THE CARROLL COUNTY AGRICULTURAL SOCIETY
Was organized in 1853. On the 3d day of September of that year, in pursuance of
a call signed by Manasses Neikisk, Harry Smith, David Emmert and one hundred and
twenty others, a meeting was held at the court house for the purpose of
organization. Garner Moffett was chosen chairman of the meeting, and Luther H.
Bowen and H. G. Grattan were appointed secretaries. After a general interchange
of views and opinions, Messrs. L. Tomlinson, M. Bailey, R. H. Gray. B. R.
Frohobk, John Iler, H. Smith, T. Aldrich, E. Brock and H, G. Grattan were
appointed a committee to prepare a business programme, etc. The committee
retired and, after a brief absence, returned and reported
That a society be formed in Carroll County to represent the interest of
Argiculture, Horticulture and Mechanics, and that a committee be appointed by
this meeting to prepare a constitution and by-laws, preparatory to the permanent
organization of this society, to be submitted at adjourned meeting to be held on
the second Tuesday of September, inst., and that said committee consist of the
following named persons: Garner Moffett, Benjamin R. Frohock, H. G. Grattan, R.
H. Gray, E. Brock.
After some other business of rather an unimportant character, the meeting
adjourned until the second Tuesday in September.
Tuesday, September 13, 1853, the meeting re-assembled, and was called to order
by the chairman, Garner Moffett.
The committee on constitution and by-laws submitted a constitution and by-laws,
each article of which was acted upon and adopted separately.
After the adoption of the constitution, the society proceeded to the election of
officers, with the following result:
Vice President-Henry Smith.
Treasurer-R. J. Tompkins.
Secretary-H. G. Grattan
Executive Committee-Tilson Aldrich, Ephraim Brook; Benj. G. Grattan were
selected to represent the society at the Fruit Growers' Convention, to be held
at Chicago, on the 14th, 15th, and 16th days of October, 1853
Some authorities have maintained that the buffalo never appeared east of the
Mississippi River, but recent discoveries have proved the contrary, skeletons of
this animal having been found in this section of the state.
The secretary was directed to "furnish printed copies of the constitution to be
distributed throughout the country for signatures," when it was voted to
The next meeting relating to the interests of the society, of which there is any
record, was held by the executive committee , on Monday, April 24, 1854. That
meeting adopted a resolution requiring the treasurer of the society to give
bonds in the sum of one thousand dollars; that the first annual fair be held on
the first Thursday of October, and that the Board of Supervisors of Carroll
County be petitioned for an appropriation of five hundred dollars, to be
expended in fencing and arranging the fair grounds for the use of the society.
The first bill that seems to have been presented against the society was by H. G
Grattan, the secretary, for "printing and stationery," and he was ordered to
"draw on the treasurer for the same."
The first fair commenced on the first Thursday of October, 1854, and was held on
the farm of A. Monroe Bailey, about seven miles south of Mt. Carroll, and was
rather a primitive affair. It is related of the president that he took a sow
there to be shown and put her in a pen, but that the did not know that the rules
of the society required all stock and articles intended for exhibition to be
entered upon the books of the secretary. His ignorance of the rules was not
discovered until the fair closed, when he loaded his female porker into his
wagon and hauled her home, a wiser man than when he dumped her into the pen in
The writer of this history was unable to find any record of that first fair-the
number of entries, the premium list, award of premiums, or anything of the kind,
so he in unable to present any of the particulars. Only the first report of the
treasurer has been preserved among the records, and this is presented in full:
CARROLL COUNTY AGRICULTURAL SOCIETY,
In Account with R. J. Tompkins.
Sept. 25 By amount received from members to date $104.00
Sept. 25 " " " " state " " 50.00
Sept. 29. " " " for membership " " 74.00
Sept. 29 " " " " tickets of admission to fair grounds 57 25
Sept. 29 " " " from Pierce for grocery permit 5 00
Oct. 1 " " " for membership 1 00
Oct. 29 " " of interest on money received to date 13.57
Dec. 10, 1 blank book for Grattan 50
Dec. 10, 1 qr. Paper " " 25
Dec. 16, 3 " " 75
Aug. 10, Paid Grattan bill for printing 8.80
Sept. 28, " Ed. Phillips for attending gate 1 50
Sept. 28, " Ira Bailey for watchers of tent and contents at fair 4 00
Sept. 28, " Wheeler on account of printing 30 00
Sept, 28, " Mrs. Ferrin premium on Rug 1 00 $46 50
Balance of cash in hands of treasurers $258 02
R. J. TOMKINS, Treasurer.
MT. CARROLL, Oct. 29, 1855
The second fair was held in the Fall of 1855. The ground selected was on the
hill on the east side of Dog Run, and a little west of the present residence of
Nathaniel Halderman, Esq. The records fail to show where it was held in 1856,
and the old settlers with whom the writer talked were at fault as to its
location that year, but it is probable it was held on the same ground it
occupied in 1855.
June 8, 1854, a petition was presented to the board of supervisors, asking for
help from the county in the sum of $500. The petition was not acted upon at that
time, but on motion, was laid over until the next meeting of the board, but a
close following of the record fails to reveal any further action in regard to
the petition, or at least the appropriation of the sum asked, until Tuesday, May
5, 1857, when the board of supervisors.
Resolved, That five hundred dollars ($500) be appropriated out of the County
Treasury to be expended by the Executive Committee of the Carroll County
Agricultural Society iin the purchase and fitting up of Fair Grounds to be used
at the annual exhibition of Agricultural, Horticultural and Mechanical Fairs in
said county, and that the title to said grounds shall stand in the name of the
Board of Supervisors of Carroll County and their successors in office.
Pending the consideration of this resolution, the following amendment was
Resolved, That the board accept the proposition of J. Wilson to build a court
house, jail, etc.
Upon which substitute the ayes and nays were taken, as follows:
Ayes-James Hallett, Peter Markley, N. Stephenson-3.
Nays-M. Bailey, O. S. Beardsley, James DeWolf, M. C. Taylor, E. Chamberlain, J.
R. Shelby, M. Neikerk, Albert Healy, H. L. Lowman-9.
And the substitute was lost.
On motion, the original resolution was then passed.
May 29, 1857, Joseph Warfield and wife deeded to the board of supervisors a
little over five and half acres of ground in the southwest quarter of section
twelve, town twenty-four acres of ground in the southwest quarter of section
twelve, town twenty-four, range four east, in consideration of $550. October 4,
1858, Jackson Beaver and wife also conveyed to the board one acre and sixty-one
hundredths, adjoining the Warfield tract, for $125. This increased the domain of
the society to about seven acres, which served the purposes of a fair ground for
sever years, and until the population and growth of the county had so increased
that a larger area became a necessity. April 15, 1865, the executive committee
appointed a committee of three, consisting of John Nycum, Daniel Becker and
Elijah Bailey, to ascertain whether the old fair grounds could not be sold, and
larger and more commodious grounds be purchased, the committee caused the
following entry to be spread upon the journal:
Whereas, Certain friends of agriculture and members of the executive committee
believe the prosperity of the agricultural society would be enhanced by moving
the fair about to different parts of the county; therefore,
Resolved, That propositions will be received at the next meeting of the
executive committee as to such removal, by any portions of the county interested
in having the fair held in their midst.
May 20, 1865, a meeting of the executive committee was held at Lanark, when the
committee appointed at the last previous meeting, in regard to selling the old
fair grounds and purchasing a larger area, reported that additional ground could
be purchased from Joseph Warfield to enlarge the old fair grounds; also, that
new and suitable grounds could be purchased from William T. Miller, north of the
town of Mt. Carroll, and that the old fair grounds could readily be sold at a
fair value. The report of the committee was received and the committee
A committee of Lanark citizens appeared at this meeting to ask that the fair be
removed to that place, but had no definite propositions to make in regard to the
removal. After some conversation relating thereto, they asked for further time
to canvass the matter, which was granted. A committee of five, John Kridler, M.
Z. Landon, John Keach, R. M. Cook and Elijah Bailey, was appointed to receive
such propositions as might be presented, and to report thereon at the next
meeting of the executive committee, when final action would be taken on the
The next meeting of the executive committee was held at the office of the
secretary of the society, in Mount Carroll, on June 3, 1865, when the committee
on the location of the fair grounds submitted a report, which was accepted. The
report embraced the proposition of the people of Lanark, and was substantially
The people of Lanark, on condition that the Carroll County Fair be held in the
town of Rock Creek, at or near the village of Lanark, for 1865 and 1866, will
furnish grounds, suitable fenced, and the necessary buildings, free of expense
to the society; provided that the executive committee will give the use of the
old lumber on the old fair ground (the posts and buildings excepted), and the
net proceeds of the fair for the year 1865, (Signed) M. D. Welch, Z. B. Kinkaid,
M. Z. Landon, committee; M. Z. Landon, chairman.
This proposition was amended by requiring the Lanark people to enter into a
lease of the grounds to the society for two years, when it was accepted, and the
fairs for 1865 and 1866 were held there.
January 6, 1866, a meeting of the executive committee was held to consider the
proposition of purchasing additional grounds of Mr. Warfield. The proposition
was fully discussed, and a vote finally taken upon the subject. Those voting in
favor of the purchase were, Messrs. Bailey, Beardsley, Pierce, Hathaway and
Funk. Those voting against the purchase were, Messrs. Stover, Reasoner and
Davis. The proposition was accepted, and September 17, 1866, Joseph Warfield and
wife deeded to the board thirteen and nine one-hundredths acres, adjoining the
old grounds, for the sum of $823.12, making a little over twenty acres, the
whole cost of which was $1,498.13. All of this tract was put in one enclosure in
time for the fair of 1867, since when the fairs have been regularly held
The last fair was held September 4, 5, 6 and 7, 1877. The total number of
entries were 1,554; total amount of premiums offered, $2,148; total amount of
premiums paid, $2.006.15. The number of shareholders or members is 436. The cash
value of real estate and the improvements thereon is $3,000.
FINANCIAL EXHIBIT FOR 1877
Amount in treasury last report $154 70
Amount received 1877: Fees (gate and entrance) 1,514 60
Booth rents, permits, etc 308 40
Sale membership tickets 415 00
State appropriation 100 00
Amount paid in 1877: In premiums $2,006 15
For current expenses other than premiums 665 10
Amount deficit net (including debt covered by mortgage). 168 55
$2,661 25 $2,661 25
Indebtedness secured by note and mortgage $1,485.00
Officers, elected September, 1877.-President, H. C. Blake, Mount Carroll; Vice
President, L. E. Byington, Lanark; Treasurer, O. P. Miles, Mount Carroll;
Secretary, E. T. E. Becker, Mount Carroll
A NEW COURT HOUSE.
From October, 1944, to 1853, the court house erected by Messrs. Emmert,
Halderman & Co. was sufficiently commodious to furnish accommodation to the
circuit court, the county offices, jail, etc. but population and business had
been steadily increasing, and in the last named year the people began to agitate
the building of a larger and better building-one in keeping with the importance
and wealth to which the county had attained. In September of that year, the
agitation of the subject had grown so general that, on the 13th of that month,
the board of supervisors
Ordered, That R. J. Tomkins be a committee to obtain a draft of a court house,
and ascertain the probable expense of building one.
A careful examination of the record fails to discover any report made by Mr.
Tomkins, and it is fair to presume that he never made any report, or that, if he
did, it was not a written one. The next entry in regard to the contemplated
building is found under date of November 9, 1855, when the board of supervisors
Resolved, That a good and sufficient building or buildings be constructed,
suitable for the uses and purposes of a jail and court house for the County of
Carroll, said building to cost no less than $12,000 nor more than $20,000.
The ayes and nays being called upon the above resolution, the vote stood as
Ayes-R. Wheeler, Philetus Reck, George Denny, Leonard Pratt, William Carroll, M.
W. Hollingsworth, Nathan Stevenson, W. A. Shoemaker-8.
November 30, 1855, the supervisors "resolved that M. W. Hollingsworth be
appointed to procure a draft of some competent architect for a court house and
jail, with suitable rooms for sheriff, juries, clerk, recorder, and jailor, with
specifications as to the size, material, finish and cost, and report to the next
session of the board."
Tuesday, March 11, 1856, Mr. Hollingsworth presented his report, together with a
draft and plan of a court house, which was accepted, when the board appointed M.
W. Hollingsworth, R. H. Gray and Leonard Pratt "a building committee, to
superintend the construction of said building, upon the plan and in the manner
designated; and also that the committee, or a majority of them, be authorized to
let the same to the lowest bidder therefore, and to enter into contract with any
person or persons to construct the same upon the plan aforesaid, upon such terms
as may be for the best interests of said County of Carroll, at the point
heretofore designated by said board." The board also adopted the following:
Resolved, That said committee be required to take from the contractor or
contractors of said building good and sufficient bonds to secure the completion
of the work and materials furnished in the manner and form described; also, upon
the county treasury, in favor of said contractors, in the sum of five thousand
dollars; and, upon the covering in of said building, said committee are
authorized to cause bonds, drawing ten per cent interest, to be executed,
payable in equal installments, in one, two and three years, for one half the
balance of contract price. And, upon the completion of said building, to cause
bonds for the balance remaining unpaid to be issued, at ten per cent, as a
foresaid, payable in two, three and four years from date, in equal sums.
The "draft and specifications" were drawn by Olmsted & Nicholson, architects,
Tuesday, September 9, 1856, the following resolution was presented to the board:
Resolved, That the committee for building court house, jail, etc, be, and they
are hereby instructed to let the contract for building court house, etc, in
accordance with a resolution of the board of supervisors, of March term, A. D.
To which an amendment was offered as follows, to-wit:
So far as to erect and cover in said building and finish the basement story.
And, on motion, a vote by ayes and nays was taken on said resolution as amended,
which vote resulted as follows:
Ayes-Garner Moffett, Daniel Hurley, N. Stepehenson, Peter Markley, M. W.
Nays-James Lewker, M. Neikirk, E. Chamberlain, Robt. Artt. M. C. Taylor, Asahel
The resolution did not pass. The following resolution was then presented:
Resolved, That a committee be appointed to obtain a draft and specifications for
a jail and county offices, the same to be fire-proof buildings-the offices and
jail to be separate-said committee to report at some future meeting.
The resolution was adopted, by the following vote:
Ayes-James Lewker, A. Aldrich, Robt. Artt, E. Chamberlain, M. C. Taylor, N.
Nays-Garner Moffett, M. Neikirk, M. W. Hollingsworth, D. Hurley, P. Markley
B. R. Frohock, Asahel Aldrich, and Garner Moffett were appointed as such
Friday, November 7, Leonard Pratt tendered his resignation as a member of the
building committee, which resignation was accepted.
Saturday, the 8th, the committee appointed at the September term to obtain draft
and specifications for a jail and county offices, reported that, owing to the
death of Garner Moffett (a member of the board), and other circumstances, they
were unable to attend to their duties as they would like to have done. A draft
for a jail was presented by the committee, which was examined by the board.
The same day, John Wilson, Esq., appeared before the board, and stated in
substance as follows:
"That if the county would loan its credit to the amount of $100,000 for a term
of years (perhaps ten), in consideration thereof he would build the court house
for the county according to the plan and specification now (then) belonging to
the county, then in the hands of M. W. Hollingsworth, and would secure the
county in double the amount of the bonds the county might issue against the
payment of siad bonds or any interest thereon."
Messrs. Artt Stephenson and Aldrich were appointed as a committee to consult
with Mr. Wilson with regard to the matter, "to procure from him a contract, or
form, or statement in writing, of his proposition to build the same; also, to
ascertain what kind of security the county had best receive for the fulfillment
of any contract that may be made," etc.
In the afternoon of that day the committee reported that they had met Mr.
Wilson, but that they were unable to present a contract or statement from him at
that time, but would do so in future, whereupon Daniel Hurley and D. R. Frohock
were appointed for the purpose of receiving and consulting with Mr. Wilson in
regard to entering into a contract with him to build a court house, jail and
fire-proof county offices, etc., and to report upon what terms and in what time
said Wilson would build said court house, jail and fire-proof county offices,
and how payment should be made for the building thereof; also, the nature, kind
and amount of security that would be given for the performance of said work, the
amount of bonds to be issued by the county, the rate of interest, time and
manner of payment of interest and principal.
February 20, 1857, this committee reported that they had consulted with Mr.
Wilson, and that he had no proposition to make, whereupon the committee was
Tuesday, May 5, 1857, Mr. Wilson again presented a proposition for building a
court house jail, etc., which was received. This proposition was, in substance,
as follows: That he would so far complete the jail the first year as to render
it available and secure, and also provide jailer's room-the year to commence
March 1. The second year to have the offices ready for occupancy; the third year
to so far complete the whole building that it could be occupied for offices,
jail and court purposes, and the fourth year to have the whole building entirely
completed in accordance with the plan furnished. He asked payment to be made as
1st. Five thousand dollars to be paid in hand; $5,000 to be paid March 1,
1858; $5,000 March 1, 1859; $5,000 March 1, 1860; $5,000 March 1, 1861, with ten
per cent on fifth payment twelve months; and $5,ooo payable March 1, 1862, with
ten percent interest per annum, payable annually for two years, and to enter
into bonds with sufficient security to carry out his proposition. Upon the
reading of this proposition, the following resolution was offered:
Resolved, That the board accept the proposition of J. Wilson to build court
house, jail, etc.
Upon which the ayes and nays were taken, with the following result:
Ayes-Jas. Hallett, Peter Markley, N. Stephenson-3.
Nays-M. Bailey, O. S. Beardsley, Jas. DeWolf, M. C. Taylor, E. Chamberlain, J.
R. Shelby, M. Neikirk, Albert Healy, H. L. Lowman-9.
So Mr. Wilson's proposition was rejected.
The following resolution was then offered:
Resolved, That a committee of three be appointed by the board, who shall have
power to let a contract for the building of a court house upon the public square
in the town of Mt. Carroll, in accordance with the specification and profiles of
a plan now in the hands of Mahlon Hollingsworth, provided such contract os et to
such paeties as will agree to build the same within four years.
Upon which the ayes and nays were taken:
Ayes-James Hallett, Peter Markley, O. S. Beardsley, N. Stephenson, H. F.
Nays-W. Bailey, Jas. DeWolf, M. C. Taylor, E. Chamberlain, J. R. Shelby, M.
Neikirk, Albert Healey-7.
The resolution was lost.
The board then resolved-
1. That it is necessary for the convenience and interest of Carroll County that
a jail, county offices and jury rooms could be built at the earliest practical
2. That, in the opinion of the board, the most economical plan of building the
same is to combine them with the court house.
3. That measure be now taken by the board to secure that object.
4. That a committee of three be appointed to let a contract upon the most
favorable terms, in accordance with the specification and profiles of a plan of
a court house now in the hands of Mahlon W. Hollingsworth, and that such
contract. Before it is filed and in binding, shall be submitted to the board and
supervisors at as early a day as the said committee shall think proper to call a
meeting of said board.
M. Neikirk, M. Bailey and J. P. Emmert were appointed as the committee to carry
into effect the above resolutions.
Wednesday, May 27, 1857, the board again met, when the above named committee
presented their report, setting forth that they had examined all the proposals
for the building of said court house, and presented for the consideration of the
board the proposal of Wm. T. Miller, the said proposal being, in the opinion of
the committee, the most favorable for the county, said proposal being as
I propose to build the court house in accordance with the specifications,
profiles and plans furnished by Olmsted and Nicholson, of Chicago, for
thirty-one thousand five hundred dollars, in the following payments, to-wit:
In hand, $4,500; March 1, 1858, $4,500; March 1, 1859, $4,500; March 1, 1860,
$4,500; March 1, 1861, $4,500; March 1, 1862, $4,500; March 1, 1863, $4,500;
interest at ten per cent on each payment after due, if not pain at maturity. I
propose for the above payments to put the whole building under roof, finish jail
and jailer's rooms, county offices and fire-proof vaults by March 1, A. D. 1859;
finish court room for court purposes by March 1, 1860; and complete the building
by March 1, A. D. 1861. And I propose further that, should said proposition be
accepted, I will enter into good and sufficient bonds for the fulfillment of my
part of the contract.
WM. T. MILLER.
By J. P. EMMERT.
A motion was made to accept the above proposition, upon which the yeas and nays
Ayes-M. Bailey, P. Markley, Jas. Hallett, Albert Healey, O. S. Beardsley, N.
Stephenson, H. F. Lowman-7.
Nays-E. chamberlain, M. Neikik, J. R. Shelby, Jas. DeWolf, J. M. Manning-5.
The motion prevailed, and Miller's proposition was accepted.
Tuesday, May 29, David Emmert, Abraham Beeler and Philander Syemour were
appointed a committee to enter into a contract on the part of the county with
Wm. T. Miller, in accordance with his proposition. The committee were fully
instructed, and required to take a good and sufficient bond from Mr. Miller for
a faithful performance of his undertaking, etc. Several resolutions of
instruction to the building committee were spread upon the journal, with a view
to the protection of the interests of the tax-payers of the county. The contract
was duly drawn up and signed by the contracting parties, and all the
preliminaries arranged to commence building the present very handsome,
commodious, and convenient county buildings, Mr. Miller being required to enter
into bond in the sum of $6,000, with good and sufficient security, etc.
August 3, 1857, the first instalment, as provided in Mr. Miller's
proposition, was paid to him in county orders, the numbers commencing with 1804
and ending with 1834-thirty-one in all-and representing $4,500.
September 15, 1857, the board ordered that "W. T. Miller and Jacob P. Emmert
be allowed the exclusive use and occupation of the court house square, in the
Town of Mount Carroll, during the time they are engaged in building and
finishing the court house thereon, for all purposes connected with the erection
of said court house."
June 1, A. D. 1857, a contract was entered into by and between David Emmert,
Philander Seymour and A. Beeler, building committee, on the part of Carroll
County, and State of Illinois, as party of the first part, and William T. Miller
and Jacob P. Emmert, party of the second part, etc., by which the last named
undertook the building of the court house, on the terms proposed in Miller's
proposition by Emmert, May 27. Word was at once commenced. The building of the
stone basement walls were let to Mr. James Watson, and were completed that year.
In May, 1858, James and B. H. Hallett, masons, commenced the brick walls, which
were fully completed, and the building enclosed, by the beginning of Winter. In
that Spring of 1859, Sheriff Nase was ordered by the judge of the circuit court
to occupy the jail department, but the building was not accepted by the county
until Tuesday, June 4, 1861, when the board of supervisors ordered "that the
clerks and sheriff be instructed to remove, occupying the offices in the new
The delay in occupying the new building grew out of the fact that a
controversy had grown up between the county authorities and the contractors. The
former maintained that the terms of the contract had not been filled, and that,
in many respects the plans and specifications had not been followed. The main
sources of difference arose in regard to the roof (which was claimed to be
imperfect and leaky) and the fire-proof vaults. Committees of investigation were
appointed, and suits against the contractors for damages, etc., were threatened,
but the differences between the parties in interest were finally satisfactorily
settled, without resort to the courts of law. However, the vaults were
overhauled, and remodeled, and the roof repaired. These expenses were incurred
by the county, for the reason that the building committee had accepted the
contract as completed.