Rock Island County, Illinois History and Genealogy

Rock Island County, Illinois History and Genealogy

Rock Island County was formed in 1831 from the county of Jo Daviess. It was named after an island in the Mississippi River. In 1833 early pioneers approved formation of a county government with the first county election held on July 5th of that year. In 1856 petitions were submitted to the County Board requesting the formation of townships during the next election in November. In this election Col. George Davenport, John W. Spencer and George W. Harlan were the first County Commissioners elected along with Benjamin Axe being chosen first Sheriff and Levi Wells first County Coroner. This township form of government is still in existence after nearly 150 years.

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Rock Island County, Illinois Biographies
Providing 165 biographies of the leading men in the establishment of Rock County, Illinois. These extensive biographies provide an intimate look into their contribution to the settlement of Rock County.

The Sac and Fox Indians of Illinois
What tribes first occupied Rock County, Illinois is not known, but in the first part of the seventeenth century, it was the hunting grounds of the once powerful tribes known as the Illini, or Illinois, who were a confederation of several tribes, the Tamaroas, Michigamies, Kaskaskias, Cahokias, and Peorias, and with whom were also classed the Mascoutins, sometimes called the Sixth Tribe. These tribes all were of the great Algonquin nation. Marquette in his journal speaks of meeting the Illini in 1673, when he stopped at the Des Moines River, and afterwards when, on his return, he came by way of the Illinois River from its mouth to Lake Michigan. The scene of the Illinois’ main residence was, however, in the central and southern parts of the state.

Early Settlements of Rock Island County
In 1828 the country along Rock River had not been surveyed and consequently was not open to entry. Yet the fame of the fertility of the soil and the beauty of the country had attracted the pioneer who is always in advance of the settler, and who often is termed the squatter, and these people relying upon the protection of Fort Armstrong began to select homes in this valley.

Indian Wars
In the spring of 1831, when Black Hawk and his people returned from their winter hunt, they found the few white settlers whom they had left the fall before increased by many new comers. They found the Indian homes occupied by pale faces, and among their corn hills they found the white man’s wagon. But more aggravating yet, they found the bones of their ancestors disturbed and laid bare upon the ground by the white man’s plow. Black Hawk and his people had borne much the past few years but this seemed too much. He protested, and was told the white man had bought the land from his white father in Washington. He could not understand this. What happened next, has lived on in legends, and displays some of the worse treatment of Native Americans by the white man.

Topography of Rock Island County
Rock Island County lies upon the western boundary of the great agricultural prairie state of Illinois. This boundary, the majestic Mississippi River, is bordered by bluffs that give a rugged and diversified surface to this river county. Rock Island County is notably a river county, for it stretches for almost sixty miles in an irregular strip along the Father of Waters. It also has for its boundary line (for the upper half of the county) upon the southeast another famous stream, Rock River. The third natural boundary is Meredosia Slough or creek which separates Rock Island from Whiteside County for some miles on the county’s northeastern portion.

Organization Of The County
In the early history of the State of Illinois, all the territory lying north and west of the Illinois River formed one county, under the name of Pike County. Prior to the organization of Rock Island County, it was attached to Jo Daviess County.

Township Organization
September 1, 1856, on application of three petitioners, signed by over fifty legal voters of Rock Island County, praying for the question of township organization; it was ordered by the court that the question be submitted to the voters of said county, to vote for or against township organization at the next November election.

Churches of Rock Island County, Illinois
In 1850 the largest religious denomination in Illinois was the Methodists. Baptists, Presbyterians, Roman Catholics, Lutherans, and Congregationalists followed. These pages contain histories, both short and long, of various churches of Rock Island County, Illinois.

Organizations and Societies of Rock Island County, Illinois
From fraternal organizations, to secret and patriotic societies, these pages provide an historical view of organizations active in the early history of Rock Island County, Illinois.

The Press of Rock Island County, Illinois
The publication of newspapers took an active roll in the early history of Rock Island County, especially as it applies to shaping the citizens early views to one political party or another. These pages provide a glimpse into the early press of Rock Island County, Illinois.

Source: Historic Rock Island County, pub. Kramer & Company, Rock Island, Illinois, 1908

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