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Whiteside Co Townships > Erie Township

Source: Portrait & Biographical Album of Whiteside County, IL
Origianally published 1885
Chapman Bros., Chicago, IL
Reproduced on CD purchased from OLD GLORY ACCENTS

Transcribed by: Denise McLoughlin
Tampico Area Historical Society

Pages 850-852


On the 1st day of March, 1852, notice was given by order of the County Commissioners that an election would be held at the house of Samuel D. Carr in the town ofErie, on the first Tuesday in April, for thepurpose of choosing township officers and perfectin the township organization under act of Feb. 17, 1851. At this meeting James Early was chosen Moderator and Addison Farrington Clerk. There were 29 votes cast, resulting in the elcetion of Charles R. Coborn for Supervison, Addison Farrington for Clerk, M. G. Wonsor for Assessor, James McMillin for Collector, and John Freek for Overseer of the Poor. James Early was elected Commissioner of Highways, and N. K. Chapman, L. F. Crandall and James McMillin Constables. Esquire Wonsor swore the Moderator and Clerk in for the faithful discharge of their duties.

This township was formed from Erie Precinct, which was established Dec. 1, 1844, by order of the Commissioner's Court. It formerly composed a part of the territory of Albany and Lyndon Preceincts. Its present territory embraces all that part of the Congressional township 19 north, of range 3 east, and so much of township 19 north, of range 4 east, as lies north of Rock River, which winds around the southeastern portion, containing in all 14,392 acres. On the north it is bordered by Newton and Fenton Townships.

In some portions of this township, the land is rolling, with occasional ridges of sand. But the great body of it is low and flat. When drained and brought under cultivation it is rich and very productive. The land is better adapted for dairying and stock-raising, and in this department are the farmers mostly engaged. It is very well watered, having the Rock River, which  skirts its southeastern border, and several small streams. The township is very well timered, particularly tha prt bordering on Rock River.

In the northwestern part of the township, and extending into Fenton Township, lies in quiet repose a very pretty little lake. Beneath its clear waters, sporting about, are fish of different species, while its borders are fringed with beautiful trees. This lake is over a mile in length, and from a quarter to an eight of a mile in width.

Rock River runs along the eastern and southern line, and Rock Island County lies on the west. The people of this precinct voted against township organization of the township in November, 1851. Of the 29 voters for the organization of the township in 1852, nine are still living, five of whom voted at the spring election, April 7. 1885 - W. W. Hubbart, N. K. Chapman, A. J. Osborne, Harvey Steele and L. F. Crandall. Thos. Freek still resides in Erie, and the other three in different parts of the country. (Since the above was written, Mr. Freek has deceased, dying July 4, 1885, at Erie).

The first settlers to occupy this territory were Lewis D., John and Lafayette F. Crandall, John Freek and Joseph Fenton, David Hunt and Peter Giles in the fall of 1835. The Crandalls came from Erie County, N. Y., which is bordered by Lake Erie; and, desiring to have same associations of their former home around them, they gave the name of Erie to the new settlement. John C. located on section 19, Lewis D. and Lafayette on section 18 and David Hunt on section 25. George Steele located on section 7. The Crandall boys came with their parents, who located on Grand de Tour, on rock River. They all came by wagon from New York. They started from thier old home April 3, 1835, and arrived at their new home on the latter part of May. The roads were not the best in those days, and sometimes, if they diminished their journey by a mile they thought they were making a good day's work.

Following the pioneers mentioned above were George, Henry and Harvey Steele, from Connecticut; Samuel Carr, Orville and Alvin Brooks, James Hamilton, Charles R. Coborn and William Teats, from New York, and Arthur Putney. Ernest Warner, from Massachuestts. The pioneers upon their arrival commenced the construction of rude cabins for their habitations, Mr. Hunt's cabin being the first put up and Peter Giles' the next.

A very sad incident occurred about this time. Peter Giles, after getting his cabin ready, started back to Dixon after his family and goods by way of Rock River. He had, in which to embark his precious freight, two canoes which were lashed together, and was accompanied by Lewis D. Crandall. Having embarked their wordly possessins, they started down the river in their frail canoes. The party consisted of Mr. Giles and wife, a son of six and a daughter of three years, and Mr. Crandall. the two children were put into a dry-ggods box. The current of the river was very strong and they glided along very swiftly and smoothly toward their future home. Night had come on, and they were approaching Rock Creek when they ran into a tree top which had fallen over from the banks of the river and lay out in the stream. The suction here tipped the canoes over and drew them under. The dry-goods gox was thrown out and, turning around the tree, floated down the river. The remainder of these voyagers, Mr. Giles and wife and Mr. Crandall, clung to the branches of the tree. Crandall was the only one that could swim, and he struck out for the shore and to get a boat to rescue the party. The children had been given up as lost.

Mr. Crandall had to go some distance for a boat. Upon returning up the river to the tree he met the dry-goods box floating down. The boy was on top, and called out to the man in the boat to take him on board, as his boat was full of water. Mr. Crandall rowed up to the box and took the boy in, and, turning the box over, found the little baby girl inside, drowned. Going on to the tree, the father andmother were rescued and taken ashore in a very chilled and exhausted condition. Some of the goods were afterwards recovered. Mrs. Giles, from her exposure and sufferings, was thrown into a fever from which she died in a few days, having been cared for and nursed by her husband, her only physician, nurse and friend. She was buried with her little drowned child, which were the first interments in Erie Township. The boy was afterwards drowned in Rock River, three miles below the town of Erie, by the capsizing of a skiff in which he was being carried.

There were a few Indians here when the first settlers came in, but they soon went off, passing beyond the Mississippi. They were peaceful, and annoyed the settlers only by small thefts.

The first matarimonial alliance was between Lewis D. Crandall and Phoebe Hunt, in 1838.

The first child born in the township was a daughter to Mr. and Mrs. Arthur Putney, in the summer of 1838. She was named Louisa, and was a fair but delicate flower, and died in her fifth summer.

The first school taught was in the summer of 1842, by Mary Ann  Sprague, in a log school-house erected where Lyndon Street now is in the village of Erie. Horace Cole taught here the following winter, and is spoken of now by the old citizens as a good teacher.

Of the early settlers, Lewis D. Crandall died in Colorado, in 1860. John Crandall died in Edgar County, Ill. Peter Giles moved to Oregon, and is still living. Daniel Hunt died in Erie, and is buried by the side of his father (who came to Erie Township after him) in the Erie Cemetery. John Freek, who was an active man, and aided very much in the establshiment of shcool and religious societies in the new country, emigrated to Kansas, where he died. He came from England, in 1830, locating for a while in New Jersey, where he was married to Miss Fenton. George Steele died in 1872, at his old farm house on section 7. His widow, whoses maiden name was Mary Ann Pingree, is living on the homestead.

The first mail service in the township was from Dixon to Rock Island. A. L. Porter was the mail carrier.

The first postoffice established in the township was at Crandall's Ferry, two miles below the village of Erie.

The first religious services were held at the house of John Freek near the sand ridge, in 1838, by Rev. Mr. McMurtry.

June 5, 1844, a fearful tornado swept over the country, and struck Erie Township on its devastating course. It passed through the middle part of the township, coming from the west across the Mississippi. It laid Lewis Crandall's house flat and scattered the household goods. No lives were lost in this township, but stock and fowls were killed. One of the finest groves in the county, near Crandall's house, was torn up, and large trees were broken down. It plowed its way through the river, carrying fish and shells to some distance. Many persons were injured, but none dangerously, which was regarded at the time as miraculous.

The St. Louis Branch of the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad, which runs diagonally through the township, affords means of transportation. The trading point for the people is Erie village. The census of 1880 gave a population of 778, and it is estimated that the increase from the time will not exceed 100 souls.

Regarding shcools, the County Superintendent, in his report for the year ending June 30, 1884, furnished the following information: Number of  districts, eight, in all of which there were frame buildings; valuation of school property, $2,100. Of persons under 21 years of age there were 339, of whom 269 were of scholastic age, 184 being enrolled. The highest wages paid teachers was $55 abd the lowest wages was $20 per month. The tax levy was $5,215.

From the Assessor's report of 1884 the following information is obtained: Number of acres of improved land, 4,759; valuation of improved land, $45,996; total value of town lots, $24,365; total value of personal property, $33,588; number of horses, 397; asses and mules, 11; cattle, 974; sheep, 172; hogs, 596; steam engines, 2; carriages and wagons, 115; watches adn clocks, 125; sewing and knitting machines, 79; pianos, 10; organs and melodeons, 22. Total number of lands, lots and personal property, $141,046.

This township has honored the following-named citizens since its organization by electing them to the office of Supervisor:

 Charles R. COBORN   1852
C. C. TEATS  1853-54
T. B. WHIPPLE   1855
Ralph SAGE   1856-7
A. FARRINGTON  1858-60
C. C. TEATS  1862
W. H. ALLEN  1863-64
C. C. TEATS   1865
Samuel ORCUTT   1866
Thomas FREEK  1867
Wm. H. ALLEN  1868-69
A. M. EARLY  1870-71
C. C. TEATS  1872-73
Milton H. SEGER  1874
Wm. H. ALLEN  1875-78
R. L. BURCHELL  1879-84
Milton H. SEGER  1885





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