Chillicothe Township

Source: The History of Peoria County, Illinois, Johnson & Company, Chicago, 1880.

This township is triangular in shape, situated in the northeast corner of Peoria County, and is composed of the fractional towns 11 north, 9 east, and 10 north, 9 east. It contains thirteen whole sections, and seven or eight fractional parts of sections, Marshall county bounds it on the north, the Illinois river on the east and south, and Medina and Hallock townships on the west. The south end of the township, comprising a part of LaSalle prairie, is but slightly undulating, lies beautifully, has a soil composed of sand and vegetable loam, and is well adapted to the growth of the cereals. The north part, which was originally timbered land, is considerably broken in some portions by the Senachwine creek and its branches, though there are fine agricultural lands interspersed.

The first white settler in the township was Mahlon Lupton, who located on section nine, in the Fall of 1829. June 10, 1830 ,John Hammett and family, came and settled in the same section, were the next, followed soon after by others. This township contains the towns of Chillicothe and Rome.

The City of Chillicothe

Beautifully situated on the west bank of the Illinois river, eighteen miles above Peoria, and on the line of the Bureau branch of Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific railroad. It was settled in quite an early day, and was laid out as a town in July, 1836, by Harrison H. Jameson and Joseph L. Hart, on the southwest quarter of section twenty-one, and the southeast quarter of section twenty. The original plat included thirty-eight blocks of ten lots each, sixty-six feet wide by one hundred and sixty-five feet deep.

The first cabin erected on the present town site was by Jef  Hickson, a blacksmith, some time before the town was laid out, and stood on the bank of the river, where he also built a shop and pursued his trade. The second cabin was built and occupied by Esq. E. Jones, now of Marshall County, immediately after the town plat was surveyed. He put a small stock of goods in one room of his double log cabin, and was the pioneer merchant of the place. Mr. Jones was also elected the first justice of the peace. He conducted the store for seven or eight years.

About 1838, Mr. Lehart came to Chillicothe and erected a small frame house of one room, which his family occupied; and he kept a store in a cabin on Water Street, for several years, then removed to Indiana.

In 1835, James M. Brown, then a young single man, came from Ross county, Ohio, and soon after built a story and a half frame house on First Street, containing four rooms on each floor, and opened a tavern, to which he gave the euphonious title of "American House." A part of the old building still stands on the site. It was first kept by William Dunlap, afterwards Mr. Brown's father-in-law, for about five years, during which time his house was a stopping point on the Peoria and Chicago stage line.

The second tavern building was erected by John Hayes, and stood opposite to Messrs. Mathews & Holman's store. It was a frame structure containing ten to fifteen rooms, and known as the "Chillicothe House."

Mr. Hayes kept it for a number of years. It was destroyed by fire in April, 1873.

The first religious exercises were held by the Baptist people in 1837, who, a year later, organized the first church in the village. The first school taught in the village was in the Winter of 1838-9, and occupied a vacant cabin. In 1845, a frame house of one room was built on the public square, which sufficed for school purposes until the first part of the present brick structure was erected in 1856.

The prosperity of Chillicothe has been somewhat impeded by several disastrous fires, which have at various times destroyed some of the most valuable property of the place. In the Fall of 1864, the grain elevator at the depot burned; in 1869, Wood & Hosmer's large steam mill and two large warehouses on the river bank were burned ; and in 1873, a large store and several dwellings on the corner of Elm and Second Streets, went up in thin air.

From an early period in its history Chillicothe has been prominent as a grain market. John Alonzo Moffitt, built the first grain warehouse, in 1847. The old frame still stands on the river banks. Henry Truitt erected a grain warehouse, at about 1853 at a cost of some $5,000; and forming a partnership with S. C. Jack, conducted the first legitimate grain trade of the place. Some years later John W. Fuller succeeded Mr. Jack in the firm, and about 1867, machinery and dumps were put into the building. In the Winter of 1873-4, Mr. Fuller bought Mr. Truitt's interest, and the style of the firm has since been J. W. Fuller & Co. In 1876, Mr. Fuller re-built and
fitted up the warehouse with the most modern elevator improvements. It has a storage capacity of 75,000 bushels, and he has additional storage room for as much more. This firm handles half a million bushels of grain per year, about half of which finds a market in Peoria, and half in Chicago.

Soon after the completion of the Bureau Valley railroad now the branch of the C., R. I. & P.- the railroad company built an elevator near the depot, which was destroyed by fire in August, 1864; but was re-built and filled with grain that season. The present building has a storage capacity of 75,000 bushels with all modern improvements. Since the Spring of 1866, C. W. Carroll & Co. have controlled the grain traffic over the road from that point, and handle from 300,000 to 400,000 bushels and 350 cars of live stock, per annum.

Besides the elevator room the firm have crib storage room for 50,000 bushels of ear corn.

The Farmers' Mill erected by Adam Petry and A. C. Thomas, in 1868, at a cost of $5,000, containing three run of burrs, and a capacity for manufacturing fifty barrels of flour per day, consumes a considerable quantity of the grain grown in the vicinity.

In 1873 Chillicothe adopted a city form of government, previous to which its municipal affairs had been controlled by a board of five trustees. In April of that year the first Mayor and Board of Alderman were elected, consisting of the following gentlemen: Mayor, Henry Hosmer; aldermen, William McLean, Levi Booth, Joseph Bailey, William H. Barbour and Richard Hughes. Wm. H. Barbour was elected mayor in 1875, Henry Truitt in 1877, and in 1879 Mr. Barbour was re-elected and now holds the office. It is now a place of about 1,200 inhabitants, and in size and commercial importance is the third town in the county.

It contains a bank, two dry goods houses, seven groceries, two fine drug stores, one farm machinery house, two hardware and stove stores, two furniture stores, two large grain elevators, a lumber yard, a fine flouring mill, a saw and planning mill, two jewelry stores, a millinery store, a confectionery and bakery, a real estate office, two barber and two butcher shops, three carriage and wagon shops, three blacksmith shops, one tailor shop, a livery stable, a bowling alley, two hotels, the Woods Hotel, C. Marble, con­taining about thirty rooms and well conducted, and the Will House about twenty rooms.

Doctors A. Wilmot, J. O. Tomlinson, J. F. Thomas, C. C. Allen, Mrs. E. Moffitt and O. F. Thomas are active in the medical profession. Societies of the place are A. F. & A. M., I. O. O. F., and Temperance Reform Clubs. The bank does a heavy business, and the dry goods house of Mathews & Holman is the most extensive in the county outside of Peoria; some of the grocery houses would be a credit to a city of 5,000.

The public square, occupying a block near the center of the city, has recently been nicely improved, planted to deciduous and evergreen trees, and will in a few years be an attractive ornament to the place.

Fire Department

In 1876 the first organization for the protection against fire was effected. The company consisting of ten members was formed and named the Champion, with G. P. Lester as Fire Marshall. It only existed a few months and there was no further effort made until the Fall of 1878, when another company called the Rocket, was organized. With James Kenlock as Capt., G. B. Temple, Lieut., Wm. Story, Foreman and twenty members. G. P. Lester being appointed Fire Marshall by the City. During the existence of the Champion company a large, two-cylinder chemical engine was purchased at a cost of $2,000.; but finding it too heavy and unwieldy, it was exchanged for two single cylinder engines of 100 gallons and 70 gallon capacity. the Rocket Company is still in flourishing condition. In September, 1879, it competed at the State tournament, in Peoria, and won the first prize; but from a hitch in the distribution of the premiums, the company failed to receive its award.

The Press

Like Most country towns, Chillicothe has had  a newspaper experience neither flattering nor profitable to the town nor the journalistic aspirants. Several papers have been started in the place and continued for a longer or shorter period and died from lack of sustenance.

The Review, it's present representative in the newspaper world, was started in the Fall of 1879, by George Holton, a practical printer and still lives. It is issued weekly, and have of the paper printed in the home office is entirely devoted to local matters.

Village of Rome

The village of Rome was laid out by Jefferson Taliaferro and the plat filed for record December 24, 1832.

The original plat contained 24 blocks of 8 lots, 5x8 perches in size, situated on section 5 town 10 north, 9 east.

The town site is a beautiful one on the right bank of the Illinois River, fifteen miles above Peoria and for several years it held quite a rapid growth. In 1835 it contained a tavern of 8 or 10rooms kept by N. Sirlott and several stores and groceries some of them carrying large stocks of goods. Wm. A. Ogle, Hiram Cleveland, Mr. Bingham, J. B. Adams and Joseph Blish were among the first merchants. Hezekiah Rose was an early settler in the place. In 1835 steamboats landed regularly, the town contained about 300 inhabitants and was the most important point on the river for many miles.

The first school was taught by a one-armed soldier, named James Pierce, who died some years ago in this County. The upper story of a store was used for school purposes until the present neat frame structure was erected in 1858 at a cost of $1,000.. The district, which is an independent one, maintains school nine months in the year, with about fifty scholars in attendance.

Rome has had a post office since 1835, save the decade from 1843 to 1854. Mr. L Adams is now postmaster. There is no church building in the place but the Methodists have a class, hold services in the school house. The only mercantile establishment in the village is a small grocery kept by Thomas P. Nicholson.

In 1837, Isaac Underhill, of Peoria purchased 2,200 acres of land, including the town site and planted 500 acres to orchard in the immediate vicinity, some of which trees still stand. the financial crash of 1837 proved a fatal blow to Rome, from which time it steadily declined. It is a way station on the Bureau branch of the C. R. I. & P. railroad, and ships considerable fruit and produce. Mr. H.S. Rose, who carries on blacksmithing, is the oldest resident living in the village and has resided there over forty-four years.