At the time Henry County was created, the financial and official head of the county was the County Commissioners Court . On the 27th of June of that year this Court met at Dayton and transacted the first official business of the county. Allan was appointed Clerk; Atkinson, Treasurer Clerks and Treasurers were appointed—the Circuit Clerks by the Judge of the Circuit, and the County Clerks and Treasurers by the County Commissioners until these officrs were made elective by act of the Legislature, February, 1837.

In the next August election after the passage of the act, the people elected James M. Allan Clerk, and Charley Atkinson Treasurer. The Clerk gave bond, with Robert McCullough and John P. Hanna as sureties.

The first official order of the Court was one authorizing Charles Atkinson, John P. Hanna and George Tyler .to keep a ferry on Rock River at Cleveland , and they " ordered that the tax on the above mentioned ferry be fixed at one dollar and fifty cents." The rate of tax was fixed at one-half of one per cent, on " pleasure carnages," horses, cattle, hogs, sheep, wagons and watches. Nothing else was taxed, except a road tax of one dollar and twenty cents on each quarter section of land; and every man of lawful age was required to work five days on the public roads.

George Brandenburg paid five dollars for the first license to sell goods, and soon afterwards a similar license was granted George Tyler. These two men carried on business in the same place.


The second day of the Court the county was divided into five road districts, as follows: First included towns 16, 17 and 18 north, and i and 2 east; second, 14, 15 north, 2 and 3 east; third, 14,15 west, 4 and 5 east: fourth, 16 and 17 north. The Supervisor of first was John P. Hanna; second, Albert Jagger; third, John F. Willard; fourth, John C. Ward; fifth, Neely Withrow. There were then only about one hundred voters in all the county, and here was quite a big undertaking for those men to build the bridges and make the roads passable.


The first road ordered surveyed and laid out in the county was from Andover to Geneseo, thence to the Rock River road at or near Joshua Browning's. C. K. Bartlett, A. M. Seymour and Joshua Browning were appointed viewers, and the conditions were the road was to be " laid without costs to the county." What would an Illinois Legislature think of such public economy as this ? This economical order in reference to roads was kept up till 1838, when a road was ordered located from Andover Mills in the direction of Peoria , at the expense of the county. The first appropriation for bridges was $50, to apply in part upon a bridge across Green River , on the road via Cleveland and Dayton to Andover . The second bridge appropriation was $10 for a bridge on Camp Creek on the road from Andover to Cleveland .


The justices' districts and election precincts were the same as the road districts. In 1838 the place of holding elections in the first district was named " as the town of Dayton "—that means Brandenburg's house; in the second district " the Company house;" in the third, Henry G. Little's house; fourth, John C. Ward's; and fifth at Joshua Browning's.

The County Commissioners' Court ordered that until the county seat should be permanently located, the Courts should be held in the town of Dayton.

The first merchant's license was granted to George Tyler, " to keep a store in Cleveland," for which he paid five dollars.

These pioneers were evidently a somewhat martial people. An election for" Major" was held at Dayton, Aug. 12, 1837. Fifteen votes were cast,—eleven for James M. Allan and four for George Brandenburg. When this great military question was thus settled, the good people of the county had but little occasion to further fear the invasions of the murderous and scalping Indians.

At the September term of the County Court, the County Surveyor was instructed to run out the line between Rock Island and Henry Counties. A man had frozen to death about or near the line, and as he was a total'stranger and had some money and no heirs, Rock Island claimed the " stiff" and money. Henry County suspected this to be a fraud : hence the survey. Sure enough, the cadaver really be­ longed to Henry, and the county sued Rock Island, but never got either the money or the dead man.

A permit was granted Charles Oakley by the Circuit Court, in 1837, to build a dam on the Green River, on the east half of the northeast quarter of section 12, township 17 north, 1 east, known as Green River Mills. The second permit was to Ithamar Pillsbury, to build a dam across Edwards River, on the northwest comer of section 18, township 14 north, 3 east. Here was soon after erected a saw-mill.

No Circuit Court was held in Henry'County until the spring of 1838.

Cleveland was laid out, in April, 1836, by C. Atkinson and J. D. Tabor, on section 31, on the banks of Rock River. The first houses built in Cleveland were George Taylor's and C. Atkinson's; the carpenters doing the work on the buildings were Thomas Glenn and George Brandenburg.

At the March term, 1838, James M. Allan was appointed School Commissioner for the County, and Luke C. Sheldon, Joshua Harper and George Brandenburg were appointed trustees of school lands in township 17, range 1 east; and Roderick R. Stewart, Elisha Cone and John C. Ward were appointed for township 17, range 3 east; James S. Miller, Asa Wisher and Albert Jagger for township 15, range 2 east; Joseph Goodrich, Sullivan Howard and Robert Couitas for township 15, range 5 east; and Henry G. Little, J. F. Williams and Sylvester Blish for township 14, range 5 east.

At the June term, 1838, James M. Allan was appointed " County Treasurer pro tem until the August election."

Ordered, That the County Clerk be allowed the sum of ten dollars for his services for the year past; also ten dollars for attending to the military lands; also five dollars for stationery." It is explained in the order that the salary of $20 is in addition " to what has already been paid him by the day through mistake."

At the August election, 1838, Marcus B. Osborn, John P. Hanna and Sylvester Blish were elected County Commissioners.

April 1 1839, Milo M. Pollock, Edgar Jacks, John H. Wells, William H. Hubbard and William Mc- Henry were appointed Assessors, and James D. Tabor was appointed Collector.

Marcus B. Osborn was appointed agent to receive from the State the money appropriated to the county by the Legislature of 1838-9. This was the noted " hush money " that was given to counties that did not get any of the railroads that were then so grandly voted by the State to build. It was the noted Legislature of "internal improvement'"' celebrity, when Illinois was struck with a craze that at that time looked as though the young State was irreparably ruined.

James M. Allan resigned as School Commissioner in 1839, and Judge Joseph Tillson was appointed to the place.

In 1840 James D. Tabor was appointed Collector, of Taxes. Arba M. Seymour was appointed to take the census of the county in 1840.

August, 1840, John Carson was elected one of the County Commissioners, in place of Sylvester Blish, whose term expired.

John Thomas was supported by the county as early as 1840. Probably the first county charge

August, 1841, William Ayers and George McHenry were elected County Commissioners, Osborn and Carson retiring. In 1842 James D. Tabor was again Collector, and Joseph Tillson was appointed Assessor. Charles C. Blish was Surveyor, John C. Ward, Treasurer.

In 1842 Francis Loomis was elected County Commissioner.

June 7, 1843, the County Court met for the first time at the new county-seat, and made the following order: " Pursuant to adjournment the Court met this day at Sugar Tree Grove, and in consequence of the inclemency of the weather it is ordered that the Court adjourn till to-morrow morning." The next day the weather was no better, and the same order was again made. But the next day (June 9) the weather had improved, and the Court met and went to work to lay off into town lots the town and name it Cambridge.

In 1843 Luke C. Sheldon was elected one of the Commissioners, Marcus B. Osborn, Collector. James M. Allan again elected County Clerk. Alfred W. Perry was Deputy Sheriff in 1843.

August, 1844, Amos B. Cole was elected County Commissioner.

Lewis M. Webber was County Collector and Sheriff.

Francis Loomis was re-elected Commissioner in 1845, and L. M. Webber. Sheriff.

In 1846 a tax of thirty cents on the $100 was laid for county purposes.

Elisha Calkins and William Ayers were Commissioners in 1847. James Bernard, Probate Justice.

In 1849 Henry Sleight was County Probate Justice.

By act of the General Assembly of 1850. the County Commissioner's Court was abolished and in lieu thereof the County Court, consisting of a County Judge and two Associate County Judges, was established

At the March term of the County Court in 1857 :-K Justus F. Dresser was Sheriff.

Samuel P. Brainard was elected County Clerk in August, 1847.

:William H. Blish was elected County Treasurer,

Lewis M. Webber re-elected Sheriff, and Champlin Lester elected School Commissioner.

August, 1848, William Miller and Stephen Palmer were elected Commissioners, and Matthew B. Potter was Collector and Sheriff.

The Probate Court met August 17, 1849, James M. Allan, Judge; M. B. Potter, Sheriff; and Samuel P. Brainard, Clerk. E. Otis was Deputy Clerk. In 1850, H. G. Reynolds was Deputy County Clerk, William Miller and John Piatt Associate Justices, Henry G. Griffin School Commissioner, W. H. Blish, Treasurer. At the February term, 1851, Joseph Tillson, Judge; Thomas F. Davenport, Clerk; and Henry G. Little, Sheriff. December term, 1853, Stephen Palmer was County Judge. September term, 1854, Stephen Palmer, County Judge; John Piatt and Robt. Getty, County Justices; M. B. Pot­ ter, Sheriff; Daniel Bonar, Clerk. At the December term, this year, T. F. Davenport, Sheriff.

At a special term of the County Court, March 17, 1856, the county, through its agent, contracted to the Winnebago Swamp Land Company the swamp lands belonging to the county. The company agreed to drain the lands at once " as far as the same may be practical," and to pay the county $70,000 in ten years, five per cent, interest.

Dec.1, 1856, Justus F. Dresser gave bonds for the faithful discharge of " the duties of Collector of Taxes for the year 1856".

Portrait and Biographical Album of Henry County

Submitted by the Webmaster


©Wini Caudell and Contributors

All rights Reserved

Illinois Ancestors