Zuma Township, Illinois

Zuma Township, Illinois

The first white child born in what is now Zuma Township was Mary Ann Sturdivan; the first white boy was L. W. Beal, long afterwards colonel in the army. The first school house was built in 1854. It is known as the Wake school house and is where all the elections are held. The first frame house built was by Mr. Center on what is known as the John Moody place. The houses in those days were small, rude and inconvenient. If they had floors they were usually of good solid oak, an inch and a quarter or more in thickness. I remember of only two houses in those early days of 1850 that were painted; those were Nelson Wells and Joseph Shanks. Polished floors were unknown and rugs and carpets very scarce. The people who settled in Zuma in those early days were generous and hospitable; the stranger was always welcome. They believed like President Roosevelt in having plenty of good girls and boys, and in those days the boys helped their fathers and the girls their mothers. Mr. J. B. Walker has lived in Zuma the longest; he was born in 1838. The first brick house was built by Hiram Walker in 1853. There were no carriages or buggies in those days. If a young man wanted to take his best girl out, they had to go on foot or horse back or ride in a lumber wagon. And the people seemed happy in those days, had good times and enjoyed themselves just as well as they do today, if not better. Among those who settled here fifty years or more ago, and whose farms are now occupied by persons of the same name are the following: Nelson Wells, Monroe Swank, Ambrose Searle, James Searle (on Rock River), Madison Bowles, George Wake, A. H. Mead, J. A. Donahue, Charles Schaffer, A. E. Herren, Davis Daily, Hiram Walker and Wesley Hanna. The first school house was built by subscription in 1855, and was called the Oak Grove school house. In 1856 the Syms school house was built with public funds raised by taxation. The first frame house was built by Ambrose Searle in 1838. The frame was hewed out, rafters and all. The shingles and lath were split or “rived” out of oak with an instrument called a “frow.” The boards were of maple and were sawed at a mill between LeClaire and Princeton, Iowa, owned by a Mr. Barber. The first cider was made by Gregory Brown in the fall of 1857, from apples raised on his farm near Rock River. Chinese sugar was introduced into this township in 1857 and some molasses was made by Munroe Swank. The first post office was established in the township in 1848 and was called Fairport. It was located on section twenty-eight, on the bank of Rock River, and Truman Gorton was postmaster. In the year 1856 A. F. Russell laid out a town site at what is called Zuma Center. It soon had a store, blacksmith shop and shoe shop.


Is situated in the southeastern part of Zuma Township, and is a station on the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad. It was located by Benjamin B. Joslin, who came to this county in 1853 and acquired 600 acres of good land in the locality, and marked out “the village at the time of the building of the old Sterling Railroad. N. B. Joslin, his son, started the first store in 1870 and was the first postmaster. The village is not incorporated, is small but has two general stores, one implement store, a new church, several dwellings and a good farming community surrounding it. The railroad station is named Joslyn, but the old family name is Joslin.


Named after Fred Osborn, a long time resident and land owner of the locality. The village is not incorporated. It is situated in the southern part of Zuma Township, near Rock River and on the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad, and near the old Cleve-land ferry crossing. The post office, railroad depot and half a dozen houses constitute the village. At one time years ago the Sterling branch of the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad had a bridge here across Rock River, the railroad line continuing to the Briar Bluff coal mines, but the bridge was afterwards removed to Barstow.

Zuma Center

Is situated in Town of Zuma and is not incorporated. In 1856 A. F. Russell laid out a town site which was named Zuma Center. It soon had a store, blacksmith shop and shoe shop. The bounds consist as laid out of three streets, two blocks and thirty lots. It is a small place with church, school and three houses.


Township Organization 


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

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