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Whiteside Co Villages > Erie Village

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


Transcribed by: Denise McLoughlin
Tampico Area Historical Society

Pages 852-855


This village was incorporated under an act of the Legislature, approved April 10. 1872. An election was held under the same act, Sept. 21, 1872, at which the following named officers were elected: Joseph Grover, Andrew J. Osborne, Q. Johnstone, James Collins, William L. Mitchell, and John D. Trenton, as Truestees. This Board on  assembly at Mitchell & Worrell's building, elected Joseph Grover for President, John D. Fenton, Clerk,, and William L. Mitchell, Treasurer. Its location and corporate limits are described as follows: The south half and the southeast quarter of section 6, and the north half of section 7 in township 19 north, of range 4 east of the 4th principal meridian.

This village is prettily located, and surrounded by a rich farming country. The first hotel opened here was by Samuel D. Carr, in 1838. It was located near the present site of the St. Nicholas House. It was a log building, simple and plain in appearance, yet it was noted far nad wide for the good cheer within; and for its well-filled larder and comfortable beds. The landlord of this pioneer died in June, 1861, and was buried in Erie Cemetery, where a pretty little monument is erected for his memory.

M. G. Wonser opened the first store in the village, which was the first in the township. He opened his sore with two wagon-loads of goods, which included what was of considerable importance in those days - a barrel of whiskey.  Before this store was opened the people used to go across the river to Shannon, in Portland Township, to do their trading. Mr. Wonser died in 1883. His widow is still living in Erie. Dr. Plimpton, a Methodist preacher, held the first religious services here in a public building. This was during the summer of 1842.

There is but little manufacturing carried on here. For the maintenance and growth of the town the citizens depend on the agricultural industries surrounding it. Its population is estimated to be about 600. The people are industrious and temperate in their habits, and there prevails among them a neighborly feeling, which is commendable.

The beginning of the town may be dated from the opening of Mr. Wonser's store, which was in 1850. Samuel Carr;s tavern was already here. A blacksmith shop for horse-shoeing and repairing was started by Henry Bolton. This same year (1850) Dr. Fetters came in to attend to the physical and C.C. Teats to the legal wants. The postoffice had been moved up from Crandall's Ferry in the spring; so their mail facilities were satisfactory. The religious wants of the villagers were also looked after, there being preaching by the representatives of the different Churches from time to time in the school-house and in private houses. But the first church building was put up in 1854 by the United Brethren.

Mr. A. J. Osborne materially assisted the growth of the town by furnishing the people with lumber from his saw-mill, which he started in 1855, and which was the first in the town. As the town grew a desire to have railroad communications became uppermost in the minds of its citizens. They were doomed to disappointment, however, for many years. The Sterling & Rock Island Railroad was perfected in 1855, and farmers and real-estate owners mortgaged their property heavily to assist the enterprise; but it all ended in disaster. After several years the project was again taken up, and in 1869 a road was constructed through this county called the Rockford, Rock Island & St. Louis Railroad.

The first train of cars came into Erie January 20. The year before, anticipating the advent of the railroad, Messrs. Simonson & Ritchie put up a steam flouring-mill. From this time on the town had a substantial, healthy growth.

Business Interests

R. L Burchell has a large general supply store, consisting of dry goods, groceries, clothing, carpets, boots and shoes, crockery, agricultural implements, etc. Handles annually about $70,000 in goods. Established in 1862.

Dickinson & Jones carry a large assortment of general hardware and agricultural implements.

Smith & Guthrie have a general hardware store and tin shop, and slo keep farming implements.

Erie Flouring Mills, C. T. Pierce, proprietor, with four run of stone; capacity, 85 barrels of flour per day; corn and feed, 200 bushels. Established in 1874. Attached to the mill is an elevator and corn sheller.

Another important industry of Erie is the creamery owned by R. L. Burchell. This creamery manufactured last season 75,000 pounds of butter, and this season it is expected to make 100,000 pounds. Five teams are employed in gathering in the cream, from a territory embracing an area of about ten miles.

S. Seger has a windmill manufactory, to which he supplies his patent section wheel.

M. J. Williams increases the industries of the town in the manufacture of good hand-made wagons.

Arthur McLane has an elevator, and is also a dealer in grain.

A. A. Matthews has a furniture store, and is also undertaker.

Harness and saddlery carried on by C. W. Early.

W. J. Gladhill, jeweler and gunsmith.

George Echelburger, general repair shop and coopering.

F. E. Burridge keeps a general line of drugs and stationery.

J M. Cunningham has a general line of drugs and stationery. Is also the manufacturer of Cunningham's "Elixir" and the "Good Samaritan" bitters.

The good ladies of Erie have a happy place of resort in the millinery stores of Mesdames E. L. Barker and Hattie L. Blaisdell.

M. C. Cole, groceries, confectioneries, etc.

Wm. Smith does blacksmithing. Joseph Cocking, M. Kroninberg, boot and shoe makers. D. Scrhiver has alivery and feed stable.

Mathews & Bros., supply the people with a market.

The medical profession is represented by O. J. Bowers and H. R. Wells, who are skilled physicians.

Legal matters of Erie rest entirely upon the broad shoulders of W. H. Allen.

St. Nicholas Hotel, one of the old landmarks of Erie, is managed now by W. V. Timmerman and his estimable wife. The traveler always rejoices when he is placed under the care of the landlord and landlady of this hostelry.

Erie is not behind  in the popular craze of roller-skating rinks, having a very good one.

The posoffice is presided over by R. L. Burchell, who has held the place since 1870, He succeeded W. R. Davis.


The citizens of Erie have taken special pains in providing a good school for the education of their children. They have a fair school building, with a graded school, embracing nine grades. T. B. Stanley is Principal, Miss Salome Fenton, Intermediate, and Miss Lucy A. Passmore, Primary. A full English course is taught. There are on the rolls 162 pupils.


Methodist Episcopal Church - The establishment of this religious organization in Erie may date back to the autumn of 1838, when a few of its members gathered together at the house of John Freek, near the sand ridge, and with Rev. Mr. McMurtry presiding, held divine service. Mr. McMurtry belonged to the missionary service, and traveled about, holding meetings and establishing societies. A Methodist class was formed at this time, consisting of John Freek and wife, Alvin Brooks, Mrs. Hunt and James Early and wife. John Freek was class-leader. Later on, these pioneers were joined by Thomas Freek, John F. Adams, Orem Rook, Adam Hoffman and others. Services were held in the school-house, which were presided over by Rev. Philo Judson. In the latter part of 1841, Rev. Mr. Buck came and took charge of the Church.

After several unsuccessful efforts, a church building was finally erected, and dedicated under the administration of Rev. C. E. Smith. The dedication took place Sept. 10, 1871, Dr. J. H. Balys preaching the sermon. The edifice was a very substantial one, costing about $3,000. Prior to the construction of this building, application was made to the Church Extension Society for aid, but not a dollar was received, and the building was put up and paid for by the Erie people. This society is now in a fair condition, and with a membership of 60. They have in connection a good Sabbath-school. Rev. Dick Hull is presiding. 

Christian Church - This congregation was organized by Rev. J. N. Smith, April 20, 1870. The meeting for this purpose was held at the school-house, and A. A. Mathews was chosen Elder; T. J. Henwood and James Cronk, Deacons; and L. E. Mathews, Clerk. In the winter of 1877, the congregation bought the building belonging to the United Brethren Church, which society had been disbanded. This building was refitted and dedicated to their use March 20, 1877. This church is in a healthy condition, with a membership of 55. They have also an interesting Sunday-school. The present pastor is Rev. T. B. Stanley.

Erie Baptist Church - This society was organized March 26, 1854. Elder W. Rutledge was chosen Moderator at the meeting, and J. VanVleek, Clerk. Ten members were received into the Church at its organization. Rev. L. L. Lansing was their first pastor, who served for five years. Services were held in a school-house until 1870, when a building was erected and dedicated as a place of worship. A committee was selected by the members, consisting of John F. Dickinson, Frederick Rhodes and James C. Hubbart, to superintendent the construction of the edifice; and it was through their efforts and those of Rev. T. J. Mason that the building finally completed. The Church had several pastors, serving short terms, until 1880, when Rev. D. S. Donegan's services were secured. Mr. Donegan remained four years and then severed his connection with the society, accepting a call at Port Byron, with this society, accepting a call at Port Byron, Rock Island County. At present the Church is without a pastor, but it has a large and interesting Sunday-school, which is presided over by John F. Dickinson, one of its most zealous members.

The Press

Erie has not buried as many newspaper enterprises as some other towns, there being only one death recorded.  The first paper established here was called the Erie Plaindealer, which was in the spring of 1879. The editor, though evidently intending to deal plainly with the people, became satisfied that they would not support his enterprise, and after a brief existence closed his publication.

The Erie Independent came soon after the close of the Plaindealer. G. W. Gurnsey, believing that the people  of Eire ought to have a good paper, and that he could satisfy them on this point, came forward, bought up the office of the late Plaindealer, gathered up his news matter, put it in type and issued forth his first sheet. This was done July 9, 1879. It is a five-column quarto, well gotten up and newsy, with a circulation of about 1,000. It is independent in politics. The publisher has also a job office and is prepared to do job work in a satisfactory manner.


Masonic Lodge, No. 667 - This lodge was instituted Aug. 3, 1871. First W. M. was Abbot M. Crary. There were 25 charter members.

They have a good large hall, 60 by 24 feet, and well equipped. The lodge is in good working order and prosperous, with a membership of 45. Arthur McLane is the present W. M.; David Schriver, Sr. W.; W. J. Gladhill, Jr. W; P. H. Wilt, Treasurer; Joseph Cocking, Secretary; Wm Smith, Sr. D.; W. E. Carr, Jr. D.; S. Toby, Tyler; Joseph Cunningham, Sr. Sterward; Wm. Guthrie, Jr. Steward. They own their hall, which was built at a cost of $1,500.

In connection with this lodge is the Order of the Eastern Star, Evangeline Lodge, No. 52. This lodge was chartered Oct. 7, 1880. Esmath A. Orcutt was the first Matron under the charter.

M. W. A. Rock River Camp, No. 14, was instituted Aug. 14, 1883, with 15 charter members. They have added to this number 13 new members. They have a hall and meet regularly.

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