Old Settlers Association Of Rock Island County
Preliminary proceedings for the organization of an Old Settlers Association were commenced on the 11th day of December, 1865, by notices published in the Rock Island Argus and the Rock Island Union, calling a meeting at Jacob Norris and Company’s book store on the evening of Wednesday, December 13, 1865, On that evening ten or twelve old settlers assembled. Charles H. Case, esquire, was appointed chairman, and Major Frazer Wilson, secretary. A committee on organization was appointed, consisting of Jacob Norris, Doctor P. Gregg, William Bell, John H. Eby and Daniel Beals. January 10, 1866, the association was formed and named the Old Settlers Association of Rock Island County. The meeting was held at the Court House, and a constitution and by-laws adopted. An annual festival and gathering was also ordered to be held, and all persons who were residents of Rock Island County prior to December 31, 1845, or who married wives who were in the County at that time, were eligible to membership, together with their children or descendants. At this meeting thirty-four members were enrolled. The first annual festival was held in Babcock’s Hall in the City of Rock Island, on Thursday, February 22, 1866. August 29, 1890, the eligibility to membership was advanced from 1845 to 1850. August 27, 1895, the association adopted a resolution advancing the eligibility to membership from 1850 to 1855. August 30, 1906, the constitution of the association was amended so that all old settlers prior to December 31, 1845, should be eligible to membership as “pioneers,” and to so remain. As to the eligibility of an “old settler,” the time was extended to a date prior to December 31, 1860, and be brought down one year each year thereafter. All actual members of the Old Settlers Association prior to 1846 are considered as “pioneers,” and only those are eligible to the presidency of the association. The annual meetings for the election of officers were formerly held on the first Mon-day in February of each year, and a social reunion and picnic on each Fourth of July, and an annual supper on the 22nd of February – Washington’s Birthday. But later years the business meetings and reunions are held in the Fall of the year, and at Black Hawk’s Watch Tower. These occasions are usually fraught with good cheer on the part of the old settlers who assemble to renew their fellowships of “Auld Lang Syne,” and recall recollections of forty, fifty and sixty years ago, when Indians’ wigwams were more plentiful in this region than the cabins of white settlers. There are few living, who remember those earliest days, as most of the “pioneers” have passed away.
Source: Historic Rock Island County, pub. Kramer & Company, Rock Island, Illinois, 1908