Town Of Rock Island, Illinois
The Town of Rock Island came into being as a new edition of Stephenson, enlarged and revised by an act of the Legislature, passed in March, 1841. This act changed the name to Rock Island, and incorporated the latter as a town under a board of nine trustees. The trustees of the old village held over until the next annual election in September, but a special election was held on the first Mon-day in April for four other trustees, who, together with the five old trustees, constituted the new board. The additional trustees elected were: John Buford, George W. Lynde Lemuel Andrews and James M. Bellows. The boundaries of this town, as defined by this act, were made to include “all that portion of land contained within the limits of the plat of the town of Stephenson, and all the additions thereto, as of record in the recorder’s office, in the County of Rock Island.” By consulting the records we found that the following additions had been made: Thomas and Wells’ Addition, April 5, 1836; Spencer and Case’s Addition, May 17, 1836; and Jones, Garnsey and Beardsley’s, known as the Chicago or Lower Addition, October 22, 1836. As is well known, numerous additions have since been made to the city, extending its limits to something like ten square miles, viz: About two miles and a quarter in average width, by about three and a half miles in length. It was invested with a city charter by “An Act to Charter the City of Rock Island,” February 12, 1849. February 16, 1857, a more comprehensive charter was granted. November 4, 1879, by an election the incorporation was changed, and an organization effected under the general laws of the State, of 1872. A canvass of the votes by the City Council November 10, 1879, affirmed for organization, under the new general law, and on December 10, 1879, was certified to and made of record in the County Court. Its eastern boundary coincides with the western corporate limits of the City of Moline, and thus the two cities adjoin, and are connected by three street railways, as well as by the regular passenger trains of four railroad systems. The nearest approach to a “boom” experienced by Rock Island was in 1854, when the old Chicago and Rock Island Railroad reached Rock Island in January of that year, being the first railroad to reach the Mississippi River; but in 1857, a year of panic, and heavy migration west, gave us a few years set-back; we regained, however, in good time, and since have had a steady, legitimate growth, one to be proud’ of. From that period the city began to move west in its building operations, and of late years, both east, west and south. The greatest credit for the vast and rapid improvement now enjoyed by Rock Island may be ascribed to the Citizens Improvement Association. The proposer of the association was Richard Crampton, who, coming from a trip east, recognized that we were stagnant, needed a push and stir, and his ideas interested W. T. Medill, Will R. Johnston, Dr. Willard A. Paul, Fred Hass and others, and the association was organized. They advocated and secured, through the good offices of the City Council, the special assessment tax for home improvement. This organization of business men performing the same beneficial work now being accomplished by the Rock Island Club. It was mainly through the efforts of the association and club that the paving of our streets was secured, new additions were laid out into city lots, sidewalks brought to a high standard, factories encouraged, and others secured, the force at the Arsenal enlarged, new bridges constructed, new railroads promoted, a new Federal building secured; all these materially increasing the population, and adding strength and reputation to the city. Rock Island has a strong urban population. beautiful homes, cheap fuel, the finest of coal at our very door, an abundance of water furnished by a fine combined system of water works, a large water power adjacent to our-selves and neighboring city, awaiting development, a wealthy farming district surrounding us, and a location that capital and labor can both appreciate. There are few cities that can boast of, and offer more advantages for investment, than the City of Rock Island. The Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific; the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy; the Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul, and the Davenport, Rock Island and Northwestern Railroads entering her boundaries-each of the great roads supplying every facility for both passenger and freight traffic. There is also a net work of electric surface cars running to Davenport, Moline, East Moline, Silvis. Milan. Watertown, Rock Island Arsenal, and a score of pleasure resorts, giving her one of the finest street car systems anywhere. Her prosperity is evidenced by the parks and drives, which excite the admiration of all visitors; her substantial and commodious schools and colleges, the large number of churches of all prominent denominations, shops and stores of every kind, and manufactories with millions of capital, giving employment to thousands of men. A plow factory which ranks with the best in the country, a large stove factory of prominence, an immense table oil cloth factory, a brewery with 1,500 barrel capacity, soda and mineral water factories, candy factories, immense lumber, sash door and blind interests, large insurance agencies, good hospitals, ample police and fire protection, the best of hotels, has a magnificent public library, which is a home production.
Source: Historic Rock Island County, pub. Kramer & Company, Rock Island, Illinois, 1908