History of Montmorency Township
From Bent-Wilson History Book, 1877
Posted by Dana Fellows
The township of Montmorency, like all those on the south side of Rock river, was originally a part of Portland Precinct, and afterwards of Rapids Precinct, of which it remained a part until 1852, when it received its name and boundaries from the Commissioners appointed by the County Commissioners’ Court for that purpose. It did not receive its complete organization, however, until 1859, remaining from 1852 up to that time attached to Coloma township for judicial purposes. It comprises township 20 north, range 7 east of 4th Principal Meridian. This township is admirably adapted for agricultural purposes, and the lands are now nearly all improved. The soil, with few exceptions, is of the deep black loam of the prairie, and the surface sufficiently undulating in most parts to render it tillable every season. The low lands are drained by the county ditch, a part of which commences in the town. The northwest corner is crossed by a spring creek running into Rock river, but the whole town is well watered by abundant wells, the water being of excellent quality. A piece of low land, known as Swan Lake, and formerly covered for most of the year with water, remains unbroken. It is now drained by one part of the county ditch, but the depth of the ditch is not sufficient at present to allow a full reclamation of the land. The farmers of the town have been turning their attention of late years to the raising of stock and hogs of the best breeds, several of them having full bloods of these breeds, notably among them being A. A. Church, Hon. Tyler McWhorter, and others. There is probably no town in the county where finer stock and hogs can be seen than in Montmorency. For a comparatively new town the dwellings and barns in Montmorency are of a superior kind. The hay barn and cattle stables of Alonzo Golder are particularly noticeable for size and convenience of arrangement. The dairy interest is also well represented in the town, Mr. C. C. Buell, the present Supervisor being the pioneer. Mr. Buell has devoted a great deal of time and attention to this branch of industry. A branch of the C.B.&Q. Railroad, running from Amboy to Rock Falls, formerly known as the Chicago & Rock River Railroad, passes through the northeast corner of the town. The first settler in what is now Montmorency was Asa Scott, who came with his father, Jesse Scott, from Morgan county, Ohio, and landed at Como, June 1, 1839. He remained at Como until 1847, when he selected a farm in section 7, township 20, range 7 east of the 4th Principal Meridian, now the township of Montmorency. For nearly five years he was the only settler between Rock and Green rivers in that part of Whiteside county. In 1852, S. Russell settled on the south half of section 7, in the same township. Edwin Scott followed in 1853, and settled on the northeast quarter of section 12. Both came from Ohio. Tyler McWhorther, J. G. Banes and George Murray, from Indiana, Herman Sturtz, from Pennsylvania, and two Englishmen, named Robert Adams and Robert Clay, came in 1854. Joel Wood, from Ohio, two brothers named Van Buren, from New York, and Dr. R. Davis, from Ohio, 1855, and Alonzo Golder, and Joseph Golder, from New York. Wm. Hall, an Englishman, and several others, came in 1856. After that year settlers came in more rapidly. Asa Scott built the first house in the town. It still stands on his present farm. The first child born in the town was Addie B., daughter of Asa and Elizabeth Scott, was born on the 6th of August, 1848. She is now the wife of Nathaniel Wood, and lives in Crawford county, Iowa. George C. Calkins and Mary T. Scott were the first parties to enter into the bonds of matrimony in the town. The marriage took place at the house of Asa Scott, the father of the bride, Mr. and Mrs. Calkins are now residents of Adams County Iowa. The first death was that of John Scott, a son of Asa Scott, and occurred on the 26th of February, 1856. He was not quite a year old when he died, and was buried at Como. The first town election after the complete organization of the township, was held at the school house in District No. 2, on the 5th of April, 1859. Joel G Wood was chosen Moderator, and A. L. Burdett, Clerk. Twenty votes were cast. At that meeting it was voted, among other things, that every householder be empowered to act as Pound Master. It was also voted that the name of the township be changed from Montmorency to Arcade. This change did not, however, seem popular with the people, many refusing to accept it at all, and at the next town meeting the vote was rescinded, and Montmorency retained its name.
The following have been the principal officers of the town since its organization: Supervisors:-1859-’64, Joseph Golder; 1865-’67, George M. Sawyer; 1868-‘74, Tyler Mewherter; 1875-’77, C. C. Buell. Town Clerks:-1859, A. L. Burdett; 1860-’64, George M. Sawyer’ 1865, W.A. Golder; 1866-’67, P. C. Woods; 1868-’72, George M. Sawyer; 1873-”77, A.A.. Church. Assesors:-1859-’60, Asa Scott; 1861-’65, Nathan Williams; 1866, Tyler McWhorter; 1867, Nathan Williams; 1868-’70, George C. Calkins; 1871-’74, Herman Sterling; 1875, Rudolph Kauffman; 1876-’77, H. M. Barnum. Collectors:-1859, Win. C. Payson; 1860, James Currier; 1861-’67, J. W. Scott; 1868-’71, John W. Niles; 1872-’73, James Frank; 1874-’75, Henry M. Barnum; 1876-’77, Freeman Clemons. Justices of the Peace:.-1859, Alonzo Golder, Benjamin Cushing; 1860, Alonzo Golder, W. E. Lawrence; 1861, J. G. Banes; 1862, Levi Macomber; 1864, Alonso Golder, George C. Calkins; 1865, Peter C. Woods; 1869, Artemus Church; 1870, Nathan Williams; 1871, Herman Sturtz; 1872, Alonzo Golder, P.C. Woods; 1876, P. C. Woods, C. C. Buell; 1877, Nathan Williams, P. C. Woods.
A special town meeting was held at the school house in District No.2, on the 8th of August, 1869, for the purpose of voting for or against the town subscribing the sum of $50,000 to the capital stock of the first division of the Chicago & Rock River Railroad Company, the form of the tickets being “For Subscription,” and “Against Subscription.” Forty-three votes were cast for subscription, and thirty-four against it. Bonds were to be issued for the the payment of the stock in such form as would entitle them to be registered under the act of the General Assembly, in force April 16, 1869. Notwithstanding the election in favor of subscribing to the stock of the company, the town did not do so. Soon after the election the Company applied to Hon. Tyler McWhorter, who was then Supervisor, to subscribe in behalf of the town, but he declined, and in this action was sustained by the people of the town. Application was then made to Judge Heaton, of the Circuit Court, for a writ of mandamus to compel him to do so, but the Judge refused to grant the writ. This ended proceedings until the road was completed, when application was again made to Supervisor McWhorter to subscribe to the stock and issue bonds, and he again refused. Application for a writ of mandamus was then made to Judge Pleasants, of the Rock Island Circuit Court, and granted. From this the town appealed to the Supreme Court, upon the ground, among others, that the election on the 28th of August, 1869, was not legal, inasmuch as the majority at that election in favor of subscribing to the stock, was not a majority of all the legal voters residing in the town, as required by the statute. The Supreme Court held with the appellant, and the writ was dismissed. The town therefore never subscribed to the stock nor issued any bonds. The contest over this matter was long and spirited, but the town won. The earliest traveled road in the town was the old trail leading from Dixon to Green River bridge. This road enters the town near the northeast corner, running in a southwesterly direction, and passes out a little west of the center of the south line. The other early traveled road was the old stage route from Dixon to Rock Island. It was over this route that the murderers of Col. Davenport were taken in 1846. A prominent object on the line of this road in this town was the lone tree, which was known far and wide throughout this section of the country. It was of the species known as the honey locust. It was also known as the “grocery tree,” because of the bottle of liquor the stage drivers used to keep hid under it, and from which they drew inspiration as they passed, going to and returning from Rock Island. The earliest road laid out was in 1854, and runs east and west through the town. The second was laid out in 1864, and runs north and south through the center of the town. The first school house was built on section 9, on the corner almost opposite Alonzo Golder’s residence, in the fall of 1856. It was a small frame building, and was used for school purposes until it was blown into fragments by the great tornado of June 3 1860. The first school in the town was taught in this diminutive building by Mr. Alfred Snell, in the winter of 1856-’57. Its site is now covered by a large and well-arranged school building. The second school house was built in what is known as the Banes district, and the third in the McWhorter district. In the latter school house Capt. W. C. Robinson, at present one of the Aldermen and Supervisors of Sterling, taught school in the winter of 1859-’60. There are now six good, commodious school houses in the town, and the number of children attending school during the past year (1876), was 364. Four of the districts in the town are union districts. The school fund of the town amounts to $16,000. No churches as yet have been erected in the town, and the people attend stated services either at Rock Falls, Sterling, or Tampico, as their religious belief inclines them. The first sermon preached in the town, of which we have any account, was by Elder Zadoc Paddock, of the Methodist Episcopal Church, in the McWhorter school house, in the spring of 1860. The first Sunday School was taught by Miss Sarah Robinson, in the same school house, in the summer of 1860. Miss Robinson was teaching the public school there at that time. Owing to the large number of men who enlisted in the Union armies during the war of the Rebellion, from the town, taking the population at that period into consideration, and the tax raised to supply any deficiency in the quotas under the different calls of the President for troops, Montmorency was not subject to a draft. Of the men who went from the town, Wm. Macomber became one of McClellan’s staff, Alonzo Golder, a son of Joseph Golder, died in the service . and a son of Asa Scott died after his arrival home, of disease contacted in the service.
The township of Montmorency contains 21,921 acres of improved land, and 1,160 of unimproved, as is shown by the Assessor’s books for 1877. From the same source we find that the number of horses in the township at the time of the assessment, was 488; number of cattle, 1,657; mules and asses, 32; sheep and hogs, 2,323; carriages and wagons, 217; sewing and knitting machines 68; melodeons and organs, 21. The total value of lands, lots and personal property in 1877, amounts to $379,730; value of railroad property, $5,002; total assessed value of all property in 1877, $384,732.
The population of the township in 1870, according to the Federal census of that year, was 668, of which 543 were of native birth, and 125 of foreign birth. In 1860 the population of the township was 278. it is now estimated population is over 1,000.