Frederick Township History

Frederick is the smallest township in Schuyler County and the most irregular in shape, two of its triangular sides being bounded by the Illinois River and Sugar Creek, a tributary stream. North and south the township measures nine miles, while the greatest width is three and a half miles, and it contains but twelve full sections, although there are fractional sections lying along the boundary streams. The land surface is broken and a portion of the township is subject to overflow from the Illinois River.

Frederick Township was the gateway to Schuyler County in the first years of its history, and all of the early pioneers crossed its borders and mounted the high bluff in their journey inland. Some of them doubtless tarried for a time in temporary homes along the bluff, which makes it difficult to name any one person as the original settler in the township. Among the first to make a permanent home within the bounds of Frederick Township was James Lammy, who settled about a half-mile north of the present site of the village of Frederick in 1825. Andrew Vance, Timothy Harris and Edward White were also early settlers. Abraham Hollingsworth made his first permanent home in the county in Frederick Township, locating there in the spring of 1827. He was one of the early Justices of the Peace and Hollingsworth branch was named in his honor. Others of the pioneer settlers, with the year of settlement, are as follows: John D. Wren, 1829; Lyman Utter, 1830; Anthony Messerer, 1832; Jesse Darnell, 1834; Thomas Bellamy, 1835, and John Utter, 1838.

In the early 'thirties, soon after the first steamboats began to ply the Illinois River, George Frederick Jonte and Frederick Merchant, two Frenchmen, located on Section 17 in Frederick Township. Mr. Jonte took note of the natural conditions, and decided to found a city that would be the shipping point for all the rich inland country to the north and west. Allen Persinger was employed to plat the town, which he did, May 12 and 13, 1836, and in honor of its founder it was named Frederickville, and is so recorded on the court records, but the United States Postoffice Department in 1892 shortened the name to Frederick.

Samuel P. Vail was the first storekeeper in the village. In l844 Charles Farwell & Co. established a mercantile business in Frederick that afterwards grew to large proportions. Maro Farwell came from the East in 1848 and joined his brother and, in 1852, they built a large store building in the village and a warehouse on the Illinois River. They engaged in merchandising, pork-packing and steamboating, and had probably the largest business of any firm on the Illinois River. In those flourishing days Frederick was connected with Rushville by a plank road, and was the shipping point for towns as far north as Macomb. Steamboats, loaded at Pittsburgh, Pa., brought their entire cargo to Frederick, and on the return trip carried back to the East their valuable cargo of pork and lard. In those days it looked as if Frederick was destined to be one of big towns along the Illinois River, but when railroad building began, its business was diverted and the gradual decline of the river traffic made unprofitable its big mercantile business, and the firm of Farwell Bros. ceased to exist in 1877. But while the village had its most prosperous days in the early 'sixties, it is yet a thrifty little town and has a number of prospering mercantile houses.

The first school taught in Frederick was presided over by Horatio Benton in 1845. In 1871 a two-story brick school building was erected which is in use at the present time.

Population in 1900, according to United States census, 628.

Excerpted from Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois and History of Schuyler County, 1908, edited by Howard F. Dyson.
Transcribed by Karl A. Petersen for Schuyler County ILGenWeb

Copyright 1999, 2000 Robin L. W. Petersen; all rights reserved. For personal use only. Commercial use of the information contained in these
pages is strictly prohibited without prior permission. If copied, this copyright must appear with the information.


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