Old Times In Schuyler 

First Industry Started in ’55
By Howard F. Dyson, 1918

The year 1855 marked an epoch in the history of Rushville. It was then its first manufacturing industry was started when the Worley Bros. built their woolen mill. About this same time the pork packing industry began to develop, which in a few years assumed big proportions for an inland town and brought about the building of a plank road to Frederick, where all shipments were made by river.

Rushville at this time had two weekly papers, and its merchants were laying the foundation for business enterprises which are continued today. Little & Ray were in business where the Geo. Little store is now located. Thos. Wilson was in business on the south side of the square, and Griffith Bros. had established their hardware store on the north side of the square.

Among the other pioneer merchants of that day who were advertisers in the local papers were Thos. W. Scott, J. Parrott & Sons and Jas. G. McCreery.

Then, too, public improvements were receiving consideration in that early day. Much enthusiasm was shown in railroad building, and the Peoria & Hannibal railroad offered alluring hopes for the future.

It was at this period that the county farm was first established on a business basis.

In the Prairie Telegraph of June 26, 1855, we note the county supervisors had employed M. G. Staneford as superintendent of the county farm at a salary of $650 a year. P. L. Campbell, John Mitcheltree and John Brown were on the county farm committee and drew up the contract with the new superintendent. It provided that in consideration of $650 he was to tend the farm, give the services of his two sons, furnish a team of horses with their harness, one two-horse plow and one two-horse wagon.

It was further stipulated that the superindendent was to furnish provisions for himself and family at his own expense, and to keep the said team of horses at his expense until food and provender can be raised for the same on said farm, and after that time said horses are to be kept at the expense of the county.

The superintendent was permitted to use one acre of ground as a garden for his own private use, and to pasture his milch cows, not to exceed the number of three, on the farm.

This was probably the beginning of the county farm system in Schuyler county, as the committee presented to the board a code of by-laws and rules for the government of paupers.

In this same issue of The Telegraph was published the proceedings of a meeting of directors of the Peoria & Hannibal railroad, held at Vermont, June 20, 1855. Hon. L. D. Erwin was Rushville’s representative on the board of directors, and at this meeting was elected vice-president of the new railroad.

A committee was appointed to arrange for and superintend construction of the road from Elmwood to Lewistown as soon as bids were accepted. This road was finally extended to Rushville in 1868.

It was in 1855 that the first Schuyler county fair association was organized, and an exhibit was held regularly every year until 1900, when the association was disbanded, to be reorganized a few years later.

The first meeting to organize a county agricultural society was held March 17, 1855. The officers elected were:

President–Benj, Chadsey.
Vice-President–John Brown.
Second V.-President–E. M. Wilson.
Cor. Secretary–J. D. Manlove.
Rec. Secretary–D. W. C. Johnston.
Treasurer–Willis Carson.
The following executive committees from different townships was selected:
Rushville–Jonathan Patterson, Levi Lusk.
Buenavista–Jacob Snider, John McCreery.
Frederick–Jesse Darnell, Thomas Bellomy.
Browning–Thomas Kinney, Samuel Burtiss.
Hickory–Henry Klepper, Wm. K. Jones.
Bainbridge–Abraham Lamaster, Geo. Strong.
Littleton–James DeWitt, John Sellars.
Birmingham–Dr. Cyrus Cowdry, James G. King.
Brooklyn–Charles D. King, James Worthington.

The first county fair was held on what is known as the Edgar farm just east of town, but the exact date is not available, but later records go to show the fair was continued each year and was held regularly during the years of the Civil war.

From the Prairie Telegraph we get the following announcement of the first fair held in 1855, as made by the secretary, J. D. Manlove:

“I desire to say that a fair is expected to come off sometime in October next; that the constitution requires three months membership to be eligible to compete, so become members soon. That all the committees be present at next meeting so we may know the amount of funds and regulate matters accordingly. Judges are to be appointed for the different classes of articles, and on all other articles to be exhibited, and the places where, when and how the fair is to be held.

“That the treasurer or any of the officers on the executive committee will receive names and money, and have the names enrolled as members, and that each citizen of Schuyler who wishes to aid this society is expected to give his dollar and do it now for now is the crisis. Fifty dollars is donated by the state and twenty-five by the county, which with our united efforts can’t fail to make a good start and ensure success.”

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Copyright © by Judi Gilker 2006