Header Graphic
Transcribed from Portrait and Biographical Album of WS County originally published in 1885


This township lies on the south line of the county, with Bureau County forming its southern boundary. It is exclusively a prairie township, a postion of it being rolling and well drained, while the remainder is flat, and much of it originally covered with water.

The big slough, north of the village of Tampico, was for years almost impassable. For a large portion of the year it was covered with water from one to two miles in width. In 1862 the slough was piked, and in 1863-64 the county ditch was dug, draining this land to a considerable extent.

Being prairie land, and much of it covered with water, prevented this early settlement of the township. The first to make this section their home were Hiram Tompkins, John and Nicholas Lutyens and Jacob Barney, in 1852. A beginning having been made, others came in from time to time. Among those denominated as pioneers were George W. Curtis, Aaron S. Miller, Rev. Wm. Gray, Wm. Aldrich, Rufus Aldrich, James Conroy, Daniel Foy, J.C. Aldrich, John W. and T.A. Glassburn, J.P. Badgley and A.M. Smith.

Nicholas Lutyens doubtless erected the first house in 1852, on section 27. John Lutyens located on section 28. They were from the State of New York, but of German descent. John long since moved away, but Nicholas yet resides on the old homestead. Hiram Tompkins was also from New York. He located on section 33, where he remained until about 1857, when he moved away and his wherebouts are unknown.

Jacob Barney came from Canada and located on section 26. He remained in the township some years and then moved to Sheffield, Bureau Co., IL, where he has since died.

Geo. W. Curtis came to this township from the Fox River Valley, but was originally from New York. After remaining here some years, he moved into Hume Township, where he yet resides.

Aaron S. Miller was from TompkinsCo., N.Y. He yet resides in the county.

Rev. Wm. Gray was a Protestant Methodist minister from Bradford Co., Penn. He yet resides about two miles south of the village.

Daniel Foy was originally from Cattaraugus Co., N.Y., but came to this county from McDonnough Co., IL, locating first in Prophetstown, but moving into Tampico in 1853, and locating on section 29. He was Supervisor several years, and also held the office of Justice of the Peace some years. In 1884 he moved to Kansas.

The Aldriches were from Bradford Co., Pa. William came in 1854, Rufus in 1855 and J.C. in 1856. They are yet excellent citizens. See sketch on page 742 (in Portrait and Biographical Album of Whiteside County - 1885).

John W. and T.A. Glassburn were brothers from Ohio. They are yet well-known, enterprising citizens of the township, biographical sketches of whom are given elsewhere in this volume.

The first birth in the township was that of Emma, daughter of Rufus and Mary A. Aldrich, born October 23, 1855.

Mrs. Baker, a daughter of Jacob Barney, died in the summer of 1856, the first in the township.

The first marriage was that of Eleary C. Brown and Susan Gray, in 1857, the ceremony being performed by Rev. Wm. H. Gray, the father of the bride.

In 1866, when there were but a few people yet residing here, a school-house was erected in the Aldrich neighborhood, in which Orlando McNickel taught the term of school. The township was subsequently divided into districts and school-houses were erected at various points. There are now six whole and three joint districts, with seven good school-houses in the township, the estimated value of which are $8,9000. For the year ending June 30, 1884, there were 348 persons of school age, with an enrollment of 264. During the year $2,672 were paid out to teachers. The highest wages paid was $70 per month, and the lowest $12.50. The tax levy was $2,550. School is held in each district from seven to nine months in the year. The township fund amounts to $14,480.88.

Rev. Mr. Pinkney, a Methodist Episcopal minister, was the first to preach the gospel in this township. The first services were held in the Aldrich School-house shortly after its erection. Rev. Wm. H. Gray, a Protestant Methodist, came next. There are now three Church organizations all in the village of Tampico.

Tampico was behind no other in sending her sons forth to fight in the War of the Rebellion. Every call was responded to and its quota promptly filled.

The township in 1870 voted to subscribe for stock in the Grand Trunk Railway, to the amount of $20,000. Bonds were issued in March, 1871, and of the amount $4,000 was to be paid in five years, the remainder in equal installments annually thereafter, the whole to paid in ten years. The amount was all paid several years ago, and the township is now out of debt.

When the township organization law was adopted, Tampico was given its name, but the eastern half was attached to Hopkins and the west half to Prophetstown until such time as it would have a sufficient number of inhabitants to organize a seperate government. This was not until 1861. The first election was held April 2, 1861, resulting in the election of the following named: Daniel Foy, Supervisor; E.C. Brown, Clerk; Rufus Aldrich, Assessor; John P. Badgley, Collector; Joseph Rainer, Justice of the Peace.


1861-63: Daniel Foy

1864: J.C. Aldrich

1865: Daniel Foy

1866-69: G.A. Stilson

1870-73: J.C. Aldrich

1874-75: M.H. Brewer

1876-77: T.M. Wylie

1878: S. W. Sheldon

1879: J.W. White

1880: Daniel McMillan

1881-83: J.W. White

1884-85: U.S. Brewer


When the Grand Trunk, now the Mendota Branch of the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad was surveyed through the township, it was decided to locate a station upon the farm of John W. Glassburn. The first building erected on the site of the present village after the station was determined on, was that of S. B. Winter, in the fall of 1870. This building was used by him as a store and dwelling. The second was that of Levi Renner, and used by him as a saloon. Fisher, Thompson & Bryant, during the same fall, erected scales, put up an office and built cribs for storing corn until the railroad should be completed. Tampico thus had its beginning.

The railroad was completed in the spring of 1871, and few towns grew more rapidly than Tampico. Almost every line of business was soon represented, and a bright future for the village seemed assured. While the first business interests were being secured, in the spring of 1871, a fire occured, destroying the hotel of Maurice Fitzgerald, which then stood where the building of the Tampico Bank now stands, and the store ofJ.H. Cain, entailing a loss of over $5,000. Mr. Fitsgerald at once commenced the erection of the present Tampico House, and soon had it ready for the reception of guests.

But this was not the only fire. On the 5th of January, 1874, the second fire occurred, destroying property to the amound of $35,000, including the general merchandise stores of James Conroy and E. W. High, the grocery store and dwelling of P. Burke, and the store building of A.W. Bastian, occupied by Case & Davis, clothiers.

On the night of Saturday, June 6, 1874, the village was visited by a most destructive tornado, totally destroying 21 buildings, severely injuring a number of persons, and causing a loss of many thousands of dollars. During the day there were indications of a storm approaching, though nothing serious was anticipated. About half-past ten o'clock p.m., some who had not retired noticed the rising of the wind and endeavored to prepare for it. The wind at this time was from the southwest and increased in velocity until about 11 o'clock, when a heavy black cloud was seen coming from an opposite direction. Within ten minutes the two clouds met just above the devoted village, and in their contact hurled down to the earth a terrible current, striking the village on the western side, sweeping through it, utterly ruining everything found in its path, and then rebounding into the air. The whole destruction was done in an instant. In the track of the storm, half a mile long and 40 rods wide, 21 buildings were totally destroyed and 20 others badly injured, and, at the highest estimate, the storm did not extend over a minute of time. The greater number of the buildings destroyed were dwelling-houses, and that so many were destroyed and no lives lost, seems almost miraculous.

In the house of Mr. Banes were six persons, two being in the upper story. These escaped without injury. Mrs. Banes had a limb broken, and one of her daughters had her face badly bruissed. Mr. Banes and another daughter received slight bruises. They were blown out of the house they occupied and covered with the debris of another building.

In the house of Mr. Dow were 11 persons, all of whom escaped uninjured. A little child of Mr. Dow's was buried in the ruins, and was not found for half an hour after the storm, when its cries revealed its position.

Cont'd ...

TAMPICO AREA HISTORICAL SOCIETY - MUSEUM - FAMILY HISTORY LIBRARY/RESEARCH CENTER  119 Main St., P. O. Box 154,  Tampico, IL  61283   www.tampicohistoricalsociety.com   tampicoareahistory@gmail.com  We are an all-volunteer organization so your donations are always appreciated!  Sign up to receive our e-newsletter. Thank you!  Visit us on FACEBOOK.