History

HISTORY OF NORWOOD ILLINOIS

A Norwood resident has researched the life of Norwood over 100 years ago.

The settlement of Limestone Township in Peoria County was not rapid. Abner Eads, Joseph Moffatt and his three sons – Alva, Aquila, and Benjamin were the first settlers in Limestone Township. Abner Eads settled first in Fort Clark (Peoria) in April, 1819. The Moffatts came to the area in June of 1822.

Farmington Road was projected in 1823.

The County of Peoria was established on March 8, 1825.

The Harker family came to the county in 1829. Daniel Harker was a boy of fifteen and still resided in Limestone Township in 1880.

In the year 1830, John Hamlin and John Sharp built the first flouring mill on the Kickapoo.

In November of 1831, Henry Jones moved with his parents, Henry and Sara, from Gallia County in Ohio to Peoria.

The next year in April of 1832, Henry Jones moved to the Rocky Spring (on Farmington Road). This area is what we now know as the entrance to Norwood. That is where Henry Jones built the first hewed-log house in Limestone Township.

About the same time as Henry Jones moved to the township, James Crow also moved here.

The area was to be called Jones Prairie for a long time, and was an hours ride by horse to Peoria.

James Heston and Joshua Aiken bought the Hamlin & Sharo Mill on the Kickapoo in 1834. Joshua Aiken came from Londonderry, New Hampshire and settled on a farm of about a thousand acres, in Horseshoe Bottom (Pottstown).

John Benson, former barrister in Thorne, Yorkshire came to this area before 1834. On December 4, 1834, he died on the threshold of his newly completed prairie home.

Henry Jones’ farm is described as “standing alone in the open prairie” but having the advantage of a few beautiful bluffs behind the house, with very good bottom land between. The fields that he worked yielded only potatoes and a little corn.

May 20, 1836 shows us what a day was like in the life of the people. After having breakfast, a chapter from the Bible is read. The boys go to the fields to work and the girls to the domestic duties. They carried water a half mile from the spring, in a ravine, to do the laundry.

Since there was no kitchen, cooking was done outside. Bread was baked in an iron pot. At Noon the meal is bacon, bread, milk and water. After the noon meal, the boys return to the fields, and the girls do their dishes and then start the mending of their brothers’ pants. The evening meal consisted of bread and tea. Then prayers were said again; everyone retired, exhausted from the work of the day.

Philander Chase arrived in 1836 and established Jubilee College (1836-1839) at Robin’s Nest (Jubilee).

On April 10, 1837, Henry Jones platted the Village of Summerville. This was located at the entrance of Norwood and east along Jones Hollow Road. The Village of Summerville had eighty-five lots. Each lot being 66′ front and 165′ deep. There were eight streets (all 66′ wide) and 7 alleys (all 16 1/2′ wide). There were 7 blocks of 10 lots each and 3 blocks with 5 lots. A post office was built in 1856.

The Jones’ Prairie Congregation was formally organized on Easter Sunday 1837 as Christ Church of Lower Kickapoo. They had been meeting in the private home of John Benson.

Sometime in the 1830’s, the Jones Burial Ground was established. This was on private property.

Henry W. Jones, Jr. married Rebecca Miller on October 30, 1842. They had 12 children.

In 1844, Henry Jones and family moved from Summerville to Kickapoo Township in the area now known as Norwood Extended.

The cornerstone of Christ Church of Lower Kickapoo was laid on May 17, 1844 by Henry Jones – a carpenter.

On June 26, 1845, Henry Jones, James Jones, and James Crow – owners and proprietors of the Village of Summerville, vacated the plots of Summerville. This area was still called Summerville until 1877.

A few of the citizens joined together in 1845 in a “log rolling bee”, which resulted in the building of their first school. This was located about 1/4 mile west of the location of the present school. There were few books (mainly the bible) and a small amount of furniture.

Bishop Philander Chase consecrated Christ Church of Lower Kickapoo on December 10, 1845. Funds for the original building included a donation from Dowager Queen Adelaide of England, mother of Queen Victoria.

Through the 1830’s and 1840’s, “Jones Spring” was used by stagecoach travelers going to and from Peoria. It was located about 150′ north off the old Farmington Road (as you turn into Norwood).

In 1850, the township organization was adopted. The township was named Limestone, because of the very large amount of that stone in the northern part of the township. In 1837, there was a limestone quarry across from the entrance to Summerville.

The first teacher on record as teaching in the log school was Robert Borland, who began in 1852, and taught for several years.

A frame school was erected a few years later when it was decided the log school no longer answered the purpose. Built on the same site, it was called Jones School and served until 1892. It wasn’t ’til 1891 that another school was built on the same site.

On June 30, 1893 this area became known as Norwood Farm.

In 1858, the younger John Benson was ordained as priest of the Episcopal Church and became the first permanent rector of Christ Church.

The Old Settler’s Association was formed in 1867. It was then that James Lee and W.J. Phelps sank the first coal shaft in the county. The first coal mining in Limestone Township was done by Mr. Warner. Nearly the entire township was under laid with coal.

Jim Jordan, “Fibber McGee” was born on a farm off Farmington Road on November 16, 1896, and attended Norwood School. The farm was located in the area of Bethel Free Methodist Church (at that time).

“Fibber McGee” and “Molly” resided at “79 Wistful Vista” on the radio from 1935-1960.

In May 1931, the people decided to update the primitive school with running water, electric lights, and inside lavatories.

On July 31, 1935, William Blender purchased Norwood Farms. Then on July 21, 1937, Norwood Park was platted.

On October 13, 1956, the Village of Norwood was incorporated and the name changed from Norwood Park to Norwood.

On December 8, 1956, the election of the first Mayor – Gildo Castellani – and the first Trustees – Loren Tomlinson, Marvin Yankee, William Points, Richard Van Pelt, Helen Peterson, and Virgil DeTrempe. Ethel Curry was elected Village Clerk.

In June 1957 ground was broken for the Norwood Youth Center. The building, located at the rear of Norwood School, was used as a gymnasium by Norwood School and various community activities. This building was located on a cement slab behind the School and completed on March 18, 1959.

The original Board of Directors of the Norwood Youth Organization formed in August 1958 with President – Jack Borland, Treasurer – H.L. Young, Secretary – Mrs. Keith Ruyle, and members – Edward Walters, Dick Van Pelt, Rev. Louis Seifert and Mrs. E>B> Monterastelli.

A referendum was passed in March 1962 to replace the school built in 1891, with a new seven-classroom building.

In 1959, the decision was made to build a church in Norwood. In the early 1960’s, the present church was designed and built by the people of Norwood. Until the new church was completed, the first service of the First Norwood Mennonite Church was held in Lester Sutter’s home on June 5, 1960 of which 49 people were in attendance.

The first service in the First Norwood Mennonite Church was held on Sunday, November 25, 1962.

Another example of the community working together was the Norwood Village Hall which was completed on May 30, 1965.

Tuesday, September 14, 1965 – 3:37pm. On this day, a tornado hit Norwood doing a lot of damage to the school and the property of the people of the Norwood area. The tornado did extensive damage in Peoria and East Peoria. Thankfully, no lifes were lost.

Classes were held in Bethel Free Methodist Church, Epworth Methodist Church and First Norwood Mennonite Church.

The school was rebuilt and the nickname changed from the Indians to the Tornadoes.

In 1973 the people saw an end to the old hills and valleys into Norwood to the beginning of the new, current entrance road.

The Norwood Festival was conceived in late March, 1982 by Tom Saupe and Paul David. With a lot of help from the Norwood people, Norwood was able to have the Festival in late August, 1982. Norwood celebrated it’s golden anniversary in 1987 with another Norwood Festival on September 11 & 12, 1987.

The 25th anniversary of the First Norwood Mennonite Church was held on June 9, 1985.

In the 1987-1988 years, Norwood School added 2 special education classes for the first time. The School serves 3 distinct geographic areas: Norwood, Lake Longbow, and Wildwood Heights.

 

A BIG THANKS GOES TO LINDA SAUPE AND THE MANY PEOPLE THAT MADE THE HISTORY OF NORWOOD A MEMORY TO THE COMMUNITY.