Canoe Creek Township, Illinois

Canoe Creek Township, Illinois

It was about seventy years ago that white people first settled in what became Canoe Creek Township. These first settlers were Jonas Carter, John M. Walker and Joseph Martin. They came with ox teams from Wayne County, Illinois, and landed at Canoe Creek on the 26th day of August, 1835. Their first work was to cut down some small trees and make a pen for their stock, and then to cut some larger ones and split them up to make a rude shelter for themselves. Mr. John M. Walker is the only one of the three now living. After selecting his claim he went back to his former home and was married. He and his young bride then made their wedding trip on horseback from Wayne County to Canoe Creek. Mr. Walker still resides on his first choice of land. His wife passed away a few years ago. Abstractors would have an easy time tracing Mr. Walkers’ title to the land he owns. He has a deed signed by James K. Polk, president of the United States, and it has never been transferred. Mr. Carter and Mr. Martin went to work at once on their arrival and built log houses on their claim. These were the first houses in what is now Canoe Creek Township. A part of the land covered by their claim is now owned by Wallace Woodburn and a part by William Pearsall. The land at that time had not been surveyed by the government, except into townships. About three years after-wards it was subdivided into sections. At this time there was only one house where the Cities of Rock Island and Moline have since grown up. Mr. Walker informs the writer that their nearest neighbor to the north at that time was at Savanna, where a man lived who ran a ferry; and the nearest one to the east was at Dixon, where there was a stage station. Their first market place was Chicago, to which place they hauled all of their surplus grain and drove the stock which they had for sale. They would haul a load of wheat to Chicago and trade it for salt. This was slow and tedious work in those days, and there were no good roads and no bridges. They would often find streams with full banks, swollen by heavy rains, and would have to camp for days waiting for the water to subside so they could cross with a reasonable degree of safety. At a later date Savanna and Galena became milling places. Very often one would take a sack of wheat and go on horseback to one of these places to have it ground into flour. When they went by team it usually took several days. The mills had small burrs and ground but slowly and each customer had to wait his turn to have his grist ground. Money was scarce in those days. People did not go to the stores every week as now, for groceries and other supplies. One old settler has stated that one year his grocery bill was made up of three items: one dollar’s worth of sugar, a gallon of kerosene oil at seventy-five cents, and a barrel of salt. Wild game furnished most of the meat; Johnny cake, corn bread, and a little white bread, potatoes and wild fruits, honey and maple syrup made up their bill of fare; and it was not so bad either. Housewives spun their own yarn and did their own weaving. The scarcity of money is illustrated by the statement of one old settler, who states that before he could raise the fifty cents per acre to pay the government for his land, he had to pre-empt it several times. First by himself, then his wife and his children, making repeated filings in order to hold the land until the money could be raised. The first house was of logs and was built by Jonas Carter. The first frame house was built by George Kendall. The first school house was built of logs and was located on Canoe Creek. The first frame schoolhouse was the Poplar Grove schoolhouse, and was built by John Denison. The first school was taught by Miss Johanna Herd. The first deed conveying real estate was signed by James K. Polk, president of the United States. The first ferry was at the big rock on the Meredosia. The first church built was the Bethesda. The first person buried in Bethesda Cemetery was Mrs. Parry Henderson. The first person buried in Mt. Marie Cemetery was Mrs. Maria Liphardt.

Hillsdale Village

Is in Canoe Creek Township and is not incorporated. It is a small village but has good school facilities, general stores, black-smith shop and two hotels. The first post-office was established in 1842 or 1843, with Moses Hubbard as postmaster. The second post office was called Hill’s Crossing. At this crossing a station was established by the Sterling & Rock Island Railroad, now the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy, and the village was laid out in 1868 by Richard Hill and named Hillsdale. It is the shipping point for a part of Canoe Creek and Zuma Townships.


Township Organization 


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

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