Some Old Time Merchants and Citizens in 1855 and Prior
H. L. Abbott, “daguemean artist,” Illinois Street, east of Buffalo. Ainsworth and Lynde, “Boston Store,” dry goods and groceries, corner Water and Washington Streets. Christopher Atkinson, brickmaker and builder, on Bluff Road near the old grave yard, afterwards locating at the present earner of Seventh Avenue and Thirtieth Street, and later en Thirtieth Street between Tenth and Eleventh Avenues. William R. Ayres, painter, in basement of old Methodist Church. Hawes and Babcock, David Hawes and George M. Babcock, stone quarry and lime kiln, south side of Moline Avenue, now Fifth Avenue and Thirty-fifth Street. David Hawes came here in 1835, returning to Nashville, and coming back in 1837. John Barge, school teacher and City Clerk. Barnes and Randel, old saw mill, above railroad bridge, afterwards the site of the second Chicago and Rock Island railroad round house, the first round house being built on the north side of Illinois Street, at the foot of Broadway Street. Barrett and Cobb, auction store, Illinois and West Eagle Streets. John Beierlein, old time cooper, located on the corner of Rock River and Elk Streets. William Bell, carpenter and builder, one of our foremost citizens, quiet in manner, and a most thorough man was ” Uncle Billy Bell.” A. Benedict and Company, shoes, leather belting, etc., Illinois Street, west of Buffalo. Block and Loewenthal, clothing store, south side of Illinois Street, west of Eagle. Blythe and Stoddard, wagon and carriage makers, corner of Eagle and Orleans Streets, the old shop being operated afterwards by Thomas Hooper. W. T. Riggs, watchmaker and jeweler, between Washington and Eagle Streets, commenced business in the Spring of 1850. J. M. Moore, in 1847, erected a two-story brick building on the northeast corner of Illinois and Buffalo Streets. In 1860 the main store was remodeled, another story put on, and a residence erected, adjoining the rear of the store, which was the first hard-ware firm. Clasius and Speidel, druggists, on the corner of Illinois and East Eagle Streets, in the Buford Block. Dr. Clacius coming here in 1858, Mr. Speidel joined him the following year. They sometime later sold out to Gleim and Hinckley, John Bengston buying the stock March 15, 1868, building and moving to his present quarters in 1875. John H. Langley and Company, George W. D. Harris being the company, forwarding and commission merchants, steamboat agents, agricultural implements, cement, fire brick, etc. Water Street west of Madison Street. They were successors to E. T. Sawyer and Company, prior to 1855. Peter Fries, wholesale dealer in wines and liquors, on the southeast corner of Washington and Water Streets, commenced business in 1855, with F. W. Kellerstrass, who retired in 1861. The location was the old “Boston Store” of Cornelius Lynde, senior and junior. Biddison and Gilmore, composed of Joseph A. Biddison, George E. Biddison and William F. Gilmore. Planing Mill and corn mill, on the corner of Washington and Rock River Streets; commenced business in 1853. Warner Mills, built in 1856, corner of Washington and Highland Streets, was a four-story brick building, originally built for a barrel factory, but converted into a flouring mill, with a capacity of two hundred and forty barrels of flour a day. The flour mill was first run by Baker and Gilmore, then by John ‘Warner and L. C. Burwell, afterwards by John R. Warner, who later built on a heavy frame addition for a sash, door and blind factory, and planing mill, now occupied by the Rock Island Stair Works. There is still in existence on the premises one of the first: artesian wells drilled in the city, one hundred and fifteen feet deep. C. H. Leas and son, T. Silas Leas, built the first steam flouring mill, in the Winter of 1854, on Water Street east of Exchange, W. H. Hayes being their head miller. William W. Langdell, blacksmith and farmer, Moline Avenue, near Littig’s brewery. Reaugh and Cameron, shingle factory near the boat yard. Hakes and Riggs, watches and jewelry, Illinois Street, west of Buffalo. Jacob Sailor, saddlery, harness and trunk manufactory, Illinois west of Washington. Sargent and Bollman, blacksmiths, Eagle Street south of Illinois. Amos Stillman, County surveyor, 1855. Henry Curtis, junior, City surveyor and civil engineer, whose work can still be seen on many of the original plats on file in the Court House. W. L. Sweeney, wagon maker (1855) and Cyrus Churchill, blacksmith (1855), must have joined forces shortly after, as the old firm of Churchill and Sweeney existed for years on Eagle Street south of Orleans. Whitaker and Everts, dry goods, Illinois west of Eagle. Uridge Whiffen, ornamental painter, an old timer and still on earth, generally known as John Whiffen. Peter L. Hig, brewery, on Moline Avenue east of Andrews Street (1855). Charles B. Knox, undertaker, Rock River and Madison Streets. John Lusk, collector on ferry boat, after-wards ran a hack between Rock Island and Moline. Bill Kale and Charley Fisher, barbers. H. A. J. McDonald, carpenter and builder, on Rock River Street east of Broadway, was the father of our present postmaster. A. J. Swanson, boots and shoes, started in 1856 on the south side of Illinois Street east of Buffalo and next door to Graham’s stove store, and was afterwards, for many years, near the old Island City Hotel and Harper House. John Harper and Alexander Steel came from Chillicothe, Ohio, to Rock Island in 1855, and started a hardware store at the present location of the Rock Island Savings Bank. They continued in business together until 1865, when John Harper removed to Denver and started in the hardware business there. They were succeeded by Harper and Company, a firm composed of William Harper, a brother of John, and his brother-in-law, J. R. McCalister, then of Aledo, Illinois, the latter being a silent partner. In 1857 William Harper died after a brief illness, and Mr. McCalister took charge of the business. On September 1, 1869, J. W. Stewart moved to Rock Island from Dayton, Ohio, and took Mr. Harper’s interest, the firm being McCalister and Stewart. In 1874 Mr. McCalister sold his interest to James M. Montgomery, then of Andalusia, Illinois. The firm, Stewart and Montgomery, continued until 1892, when J. W. Stewart bought Mr. Montgomery’s interest and continued the business alone until 1905, being then succeeded by the present owners, the Rock Island Hardware Company. The business has been in but two locations since the beginning, namely : The Second Avenue and Seventeenth Street corner from 1855 to 1877, and the Dart corner, Second Avenue and Eightttteenth Street, from 1877 to the present time. Quincy McNiel, school teacher in the little brick school house in Union Square, was one who used the rod and was for many years a strenuous figure around the Court House, being at one time Circuit Clerk. C. S. Newberry and Brother, painters, Eagle and Water Streets. Jacob Norris, furniture dealer, corner of Illinois and Elk Streets, was a well known character and politician. Childs and Baker, dry goods, crockery, etc., Illinois Street, east of Buffalo. Elton C. Cropper, builder and carpenter, East Eagle, north of Illinois; afterwards Police Magistrate. David L. Cunkle, millstone manufacturer, and dealer in flour mill supplies, Illinois Street, west of Jefferson. Fisk and Lee, brokers and insurance agents, East Eagle Street, north of Illinois. Tim Babcock, wholesale grocer, near Argus office. W. Hurst, fruit and confectionery, Illinois Street, east of Buffalo. Charles Jeanneret, watchmaker and jeweler, Illinois Street, west of Washington. George D. Bromley, dry goods, jewelry, etc., Illinois Street, west of Buffalo. N. B. Buford Block, the red brick building near the northwest corner of Illinois and Buffalo Streets. Bulkley and Pleasant’s Gothic Block, north side of Illinois Street, between East Eagle and Washington Streets. . Physicians: Patrick Gregg; Brackett and Bulkley; Judd and Rathbun, eclectic; W. F. Cady; Calvin Truesdale; S. C. Plummer; William A. Knox. In 1858 Henry Tremann and Augustus Tremann opened a butcher shop on the north side of Illinois Street, between Elk and Buffalo Streets. In 1855 Frederick Kramer, carpenter, Moline Avenue, east of Andrews Street. 1833. Reverend Asa McMurty was the first clergyman, and that year, or the year following, organized a Methodist Episcopal Church. 1834. Charles H. and L. L. Case built the first house in Stephenson on the corner of Water and Beaver Streets. The building was used as a Court House until 1837, when the first Court House was built in Court House Square, being the first brick building in town. The first hotel in Stephenson was opened by Walter Phillips on Orleans Street, opposite the Court House. 1835. This Spring the town was surveyed by Charles Bennett, who was the first surveyor. J. H. Coon was the first brick maker and brick layer. 1836. James Copp opened the first butcher stall, also packed the first pork. William Lathrop was the first wagon maker. Israel Showdy the first blacksmith. Morgan Ferguson the first painter. Adam Y. Smith the first lawyer. Doctor P. Gregg opened an office, and kept drugs and medicines for sale. The first school house was erected on the corner of Orleans and Otter Streets. . 1837. First jewelry store opened by R. H. Kinney. The first dentist was J. B. Branch, who had an office in the Rock Island House. 1838. Jacob Sailor was the first harness maker and saddler, and John Thompson the first cooper. 1839. The first stove store, tin and sheet iron factory opened by Lee and Chamberlin. Marcus B. Osborn was the first land agent. 1840. Joseph Johnson, the first chair-maker. 1841. Name of Stephenson, changed to Rock Island. 1843. B. F. Barrett opened the first lumber yard. 1845. The first forwarding and commission house opened by Henry Powars. 1846. First livery stable by Joseph H. Barnett. 1849. First telegraph office opened, connecting with eastern lines via St. Louis: Chicago communication was opened in 1853. 1850. First skylight daugerrean gallery by Erastus Downey. A. Benedict and Company opened an extensive store of boots and shoes, leather belting, saddlery, hardware, and carriage trimmings, French and American calf skins, shoe thread, lasts, boot trees, awls and tacks. N. B. Buford and M. B. Clark being the Company, location Illinois, west of Buffalo Street. 1851. The Collegiate Institute and Female Seminary. The four-story brick building in rear of the Rock Island Club house, and facing Third Avenue, was built and opened in 1852, by Reverend J. W. Dennison as principal. Rock Island Gas, Light and Coke Company, the first gas company in the city, was organized June 24, 1854, and has been in successful operation since January 1, 1855. The original stock was $100,000; Jacob Riley coming from Pittsburgh to install the plant. During 1854 the company laid one and a half miles of street mains, had over one hundred private consumers, and thirty public lamps. They contemplated laying pipes to Moline during 1855, but the extension was not made until 1888. Benjamin Harper was proprietor for some time, later selling out to Sylvester Watts of St. Louis. W. H. Judge was the superintendent up to 1892, when the property was sold to the Brush Electric Light Company, and in 1893 transferred to the Peoples Power Company, who at the present time have forty-five to fifty miles of street mains. The Rock Island County Agricultural Society, situated in the town of Rock Island for a number of years, on the old Camden road north of Cooperstown, was organized in 1853, holding fairs in October of each year. At its first fair $150.95 was distributed in premiums. 1854. February 22d the Chicago and Rock Island Railroad being completed, the first train arrived. A big celebration was given, and an excursion of six steamboats carried the railroad officials and noted visitors to St. Paul. 1855. The Methodist portion of Church Square was purchased by the City and the name changed to Union Square, and enclosed with a neat, fence. The first exclusive hat and cap store opened by Cook and Spangler. First exclusive music store started by. J. T. Croft. First regular millinery and fancy dry goods store by Strickland and Judd. In 1855 there were four hundred and thirty-four business places in Rock Island, including professional men. In October, 1839, was published the first local directory, only mentioning town officers, hotels, professional men and merchants. Physicians and Druggists: Haviland and Gregory, P. Gregg, J. R. Hadsell (botanic), Silas Reed, H. Beardsley. Lawyers: J. Wilson Drury (office in Shop of Dr. Gregg), J. B. Wells, H. G. Reynolds. Tinners: Lee and Chamberlin. Shoemakers: Elihu Turner, John Metzgar. Bricklayers and Plasterers: W. H. Sage, J. M. Bellows. Coopers: John Thompson, J. Millenan. Drayman: John Thompson. Butchers: James Copp, Robert Dunlap and Company. Watchmaker: R. H. Kinney. Blacksmiths: Hibbard Moore, J. Shonde. Saddlers and Harnessmakers: Jacob Sailor, J. M. Frizzell.
Source: Historic Rock Island County, pub. Kramer & Company, Rock Island, Illinois, 1908