History of Compton

Believing that the new stage road between Galena and Chicago would open many possibilities, Zachariah Melugin, at the suggestion of John Dixon, selected the grove now known as the Burg for a stage coach station. This was the second point in Lee County to be settled. The first stage coact traveled through Jan. 1, 1834.

The Indians were numerous but friendly. Melugin's long evenings were generally spent with teh Indians paying him friendly calls. In the spring his sister, Mary, came from Sangamon county and lived with him until October 12, 1834 when at Ottawa, he married Mary Ross of Ross's Grove, DeKalb county. Miss Melugin was alone many days in the midst of Indians who called her a "brave squaw."

During this summer she visited Mrs. Dixon at Dixon's ferry. There she met John K. Robison who had served in the Black Hawk war. At the close of the war he had become a teacher for the young children at Dixon's Ferry. On Sept. 10, 1835 they were married at the home of Zachariah Melugin by Rev. Harris, a Methodist circuit rider. This was the first wedding to be performed at Melugins' Grove.

Mr.Robison built his home a half mile from Mr. Melugin's. It was a typical pioneer cabin made of unhewed logs, chinked with pieces of wood and plastered with a mortar of clay. Certain marks on the doors or side of the house indicated the time of day and the position of the Big Dipper indicated the time of night. Gourds were used for baskets, basins, cups, dippers, soap dishes, etc.

John K. Robison brought to Melugin's Grove the first currant bushes. He was not only the first teacher at Dixon and Melugin but the first justice of the peace at Melugin. He taught school in his own home until the first schoolhouse was built in 1837. He at that time, had eight pupils in his class.

The first tailor was Henry Vroman. The first postmaster was Abram V. Christenance and he was also the first constable. Charles Morgan and son were the first merchants. Dr. Bissell was the first physician. Cornelius Christeance was the first white child born. John Melugin and William W. Gilmore followed, all being born in 1835.

Church services were held at private houses when the circuit rider came, until a church building was built. The first church to be organized was the Methodist Episcopal, organized in 1837. The first Sunday School to be organized was in 1847 or 48 by Rev. Haney of the Methodist church.

A.V. Christeance was the next settler. He settled in June of 1835. He and Mrs. Christeance traveled with an ox team from Schenectady, NY. By the time they reached Melugin's Grove she was so tired she declared she would go no further. Their son, Cornelius, was the first child to be born there. He was employed by a tavern keeper at Melugin's Grove.

John Gilmore came at about the same time as Mr. Guthrie in 1834. These men selected their claims upon arival. Then Mr. Gilmore returned for his family and mr. Guthrie to settle business affairs. Mr. Gilmore paid fifty dollars for the northeast quarter of section three. Guthrie took up his claim further east. This was known as Guthrie's Grove and later as Little Melugin Grove.

The only work to be done was at Ross Grove in DeKalb county. John Gilmore and William Guthrie walked to work, starting at the first of the week and returning Saturday night with their wages in provision.

Later John Gilmore added to his house and opened a tavern and stage house. In the fall of 1836 William guthrie married Miss Ross of Ross Grove. Mr. Gilmore made a great day of it for his old friend Guthrie. He hooked up his best yoke of oxen, took his wife and younger children, Mr. Guthrie and two lady friends and made the trip to the wedding. The wedding day was made one of the greatest days of DeKalb county.

O.P. Johnson located at the west end of the grove and opened a tavern. He married Elizabeth Ross, one of the historic Ross family of DeKalb county. Ezra Berry settled there in 1835. He married Miss Eleanor Melugin, sister of Zachariah Melugin.

The first schoolhouse was built in 1837 and Zachariah Melugin was the first teacher succeeding Mr. Robison. Mr. Melugin wrote a poem published in the Rock River Register. This was the first paper published on the Rock River. Zachariah Melugin died in 1842. His wife then married William Atkinson.

The first funeral was that of Mr. Little, a Scotchman buried in the cemetery.

A Masonic lodge was organized at the home of O.P. Johnson in 1858. The first officers were John C. Corbus, master; John Gilmore, Senior; Jonathan N. Hyde, senior deacon; Oliver P. Johnson, junior deacon; J.R. Bisbee, secretary; William Guthrie, treasurer; and Robert Ritchie, tyler.

Jonathan N. Hyde was elected clerk of the circuit court from Melugin. Zachariah Melugin, under Dr. Corbus and othes of the old guard became master of the political game and bossed county politics.

Until 1873 Melugin's Grove prospered. Then the Kinyon railroad went through Brooklyn township, about a mile to the south of Melugin's Grove. Looking for new prospects most of the people moved from there into Compton.

The first house was a store built by Joel Compton in a corn stubble. It faced the railroad. The house was completed in the spring of 1873. The next house was a small meat market built by M.M. Avery. A grain elevator was owned and operated by Warner and Guffin. The Farmer's and Trader's bank was established. Officers were, Charles Bradshaw, president; L. Carnahan, vice president; H.L. Fordham, cashier, and A.B. Fordham, assistant cashier. A National bank, the capital stock was $25,000 and deposits were about $40,000.

The Compton Mercantile company store ws owned by Joseph Kaufman, Edward A. Bennett and John L. Clapp. It was one of the largest stores of the area. It carried a large stock and transacted an enormous annual business.

W.H. Dishong was the hardware man. John Archer ran a grocery and a dry goods store. H.A. Bernardin had a fine furniture store. Clemons & CLemons did a fine business in blacksmithing, wagon making and general repairing. The Illinois Northern Utilities company gave day and night electricity and power service. There was a Masonic lodge in Compton. Cement sidewalks were built throughout the village. The Yokum Telephone system served Compton. Harvey A. Cook reported as high as $40,000 had been received by the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy railroad in one year at Compton.

Compton accommodated the pupils in a three room, two story, frame building, the successor of the one room school that had stood some 20 years ago in the west part of Compton. The school was made famous by the superior work of one of its instructors, Will Farrand, a brother of Judge R.S. Farrand of the circuit bench.

An important enterprise was the Chandler hospital. It was built by Dr. A.W. Chandler. Patients from the Atlantic to the Pacific came to the Chandler hospital for treatments. Mrs. Chandler was very skillful in administering the anesthetics. Chandler hospital was one of the biggest institutions in Lee county and outranked any institution in the area.

The first church, the Methodist was organized in 1837 at th ehouse of Zachariah Melugin and the Rev. S.R. Beggs became the first pastor. He was also a circuit rider. Until about the year 1850 church services were held in the school house. Then a church was built. Later in 1860, another building was erected and that was moved to Compton, where it was considerably enlarged.

When Mr. Compton platted Compton he reserved a block of ground for a park, in which he planted trees. In this he erected a pagoda and there the Compton band gave summer concerts. In 1890 Compton had a population of 234. The population in 1900 was 428. Its present population is 323.

The Woman's Society of Christian Service of the Compton Methodist church was originated in 1940. Mrs. W.A. Richardson was the first president. At present Miss Marie Rasmussen is president. The president of the Woman's Club at present is Mrs. Urban Zimmerman. The president of the Legion Auxillary is Mrs. Cora Beemer.

The East End Sportsmen's club was organized in 1948. The first president of the club was Charles Place. Wm. Zimmerman is now the president. The Royal Neighbors was organized APril 10, 1910. The first oracle was Ada Corwin. The present is Mrs. Wendell Swope. The Lucky Seamers 4-H Club was organized in 1947. The leader at that time was Mrs. Oswald Kutter. Present leaders are Mrs. Leroy Moore and Mrs. L.D. Miller.

Brooklyn Post #657 of the American Legion was organized May 26, 1920. The first commander was Frank I. Card. Present commander is Lloyd Merriman.

The Compton Methodist church burned October 7, 1945. The pastor at that time was Rev. Barent Johnson. The present pastor is Leroy Moore. The Compton Methodist church was rebuilt in 1948.

The Compton restaurant burned April 4, 1950. It was at that time operated by Louis Skelly. In 1950 it was rebuilt and is now known as Gene's Soda Grill. It is operated by Gene Archer.

On March 1, 1940 rural routes 1 and 2 were consolidated into one known route 1. Ralph Carnahan who had carried mail on the former Route 1 was transferred to rural route 3 at Rochelle, IL. Regular carrier Amil J. Bernadin of route 2 on March 1, began service on the comgined routes, serving routs 1 and 2 known as route 1. Frank F. Donagh is the present postmaster, having served 17 years.

Dr. C.G. Pool, practicing physician and surgeon, passed away 8 years ago in February and from that time Compton has been without a physician.

At present the president of the Compton Comm. Club is Mr. Francis Bauer.

Melugin Grove - Lee County - established May 8, 1841 - Postmasters:
Abram Christeance - May 8, 1841
William T. Morgan - Nov. 13, 1852
Thomas D. McClune - Sept. 3, 1857
William T. Morgan - Mar. 12, 1858
John C. Corbus - Feb. 16, 1860
Abel W. MacFarland - Sept. 25, 1862
Matthias Holdren - Jan. 16, 1865
Johnathan N. Hyde, May 5, 1865
Jason Youngs - Aug. 14, 1866
Francis N. Hyde - April 29, 1868
Henry H. Carnahan - July 20, 1869
Joseph F. Cole - Feb. 10, 1873

Name changed to Compton, Lee County - July 16, 1873
Joseph Banks - July 16, 1873
George W> Bradshaw - Sept. 12, 1877
Wm. W. Gilmore - Dec. 7, 1885
Joseph F. Cole - March 21, 1889
James P. Anglemier, July 24, 1893
Willis N. Hills - Jul. 2, 1897
Arthur A. Anglemier - Aug. 8, 1914
Willis N. Hills - Jul. 11, 1921
Frank F. Donagh - Dec. 21, 1933
Frank F. Donagh - March 8, 1945

Compton came into existance when railroad tracks were laid in Brooklyn Township just one miel away from Melugins Grove. The town of Melugin was started in 1833 and was on the stage route between Galena and Chicago. It was assumed that the railroad was going to run through Melugins Grove but the powers that be did not see fit to put them down there. In 1872 the tracks were laid through the property owned by Joel Compton.

Mr. Compton owned about 400 acres of land and around 1867 purchased the property of Aaron Hook who lived in Melugins Grove, and he promptly moved his family there and soon opened a grocery store and a hotel. Mr. Compton had also believed that the train would run closer to Melugins Grove and wanted to be in business when that day came. Instead he, and others like him found themselves scrambling to move their business', homes, schools and churches and other building over to the land near the railroad. The entire mass move of all these enterprises was but a mile distant.

The village of Compton was officially recognzied in 1875 with J.W. Swisher, M.M. Avery, G.W. Bradshaw, W.W. Miller, W.I. Guffin and Joel Compton as trustees. Out of nowhere and nothing Mr. Compton found himself in the middle of a booming little town that literally sprang up overnight. Its hard to imagine how the citizens of Compton were able to get it so well organized in such a short period of time. The success of Compton was rather short lived in spite of all efforts made by the townsfolkd. Fire destroyed about half the town in 1906. It never completely recovered from this destruction. Newer and better modes of transportation, the invention of Cars and Trucks, would soon rob Compton of its glory - just as Compton had taken it from Melugin' Grove in 1872.