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Livingston County, Illinois
Genealogy and History

County Elections

The first county election was at the residence of Andrew McMillan, a mile northwest from Budd's Mill, on the north bank of the Vermilion.

The first County Commissioners and the first Sheriff performed the duties of their offices without any authority from the State, and, as they are all dead, the manner in which they obtained any authority to act will, perhaps, remain a mystery.

The ancient archives of the county contain no certificate of election or other evidence that they held their offices by virtue of either election or appointment.

The records of the Secretary of State, have also been ransacked to discover, if possible, a clue to the matter ; but nothing appears to indicate that either these or any other officers, previous to 1838, were legally qualified to act. In this year, Nicholas Hefner was duly elected and qualified to act as Sheriff.

It is known, however, that the form of an election had been observed, and that Joseph Reynolds had been declared Sheriff, and the Board of Commissioners had appointed him Collector of Taxes ; and as no one desired to hold office in those days, no investigating committee inquired into the irregularity.

The first general election held in the county was the State election, the first Monday in August, 1838.

At that election there were cast for Governor — For Cyrus Edwards, 45 ; for Thomas Carliji, 59.

For Member of Congress — S. A. Douglas, 62; J. T. Stewart, 46.

For county officers, the votes were:

For County Commissioner—Uriah Springer, 90 : Albert Moon, 60 ; William Popejoy, 59 ; Robert Breckenridge, 41 ; Robert Smith, 29.

For Sheriff Nicholas Hefner, 65 ; Joseph Reynolds, 31.

For Coronor—Simeon Mead, 45 ; Ambrose Sprague, 17.

For Clerk—James S. Munson, 58 ; Matthias Ross, 34.

For Recorder—James S. Munson, 60 ; Truman Rutherford, 34.

For Surveyor—Isaac Whitaker, 59 ; Franklin Oliver, 41.

At the general election in August, 1839, Truman Rutherford was elected Probate Justice of the Peace, an office which had jurisdiction in all probate business ; Lemuel White, County Commissioner ; C. W. Reynolds, Recorder and County Court Clerk ; Jacob Moon, Treasurer ; Isaac Burgit, Coroner; Franklin Oliver, Surveyor ; W. G. Hubbard and J. C. McMillan, Justices of the Peace.

Eighty-one votes were given for and fifty-six votes against removing county seat. Seventy-eight votes were given for removing to the location offered by Rockwood, Hubbard and Weed, at a point about four or five miles up the river from Pontiac, where fifty acres of land were offered ; the bond for the donation having been approved by the court.

This vote was taken by virtue of an act passed March 1, 1839, directing a vote to be taken at the August election, for and against re-locating the county seat, by which it was provided that, if two-thirds of all the votes cast were for removal, and a majority were for removal to any place named, then the county seat should be removed. It lacked a few votes of the required two-thirds, though a majority favored Rockwood 's.

At the general election held in August, 1840. the following vote was cast:

For State Senator—John Moore, 62 ; David Davis, 38.

For Representative, Welcom P. Brown, 62 : I. T. Gildersleeve, 61 ; Asahel Gridley, 38 ; Isaac Funk, 38; A. R. Dodge, 14; L. W. Leek, 32.

For Sheriff"—Garrett M. Blue, 66 ; John Foster, 29.

Davis M. Pendell was elected Coroner ; Andrew McMillan and Nicholas Hefner, County Commissioners.

There is no record of the vote at Presidential or Congressional election.

John W. Reynolds was appointed School Commissioner, and qualified under a bond for $12,000.

In 1841, Daniel Barrackman was elected County Commissioner ; Samuel Boyer, School Commissioner; S. S. Mead, Assessor; W. G. McDowell was appointed Collector, and D. S. Ebersol was appointed Clerk of the Court.

At the election held in 1843, the following vote was cast :

For. Congress — John Wentworth, 111; Giles Spring, 66.

For County Commissioner—Charles Jones, 84; Augustus Fellows, 50.

For County Clerk, D. S. Ebersol, 122; Wm. K. Brown, 28.

For School Commissioner—Samuel Boyer, 136.

For Recorder—D. S. Ebersol, 121 ; S. C. Ladd, 16.

For Probate Justice—Truman Rutherford, 82 ; Wm. K. Brown, 49.

For Treasurer—Truman Rutherford, 92 Lyman Bergit, 45.

For Surveyor—Amos Edwards, 67 ; Orin Phelps, 39 ; Franklin Oliver, 38.

At a special election held in November, the following votes were cast :

For Probate Justice—Andrew McMillan, 46 ; Augustus Fellows, 37 ; S. S. Mead. 5.

For County Treasurer and Assessor—McMillan, 46 ; Fellows, 37 ; Mead, 5.

At the August Election in 1844, for Member of Congress, John Wentworth received 110 ; B. S. Morris, 61.

For State Senator, S. G. Nesbitt received 106; G. W. Powers, 66.

For Representative, James Robinson received 106 ; E. B. Myers, 63.

For County Commissioner, Andrew McDowell received 104; Walter Cornell, 65.

For Sheriff, R. P. Breckenndge received 97 ; Thomas Sawyer, 71.

For Coroner, John Blue, 113.

At the Presidential election in November, James K. Polk received 109 Henry Clay, 66.

Birney did not receive any votes in the county.

At the June Term of the County Court, D. S. Ebersol resigned the Clerkship, and S. C. Ladd was appointed Clerk.

At the regular election in August, Murrell Breckenridge was elected County Commissioner; Augustus Fellows, School Commissioner; S. C. Ladd, Clerk; S. S. Mead, Coroner.

And at a special election in December, S. C. Ladd was elected Recorder.

At the regular election held in August, 1846, A. C. French, for Governor, received 124 votes; T. M. Kilpatrick, 60.

John Wentworth, for Congress, received 124 votes ; John Kerr, 58.

James Robinson, for Representative, received 122 votes ; Bissell Chubbuck, 42.

R. P. Breckenridge was elected Sheriff; Charles Jones, County Commissioner, and John Blue, Coroner.

In 1847, Isaac Hodgson was elected Commissioner ; S. C. Ladd, Clerk.

An election was held in March, 1848, to vote upon the new Constitution and the separate articles.

The vote was, for the Constitution, 71 ; against it, 25.

For the separate article in relation to colored people, there were 89 votes ; against it, 12.

For the two-mill tax, which was intended to pay off the long past due State debt, 71 votes ; against it, 35.

At the regular election in August, the vote for Governor was : For A. C. French, 135.

For Congress, John Wentworth, 108 ; John Y. Scammon, 62.

For Senator, Wm. Reddick, 131.

Murrell Breckenridge was elected Sheriff; Henry Jones, County Commissioner, and John Blue, Coroner.

At the judicial election in September under the new constitution, John D. Caton received eighty votes for Supreme Court Judge; Lorenzo Leland, seventyseven votes for Clerk of the Supreme Court; B. F. Fridgley, sixty-three votes for Judge of the Ninth Circuit ; T. Lyle Dickey, forty-seven for Judge ; Burton C. Cook, eighty votes for State's Attorney, and S. C. Ladd, eighty votea for Circuit Clerk.

At this election, Dickey was elected Judge, and was for some years our Circuit Judge.

At the Presidential election, Cass received 130 votes; Taylor, 82 votes; and for the first time in our history as a county, the third party received a vote.

Four votes were cast for the Van Buren electoral ticket, upon which were the names of such veteran Abolitionists as President Jonathan Blanchard. For the first time also, the vote indicates a healthy increase of population in the county. Up to this year, the vote had been very nearly uniform,

At the election May 20th, M. B. Patty and L. E. Rhoades were elected County Commissioners At the November election, J. C. McMillan received 161 votes for County Judge; S. Miller, 2. S. C. Ladd, 137 for Clerk; Jason Tuttle, 8. James Bradley, 114 for County Justice of the Peace; Philip Rollings, 95 for same ; W. G. McDowell, 55. Franklin Oliver, 73 votes for Surveyor ; Amos Edwards, 53. Walter Cornell was elected School Commissioner, and J. D. Garner. Coroner. 55 votes were given for township organization out of a total of 164 votes cast ; not a majority.

Murrell Breckenridge was elected County Judge at a special election in September, 1850. Henry Loveless was elected Sheriff, and Joseph Springer Coroner, in November.

At the regular election in 1852, the vote for Secretary of State was for Alexander Starne, Democrat, 209; B. S. Morris, Whig, 161; Erastus Wright, Anti-slavery, 11.

For State's Attorney, D. P. Jenkins, 158 votes; M. E. Hollister, 85 ; W. H. L. Wallace, 22. For State Senator, Burton C. Cook, 207; William Paul, 10.

For Representatives, C. I. Starlech, 207 votes ; C. R. Patton, 203 ; A. A. Fisher, 159 ; George M. Radcliffe, 156 ; William Strawn, 26. Strawn was on the Anti-slavery or Abolition ticket.

The four Anti-slavery votes of 1848 seem to have grown into eleven this year, Mr. Wallace, notwithstanding his small vote for State's Attorney in the county, was elected, and proved a very acceptable officer. He was a son-in-law of Judge Dickey, and went with him into the army, where he yielded up his life at Shiloh. He is spoken of as a brilliant lawyer and a very popular man.

No record of the Presidential and Congressional vote of that year is found ; but it must have been about the same as above—Democratic, 208 votes ; Whig, 160; Abolition, 11. Total 379, indicating a population of about 2,000.

In 1853, the number of voting precincts had been increased by addition of Reading, New Michigan, Mud Creek and Avoca Precincts. Any inhabitant of the county will recognize these localities, although the precincts are known to the law no longer.

The vote at that election was : For County Judge—Billings P. Babcock, 243 votes; John Hoobler, 133. For Clerk, George W. Boyer, 221 ; 0. Chubbuck. 118. For Associate Justice, D. Mcintosh, 4 ; J. P. Garner, 74 ; Eli Myer, 278 ; John Darnall, 228. For Treasurer and Assessor, Walter Cornell, 272 ; Philip Rollings, 94. County Surveyor—James Stout, 156 ; Charles Hustin, 73; Amos Edwards, 48 ; Nelson Buck, 58; E. B.Oliver, 21. For School Commissioner—Joseph A. Hews, 118 ; Eli Meyer, 103 ; H. H. Hinman, 134.

This list, together with those elected to the minor offices at this election, embraces many names new to the records of the county, but which are now familiar as household words. The Breckenridges, the McMillans and other old families seem to have given way all at once to such new blood and new material as B. P. Babcock, James Stout, Louderback, Hinman, Boyer. Chubbuck and Mcintosh, although Darnall seems to have have retained a place in official life.

At the election in 1854, which occurred in the midst of the political excitement in regard to Kansas, the county seems for the first time to have given majorities for the Whig and Anti-slavery, or, rather, Anti-Nebraska candidates.

The vote for Congressman was: For Jesse O. Norton, 319 ; J. N. Drake, 207.

For Representatives—P. S. Day, 317 ; David Strawn, 331 ; J. L. McCormick, 185 ; George W. Armstrong, 201.

For Sheriff—W. B. Lyon, 187 ; M. Breckenridge, 133 ; M. B. Patty, 69 ; Jerome P. Garner, 104.

For Coroner—Laban Frakes, 178; Jacob Streamer, 171; Ira Loveless, 118.

For Surveyor—T. P. Norton, 267 ; I. R. Clark, 80; N. Buck, 115.

In 1855, Walter Cornell was elected Treasurer and Assessor ; H. H. Hinman, School Commissioner ; I. R. Clark, Surveyor ; Thomas Croswell, Coroner. Dwight Precinct had been added.

No records of the important election of 1856 are on file.

At the election of 1857, two more precints had been added—Nebraska and Days, the latter embracing what is now Broughton and Round Grove. At this election, about 1,000 votes were cast.

For County Judge the vote was: For Henry Jones, 510 ; O. Chubbuck, 436.

For Associte Justice—John Darnall, 469; J. P. Morgan, 497; Decatur Veatch, 453; Jacob Angle, 473.

For Clerk—S. S. Saul, 525; S. L. Manker, 427.

For School Commissioner— J. H. Hagerty, 480 ; J. W. Strevell, 465. Por Surveyor—Nelson Buck? 493 ; James Stout, 444. Por Treasurer—J. R. Woolverton, 488 ; James Gibson, 447. Por Township organization, 738 ; against, 40. This was the last election held under the old county organization. Township organization went into effect the next year.

The election of 1858 will ever remain a memorable one. Douglas and Lincoln were before the people of the State as representatives of the two political ideas of the day. Douglas had separated from the President, and stood upon the platform of Popular Territorial Self-Government, called in derision, " Squatter Sovereignty," holding the doctrine that the people of each Territory had the inherent right to decide for themselves whether they would have slavery in the Territory or not ; Lincoln, the chosen representative of all the various shades of political and moral opponents of slavery, conservative himself, held strongly the view that slavery could not be interfered with in States where it already existed, could be prohibited in Territories by Congress, and in States it could only be abolished by State authority.

These two leaders were candidates for the United States Senate, and made a very thorough canvass of the State.

There was a third ticket in the field, which represented the ultra State Rights doctrine, that slavery could not even be kept out of a Territory, either by State or Territorial authority, but as property, slavery would go wherever the Constitution went.

This ticket, however, seems to have got but two votes in the county, one at Pontiac and one in Dwight. If this was, as was said at the time, a Postmaster's ticket, it probably could not now receive those two Postmaster's votes. A rapid increase of population, together with the excitement consequent on the interesting contest increased the vote to double that of the year before.

The county gave about 200 majority to the Republican ticket. There were then twenty-three townships in the county.

The vote was : For State Treasurer—James Miller, 1,001 ; William B. Fondy, 789.

For Superintendent of Instruction—Newton Bateman, 998 ; A. C. French, 790.

For Congress—Owen Lovejoy, 986: G. W. Armstrong, 794.

For Representatives—Alexander Campbell, 1,003 ; R. S. Hick, 1,000 ; S. C. Collins, 784 ; William Cogswell, 776.

For Sheriff— William T. Russell, 987 ; Joshua C. Mills, 806.

For Representatives—A. J. Cropsey, 1,474 ; J. W. Newport, 1,475; H. H. Brower, 1,092 ; Daniel Evans, 1,097.

For Circuit Clerk — James W. Remick, 1,345 : Ben. W. Gray, 1,229.

For Sheriff—E. R. Maples, 1.547 : James M. Perry, 1,023.

For Coroner—Thos. Croswell, 1,475 ; T. B. Norton, 1,043.

For State's Attorney—C. H. Wood, 927 ; G. H. Watson, 859 ; Joshua Whitmore, 829.

For Constitutional Convention, 1,743 ; against, 120.

The election of Col. Cropsey as Representative marked the first election of a citizen of the county to either house of the General Assembly. Heretofore, candidates had been selected from other counties in the district, this county not being deemed of sufficient importance to be entitled to representation. He soon left us however, for he early went into the military service, and soon after removed to Nebraska, where he has been honored with more distinguished official recognition.

At the June election in 1861, the unanimous vote of the county was given to Hon. C. R. Starr for Circuit Judge, who remained upon our bench until he resigned in 1866.

[The History of Livingston County, Illinois - Wm. LeBaron, Jr. & Co. - 186 Dearborn Street, Chicago (1878)]


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