Photo around 1908
The present township of Albany first formed a part of Van Buren Precinct, remaining so, however, only a short time, when it was set off as a Precinct by itself, and included within its boundaries the present townships of Newton and Garden Plain. In 1852 it was made a township by the Commissioners appointed by the County Commissioners Court, and is described as fractional township twenty-one north of the base line, range two east of the 4th Principal Meridian. The township along the river until the Meredocia is reached, is made up principally of high bluffs, thence along the Meredocia it is low with frequent sloughs. The balance of the town is sufficiently rolling to render cultivation certain at every season. The low lands have also been brought to a great degree under cultivation. Besides the Mississippi River, which flows on the north and northwest boundaries, the town is watered by the Meredocia on the west, and Spring Creek in the northeast part. Upon the farm of W. S. Booth, situated on the latter creek, about one mile south of the Village of Albany, the Spring Creek Union Agricultural Society holds its annual fairs.
The Meredocia which borders the township partly on the west, and flows through a portion of it, is of peculiar formation. The marsh or stream extends from the Mississippi to Rock river, with a divide of high land in the center. This high land divides the stream, the eastern part flowing to Rock river, and the western part to the Mississippi river. In times of extreme high water in either river the divide is overflowed, the highest stream passing into the other. In 1849 at the breaking up of the ice in Rock river a gorge was formed below the point where the Meredocia enters that stream, causing the ice and water to flow through the Meredocia to the Mississippi with such force as to destroy the bridge over the former near its confluence with the latter. Many years ago Capt. H. H. Gear and others, of Galena, laid out a town at the Mississippi mouth of the Meredocia, intending to cut a canal from river to river, the idea being to avoid the rapids at Rock Island, and have steamers take the Rock river up to this canal and then follow it back to the Mississippi; but after making a careful survey of Rock river from its mouth up, greater obstructions were found there than at the rapids, and the project was abandoned.
At the election held on the 4th of November, 1851, under the act of the General Assembly of the State providing for township organization, Albany cast 59 votes in favor of such organization to 19 against it. The first town meeting under the new law was held at the public school house in the village of Albany, on the 6th day of April, 1852. The name of the Moderator does not appear in the record. M.S. Denlinger acted as Clerk pro tem. The following officers were elected;
Supervisor, William S. Barnes; Town Clerk, M.S. Denlinger; Justices of the Peace, Gilbert Buckingham, Ivy Buck; Constables, Wm. Ewing, Chester Lusk; Commissioners of Highways, Alfred Slocumb, A.B. Emmons; Assessor, Chas. Boynton; Collector, B.S. Quick; Overseer of Poor, Henry Pease; Overseer of Highways, Samuel Happer; Pound Master, James Hugunin.
The following record made by the Clerk on the 21st of April, 1852, shows that the then Commissioners of Highways were not very active in the discharge of their duties.
"At a meeting held by the Commissioners of Highways at the Town Clerk's office on Wednesday the 21st of April, 1852, they came to no conclusions about anything, and in fact done nothing at all."
The following is a list of town officers from 1852 to 1877 inclusive:
Supervisors - 1852 , Wm. S. Barnes; 1853, William Y. Wetzell, Mr. Wetzell resigned his office in February, 1854, and Washington Olds was appointed to fill the vacancy; 1854-55, A.T. Hudson. Mr. Hudson resigned in January, 1856 and Samuel Happer was appointed to fill the vacancy; 1856 - 62, W. S. Barnes; 1863-70, Dean S. Efner; 1871-76, Edward H. Nevitt. Mr. Nevitt resigned on the 1st of January 1877 by reason of being elected Representative to the General Assembly, and Ezekiel Olds was appointed to fill the vacancy; 1877, Peter Ege.
Town Clerks - 1852, M.S. Denlinger; 1853, W.W. Durant; 1854-56, J. B. Myers; 1857, Henry Pease; 1858, Thos. A. Slaymaker; 1859, S.L. Myers; 1860 - 62 Henry Pease; 1863 - 67 Charles Slocumb; 1868 - 77, Henry Pease.
Justices of the Peace - 1852, Gilbert Buckingham, Ivy Buck; 1854, Dean S. Efner, W.W. Durant; 1856 J.J. Bolls; 1858, Dean S. Efner, Gilbert Buckingham; 1860 S.H. Slaymaker, J.C. Slocumb; 1863, Gilbert Buckingham; 1864 Dean S. Efner, Gilbert Buckingham; 1867, Joseph McMahan; 1868, Dean S. Efner, Joseph McMahan; 1872, Dean S. Efner, James H. Ege; 1873, Sean S. Efner, James H. Ege; 1877, Dean S. Efner, Joseph McMahan.
Assessor - 1852, Chas. Boynton; 1853-77, E.H. Nevitt. Mr. Nevitt resigned soon after his election in 1877, and Wm. H. Fletcher was appointed to fill the vacancy.
Collectors - 1852, B.S. Quick; 1853, C.G. Nevitt; 1854 -56 A.B. Emmons; 1857-58 B.S. Quick; 1859, David Wray; 1860-61 C. Knapp; 1862 Ezekiel Olds; 1863 Wm. A. Chamberlain; 1864-65, C.G. Nevitt; 1866, W.D. Haslet; 1867, C.G. Nevitt; 1868, C. Knapp; 1869, Chas. Slocumb; 1870-71, C. Knapp; 1872, C.G. Slocumb; 1873-75 Ezekial Olds; 1876-77 W.D. Haslet.
The following record of an election held at the house of William Nevitt in the town of Albany, Precinct of Albany, on the 5th day of August, 1844, we were permitted to copy from the original rcord now in the possession of Hon. E.H. Nevitt;
For Representative in Congress; Martin P. Sweet 68 votes; Joseph P. Hoge 22; John Cross 1.
For State Representative; Oliver Everett 67 votes; Winfield S. Wilkinson 22.
For Sheriff: James A Sweet 63 votes; James W. Noble 22; Daniel F. Millikan 1.
For Coroner: Thomas Vennum 51 votes; Gilbert Buckingham 30.
For County Commissioner; Bacchus Beese 68 votes; Ebenezer Seeley 17 votes
For Constable: Wm. Ewing 34 votes; John S. Lamb 32.
Samuel Slocumb, S.M. Kilgour and Ivy Buck were judges of election, and Stephen B. Slocumb and E.H. Nevitt clerks.
The Precinct of Albany then comprised the present townships of Albany, Garden Plain and Newton. The elections were always held at the village of Albany, and were considered the most exciting days of the year. It will be seen that the Whigs were considerably in the majority in Albany Precinct at that time.
The assessment of Albany Precinct for the year 1839, the Precinct then including the present townships of ALbany, Garden Plain and Newton, made by Lewis Spurlock, Assessor, the original of which is on file in the County Clerk's office, shows fifty-One persons assessed. The property assessed was only personal, and consisted in the aggregate of 38 horses, valued at $2,025; 157 cows and oxen, valued at $2,995; 390 hogs, valued at $1,201; 8 sheep, valued at $16; valuations of wagons, $928; of household goods, $1,695; of mechanical tools, $265, and of clocks and watches, $259. Total assessed valuation of all personal property, $9,384.
Albany township contains about 2,000 acres of improved lands, and about 4, 000 of unimproved. From the Assessor's book for 1877 the number of horses in the township is put down at 213; number of cattle, 488; of mules and asses 3; of sheep, 75; of hogs, 1937; carriages and wagons, 92; sewing and knitting machines, 90; pianofortes, 11; melodeons and organs, 29. Total value of lands, lots and personal property $155,321; value of Railraod property, $9,529. Total assessed value of all property in 1877, $164,850.
The population of the township outside of the village of Albany in 1870, as appears by the census reports of that year, was 199, of which 147 were of native births, and 52 of foreign birth. The estimated population is now 350. [Source: Whiteside County, Illinois, From Its First Settlement To The Present Time; by Charles Bent; pub. 1877]
Albany Township includes those parts of Congressional Town-ships 19, 20 and 21 north, range two east of the fourth principal meridian, which lie east of the Mississippi River and Merdosia Slough and part of one and all of three islands in the Mississippi River. Only 18.02 acres of Whiteside County are located in Congressional Township 19. There are diverse types of land; the northern part of the township includes high bluffs with outcrops of dolomite while the southern part bordered by Merdosia Slough is swampy in character. Spring Creek is a small stream in the northeast corner.
Prior to township organization, Albany was included in Van Buren Precinct. The territory was re-divided and Albany Precinct was formed. It included all of present day Albany, Newton, Garden Plain and Fulton and most of Ustick, Union Grove and Fenton.
The Merdosia Slough acquired fame in earlier years because of its unpredictability. The Mississippi River and Rock River flowed into one or the other through it, depending on which stream reached flood stage sooner. The meandering creek which connected them crossed a ridge which in normal times sent its waters in two directions; and it was only when there was a flood in one or the other of the larger streams that the Merdosia flowed in one direction.
The swampy land received early consideration as to its possibilities. By November, 1833, John Baker, who was looking for a site for a city, settled there briefly and then moved on to a location between present-day Fulton and Albany. He lived in the lowlands only a few months. It is highly probable that the two encampments made Fulton's founder the first settler in Whiteside County.
At an early date, a group of men platted a community near the north mouth of the Merdosia. They were from Galena and Captain
L H. Gear was one of them. The men proposed to cut a channel from the Mississippi River to Rock River in order to by-pass the rapids at Rock Island. However a survey of Rock River from its mouth to its influence with Merdosia Slough showed the conventional route on the Mississippi River to be the more practical one.
Early settlers in Albany were a Mr. Mitchell and Edward Corbin, brothers-in-law, who arrived in 1835. Their stay was brief but both men built cabins. Mr. Mitchell erected a small building in Upper Albany and Mr. Corbin completed an unusual home around a tree near the corner of Maple and Main Streets.
Two platted areas were laid out in 1836. The upper one was called Van Buren and the lower one Albany. It was soon agreed that such division was neither necessary nor convenient and they consolidated. In October, 1839, the land was put on sale at Galena and the area included in the plats was purchased for a group of proprietors. The deeds for upper Albany were made out to William Nevitt, Lewis Aperlock, Alfred Slocumb and Gilbert Buckingham. The deeds for lower Albany were made out to C. R. Rood, S. M. Kilgour, Randolph C. Niblack, Isaac C. Allen, P. B. Vannest, Oliver McMahan, Erastus Allen, Samuel Mitchell, David Mitchell, Alfred Bergen, Chester Lusk and Samuel Searle. In 1839, C. R. Rood made a new survey and the plat recorded March 4, 1840.
In the election on November 4, 1851, the people of Albany voted against township organization. The tally was 19 votes for and 39 against the question. In spite of the unfavorable vote, township organization was completed on April 6, 1852. The first supervisor was William S. Barnes. The commissioners of highways met soon after and the minutes started, "At a meeting held by the Commissioners of Highways at the Town Clerk's office on Wednesday, the 21st of April 1852, they came to no conclusion about anything and in fact done nothing at all." [1968 History - submitted by Chris Walters]
VILLAGE OF ALBANY
The earliest settlers in what is now known as the village of Albany was probably David Mitchell) and Edward Corbin, brothers-in-law, who came in 1835 from the state of Ohio. Mr. Mitchell made claim to what is now known as Upper Albany, and Corbin to Lower Albany. During that year the former built a small cabin on a mound still to be seen in the present lumber yard of Hon. E. H. Nevitt, and the latter put up a tent around a tree at the edge of the bluff near the corner of Main and Maple Streets. The tree, being a large one, afforded considerable protection to his improvised dwelling, and gave rise to the report, which is still in circulation, that he lived in a tree. It appears that neither of these men had any idea of becoming permanent settlers, and only made their claims for speculative purposes, for no sooner did other parties come in with the bona fide intention of making their homes in the town then they willingly sold their interest in the lands, and hied to other parts. There was a great deal of that kind of business done in Illinois and other Western States and Territories at that day, many parties following it as their only occupation. Their method would be to find out first by exploration, some locality which offered natural advantages either for the location of a village or city like that at Albany, or by reason of the fertility of the soil a home for the farmer and producer, and then cause these advantages to be spread abroad as far as possible. They were usually shrewd men, and could spot an advantageous position as soon as their eyes fell upon it. Although simply speculators, considerable credit is due them for opening up to settlement, many a splendid commercial position at an early date which otherwise might not have been noticed, or if noticed, not until at a much later period and when other and inferior localities had been selected and were well in their growth.
In the spring of 1836, Wm. Nevitt, father of Hon. Edward Henson Nevitt, and Willis C. Osborne, the former from Knox County, and the latter from Fulton County, came up and purchased the claim from Mitchell. About the same time Charles R. Rood came from Washington County, N. Y., and Erastus and Isaac C. Allen from Plattsburgh, Essex County, N. Y., and purchased the claim from Corbin. None of the land had been sold by the Government, the entry not taking place until October, 1839. In that month Messrs. Nevitt, Rood and Allen went to Galena, made an entry and purchased the land covered by these claims, for themselves and others. Mr. Nevitt purchasing what is now Upper Albany, and Messrs. Rood and Allen, Lower Albany. The Upper Albany were made out to Wm. Nevitt, Lewis Spurlock, Alfred and Gilbert Buckingham, making them the proprietors. Chas. R. Kilgour, Randolph C. Niblack. Isaac C. Allen, P. B. Vannest, Oliver M. Erastus, Isaac C. Allen, Samuel Mitchell, David Mitchell, Alfred Bergen, Chester Lusk, and Samuel Searle, became the proprietors of Lower Albany.
It was contemplated by the proprietors of the land now covered bv Upper Albany to call that part of the place Van Buren, and it was known by that name for some time, while the proprietors of the lower part determined to call their portion simply Albany. It was soon, however, discovered that two municipal corporations in such close contiguity would prove unnecessary, as well as annoying, and finally under cover of some dispute about boundary lines, the matter was amicably compromised, and the whole town called Albany. The two were first platted in 1836.
In the month of December, 1839, the town or village was surveyed for the proprietors by C. R. Rood, County Surveyor, and the plat recorded in the office of the Recorder of Whiteside County on the 4th day of March, 1840. In the plat the village is described as situated and laid out on the east side of the Mississippi river on a part of sections No’s 24, 25 and 26, in township 21 north, range 2 east of the 4th principal meridian. The village is beautifully situated on the ground rising from the river at an angle of some twenty to thirty degrees until it reaches the height of the surrounding country. Some of the finest building sites on the Upper Mississippi can be found along and upon these bluffs, the view from them, especially from some in the lower part of the town commanding a long stretch of the noble river, the village of Camanche nearly opposite, the cities of Fulton, Lyons and Clinton above, besides extended portions of bluff and prairie in the two States of Illinois and Iowa. The citizens in many instances have taken advantage of these fine sites and built upon them. The part of the town along the river bank and at the commencement of the bluffs is admirably adapted for business purposes. The streets of the village are broad and regularly laid out. Of the original proprietors of the village the following are still living: Randolph C. Niblack, residing on his old homesead in town, C. R. Rood and P. B. Vannest, in Garden Plain, Oliver McMahan, in Lyons, Iowa, and Samuel Mitchell, in Davenport, Iowa.
Log dwellings were put up in Upper Albany in the spring and summer of 1837 by Alfred Slocumb and Gilbert Buckingham. These were the first dwellings built in that part of the town, with the exception of the cabin of Mr. Mitchell mentioned in a preceding page. In the summer of 1838 Uriah Cook erected the first frame building. In Lower Albany Randolph C. Niblack, Samuel Searle, Isaac C. and Erastus Allen, Samuel Mitchell, T. Wilcoxsen, Chester Lusk, and Oliver McMahan put up the first frame buildings in the spring and summer of 1837. The one built by McMahan was used as a hotel, thus making it the first hotel in Albany. The first brick building in the town was put up for a dwelling by Dr. W. H. Efner, father of Hon. Dean S. Efner in the summer of 1840. It is still standing on the bluff on Main street, adjoining the Methodist church, and is owned by Mrs. W. S. Barnes, and occupied by Mr. J.W. Dinneen. Oliver McMahan followed the same year with the second brick building. This was built on Water street and faced the river, and is still standing Mr. McMahan used it first for a dwelling and afterwards for a bank. It is now unoccupied.
Ivy Buck opened the first grocery store in the fall of 1837, and a firm by the name of Cox and Campton the second early in 1838. The store of Cox & Campton stood on the river bank near where the stone house now stands, and that of Mr. Buck on the bluff, back of the present W. U.R. R. depot. In 1840 McIlvaine & Happer opened the first dry goods and general merchandise store in a building near the river, now known as the old Fuller Hotel site. After that year stores of different kinds followed with considerable rapidity. Cox & Campton remained in the store for about a year. Mr. Buck continued in business also about a year. Mcllvaine & Happer continued in the mercantile line under the same firm name until 1854, when William Y. Wetzell, now of Fulton, became a partner, and the name was changed to Mcllvaine, Happer & Co. Mr. Wetzell withdrew in 1854, leaving the firm as it originally started, and under that name it continued until the firm was dissolved. Mr. Happer is still in business in partnership with his son, Joseph F. Happer, in the brick store corner of Main and Union streets. Mr. Mcllvaine is now a resident of Chicago.
Chas. S. Dorsey built the first saw mill in the fall of 1837 and early part of 1838, acutally commencing to saw in the former year. He came from Tazewell county in this State. The mill stood on the river bank in the lower end of the town, and was run by steam. David Mitchell, Mr. Hurd and others had an interest in the mill. It ran for about four years, and then burned down. A great deal of lumber was sawed at this mill for Capt. Holt, of Rock Island, who was engaged then in building barges for use on the Mississippi River and its tributaries. A chair manufactory was started in connection with this mill shortly after it commenced operation, by Alvord & Buck, but was burned with the mill, and the proprietors did not afterwards resume business.
William Clark put up the next steam saw mill, a small rotary one, on the river bank in Spurlock & Garrett’s addition, in 1851. He ran it about a year when he died and it was torn down.
In 1853 Walker, Happer & Co., built a steam saw mill on the river in Upper Albany near where the stone house now stands. This mill was built in the modern style, having planing and lath machinery attached. The company was composed of E.H. Nevitt and John D. Mcllvaine. In 1855 Walker sold his interest to the other members of the firm, and the firm name was changed to Happer, Nevitt & Co. The new firm ran the mill until 1858, when operations ceased. The mill was destroyed by the tornado of June 3, 1860, and was not rebuilt.
A part of the present mill was built by Boice, Ewing & Co. in 1861. This company ran the mill until 1864, when it was sold to Langford & Hall, now extensive mill owners and lumber dealers at Fulton. In 1866 David Heffelbower bought an interest and the firm name was changed to Heffelbower, Langford & Co, In 1872 Mr. Heffelbower and Wm. McBride purchased the mill and its surroundings, and the firm became Heffelbower & McBride. The latter gentlemen are its present owners. New and important additions to the building, machinery and yard have been added by the enterprising proprietors from time to time as the occasion demanded, until now the mill ranks among the first on the river.
As near as can be ascertained the following persons were the settlers in Van Buren and Albany, as the places were then called in 1837: Chas. R, Rood, Erastus Allen and family, Isaac C. Allen, Randolph C. Niblack, Samuel Searle, Chester Lusk and family, Alfred Bergen, Peter B. Vannest, Gregg McMahen, Oliver McMahan, Jonathan Davis, Samuel Mitchell, Thomson Wilcoxson and family, Ivy Buck and family, Duty Buck and family and Jeremiah Rice, in Albany; and Wm. Nevitt and family, Gilbert Buckingham and family, Stephen B. Slocumb, Thomas Finch, John Slocumb and family and Uriah Cook, in Van Buren. Of these, Chas. B. Rood, Win. Nevitt, and Stephen B. Slocumb properly came in 1836, but are classed as settlers of 1837.
Those who came in 1838 were: Cheney Olds and family, Dr. Bernheisel and family, David Mitchell, Isaiah Marshall, and Edward Ewers in Lower Albany; and Granville Reid, Robert Kennedy, Daniel Bliss, Lewis Spurlock, Amos Nichols, John Nichols, Bennett Spurlock, and Geo. Garrett in Upper Albany.
In 1839 came Benj. S. Quick, W. S. Barnes and family, Dr. John Clark and family, and James Hewlett and family, in Lower Albany, and Columbus C. Alvord in Upper Albany. This year was known as the “sick year,” and few parties could be induced to settle anywhere along the Mississippi.
The first white child born in Albany was Josephine Davis, daughter of Jonathan and Phoebe Davis. She was born May 18, 1838.
The first marriage was that of Randolph C. Niblack to Miss Amy Buck the 11th of February, 1838.
The first death was that of Katie Allen, a child of Erastus Allen aged about eighteen months. She died in the winter of 1838, and was buried on her father’s premises. Following this was the death of Elijah H. Knowlton who died in March, 1838. He was the first one buried in the cemetery where so many of Albany’s citizens now sleep. His age was about thirty.
The first minister was the Rev. Mr. Bouton, a Presbyterian clergyman who settled in the town in the spring of 1840. He was not called to Albany as a stated pastor, but preached whenever he was requested and in such dwellings as could be obtained for religious services, there being no church in town at that day. A donation of some lots was made to him by the proprietors of Lower Albany, but he did not build on them, and afterwards occupied a farm a little out of the town.
The first physician was Dr. Bernheisel, who came with his wife in the spring of 1838. The Doctor is represented to have been a somewhat peculiar man, and as his wife, who possessed considerable beauty and spirit, attracted considerable attention from the gay bachelors of the town, he became unaccountably jealous of her, and after remaining about a year carried her off to Utah and joined the Mormons. To reward him for this heroic rescue of his wife from the wiles of the bachelors of Albany, the Latter Day Saints elected him their first delegate to the Congress of the United States. It is now said some of these erst while bachelors, married men today, would like to have young gentlemen smile upon their wives so they could carry them to some territory like Dr. Bernheisel, and go to Congress.
The first white women who settled in Albany were Mrs. Thomas Finch, Mrs. Stephen B. Slocumb, Mrs. Erastus Allen, and Mrs. Chester Lusk, all of whom came in 1837.
The first regular ferry between Albany and Camanche was run by David and Samuel Mitchell under a license granted them for that purpose by the County Commissioners, bearing date September 8, 1840. Their first boat was propelled by horse power, and this motive power was continued until 1850 when a steam ferry boat was purchased of a Mr. Gear, of Galena. One improvement called for another, and after running the Galena boat for some the Messrs. Mitchel1 had a larger and more commodious boat built for themselves. Not long after this new boat was put on, David Mitchell sold his interest in the ferry to Samuel. Still later, a Mr. Clayborne purchased an interest from Samuel and the two ran the ferry until the great tornado in 1860, when the boat was destroyed. Since that time a skiff only has been used. The ferry in its palmy days was extensively patronized, a large number then seeking it as their point of crossing over the Mississippi on their way to Iowa, and States and territories further West. It was also largely used for transporting merchandise and produce over the river for points both east and west. Had the been built, for which a charter was granted by the General Assembly at its session in 1851, the ferry would undoubtedly have given way in a short time thereafter to a bridge over the river between Albany and Camanche. A railroad would then have been constructed from the latter place to a point on the Missouri River, running through the heart of Iowa as the Chicago & Northwestern now does. We are assured that such was the design of many of the enterprising business men of that day. But by the failure to build the railroad to ALbany, the bridge project was abandoned
The Sickly season of 1839 retarded emigration to, and business in Albany, but in 1840 everything began to revive, and thenceforward for a number of years it was one of the most active business towns in this section of the country. The stage route fro Rock Island to Galena, and the one afterwards from Chicago to ALbany, were largely patronized and made regular runs, and the river streamers brought their full quota of freight and passengers. Even what were jocosely denominated “jerk water” lines of stages were doing a good business. The winding of the stage horn on the arrival of the lumbering vehicle into town was sure to attract. a large number to its stopping place, as it not only always brought a full complement of passengers, but also the mails. At this time, too, farmers from a long distance brought their grain and produce into town, and carried lumber home for putting up their buildings. Many of these came from as far east as Genesee Grove.
The opening of Brink & Walker’s line of stages from Chicago to Albany was one of the eras of the town. Before that time, this line ran by land to Galena and from thense to Albany by water. The proprietors, however, soon saw that a direct line from the lakes to the Mississippi would be advantagous, and in 1844 put their coaches on this route. It was the great influx of passengers by this line which induced Mr. W. S. Barnes to open his large building as a hotel for the accomodiations of the public. Very soon the Eagle Hotel became known far and wide as one of the best hotels on the Mississippi river, and it landloard one of the most courteous and genial of hosts. That reputation it has kept up to the present day. The Washington Hotel, and the National Hotel, were also first class hotels and had a deservingly large patronage.
The passage of the act by the General Assembly of Illinois at its session in 1851, granting a charter for the construction of a railroad from Beloit Wisconsin, to Rock Island, was hailed by the people of Albany as a project which would open up to them quick and easy communication with the lakes, and thence with eastern ports. Its construction would also demand the buildÂing of a road from Comanche, directly opposite, through Iowa to the far West, and of course the erection of a bridge over the river between the two points. The general route of this road was to be in the Rock River Valley, running from Beloit through Rockford, Byron, Dixon and Sterling to Albany, and then from Albany, down the nver to Rock Island. A road from Beloit to Chicago was already in operation. A meeting of the friends of the Rockford & Rock Island road was held in the month of February, 1852, and by act of this meeting the route was divided into four sections, the first to extend from Beloit to Rockford, the second from Rockford to Dixon, the third from Dixon to Albany, and the fourth from Albany to Rock Island. The following resolution was also adopted: “That out of the capital stock first subscribed, a sufficient amount should be immediately applied for completing the third section of road.” In compliance with the resolution that section was put under contract to Henry Doolittle, o Dayton, Ohio, on the 16th of February, 1853. By some means the books of subscription to the capital stock were not opened in time to ensure the commencement of the work, before the Mississippi & Rock River Junction Railroad Company, a rival organization, had so far got along with their operations as to commence building their road to Fulton. This put an end to the construction of the road to Albany, as the Galena & Chicago Company had became identified with the M. & R. R. J. road, and the combination ensured a direct road from Chicago to Fulton on the Mississippi River. A rival line, it was seen, could not be made to pay. Could stock have been taken at the Sterling meeting when all the villages along the line of the contemplated road from Beloit to Albany were deeply interested in the enterprise and anxious that it should be pushed forward with the greatest rapidity, it is not at all unlikely that Albany and Camanche would have been at this time thriving towns, with a bridge connecting them, over which would have rolled heavy freight and passenger cars, the former ladened with the richest products of the Orient and the Occident. Had this been the case it is easy to conjecture what the condition of the cities at the Narrows would have been today. Another road was also in contemplation at, or about that time, which was to have been called the Camanche, Albany and Mendota Railroad. This project had not been pushed to any great extent before it was abandoned, but it to say to say , that if the Rockford & Rock Island road had been completed, it would have been built sooner or later thereafter.
The construction of the Western Union Railroad, however, affords railroad facilities for Albany, but it being a north and south road does not meet the requirements demanded, as the great lines of communication and transportation run east and west. The first construction train on the Western Union came into the limits of Albany about the middle of November, 1865, on ties laid down temporarily. About a month later the road was completed so far that passenger trains came into town, and regular passenger and freight trains have been running since.
The people of Albany have not been without their wars and rumors of wars. A big fight came very near taking place on Beaver Island directly opposite the town in the winter of 1842 and ‘43. Albany had what was called a town claim on the Island, from which the inhabitants got a great deal of wood to the cutting and carrying away of which the people of Clinton County, Iowa finally strenuously objected, alleging that all the Island with the timber growing thereon belonged to their county. Finally to prevent further depradations by the people of Albany, Deputy Sheriff Aiken, of Clinton County came to the Island one day during the above winter with a strong posse of men, fully armed, determined to drive away the Albany wood choppers, and to take such full and complete possession of the premises as would prevent their trespassing again in the future. Word was immediately sent to Albany of this action on the part of the Clinton County authorities, and it had no sooner got to the ears of the people, than they began to gather for the purpose of devising means to force the Clinton army back to their headquarters in Iowa, and “hold the fort" or in other words their claim, at all hazards. Soon forty men or more had banded together, armed with rifles, muskets, pistols, swords, pitchforks and other deadly implements, and in a few minutes landed on the Island. The bravest marched boldly up to a big fire which had been built by the CIintonians previous to their coming, and on one side of which the latter had taken position.
The othes, and the number was not inconsiderable, took to the brush, preferring to acts as scouts rather than face a fusilade from their enemies. Orders were given in town which reverberated far up and down the river for these scouts to join the main army, but at this juncture a pistol was fired, or was accidentally discharged, and neither orders, threats or coaxing could induce the scouts to believe their method of fighting was not the most effective. What the result would have been is hard at this late day to determine, had not flags of truce been thrown out on each side, and the commanding officers of the two armies delegated to consult over the situation of affairs, and patch up a compromise if possible. Long and vehement were the arguments on both sides, but finally as night began to approach a compromise was effected by making a division of the timber, Albany to get 400 acres as its share. This was no sooner agreed to and hands shaken over it, than the scouts came out of their covert with the air and mein of veterans, and in lofty words claimed that their superior mode of fighting had driven the Clintonians to the wall and made them yield the point, and the survivors to this day recount to admiring listeners the brave deeds, performed by them on that winter day in the Beaver Island brush. Albany did no more fighting after that until the war of the rebellion called her sons forth to fight for their country, and it is due to them to say that braver in the Union Army.
On Sunday evening, June 3, 1860, one of the most destructive tornadoes that ever swept through the West visited the village of Albany, laying a large part of the place in ruins, causing the death of several of its citizens, seriously injuring many others. The storm came from the Northwest, and after doing terrible execution in Iowa, and particularly in the particularly in the village of Camanche,, crossed the river, almost devastating Albany, as we have stated, and then purÂsued its way east through the county. A full description of its terrible work will be found in the general local history of this volume.
The following is as nearly an accurate list of the business men, and houses, prior to 1850, as can be obtained: James Hewlett, hardware and harness, about 1842; B.S. Quick, wagons and buggies; Pease & Wetzell, dry goods and groceries; Delmar and Stevens, dry goods and groceries; Hoyt, Faxon & Durfee, harness; J.J. Bolls, boots and shoes; Durant & Haines, dry goods and grocerÂies; O. McMahan, Albany Bank; A. B. & J. B. Emmons, blacksmith and wagon shop; McIlvaine & Happer, dry goods and groceries; Washington Olds, notions; Vannest & Stagg, blacksmiths; Charles Boynton, tin shop; W. S. Barnes, dry goods and groceries; John A. Langston, saddle and harness maker.
The population of the village of Albany is now estimated at 500.
A Post office was estabIished at Van Buren, now Upper Albany, in the winter of 1837 and '38, and Willis C. Osborne appointed Postmaster. In 1839 thename fo the office was changed to Albany, and Gilbert Buckingharn appointed postmaster. In 1843 he was succeeded by Samuel Rapper, but was reappointed in 1846, and continued in the position two years. From 1848 to 1851, Wm. Y. Wetzell was postmaster, and from the latter year until 1854, Wm. S. barnes held the place. In 1854 Mr. Buekingham was again appointed, and held the office until 1857, when Andrew B. Emmons secured the position, the latter retaining until 1860 when he resigned, and was succeeded by Cornelius Knapp. In 1863 W. W. Durant was appointed, and has held the position to the present time.
In the spring of 1854 a newspaper called the Herald was started in Albany, by Mr. McAuliffe, who ran it for a few weeks, and then gave the enterprise up. In July following, Mr. Chas. Boynton revived it, and issued the first number on the 24th of that month. Mr. Boynton had his own press, material and office in the village. The size of the Herald was 16 by 22, and its motto, " Knowledge is, in every country, the surest basis of public happiness.” Its miscellaneous reading matter was excellent, and local news as full as was given at that time by weekly newspapers in the smaller towns. The advertising patronage was much better proportionately than is given now to papers of considerably larger size and circulation in such towns. Mr. Boynton, however, only continued the publication of the Herald in Albany until December, 1854, and then moved his office to Sterling, and commenced the publication of the Sterling Times. The Herald gives the information that in 1854 Albany had a population of about 1,000 inhabitants, with four forwarding and commission houses, six dry goods, grocery and produce stores, one clothing store, two drug stores, one stove and tinware store, one furniture store, one harness shop, two large steam saw mills with planing and bedstead machinery, one sash, door and blind factory, and one wagon and general blacksmith shop. The advertisers in the Herald wer Mcilvaine, Rapper & Co., grocers, general merchants and produce dealers; Pease & Durant, dry goods, groceries, clothing, boots and shoes and produce; Durant & Haines, groceries, dry goods, clothing, boots & shoes; Dennis & Lincoln produce and general merchandise; Prothrow & Boils, dry goods, groceries & clothing, boots and shoes; Washington Olds, dry goods, clothing, boots and shoes, hardware, drugs and medicines; Kroh & Gordon, stove dealers, and tin and copper workers; W. A. Chamberlain, drugs and medicines; Buck, Olds & Co. sash, blind and door manufactory; Quick & Gilbert, wagon makers and blacksmiths; J. M. Adams, saddle, harness and trunk maker; Walker, Rapper & Co. lumber, sash and shingles; Stagg & King, general blacksmiths; Walker Olds, lime; Myers & Slaymaker, furniture and chairs; McMahan, Curant & Co., lumber yard; Sears & Barnard, lumber yard; G. Harris, clothing; H. C. Hullinger, , house and sign painting; Hudson & Willey, physicians; Harris and Somerfield, clothing, dry goods, hats and caps; G. G. Dennis, dry goods, carpets, clothing; Boice, Ewing & Co., lumber; E. H. Nevitt, insurance; W. D. Smith, watchmaker; W. S. Barnes, Eagle Hotel; Alfred Slocumb, Washington Hotel; Bolls & Myers, dry goods, groceries and clothing; Geo. A. Richmond, National Hotell. The removal of the Herald to Sterling ended the publication of newspapers in Albany. [From the History of Whiteside County - Bent & Wilson 1877]
If you have not seen Albany, you have a treat in store. It is the most picturesque spot in the county. It is like the Psalmist's "Beautiful for situation is Mt. Zion, the joy of the whole earth." Whether you approach by rail from Fulton or Rock Island, or by boat on river, there is the high terrace running to the water's edge, and in the rear, the rounded hills, not a long ridge, with the cottages nestling among the groves on the summits.
As you walk towards the town from the station, you will notice a low brick house with a hall running through, and an entrance, front and back. This was the residence of Samuel Happer, who came from Washington county, Pa., in 1841, and formed a partnership with John D. Mcllvaine, carrying on a store and doing a forwarding business for many years. Their old brick warehouse along the river bank disappeared long ago. Mr. Happer was married to Miss Sarah Curry, of Allegheny county, Pa., who was born in July, 1816. She is the oldest survivor of the Albany pioneers, and makes her home with her daughter, Mrs. E. W. Payne, in Morrison. Mrs. Happer is in fair health. This low brick dwelling was built in 1848, and Dean S. Efner, a mason, laid the brick.
While we are on the river bank or levee, as St. Louis would say. lot us go down the river, and take a look at what remains of the Eagle hotel built by William S. Barnes, who settled in lower Albany in 1839, and soon afterwards erected the hotel. It was a welcome hostelry for stage and river passengers, and was a commodious inn for those days. The fearful tornado of 1860 wrecked the larger part, leaving the section still standing. This is about 25 feet long with four windows upstairs, and is now a boarding house. Mr. Barnes was the first supervisor of the township, an active Mason, and held in high esteem. He was born in Woodstock, Vt., 1808, and died in 1872. The old hotel was frame.
Mcllvaine, Happer & Co. were hustlers, as the saying is, doing a large business in various lines. From an advertisement in a Sterling Times of 1854, they carry a full stock of dry goods, groceries, clothing, hardware, glass, paints, and lumber at the steam saw mill. In another paragraph appears this notice: Wanted 173,000 bushels of grain. Mcllvaine, Happer & Co., grocers, general merchants, and produce dealers. Half a mile up the river is a tall chimney stack, and rubbish near it, the ruins, as the writer was told, of a steam saw mill. It is along the railroad coming from Fulton. One is reminded of the obelisk at On, near Cairo, which also stands alone on the sand, once a center of Egyptian civilization.
In this ancient Barnes hostelry we met a grizzled veteran who with his family has made a cheerful home that belies the desolate exterior. An inviting dinner was smoking on the table at our noon call. Perry Langford born in 1835 in Fulton county, came to Albany in 1849, and enlisted in Company F, 93d Illinois infantry. He was three years in the service, was at the Grand Review in Washington in 1865, and saw Grant tip his hat, but refuse to shake hands with Halleck. He has two framed relics which he prizes. A commission to his father, Asa Langford, by Gov. John Reynolds, as captain in Black Hawk war, 1832, and one to Thomas Langford, as second lieutenant, 1833. Both signed at Vandalia, the early capital of the state.
An agreeable call upon Miss Frances D. Barnes, the oldest of the eight children of W. S. Barnes. Her brothers, Henry and Charles, were veterans, Henry in 93d Illinois, Charles in 147th Illinois. Three of the children are dead. Mr. Barnes was a schoolmate of the famous sculptor, Hiram Powers, who was three years older. In fact, they sat on the same seat. It was the Greek Slave in 1843, that gave Powers his world-wide reputation. Singular to say. they died almost in the same year, Barnes in 1872, Powers in 1873, in Florence, Italy. Mr. Barnes was an invalid six years before he died, and he remarked one day when the sculptor was on a visit to America, "If Hiram knew how sick I am, he would come to see me." Indeed, W. S. Barnes must have been more than an ordinary pioneer with qualities of mind and heart to commend him to the friendship of eminent men. He was one of Whiteside's representative citizens. When Gov. Oglesby was in Morrison, he was invited to take dinner with him. He was on intimate terms with E. B. Washburne. He was sent to Springfield when the removal of the county seat from Sterling was in consideration. Very energetic in business, he opened the first general store in Albany, and the Eagle hotel was the headquarters for travel between Chicago, Galena, Rock Island and Peoria. Those were the golden days of the Frink and Walker stage line, lightning express, four lines a day of four-horse coaches. A horse ferry was in operation across the Mississippi. When there was a strong adverse wind in March the ferry could not run. Frances Barnes says she was a schoolmate of the late Mrs. John Whallon. formerly Martha Millikan, and a pioneer teacher. Although in her seventy-seventh year, Miss Barnes talks as fluently and correctly as a Vassar girl of twenty. [Source: History Whiteside County IL. From Its Earliest Settlement to 1908 By William W. Davis M.A. The Pioneer Publishing Co. ; Transcribed by Christine Walters]
The Village of Albany
On February 15, 1869, the Town of Albany was incorporated under the state laws governing such acts. The Town should not be con-fused with township nor village. The meeting was held in the office of E. H. Nevitt. D. S. Efner, H. M. Booth, W. D. Haslet, A. Winans and R. H. Niblack were the first trustees. On April 26, 1887, in response to a petition signed by 30 citizens, an election was held to vote on the question of advancing to village-form of government. The affirmative vote was 42 and the negative five. Albany remained a village down through the years.
The first post office was located in the Van Buren (upper Albany) section of the community. It was started about the winter of 1837-1838. Willis C. Osborne was the first postmaster. In 1839, the name of the office was changed to Albany and Gilbert Buckingham, was appointed. The office was moved from place to place. From about 1913 until 1947, Edward Olds was postmaster and he had the post office in his grocery store on Main Street, in the present location of Howard's Tap. J. K. Dolan succeeded him and the post office was moved twice prior to the construction of the new building in 1961.
The brick building, which is lined with concrete block, is located on Maple Street just off Main Street. The post office leases it from private owners and it was built under specification to be used as a postal unit. Albany Post Office was advanced to second class on July 1, 1966. In 1963, the rural route was discontinued and an intermediate route out of Fulton was established. A Fulton carrier goes to Albany each day, sorts the mail on the Albany section of his route and delivers it. He returns to the Albany office to drop off out-going mail before he goes back to the Fulton station where he picks up the rest of his mail for delivery. All out-going mail from Albany is sent to the Rock Island Sectional Center.
Albany's first newspaper was the Albany Herald. It was started in the spring of 1854 and was the second to issue in the county, was published by a Mr. McAuliffe who ran it for only a few weeks. In July, Charles Boynton, who was listed as a tinsmith prior to 1850 apparently turned editor. He issued the Herald on the principle that "Knowledge is, in every country, the surest basis of public happiness." Mr. Boynton suspended in December, 1854, and moved his equipment to Sterling where he started the Sterling Times.
In September, 1866, S. J. Brown started the Albany Journal, a seven-column sheet. At the same time, Mr. Brown was the editor of fee Camanche Chief across the river. Both may have ceased in November when he moved his equipment to Minnesota. Two newspapers were issued simulanteously at Albany. The Albany Times was started in the spring of 1883 by William G. Blocker and was published for more than a year. At almost the same time, the Fulton Journal started the Albany Journal which was issued for only a few months. They were succeeded by the Albany News which was published by F. C. Redline and W. G. Redline. It was started in December, 1884. In 1896, Gardner and Company printed the Weekly Herald 1899, George S. McCartney started publication of the Albany Review. It was run for a short time by Andrew Gait and then taken lack by the McCartneys. In 1920, Mr. McCartney died and the paper was sold to Harvey L. Shawyer of Morrison. In 1925, Foster Stagg of Thomson bought the paper and printed it in that village. In 1950, William E. Beck, Jr., publisher of the Whiteside Sentinel at Morrison, purchased the Albany Review. He changed the name to The Review and issued it as a common paper for Albany and Erie. It later became a paper for Erie only.
Log dwellings were customary at first and the building of frame structures started in 1837. The first brick building was built in 1840 for Dr. W. H. Efner. Charles S. Dorsey started a steam sawmill in the lower part of Albany in 1837 and other men had an interest in it. It was operated until it burned about four years later. At the same site, a chair manufactory was started by Alvord and Buck and was also destroyed by fire.
The second sawmill was a rotary type. It was built by William Clark in the Spurlock and Garrett Addition in 1851 and was operated until the owner's death a year later. In 1853, Messrs. Walker, Happer, Nevitt and Mcllvaine built a sawmill in Upper Albany. It was in use until 1858. In 1860, the big tornado razed it.
The last sawmill was started by Boice, Ewing and Company in 1861. In 1864, Langford and Hall, Fulton mill owners, bought it. In 1866, David Heffelbower bought an interest in it and, in 1872, he and William McBride bought out the other partners. In 1878, the two men formed a company with $90,000 capital stock. In 1883, Charles Langford and Joseph Ogilwy operated the mill. Mr. Langford eventually acquired full ownership. In 1885, it was listed as being out of operation. In August, 1888, David Joyce of Clinton purchased the mill from Mr. Langford.
About May, 1889, he sold the mill to Alonzo Snyder who planned to move it to Garden Plain to use as a barn. The house and land were allegedly sold to George Orr. The saw-frame and log-way remained for many years as did the tall brick chimney. The stack became a romantic landmark for it seemed to hint of frustrated dreams and gentle decay. Post cards were made of it and sold for a number of years under the title, "The Lone Chimney on the Mississippi." It was finally dropped into a heap of rubble by a well-placed charge of dynamite.
It would seem that Albany had more than a normal share of disappointments and set-backs. Immediately after settlement, the small community forged ahead and became one of the most populous and progressive in the county. It was a popular port of entry for incoming settlers who made the trip by steamboat on the Mississippi River. The Eagle Hotel and others were patronized for it was an important stop on the Frink-Walker line of stage coaches.
The citizens made strenuous attempts to got a railroad connection. The route from Beloit to Albany was the first one to be supported. The company was, organized in 1852. Because of disappointing delays, the subscriptions to the company were not started until after the line to Fulton was begun. The Camanche, Albany and Mendota which became the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy line was rerouted so that it missed Albany by several miles. In 1865, the Western Union Railroad Company started service to Albany. It was consolidated with the Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul Railroad Company which still delivers and picks up freight there. The station was removed some years ago and there is no passenger service on the branch. The complete story of Albany's struggle to become an important stop on some railroad is told in the section on railroading.
In 1854, the Albany Herald gave the population as 1,100 and prospects were good that it would become one of the important centers in the county. They were destroyed in a few minutes on Sunday. June 3, 1860, when a devastating tornado destroyed a major portion of the town. The story of the big wind is told in another part of this book. The population dwindled for several years and the 1854 number has never been equalled in the more than a century that has elapsed.
Rock River ran wild in the spring of 1881 and poured flood waters into the Mississippi River via Merdosia Slough. The current was strong and the customarily harmless stream damaged the wagon bridge and, later, the railroad bridge. On April 21, 1881, the Chicago Milwaukee and St. Paul's morning passenger train left Albany and started to cross the structure. A freight train had preceded it safely about 40 minutes earlier.
All but about 50 feet of the 200-foot bridge collapsed and the engine, passenger coach and baggage car fell into the rushing water which was about 20 feet deep. The units remained coupled for a time and the cars floated. A sleeper car remained on the track
There were 22 persons including the crew and seven of them were drowned. One of the seven persons was Dr. D. W. Lundy of Albany. Dr. Lundy's worth was rated highly by his fellowmen and the untimely death caused public mourning.
The doctor had an illustrious career. He read medicine at Sharon, Ontario, and finished his studies at Victoria College in Coberg, where he was Delineator of Anatomy (sic) in college while he was still a student. His trip on the doomed train was in pursuit of his calling-he was on his way to Cordova to perform surgery.
Five days after the tragedy, the railroad bridge was repaired and traffic was resumed. The wagon bridge was damaged beyond repair and A. J. Osborne, master bridge-builder of Erie, put up a new structure.
There are three cemeteries in Albany Township but few know the oldest one by name. It is in the shape of an irregular triangle and is located in the southeast quarter of the northwest quarter of section 25, township 21 north, range two east. It was named Rood Cemetery after Charles R. Rood who surveyed and platted the tract. The burial ground contained 30 blocks of eight lots (spaces) each, except blocks 3, 6, 7, 12, 13, 20, 21 and 30 which contained only six lots. The regular blocks were 16 feet by 25 feet. Lots five in blocks one and two were 95 feet long which may have set a record for the size of a burial space.
An avenue started at the southern point of the cemetery and extended to its northern border. It was crossed about midway by another avenue. The avenues were 16 feet in width; alleys between the blocks were five feet in width. On the old map of the burial ground, the road lying along the western boundary was marked "Road leading to State Street, Albany." That was April 1, 1855.
The first burial in Rood Cemetery was, perhaps, that of Elijah Knowlton. He died in 1838, prior to the platting. Mr. Knowlton settled in the Cedar Creek area of Garden Plain Township. Burials were made in the cemetery for many years and at least two of the stones remaining in 1967 mark the resting places of victims of the tornado of 1860. One carries the engraving, "E. 0. Efner, Killed by a Tornado," and the other, "Duty Buck, Died June 3, 1860." The cemetery is mowed regularly.
There are two cemeteries within the platted area of Albany and they are contiguous. Oak Ridge Cemetery is the older. It was set aside at an early date. The plat-book of 1872 showed its location as being bounded on the northwest by Bluff Street, on the southwest by Maple Street and on the southeast by Cherry Street. It contained approximately three and one-half acres.
There is little known of the early history as all of the old records are missing. In 1878, a sociable was held as a benefit for the burial place.
At a much later date, a tract at the rear of Oak Ridge Cemetery and facing on Cherry Street was given by Roy A. Lusk. It was named Lusk Memorial Cemetery. Mr. Lusk also left a bequest of $10,000 for cemetery care.
Oak Ridge Cemetery is managed by a board of three trustees. Presently (1967), its income from the trust fund is sufficient to pay for its care. The board pays $620 to the village for mowing. Lusk Memorial Cemetery is managed by a committee from the Village board of trustees. Taxes are levied for its upkeep.
The cemeteries are located on a steep slope. Pines, cedars and arbor vitae, planted many years ago have grown to impressive maturity. In Lusk cemetery, a linden blooms each spring and produces its seeds fastened strangely to thin leaf-like bract's each fall.
The first ferry at Albany was licensed by the county commissioners on September 8, 1840. It was horse-powered and the licensees were David Mitchell and Samuel Mitchell, brothers. It was operated until about 1850 when the men purchased a steamboat from H. H. Gear of Galena. A larger boat was constructed after a short time. David Mitchell withdrew from the ferriage and a Mr. Clayborne bought an interest in it. The larger steamboat was used until June 3, , 1860, when a tornado lifted it out of the river and deposited it on the bank.
No large boat replaced the wrecked ferry and travelers used skiffs for transportation until November, 1888, when a charter was issued to run a service between Camanche and Albany. It was the steamer Van Gordon and business-men from both communities gave financial support to the owner. There were other ferries that ran at a later date.
In September, 1866, Ivy Buck petitioned the board of supervisors for permission to build a ferry for use across the Merdosia below Albany. The county committee approved the plan and recommended an appropriation of $150 to help build the boat. The board accepted the plan and agreed to make available the requested amount provided Mr. Buck invested a like amount. It was further stipulated that he and his successors would execute a bond to guarantee the safe keeping and delivery of said boat to proper authorities. County licenses for ferries varied with the places; the license for the Merdosia was $2.00 per year.
Albany Lodge No. 556, A. F. and A. M., was instituted on November 9, 1867. From December 24, 1855, until the organization of the
Albany lodge, members met with the Fulton group. The Albany lodge rented a meeting place until 1900 when the members of the Knights of Pythias, Keystone Lodge No. 144, joined them in building a meeting place on Main Street. There was a separate lodge room for each fraternal group and a commercial room for rent on the first floor. In November, 1967, the lodge celebrated its centennial with a dinner and special guests. There was a chapter of the Eastern Star active for many years. About 1963, it was merged with the Erie chapter. The Knights of Pythias are still active.
A. F. Knight Post No. 460 of the Grand Army of the Republic was chartered on June 14, 1884. Its hall was located on the north corner at the intersection of Main and Union Streets. Albany's last Civil War veteran, Joseph C. Snyder, died in September, 1930. In 1885, there was a Sons of the G. A. R., Lt. James Elaine Camp No. 20 active in Albany. It met in the G. A. R. Hall. Lodge No. 168,1. 0. 0. F., was organized prior to 1885. It also met in the veterans' hall. Old-timers recall the cannon balls lying around the meeting place and the lithograph of a steamboat race on the Mississippi River.
Hanson-Kennedy Post No. 1079, American Legion, was organized in June, 1946, when Albany legionnaires withdrew from the Fulton post. In 1947, it bought a building at Main and Union Streets, which it remodeled. The post has been active in civic projects. It sponsored a scholarship for many years. The post owns a community park and beach which were improved with a sand fill and the planting of conifers. It leased the park to the village for one dollar per year for a period of years. The park is presently (1967) closed because of vandalism. As another civic project, the post sold the ground for the sewage treatment plant to the village for one dollar. Albany's post was named after Kenneth Hanson and Arnold Kennedy, two servicemen who gave their lives overseas.
The Albany Community Club was active for a number of years. One of its very popular projects was the cash award night that was decided by drawing. Presently (1967), the club organization is maintained.
Albany has no library although there were attempts to establish one. In June, 1875, a library association was formed and a library of 50 volumes was located in G. W. Parker's drug store. It was claimed that the collection of books contained some of the most popular works. At the time, the association included 30 members and it was hoped that it would soon grow to 60. The organization was active in 1876 and reported increase in the library.
After the Junior Woman's Club was organized in 1966, one of its projects was to arrange regular visits by the Bookmobile, a state-sponsored mobile library.
The history of the Albany Fire Department goes back to a bucket brigade which pulled a cart around by hand. It was housed in a frame building located on Main Street, on the site of the present parking lot of the First Trust and Savings Bank. A bell on the roof sounded the necessary tocsin. About 1919, the first fire truck was purchased by means of a solicitation. The truck was kept in a building behind be-hind the Village Hall. That same year, a group of volunteer fire fighters was organized with William Burns as chief.
About 1930, a system of storage cisterns was planned and several were built, including one under the building used to store the fire truck. It included the whole basement. There were perhaps four constructed around the village and all were similar in size and shape. The cisterns were cylindrical and about eight feet in diameter. Below the neck of the opening, they were about 12 feet deep. Source of water was the river and it was pumped or carried according to the distance.
In 1948, the Albany Fire Protection District was formed. A new station was completed about 1951 at the corner of State and Church Streets and facing the public square. It contained storage room for the mobile equipment, a meeting room, kitchen, office and radio room. In later years, two-way radios were added and monitors for alerting the members of the department.
Presently (1967), equipment includes a paneled emergency-truck, three tanker-pumpers, a tanker with a portable pump and a 16-foot rescue-boat with necessary supplies. Warden Welch was appointed fire chief when the district was organized and has served in that office to date. The alarm is an electric siren.
The conveniences of civilization arrived in orderly fashion at Albany. In 1875, the Town installed two public wells on Main Street and, later, a third one near the Congregational Church. In February, 1882, a new "calaboose" was built. The carpenter was Silas Newcomer and it was 14 feet by 20 feet in size. Townsmen speculated largely and waited to see who would have the honor of first occupancy, but the name of the arch-criminal is lost in unrecorded history.
In July, 1882, seven gasoline lamps were installed on the streets. They were self-extinguishing. Electricity was slow in arriving but there was a celebration when it was turned on January 6, 1917. The band from Wartburg College discoursed and the Ladies' Aid served an oyster supper, sandwiches and coffee.
The Village owns its electrical system and a sub-station. It purchases electricity wholesale from Interstate Power Company and re-sells it to users in Albany. The current is carried across the river on cables suspended from tall pylons. A stand-by sub-station was erected in case the connection across the river fails.
Albany completed its municipal water-system in November, 1956, when the water was turned on. The cost of the installation was greatly reduced by a bequest from Mrs. Marjorie Lusk Washburne in the amount of $105,000. One shallow well was drilled about 75 feet deep. It was located about one-fourth mile from the east end of the Merdosia levee. The pumping station was built there also. The pump delivers about 1700 gallons-per-minute and constant pumping for 24 hours lowers the water level only six feet. A stand-pipe was built on a high hill near the Albany-Erie black-top. A second well was authorized in 1967.
A sewer system and disposal plant were completed in 1961. The treatment plant is located on the river-front on a piece of ground which the Hanson-Kennedy Post of the American Legion donated to the village.
The Presbyterian Society was organized in Albany in the home of David Mitchell in December, 1839, by the Rev. John Prentiss of Fulton. Fourteen persons joined and the first elders were Samuel M. Kilgour and David Mitchell. In 1841, some of the members withdrew to organize a Congregational Church. Regular services were started about 1843.
In 1856-1857, a brick church was built. It was dedicated in 1858 and was destroyed completely on June 3, 1860, when a tornado devastated most of Albany. Loss was estimated at $4,000. The edifice was located on the north corner of Mulberry and Church Streets. The bell, the only one in the community, was carried more than a block away and landed on the sidewalk at the corner of Main and Union Streets. It was unharmed except for a nick in the sound-bow. The pulpit Bible was recovered, minus a few chapters from Genesis, and was used until 1899 or later.
The pastor, the Rev. A. H. Lackey, went east and raised about $1,600 by solicitation. A frame building was erected on the same site and dedicated in 1861. It was used down through the years until May, 1947, when the congregation voted to disband. In 1948, the building was sold to the Fulton parish to replace St. Patrick Church in Newton Township.
Pulpit supply for the Presbyterian Church was a problem from the start. The Rev. Enoch Bouton, who lived in Albany, served from about 1840 until 1842. There were frequent changes and, in 1875, the Albany and Garden Plain Churches joined in obtaining a resident pastor.
On February 13, 1842, the Congregational Church and Society were organized in Albany. Eight former members of the Presbyterian Church certified that they were dissatisfied with the principles of their former church and desired to organize an "Evangelical church according to Congregational usage." Ten persons signed the paper. The Rev. Mr. Hazard was the moderator and Erastus Allen was the clerk. Duty Buck and William Bothwell were chosen deacons.
On July 20, 1844, James Bothwell, Duty Buck, P. B. Vannest and Erastus Allen were elected trustees to supervise the building of a church which was dedicated on December 1, 1844. In 1870, the Presbyterians offered consolidation as a solution for the recurrent problem of pulpit-supply. It was not accomplished and, in 1874, the Congregationalists negotiated with the Garden Plain Presbyterians in regard to sharing a minister. The Rev. N. D. Graves served the two churches and also the Albany Presbyterian Church. There was probably a consolidation of the two Albany churches about that time. The Congregational building was located on the northeast side of Mulberry Street between Bluff and Church Streets.
Albany was on the Savanna circuit of the Methodist Episcopal Church by 1840. Before then, occasional services were held in homes. In 1842, the community became part of the Union Grove circuit. In 1845, a small building was erected for school and church use. In 1853, the Albany circuit was established and it included Albany, Erie and Newton. In 1854, a parsonage was built. In 1857, the church acquired sole interest in the building and enlarged it. On June 3, 1860, the church and parsonage were destroyed by a tornado with an estimated loss of $1,100.
In 1861, a brick church was erected and dedicated. It was made possible by subscriptions which were mainly from the east. The new church was located on the site of the first one-on Main Street between Union and Cedar Streets. In 1868, the Rev. Barton H. Cart-wright was assigned as pastor. He loaned the society $600 to build a parsonage. Much of the work was done by the minister temporarily turned carpenter. The parsonage was located outside the platted area, on the southeast side of Lime Street and near the intersection of Sycamore. About 1908, a concrete-block addition was built on the front of the church at a cost of about $3,000. In later years, the Schneider home adjacent to the church was purchased for use as class-rooms.
Presently (1967), there is a full-time pastor. The parsonage is located on Union Street near Church Street. The church maintains a full program of church services and there are the usual societies. A plan to build a new church was abandoned at least temporarily.
Regular telephone service in Albany was preceded by the organization of the Albany Telephone Company in 1903. There were private lines and sporadic service from 1878. On January 13, 1903, officers were elected which included John Byers, president; C. E. Peck, secretary-treasurer; and a board of directors. The office and switchboard were located in the home of the president and Mrs. Byers, their daughter and a Miss Maxfield were the first operators. From about 1912 to 1914, the office was maintained in the home of Boyd Fletcher.
In 1914, the company bought its own building for about $1,000. In 1960-1961, the new building and change-over to the dial system were completed. The company was purchased in 1960 by the Northern Illinois Telephone Company which owns systems in neighboring communities.
In 1921, a group of men built a Community Hall in Albany. It was located on upper Main Street. The place was used for a number of years but changing times and interests brought it to a state of disuse. About 1967, the building was sold and the new owner planned to raze the old meeting place and an adjacent house.
Albany had only one country school and it was called Dublin in casual reference. Because it was singular, it shared in many of the school festivities in Newton Township. It was located near the north line of section 13, Congressional Township 20 north, range two east, and on the north-south road which bisected the section. One correspondent to a neighboring newspaper customarily referred to it as Phrogg Landing School. It has gone the way of many country schools and is now remodeled into a dwelling.
A school was started in the settlement of Albany at an early date. In 1845, the Methodists raised a small building for use as a church and school. In 1857, the members purchased the school interest. Where the school was the next three years seems to be an unrecorded fact. The place may have been destroyed by the tornado of 1860 because a two-story building was erected in 1861. It was a dignified, brick structure with a belfry at the front peak. In 1904 an annex was built. It was two-story in height and harmonized with the original part.
The building was used as a high and grade school until 1944. The high school was discontinued then and students were permitted to choose a high school and the district paid the tuition. In 1951, it was consolidated with the Fulton High School, District No. 306. The grade school was continued and became a consolidated grade school in 1952.
The first high school graduation was probably in 1888. There is extant a description of the third annual graduation which was held with elaborate exercises on May 10, 1890. The school offered a three-year course. Music Hall was the scene of the program. There were five graduates-all girls-and a large crowd to see and hear. Each girl wore a dainty robe of white with simple ornaments of flowers and all had the indefinable charm of youth and happiness. The five girls read themes or essays on abstruse and weighty subjects. Diplomas were presented and the superintendent of schools gave an inspiring talk.
After the program, the custom of giving gifts of flowers was observed. Many rare and beautiful bouquets were delivered to the happy graduates. Until about 1888, the giving of more worldly presents was frowned upon but, by 1890, it was an accepted practice. One girl received a gold watch from her brother amid a storm of applause The class motto for that year was, "For eternity we learn."
Albany State Bank was established in 1889 and incorporated in 1904. Its capital was $25,000. It was operated until 1933 when it closed, as did all other banks in the country, to allow the financial panic to subside. It was reopened and the owners liquidated gradually and withdrew from the banking business during a period of about three years. The depositors and stockholders were paid in full.
When started, the bank was a private business. It was conducted for a number of years in the rear of C. A. Olds' grocery store. The building is still standing (1967) and is occupied by Howard's Tap. A bank building was erected next door in 1920 and was used until the business was closed. It is presently used as a coin-operated laundry.
The First Trust and Savings Bank of Albany was organized OB October 5, 1901, under the name of the First National Bank. Dr. S-B. Dimond was the first president; Mathew Woodburn, vice president: and C. E. Peck, cashier. The name was changed to First Trust arc Savings in 1911. There have been only three presidents - Dr. Dimond. 1901-1912; H. R. Senior, 1912-1945; and E. Don Hanson, 1945.
The bank operated continuously through boom times and depressions that destroyed many larger institutions. It grew steadily through the years. In December, 1953, the interior of the bank remodeled. In 1963, drive-in service was inaugurated and a lot was provided. Other modernization's include microfilm bookkeeping in 1947; semi-automatic bookkeeping in 1962. In 1966, it was the first bank in the area to change to complete automation on a computer basis.
In 1967, First Trust and Savings' capital stock was $100,000 its surplus was $150,000. Its deposits totalled about $5,000,000.
Construction was started in 1967 of grain-buying and facilities for Bunge Corporation of St. Louis, Missouri. A massive fill was made on the river-front at the upper end of the village. Ti* huge complex of storage tanks was not complete at the end of 1967. However scales and elevators were operable and grain buying started November 11, 1967. It was believed that the installation would require an investment of at least $750,000. The Mississippi River was dredged along the property to insure a deep-water harbour.
Completion of the big project was delayed in the fall when the metal rafters of one of the huge tanks collapsed. One of the workers was dropped 90 feet to the ground and received multiple and severe injuries. The remainder of the crew "rode" the beam down and was not injured seriously. [1968 History - submitted by Chris Walters]
Albany First Trust and Savings Bank
The First Trust & Savings Bank was organized on October 5, 1901, under the name of the First National Bank. Dr. S. B. Dimond was the first president; Mathew Woodburn, vice president; and C.E. Peck, cashier. The name was changed to First Trust and Savings in 1911. There have been only three presidents (as of 1967). Dr. Dimond, 1901 - 1912, H.R. Senior, 1912 - 1945 and E. Don Hanson, 1945 -.
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