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Town of Tennessee

In March, 1854, section 22 of Tennessee township, was selected by L. C. Bacon, T. K. Waddill and S. Cockerham as a site upon which to establish the present thriving little village of Tennessee. Work along the line of the C. B. & Q., railroad had already commenced, which, from the survey, passed through the above named section, and was undoubtedly the reason these above named gentlemen attempted the establishment of this place. No better location could have then been chosen than the beautiful prairie about one mile south of Crooked creek. During the month of March, a large number of lots, 50 feet front and 110 feet deep, were laid out on either side of the proposed line of road, the two main streets running parallel with the railroad. For about four years there were rapid strides toward a town of considerable importance, and soon became quite a business point, but since 1858 the progress has been impeded and slow. Although the class of buildings has been improved and the stores enlarged, the number of inhabitants at present is scarcely more than several years ago. The place was incorporated as a town June 7, 1865, and as a village November 25, 1872. While there may be nothing really remarkable in the developments of the past, or anything particular striking in the present, still there is much which cannot fail to be of interest to those who have been closely connected and identified with the town in all the various changes which have occurred from year to year.


The first building on the site of the present town of Tennessee, was a house erected from clap-boards, by Abraham Cherry, in the fall of 1854. It was located two or three rods northeast of where the pottery now stands, and has since been removed. In the spring of 1860, Mr. Cherry removed to Colchester, and about the year 1876, emigrated to Nebraska. He was from Ohio and had a family.

Mr. Jarvis put up the second house, which was a frame structure. The pine for the building was purchased at Dallas, Hancock county, while the remainder of the material was purchased in this county. While the house was in course of erection, William Cook and John Rhea commenced the construction of homes, assisting each other in turn. Mr. Jarvis entirely completed his house first, but these other two gentlemen occupied their houses before Mr. Jarvis was ready to have his family enter his new home.

The first store operated in Tennessee was by B. M. Beach, from Hill's Grove. He commenced business in the latter part of the year 1854, in a building erected by Allen Averill, on the present site of Ellis' restaurant. He kept a small stock of dry goods, groceries, boots and shoes, etc., and continued in business about a year, when he disposed of the same to William Lattimer, who run the business several years. This latter named gentleman went to Kansas City, Missouri, in 1865, and later to Abingdon, Illinois, where he afterward died. Eaton and Jarvis also operated this business about four years, buying the same of Lattimer.

Milton Johnson, from St. Mary's, Illinois, came to the town of Tennessee in company with his family, in the early part of 1855. He put a general stock of goods into a building where Houck's blacksmith shop now stands, and continued in business until 1861, when he closed it out entirely and removed to Missouri.

A Quincy firm came shortly after Johnson, and put in a stock of dry goods and clothing. After a short time one of the partners died and the other then returned to Quincy.

The firm of Tolon, Sidwell & Company established business in Tennessee in the early part of 1855. This firm ran about five years, when J. S. Douglass, the company of the firm, purchased the interest of his partners.

The first physician to cast his lot among the inhabitants of the village of Tennessee, was Dr. W. R. Pittman, who is still engaged in practice here.

The undertaking business was first represented in Tennessee by William McKenzie, in 1860, who still continues to operate the same.


B. F. Thompson embarked in general merchandise in 1865, in a building on the opposite side of the street from his present location. At that time there was no other business of this kind in Tennessee, except a small store operated by the Owen Brothers, which has since assumed larger proportions. In 1877, Mr. Thompson removed to his present location, where he has since continued business. The building now used by him is 28x100 feet in ground area, two stories high, the upper floor being occupied by the Masonic society. He handles dry goods, clothing, boots, shoes, groceries, queensware, etc.

In April, 1865, Ambers G. Owen, in connection with his brother Asak, commenced business in Tennessee, with a stock of groceries. At that time they also handled drugs in connection with the grocery stock. Their place of business was in a building on the present site of B. F. Thompson's store. They continued in this line about two years, when they erected a large building and put in a general stock, which they operated until September, 1882, when they sold out to Waddill & Co. Asak Owen removed to Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, and established a paper called the News. Ambers G., joined his brother at that place in March, 1883, and engaged in the grocery business until December, of the same year, when he returned to Tennessee, and at present operates the only exclusive grocery store in the place. The building, including the ware room, is 20x100 feet in dimension.

Ambers G. Owen is a native of Champaign county, Ohio, and was born September 26, 1824, his parents being Asal and Elizabeth (Grafton) Owen. Asal Owen was a native of Kentucky, and a relative of old Simon Kenton, while his wife was a native of Virginia. When Ambers was a mere boy, his parents removed to Indiana, where he learned the tailors' trade. When he was 15 years of age, the family removed to St. Louis county, Missouri, and some months afterwards to Greenville, Bond county. In 1840 they came to this county, and located just below Hill's Grove, on the farm now owned by George Barker. They remained there during that winter, and then removed to the vicinity of Graves' mill, near the present site of Colmar. Ambers G. Owen was married in December, 1848, to Elizabeth I. Tyrrell, a daughter of Roswell Tyrrell, an old settler of the county. She died in May, 1881. By that marriage there were 10 children, four of whom are now living: Ambrose E., Lawrence S., Nellie L. and Frank. He was married again December 27, 1882, to Mary Grimes, of Knoxville, Knox county. He is a member of the Masonic lodge and of the chapter at Macomb, and was a charter member of the Tennessee lodge, and has filled all the offices except master.

Ambrose E. Owen is a native of Tennessee township, and was born at Hill's Grove on the 8th day of September, 1858, his parents being Ambers G. and Elizabeth J. (Tyrrell) Owen. Ambrose B. was reared and received his education in McDonough county. On the 4th day of January, 1880, he was united in marriage with Elizabeth White, a daughter of Stephen White, one of the early settlers of McDonough county. One child has blessed their union--Daisy Florence. Mr. Owen is one of the live business men of Tennessee, and richly deserves the success he is meeting with.

The general merchandise business has a representative in the person of James Eaton, who entered into the dry goods and grocery trade with James Jarvis, in 1858, under the firm name of Eaton & Company. The building which they occupied at that time was situated on the present site of Glasgow's hardware establishment. The firm continued business under this management until the latter part of 1859, when they disposed of the same to William Lattimer. A year afterward Mr. Eaton again resumed business with William Clayton, in the sale of drugs and groceries, which they continued until 1865, when they sold the same to Owen & Brother. He immediately set to work at the erection of another store building, which consumed about six months, when he engaged in the sale of dry goods and groceries, in company with John J. Lower, doing business under the firm name of Lower & Eaton. That partnership continued about two years, when Mr. Lower retired, since which time Mr. Eaton has conducted the business. The store building at present is 18x100 feet in ground area, and two stories in heighth for 64 feet of its length. He is also interested in the mining of coal.

Ambrose T. Salisbury is engaged in the retail of drugs, boots and shoes, gents' furnishing goods, etc. He entered into this business September 1, 1882, with J. T. Waddill, the firm name and style being Waddill & Company. March 17, 1884, Mr. Waddill retired from the firm, since which time Mr. Salisbury has conducted the business as sole proprietor. He occupies the west half of the building occupied by A. G. Owen, grocer.

William D. Ellis operates a restaurant and carries a stock of fancy groceries, which he established in 1876. Previous to this, Mr. Ellis was engaged in blacksmithing, commencing the same in 1865. At the time he embarked in the restaurant and grocery business he was located south of the depot, but in 1882 he sold that property and erected his present store room, which is 16x30 feet in size. William D. Ellis was born in Floyd county, Indiana, on the 2d day of July, 1819, his parents being Joseph and Catherine Ellis. He was reared and educated in his native state, and removed to Schuyler county, Illinois, in 1848. Imbued with patriotism, he enlisted in company I, 16th Illinois infantry, on the 1st day of February, 1862. He was in the 16th army corps, and served under General Rosecrans. He was taken prisoner at Holly Springs, Mississippi, and was afterwards sent to St. Louis, Missouri, where he received an honorable discharge. He then returned to Schuyler county, Illinois, where he remained until 1864, when, with his family, he came to McDonough county and settled in Tennessee village, where he still resides, and is held in high estimation by all with whom he comes in contact. On the 10th of December, 1836, he was married to Lucinda Barnaby, a native of Indiana. This union has been blessed by 11 children, five of whom are living--Nancy Van Winkle, George W., Sarah Jennings, John W. and Emma Dull.

Douglas Glasgow embarked in the hardware business March 1, 1880, having purchased the building of B. F. Thompson, situated on the opposite side of the street from the latter gentleman's present store. The building is a frame structure, 20x50 feet in dimensions, and is two stories high. He handles light and heavy hardware, tinware, agricultural implements, etc. At present Mr. Glasgow is the only dealer in hardware in Tennessee. Douglas Glasgow was born in Covington, Kentucky, March 1, 1836, his parents being Adam and Mary Ann (Stevenson) Glasgow, who were of Scotch-Irish descent. When he was six years of age his parents removed to the vicinity of Mt. Sterling, Illinois, where his father lived until his death, in December, 1870. When 19 years of age he went to Ripley and learned the potter's trade. In the spring of 1865 he enlisted in the 14th Illinois infantry, and served in the 17th army corps, being with Sherman at the time of Johnston's surrender. He was mustered out at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, in December, 1865. He then returned to Ripley, and worked at his trade from the fall of 1866 till the spring of 1868, when he came to Tennessee. He worked at the potter's trade till 1873, when he engaged at clerking with B. F. Thompson, with whom he remained until engaging in business for himself. He was married June 19, 1871, to Maggie Walker, a native of this county. Her father, Andrew Walker, was one of McDonough's old settlers. Mr. and Mrs. Glasgow are the parents of three children--Robert, Grace, and an infant. They had the misfortune to lose two children--Winfred, who died in 1874, aged one and one-half years; Arthur, who died in 1882, aged six years. Mr. Glasgow is a member of the Masonic lodge, and has held the office of junior warden. He was a member of the Grand Army of the Republic when the post was in existence in Tennessee.

In 1860 the undertaking business was established by William McKenzie. His warerooms for storage are in the rear of the post office building. Since the establishment of this business, Mr. McKenzie has continued the same ever since, with the exception of a few years he served in the war. He was the first and only undertaker ever in Tennessee.

In 1872 B. F. Thompson engaged in the grain business, since which time it has been steadily on the increase. Previous to that time there had been no one extensively engaged in the grain trade in Tennessee for some years. Mr. Thompson has bins with a storage capacity of 10,000 bushels, but ships mostly as he purchases, direct, to Peoria and Quincy. During the year 1884 his business amounted to some 50,000 or 60,000 bushels of grain, principally wheat and oats.

The blacksmith business is represented by M. D. Martin. His place of business is located a short distance in the rear of B. F. Thompson's store, the building being about 14x22 feet in dimension. It was formerly used as a room for grinding feed by the old Babcock mill, and was removed to its present location in 1880, by G. P. Martin the father of the present owner. At the time of the removal of the building, G. P. Martin's son-in-law, J. J. Eighmey, took charge of the shop and conducted the same until the summer of 1882, with the exception of a short time which he spent in Kansas. At the time mentioned Mr. Eighmey removed to Colchester and established a shop, since which time the business at Tennessee has been carried on by M. D. Martin.


L. Underhill kept the first hotel at Tennessee. The building was moved from the neighborhood of the old McDonough saw mill, three miles west, in January, 1857, by Leo and John McDonough, who sold it to the above named gentleman. Mr. Underhill conducted the house about six months, when he sold it to John Lowderman, after which it was no longer used as a hotel. At present the building is owned by the widow Bolles and is used as a tenement house.

After L. Underhill disposed of the hotel at Tennessee to John Lowderman, that place was without a hotel for about a year, at which time Edmund N. Driscoll erected the Liberty House. It was afterward owned by H. C. Potts, Thos. Cyrus, John Lowderman and D. B. Waddill. Mrs. Margaret Dull is the present owner and occupant of the house.


The postoffice was established in 1856, with Dr. I. N. Knott as first postmaster. The office was kept in the building belonging to the doctor, who operated a store and also practiced medicine. The building, which was a two story, frame structure, is now owned by Patrick McCune, who uses it as a residence. It is located across the railroad track and a little east of the present postoffice building. Mr. Knott held the office until 1861, when he was succeeded by Elwood Sidwell, who held the same until 1868. Mr. Sidwell removed the office to a building owned and occupied by himself, which is about the center of the town east and west, but has since been torn down and rebuilt and is now the property of Michael Doran. In 1868, A. K. Owen was commissioned, who conducted it in the building occupied by him, just east of the hardware store, until 1872. H. L. Rapelje was the next postmaster, and was succeeded in 1874 by John Atkinson. This gentleman conducted the same but a few weeks, when the present incumbent, William McKenzie, was commissioned. The postoffice at present occupies the same building as when kept by A. K. Owen, which has since been removed to a point further east, and is used also by this gentleman as an undertaking establishment.


James Eaton has been engaged in mining, and the shipment of coal for the past seven years. The drift is situated about two miles north of the village of Tennessee, from which is extracted from $2,500 to $3,000 worth of coal annually. Mr. Eaton employs about five men generally, but has had in his employ as many as 20 men for that work.

Abraham Newland commenced to sink a shaft for coal in June, 1883, which is located about half a mile east of the village, and was opened for business in August, 1883. The shaft is 80 feet deep, but work is being carried on at level of 33 below the surface, where there is a seam 27 inches thick. He has 162 acres of land, on which the shaft is located, two acres of which is within the incorporate limits of Tennessee. During the year of 1884, Mr. Newland shipped nearly 300 cars of coal from the shaft. He usually employs about 40 men in the work, and has a steam hoisting apparatus, with an engine of 15 horse power. Eli Hillard is pit overseer.

In going down eighty feet, for a new seam of coal, four fine veins of clay were discovered. The first is a fire clay, six feet in thickness; the second is also a fire clay five and one-half feet thick, while the third is of like nature, nine feet thick. The fourth vein is a beautiful, white, potter's clay, 10 feet thick. Mr. Newland intends to utilize the shale for the manufacture of red pressed brick, the seam from which it is taken being 15 feet in thickness. On making these discoveries, he determined to establish a tile and brick factory, and also expects to establish a pottery in the near future. The tile factory is 32x100 feet in dimensions. The lower floor is all one room, while the upper floor is divided into two apartments, and heated by steam. The rooms are arranged by a system of shelving, whereby five layers can be stowed for drying, instead of two, as is usually the case; so that by this labor-saving process, as much tile can be put in these rooms to dry as in five rooms of the same size by the old method. The capacity of the factory is 20,000 tile per week. The machinery is propelled by a Centennial Tiffany 40 horse power engine.

Abraham Newland, Jr., is a native of Evenwood, county Durham, England, having been born on the 3d of February, 1838. Oliver Cromwell had a signal corps right in front of the house in which he was born. Abraham’s parents were Abraham and Sarah (Porter) Newland, who now live in Colchester. They are both natives of England, and the family are distant relatives of Abraham Newland, who was cashier of the Bank of England. Abraham's (the subject's) grandfather on his father's side, lived to be 108 years of age. Abraham Newland, Sr., came to this country in 1853, accompanied by his daughter, and located in Lasalle county, Illinois, and two years later sent for his family. Abraham, Jr., is a self-educated man, and by attendance at night school and close application to his books, he has acquired a good education. He came to Colchester in the winter of 1856-7, when the coal mines were being opened up. He was connected with the mines there until 1862, at which time, becoming imbued with patriotism, he enlisted in company I, 124th Illinois infantry, under Col. J. H. Howe. At the time of his enlistment, the members of the company desired him to accept the office of lieutenant, but he refused. Captain Brink appointed him 4th sergeant, but at the request of the men, he was made orderly sergeant. His company was in Logan's division, the 17th army corps, and was under Gen. Grant till the fall of Vicksburg. At the battle of Raymond, Mississippi, while an orderly sergeant, he commanded the company, there being no commissioned officer present, and for bravery displayed, he was commended by his Colonel and promised promotion. A few days after this battle, he was wounded at Champion Hills, being shot through the jaw. It was reported that he was killed, which fortunately proved to be untrue. After a number of weeks of suffering, he was again restored to active duty, his wound in the meantime having healed. One of the lieutenants of his company resigning, an application was made to have him commissioned to fill the vacancy, but before the matter was completed, Captain Brink resigned and he was duly commissioned as captain and the command of the company given him. This position he retained up to the close of the war, and was highly respected and honored by his men and his brother officers. Among the most important engagements in which he participated, were the following: Port Gibson, Raymond, Jackson, Champion Hill, siege of Vicksburg and all fights during Meridian campaign. He was then transferred to the 16th army corps, and took part in the siege of Vicksburg, and the engagements at Spanish Fort, Fort Blakely, and the capture of Mobile. He was engaged in 22 battles and skirmishes and two sieges. On the 15th day of August, 1865, the regiment was discharged, and Captain Newland returned to Colchester, McDonough county, with the full consciousness of duty well performed. Within two weeks after his return home, he was engaged in the general merchandise business, which he conducted until the fall of 1882, in the meantime having accumulated a fair share of this world's goods. He resumed the same business in 1884, and is still conducting it. In April, 1879, he leased a coal mine in Colchester, and continued running the same until April 1, 1884. He is now conducting the tile works, pottery and coal mine, east of Tennessee. The captain owns 162 acres of land, which he farms. He was married in Colchester, March 3, 1859, to Mary Jane Musson, who died June 15, 1871, leaving two children--Sarah Florence and Thomas E. The captain was married again, June 18, 1872, to Annie Musson. Six children have been born to them--Mary 0., Geo. A., Abraham R., Gilbert, Haven and Henry Woolesley. Mr. Newland is a member of the Grand Army of the Republic, and of the Mutual Aid Society, of Quincy.

The Tennessee stoneware and tile works were erected in 1881, by Stoffer & Son, who conducted the business until October, 1883, when E. P. Munson purchased an interest in the concern, and the firm name was then changed to Stoffer & Company. In March, 1884, Mr. Munson purchased the interest of the Stoffers, since which time he has operated the institution alone. The workshop is about 20x60 feet in dimensions, with an L 40x40 feet, all of which is two stories high. Two 14 foot kilns are operated, which have a capacity of about 4,500 gallons each. They manufacture about two kilns per week, and when running at their full capacity, the works give employment to 12 or 14 men. In addition to the building already mentioned, there is a warehouse about 50x50 feet in ground area for the storage of the products of the works, which are operated principally for the manufacture of pottery. The clay is obtained at a bank owned by Mr. Munson, situated about two miles north of the village of Tennessee, which is of excellent quality. The products of this factory rank among the foremost of the country.

E. P. Munson, proprietor of the Tennessee stoneware and tile works, is a native of the state of Vermont, and was born on the 11th of June, 1817, his parents being Theodore and Lydia (Philbrook) Munson. He attended school in his native county, and when he had reached the age of 15 years, his parents removed to Schuyler county Illinois. There our subject made his home until March, 1853, when he came to McDonough county, and settled in Industry township, eight miles south of Macomb, and still owns 160 acres of the land on which he then settled. In 1883, Mr. Munson purchased an interest in the stoneware and tile works in Tennessee village, and in 1884 he became sole manager and proprietor of the same. He was married in Hancock county, Illinois, on the 16th day of January, 1840, to Catherine Sanders, a native of Beardstown, Cass county. They have had eight children: William T., who served three years in the Illinois cavalry. He was under Grant until the latter was called to the Potomac. He was hurt in the battle of Holly Springs, and was in numerous other battles; he now lives in Carroll county, Missouri. Daniel, now living in Sumner county, Kansas; Mary, living in Industry township; Lydia (Butcher) now in Carroll county, Missouri; Edith, now in Springfield, Illinois; Nora, living in Tennessee township; Louisa C., now married and lives in Chenoa, Illinois, and Iola, now living in Tennessee township.


Tennessee lodge, No.496, A. F. and A. M., was organized and received its charter, October 3, 1866. The charter members of the organization were as follows: J. W. Aiken, E. B. Hibbard, Joseph Allen, William Owen, A. G. Owen, O. A. Young, F. A. McElroy. J. W. Aiken has acted as worshipful master since the organization of the lodge, with the exception of one year, which was occupied by James Jenkins. E. B. Hibbard was elected worshipful master for the first term, but moved away immediately afterward. Joseph Allen was the first junior warden, and A. K. Owen the first secretary and treasurer of the lodge. Since the organization there have been but two deaths in the membership--Thomas Way and T. Chenoweth. The former died in this place, while the latter's death occurred in Kansas. For the first few years the lodge was very prosperous, and since its organization 87 members have attained the degree of masonry, including charter members. During the past 10 years, over 45 members have moved away, leaving the lodge with a membership at present of but 42. The lodge is in fair condition and reasonably prosperous. The present officers are J. W. Aiken, W. M.; Edgar Hill, S. W.; J. W. Dickson, J. W.; H. L. Rapelje, secretary; James Jenkins, treasurer.

Tennessee lodge, No. 520, I. O. O. F., worked under a special dispensation for nearly a year prior to the signing of their charter, which was received on the 14th day of October, 1873. The charter members of the organization are John J. Werninger, James Eaton, H. L. Rapelje, W. R. Pittman, Chauncey Palmeter. The first officers of this lodge were H. L. Rapelje, N. G.; C. Palmeter, V. G.; James Eaton, treasurer; John J. Werninger, R. S. Since the organization of the lodge, the following have served as presiding officers: H. L. Rapelje, one year; W. D. Ellis, one year; John J. Werninger, one year; B. F. Thompson, one year; John Harper, one year; C. Palmeter, one year; H. L. Rapelje, two years; D. B. Dull, two years; Edgar Hill, one year. The lodge has been prosperous from the start, and has received a hearty support from the citizens. Although it has encountered some drawbacks its rate of increase is considered among the best in this locality. The lodge was organized with five charter members, and with scarcely any money, but a membership of 78 appears upon the records. About the year 1882, one-half the members took their cards from the lodge, and a new society was formed at Colchester. The actual cash on hand at present is $681.73, with a membership of twenty. There has been one death since organization, Amos Glasgow, who died at Tennessee, in December, 1883. The present officers are A. T. Salisbury, N. G.; Robert Ruddell, V. G.; H. L. Rapelje, P. G.; James Eaton, treasurer.

Tennessee Post, No. 130, G. A. R., was organized in October, 1881, with the following charter members: H. M. Jarvis, J. H. Shultz, J. J. Eighmey, John B. Swinney, William McKanzie, L. Underhill, D. Glasgow, Charles Way, H. L. Rapelje, S. Dougherty, J. A. Souders. The first officers of the post were H. L. Rapelje, P.C.; D. G. Glasgow, S. V. P. C.; William McKenzie, J. V. P. C.; H. Jarvis, adjutant; J. B. Swinney, Q. M.; J. H. Shultz, surgeon; J. A. Souders, chaplain; Charles Way, O. D.; J. J. Eighmey, O. G.; S. Dougherty, S. M.; L. Underhill, Q. M. S. H. L. Rapelje held the position of post commander until the demise of the same. There were several applications to enter the post from eligible members, but on account of very bad weather, and the inability to secure a quorum, they were never admitted. The greater portion of the officers resided in the country, and their absence soon led the post to be inactive, and in January, 1884, the state department encampment discontinued their charter.


The town of Tennessee was incorporated a village, November 25, 1872, under the general incorporation act of 1861-'62, of the state of Illinois. The first officers of Tennessee were: W. D. Ellis, president; F. W. Nance, C. W. McElroy, and W. R. Pittman, trustees; H. L. Rapelje, clerk.

At a meeting held May 27, 1874, the following officers were elected: W. D. Ellis, president; M. R. Abbott, W. R. Pittman, William Cook, Chauncey Palmeter and Amos Martin, trustees; J. H. Lower, clerk.

The following officers were chosen for the year, commencing May, 1875: W. D. Ellis, president; William Cook, C. Palmeter, Amos Martin, J. H. Atkinson and E. D. Green, trustees.

For the year 1876, the following officers were elected: H. L. Rapelje, president; B. M. Templeton, James Hall, A. Martin, C. S. McKenzie, and G. R. Nash, trustees; John Burgess, clerk.

Officers for the year 1877, were as follows: J. Babcock, president; A. E. Cannon, D. Dull, H. Smith, S. Cochran, and B. F. Thompson, trustees; W. B. Houck, clerk.

For the year 1878, the officers were: R. Craycraft, president; J. Babcock. M. Baker, C. S. McKenzie, A. T. Salisbury and G. R. Nash, trustees; J. T. Burgess, clerk.

In 1879, the following officers were chosen: C. S. McKenzie, president; D. Glasgow, S. B. Smith, E. Faron, J. Babcock, and John Donaldson trustees, W. D. Ellis, clerk.

The officers for 1880, were elected as follows: C. Palmeter, president; R. Craycraft, M. R. Byrd, J. Babcock, Thomas Rutledge, and H. Lower, trustees; W. R. Welch, clerk.

Officers of 1881: J. H. Lower, president; C. Palmeter, J. Babcock, Thomas Thompson, E. Farron, and G. R. Nash, trustees; H. L. Rapelje, clerk.

Officers for 1882: G. R. Nash, president; J. Babcock, E. Faron, Thomas Thompson, L. Doran, and C. Palmeter, trustees, H. L. Rapelje, clerk.

For the year 1883, the following officers were elected: G. R. Nash, president; E. Faron, D. Glasgow, Charles Dull, and James Brent, trustees; H. L. Rapelje, clerk.

The officers for the year 1884, were as follows: John B. Swinney, president; J. D. Brent, John Kiser, M. D. Martin, S. D. Cochran, and W. Hankins, trustees; H. L. Rapelje, clerk.

Hiram L. Rapelje, the present clerk of the board, is a native of St. Thomas, Ontario, Canada, and was born March 28, 1817, being a son of Daniel and Elizabeth (Vandervoot) Rapelje, both of whom were of American birth, being born in New York. Hiram L. was reared and educated in St. Thomas, remaining there until reaching his 23d year. In 1840, he started west with the intention of taking up land and making a home for himself, and located near Mt. Carroll, Carroll county, Illinois, where he took up a claim. He went to Savannah, Carroll county Illinois to reside, and worked a farm north of there adjoining the river. He remained there one year and then returned to Black Oak Grove, Carroll county, where he lived till 1843. He was married there in 1842, to Sarah Bridgewater, a native of England, and a sister of Mrs. Babcock, of Tennessee, Illinois. In 1843, Mr. Rapelje went to Aurora, Kane county, Illinois, where he worked at the trade of harness-making, which he had learned at St. Thomas, Canada. He remained there some two years, then removed to St. Charles, Illinois, where he lived one year, and then went to Batavia, Illinois, where he commenced the harness-making business for himself. He remained there some eight or ten years, after which he made several moves before coming to Tennessee, Illinois. After remaining there some five or six years, he removed to Plano, Illinois, where he had previously lived. After a stay of about one year, he again came to Tennessee, and has remained ever since. During his residence in Kaneville, Kane county, Illinois, he was a justice of the peace. While living in Batavia he raised a company of independent horsemen, and served as their captain up to the breaking out of the war. He enlisted in 1861 in the 8th Illinois cavalry, and was mustered in as captain of company I. They served with McClellan on the Potomac, and were under Stoneman and Pleasanton, and were engaged in the seven days fight at Richmond. In 1863, Captain Rapelje resigned his commission and returned to his home. After being in Tennessee, Illinois, one year, he was elected police magistrate and served two years, and since that time he has been justice of the peace and notary public, which positions he still holds. He has also held the following offices: Township supervisor, one term; postmaster, one and one-half years. He is a member of the Masonic and Odd Fellow lodges, and holds the position of secretary in both lodges. He is also at present town clerk, clerk of the board of trustees of the village, and treasurer of the school board. Before coming to this country, he was a cavalryman during the civil war of 1837 in Canada. Mr. and Mrs. Rapelje have four children--A. W., Hiram L., Lizzie and William R. They have had the misfortune to lose two children--Josephine, who died in Kaneville, Illinois, in 1858, and George, who died at the age of eight years. They also have an adopted daughter--Ella--whom they have raised.


The educational facilities of Tennessee are ahead of those usually found in places of its size and compares favorably with the schools of the county. The building is a large two story structure, 44x48 feet, and was erected in 1872, at a cost of over $7,000. It is constructed of red brick, with caps and sills of stone, has three gables, over the front one of which is erected a neat belfry, the top being about 64 feet from the surface of the ground. There is one large study and two recitation rooms on the first floor, and a study and recitation room on the second floor. The ceilings of both floors are 14 feet in height, and the rooms are all heated by stoves. It is a fine looking building, both inside and out, and is a compliment to the enterprising citizens and business men of the fifth district, in which the building is situated. The school was graded from the beginning with two grades, and in September, 1884, was increased to a three grade school. The first principal was L. Freeland, while the present is Thomas McClure, who has occupied that position since September, 1884. He has two assistants, Miss Lillie Cowan, who has charge of the primary department, with 42 scholars enrolled, and Miss Fannie Farrenkopf, who has charge of the intermediate department, with about 40 scholars enrolled. The principal has about 30 pupils under his supervision. The school is well advanced and in excellent condition.

Previous to the erection of the brick school building, school was taught in a small, one story frame structure, about 20x35 feet in dimensions, and was one large room. It was built in 1855, at a cost of $900 and was situated at a point just north of where the new building is located. Pinckney Simmons was the first teacher. School was also taught in this building prior to 1860 by Mrs. Joe Buzzel. The old building is now situated opposite the depot, and is used as a store room. Since the erection of the new building, the following have served as principals: L. Freeland, John Siders, George McDaniels, Sadie Blazer, George Kendrick, John White, and S. L. Bickford. In 1876, Miss Decker started a private school in the building, but with very poor success.

The present principal of the Tennessee village school is Thomas McClure, a native of Hancock county, Illinois, and who was born on the 5th day of July, 1848. Mechanicsville, the town in which he was born, is now extinct, but the location is three and one-half miles northeast of Augusta. His father, Thomas McClure was of Scotch-Irish descent, while his mother Mary Ellen (Samuels) McClure, was of German descent. Thomas was raised in the vicinity of his native place, on a farm adjoining the town of Augusta. He attended the Augusta schools, including the high school, and spent two years at the Abingdon college. He had taught two terms previous to finishing his education, and, after retiring from Abingdon college, resumed teaching, and has taught ever since. In September, 1884, he assumed the principalship of the Tennessee village school, which position he is filling with credit to himself. He is a competent elocutionist, and has inculcated good ideas in this matter in the minds of both teachers and pupils. He has given this branch considerable study and is entitled to credit for the good he is accomplishing. His father and mother are both dead, the former dying in Hancock county, in 1863, and the latter in 1874.


A child of Abraham Cheney died in the summer of 1854 or '55. This was the first death in the village.

The first marriage in Tennessee village was a couple from Macomb, in the fall of 1854. The groom was a section boss on the railroad. They were married at the house of James Jarvis, Rev. Roach performing the ceremony. No one witnessed the ceremony except the family of Mr. Jarvis and a few boarders.

The second marriage was Elwood T. Sidwell and Belle Anderson, the latter being a neice of Mrs. Cephas Tolon. They were married in 1856 at Tolon's house.

The second death in the village of Tennessee, was probably John Walker, a young man who came from Abington a short time previous. He did some painting and soon after purchased laudanum by which he committed suicide. That was in the year 1856.

The third marriage occurred in 1856, uniting the hearts and destinies of Samuel Gibson and Mrs. Lucy Williams. The ceremony occurred at the home of the bride, Squire Knott officiating.

An early birth was the son born to Mr. and Mrs. Rutledge, in the spring of 1855. The child died in its infancy.

Another birth was a daughter to Mr. and Mrs. E. N. Driscoll, who was christened Roselle. She married Joseph Great, and they, together with her parents, reside in Henderson county.

The first religious services in Tennessee village, were held at the residence of James Jarvis, in the fall of 1855, Rev. Coffman presiding. Nearly all the citizens of the place were present. It was on a week day, the services being held in the evening under the supervision of the Methodist society. This creed also, had the first organization in the place. James Jarvis was the first class leader, steward and clerk, and was succeeded by Thomas Fulkerson.

The first school house was erected in Tennessee in 1855, just north of where the present building stands, and was a frame structure. Pinckney Simmons was the first teacher. He died of consumption, two or three years afterward, in Hancock county. The building served its purpose for the town until the new brick structure was erected, when it was sold.

William Cook was the first clerk of the town board of trustees. Charles McKenzie was one of the first trustees.

James Waddill and Sarah Badger were the first burials in the King cemetery.

Source: The History of McDonough County, together with sketches of the towns, villages and townships, educational, civil, military and political history; portraits of prominent individuals, and biographies of the representative citizens, 1885, pages 565-579. Transcribed by Karl A. Petersen

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