History of Brooklyn, Il.
From: Encyclopedia of Illinois
and the History of Lee County
Edited by: Mr. A. C. Bardwell.
Munsell Publishing Company
Chicago 1904.


The earliest settler in Brooklyn Township was Zachariah Melugin, who came in the spring of 1834 and located on the northwest quarter of Section 4, in the grove which has since borne his name. The Chicago road ran along his south line, and here he soon built a tavern. A. V. Christiance and wife were the second to arrive at the grove, and located at the south side on the only thoroughfare, the Chicago road. This was in 1835. His log house also became an inn. Here a son, Cornelius, was born that year, being the first white child born in the township. In July, 1835, John Gilmore settled on the nortawest quarter of Section 2. His son, W. W. Gilmore, was the second white child to be born in the township, his birth being only six weeks later than that of Cornelius Christiance. W. W. Gilmore became Supervisor of the town, and was one of the building committee of the board which had charge of the erection of the present Court House. William Guthrie located near by. In 1838 Oliver P. Johnson and 'wife came. When the Black Hawk War broke out, Mr. Melugin was living in the vicinity of Springfield in this State. He enlisted at Rock Island. After the close of the war he went back to his home. In the fall of 1833 he returned to Dixon's Ferry, where he was persuaded by Father Dixon and others to establish a stage station at the grove on the mail route between Chicago and Galena via Dixon's Ferry, on which stages commenced running January 1, 1834. Being unmarried, his sister Mary joined him the next spring and made a home for him until the following October, when he was married to Mary Ross. During this summer his sister was the only white woman at the grove. She visited Mrs. Dixon, at Dixon's Ferry, that summer, and there met John K. Robinson, who was the first school teacher in Mr. Dixon's family and who became her husband. The wedding occurred at the grove September 10, 1835, and was the first to be celebrated in that locality. Mr. Robinson built his log house about half a mile from Mn Melugin's.

Two buildings contemd for the distinction of being the first school house in the township. At a very early date a log school house stood within the grounds now occupied as a cemetery at the "Berg," and was also used for church purposes until 1859, when the first meeting house was erected. There was likewise a building known as the "Red School House," standing at an early date on the northeast quarter of Section 4, near its southwest corner. Which one of these was the earlier we have been unable to determine, but it is probable that one of them dates back as early as 1837. Prior to the coming of the school house, Zachariah Melugin, the pioneer, conducted in his own log cabin the first school in the township.

The first church to be organized was the Methodist, in 1837, at the dwelling of Mr. Melugin. The first pastor was Rev. Stephen R. Beggs. The first Sunday School was started by Rev. Haney of the Methodist Church, in 1847 or '48. A. V. Christiance was the first postmaster and Charles Morgan & Son were the first merchants in the place.

Compton.- Compton Village was platted in 1873 on land of Joel Compton, from whom it received its name, the survey having been completed May 8. The building of the railroad, now the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy, that year, gave birth to the town. Located about three miles from the hamlet of Melugin Grove, most of the few buildings In the "Berg," as the latter was called, were early moved over to the railroad, as well to escape the inevitable decline of the older settlement as to participate in the prospective advantages of the new. The Methodist church, built in 1860, was one of the structures that migrated, and two hotel buildings, which took the names of the Cempton and Young's Hotel, were also in the procession.

Compton was a corn field when platted, and the first house was a store built by Joel Compton in the corn stubble. It faced the railroad and was completed in the spring of 1873. The next house to go up was a small meat market, built by M. M. Avery that same spring, and the third was Mr. Avery's residence. The place has a grain elevator, which is owned and operated by Warner & Guffin. Its banking demands are provided for by the. Farmer's & Trader's Bank, of which Charles Bradshaw is President, L. Carnahan, Vice-President, H. L. Fordham, Cashier, and A. B. Fordham, Assistant Cashier. The capital stock is $25,000 and deposits about $40,000. It has recently become a National Bank, and is about to occupy a fine new bank building. The village has two churches, the Methodist and United Brethren. It is equipped with an efficient system of waterworks, for private use as well as fire protection. Its streets are lighted by electricity, as are also many of its stores and homes!. It has a graded school embracing three grades. Compton was incorporated as a village December 6, 1875.

West Brooklyn.- This village was laid out the same year Compton was, on land belonging to O. P. Johnson, D. L. Harris and R. N. Wood. The past few years has not witnessed a rapid growth of the place. With a population now claimed to be 425, it does a business in excess of what would be expected from a town of its size. It has two grain elevators, one operated by Charles F. Guffin and the other by the Atlas Grain Company of Chicago. The latter elevator, with its contents of about 15,000 bushels of grain, was destroyed by fire February 19, 1903, and it was at once rebuilt. The village has a prosperous private bank, which was opened by the present proprietor and manager, Henry F. Gehant, June 1, 1897. Its present capital is $10,000, with a surplus of $5,000 and deposits ranging from $50,000 to $75,000. It not only serves the community in a banking cacpacity, but meets the demand in matter of insurance, conveyancing and other conveniences, such as usually attach to an institution of its kind in a small town. The village is fortunate in being so provided.

Without referring to other lines of business the bank and elevators are pointed to as an index of the business transactions and importance of the place.

Brick and tile of a superior quality have been manufactured here, for about six years, by J. M. Beale & Co., the demand largely exceeding the output

The school house was erected in 1874 at a cost of $1,200.

The first church to be erected in the place was the Methodist, about twenty four years ago.

The membership of the Catholic Church, in and around West Brooklyn, is both large and wealthy, as is evidenced by the fact that, in 1902, they erected here a splendid church edifice at a cost, including decorations and furnishings, of $18,000. It is 48x98 feet and built of brick, with a spire 125 feet high. In the last five years at least $25,000 have been paid out by this society on church, parsonage and grounds, all of which has been accomplished tinder the pastorate of the priest in charge, Rev. A. H. Leising.

The church was dedicated September 5, 1902, with imposing ceremonies, Archbishop Muldoon, of this diocese, officiating. Excursion trains brought participants from neighboring towns, and, although the day was rainy, it is estimated that 5,000 people were brought to the place in honor of the occasion.

The village was incorporated under the general law, by order of the County Court, Sew tember 24, 1894.

According to census returns the township had a population, including Compton and West Brooklyn, of 1,154 in 1890, and 1,347 in 1900. Compton had a population, in 1890, of 234 and, in 1900, of 428. West Brooklyn does not appear in the census table of 1890, but is credited with a population of 279 in 1900.

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