pages 66 - 69
ORGANIZATION OF THE TOWN OF PEORIA.
At first, so few people were in the bounds of what is now the City of Peoria, that they were governed as a rural district, without municipal organization. On 1st of March, 1831, the act of the legislature under which the Town of Peoria finally became incorporated as a town was passed; but, for some reason, I do not remember what, the people did not avail themselves of it at that time.
On the 18th of July, 1835, the citizens of Peoria, by a vote then taken pursuant to such statute, became incorporated—not as a city, but as a town,— and elected as trustees Rudolphus Rouse, Chester Hamlin, Rufus P. Burlingame, Charles W. McClallen and Isaac Evans. It seems, from the record, that they met the same day, and elected said Rouse as President; and, as said Evans declined serving, they elected Cyrus Leland in his place.
On the 23d of the same month, they met at the store of Rufus P. Burlingame and elected Cyrus Leland as Clerk. At the same time, they passed a resolution that the boundary of the town should embrace an area of one square mile; also, at that meeting, they appointed said Burlingame for their Treasurer.
On the 18th of July, 1836, there was an election held, and the judges of the election certified how many votes each candidate had received, but did not say who were elected; but as the five highest on the list were Henry W. Cleveland, Chester Hamlin, Thomas Philips, George B. Parker, and J. D. Shewalter, they seem quietly to have taken their seats, without any decision of the case, and Henry W. Cleveland, seems to have taken his seat as President, without an election (at least, the record fails to show that he was elected); and some time after J. L. Marsh takes place in the record as Clerk, without any thing to show what right he had there.
On the 18th February, 1837, Hon. George C. Bestor appears in the board, without any thing to show how he came there.
On the 8th of March, Hon. E. N. Powell is made Clerk by resolution.
On the 31st of July, 1837, without any reason given in the record to show why, nine in stead of five trustees were elected, to wit: James C. Armstrong, John C. Caldwell, Thomas J. Hurd, Samuel H. McCrory, William Frisby, Samuel S. Veacock, Rudolphus Rouse, and Cyrus Leland. On the same day they met, and after several ballotings without coming to any choice, they adjourned to August 26th, when the strife was renewed, and resulted in the election of Dr. Rouse. What principle, political or pecuniary, was involved in this controversy is more than I can divine.
To repeat more of this town record up to the time the city charter was adopted, and the city government went into operation, I suppose would be uninteresting to the reader.
It is the height of the ambition of all northwestern villages to become cities. It is a matter of vanity with the people to have the village called a city; and every little third-rate politician looks forward with as ardent expectation to the day when he can be called an alderman, or mayor, as a male urchin does to the day when he can don a pair of pantaloons, or an older stripling when he can turn out a mustache. Hence all our villages, before there is any occasion for it, and before they are well able to bear the expense of a city organization, become incorporated as cities; and therefore, wherever we go in this region, we hear of cities.
At the time this town organization was abolished, we had a population of not more than 1600. We had but little municipal business to do, and were too poor to endure much taxation; yet this system was abolished, to give way for a more expensive one, for no other reason, that I know of, but to have our village dignified with the title of city, and ourselves (as many as could attain to that honor) to be called alderman and mayor.
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