A closer look at Mineral Springs Park’s first artesian well

By Jared Olar
Library assistant

About a month ago we recalled the drilling of the artesian well in the early 1880s that gave Mineral Springs Park its name. This week we’ll take a closer look at the park’s first well and its location.

As we learned previously, following the drilling of the well in 1882, a bath house was built in 1883, and in succeeding years roads, a swimming pool, fountains and a large pagoda were added. The bath house enabled people to bathe in the artesian well’s mineral waters, which were believed to have medicinal properties.

The 1974 Pekin Sesquicentennial (page 138) reveals that, “The old park swimming pool was located across from the 14th Street side of the park lagoon in the area now occupied by the horseshoe pits to the south (sic – north) of the Methodist Church.” This is precisely where the Miller Senior Center is today, to the west of the lagoon. The Sesquicentennial adds that the park’s original artesian well was located near the old swimming pool, but does not locate it any more precisely than that.

A man collects water from the original artesian well and fountain of Mineral Springs Park in this old photograph that was reproduced in the 1974 Pekin Sesquicentennial volume.

This 1890s photograph of the Mineral Springs Park lagoon shows the park pool and bath house on the west side of the lagoon. A tall pole next to the pool facility marks the site of the park’s original artesian well. In the distance on the right side of the picture is the factory of Cummings Harvester Works, formerly located at the corner of Christopher Street and Highland Avenue.

The original Mineral Springs Park pool and bath house are shown in this photograph taken by Henry Hobart Cole in the 1890s.

However, using reference materials such as old maps and photographs in the Pekin Public Library’s Local History Room, it is possible to determine exactly where the original well, fountain, and bath house were.

In the library’s collection of old atlases and maps, Mineral Springs Park makes its first appearance on the 1891 Tazewell County Atlas’ map of Pekin. In those days the eastern border of the park was just past Coal Car Drive, and the park roads and paths (unpaved back then) formed loops around and to the east the lagoon.

On the west side of the lagoon, though, the map shows a prominent structure that, by a comparison with two photographs of the lagoon and the original park swimming pool from Henry Hobart Cole’s 1890s compilation of vintage photographs entitled “Pekin and Environs,” can confidently be identified as the park’s pool and bathhouse.

The map also shows a simple circle on the north side of the pool and bathhouse, and on the south side of the park’s western entrance off 14th Street, but does not identify what the circle represents. However, the maps of Pekin in the 1910 and 1929 Tazewell County atlases label that circle with the word “fountain.” It is also very significant that these early maps show Spring Street extending all the way east to an intersection with 14th Street. Although Spring Street now dead-ends at the Miller Center parking lot, its name is a clue to the location of the original well, because “Spring” Street got its name from the fact that it led up to Mineral Springs Park’s western entrance, which was adjacent to the park’s original mineral spring.

This map from the 1891 Tazewell County atlas shows Mineral Springs Park, then only in existence for nine years. A simple circle to the west of the lagoon (“Artesian Lake”) and on the east side of 14th Street, marks the site of the park’s mineral spring and fountain.

Old streets and several other details from the 1891 map of Mineral Springs Park have been added to this current Google Maps satellite image. The site of the original park pool and bath house are indicated in yellow and hatching. The site of the original artesian well and fountain is marked with a black circle near the center of the map.

What was shown as an unmarked circle on the 1891 map of Mineral Springs Park is identified as the park fountain in this 1910 map of the park.

The boundaries of Mineral Springs Park are shown to have expanded significantly in this 1929 map of the park. But the old fountain, park pool, and bath house still remain on the west side of the park lagoon.

Old photographs of the spring and fountain in the Local History Room collection show what the well and fountain looked like – it was wide, encircled by a paved concrete walkway, with two drinking fountains at the north and south ends.

What became of the original well? On that point, all that the 1974 Sesquicentennial volume says is that the spring-fed fountain “has long since been removed,” and that, “The initial well for the park is long since inoperative.

The photograph, which was reproduced on a postcard from about 1916, shows the old spring-fed fountain that once existed on the west side of the Mineral Springs Park lagoon. The site is today marked by a sculpted metal planter in front of the Miller Senior Center.

Water sprays up in the old Mineral Springs Park fountain in this vintage photograph that was reproduced July 13, 2002, in the Pekin Daily Times’ special section on the Pekin Park District’s 100th anniversary.

By the 1930s the Pekin Park District saw the need to build a new swimming pool and bath house, so a new well was drilled off east of the lagoon in 1935, and a new pool was built in the vicinity of the new well. That pool remained in use, with occasional modifications and repairs, from 1937 to 1992, when it was replaced by the DragonLand water park.

When the new well was dug and the new pool built, the old well was no longer situated in a good location and was not adequate for the park’s needs, so it was sealed off and covered over. Today the former site of the old fountain and well in front of the Miller Center’s entrance is occupied by an old sculpted and decorative metal planter, and, probably not coincidentally, the planter looks more like a miniature fountain or fancy bird bath than a planter. Most Pekinites who drive by the lagoon on 14th Street every day probably pass the Miller Center without noticing the planter that marks the site of Mineral Springs Park’s original spring.

As for the 1935 bath house, on page 5 of the “Pekin Park District Centennial” special section that was published in the July 16, 2002 Pekin Daily Times, a photo caption says, “The Mineral Springs Bath House operated in 1935 for mineral tub baths, steam baths, massages and other health treatments. The bath house artesian well water was believed to contain minerals beneficial to health, but the bath’s popularity waned as the public changed its attitude about the curative powers of mineral water.

Out in front of the Miller Senior Center is this decorative metal fountain, used as a planter, marking the site of the former Mineral Springs Park fountain and artesian well.

#artesian-well, #cummings-harvester-works, #drilling-of-mineral-springs-park-spring, #henry-hobart-cole, #miller-senior-center, #mineral-springs-park, #mineral-springs-park-bath-house, #mineral-springs-park-fountain, #mineral-springs-park-pavilion, #pekin-pool

A brief history of Pekin’s street fairs

This is a revised and expanded version of a “From the Local History Room” column that first appeared in June 2011 before the launch of this weblog.

A brief history of Pekin’s street fairs

By Linda Mace, Library assistant (retired),
and Jared Olar, Library assistant

This photograph from the Pekin Public Library’s Local History Room collection shows the booth of Central Book & Toy Store at the 1935 Pekin Street Fair.

Once upon a time, or beginning in 1898 and apparently ending in the mid-1930’s, Pekin would put on vibrant, very popular street fairs, hosted in the city’s downtown.

In 1902, on the day of the parade, 18,000 people attended this event. Two railroad companies from Peoria brought 2,800 people into our fair town. This was quite the event, with officers and committees and a whole list of rules and regulations.

This is from the official brochure and program for the 1902 fair:

“The many favorable comments upon the originality and beauty of the FREE STREET FAIRS given by Pekin during the years 1898 and 1899, and the clean and praiseworthy manner in which they were conducted, has resulted in a unanimous desire on the part of our wide-awake business men and citizens to out-do all previous Street Fairs, therefore the Association has selected October 15, 16, 17 & 18, 1902, as the dates on which Pekin will again offer free entertainment to the assemble multitudes. THE MOST FASTIDIOUS TASTES of the visitor and his family will find only pleasure and instruction in the beautiful array of VARIEGATED BOOTHS and MUSICAL and DESCRIPTIVE ENTERTAINMENTS WHICH WILL BE GIVEN DAY AND NIGHT! THE FACT THAT PEKIN, in her former exhibits, MORE THAN FILLED HER PROMISES to the public, should, and we believe will, be encouraged in giving her third street fair, by an almost universal visit from the citizens of Central Illinois.”

The brochure went on to describe the “great parade” and emphasized “new features every day.” The fair of 1898 had contained 80 booths, running down the middle of the street and on either side, corresponding to the front footage of the stores erecting them. Downtown Pekin was the place to be in those days!

Shown here is the front cover of the 1899 Pekin Street Fair official program and souvenir. The Pekin Public Library’s copy of the program was preserved in the 1902 library cornerstone time capsule.

This page from the 1899 Pekin Street Fair official program and souvenir features a photograph of the Cole’s Studio booth. Cole’s Studio was the photography business of Pekin’s pioneer photographer Henry Hobart Cole.

The old tradition of Pekin’s street fairs continues in new forms even today, with the popular annual Marigold Festival and downtown events organized and promoted by Pekin Main Street. Pekin also put on an old-fashioned street fair on and near the premises of the Tazewell County Courthouse on Aug. 7, 1999, as part of the major celebrations of the 175th anniversary of Pekin’s settlement and the 150th anniversary of Pekin’s incorporation as a city.

Festivities at the 1999 street fair were literally dampened by a summer thunderstorm, but the celebrations went on as planned. “As black clouds poured rain and thunder bellowed, Mayor Dave Tebben and pioneering Tharp family descendant Norman Tharp led about 100 people as they sang ‘Happy Birthday’ to Pekin,” the Pekin Daily Times reported.

Shown are a commemorative plate and a special section of the Pekin Daily Times marking the celebration of Pekin’s 175th birthday. Both items are in the Pekin Public Library’s Local History Room collection.

Hopefully the city’s bicentennial celebrations five years from now also won’t be rained out, even if rained on.

Included in the Pekin Public Library’s Local History Room archives are copies of the 1899 and 1902 Pekin Street Fair brochure and a 1999 Pekin Terquasquicentennial commemorative plat embossed with the official logo of the 1999 Pekin 175th Anniversary.

#1898-pekin-street-fair, #1899-pekin-street-fair, #1902-pekin-street-fair, #1935-pekin-street-fair, #central-book-toy-store, #coles-studio, #dave-tebben, #henry-hobart-cole, #norman-tharp, #pekin-175th-anniversary, #pekin-library-cornerstone-time-capsule, #pekin-street-fairs, #pekin-terquasquicentennial, #preblog-columns

Steamboat deck hands run riot in early Pekin

By Jared Olar
Library assistant

Earlier this month, we reviewed “Early Times in Pekin and Tazewell County,” an essay written by Pekin’s pioneer historian William H. Bates and published in Shade’s Monthly, May 1913 (reprinted in the Tazewell County Genealogical & Historical Society Monthly, June 2017, page 1945).

We also recalled the Little Mine Riot of 1894, the most serious civil disturbance in Tazewell County history. That, of course, wasn’t the first time public safety and order were disrupted in our area. As it happens, Bates’ essay from May 1913 also tells of the first riot in Pekin’s history, which took place about a year after Pekin became established as a city under Illinois law:

“The first riot took place in Pekin, July 4th, 1851, when the deck hands of one of over one hundred steamboats plying the waters of the Illinois, under the influence of too much ‘fire water,’ nearly terrorized the inhabitants of the young city. The citizens rallied to the support of the marshal, and after a hard fight, the rioters were arrested and fined. The boat officials would not pay their fines, so with a ball and chain locked to a leg of each rioter, they had to work out their fines by repairing the steamboat levees.”

Pekin’s first riot in 1851 is said to have been the fault of about 30 or 40 drunken deckhands of a steamboat. Shown here at Pekin in this photograph that Henry H. Cole took circa 1890 is another later Illinois River steamboat, the Mazileon, whose deckhands were not, as far as we know, responsible for any riots.

Bates does not identify the city marshal who suppressed the riot. He refers to the same riot in the historical essay he wrote for the old Pekin City Directories, but neither does he name the city marshal in his city directories. That and one or two other details of that incident may be found in a 12-page history of the Pekin Police Department prepared in 1942 as part of an annual report for the city government. We reviewed that 12-page history in this column in March 2013, in which we told of the appointment of Pekin’s first city marshal, Thomas Cloudas, by Pekin’s first mayor, Bernard Bailey. The March 2013 column summarized the incident in these words:

“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.”

It apparently was the same riot that Pekin old-timer Emil Schilling remembered in a newspaper article published in the July 24, 1933 Pekin Daily Times. In June 2013, this column discussed that article and Schilling’s 1933 recollections of the riot and the punishment that the court imposed on the rioters, whom Schilling said were black (a detail not mentioned by Bates). Schilling believed (whether rightly or not) helped to foster Pekin’s reputation as a place where blacks were unwelcome.

#henry-hobart-cole, #mazileon, #pekin-history, #pekins-first-riot, #thomas-cloudas, #william-h-bates

Teepees along the railroad tracks?

Here’s a chance to read one of our old Local History Room columns, first published in December 2011 before the launch of this blog . . .

Teepees along the railroad tracks?

By Jared Olar
Library assistant

This week we’ll revisit a few recent “From the Local History Room” columns as we see what we can learn from a copy of a vintage Pekin photograph on file in the library’s Local History Room. The photo is remarkable because it shows a long row of teepees or wigwams between some railroad tracks.

The copy of this photo, a halftone image, was clipped from a newspaper or magazine, and is accompanied by a caption that informs us that the photographer was none other than Pekin’s own Henry Hobart Cole, whose life we have reviewed in this column previously.

In this vintage photograph taken by Henry H. Cole (1833-1925), a row of wigwams stretches northward between the railroad tracks in an area of northwest Pekin just to the west of Second Street.

The caption does not say when Cole took the photograph, but several clues both in the photo and the caption help us to narrow down the period when it was taken. These clues also show where the photo was taken, and suggest who placed the wigwams in that unlikely location – or rather, who didn’t place them there.

The caption says, “The long row of wigwams, as you look northward along the tracks of the Peoria & Pekin Union Railway, east of Pekin Lake, represents the site of the largest village of Pottowattamie Indians in this region at the advent of the white settler . . .”

By consulting some of the library’s old maps of Pekin and tracing the rail lines, we can see that the foreground of the photo shows the area where Second Street and Market Street used to intersect – today that stretch of Market Street is a bicycle path. The row of wigwams appears to start around the area of Catherine and State streets.

Obviously the wigwams were not actual Native American dwellings — no one can live in the dangerous plot of ground between two lines of rail. Also, as mentioned in previous columns, Pekin’s Indian population was deported to Kansas in the mid- to late 1830s, while the railroad did not come to Pekin until 1859. These wigwams, rather, indicated the area of Pekin where an Indian village formerly was located. Perhaps they were a display for a community fair or celebration.

The caption provides two more clues as to when Cole took the photo. It says the village was “fully one-half mile in length” and “on the high ground leading along Main street from the present gas works southward.” Similarly, W.H. Bates’ 1902 essay, “Historic Pekin!,” says the village was “on the high ground just east of the Gas Company’s coal sheds, on what is today First Street.”

Gas lights were installed on Pekin’s streets in 1866, so the gas works were constructed by that year, which means the photo can be no older than 1866. Similarly, the caption’s reference to “the Peoria & Pekin Union Railway” suggests a date no earlier than 1880, the year that railroad company was incorporated.

An 1877 aerial “View of Pekin Ill.” in the Local History Room collection depicts the area shown in this photo, including the frame house on the right and the large brick structure on the left. Both the 1877 aerial view and the photo show an overall absence of houses and industrial or business structures in that part of Pekin. Cole went into semi-retirement in 1911, but we would expect to see more buildings in the photo if it was taken that late in his career.

From what we’ve seen, it seems most likely that Cole took the photo during the 1880s or perhaps the 1890s. Pekin’s first street fair opened on Oct. 12, 1898, and a second street fair ran from Oct. 11-14, 1899. Could these wigwams have been an attraction at one of those fairs?

#henry-hobart-cole, #pekin-history, #pekin-street-fairs, #peoria-pekin-union-railway, #pottawatomi-in-pekin, #preblog-columns, #teepees, #wigwams

Glimpses of Pekin from Cole’s ‘Souvenir’

Here’s a chance to read one of our old Local History Room columns, first published in April 2012 before the launch of this blog . . .

Glimpses of Pekin from Cole’s Souvenir

By Jared Olar
Library assistant

A few months ago, we recalled the life of Pekin’s pioneer photographer Henry Hobart Cole (1833-1925). During his long and productive career, Cole created a vast collection of images of Pekin and the surrounding area beginning soon after his arrival in Tazewell County in 1879. In 1899, Cole published a selection of his photographs in a small booklet called “Cole’s Souvenir of Pekin, Ill.”

“Cole’s Souvenir” served as a memento for visitors to Pekin and a way to promote Pekin as a good place to live and do business – and, of course, also helped to promote Cole’s own photography business. But for us today, it is a memento of days long gone, granting glimpses of Pekin homes and businesses as they appeared in 1899. Many of them no longer exist, but others are still around, with new families or new businesses in them.

“The city of Pekin, county seat of Tazewell County, one of the wealthiest and most fertile in Illinois, has a population of about 10,000, is situated on the east bank of the Illinois River, a beautiful stream, navigable for the finest steamers,” Cole wrote in the introduction of his “Souvenir.”

He went on to praise and extol Pekin for its system of railroads, its shipping facilities – “second to no city in Central Illinois, and rates are correspondingly low” – its coal mines, its “low rents, cheap markets, low taxes,” its “mineral springs, the best water in the state,” and “last, though not least: a courteous and sociable people.”

The files of the Pekin Public Library’s Local History Room contain a few copies of “Cole’s Souvenir.” Later editions of the “Souvenir” featured drawings or engravings – including a “bird’s eye” panoramic view of Pekin – rather than reproductions of Cole’s actual photographs, but the first edition is entirely photo reproductions. A few examples are presented here:

#coles-souvenir-of-pekin, #henry-hobart-cole, #pekin-high-schools, #zerwekh-building

Cole put Pekin in pictures

Here’s a chance to read again one of our old Local History Room columns, first published in November 2011 before the launch of this blog . . .

Cole put Pekin in pictures

By Jared Olar
Library assistant

The standard reference volumes on Pekin and Tazewell County history are illustrated with numerous vintage photographs – and if it’s a photo from the 1800s, odds are it was the work of Henry Hobart Cole, who is remembered in old biographical accounts as “Pekin’s pioneer photographer.”

The Pekin Public Library’s Local History Room files on H.H. Cole are augmented with materials shared the Peoria Public Library and the Tazewell County Genealogical and Historical Society. From these documents, a fairly complete story of Cole’s life can be easily reconstructed.

Cole was a born July 24, 1833, in Gilbertsville, Otsego County, New York, on July 24, 1833, the youngest of 10 children of Richard and Emily Morgan Cole. In New York, he and his older brother Roderick learned the art of the Daguerrotype, the earliest successful photographic technology. They came to Illinois in 1850 when Henry was only 17, and Roderick opened a studio in Peoria. At first Henry worked for his brother, but in 1851 he opened “Cole’s Fine Art and Photographic Gallery” in competition with Roderick. After several years of rivalry, Cole bought out his brother in 1859, and Roderick gave up photography and became a dairy farmer.

For a time during those years, Cole was the roommate of the famous atheist writer Robert Ingersoll. A previously unknown 1876 photo of Ingersoll, taken by Cole, was discovered in 2007 among the effects of a deceased relative of Cathleen Robertson of Peoria. Even more notable is a historic photo of a beardless Abraham Lincoln taken in 1858, reportedly while Lincoln was traveling the state during the Lincoln-Douglas debates. H.H. and his brother Roderick both claimed credit for that photo, and they both may have been telling the truth, because in those days Roderick often worked out of H.H.’s studio as his younger brother’s cameraman. In any event, H.H. greatly admired Lincoln, and the 1949 Pekin Centenary relates that Cole attended the 1860 Republican Convention “in the ‘Wigwam’ at Chicago, and he, with hundreds of others, returned bare headed having lost his silk hat in the wild enthusiasm following Lincoln’s nomination.”

This ‘cut’ of Pekin pioneer photographer Henry Hobart Cole was printed on the back page of the 132 Feb. 1896 issues of the Pekin Daily Tribune.

H.H. Cole’s business at Main and Washington streets in Peoria was destroyed by fire in 1861, so Cole moved to Adams Street opposite the Peoria County Courthouse. In starting anew, Cole went to Chicago and paid $50 (then a considerable sum) to learn the new Ferrotype (or tin-type) paper photograph technology. He is said to have been the first man in Illinois outside of Chicago to take paper photos.

A second fire on Jan. 29, 1869, destroyed his studio and all his negatives, and he relocated to a building at Jefferson and Hamilton. Facing financial hardship in the 1870s, Cole closed his Peoria studio and moved to Tazewell County in the spring of 1879. He first settled in Mackinaw, but in November he moved to Pekin and opened a studio at 317 Court Street. Later he opened a second studio in Delavan.

Active in Pekin’s community life, Cole attended the Pekin Congregational Church and was elected an alderman on the Pekin City Council while William J. Conzelman was mayor. Our Local History Room files include a copy of Cole’s “Souvenir of Pekin,” a collection of his photos of prominent Pekin homes and buildings of the day. Cole also photographed about 2,000 of the notable men of Tazewell County, a collection that previously had been long displayed at the Tazewell County Courthouse. Copies of Cole’s notable men are available for purchase from the Tazewell County Genealogical and Historical Society.

Henry H. Cole stands proudly in front of his new home, which he built in 1914 using stone from the old Tazewell County Courthouse that had been demolished that year to make away for the present courthouse. Cole dubbed his home "Tuscarora Lodge," or the Tazewell Lincoln-Douglas Lodge. This picture is a detail from a photograph that was among the mementos sealed within the new courthouse's 1914 cornerstone time capsule, and recovered when the time capsule was opened last month -- June 2016 -- during the courthouse's centennial re-dedication. IMAGE COURTESY OF TAZEWELL COUNTY COURTS ADMINISTRATOR COURTNEY EETEN

Henry H. Cole stands proudly in front of his new home, which he built in 1914 using stone from the old Tazewell County Courthouse that had been demolished that year to make away for the present courthouse. Cole dubbed his home “Tuscarora Lodge,” or the Tazewell Lincoln-Douglas Lodge. This picture is a detail from a photograph that was among the mementos sealed within the new courthouse’s 1914 cornerstone time capsule, and recovered when the time capsule was opened last month — June 2016 — during the courthouse’s centennial re-dedication. IMAGE COURTESY OF TAZEWELL COUNTY COURTS ADMINISTRATOR COURTNEY EETEN

Cole semi-retired in 1911, moving to Tuscarora in Hollis Township, Peoria County, between Pekin and Bartonville. There in 1914 he built “Tuscarora Lodge” using materials from the old Tazewell County Courthouse and from Rose Villa, the old Henry Westerman home in Pekin that had been demolished to make room for the Carl Herget Mansion at Buena Vista and Washington streets. The walkways around his home were built using stone and marble left over when the new courthouse was built. A photograph of Cole proudly standing in front of Tuscarora Lodge was included among the mementos preserved in the recently opened time capsule that was placed inside the cornerstone of the new Tazewell County Courthouse in 1914.

Attaining the age of 92, Cole died at Tuscarora Lodge the evening of Dec. 9, 1925. His pastor, Rev. Walter Heyl, officiated at his funeral at Noel Funeral Home in Pekin, and he was buried in Springdale Cemetery, Peoria.

#abraham-lincoln, #henry-hobart-cole, #pekin-history, #preblog-columns, #tazewell-county-courthouse-time-capsule, #tuscarora-lodge

Bates’ roll of Tazewell County pioneers

By Jared Olar
Library assistant

For the past two weeks, we’ve spotlighted some items from the trove of William H. Bates papers recently donated to the Tazewell County Genealogical & Historical Society. This week’s column will feature one more fascinating item from the Society’s Bates collection – an old bound daybook in which are enrolled the names of early Tazewell County settlers.

Several daybooks or diaries were included in the donated trove of Bates papers and photographs. Some of Bates’ daybooks recorded the activities and minutes of Civil War veterans groups to which Bates belonged. However, Pekin’s pioneer historian used one particular daybook to maintain an extensive alphabetized list of names that seems to have served as something of a personal directory of Tazewell County’s pioneers. David Perkins of the TCGHS has generously supplied photocopied pages from this daybook to the Pekin Public Library’s Local History Room, and the Society also plans to present the contents of the daybook in the TCGHS Monthly.

The daybook is 12 inches long and 6 inches wide. The names are handwritten on 146 pages of the daybook, the pages numbered from 10 to 155. Most pages are completely filled up with 33 names each, but other pages have only 10 to 20 names, and a few pages have only about five names. Each line entry consists of the settler’s name, the state where he or she was born, the town where the settler’s post office was located, the year the settler arrived in Tazewell County, and the year of death if the settler had passed away.

The most recent deaths recorded in the daybook happened in 1907, which therefore apparently would be the last year that Bates updated this list of settlers. Most of the settlers in the daybook presumably were still alive in 1907, for they have no date of death. In almost all cases, if a death is written in the daybook, it is only the year of death, but a handful of times Bates included the exact date of death. Because Bates’ daybook is from a period prior to Oct. 1914, when the Pekin Daily Times microfilms begin, the death dates written in the daybook can provide genealogists with information that may otherwise be unavailable due to a missing obituary or a missing or illegible gravestone.

We can’t be sure of the reason Bates maintained this list of Tazewell County settlers. It’s quite possible that he did it as part of his own endeavors in recording the history of Pekin and Tazewell County. He may also have relied on this and similar rolls of settlers in researching or updating the annual Bates City Directories that he printed and published. One might also wonder if this tally of settlers’ names was related to the Tazewell County Old Settlers social organization.

The 1873 “Atlas Map of Tazewell County” and Allensworth’s 1905 “History of Tazewell County” include the names of the Old Settlers who belonged to that club. If Bates’ daybook has something to do with the Old Settlers, it could be a membership list that was regularly updated. On the other hand, it does not give the appearance of being a membership register, for it doesn’t include information such as length of membership or payment of dues.

Whatever the reason Bates kept this book of settlers’ names, it is now a precious historical relic and an important early source available to historians and genealogists who make use of the services of the Tazewell County Genealogical & Historical Society – or who make use of the library’s Local History Room collection.

This is part of one of the pages of an old daybook from the Tazewell County Genealogical & Historical Society's collection of William H. Bates papers. The daybook was a roll of early Tazewell County settlers. On the page shown here may be seen the name of Henry Hobart Cole, a prominent Pekin photographer whose pictures and portraits helped to chronicle the early history of Pekin and the county. IMAGE COURTESY OF THE TAZEWELL COUNTY GENEALOGICAL & HISTORICAL SOCIETY

This is part of one of the pages of an old daybook from the Tazewell County Genealogical & Historical Society’s collection of William H. Bates papers. The daybook was a roll of early Tazewell County settlers. On the page shown here may be seen the name of Henry Hobart Cole, a prominent Pekin photographer whose pictures and portraits helped to chronicle the early history of Pekin and the county. IMAGE COURTESY OF THE TAZEWELL COUNTY GENEALOGICAL & HISTORICAL SOCIETY

#bates-collection, #henry-hobart-cole, #pekin-history, #tazewell-county-history, #w-h-bates, #william-h-bates