Welcome to Tampico, Illinois
Whiteside Co Villages > Albany Village

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

Transcribed by: Denise McLoughlin
Tampico Area Historical Society

Page 838

For natural beauty of location Albany is unsurpassed by any town in the county, and also for commercial advantages. In its site it has no superior; but advantages in location do not always make towns or cities. The most trivial circumstance, often shapes the destinies of nations; so, also, with towns and individuals. Albany was settled about as early as any other part of the coutny, and had the power of the great Mississippi to aid it in the beginning. People came here to trade at one time from all parts of the precinct. It had the Mississippi as a great auxillary on one side, and all it wanted to insure its prosperity was a timely connection with the great lakes by rail. This the keen-sighted founders of Albany saw, but failed in the necessary activity to consummate it. Delays, they say, are dangerous. It so appeared in the case in point.

In 1851 the General Assembly of Illinois passed a bill for the construction of a railroad from Beloit, Wis., to Rock Island. The general line of this road was to run along Rock River Valley, from Beloit to Rockford, Dixon, Sterling, and to Albany, and from Albany to Rock Island. A meeting of the projectors and friends of this enterprise was held at Sterling in February, 1852, the result of which was the division of this route into four sections, and the passage of a resolution providing that from the capital stock first subscribed an amount should be at once appropriated sufficient to complete the third section of the road. The first section of the road was to extend from Beloit to Rockford; the second from Rockford to Dixon; the third from Dixon to Albany, and the fourth from Albany to Rock Island, completing the line. In accordance with the resolution, a contract was made for the  completion of the third section; but there were many delays in its execution, which were fatal to the enterprie and the aspiring hopes of the citizens of Albany. The Galena & Chicago, and the Mississippi & Rock River Junction companies joined their interests, and directly commenced the construction ofthier line to Fulton. this defeated the former enterprise, and gae a direct blow to the growth of Albany.

The village of Albany is located on what is called the Great Eastern Bend of the Mississippi. The landing could not be better. The twon site is highly picturesque and beauriful. From the river the ground rises at an angle of some 20 degrees, until it reaches the height of the surrounding country, where a commanding  view  of the Mississippi and its Iowa borders is had. The first settlers here, as far as known, were Mr. Mitchell and Edwin Corbin, squatters, who came in in 1835 and made claims, the former at the upper end, and the latter at the lower end of Albany.

In the spring of 1836, Lewis Spurlock, Alfred Slocum, William Nevitt and Gilbert Buckingham came in and located in Upper Albany, as it is called, buying out Mitchell's interest, and S. M Kilgour, R. H. Niblack, I. C. Allen, C. R. Rood, P. B. Vannest, Oliver McMahan, E. Allen, S. Mitchell, D. Mitchell, A. Bergen, C. Lusk and Samuel Searles located in Lower Albany, buying out Edwin Corbin's claim. This ground was subsequently laid off into 133 lots, and filed for record. C. R. Rood, Spurlock and Garrett made an addition in 1841. The land was re-surveyed by W. S. Wilkinson, in March, 1842. Liberal reserves were made for public buildings, schools and churches.

About one mile below Albany the Marias d'Osier puts into the Mississippi. The country in this vicinity and along Rock River is unsurpassed; and it was prophesied tht, with the exception of the sloughs, it would be covered with a nense population.

In 1837 an addition was made to the settlement in the persons of Jonathan Davis and family, Ivy and Duty Buck, with their families, Jeremiah Rice, Willis C. Osborne, Gregory McMahan, Uriah Cook, Thomas Finch. The settlers continued to come in until the psring of 1839 - among the last arrivals being Capt. W. S. Barnes and family, Dr. John Clark and family, and Benjamin S. Quick - when the sickly season set in, and emigration for a time was suspended.

The first Postmaster commissioned was Willis C. Osborne, in the winter of 1837. The first mail service was established the same year, the route being from Galena to Rock Island. It was a pony mail service.

Ivy Buck was the first Justice of the Peace. He also opened the first store, which was in the lower end of the town. This was in 1838. He had only a small stock.

The first man to open up a general store was Capt. W. S. Barnes, who was a steamboat Captain, and who brought his goods from St. Louis. This was in the fally of 1839. Capt. Barnes died July 20, 1872, and his wife Jan. 24, 1885.

The first hotel was opened in 1837, in the lower end of the town, by Oliver and Gregory McMahan. It was a log building, but it is reported to have done good service.

Alfred Slocum opened a hotel soon after in the upper end of town. It was also a log building. Mr. Slocum subsequently erected a stone building for his hotel service, which is still standing on the banks of the river.

R. C. Niblack and Amy Buck, daughter of Ivy Buck, were the first to unite in the holy bonds of matrimony. This interesting event occurred Feb. 11, 1838.

The first natural increase to the population of the town was May 18, 1838, when Josephine, daughter of Jonathan and Phoebe Davis, announced her arrival.

The first death was that of Kate Allen, daughter of E. Allen, one of the platters of the village. This was in 1838.

When the settlers came there were several bands of Indians around the country. They were camped mostly about the Marais d'Osier. Prior to this period, and before the white man's foot ever rested upon this soil, there must have been extensive tribes of Indians living in the vicinity of Albany. There is every indication that there was here at some time in the past a large Indian village.

South of the town and along the banks of the Mississippi there are numerous mounds, some of them quite large. These mounds were the cemeteries of this race, so rapidly passing away, when they had a country they could call their own. As the ground is broken to meet the demands of what we are pleased to call a more advanced civilization, bones of this race, or one even preceding it, are being exhumed. While the histsorian was at Albany, one of the citizens, to get some soil for his garden, dug into one of these mounds. In doing so, he threw up skulls, bones, and implements peculiar to the Indian race. Thus the bodies of the older race have become themeans of enriching the soil for the use of the new.

Here, too, have been found evidences of a race prior to the Indian. One of the citizens has a relic - a small bowl - which was taken from one of these mounds. It is made of finer material than the Indian ware. Around the outside of this bowl are convex, or circular, designs in relief. Upon these and all over the sides of the bowl are carved Masonic emblems, and hieroglyphics. It is probably a censor, or an incense bowl, once belonging to the Mound-Builders. Numerous kinds of relics and fossils have been found along this shore and in these mounds.

In 1844 a regular line of stages was started running from Chicago to Albany. They were put on by those popular stage men, Frink & Walker. This gave a new impeetus to the growth of the town. After the establishment of this line, Capt. W. S. Barnes converted his fine dwelling-huse into a hotel, which he named the Eagle Hotel. It became a popular resort for travelers, and was extensively patronized. Other hotels soon followed, and all were well patronized, for Albany was a live town in those days. The Eagle hotel is still standing, near the waters of the Mississippi, and is open for the traveling public.

A ferry was started between Albany and Comanche as early as 1840, by the Mitchell Brothers. Horse power was at first used; afterwards they put on a steam ferry-boat.

The first saw-mill was put up in 1838. It was a steam mill and was built by C. S. Dorsey, and was located in the lower end of town on the river bank. It cut out a good deal of lumber and was of great assistance to the building up of the town. After running several years it was destroyed by fire.

Several stores followed that of Capt. Barnes, and Albany became quite a trading point.

Another saw-mill was started in 1853, by a company. The members of this firm were E. H. Nevitt, Francis R. Walker and John D. McIlvaine. It was a large steam mill, with planing machinery attached.

This mill was destroyed by the tornado of 1860. This tornado reached Albany on Sunday, June 3, 1860, and from its fearul, destsructive power, struck terror into the hearts of all the inhabtants. It came from the northwest, corssing the Mississippi and striking the upper end of the town. It passed through in a southeasterly direction, devastating almost everything in its pathway, killing several citizens and injuring others. It is reported to have been one of the most terrible tornadoes ever witnessed in the country. Heavy stone and brick buildings were leveled to the ground and seemed to have no more power of resistance than slightest frame structure. Nearly every building was demolished, and the wrecks of many may be seen to this day. It was very peculiar in its movements. Some buildings it would tear all to pieces; others it would remove from their foundations with but little injury. Stock and fowls were killed, some of the latter being entirely denuded of their feathers.

The tornado lasted only a few moments, but its devastating work was sickening to behold. Nearly one hundred thousand dollars wother of peroperty was destroyed. Those killed were Edward Efner, Duty Buck, Mr. Riley and Mr. Sweet. It was amny years before Albany recovered from the effects of this tornado. In fact, it is thought it never did.

About the middle of December, 1865, the first railroad train came to Albany. This road was first called the Western Union. It is now called the Southwestern Division of the Milwaukee & St. Paul Railroad.

Albany village was organized under the incorporation act of 1845, and the amendments thereto, in 1869. A meeting was held for this purpose at the office of E. H. Nevitt, February 15. D. S. Efner, H. M. Booth, W. D. Haslet, A. Winans and R. H. Nibluck were elected Trustees. D. S. Efner was then chosen President; E. H. Nevitt, Clerk; and H. M. Booth, Treasurer. The vote for incoroporation was taken January 25, 1869. There were 82 votes cast, 62 votes for, and 20 against. the corporate limits embrace all of the north lalf of sections 25 and 26, and all of fractional section 24, in town 21 north, range 2 east.

Albany had at one time great hopes of secruing the outlet into the Mississippi of the Hennepin Canal. A bill was presented to Congress by the member from this district asking for an appropriation for a survey for a ship canal from the Illinois River to the Mississippi. The bill was passed by the Forty-sseventh Congress providing for a survey and appropriating $30,000 to defray the expenses. Three routes were surveyed, one to Albany, one to Watertown and one to Rock Island. The engineers reported in favor of the Albany route, and estimated the cost at a million less than the route to Rock Island. Political, as well as moneyed influences,  however, are in favor of the latter route, and a bill is before Congress to this effect, which undoubtedly will pass.

Could this canal be brought into Albany it would insure its development, and make of it a large, thriving town. It has now the local trade of the township, with some parts of Newton, and is steadily growing. There are some fair business houses here and some attractive dwellings. Its attractive features for residences and for business may yet be appreciated by the business world, and the tide set in its favor.

The census report of 1880 gave the population at 810, including the village; that of the village, 623. The estimated population of the village is now 700. The present officers are, Presidnet, W. Hanna; Trustees, David Byers, Wm. Graves, Charles H. Slocum and Joseph Smith; Clerk, D. S. Efner; Tureasurer, E. R. Beckwith; Constable, James Beach.

Business Interests

Paddock & son, general line of merchandise, stationery and wall paper.
C. A. Olds & Co., general merchandise.
E. R. Beckwith, general grocery store.
S. E. Chamberlain carries a line of drugs and medicines.
J. A. Eddy has a grocery store, with confectionery and jewelry.
E. H. Nevitt, general lumber dealer.
George H. Colby deals in organs, and is undertaker.
Booth & Bros. are general hardware dealers and have a tinship.
J. W. Dinneen deals in wagons, buggies, agricultural implements and has a blacksmith shop.
Nicholas Freek manufactures brick.
E. A. Fassett has harness and saddlery.
Graves & Son, wagon-makers, skiff-builders and blacksmithing.
Miss Frances D. Barnes has a millinery and fancy goods.
C. E. Langord & Co., of Fulton, have a saw-mill, but it is not in operation.
Beach & Bros. and A. Pletcher keep meat-markets.
O. O. Huggins has a restaurant and a confectionery store.
L. G. Perkins has a boot and shoe shop.

The legal profession is represented by D. S. Efner and C. P. Ege, and the medical profession by Drs. E. R.Robinson and M. M. Samnis.

Eagle Hotel, W. H. Barnes, proprietor. This hotel is one of the old landmarks of Albany, and has furnished accommodations for travelers for a generation past.
C.D. Paddock presides over the postoffice.


The people of Albany have a good graded school, which is in charge of a thorough and energetic teacher. The building is constructed of brick and is a substantial one, large and roomy.

D. F. Shirk is the Principal, Miss Hattie Churchill, Assistatnt. Kittie Hawks has charge of the Intermediate, and Miss Frances Olds, the Primary Department. Average attendace, 190. The school has eight grades, with a full English course of study. It has graduating classes and issues diplomas. The first graduating exercises were held May 14, 1885, and was attended with marked success. There are five institutedivisions in the county. Albany and Erie form one division. They hold their meetings once a month. It includes teachers in active service. A chairman is elected for one year. They discuss quiestions that may arise, and particularly those questions that relate to teaching.


The Albany News was established by F. C. and W. G. Redline. Its first issue was cast beefore the good people of Albany Dec. 12, 2995, and it has furnished them with the current news of the day and good reading matter from that date. The News is a four-column quarto, and is issued every Friday. It is Republican in politics, has a good circulation and is ably conducted.

The Albany Times. This paper was started by W. G. Bleecker in the spring  of 1883, and continued publication until the summer of 1884, when it was suspended. The press was moved to Clinton, Iowa, and the editor arranged with the Clinton Weekly News to fill out his contract with his subscribers by sesnding them that paper.


Albany Lodge, A. F. & A. M., No. 566, was instituted May 18, 1867, under dispensation granted April 25, the same year. J. M. Eaton was the first W. M. The present W. M. is J. F. Hopper. The lodge has now a membership of 42. They rent a hall, which is commodious and well equipped. The society is in good working condition.

I. O. O. F., No. 168 was organized March 16. This lodge has a membership of 15. They meet in the G.A.R. Hall. The first N.G. was James Beach, who is also the present N.G.

The G.A.R., Captain A. F. Knight Post, was chartered June 14, 1884. C. P. Ege was the first Commander, and J. B. David is the present. Their membership numbers 31. They have a good hall, and are prosperous.

Sons of the G.A.R., Lieut. James Blaine Camp, No. 20. This society was chartered March 23, 1885. they have a membership of 20, and meet in the G.A.R, Hall.

Modern Woodmen of America was organized Feb. 20, 1884, with 20 members; Venerable Consul, E. P. Ege. this society has a good hall, which is fitted up very uniquely, and after the manner of their order. The present Venerable Consul is G. A. Cobey, and their membership is 67. The Camp is increasing in numbers.


Methodist Episcopal Church - This society was organized in 1840, by Rev. Philo Judson. Previous to this time the members of this church were visited by circuit riders, and had preaching in private houses. The first church edifice was erectd in 1861, and dedicated New Year's Day, 1862. Rev. J. Frost was in charge at this time. The building cost $1,200. In 1860, the tornado blew down their house of worship, which had been formerly used as a school-house. The latter part of 1868, Rev. Barton Cartwright took charge, and assisted financially to buld the parsonage. A subscription was taken up at the time of the dedication, and money enough was collected to pay off the debt of the Church and leave a balance on hand. an interesting Sabbath-school is connected with the Church. Rev. F. Lines is the prsent Pastor.

Albany Cemetery

The citizens of the village have secured a good site for their last resting place. It is located on the bluff jut above the town, and contains about seven acres. There are some fery fine monuments in this cemetery, where rest the remains of many of Albany's first citizens.





TAMPICO AREA HISTORICAL SOCIETY - MUSEUM - FAMILY HISTORY LIBRARY/RESEARCH CENTER  119 Main St., P. O. Box 154,  Tampico, IL  61283   www.tampicohistoricalsociety.com   tampicohistoricalsociety@gmail.com  President Joan Johnson, 815-438-7581 or garyjoan@thewisp.net  Family History Coordinator, Denise McLoughlin 815-718-3617. 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, too.