From Bent-Wilson History Book, 1877
Posted by Dana Fellows
Prophetstown township originally formed
a part of Crow Creek Precinct, and in March, 1837, when Whiteside county was attached to Ogle county, was by the
County Commissioners of that county included, together with all the territory in the county south of Rock river, in
a precinct called Prophetstown. Upon a petition being presented, the Commissioners in March, 1838, changed the name
of the precinct to that of Portland, to embrace the same territory. This remained the name until 1840, when the
precinct was divided into three precincts, called Rapids, Prophetstown, and Portland. Prophetstown precinct then
embraced the present township and the western half of Hume and Tampico, and so continued until 1850, when the
county having adopted the township organization law, Commissioners were appointed to give names and boundaries to
townships. The Commissioners at this time gave the name of Prophetstown to so much of the present township as lies
in town 20, range 5, and the name of Washington to so much of the township as now lies in town 19, range 5. This
election proving void, the county held another election in 1851, and a second time voted favorably upon the
question of township organization, and Commissioners appointed for the purpose of again giving names and
boundaries to townships, gave the name of Prophetstown to so much of the present township as lies in town 20,
range 5, and the name of Volney to that part in town 19,range 5. In a short time, however, the name of Volney was
dropped, and the name of Prophetstown applied to the township as it now exists. The present township comprises all
of Congressional township 19 north, range 5 east, and all that part of Congressional township 20 north, range 5
east, as lies south of Rock river. The Township contains 30,191 acres of land, being considerably in excess of any
other township in the county. The general surface of the land is level, and the soil exceedingly rich and fertile.
It has less timber land than Portland, its groves being one on the river bottom opposite Lyndon, one above
Prophetstown, one at Woodward’s bluff on section 29, Hill’s grove, on Washington street, and some small ones on the
school section. There is a deposit of mineral paint on section 17, but it has not yet been
The township was early known as being the home of the Prophet, a noted Indian chief
of the Winnebago tribe, his habitation being near where the village of Prophetstown now stands. His village was
called Prophet’s Town. A portrait of this celebrated Indian, from the original painting by Geo. Catlin, was
presented to the people of Whiteside county, at the city of Morrison, Wednesday, October 24, 1877, by Hon. Elihu
B. Washburne, late United States Minister to France. The Indians had several villages along the banks of Rock river
in the vicinity of the Prophet’s Town, as the stream afforded an abundance of fish, their favorite food. One of
these villages was situated at the mouth of Walker’s slough, one at the mouth of Coon creek, and another on the
bottom near the present railroad bridge. Their corn was raised on the river bottoms, and cultivated with rude hoes.
At each successive year they pulled up the old stalks, and dropped in the seed, so that by continued hilling their
corn fields became very rough, and can be easily seen to this day thickly set with blue grass where they have been
undisturbed. The location was a beautiful one, and it is no wonder the Indians were averse to leaving it. Rock
river, with its clear sparkling water, stretching away to the north and northwest, nearly encircling the ox-bow,
the beautiful groves along Coon creek, the rolling prairie to the south, which afforded admirable hunting ground
for deer, and the rich, warm soil that yielded plentifully to their rude culture, all combined to make it indeed an
Indian paradise. The Prophet’s Town became particularly noted during the Black Hawk war, and at its close it was
one of the first places settled by the white man.
On the 4th of June, 1834, Asa Crook and his fami1y, consisting of his wife, four sons
and five daughters, and Norman and Alexander Seely, arrived at the mouth of Coon creek, and made a claim where Wm.
A. Taylor’s farm now is. About the same time Samuel A. McClure located at the mouth of Walker's slough. McClure
sold out that fall to John W. Stakes, and moved to Dixon where he kept tavern for a time, but at present nothing
can be ascertained concerning him. Mr. Crook lived in his wagon for three weeks, and then made a lodge, covering it
with hickory bark, in which he lived all summer. In the fall he erected a log house, calling in his neighbors, the
Indians, to assist at the raising. Mr. Crook had come early in May on an exploring tour, and then went back. On his
return he passed through Knox county where he hired one Benjamin Brown to come up and do some breaking. This was
done and a piece planted to sod corn. The Indians were quite numerous, but friendly. Their chief was called "The
Crane." John W. Stakes and wife arrived on the 14th of September. It is claimed that McClure, whose claim he had
bought, had built a small ferry boat which could take a wagon or a span of horses across the river. It is certain
that Stakes did some ferrying the next year at his place, and sort of ferry was kept there for sometime. John
Bowman, a brother of Stakes, came with them. Alfred Weed, and John Champine, a half breed Canadian, were also there
that fall. Reuben Ammidon and Edwin Wright also and made claims, but did not stay.
Early in 1835 a man by the name of Amos Gordon made a claim near Joseph W. Hill’s
present farm on Washington street, and put up a cabin of cherry logs , but upon the arrival of William Hill in the
fall, with his large family, sold out for $100, went to Green river, and after living there for a time, moved to
Moline, Illinois, where he yet resides. N.. G. Reynolds came in November of this year, with his family, having made
his claim in June previous. J. Sperry Johnson, Alonzo Davis, Marvin Frary, Charles Atkinson, and Harry Smith, also
came this year. These were all the parties who settled in the present limits of Prophetstown, in 1835, but the
histories of Prophetstown and Portland are so interwoven that it is difficult to always give proper credit. The
Hills, N. G. Reynolds, Alonso Davis, Marvin Frary, and J. Sperry Johnson, have, however, alway been identified with
Prophetstown. Charles Atkinson only wintered here, went to what is now Cleveland, Henry county, where he opened a
store, and lived for several years, and then settled in Moline, Rock Island county. He is one of the principal men
of that city, being President of the Water Power Company, and otherwise identified with its interests. N. G.
Reynolds settled west of the village on Geo. B. Quigley’s present farm; the Hills on Washington street, and Marvin
Frary on the present Ellithorpe place near the Portland line. An election was held in August, 1835, the first at
which the settlers ted. The polls were held at the house Am Crook, with Norman B. Seely, Asa Crook, and a Dr.
Baker, who lived in Henry county, on the Rook Island road, Judges of Election, and P. B. Besse and Alfred Wood,
Clerks. Fifteen votes were cast, and Asa Crook and Dr. Baker elected Justices of the Peace, Alfred Wood, Constable,
and Geo. Charles, who lived near Knoxville, in Knox county, Surveyor. The returns were sent to Knox county, as
Prophetstown and Portland were then a part of Henry county which was attached to Knox for judicial purposes.
Reuben Ammidon and Edwin Wrigth came back during the summer of 1835, and settled on their claim adjoining the
present village of Prophetstown, but afterwards sold to the Warners. Harry Smith made the first settlement on
Benton Street, on what is now known as the Edwin Cox farm.
In January, 1836, Isaac Colin Southard came and made his home with Mr. William Hill,
whom he rewarded soon after by marrying his only daughter. Lewis Brown, Edwin Sage and Johnson E. Walker also came
the same year, the former making a claim on Washington street, and the two latter on Jackson street. The people of
Prophetstown at a very early day called their roads "streets." The road to Sterling was called Jackson street; the
Geneseo road Washington street; and the one which was afterwards opened directly south of the village, Benton
street-names which they still retain. In the spring of 1836 James Knox, Sr., started the Prophetstown ferry, at
about its present location, making it the oldest ferry in the county. The boat was pulled across the river for some
time. Daniel Crocker came from Galena, during the year, with a small stock of goods, and opened a store in a log
cabin on the bank of the river, to which he afterwards added a sort of frame building, made of hewn timber, and
covered it with split clapboards. This was probably the first store in the county. The 4th of July was duly
celebrated in 1836, at Asa Crook’s, about fifty persons being present, and was the first celebration of the kind in
In 1837 considerable additions were made to the town. John Farnum, William T.
Minchin, the Olmsteads, and Harry Brown, settled on Washington street, and Erastus Nichols, Ethan Nichols, Freeman
J. Walker, and William H. McKenzie, on Jackson street. On the first of June, Jabez Warner, with his two sons, came
up Rock river on a flat boat, bringing a stock of goods, and stopped at Prophetstown. Mr. Crocker having then just
left the place, taking his goods with him. Mr. Warner moved his goods into the same building, and formed a
copartnership with Simon Page, after which the stock of goods was increased. The Indians were quite plenty that
year, and, between them and the whites, Warner & Page did considerable business. Blackhawk’s youngest daughter
purchased her wedding outfit of Mr. Warner, unless she lied about it, which is not at all probable of an Indian.
Page sold out to Warner the next year, and when last heard from was living in California. Mr. Warner did not
replenish his stock, and soon commenced farming. Jabez Warner and family were a great acquisition to the town, and
there has not been an event of any importance in the history of Prophetstown in which their influence has not been
felt. Mr. Warner brought the rest of his family early in 1838. He boarded in 1837 with his brother, John S. Warner,
who came in June of that year, and was the first white man with a family that settled on the present village plot.
John S. Warner afterwards attempted to take out a pre-emption, but, as a town had been laid out on the land, it was
In 1838 David Woodward made the first settlement at Woodward’s Bluff. Stephen Crook,
who had made his claim the previous year, settled across Coon creek on the Sterling road. Robert Smith settled near
Jefferson Corners, on a claim made the year before. Frederick Dwight, who had the year before purchased a claim of
Asa Crook for $2,000, arrived and commenced improving it. He bought the claim of Marvin Frary, and opened one of
the finest farms in the county, upon which he planted large orchards. Mr. Dwight was a single man of considerable
means, which he employed freely in improvements. 1840 he built a large house, which was burned in 1847. Mr. Dwight
accompanied Fremont on his first Rocky Mountain trip, and is now living in Springfield, Massachusetts. His farm in
Prophetstown is owned by Earl S. Ellithorpe. Anthony J. Mattson came in June, 1838, and worked for the first ten
years after his settlement at his trade, that of carpenter and joiner. Since then he has been the moving spirit of
every public enterprise of the place, and it is his untiring exertions, perhaps, more than to those of any other
man, that Prophetstown is today indebted for its prosperity. For the past twenty years he has been the projector
and chief actor in every railroad enterprise which had Prophetstown for an objective point. The winter set in early
in 1838. On the 30th of November, Robert Smith and Stephen Crook killed a cow and took it to Dixon ferry for sale.
When they started for home night was coming on, and a light fall of snow had obscured the track, so that they
missed their way and took the Peoria trail. After they had got well out on the prairie, they discovered their
mistake, and struck across towards Hawley’s Point. When they came to the creek it was found partly frozen, and, in
endeavoring to get across lost one of their horses, and became thoroughly drenched themselves. It seems that the
people at Dixon had become alarmed about them, as the weather had turned extremely cold, and the next morning
started on their track. When they reached the wagon both Mr. Smith and Mr. Crook were found frozen, and it was with
considerable difficulty that they could be taken back. They finally managed to catch the remaining horse, an with
its aid drew the wagon to a house. Crook was dead when found, while Smith lived to be taken home but died in a day
or two afterwards. Mr. Crook left a large family, and Mr. Smith a wife and two children.
In the early days of the settlement there were no mills near by to grind wheat and
corn, necessitating the settlers to resort to hand mills when they wanted flour or corn meal. Neither were these
mills very plenty. An incident in connection with the trouble in getting corn ground at that time is related by
Mrs. Stowell, formerly Annette Nichols. She at one time carried a half bushel of corn on her back to Sampson
Ellithorpe’s, to be ground, Mr. Ellithorpe being the happy possessor of a hand mill. After she had transformed the
corn into meal, she took Earl Ellithorpe, then about two years old, on one shoulder, the meal on the other, a small
babe in her arms, and with the other child a little girl, now Mrs. Dr. Donaldson, of Morrison, hanging to her
dress, crossed the creek on a fallen log. It needed a strong nerve and a steady one to perform. that feat, and our
pioneer mothers had both. Buckwheat ground in a common coffee-mill, and baked into a cake, was also a staple diet.
Grain however, was plenty, and potatoes excellent, the old Nerchannocks being the favorite variety, so that with
appetites such as ague only can create, the settlers did not mind the quality as much as they did the quantity.
There were not a great many arrivals in 1839. W. F. Van Norman, Alex. Thompson, and William Thompson made claims on
Jackson street, and Stephen B. Smith settled on Washington street. Considerable sickness prevailed that season, and
in August Ethan Nichols died. A very extensive prairie fire swept over the country that fall, which, at one time,
threatened the destruction of the settlements, but by great exertions they were saved. The prairie fires in those
days were very alarming, endangering life in many instances. In 1836 Charles Atkinson and his wife, while crossing
the prairie south of Prophetstown, were overtaken by a fire, and, to save their lives, Mr. Atkinson tried to start
a back fire by means of powder. In the attempt his powder-flask exploded, destroying two of his fingers. He,
however, succeeded in saving the lives of himself and wife, and also those of his horses.
In 1840, Erastus G. Nichols finished a saw-mill on Coon creek. The mill was first
commenced in 1837 by Asa Crook, but Nichols and Alanson Stowell were soon engaged with him. A race was dug about a
mile and a half long. but as no level was taken it was found that the water would not run through it. A dam was
then built by Nichols. The mill did some sawing during the spring freshets, but was a disastrous speculation to all
concerned, about $8,000 being sunk in the operation.
In 1841, Job Dodge and A. T. Wiggins, who had been selling goods at Portland, moved
their store-building and goods to Prophetstown, locating the building about where the rear end of Baldwin’s brick
store now is. It was a small, one story structure, and was used for a store most of the time after its removal to
Prophetstown until 1871, when it gave way to the present fine block. Wiggins died a year or two afterwards, but
Dodge continued trading there until 1848. In connection with the store he also engaged quite extensively for most
of the time in packing pork, using some years $25,000 in the business. Prices varied from 75 cents to $2.50 per
hundred for dressed hogs, and at one time rose to $4 and $5 per hundred, but these were decidedly extra prices. He
marketed first at St. Louis, shipping his pork by the way of Albany. After the completion of the Illinois and
Michigan canal he hauled mostly to Peoria, and shipped to Chicago. Quite a large amount of pork was also taken to
the lead mines at Galena. N. G. Reynolds used to relate an incident which occurred in his experience in hauling
pork to that place, in 1843. He had fattened one hundred hogs, and taken them to Galena to sell. The town was full
of Irishmen who seeing he had a large lot of pork, commenced to "bear" the market. The leader approached with the
inquiry, "Sthranger, and what de yez ax for yer pork?" "One dollar and seventy-five cents a hundred," answered
Reynolds. "Och, mon," replied Pat, "1 saw as foine a lot as ye iver put your eyes on, sold last Saturday for six
bits, but as these look foine, I’ll give yea a dollar a hundred, and take the lot; what say ye, mon?" Reynolds
shook his head. "I’ll give yez a dollar, and not a ha-pence more," sung out the Irishman. Just at that moment a dog
jumped up on one of the loads, and commenced eating one of the hams. "I say, stranger," cried out the would be
buyer, "the dog is aiting yer pork." "Let him eat," said Reynolds, "a man can’t be a Christian who will drive a dog
away from pork that is worth only a dollar a hundred!" Mr. Reynolds effected a sale in a short time at $1.50 a
hundred for light, and $1.75 for heavy hogs. The first hogs introduced were of the variety called "land pikes."
They would live the year round in the woods, if permitted. It was rare sport in the fall to hunt and catch them
with dogs, when after a few weeks feeding with corn the would b. in condition to drive to Galena. N. G. Reynolds,
however, brought in some China pigs, and as early as 1839 Prophetstown and Portland had some very fine hogs, and
laid the foundation of what is now the principal staple.
The following is nearly a correct list of the old settlers of Prophetstown, With the
year of their arrival: 1834, Asa Crook, John W. Stakes, John Bowman, Reuben Ammidon, Edward Wright, Alfred Wood,
John Champine; 1835, William Hill, Marvin Frary, J. Sperry Johnson, Nathaniel G. Reynolds, Alonzo Davis, Harry
Smith, Charles Atkinson; 1836, Jeduthan Seely, Jr., Lewis Brown, Isaac Colin Southard, Stephen Crook, Thompson F.
Clark, Edward S. Gage, Johnson G. Walker; 1837, Oliver Olmstead, Harmon Smith, Wm. B. McKenzie, Freeman J. Walker,
Josiah Collins, Erastus G. Nichols, Jabea Warner, Ashley Booth, Calvin Williams, Alanson Stowell, David Underhill,
Win. T. Minchin, David Woodward, Robert Smith; 1838, Henry Oljnstead, David Olmstead, Ethan Nichols, John Farnum,
Nathaniel Browning, Frederick Dwight, Henry Walker, A. J. Mattson, Samuel Johnson, 0. W. Gage, Nathaniel Pomeroy;
1839, Elias C. Hutchinson, John S. Warner, Samuel Wilson, W. F. Van Norman, Alexander Thompson, William Thompson,
Silas Martin, Johnson W. Gage, John F. Townlee, Luther B. Ramsay, Horace Annis. Stephen D. Smith, Sampson
Ellithorpe. Among those who came after 1839, were Lawrence Wall in 1840, Henry S. Tuller, in 1842, and Nathan
Thompson in 1843.
The first child born in what is now Prophetstown township, was Mary Ann Stakes,
daughter of John W. Stakes, the birth occurring October 15, 1835.
The first wedding was that of Isaac Colin Southard and Miss Almira Hill, daughter of
William Hill, in 1836, the ceremony being performed by a Methodist minister who was on his way to
The first deaths as near as can he ascertained, were those of Robert Smith and
Stephen Crook, and occurred November 30, 1838. They were frozen while returning home from Dixon, an account of
which will he found in this chapter.
A Postoffice was established at Asa Crook’s as early as 1836, and Asa Crook appointed
Postmaster. This was the first Postoffice in Prophetstown, and was continued at Mr. Crook’s until 1839, when it was
moved to Col. Seely’s. The mail was first carried by horse to and from Dixon ferry. N. G. Reynolds drew up the
petition for the office, and upon its establishment gave it the name Prophetstown.
The first school in the township was taught in the fall of 1835 by Miss Lovica
Hamilton, daughter of Deacon Adam R. Hamilton, of Lyndon. Tge school was held in a room in Asa Crook’s
The first school house was built by the Hills, and others, on Washington street, in
1836, but as it was a poor affair they determined in 1840 to erect another. This one was frame, and was the first
one of the kind in the township. It was completed in December, 1840, and on the 11th of January, 1841, opened for
school, Rufus Miner being the teacher. The school houses in the town are now equal to those of any township in the
county, outside of the cities of Sterling, Morrison, and Fulton.
The first religious services in what is now the township of Prophetstown were held at
the house of Asa Crook on Christmas Day, 1835, and were conducted by a minister of the Methodist Episcopal church,
who was on his way to establish some mission society, but losing the trail on the prairie came to Prophetstown for
shelter. N. G. Reynolds, Norman B. Seely, and AlexanderSeely, and their families, had assembled at Mr. Crook’s for
a holiday visit, and while they were there the minister came in, and true to his calling desired to hold a
religious meeting, stating that if Methodist preaching would suit those assembled, he would commence the services.
Mr. Reynolds replied that they had been used to hearing the gospel preached by Methodist ministers at the East, and
he had no doubt all would be happy to hear a minister of that -denomination preach again. The agreement being made,
Mr. P. B. Reynolds, then a boy, was sent out with a sleigh to gather in the families of William Harry Smith, and
others, and when all had arrived, the minister proceeded with the services. It is doubtful if a more attentive
congregation have ever assembled in the township of Prophetstown, The first minister who had regular preaching days
came from Elkhorn Grove, and held his meetings on a week day. The first M. E. Society in Prophetstown was formed in
the summer of 1836, at the house of Mr. N. G. Reynolds, and consisted of Mr. and Mrs. William Hill, Mrs. Harry
Smith, and Mrs. N. G. Reynolds. It was formed at first as a mission society, and afterwards grew into the present
M. E. Church and Society of Prophetstown.
The first traveled road was the old Dixon and Rock Island stage route, which is still
the principal traveled road in the township.
In 1845, Col. B. Seely, Jabez Warner, and Luther B. Ramsay, purchased reapers of
Cyrus H. McCormick, which were made at Cincinnati, Ohio, and had them shipped to Albany, where they arrived at the
commencement of the wheat harvest. It was supposed they were the first reapers brought into Whiteside county, but
J. T. Atkinson had purchased one of the same make, and had it shipped to him at Union Grove, in 1838, and used it
that season. When Messrs. Seely, Warner and Ramsay got their reapers in Portland and Prophetstown, a strife arose
between them as to who would cut the first round. Mr. Ramsay succeeded in getting in considerably ahead upon a
piece of winter wheat belonging to P. Bates Reynolds, on Washington street, Prophetstown. The reaper was a very
different affair from the one now in use, the sickle being perfectly straight, without sections. The driver rode
the near horse, and the grain was raked off the machine by a man who walked at its side. The winter of 1842-’43 is
known as the cold winter. Severe weather set in as early as November 16th, with a rain storm, and on the 17th it
began to snow, the cold increasing very rapidly. On the morning of the 18th, Rock river was frozen over. The winter
was cold all through, with the exception of a short thaw in January, the cold continuing through March. On the 23d
of that month the thermometer indicated 23 degrees below zero. Rock river did not break up until the afternoon of
the 9th of April. A brilliant comet was visible nearly all winter.
The season of 1844 was very wet, as were also those of 1851 and 1858. In 1865 a great
deal of rain fell in August and September. The season of 1869 was also very wet from May 9th until July 25th,
making the corn crop a failure. The year 1859 was remarkable as being extremely dry, and for there being a frost in
every month. On the 4th of July there was a frost sufficient to kill the corn. The corn crop that year was a
failure, and the other crops light. The year 1860 was the most fruitful one ever known in this section, all kinds
of crops yielding largely, wheat averaging thirty bushels to the acre.
The settlement of Prophetstown, until 1847, had been almost entirely confined to
Jackson and Washington streets, but that year Daniel Foy made a settlement at Leon Postoffice, east of Woodward’s
bluff. Charles Puller next settled about a mile further east, and in 1849 George Joy opened his farm. Joseph Drain
came in 1852, and settled where he now lives, setting out his extensive orchard soon afterwards. In 1852 there was
a large portion of the land in Tampico, Hahnaman, and that part of Prophetstown still unentered, but the Illinois
Central Railroad was chartered about that time, and the next year the swamp lands were being selected, so that it
was soon afterwards all taken up. The Chicago & Rock Island railroad was just finished, and railroad projects
were being projected quite extensively. Among the charters was one for a road from Sheffield to Savanna, a
subscription of $41,600 in its aid being obtained in Prophetstown alone, and as the project was encouraged by the
Chicago & Rock Island Company, W. G. Wheaton, their engineer and surveyor, made a survey that year. This
Company, however, decided soon after not to build any branch roads, and nothing further was done, excepting to
collect the expense of surveying.
On the 11th of September, 1856, articles of incorporation under the general railroad
law of 1849, were filed, for the building of the Cammanche, Albany & Mendota Railroad, and on the 30th of
January following they were approved and legalized by act of the General Assembly of the State. A large cash
subscription to the stock of the Company was obtained along the line of the road, nearly all the farmers and other
property owners subscribing. It was supposed at the time that the stock would be a paying one, and that it would be
above par in a short time. It is, therefore, no wonder that the people subscribed liberally, glib talkers being
employed to circulate the subscription papers, to show how handsomely the investment would pay. About the same time
a road was chartered called the Terre Haute, Joliet & Mendota Railroad. These projected roads were soon after
consolidated under the title of the Illinois Grand Trunk Railway. As the amount subscribed along the line of the
road, although liberal, was found insufficient to construct it, the committee started out again, and as in
inducement for the increase of the subscription proposed that the stock could be paid in five years time by
securing with mortgages on the real estate of the subscribers. Nearly all accepted the proposition, and doubled
their subscriptions, feeling assured that with the completion of the road their lands would be double in value, and
that the stock could not fail of being at par. About $270,000 was subscribed in all, the route located and contract
let, the contractors taking their pay in mortgage bonds. The grading was commenced in 1858 and continued through
1859, and finished a good portion of the way. In the fall of 1859 the coupons became due, and as they were not
generally paid, suits were commenced before a Justice of the Peace to enforce payment. These suits were appealed to
the Circuit Court, and judgment obtained. A test case was taken to the Supreme Court of the State, where the
judgment below was affirmed. As all the work on the road had been suspended, the people were indignant, realizing
that they had mortgaged their homes, and received nothing in return. They even resorted to violent means to right
themselves, and an attempt was made by some of the best men among them to forcibly get possession of their notes
and mortgages. The attempt failed, fortunately for all parties, and a compromise was effected by which the matter
was settled for about seventy cents on the dollar. The war of the Rebellion broke out, and no attempt was made to
revive the road until after the passage of the act of 1869 authorizing towns and counties to issue bonds in aid of
railroads. The towns along the line of the road were canvassed, and in 1870 A. J. Mattson made preliminary
agreement with James F. Joy, President of the Michigan Central, and Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroads,
that if the towns along the line would grade and tie the road and give right of way for the road, and depot
grounds, the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Company would complete and operate it. This agreement was
subsequently modified by the Company taking the bonds of the towns for $200,000 and doing all the work. It
required, however, a cash subscription of $40,000 to purchase the old franchise, and for incidental expenses, which
was obtained, and the building of the road immediately commenced, and on the 8th day of Mare 1871, the first train
of cars entered the village of Prophetstown. The next year it was continued to the Mississippi river near Fulton,
where it was expected it well cross on the bridge used by the Chicago & Northwestern Railway, but the latter
obtained a permanent injunction forbidding them, and the end of that branch the line remains on the east side of
the river. Thus after nearly twenty years struggle, the people along the route having twice taxed themselves to
their utmost ability, a railroad has been constructed through the town, and notwithstanding it has been from the
first the cause of a great deal of personal feeling, and the further fact that the resources of the people will be
severely taxed for a few years to fully pay for it, yet all feel now that the town could not dispense with it.
Since its completion the village of Prophetstown has more than doubled in population.
The following have been the Supervisors, Town Clerks, Assessors, Collectors, and
Justices of the Peace, of the township of Prophetstown, from its organization in 1852, up to and including
Supervisors:-1852-’58, Obadiah W. Gage; 1859, Mark R. Averill; 1860 -‘61, H. S.
Cabot; 1862, Mark R. Averill; 1863 - ’68, Andrew J. Tuller; 1869- ‘75, Leander W. Lewis; 1876-’77, Phineas Bates
Town Clerks:-1852-’56, Wm. R. Cox; 1857-’59, Andrew J. Tuller; 1860- ‘61, George R.
Shaw; 1862, William T. Minchin; 1863, Ed. R. Conner; 1864- ‘77, Silas Sears.
Assessors:-1852-’61, Johnson W. Gage; 1862, Thomas Green; 1863-’64, A. J. Warner;
1865, George P. Richmond; 1866-’71, Johnson W. Gage; 1872- ‘73, Chauncey Paddock; 1874-’77, Johnson W.
Collectors:-1852, Ryland H. Smith; 1853, Ethan Nichols; 1854, David H. Nichols; 1855,
Paul Newton; 1856-’59, Ethan Nichols; 1860, Stephen L. Conner; 1861, Andrew J. Tuller; 1862-’63, John C. Paddock;
1864, Linus C. Reynolds; 1865, A. H. Brace; 1866, William Hamilton; 1867, A. H. Brace; 1868, Stephen L. Conner;
1869, Joseph E. Case; 1870, Stephen L. Conner; 1871-’72, Henry Hurd; 1873-’74, Edward S. Bentley; 1875-’77,
Justice of the Peace:-1854, Paul Newton, George W. Ford; 1855, Ira C. Bardwell; 1857,
Edward B. Warner; 1858, Paul Newton, Joseph Drain; 1860, A. J. Warner, O. D. Richards; 1864, R. J. Dickinson, O. D.
Richards; 1865, Samuel J. Ackley; 1868, Paul Newton, Alex. Stuart; 1869, J. B. Gates; 1870, R. I. Dickinson; 1872,
P. K. Marfleet, S. J. Ackley; 1873, P. K. Marfleet, R.I. Dickinson; 1877, P. K. Marlfeet, John W.
At a special town meeting held August 21, 1869, it was voted to issue township bonds
to the amount of $40,000, in aid of the Mendota and Prophetstown branch of the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy
Railroad. The vote stood 173 for, to 109 against, the issue.
Considerable cheese has been manufactured in the township for the past fifteen years,
by Luther B. Ramsay, Porter W. Spencer, and William McBeth, and a market has generally been found in the
neighboring cities, and but little has been shipped, so far, to distant points by railroad. The cheese is of
excellent quality, and the manufacturers could find a market for it anywhere. The principal articles of export of
the township are grain, hogs, cattle, and butter.
Prophetstown township contains 28,486 acres of improved land, and 1,705 acres of
unimproved land. The Assessor’s books for 1877 show that the number of horses in the township in that year, was
924; number of cattle, 2,423; mules and asses, 11; sheep, 2,019; hogs, 3,094; carriages and wagons, 337; watches
and clocks, 265; sewing and knitting machines, 160; pianofortes, 23; melodeons and organs, 33. Total assessed value
of lands, lots, and personal property $654,574.. Value of railroad property, $25,022. Total assessed value of all
property in 1877, $679,596.
The population of the township of Prophetstown in 1870, outside of the Village, as
shown by the Federal census of that year, was 998, of which 890 were of native birth, and 108 of foreign birth. The
population of the township in 1860, including the village, was 1,144. The estimated population of the township in
1877, excluding the village, is 1,100.