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Rock Island County, Illinois
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Centennial Bridge in Rock Island County

Brief History of Rock Island County

Rock Island county, in the northwestern section of the State bordering upon the Mississippi River (which constitutes its northwestern boundary for more than 60 miles), and having an area of 440 square miles.

In 1816, the Government erected a fort on Rock Island (an island in the Mississippi, 3 miles long and one-half to three-quarters of a mile wide), naming it Fort Armstrong. It has always remained a military post, and is now the seat of an extensive arsenal and work-shops.

Ft. Armstrong
Fort Armstrong

In the spring of 1828, settlements were made near Port Byron by John and Thomas Kinney, Archibald Allen and George Harlan. Other early settlers, near Rock Island and Rapids City, were J.W. Spencer, J.W. Barriels, Benjamin F. Pike and Conrad Leak; and among the pioneers were Wells and Michael Bartlett, Joel Thompson, the Simms brothers and George Davenport. The country was full of Indians, this being the headquarters of Black Hawk and the initial point of the Black Hawk War.

By 1829 settlers were increased in number and county organization was effected in 1833, Rock Island (then called Stephenson) being made the county-seat. Joseph Conway was the first County Clerk, and Joel Wells, Sr., the first Treasurer. The first court was held at the residence of John W. Barriels, in Farnhamsburg.

The county is irregular in shape, and the soil and scenery greatly varied. Coal is abundant, the water-power inexhaustible, and the county's mining and manufacturing interests are very extensive. Several lines of railway cross the county, affording admirable transportation facilities to both eastern and western markets. Rock Island and Moline are the two principal cities in the county, though there are several other important points. Coal Valley is the center of large mining interests, and Milan is also a manufacturing center. Port Byron is one of the oldest towns in the county, and has considerable lime and lumber interests, while Watertown is the seat of the Western Hospital for the Insane. Population of the county in 1880 was 38,302; in 1890, 41,917; in 1900, 55,249

Rock Island County was established on February 9, 1831, with organization completed in 1833.

County Seats:

1833–1835 - Farnhamsburg - House of John Barrell
1835–1841 - Stephenson
- Name changed to Rock Island in 1841.
1841 – Rock Island

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Rock Island Data
Data will be added as it is transcribed or contributed.
(We have no further info other than what is online!)





Census Records


Cities & Townships

County Institutions

Court Records

Deceased Doctors 1804 -1929

History Topics

Land Grants


Military Records

Miscellaneous Data

Naturalization Records

Newspaper Articles



Wills and Probate Records

Website Updates:
Jan 2018:
 obits for QUICK, LAFLIN, BAULE, WYNKOOP, MURRAY, HOLMBERG, BOWEN, NELSON, HECK.  Sicklist news for ZEIGLER, KARR.  Gossip news for GAMBLE, FERGUSON, BAINS, BABCOCK, HOWELL, PEARCE, MARSHALL. Newspaper Year in Review: Events of 1900 and Events of 1901

Dec 2017:
May 2017:
 marriage announcement for PERRY-CLARK
Apr 2017:
obits for SWANSON, GSTETTENBAUER, REDDICK, THOMPSON, PETERSON, GORDON. Execution Crime news for YOUNG and LONG. Crime news for LOONEY. Marriage Announcement for SKINNER-BRAGG; Sick list news for BENDER, SCHALOM, MUELLER





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Rock Island County Courthouse
1504 Third Avenue
Rock Island, IL 61201
County Clerk - (309) 558-3570
Circuit Clerk - (309) 786-4451
Recorder - (309) 558-3360

IRAD Depository
University Library
Western Illinois University
1 University Circle
Macomb, IL 61455
Telephone: (309) 298-2716

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