Centennial History
Mason County

By Joseph Cochrane
Springfield, Ill., 1876

Page 44

Forest City is situated on the Peoria, Pekin and Jacksonville Railroad, and laid out at the time of its first construction, and is seventeen miles from Pekin and thirteen from Havana. It was in what was originally Mason Plains precinct, but by an act of the Board of Supervisors, in 1873, it was changed to Forest City township. The original town plat was purchased by Walker, Kemp, Waggenseller and Wright, in Havana, and surveyed in 1859. D. S. Broderic, purchased forty acres of W. R. Nikirk, and in 1866 had the same surveyed as Broderiec's addition to Forest City. The town is favorably situated, geographically, for a fine commercial center of as rich an agricultural region as the county affords, and has a fine trade in all departments usual in country towns.

The growth of Mason City deducted from its trade on the east, and points on the I., B. and W. R.R did the same on the south, but this was more than compensated for by the very rapid improvement of its immediate vicinity. The present population is about two hundred.

The first business house was built by A. Cross & Co.; the second by E. T. Nikirk. There is, in addition to the above, G. W. Pemberton, family groceries, T. A. Gibson, hardware and grain dealer, J. Miller, dealer in grain, V. H. Maxwell, family groceries, John Gavin, family groceries, Limbach & Maxwell, dry goods and groceries, Patrick Kane, family groceries, Eli T. Nikirk & Son, agents for the P., P. and J. Railroad, and F. M. Ellsworth, blacksmith, (and the first in the place,) and others, whose names we did not reach. The physicians of Forest City are Drs. James S. Walker and G. S. Mosteller, both very competent and educated members of their profession. (See biography of the Walker family.)

Among the first settlers of this locality were Mr. Nikirk and John Bowser, both of Seneca county, Ohio, who located here twenty-three or four years ago. Mr. Nikirk purchased the entire landed estate of W. G. Green, now of Menard county, Illinois. The purchase was made in 1852, and in 1855 Mr. Nikirk died, leaving nearly two thousand acres of land to his family. Twenty years afterwards Elizabeth, his widow, died, leaving her children pleasant and comfortable homes, nearly all in sight of the old homestead.

The Nikirk sons are among the most substantial farmers and business men of that vicinity, and it is with great personal gratification that we here record them all pleasant, genial gentlemen, whose acquaintance we have ever valued, and whose sociability and hospitality we ever appreciate.

Mr. Bowser is residing on the farm first purchased, in affluent circumstances, a most substantial citizen, possessed of many broad acres of rich land within sight of his pleasant home, surrounded by all that makes life desirable, and that contributes to human happiness. We have had a personal acquaintance with Mr. Bowser for nearly thirty-five years. On that acquaintance, we must say, we have only known him as a neighbor, a gentleman and friend.

The business directory of Forest City is as follows: J. Jackson, Justice of the Peace; M. Gordon, also Justice of the Peace; W. S. Reed and B. Heicks, Constables. We also note among her prominent mechanics: J. A. Beard, builder and contractor; J. Jackson, carpenter; T. G. Onstot, dealer in lumber, lime, cement, etc. The substantial character of the business men of Forest City, and it being the center of a rich agricultural region, enjoying a fine local trade, it bids fair to hold its present prominent position in the business interests of Mason county.

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