, all the lots fronting north on Court street, save two, of the original town of Pekin. . . . Mr. Haines, Sr., left a family of five children at his death, whose names were, Sarah Ann, now the wife of B. S. Prettyman of Pekin; Elizabeth Jane, many years deceased; Martha Ellen, who married John Gorage, of Ottumwa, Iowa, and died about the year 1872 or ’73 . . . ; Caroline Matilda, who married John M. Hedrick, of Ottumwa, Iowa, and is still living; the next, Mr. Joseph F. Haines, the subject of this sketch, is now living at Hainesville, a station on the P., P. & J. R. R., which derives its name from him . . . .” (Hainesville, today called Parkland, is southwest of Pekin in Spring Lake Township.)

As the sketch says, William’s life was cut short during the cholera epidemic of the summer of 1834 that killed many of the original settlers of Pekin. Some online genealogies state that William’s mother died in the same epidemic, William dying on July 10 and his mother on July 13. William’s father Joseph survived the epidemic, dying in Pekin in 1844.

Although William died just four years after Pekin’s founding, his younger brother James Haines, born Sept. 10, 1822, in Butler County, Ohio, lived to the age of 87, dying in Pekin on Sept. 11, 1909, making a big enough mark during his lifetime to warrant having his biography included in the 1873 Tazewell County atlas on page 55. James’ biographical sketch says he was the youngest child of Joseph and “Laura” Haines (other sources say his mother was named “Sarah”), and also notes that he was one of the commissioners appointed in 1849 by the Illinois General Assembly to build a courthouse in Pekin (the one that preceded the current courthouse).

Two other brothers of William and James were prominent in Pekin’s early history: Jonathan and Ansel, who went into business together to manufacture Jonathan’s patented invention, the Illinois Harvester. Their factory was located near Benson’s Maytag and James Field on Ninth Street, and James Haines later owned and lived in Jonathan’s former house that still stands at 412 S. Sixth St.

James’ older brother William figures in one other memorable episode from Pekin’s early history — the night the first steamboat came to Pekin (or the place that would later be named Pekin). This is the way the historical essay in the 1870 city directory tells the story:

“The first steamboat to ascend the Illinois river landed at ‘Town Site’ late in the fall of 1828. A steamboat was a novelty, or rather a mystery, to many of the early settlers. Coming up the river, the boat passed Kingston in the night. Hugh Barr, who lived near that point, heard it coming, and, being on rather unfriendly terms with the Indians, then quite numerous in the vicinity, concluded that it was some infernal contrivance of theirs to frighten or harm him. Seizing his gun and setting his equally bewildered dog at it, he pursued the offending mystery. The pilot, not being familiar with the channel, ran into Clifton’s lake. Finding no outlet, he had to back the boat out, which, Barr witnessing, drew off his dog, and though still hugely puzzled to know what manner of craft it was, gave up pursuit. William Haines then lived about where Behrens’ brick block, corner of Front and Court streets, now stands. Hearing the puff of the escaping steam, he hastily left his bed, and half dressed, crossed the street to Thomas Snell’s, now the Bemis House, called neighbor Snell out of bed and enquired as to what manner of creature was coming up the river. Snell replied: ‘I don’t know, Bill, but if I was on the Ohio river I would think it was a steamboat.’ Old father Tharp hearing the noise of the paddles and the steam whistle, thought it was Gabriel blowing his horn; that sure enough the end of the world had come in the night, and, calling up his family, engaged in prayer as a fitting preparation for the advent of a higher and better life.”

Shown here is an advertisement for James Haines’ insurance agency in downtown Pekin, from the April 13, 1860 Tazewell Republican newspaper. James Haines was the youngest brother of Pekin co-founder William Haines.

#ansel-haines, #benjamin-prettyman, #elizabeth-wilson-haines, #gideon-hawley, #haines-harvester, #hugh-barr, #illinois-harvester, #james-haines, #jonathan-haines, #joseph-haines, #pekin-founders, #pekin-founding, #pekin-history, #pekin-pioneers, #preblog-columns, #sarah-ann-haines, #thomas-snell, #william-haines, #william-m-farnsworth

Organization of Tazewell County’s townships

This is a reprint of a “From the Local History Room” column that first appeared in June 2015, before the launch of this weblog.

Organization of Tazewell County’s townships

By Jared Olar
Library assistant

Big changes came to Tazewell County in the year 1849 and 1850. It was in 1849 that the county seat, after having moved from Mackinaw to Pekin and then to Tremont, was finally and permanently fixed at Pekin. The same year, Pekin passed from the status of “town” to “city,” voting to adopt a city charter. The following year, the new county seat built itself a fine new courthouse.

During those same two years that Tazewell County was witnessing those significant developments, it also saw the organization of the county’s township governments.

In his 1905 “History of Tazewell County,” page 709, Ben C. Allensworth describes the “township” form of government as it functioned in his day:

“Under this system the supervisor is the chief officer and representative of the township, and it is his duty to prosecute and defend all suits in which the township is interested. The township clerk keeps the records of the township, and the treasurer takes charge of the funds. The establishment, vacation and repair of the public roads is committed to the three commissioners of highways. The supervisor, the two Justices of the Peace whose terms of office soonest expire, and the Township Clerk constitute a township board for examining and auditing the accounts of the town.”

Since then, Illinois has eliminated “Justices of the Peace” and has reduced the number of Township highway commissioners.

Allensworth tells the story of the founding and organization of Tazewell County’s townships on pages 707-709 of his history. As he explains, the county’s Commissioners Court was abolished when Illinois adopted a new state constitution in 1848, and a new County Court was instituted in its place on Dec. 3, 1849. The presiding judge was Benjamin F. James, who served along with two associate justices named Joseph Stewart and Lawson Holland. “The salary of each member, while holding court, was $2 per day,” Allensworth says.

“During the existence of this Court,” Allensworth continues, “the people were agitating the question of township organization. Many counties of the State since the adoption of the constitution of 1848, had adopted that mode of conducting county affairs. The constitution gave counties the privilege of adopting either the County Court or the Board of Supervisors. At the fall election in 1849 a vote was taken ‘for or against township organization,’ which resulted in favor of the new measure.”

The County Court then appointed Benjamin S. Prettyman, Anson Gillon and J. K. Coon to a commission for dividing the county into townships. “This duty they performed in due time. Generally they constituted each congressional township a separate town,” Allensworth says.

The townships of Tazewell County are shown in this map from the 1873 “Atlas Map of Tazewell County.”

Here is Allensworth’s account of their division of the townships:

“Beginning at Fond du Lac township, they fixed the boundary as it now is and named it ‘Fond du Lac,’ according to the wish of the people. The first election under the township organization was held at Farm Creek school-house.

Washington township was laid off six miles square, east and adjoining Fond du Lac. It was called Washington, because the village and postoffice bore that name. The east half of township, 26 north and range 2 west, was attached to Washington at the request of the citizens, as there were not sufficient inhabitants to form a separate town. The first election was held in the district school-building at Washington.

Deer Creek had its boundaries fixed as they are at present. The first election was held at the Monmouth school-house. The township was named by Major R. N. Cullom, taking the name of the creek that flows through it.

Morton was laid off and named as it is at present. Harvey Campbell proposed the name in honor of Gov. Morton of Massachusetts. The first election was held at W. W. Campbell’s.

Groveland was constituted a township and its boundaries fixed as they now are. The first election was held at the Randolph house, Groveland. The township took its name from the village.

Pekin township was at first one tier of sections less, north and south, than it is at present. The northern tier of sections of Cincinnati was taken from that township and added to Pekin. It was named after the city of Pekin.

Cincinnati township was laid out by this commission, one tier of sections larger than it is at present. The first election was held at the Cincinnati hotel, Pekin.

Elm Grove had its boundaries fixed as they now are. The first election was held at Elm Grove school-house.

Tremont had its boundaries defined by including a Congressional township. The first election was held at the courthouse at Tremont. Mackinaw township had its boundaries permanently fixed. The first election was held at the school-house in the town of Mackinaw.

Little Mackinaw has never had its boundary lines changed. The first election was held at a school-house on Little Mackinaw creek.

Hopedale at first was christened Highland. The present boundaries were fixed. A portion of Boynton township was attached to Hopedale, there not being enough inhabitants to organize a township. The first election was held at Mrs. Purviance’s residence. The name Highland was changed because there was another township in the state bearing that name.

Dillon was constituted for a Congressional Township. The first election was held at the school-house in Dillon.

Sand Prairie, formerly Jefferson, had its boundaries described as they are at present. The first election was held at John Hisel’s. Malone township was not organized, but the territory was attached to Sand Prairie.

Spring Lake had its boundaries described as they remain at present; first election held at Charles Seiwell’s.

Delavan was constituted a township as it remains at present, and had a portion of Boynton attached to it. Hittle was first named Union, then changed to Waterford, and finally to Hittle. It included its present territory and a portion of Boynton; first election held at Hittle Grove church.”

The townships having been laid out and organized, the County Court held its final session on Saturday, April 6, 1850, and then adjourned sine die, being replaced by the County Board of Supervisors.

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The Civil War era: Pekin’s blacks in a time of transition

By Jared Olar
Library assistant

Continuing our review of what historical records can tell us of 19th-century African-American residents of Pekin, this week we move on to the period from the 1860s to the 1880s — the decades of the Civil War and its aftermath, when slavery finally was abolished and civil rights for blacks first began to be enshrined in law.

As we have seen, the numbers of African-Americans in Pekin were already quite low at the time of the 1850 U.S. Census. Ten years later, on the eve of the Civil War, their numbers were even lower. Only 18 African-Americans were enumerated as Pekin residents at the time of the 1860 U.S. Census. The number of Pekin’s African-Americans dropped to 10 in the 1870 census, but increased to 19 in the 1880 census.

One of Pekin’s few African-Americans in 1860 was Malinda Cooper, 19, “mulatto” (i.e. mixed-race), born in Illinois, a servant in the household of Daniel and Mary Bastions. Also living with the Bastions at that time was a white girl named Mary or May Warfield, 11, born in Illinois – we’ll hear more about Mary Warfield further on.

Pekin in 1860 was also the home of the “mulatto” family of Virginia-born John Brown, 44, a barber, who is enumerated in the census with his wife Charlotte, 43, and children or grandchildren George W., 20, Caroline M., 20, and Amanda, 3.

The 1860 census also shows a black family living in Pekin, headed by Virginia-born Edward Hard, 29, “black,” a laborer, whose wife Elizabeth Hard, 28, “mulatto,” and one-month-old daughter Mary, are listed in the house with Edward. A year later, the 1861 Roots City Directory of Pekin lists “Howard Edward (colored), laborer, res. Market, ss. 1st d. e. Third” – apparently the same man as “Edward Hard” of the 1860 census. The 1870 U.S. Census for Pekin enumerates the family of Kentucky-born “Edwin Howard,” 45, black, a fireman in a distillery, with his wife Elizabeth, 49, and their daughters Melinda, 10, and Elizabeth, 6 months. “Edwin” is, again, apparently the same man as “Edward” Howard or Hard. Living in the Howard household at the time of the 1870 census was Alabama-born Allen T. Davison, 23, black, a fireman in a distillery, and his wife Sarah J. Davison, 18.

The same year, the 1870 Sellers & Bates City Directory of Pekin shows “Howard Ed., (colored), laborer, res ne cor Front and Isabella.” Six years after that, the 1876 Bates City Directory of Pekin shows “Howard Edwin, (col) fireman distillery, res ns Isabel 1d e Front,” and shows Allen T. Davison as “Davison Travis, foreman distil’ry, res ns Isabel 1d w Second” (“foreman” an error for “fireman”). Four years later, Allen Travis Davison is counted in the 1880 U.S. Census of Pekin as “Travis Davis-Son” (sic), 33, then rooming in the house of the white family of Edward and Mary Elster at 117 Court St. (the census taker erroneously read the “-son” of Travis’ surname to mean that Travis was a son of Edward and Mary).

Travis Davison does not appear as a resident of Pekin after 1880, but his former neighbor Ed Howard appears one more time – in the 1887 Bates City Directory of Pekin, he is listed as “Howard Edwin, barber 233 Court, res. 101 Isabel.

Going back to the 1860 U.S. Census, besides the family of Benjamin and Nance Costley, the only other African-Americans of Pekin listed in that census are Moses “Mose” Ashby, 23, and his brother William Ashby, 21, both born in Illinois and identified as “mulatto.” Mose and William were then laborers living in the household of Peter and Margaret Devore. Besides Moses and William, records show two more of their brothers living in Pekin around this time: Nathaniel (or Nathan) Ashby and Marshall Ashby. The 1861 Roots City Directory of Pekin lists “Ashby Moses (colored), livery hand, Margaret, ns., 1st d. e. Front; res. Ann Eliza, ss., 1st d. w. Third” and “Ashby Nathan (colored), teamster, Ann Eliza, ss., 1st d. e. Second; res. river bank, foot of State.”

Their brother William is listed in the 1870 U.S. Census of Pekin as William J. Ashby, 27, born in Illinois, “mulatto,” a teamster, with his wife Sarah, 30, and children Lewis, 3, and Catharine, an infant. Living with them was a white girl named Laura Correl, 14. Ten years later, William is listed in the 1880 census at 172 Caroline St., as “William Asbey,” 37, black, with his wife Sarah, 45, and children Louis, 13, Catharine, 10, Sarah, 7, and Charles, 7. William next appears in Pekin in the 1887 city directory: “Ashby William J. lab. Res. 127 Caroline.” Listed right before William in that directory is “Ashby Charles, cigar mkr. Moenkemoeller & Schlottmann, res. 127 Caroline.” That seems to be William’s son Charles, who then would have been about 15. The last time William appears in Pekin is in the 1900 census, when he was listed as a 63-year-old coal miner, able to read and write, and a widower.

The four Ashby brothers were the sons of William Ashby, born in Virginia, who lived in Liverpool in Fulton County, Illinois. During the Civil War, his three sons William J., Marshall, and Nathan are known to have taken a stand in defense of human liberty by serving in the U.S. Colored Troops. Nathan and Marshall both registered for the Civil War draft on in June 1863 (but Nathan’s draft registration calls him “Nathaniel Ashley”). Nathan is listed in the 1870 Pekin city directory as “Ashby Nathan (colored), fireman, res ne cor Mary and Somerset.” The city directories and censuses do not show Nathan in Pekin after that – he later died at age 60 in Bartonville on July 31, 1899, and was buried in the defunct Moffat Cemetery on Peoria’s south side. Nathan had married a certain Elizabeth Warfield (perhaps related to Mary Warfield?) in Peoria County in 1860.

Two of the eight men from Pekin who registered for the Civil War draft in June 1863 were African-American — those two men were the brothers Marshall Ashby and Nathaniel Ashby.

Marshall’s and Nathan’s military records say they were born in Fulton County, Ill., and that they served in Company G of the 29th U.S. Colored Infantry, enlisting at Springfield on Aug. 21, 1864, and being mustered in there on Sept. 21, 1864, and being honorably discharged at the Ringgold Barracks in Texas on Sept. 30, 1865. Significantly, Marshall, Nathan, and their company were in Texas at the time of the first “Juneteenth,” so it is quite possible that they were present in Galveston for Juneteenth, as their fellow Pekin Civil War veteran Private William H. Costley, of the 29th U.S. Colored Infantry, Company B, certainly was. Nathan applied for a Civil War pension in 1890, and his widow Elizabeth applied for widow’s benefits on Sept. 18, 1899.

Though Marshall had fought honorably for the unity of his nation and the freedom of his people, it was not long after his return to Pekin that he was reminded the hard way that, even at that late date, Illinois still did not allow interracial marriage. On March 14, 1866, in Tazewell County, Marshall married a white woman named Mary Jane Luce (or Lewis). Marshall’s wife first appears in the 1850 U.S. Census as Mary J. Luce, 5, born in Ohio, living in Peoria with her baby brother Elias Luce in the household of Isaac and Mary Holiplain. Ten years later, the 1860 census shows Mary working in Pekin as a live-in servant in the household of Daniel and Barbara Clauser.

Marshall’s 1863 Civil War draft record says he was then married, but apparently Marshall’s then wife (whose name is unknown) had died before 1866 when he married Mary Luce. After the marriage, Mary Warfield (mentioned earlier in this column) informed the authorities that Marshall and his wife Mary were not the same race. A Tazewell County grand jury therefore indicted them for “marriage of black & white persons,” which Illinois state law then classified as a kind of adultery. Besides Warfield, the witnesses summoned to testify before the grand jury in this case were Mahala Ashby (perhaps Marshall’s mother, sister, or aunt), J. W. Glassgow, H. G. Gary, Benjamin S. Prettyman, Joshua Wagenseller (the noted Pekin abolitionist and friend of Abraham Lincoln), John L. Devore, Granville Edwards, Benjamin and Nance Costley, William A. Tinney (a past Tazewell County sheriff and friend of the Costleys who is remembered as an advocate for African-American voting rights), James A. McGrew, William Divinney, and Benjamin Priddy. Marshall and Mary were probably found guilty, and it is likely no coincidence that Marshall does not appear on record in Illinois after 1866.

In 1866, a Tazewell County grand jury indicted Marshall Ashby, black, and Mary Jane Luce, white, of interracial marriage — eight years before Illinois repealed its ban on the marriage of whites with blacks. IMAGE COURTESY OF CARL ADAMS

Despite what had happened to his brother, on June 1, 1870, Mose Ashby married an Illinois-born white woman, Ellen Woodworth, 24, resulting in a grand jury indictment that they lived “together in an open state of adultery” (i.e., he was black and she was white). The outcome of their case is uncertain, but exactly one month after their marriage the U.S. Census shows “Ellen Woodworth” working for Tazewell County Sheriff Edward Pratt as a domestic servant in the Tazewell County Jail – whether that was simply her job or she was serving her sentence for “adultery” is unclear.

Four years after his brother’s indictment, Moses Ashby also was indicted for marrying a white woman, Ellen Woodworth. IMAGE COURTESY OF CARL ADAMS

The state law under which Marshall and Mose were indicted was approved by the General Assembly in 1829 as a part of Illinois’ old “Black Code” restricting the rights of free blacks in Illinois. The ban on interracial marriage, last of the Black Code statutes, was finally repealed in 1874, just four years after Mose’s indictment.

Next time we’ll take a closer look at Pekin’s African-American residents in the period from about 1880 to the early 1900s.

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Tazewell’s unincorporated communities: Parkland

By Jared Olar
Library assistant

Tazewell County’s westernmost township, Spring Lake Township, is the largest township in the county – but is also among the most sparsely populated. In fact, Spring Lake Township is one of the few townships in the county to have no incorporated communities – no incorporated cities, towns, or even villages.

Spring Lake Township today has a number of unincorporated communities or subdivisions, including Parkland, Talbott, Lakewood Terrace, and Smith-Rakestraw. The oldest of them, Parkland, has the smallest population of the four, having dwindled to a farm and a few homes.

Hainesville, later renamed Parkland, is shown in this detail of an 1864 wall plat map of Tazewell County. The village was established as a railroad station on land owned by Benjamin S. Prettyman, and therefore was originally known as “Prettyman.”

The plat of Hainesville, showing a store, school, and nine homes, was published in the 1891 atlas of Tazewell County.

John Drury’s “This is Tazewell County, Illinois” (1954), page 297, offers this description of Parkland:

“Only community of Spring Lake Township is Parkland, which in 1950 had a population of 20. It is located southwest of Pekin on the Chicago & Illinois Midland Railroad and is served by the post office in nearby Manito (Mason County). Among the first settlers of Spring Lake Township were the McLeashes, Hibbards and Claytons. Another early settler was Joseph Offut, who built a log cabin on the border of Spring Lake in the southwest corner of the township.”

In this detail of an 1873 plat map of Spring Lake Township, Hainesville is shown to be the location of Spring Lake School House No. 6.

By 1891 the former land of Benjamin S. Prettyman had passed to the ownership of A. Bateson, as shown in this detail of an 1891 plat map of Spring Lake Township.

Parkland started out in the 1800s as the small pioneer farming settlement of Prettyman, named for Benjamin S. Prettyman on whose farmland the settlement had been established. However, on Sept. 7, 1860, the settlement, which by then was designed as a railroad depot, was formally platted as “Hainesville.” Both the Prettyman and Haines families were early pioneer settlers of Pekin, and Benjamin S. Prettyman, who held great swaths of land in Tazewell County, served Pekin as city attorney and was later elected mayor of Pekin.

Even though the community’s name was Hainesville, the settlement’s Post Office address throughout the latter 1800s continued to be designated as “Prettyman.” In 1899, however, Hainesville was renamed “Parkland” – and this time the U.S. Postal Service went along with the name change. Parkland had its own post office until 1918.

Hainesville was renamed Parkland in 1899. This plat of Parkland from the 1910 atlas of Tazewell County two grain elevators, a train depot, a post office and general store, and the old Hainesville school house.

Parkland, formerly Hainesville, and its environs are shown in this detail of a 1910 plat map of Spring Lake Township.

The official plat of Hainesville (Parkland) resembles a checkerboard, with four streets going northwest to southeast (Prairie, Main, Highland, and South) and four intersecting streets going southwest to northeast (First, Second, Third, and Fourth, with the numbers starting at the street along the railroad). There is no trace of most of those streets today. Third Street is today called Parkland Road, while Prairie Street is Spring Lake Road. Aerial photographs today show evidence of a faint trail along what was, or would have been, Fourth Street, and an unpaved footpath exists today along the track of South Street.

The railroad on Parkland’s southeast border still operates today, but it has been long since Parkland has had a depot.

Parkland and its environs, from a 1929 Spring Lake Township plat map.

Parkland, shown here in this 1954 aerial photograph, is the oldest unincorporated community in Spring Lake Township. Originally named Prettyman, it was formally platted as a railroad depot in 1860 and named Hainesville, then renamed Parkland in 1899.

Parkland today, shown in this Google Maps satellite view, has only two streets, a farm, and a few homes.

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The first railroads of Tazewell County

By Jared Olar
Library assistant

On Friday, Sept. 7, at 11 a.m., in the Pekin Public Library Community Room, the library will have a showing of a video about Pekin trains, featuring footage of the old Chicago & Illinois Midland Railroad. The video, which is about 30 minutes in length, is a part of the library’s Illinois Bicentennial Series.

During the first few decades following Illinois’ admission to the Union in 1818, the new state’s growth in population and wealth was in large part driven by steam power. Initially, as indicated in last week’s From the History Room column, men and goods were transported along the waterways and canals of Illinois using riverboats, whether steamers or packet boats.

But steam-powered rail (invented in Britain in 1804, three years before Robert Fulton’s first steamboat) would soon challenge and then eclipse steamboats as the preferred means of long-distance transportation of good and people. While Illinois’ steamboats were restricted to rivers, railroad tracks could be laid across long stretches of country, crossing rivers and streams and even climbing through mountain passes.

The early rail lines of Tazewell County are highlighted in yellow on this county map from the 1873 “Atlas Map of Tazewell County.”

The groundwork for the railroad’s eclipse of riverboat transportation in Illinois was laid at a time when river transportation was preeminent. In Tazewell County, interest in laying down a rail line had already arisen by the mid-1830s, but the first attempts to build a railroad in our county were abortive. Here how those efforts are described on page 732 of Charles C. Chapman’s 1879 “History of Tazewell County”:

“Among the very first charters granted to railroads, perhaps the second one, by the State of Illinois, was the one granted to the Pekin & Tremont Railroad. This company was incorporated by the Legislature, Jan. 13, 1835. Madison Allen, Harlan Hatch, J. L. James, John H. Harris, George W. Brodrick and Aronet Richmond were constituted a body corporate, with capital stock of $50,000, for the purpose of building said road. It ran, according to the charter, from Pekin to Tremont, in this county. The company was given the power ‘to erect and maintain toll houses along the line.’ The road bed was graded and track partially laid, but the hard times of 1837 and the failure of the grand internal improvement scheme of the State put a stop to further progress on the P. & T. road. About a year after the P. & T. road was chartered a grander scheme was undertaken, and the Legislature incorporated the Pekin, Bloomington & Wabash Railroad, Feb. 16, 1836. This was a continuation eastward of the P. & T. road. Considerable enthusiasm was at first manifested in regard to the matter, but, like many other railroad schemes, it was never carried out.”

Pekin’s pioneer historian William H. Bates told of continued efforts to get a railroad line to Pekin in his narrative of Pekin’s early history that was included in the 1870-71 Sellers & Bates Pekin City Directory. The following excerpts from Bates’ narrative demonstrate that Pekin’s city officials were willing to commit great sums of public funds to railroad projects, which were necessarily massive and expensive undertakings.

“On the 3d of June, 1853, the City Council ‘engaged to use its means and credit to the amount of one hundred thousand dollars to co-operate with the city of Canton, Fulton county, to secure the construction of the Mississippi and Wabash Railroad,’ provided said road was located so as to pass through the city of Pekin.” (Bates, page 32)

“On the 8th of September [1856], the Council ‘Resolved, That the city of Pekin, as a stockholder in the Mississippi Railroad Company, give their consent to the consolidation of the Mississippi and Wabash Railroad Company with the Pekin and Bloomington Railroad Company.’ . . . On the 23d of October the city decided by a vote of three hundred and one votes for and five against, to subscribe one hundred thousand dollars to the capital stock of the Illinois River Railroad.” (Bates, page 36)

For all that trouble, it wasn’t until 1859 – less than two years before the Civil War – that Pekin finally saw rails being laid. The city’s leaders thought that was worth celebrating, so Pekin’s Fourth of July celebrations that year included a joyous – and hopeful – inaugural ceremony of the driving of the first spike, as Bates tells:

“On the 4th day of July, 1859, the first rail was laid and the first spike driven on the prospective Illinois River Railroad. This was a gala day, full of momentous events for the future, and the birth-day of unnumbered hopes and anticipations yet to be realized. The leading citizens participated in celebrating the new enterprise on such an auspicious day as the Fourth of July.

“The road was never really completed until it passed into the hands of the present company, when the name was changed, and it is now the flourishing and well-managed Peoria, Pekin and Jacksonville Railroad.” (Bates, page 38)

Not only because it cost so much to build and operate a railroad, but also due to the interruption of the Civil War, most of Tazewell County’s railroad companies did not become fully operational until the latter 1860s. What had begun as the abortive Pekin & Tremont Railroad Company in Jan. 1835 later was taken up as a part of the Indianapolis, Bloomington & Western Railway in Aug. 1869, a road that stretched 202 miles from Indianapolis to Pekin (later being extended to Peoria).

Similarly, the Illinois River Railroad Company, whose first spike in Pekin was driven on July 4, 1859, eventually became the Peoria, Pekin & Jacksonville Railroad Company. Chapman’s Tazewell County history includes historical accounts of that company as well as the Indianapolis, Bloomington & Western Railway and five other railroad companies that had lines through Tazewell County: the Chicago, Alton & St. Louis Railroad, the Pekin, Lincoln & Decatur Railway, the Toledo, Peoria & Warsaw Railroad, the Illinois Midland, and the Chicago, Pekin & Southwestern Railroad.

The investors, directors, and employees of these railroad companies were among the preeminent men of Tazewell County and central Illinois – such as Benjamin S. Prettyman, Teis Smith, John B. Cohrs, James M. James, Gordis R. Cobleigh, or Columbus R. Cummings. A review of the names on the boards of directors of the early railroad companies will, not surprisingly, show many of the same names showing up on the lists of city mayors, aldermen, and successful businessmen and local attorneys.

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Looking back at Pekin’s police department history

Here’s a chance to read one of our old Local History Room columns, first published in March 2013 before the launch of this blog . . .

Looking back at Pekin’s police department history

By Jared Olar
Library assistant

In the Pekin Public Library’s Local History room collection is a copy of Pekin Police Chief William Grant Jr.’s annual police department report for the year ending Dec. 31, 1941, submitted to Pekin Mayor J. Norman Shade and the Pekin City Council in January of 1942.

This was the police department’s second annual report. What makes the 1942 report of special interest is that it includes a 12-page year-by-year history of the city’s police department – apparently the first time anyone had attempted to draw up a resume of the department’s history. The records on which the history was based were compiled by Charles Schermer, officer in charge of the department’s records and identification bureau. Following are a few highlights from Schermer’s history:

“It is almost impossible to give much information about the early Law Enforcement officers of the city. It seems that the first record of a Police officer came the year the citizens of ‘Town Site’ voted to change ‘Town Site’ to an incorporated city. That was in 1849, and they elected the first Mayor and Aldermen. Bernard Bailey was elected Mayor, and he appointed Thomas Cloudas as the City Marshall, also the street Commissioner. According to the records the duties of the first Marshall was to catch and impound all the hogs and cattle running the streets, as they had been declared a nuisance. The first calaboose was built in this year, and cost the sum of $49.00. This calaboose stood till the summer of 1868 when it was destroyed by fire. So, Thomas Cloudas is the first mentioned Police officer of this city.”

In those days, Pekin had very much the character of a rough frontier town, and the city marshall had much more to do besides rounding up stray hogs and cattle. Perhaps most of the criminal offenses in Pekin from the 1850s through the 1870s involved alcohol-fueled violence. One such incident was Pekin’s first riot on July 4, 1851, when a steamboat’s drunken deck hands ran wild throughout the city. Cloudas rapidly collected a force of Pekin citizens who engaged in a battle with the deck hands in the city streets and finally, after a hard fight, managed to subdue and arrest the offenders.

The office of city marshall was filled annually by mayoral appointment. In 1850, the city marshall was Benjamin S. Prettyman, a prominent figure in Pekin’s early history whose life story was featured a few months ago in this column. Then in 1851, William Snider was appointed third city marshall, “and he was authorized by the Council to put all the prisoners in custody at the time to working on the streets to pay out their fines. They were fitted out with a ball and chain and put to work on the streets and alleys,” Schermer wrote.

Snider resigned in March of that year and Cloudas returned to his former post. Cloudas was reappointed as city marshall in 1852, in which year a new and larger calaboose was built at a cost of $7,000. According to Schermer, the city council that year decided the marshall would not be paid a salary, but would instead receive “all the fees that are established by Law as pertaining to his office.”

This photograph shows Richard William “Uncle Bill” Tinney, who served as Pekin city marshall from 1854 to 1855. Tinney was a Mexican War veteran and later served as Tazewell County Sheriff and operated hotels in Pekin.

On April 30, 1854, the mayor appointed the Mexican War hero Richard William Tinney as city marshall, a position he would retain until March 5, 1855, when Tinney was relieved of his duties. As we have previously noted in this column, the ever colorful “Uncle Bill” Tinney later served as Tazewell County Sheriff, and afterwards owned and operated a hotel near the Pekin riverfront.

In 1854, the city had elected Charles Turner as its first Police Magistrate. “During this year the first Night police were named by Mayor M.C. Young, they being Thomas Shapard and N. C. Flood, their salaries being $45.00 per month.” So, for many years the city had both an elected police magistrate and an appointed city marshall. The marshall and the city police force were subject to annual reappointment by the mayor and city council.

Turner served a four-year term as police magistrate and then was re-elected in 1858. However, on Nov. 17, 1858, Turner was also appointed to the newly created post of “Chief of Police.” In succeeding years, however, the city police force would be headed by the city marshall.

In 1888, the office of city marshall was renamed “Superintendent of Police.” The same year, the city council proposed cooperating with the Tazewell County Board of Supervisors to construct to new and larger jail that would house prisoners for both the city and county, but Schermer notes, “No further mention is made as to whatever became of the idea.” Instead, the council decided to replace the old city calaboose with a new city jail on the east side of city hall.

The head of Pekin’s police continued to be known as the “Superintendent of Police” until the early 1900s. In 1903, Anthony Larkin was appointed police superintendent. There is a gap in police department records from 1905 to 1908, but by the latter year the head of the police department had become known as the “Chief of Police.” On May 4, 1908, Pekin Mayor Henry Schnellbacher appointed Charles Charlton to the post of police chief, while John Beetlet was named assistant chief. From then on, the Pekin Police Department’s head has been known as “Chief of Police.”

On this point, two errors should be noted in the summary of police department history found on pages 150-151 of “Pekin: A Pictorial History.” That account mistakenly says the title of superintendent of police was changed to chief of police in 1905, and that Charles “Charleton” was appointed in that year. Those mistakes appear to derive from misreadings of Schermer’s history of the Pekin Police Department.

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