History of the Village of Lafayette, Stark County, Il
From: Stark County Illinois and its People
J. Knox Hill, Supervising Editor.
The Pioneer Publishing Company
Chicago 1916


Located on the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Railroad, six miles west of Toulon and near the Knox County line, is the incorporated Village of Lafayette. The original plat - blocks 1 to 10, of eight lots each - was surveyed on July 7, 1836, by George A. Charles, then county surveyor of Knox County, for William Dunbar. On the north of this part of the town is Monroe Street. From Monroe Street it extends southward to Franklin, bounded on the east by Hodgson Street and on the west by Timber. Additions have since been made until now the town embraces forty squares of eight lots each. The north and south streets are Willow, Mulberry, East Main, Hodgson, Main and Timber, the last named forming the western limits of the town. Beginning at the north, the east and west streets are Monroe, Jefferson, Lafayette, Washington, Jackson, Franklin, Madison and Adams, and there is one row of blocks south of Adams Street. The northern tier of lots in block 20 and the southern tier of block 21 were taken to form a public square, which is intersected by Jackson Street. The railroad cuts off the north side of this square and the remainder of it forms a pleasant little public park. The additions to the first plat were made by Jonathan Hodgson, Henry Dunbar and John Lundy, August 8, 1836.

One of the first houses in Lafayette was built by William Dunbar, the "Old Hatter," mentioned in a former chapter; Few lots were sold until about 1842 and 1843, when Asahel Holmes, George W. Jackson, George W. Dunbar, James J. Wilson, Joshua Woodbury, William Wheeler and a few others all bought property in the new town. Other early settlers were Peter F. Miner, Daniel J. and Theodore F. Hurd, William D. Runyan, Jehial Bouton, James B. Lewis, Gilbert Ward, Thomas N. Fitch, Walter Hock, James Dunn and James E. White, some of whom located as early as 1837. Several of these Lafayette pioneers afterward became prominent in the affairs of Stark County.

Jesse C. Ware was the first merchant and is said to have been the first man to build a house within the limits of the town. Theodore F. Hurd and Barnabas M. Jackson were other early merchants, and Ira Reed opened a shoe shop as early as 1838. Some years later a few enterprising individuals organized a stock company to build a carding mill and woolen factory, but it proved to be a financial failure.

At an election held in 1869 the vote on the question of incorporation was forty one for to thirteen against the proposition. The first board of trustees was composed of Thomas W. Ross, J. II. Nichols, Daniel J. Hurd, Dennis Lee and James Martin. The government thus established existed until September, 1872, when the vote on the question of obtaining a new charter was twenty four for to eighteen opposed. The first trustees under the new charter were M. S. Barnett, James Martin, Samuel White, B. H. Snyder, Daniel J. Hurd and Dr. J. H. Nichols. The election of clerk was declared illegal and C. P. Jackson was elected in 1874. In 1915 J. H. White was president of the village board; F. T. Gelvin, clerk; Joshua Grant, Samuel Hanks, James Norton, S. E. White, V. H. Brown and Wiley Plankel, trustees.

Some years ago the village board granted to Jesse S. Atherton a franchise to build, equip and operate an electric light plant. Mr. Atherton built the plant and conducted it for some time when he sold out to some parties in Galva, Ill., and Lafayette is now supplied with light from Galva. The streets of the village are kept well oiled, keeping down the dust; there are several blocks of good cement sidewalks; the village has a commodious public school building in which four teachers are employed during the school year. Formerly there were several churches, but they have all fallen into disuse except the Methodist Episcopal, which is now the only active denomination.

The business interests of the village include a bank, several stores handling practically all lines of goods, grain elevators, restaurants, etc., and there are two large nurseries near the town that ship fruit trees and plants. Lafayette also has a public library, the gift of Mrs. Reed, an account of which will be found in the chapter on Educational Development. The population in 1910 was 287.

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