Source: History of Whiteside County, IL, edited by Charles Bent, Morrison, IL 1877
Transcribed by: Denise McLoughlin, Tampico Area Historical Society
HISTORY OF THE VILLAGE OF TAMPICO
The village of Tampico is situated a little north-east of the center of the town, and is built upon a part of the original farm of Mr. John W. GLASSBURN. The first building put up in the village, besides the residence of Mr. GLASSBURN, was a frame one by S. B. WINTER, in the fall of 1871, and used by him as a residence, store and postoffice. The next was also a frame structure, and was used as a saloon by Levi RENNER. During the same fall, FISHER, THOMPSON & BRYANT put up scales, and built a small office. Their principal business was to purchase and crib corn so as to be ready to sent it to Chicago as soon as the railroad, then nearly completed, and running through the town, should put on its rolling stock. They cribbed about 35,000 bushels during the fall and winter. On the 10th of March, 1872, the first train reached the village, and from that time its growth has been rapid, until now it boasts of its fine stores, large elevators, elegant dwellings, and handsome churches and public school. The corporate limits include, besides the land formerly belonging to J. W. GLASSBURN, as mentioned above, other lands of J. W. GLASSBURN, and lands owned by J. P. BADGLEY, J. S. KIMBALL, J. JACOBS, G. ALLEN, and P. HAGAN. Should the village grow as rapidly in the future as it has done within the past few years, the premises of these gentlemen will soon be covered with business houses and residences. It is rarely, even in the West, where a village has sprang into such prominence in so short a period, as Tampico, and more especially if we take into account the vicissitudes through which it has passed. Thrice the fire fiend, and once the stong winds, have laid it low, but it quickly rose again like a Phenix from the ashes.
The village was organized under the Act of the General Assembly to provide for the incorporation of cities and villages, in force July 1, 1872. The first election took place in February, 1875, and the folloiwng gentlemen were elected Trustees: D. MCMILLAN, E. W. HIGH, Alfred SMITH, J. W. GLASSBURN, J. H. CAIN, and H. L. DENISON.
The Board of Trustees met at the office of D. MCMILLAN, on the 26th of February, 1875, and organized by electing J. W. GLASSBURN, President, and J. C. MOSEHART, Clerk. Trustees E. W. HIGH, D. MCMILLAN, and J. H. CAIN were appointed a committee on ordinances, and at the meeting held on March 12th, reported seven ordinances, all of which were passed. The ordinances were in effect those usually passed for the government of cities and villages, with the exception of the dog ordinance which provides that every owner of a male dog shall pay an annual tax of one dollar for keeping the canine, and every owner of female dog, two dollars. At this meeting C. H. GLASSBURN was appointed Police Constable, and at a subsequent meeting Eli C. CAIN was appointed Street Commissioner.
The first Board of Trustees were only elected for the term between the organization of the village and the time provided by the statute for holding the annual election. This election took place on the third Tuesday of April, 1875, and resulted in the re-election of the first Board of Trustees. J. W. GLASSBURN was elected Prsident, and B. F. CHASE, Clerk. E. C. CAIN was appointed Street Commissioner, and C. H. GLASSBURN, Police Constable. Trustees J. H. CAIN, D. MCMILLAN and A,. SMITH were apponted a Committee onSalries. The first two Boards were in favor of licensing the sale of ardent spirits, and about $700 were realized from that source. The licenses were $240 each, per annum.
The second annual election was held on the 20th of April, 1876, and resulted in favor of the anti-license ticket, the followiing gentlemen being elected trustees: D. MCMILLAN, John C. ALDRICH, J. W. HIXON, J. F. LEONARD, M. A. MYERS, Jr., and J. H. CAIN. At the first meeting of the Board, D. MCMILLAN was elected President, and A. W. BASTIAN, Clerk. James VARIAN was appointed Street Commissioner; B. F. CASHE, Police Magistrate; T. S. BEACH, Treasurer, and Fred SMITH, Police Constable. The first act of the Board was to repeal the license ordinance, and pass one that $300 be raised by genral taxation. On the 2d of May the Board of Trustees declared the office of Police Magistrate vacanat, and on the 15th of June ordered a special election to fill the vacancy and also to elect a Trustee in place of J. H. CAIN resigned. The election was held on July 18th, 1876, and resulted in electiing T. H. C. DOW, Police Magistrate, and H. L. DENISON, Trustee.
At the third annual election D. MCMILLAN, J. F. LEONARD, J. W. HIXON, J. C. ALDRICH, H. L. DENISON and J. W. GLASSBURN were elected trustees, and S. W. SHELDON, Police Magistrate. This was also an anti-license Board. At the meeting on April 24th, 1877, D. MCMILLAN was elected President, and A. W. BASTIAN, Clerk. Robert COLLINS was appointed Police Constable, T. S. BEACH, Treasurer; Owen LLOYD, Street Commissioner; T. O. STEADMAN, Pound Master. At the meeting on August 7th, 1877, an Ordinance was passed that $200 be raised for village expenses during the year, a decrease of $100 from the tax of the previous year.
The Postoffice in Tampico was established September 1, 1871, Mr. J. S. KIMBALL being commissioned as the first Postmaster. Previous to the establishment of the Postoffice John W. GLASSBURN ran a private mail between Sterling and Yorktown for the convenience of those on the route, having secured a privilege therefor from the United States Government. In 1869, the Government established the contract to carry the mail. He retained the contract for one year, and then gave it up, and Oliver MCKENZIE secured it. Mr. MCKENZIE carried the mail until the Postoffice was established at Tampico. Mr. KIMBALL was Postmaster only a short time, and then resigned, and was succeeded by S. B. WINTERS. The Postmasters since Mr. WINTER'S time have been J. W. MOSEHART, an Albert BERRY, the latter now seting for Uncle Sam. A Postoffice furnishes probably a better criterion of the growth and advancement of a place than any other agency, and judging from the increase of business at the Tampico Postoffice, one is forcibly reminded of the rapid growth of the town. At the close of the year 1871, the business of the Tampico office did not show an amount exceeding $60 per annum. Now it amounts to over $600.
The busiiness places of the village of Tampico at present are: two elevators, the proprietors of which deal in stock, flour, lime, coal, salt, etc.; five dry goods, grocer, and general mercantile stores; two hardward and agricultural implement stores; two drug and medicine stores, one of which deals in school books etc.; two dealers in wagons and buggies; one manufacturer and dealer in harness; one dealer in flouor feed, etc.; one dealer in furniture; one dealer in watches and jewllry; two restaurants; one barber; onelivery stable; one butcher; tow milliners and dress makers; two milliners and dealers in fncy goods; two blacksmiths; one wagon maker; one dealer in feathers, etc.; three hotels, town attorneys at law; two physicians and surgeons; two lumber dealers; and last, though not least, one newspaper.
Probably no village of its age, since the foundation of the world, ever suffered so much from the elements, as Tampico, and it is certain that no village ever displayed such energy and promptness in rehabilitating itself and starting again in business. The ashes from her fires had hardly got cold, and the winds of her tornado hardly died away, before the plane, the hammer, and the trowel were at work. Yesterday as it were she was in ruins; today beautiful stores and residnences cover the space, and obliterate every mark of the destoyer. Too much credit cannot be given to the people of Tampico for the courage and enterprise exhibited under the most trying cirucmstances. The blow that would have struck many others to the earth in a helpless condition, only staggered them for an instant. The next moment they recovered, and went on with their business avocations as though fire and tempest never had raged within their borders.
The first visitation by fire was in the spring of 1872 when the village had hardly cast off its swaddling clothes. At that time the frame hotel of Maurice FITZGERALD, and a portion of the store belonging to Mr. CAIN, were burned, the former's loss alone being $4,250, and the whole loss over $5,000. Mr. FITZGERALD immediately afterwards commence building the present Tampico House, and before the summer was half over had it ready for the reception of guests.
The second fire occurred on the 4th of January, 1874, and destroyed E. W. HIGH'S dry goods and gorcery store; P. BURKE'S grocery store and residence; A. W. BASTIAN'S store building in which were Case Davis, clothiers; and James CONROY'S dry goods and grocery store. The total loss was about $35,000. In thirty days afterwards Mr. BURKE had a new building erected, and goods in his store, and by the middle of the following June the entire site of the fire was covered with buildings again.
The village had hardly recovered from this fire before another and a more destructive agency came whirling through the town, leaving ruin in its path. This was the dreadful tornado of June 6, 1874, which struck the place about eleven o'clock in the evening of that day (Saturday). It raged but a short time, but within that space thousands of dollars worth of property was destroyed, and many persons injured. Such a torndao had not visited this section of the country since the terrible one of June 3, 1860. The following were the losses of property as given at the time, and published in the Whiteside Sentinel: "The large grain warehouse and elevator of GLASSBURN & BRYANT, containing 20,000 bushels of grain, completely wrecked, loss $10,000; T. S. BEACH'S elevator, then recently erected at a cost of $3,000, and having two thousand bushels of grain in store, entirely demolished; G. T. PIERSOL, damage to dwelling, loss $500; J. G. BANES, dwelling house wrecked, loss $1,000; Ira HUMPHREY, damage to dwellinghouse, loss $1,000; T. H. C. DOW, damage to dwelling house and furniture, loss $200; Timothy GREGNIAN, dwellling house demolished, loss $1,000; Ira HUMPHREY, damage to dwelling house, loss $1,000; Milton HIXON, shoe shop wrecked, loss $200; Payson WILLIAMS, saloon damaged, loss $100; Geo. DEE, store and Tampico Hall damaged, loss $1,500; Peter BURKE, damage to dwelling, $1,000; James CAIN, damage to paint and wagon shop $700; Chas. LUTHER, damage to dwelling, $100; S. B. WINTERS, damage to store, $50; Messrs. Robert COLLIINS, M. R. JONES, James VARIAN; H. H. SEYMOUR, and several others, sustained damages ranging from $25 to $200. The M. E. Church, built about two years before, at a cost of $1,300 was blown to fragments, the organ being carried a distance of one hundred and fifty feet. The railroad buildings were also damaged to the extent of $500." Although the storm came as a breath of destuction, and in a fewmoments was gone, yet scores of hair breadth escapes were made, and many are the thrilling naratives yet related by the citizens. Chas. GLASSBURN had a sleeping room in the office of GLASSBURN & BRYANT'S elevator, and when he heard the storm approaching, closed the window, just as several pieces of scantling came crashing through the windows opposite. In another momentthe office was filled with flying debris from the elevator adjoining. Young GLASSBURN clung to the safe, and was saved as by a miracle. Wilbur PIERSOL sprang into a cellar when the gale came, and cut hisleg badly. The building was carried a distance ofover fifty feet, but Mr. PIERSOL happily did not sustain anyother damage. Mrs. D. OLMSTEAD, who was confined to her bed by sickness, leaped to the floor when she heard the roaring of the approaching storm; her husband forced her into the bed again, and by enveloping her with the bed coverings, protected her from the timbers that crashed through the building. The most remarkable incident of the scene was narrated at thetime by Mr. DOW and Mr. OLMSTEAD. Eleven persons, composing two families, were residing in the same building, and all the members, soon after the blow, were found, with the exception of an infant child of Mr. DOW. The neighbors finally tore away the ruins of the edifice, and amid the rubbish, protected from thetimbers by a large box and a sewingmachine, the little one was found, uninjured. Altogether, eight persons were injured seriously, and a much larger number slightly bruised. The following are the names of the persons most dangerously injured, with the nature oftheir injuries: Mrs. Maria BANES, head and face badly hurt; Mrs. J. B. GATES, collar bone broken; J. G. BANES, serius wounds of the side and foot; Mrs. J. G. BANES, leg roken; Mrs. W. PIERSOL, face and breast badly bruised; Granville CONNOR, head and breast badly hurt. Geo. BANES was struck with a peice of flying timber, but escaped serious injury; Luther PIERSOL was considerably bruised. That no lives were lost seems almost miraculous, consideringthe widespread destruction and the great number of buildingsblown down, all occupied. During the prevalence of the tornado the groans of the wounded, and the cries of those almost bereft of reason by fright, gave a touch of horror to the picture, revealed as it was by the flashes of lighning which followed each other in rapid succession. The storm came from a southwesterly direction, folloiwng the railroad, and veered in its course slightly to the northeast. The damage outside of the village was slight. The scene on Sunday morning, June 7, 1874, was one which the people of the village of Tampico do not desire to look upon again. As soon as possible after the storm, a committee, consisting of E. W. HIGH, T. M. WILEY, A. SMITH, Wm. CAMPER, and J. S. KIMBALL, was appointed to receive all moneys and supplies for the sufferers, and it is but due to the people of the county to say that the appeal made to them for this purpose was promptly and generously responded to. It was not long before stores and residences again sprang up, and all evidence of the awful tempest was blotted from sight.
Scarce two years, however, had passed away, before fire again desolated Tampico. This time it came early on Wednesday morning of May 17, 1876. The flames were first discoverd between the stores of Peter BURKE and E. W. HIGH, and the Tampico Tornado at that time describes them as leaping up the sides of the buildings, as if kerosene or other inflammable substance had been used to facilitate their spread. Six buildings fell prey to the devouring element before it could be subdued. The first building on the south side limits of the fire was owned by James CONROY, and used as a residence and grocery store; loss $2,000. Nelson MAXSON'S store came next; loss on goods and building estimated at $6,600. Next in line northward was Peter BURKE'S grocery store; loss on building and goods, $3,600. Adjoining was the building owned by Geo. DEE, the lower part of which was occupied by E. W. HIGH as a store, and the upper part by the Tornado office, and J. H. MELVIN, as a law office; the building was valued at $2,500. Mr. HIGH had about $8,000 worth of goods on hand, a portion of which were saved, but in a badly damaged condition; Mr. MELVIN lost his entire law library and office furniture, valued at $600, a large number of book accounts, notes and mortgages being also destroyed; the press and type of the Tornado were not in the office at that time, so the loss was confined to books, papers, etc. John PAICE'S buildiing, used as a resience and butcher shop, stood next; loss on the whole, $2,300. Case & Adams' billiard hall was the last building on the block destroyed; loss $1,500. PIERSOL'S blacksmith shop, standing in the alley between Case & Adams' and Taggart & Fitzgerald's was torn down, and the store of the latter was severly scorched. The fire spead so rapidly that the store keepers on the opposite side of the street from where it was raging, removed their goods. It was a sever blow to the business men who sufferd by it, as most of them had been sufferes by the other fires, as well as by the tornado. Thier courage, however, did not desert them, some immediately renting other buildings in which toopen their business, and others commencing the erection of new buildings. Peter BURKE at once laid the foundation for a brick building, which he hastened rapidly to completion, and soon had the present fine store of Burke & Forward stocked with goods, read for his customers; among the active business men of Tampico, Mr. BURKE stands prominent. Since this fire Tampico has not been disturbed by the elements, and she is rapidly progressing in all that adds to the gowth, wealth, and prosperity of a town.