First Settlers of Rock County

First Settlers of Rock County

The first white settler in this county was George Davenport, who came to the Island of Rock Island in the spring of 1816 with Colonel William Lawrence and the Eighth Regiment of United States regulars at the time Fort Armstrong was built. In 1817 Davenport built a double log cabin on the Island of’ Rock Island at the place where the “Old Davenport House” now stands, one part of which he used as a store in which he carried on the business of an Indian trader. The old ruin now standing on the north shore of the island was built in 1833 and was for many years the-most pretentious residence above St. Louis, the timbers in the old Trading House being used in constructing the new dwelling. In 1824 Russell Farnham came from Warsaw and entered into partnership with Davenport under the firm name of Davenport & Farnham. In 1826 Davenport and Farnham built the house on the main land just west of the P. L. Cable residence and afterwards occupied by John Barrel. This house was used for many years as the seat of justice for this county and in our county records is referred to as the “House of John Barrel.” 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. During the year 1828 there were eight settlers to arrive-Captain B. W. Clark, an old soldier named Haney, Judge Pence, who settled on Rock River, and John Kinney, Thomas Kinney, George Harlan, Conrad Leek and Archibald Allen, the last five settling where Rapids City now is. The year 1829 brought a number of newcomers-Judge John W. Spencer, who had been here the year before; Louden Case, Sr., and his three sons, Jonah, Louden, Jr., and Charles, who settled on what is now known as the Case Place on Rock River; Rinah Wells and his four sons, Rinah, Jr., Lucius, John and Samuel, who also settled on Rock River; Joel Wells, Jr., who settled near Hampton; Joel Wells, Sr., Levi and Huntington Wells, who settled at Moline; Joseph Danforth a mile above Moline; Michael Bartlett where Deere & Mansur’s factory, Moline, now is; George Goble and his son, Benjamin, about two miles above Moline; William Brashar, who settled south of the present city of Rock Island; Joshua Vandruff and his sons, who settled on Vandruff’s Island; Charles H. Case and Benjamin F. Pike.

Early Settlements of Rock County 


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

1 thought on “First Settlers of Rock County”

  1. Reverend Eric Hernandez

    The people of this area speak of a gang of highwaymen who were active at the end of the 18th century, but you do not mention them. Our understanding is that there was something like a main thoroughfare roughly traveling parallel with the Mississippi River. This means there had to have been some settlement at the end of the 18th century, we believe circa 1795 – 1799.

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