Trivoli Township History in Peoria County Illinois (2024)

Trivoli Township
Est. Nov. 6, 1849
Location: Trivoli is Township Eight North, Range Five East 4p.m / South part of the county
First Settler: Isaac Harkness came in 1830. Settled in in the north part of the township.
Towns/Villages: Brunswick Post Office est. 1844.,

Trivoli is located in the N.E. part of the Township, 18 miles due west of the City of Peoria. Laid out in 1840 or 1841.
Harkness sat about 3/4 mile west of Trivoli & 1/2 mile north.
Rail Roads: Iowa
Other: Cramer Station

Trivoli Township History
Trivoli Township is situated in the south part of the county, and is among the best townships in the county, taking into consideration the quality of the land, the improvements, its citizens, and the material advantages it possesses as to proportion of timber, prairie, water, etc., etc. Its farmers are generally old settlers who have by years of toil, not only improved its lands, but have erected fine dwellings. The first settler in the township was Isaac Harkness, who came in 1830 and located in the north part of the township. The following year (1831) came Levi Harkness, Gardner Gilbert and wife, and about the same time Samuel Emery, Sr., Robert McConnell, Methiah Bourne came. In 1832 Samuel Clark and wife, and Benjamin W. Crane and wife came, and in 1834 came John Hiatt, Eli Wilson, son and wife, settled in the township. In 1835 several other families followed, among them we find Curtis Cady and wife, Page Hiatt and wife, David R. Gregory and wife, and Samuel M. Mack. In succeeding years the town filled up rapidly. The first physician was Lewis A. Hunneford, who followed his profession for a number of years. The first preacher was Peter Bourne. The first school-house was built on section 4, near the residence of Isaac Harkness. The first teacher was Miss Sarah Waters, and was paid by subscription. The first church organization was at the Harkness school-house, and the first preacher there was Rev. Samuel Emery, a Methodist. The first postmaster was Robert McConnell, and the first store building was erected by David A. Gove, and run by Milo Smith. Blacksmith shop was built in 1834 in the southwest part of town by Henry A. Green. The first hotel was kept by M. Bourne.

The Village of Trivoli
is situated in the township of Trivoli, eighteen miles due west of the city of Peoria, and has about two hundred inhabitants. The town was laid out about 1840 or '41. The business men at the present writing are as follows: Blacksmiths, J. F. Bourne, John Fletcher and John Greenhalgh; boot and shoemaker, Sharron Schilling; carpenter, James Callahan; harness and collars, Jacob Linck; justices of the peace, James Johnson and James Tyler; grist mill, Geo. Briber; physicians, A. J. Graham and W. C. Bonvard; one newspaper, Trivoli S., James Johnson, editor; two general stores, one M. E. church and one school building. It does a considerable local trade, and to make it a place of prominence it only needs railroad facilities, which are now comtemplated and undoubtedly a year or two will bring.

Brunswick Presbyterian Church, of Trivoli Township -- About the year 1833, there came from Virginia a few families of Presbyterian parentage and training by the name of Ramsay, and located in the southwest part of Trivoli township, in the timber skirting the beautiful but then neglected and despised prairie land. These were after a short time followed by other friends from their native State.

These people had plain homes, plain food, plain clothing and plain preaching. By 1840 other families having moved into the community, a missionary, then in the employ of the Old School Presbyterian Church, came into the community duly pursuing his calling, and was encouraged to gather these people into one organization, which was effected on September 19, 1840, by the missionary, Rev. Geo. G. Sill and Rev. Abraham D. Wilson, of the Protestant Dutch Church, and the church was known as the Protestant Dutch Church of Coperas.

The place of organization was the house of Robert Ramsey, and ten persons composed the church as organized. Thomas Ramsey and George Walls were chosen to the eldership and duly installed. In the two following years several more members were added. The services were mostly held in a school-house on the farm now owned by John Yerion. The erection of the present and only church building was begun by laying the corner stone on November 23, 1844, by Rev. George G. Sill, and it appears that it was ready for occupancy the same year, the basem*nt being stone, the second story frame, and valued at $2,000 with grounds.

In 1844 a post office was established and named Brunswick and the name of the church was changed accordingly. This church has for many years joined with the Salem Presbyterian Church in the support of the same minister. The present membership is eighty. A Sabbath school has been sustained here since 1842. A prayer meeting and Woman's Foreign Mission Society are in existence. Their present pastor is Wm. King, who has labored with them for some years.

Evangelical Lutheran St. John's Church -- The constituion was adopted and signed October 27, 1849, with seventeen original members. Jacob Scherer, pastor. On the 27th day of May, 1855, the name of the church was changed to Zion Evangelical Church of Trivoli.

The first officers of the church were as follows: Henry Frank, elder, and Patrick Gilbrath, as deacon, who were inaugurated October 28, 1849. On the 26th day of June, 1850, the following brothers were elected: Henry Erford, as elder, and Christian Shirk, as deacon, and was inaugurated June 30, 1850. They have a comfortable frame building, 30x44 feet, and cost about $1,500. [from "The History of Peoria County, Illinois; Johnson & Co., 1880. Transcribed by Karen Seeman]


This townsite is situated in the southwestern portion of Peoria County, and, taking into consideration the quality of its soil, its improvements, the character of its citizens and its material advantages as to timber, prairie and water, it is one of the best townships in a county, noted for the fertility of its soil and the abundance and variety of its resources. Its farmers are generally old settlers who, by years of toil, have not only improved its lands, but have erected fine dwellings for themselves.

The first settler in this township was Isaac Harkness, who came in 1830 and located on the edge of the grove on Section 4 - having walked to this place from Bradford County, Pennsylvania. He built a cabin, fenced in a small plat of ground and planted it in sod corn the first year. In the following autumn he walked to Galena and worked in the lead mines to earn a sufficient sum of money to pay his expenses back to Pennsylvania. The same winter he walked to Pennsylvania to bring his family and returned the next year, arriving on Christmas Day, bringing with him what he could transport in a one-horse wagon. He found his cabin safe and his corn unmolested, although a camp of twelve families of Indians lived within one-half mile of his home. In February, 1832, his son, Henry Harkness, was born, who was the first white child born in the township. Some time later the father of Isaac Harkness who had been a soldier in the War of the Revolution, came and made his home with him until the time of his death in 1835. For many years before the organization of the township Mr. Harkness was a constable of the county. The credit is due to him of having established commercial relations between his town and the city of Chicago, for, having gone there at an early date in a one-horse wagons, he brought the first barrel of salt which crossed the Chicago River to that place.

In the year 1831, there came to this vicinity Levi Harkness, Gardner Gilbert and wife, Samuel Emery, Sr., Robert McConnell and Melatiah T. Bourne. Between that time and 1835, the following persons came: Samuel Clark and wife, Benjamin W. Crane and wife, Page and James Hyatt, Eli Wilson and wife, James Wickwire, Thomas and Joel Lane, John Bird, David R. Gregory and wife. Curtis Cady and wife - afterwards of Brimfield - Samuel M. Mack, - George Robinson, Saxton Kellogg, Samuel Clark, Thomas Ramsey, Martin Mathis, Johnson Proctor, William Wilson, Quinton Wilson, Philip and Henry Green, the Ortons and Barneses. In the succeeding years the population increased very rapidly and the people became ambitious for public improvements. It began to be noised about that a railroad was to be built from Peoria westward towards some point on the Mississippi River - probably Warsaw - and, as Trivoli lay on the direct line westward, it was naturally inferred that the road would pass through that neighborhood.

In the beginning of the year 1836, there seems to have been a race between the proprietors of land in what is now Trivoli Township, as to which one should have the metropolis. On March 25th of that year, Eli Wilcox, Edson Harkness and Benjamin Newell laid out a large town plat, 157 rods in length by nearly the same in width, on the southwest quarter of Section 5. and the northwest quarter of Section 8, which they named Harkness. This village afterward attained to a degree of importance from the fact of its being the first station, (21 miles from Peoria) on the stage-route from Peoria to Monmouth by Farmington, and it retained its place on the maps of the State long after it had ceased to be of any importance as a village.

On April 11th of the same year, Henry F. Coulter laid out another village on the east half of the northeast quarter of Section 9, described as being on the road leading from Peoria to the Knox County line. As Harkness was on the same road, it will readily be perceived that this was not the State road - which had not then been located - but the one laid out by the County Commissioners, which ran from settlement to settlement without regard to section lines. This village consisted of 32 blocks and was named Wheeling, but it never grew to be a place of importance.

On April 28th of the same year, Isaac Underhill, of Peoria, laid out still another village, on the southeast quarter of Section 8 and the southwest quarter of Section 9, which is described as being on the road from Peoria to the Mississippi River. This village consisted of 38 blocks and a public square of the dimensions of two blocks and a cross street, and was named Caledonia. These three villages were very near together and very near to the projected line of the Peoria & Warsaw Railroad, as it was subsequently located.

On August 24th, of the same year, Robert McKay laid out a village on the northwest quarter of Section 27, eighty bv two hundred rods, consisting of 22 blocks, which he called Aurora. It is not at all improbable that this village was projected in the expectation of the railroad being located through that portion of the township. But, if so, this expectation was disappointed. But to atone for this loss, McKay procured a public road to be laid out from his village, almost in a straight line to the ferry across the Illinois River, at the Narrows above Peoria.

That the inhabitants of Trivoli were, at that date, an enterprising people and wide awake to the necessity of a higher culture than could be attained by the ordinary social intercourse between settlers in a new country, appears from the fact of their organizing a social library association under a statute of the State, which had recently been passed. On August 29, 1839, a meeting was held at the house of Melatiah T. Bourne for the purpose contemplated. Having the requisite amount of funds subscribed, as required by law, and more than two-thirds of the shareholders being present, they proceeded to organize by choosing Levi A. Hannaford Chairman. A corporation was then formed which was named "The Trivoli Social Library." Levi A. Hannaford, Clementius Ewalt, John Hannaford, George Robinson and David R. Gregory were chosen trustees, and their articles of association were filed with the clerk of the County Commissioners' Court, and entered of record in the journal of its proceedings.

For some years prior to township organization this township constituted an election precinct called Copperas, while that north of it (now Elmwood) was then named Harkness. Some of the precincts were much larger, and could therefore cast a larger vote, but it appears that the Copperas precinct could cast a larger vote than any other precinct embracing only a single congressional township; the vote in 1843 standing: Copperas, 130; Harkness, 104; Benton (now Radnor), 82; Rochester, 51; La Marsh (Timber), 101; Northampton (Hallock), 58; etc.

The first town meeting was held at Center School House on Tuesday, April 2, 1850. It was organized by calling Hazard Larkin to the chair and choosing Simeon L. Hunt, Clerk. On motion of David R. Gregory, Esq., Eli Wilson was unanimously chosen Moderator for the day, and Thomas Johnson, Clerk. The electors then proceeded to ballot for town officers for the ensuing year, and upon count of the ballots the following were declared elected: David R. Gregory, Supervisor; Samuel Wilkinson, Town Clerk; Thomas Ramsey, Assessor; Elias Potter, Overseer of the Poor; Royce Alien, Collector; Joseph Stevens, Jotham Crane and Melatiah T. Bourne, Commissioners of Highways; David R. Gregory and Thomas Ramsey, Justices of the Peace; Royce Allen and James Wilson, Constables.

Elections for town offices have been regularly held and the offices constantly filled. The following are the incumbents at the present time (1902): Supervisor, James H. Richards; Town Clerk, Frank Higgs; Assessor, Frank F. Stein; Collector, Reamt D. Meyer; Commissioners of Highways, Ross H. Anderson. Joseph Wilson and Joseph Higgs, Jr.; Justices of the Peace, George J. Lane, Rufus Mclntire; Constable, Lawrence Dunlevy; Trustees of Schools, Clarence C. Graham, Samuel McKee, Henry Wright; School Treasurer, O. S. Stevens.

As a township containing no large towns, Trivoli has always been in the advance guard in the matter of public schools. The first school-house was built of hewn logs on the farm of Isaac Harkness. The first teacher is said to have been Miss Sarah Waters, daughter of Isaac Waters, who seems to have had a family of teachers? Maria, Sarah and Ruth all being among the early teachers of the county. The first school-house in the southwestern portion of the township was built in 1841, the first teacher being John Carter. It was a frame building and was used by the Methodists for a number of years as their house of worship.

When the County School Commissioner first commenced his visitations under the Free-School Law, he found the best equipped country schoolhouse in the county located at the small village of Trivoli, which then consisted of a few houses on Farmington Road, Since then the township has never taken a retrograde step. At the present time it has eleven up-to-date school-houses. That at the village of Trivoli has two rooms, large enough to accommodate eighty pupils. The people of the district take great pride in their school, sparing no expense to keep it up to the highest standard. The high school course of studies prescribed by the State authorities is taught, and the graduates have an Alumni Association in which they manifest a great interest. The other schools of the township suffer nothing in comparison with that of the village.

A community holding to the Presbyterian faith, most of whom probably were adherents to the Reformed Protestant Dutch Church of North America, (that being essentially a Presbyterian denomination), had settled within the present limits of the township prior to the year 1840. These were gathered together by Rev. George G. Sill, as a missionary, and, on September 19 of that year, he and Rev. Abraham D. Wilson, acting as a committee of the Classis of Illinois of that denomination, organized a church with ten members which, for a time, was known as the Protestant Dutch Church of Copperas. In 1844 (February 25), when a post-office was located at that point and named Brunswick, the name of the church was changed to Brunswick. Thomas Ramsey and George Wells were the first ruling elders. This church was received into the Presbytery of Peoria October 26, 1848, and has since been known as a Presbyterian church. This church has not had many regularly installed pastors, having been served by stated supplies for a good portion of the time. Rev. D. F. McFarland seems to have been the first pastor. Rev. William Keiry served as pastor in connection with the pastorate of the Salem Church, from 1871, to 1881. The church has always kept in touch with all the agencies of its denomination for the propagation of the Gospel through prayer meetings, Sabbath School and the Women's Missionary Society. Rev. E. A. Kraff is the present pastor, and Charles A. Homan is Superintendent of the Sabbath School.

The Methodist Episcopal denomination has two churches - one at the village of Trivoli and one in the southwest corner of the township. The former was probably the first church organization in the township. It was organized at an early day at the Harkness School House, but the exact date has not been ascertained. It has had a church edifice at the village for many years. It was from the steps of this church that Owen Lovejoy made one of his famous speeches during the memorable campaign of 1862. It has had many other notable events connected with its history. It has now about fifty members. Rev. Charles Dunlevy is pastor and Mr. Joseph Wrigley is Superintendent of its Sunday School, which numbers about forty.

There is a second Methodist Episcopal Church known as the Concord Church, located on the northeast quarter of Section 30. It has a small membership and a Sabbath School. Rev. Charles E. Dunlevy also serves this church as pastor. There is an Evangelical Lutheran Church located on the southeast quarter of Section 25. It was organized May 27, 1855, with seventeen members, Rev. Jacob Scherer being the first pastor, Henry Frank the first elder and Patrick Gilbreath the first deacon. Rev. ___ Essex is the present pastor, and Mr. Bert Rice Superintendent of the Sabbath School. The church numbers about sixty members.

The village of Trivoli was not laid out by recorded plat, but of late years several additions have been recorded. The name seems to be of obscure origin. The first trace of it, in connection with this township, is found in the name of "The Trivoli Social Library," organized in 1839. It was at first built along the Farmington Road, the principal business being transacted at the road-crossing?the church being located some distance away from the residences. Since the location of the railroad, the principal places of business have been located nearer the station. There are now three retail stores selling groceries and general merchandise, operated respectively by R. F. Graham, Linn & Schofield and John Fletcher; one agricultural house, conducted by Stoltzman & Harding; one elevator owned by Charles Feltman, of Peoria, operated by Stoltzman & Harding; one blacksmith shop carried on by Joseph Bourne and one harness-shop by Jack Snick.

The village of Cramer is likewise a village without a recorded plat. It has sprung from a station on the Iowa Central Railroad. It has one store owned by Robert Rose, two elevators owned respectively by Charles Feltman and Bartlett & Co., of Peoria. It is the center of an extensive shipping territory. It also contains the Town Hall.[From Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois and History of Peoria County, Edited by David McCulloch, Vol. II; Chicago and Peoria: Munsell Publishing Company, Publishers, 1902]

Trivoli Township History in Peoria County Illinois (2024)
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