Frederick Township History

Contributed by Bob Kuhn
[email protected]


[Author's Note] I recently obtained the family bible of Henry Clay O'Neal and his wife Martha Eckroy O'Neal. Inside the cover of that bible was a
very fragile sheet of newspaper dated March 24, 1937. This copy of page five of the Schuyler News of Rushville Illinois contained an article
written by my very own grandmother, Viola Adkinson Kuhn.

It would seem that Viola was a student of history as well and had the honor of having her research printed not only in the newspaper of her day
but to also have it published in booklet form as an unofficial history of the City of Frederick.

I have attempted to transcribe that article here so that it will be preserved and so that all who follow will have a greater appreciation for a grand
lady who had an obvious gift for research. I never knew this article existed until I came upon it in the bible. You can find Viola Kuhn in the
History of KUHN family via my homepage <>.

I hope you all enjoy it.
Bob Kuhn

March 24, 1937 Schuyler News of Rushville


Farwell and Company Did a Thriving Business in This Town in Early Days When People Came For Miles Around to Ship Their Products by Water

Editor's Note: Living today are those who can remember when Frederick Illinois was one of the most important towns in the Military Tract. It was important as a locating place for steamboats when most all of the products found their way to consumers and markets by being transported on water and it became such through the enterprise of Farwell and Co., who had built a dike from the high land to the boat land and all were assured of service regardless of high water. It was important because it had no real competition between this point on the Illinois River and to the northwest until Warsaw on the Mississippi river was reached a distance of over sixty miles. Some to the older people can remember during marketing days of seeing teams lined from the loading docks at Frederick for miles up to the road., waiting their turn to be served.

According to records Warsaw made large bids for business and was a strong competitor, then a city of about five thousand with packing plants. Back in the days before the advent of railroads in order to tap the rich prairies between Frederick and Warsaw, Warsaw enterprise organized what was known as the Augusta-Warsaw Plank Road Corporation (one of the shares of this capital stock in the possession of the editor of the News) Only a section of the plank road was ever built, being along the highway near the village of Basco, and the company was a failure, but this shows how in those days everything circled around the water shipping points.

Mrs. Viola Kuhn gave before the Parent-Teachers association recently, a most interesting paper on the history of Frederick and we are given it in its entirety. As it is of so much interest the News believes many would like to preserve it and we are printing a number of little booklets which will be given free to our subscribers who wish one.

Following is the paper:



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. North and South of township measures nine miles while its greatest width is three and one-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.

Frederick Township was the gateway to Schuyler County in the first years of its history. All of the early pioneers crossed its borders and mounted the high bluff, which makes it difficult to name any 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 one-half mile north of the present site of the village of Frederick in 1825. Andrew Vance and Timothy Harris and Edward White were also early settlers. Abraham Hollingsworth made his first permanent home in the county in Frederick Township, locating here in the spring of 1827. He was one of the early Justices of Peace and Hollingsworth Branch was named in his favor. Other pioneers who were early settlers are as follows: J.D. Wren in the year 1829, Lyman Utter in 1830, Anthony Messer in 1832, Jesse Darnell in 1834, Thomas Bellomy in 1835, and John Utter in 1838.

In the early thirty's soon after the first steamboats began to ply the river George Frederick Jonte and Frederick Merchant, two Frenchmen located on section 17, in Frederick Township 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 founders it was named Fredricksville, and is so recorded on the Court Records but the United States Post Office department in 1892, shortened its name to the name of Frederick.

(The following paragraph has some unreadable sections)

Samuel P. Vail was the first store the village in the year of ........Farewell and Co. .....mercantile business in .....grew to large proportions. They had a large slaughter house just inside what is now Herman Rebman's pasture just beyond the gate. Maro Farewell came here from the east in 1848 and joined his brother and in 1852 they built a large store building on the present site of Mr. Will Hinderer's store. They also built a large warehouse on the Illinois River which stood until about twenty years ago. They engaged in merchandising, pork-packing, and steam boating and had probably the largest business of any firm on the Illinois River.

1n 1853, the development of the pork-packing business in Rushville and Frederick created a demand for highway improvement and a local company was organized to build a plank road from the two towns. The road was built and toll gates were established and a charge for every vehicle or animal that used the road. With the decline of the pork-packing business the road was abandoned in 1866, though it served well its purpose during the years it was in use.

Steamboats loaded at Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, brought their entire cargo to Frederick, and on return would take back east their valuable cargo of pork and lard. These ships would stay all day in the landing and wagons stood in line for a mile or so waiting for their turn to load or unload.

In those days it looked as if Frederick was destined to be one of the big towns along the Illinois River. At one time Frederick was larger than Chicago. Not Chicago today, but the Chicago in 1837.

The first ferry license was issued in 1826 to Thomas Beard, the founder of Beardstown, Illinois, who desired to establish means of communication across the river where Beardstown is now located, charging the following rates: wagon and four horses or oxen, 75¢; wagon and two horses, 50¢; wagon or cart and horse, 37¼¢; man and horse, 12½¢; loose, 6¼¢; footman, 6¼¢; cattle, per head 5¢; sheep, hogs, goats per head, 2¢. The ferry was maintained until 1889.

[The first railroad was built by] (Author's note: Newspaper has deteriorated at his point and it is difficult to read) Rock Island and Alton road in 1836. It was to pass through Rushville to Littleton. They had a road bed graded and bridges built but decided to follow the river to Browning. They sold out to the Burlington system and is known as the Rock Island and St. Louis division.

The first telephone line was built in 1894 by Frederick Avery of Industry. The terminal station was in the Cottage Hotel at Rushville and there were toll stations at Frederick and Pleasantview.

The winter of 1830 and 1831 was known as the winter of the deep snow. Snow began falling on the night of December 20, 1830 and continued steadily for three days, and it was not until the middle of February that the skies cleared and the snows ceased. The whole central and northern part of Illinois was covered with snow to a depth of four feet on a level and in places it was banked to a depth of 20 to 25 feet. To the settlers living in their rude cabins with only scant shelter for their stock the snow was a calamity that was disheartening.

The winter of 1836 was known as the winter of the sudden freeze. The most remarkable freak of weather recalled by Frederick pioneers occurred in December of this year. A sudden cold wave suddenly swept down on central Illinois and caught the settlers unaware. Although in mid-winter it was seasonably warm that day and a drizzling rain had soaked the ground. It cleared up about noon and farmers were about their outdoor work when about two o'clock it began to grow dark and a strong wind sprang up from the northwest. It was a cold bitter wind and the temperature went down with a rush. Within a very short time everything was frozen solid and chickens, pigs, and other small animals were frozen in the muddy ground before their sharp instinct promoted them to seek a place of shelter. Men who had driven to the fields in the mud an hour before hurried home over frozen ground hard enough to hold a loaded wagon. As to the extent of the temperature however no instrument has left any record, but ice was frozen in the streams as variously reported, from six inches to a foot in thickness in a few hours.

The year of 1884 is known as the time of the mighty flood. In the spring and summer of that year the Illinois river was raised to a height far in excess of any prior period known since the settlement of the town and the high water marks in the Illinois river are based on the stage of the water that year. The river valley country was then sparsely settled in Schuyler and property losses were not as heavy as they have been in the most recent years but more than one town site along the river received the death blow.

Frederick Township has abandoned the village Erie which was located on section 20, located on the river. It was founded about 1834 but the great flood of 1844 blasted the hopes of this village.

Schuyler City was another river town which was laid out in 1836 on section 4 near the mouth of Sugar Creek. One of the pioneers in reciting the story of Schuyler City said the ground on which it was built was so low a fog on the river would make an overflow. After the flood of 1844 Schuyler City was heard of no more.

Mosco located on the northwest quarter of section 6 also gained distinction as a government Post Office, and Anthony Messer was postmaster, but the town was never platted and when Frederick was founded the Post Office was moved down the bluff.

In July 1848 the price of wheat was 50¢, corn 15¢, and oats 15¢.

In June 1851, wheat was 60¢, corn 30¢, potatoes 65¢, beef 5¢, bacon 7¢, ham 10¢, lard 6v, butter 2¢, and eggs were 5¢.

In September 1850 wheat was 47¢, corn 75¢, ham 12¼¢, chickens $.15, eggs 5¢, butter 10¢, and cheese 10¢.

In November 1865, wheat was $1.25, oats 20¢, corn 30¢, lard 20¢, and potatoes 20¢.

The first school in Frederick was held in a private cabin built by Horatio Benton in 1845. The first school house was built in 1846, a small one-story frame building which was afterwards used as the town hall.

In 1871, a two story brick school building was erected which burned down in 1929. The present school building was built in 1929 and was nearly completed when the old one burned down.

An old pottery plant was located on what is now called the Frank Brown property. They made jugs, jars, and most all things in pottery.

We also have the popular known gravel pit. The railroad needed gravel to ballast their track so they leased the hollow for three years and built a switch track and hauled gravel off by the train loads. The railroad company wished to buy the hollow after the lease ran out. The papers were drawn up and the agent came with a check to pay for it. The owner of the hollow was made angry as he wanted the cash. He was not used to the banking system and thought he might be swindled out of it so he refused to sell. The tracks were then torn up and work at the gravel pit ceased.

Little is known today of the grist mill only that there was one located on the same site as where Frank Rayborn now lives. The actual starting of the brickyard is not known now but it has been working continuously since it was started and was never abandoned as nearly all other enterprises which started here. When Frederick was first founded nearly all of the town lay below the railroad tracks close to the river. The almost annual floods each year tended to be the main reason why they moved closer to the bluff.

In 1896, the Coal Creek Drainage and Levee district was formed reclaiming a large body of rich land in Frederick and Bainbridge townships. It included 7,000 acres in all. The old road to Beardstown from Frederick followed the river banks all the way. The road in spring of the year was almost always covered with water so this road was abandoned and the present road site was formed in 1910.

In 1923 a new hard road was completed on this same route. In the same year the railroad made what we called the high-line, cutting through the heart of Frederick taking a lot of the old buildings, making the town an entirely different town.

The first church services any record is made of was held in the town hall or the school house as it was then called. The minister was a Methodist circuit minister. The old Christian church was built in 1890 and served the city of Frederick for nearly half a century. This building burned down only last year.

The "Church of God" was built in 1897 but was closed a few years later and the building was bought by the Modern Woodmen and Royal Neighbors for a lodge hall and then later was torn down when the newly completed hard road to Browning was completed.

In 1900, the population, according to the U.S. Census, was 628 while the present population is approximately only half of that.

But while Frederick had its most prosperous years in the early sixties, it is still home sweet home to many a person who was born here.

Copyright 1999, 2000 Bob Kuhn; 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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