pages 53 - 59
COUNTY COMMISSIONERS' COURT AND BOARD OF SUPERVISORS.
The first county commissioners under that law were William Holland, Joseph Smith, and Nathan Dillon. They met at Peoria, on the eighth day of March, 1825. They appointed Norman Hyde their clerk, and Aaron Hawley their treasurer. On the first day they made an order that the county-seat be established at Peoria. (This was nugatory, for the act of the legislature had fixed that.) Also, that a court-house be erected twenty feet square, and nine feet between the floor and the joists; and a clerk's office, fourteen feet square. But at the next meeting of the board, which was held four days after, it was ordered that those orders be rescinded, probably because some one suggested to them that they had no money, for they immediately passed an order "that all property subject to a county tax be taxed one-half of one per cent, on the value of the same."
No such court-house or jail were ever built; The present court-house, with rooms in it for clerks' offices, was built in 1834. Previously to this the court was held in a small log building, about 16 by 18 feet square, at or near where the Fort Clark Mill stands.
On the 8th of June Hyde resigned the office of clerk, and John Dixon was appointed in his stead. On this day the order for a one-half per cent, tax was rescinded, and a tax of one per cent laid.
On the 7th of December, 1825, the county was divided into three election precincts. One was called the Chicago precinct, and Alexander Wolcott, John Kinzie, and John Baptiste Beaubien, all inhabitants of Chicago, were appointed judges.
This was called the County Commissioners' Court, and its powers were similar to those now exercised by the Board of Supervisors.
On the 5th of September, 1826, Nathan Dillon, William Holland and John Hamlin appeared and qualified as county commissioners. John Dixon still clerk, and Samuel Fulton sheriff.
At the June term, 1827, John Hamlin, George Sharp and Henry Thomas were county commissioners; but clerk and sheriff remained as before. Here it should be observed that none of the first set of county commissioners were elected from Peoria county proper, but from the country attached to it for judicial purposes. Of the second set, one (John Hamlin) was from Peoria county proper, but of the last set all were from Peoria county proper.
On the 4th of August, 1828, Orin Hamlin was sheriff, and Isaac Egmon and Francis Thomas were elected county commissioners, who with George Sharp now composed the board.
On the 1st of May, 1830, Stephen Stillman was appointed clerk, in place of John Dixon, resigned.
On the 7th of June, 1830, Isaac Waters was appointed to take the census of the county proper, and found the increase in five years to be 556.
This record shows that at the September term George Sharp, John Hamlin and Stephen French composed the board of county commissioners; Stephen Stillman, clerk; Henry B. Stillman, sheriff; and Resolved Cleveland, coroner.
On the 4th of April, 1831, Resolved Cleveland was elected county commissioner, in place of George Sharp, deceased.
On the 6th of June, 1831, Isaac Waters was appointed clerk, in place of Stephen Stillman, resigned.
On the 5th of November, 1831, John Coyle was elected county commissioner, in place of John Hamlin, resigned.
On the 5th of March, 1832, Aquila Wren was elected county commissioner, in place of Stephen French, resigned.
At the September term, John Coyle, Aquila Wren and Edwin S. Jones sat as county commissioners, and John W. Caldwell acted as sheriff.
At an election on the 4th of August, 1834, John Coyle, Orin Hamlin and Andrew Tharp were elected county commissioners, and William Compher sheriff.
On the 30th of April, 1835, William Compher was appointed to take the census, and found the increase in five years to be 1407.
On the 1st of June, 1835, William Mitchell was appointed clerk, in the place of Isaac Waters, removed.
At an election held on the 6th of October, 1835, Thomas Bryant was elected sheriff, in place of William Compher, resigned.
At the September term, 1836, Aquila Wren, Samuel T. McKean and William J. Phelps took their seats as county commissioners, Mitchell as clerk, and Bryant as sheriff.
At the September term, 1838, Clark D. Powell, Smith Frye and Moses Harlan took their seats as county commissioners; same clerk and sheriff.
On the 10th of January, 1840, William Hale was elected a county commissioner, in place of Moses Harlan, who had been elected to the legislature. A. W. Harkness was appointed to take the census, and found an increase in five years of 3842.
To trace the proceedings of the county commissioners any further down toward our own times would, I presume, be uninteresting to one whose object is to read the history of the City of Peoria.
The civil list for 1844 was as follows:
John D. Caton, Judge of the Circuit Court.
Benjamin F. Fridley, State's Attorney.
Thomas P. Smith, Clementius Ewalt, William Dawson, County Commissioners
William M. Dodge, County Treasurer and Assessor.
Julius A. Johnson, Collector.
George C. McFadden, Surveyor.
Charles Kettelle, Recorder.
Smith Frye, Sheriff.
Chester Hamlin, Coroner.
John C. Heyl, Public Administrator.
William Mitchell, Clerk of both courts.
William H. Fessenden, Probate Justice.
Dennis Blakeley, Thomas Bryant and Jonathan K. Cooper, Justices of the Peace.
William Weis, Thomas Mercer, Daniel E. Oakley and Jacob Silzell, Constables.
mode of governing counties by three county commissioners was continued in Peoria
up to April 8th, 1850. Previously to that date the legislature passed a law
establishing what is called 'Township Organization'; that is, a law erecting
each township into a sort of little municipality, with the right to regulate its
own internal affairs to some extent, and with the right to be represented in a
larger municipal body for the whole county, called the Board of Supervisors. But
this law was unpopular among western people, and to get the legislature to adopt
it, it became necessary to add a clause to the law that it should not take
effect in any county until a majority of the legal voters of the county, at any
general election, should vote for it. The eastern people generally voted for the
law, and the western and southern people generally voted against it; but the
foreigners, not being acquainted with either mode, followed as their leaders
went. Some counties adopted it, but the larger portion did not. The door being
open all the time, however, for those objecting to come into the measure, and
being closed against any after having adopted it returning to the old plan, and
the new plan furnishing more offices than the other, which, to Americans, is an
unanswerable argument in favor of any measure, the thing has been so managed
that, in a little less than twenty years, sixty-six counties have come into the
measure; leaving only thirty-six which still stand out, and refuse to adopt the
system. Peoria county was one of the first that adopted the system; and hence
the records show that on the 8th of April, 1850, the first board of supervisors
assembled at Peoria, and the board was organized with the following members, viz:
Stephen C. Wheeler, John Combs, Samuel Dimon, Josiah Fulton, Charles S. Strother,
Jonathan Brassfield, Benjamin Slane, Isaac Brown, L. B. Cornwell, William W.
Church, Clark W. Stanton and David R. Gregory, Supervisors; and Charles Kettelle,
Clerk. Samuel Dimon was elected Chairman of the board, for one year.
By such a board, subject to have the members changed at every election, we have been governed from that day to this.
At present the following persons compose the board, viz: John Waugh, Horace G. Anderson, D. M. Baty, Joseph Burdett, Peter Cline, Samuel Caldwell, Seth W. Freeman, John W. Fuller, Louis Green, James H. Hart, Emil Huber, L. F. Jones, George Jenkins, Albert F. Lincoln, Engelbert Nader, Ralph Phillips, William Rowcliff, Samuel S. Slane, Edgar Ayres, Cyrus Tucker, Otto Triebel, M. B. Van Patten, E. G. Webster, Patrick Ward, D. C. Wheeler, and Lorin Wilder. Col. John D. McClure, Clerk.
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