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