Biography of John Edgington

The name of Edgington is a well known one throughout Rock Island County. It is the name of one of the county’s earliest pioneer families. It is also the name of one of the county’s most prosperous little villages, named in honor of one of the founders of that family, John Edgington, the subject of our sketch, a man who in his long lifetime spent in this county, lived to see it grow from a waste of prairie and wilderness into a wonderfully fertile farming community, dotted here and there with busy little villages and cities devoted to manufacture and commercial enterprise.

John Edgington was born July 4, 1809, at Steubenville, Ohio, and died in .March, 1896, at the home of his son, James Edgington, at Reynolds, in this county.

He received his education in the common schools of Steubenville, Ohio, his birthplace, and in his young manhood followed the occupation of trading and merchandising in Steubenville, Ohio. In July, 1834, he made a trip on horse-back from Steubenville to Rock Island seeking farm land, and stopping at a point in this county decided to permanently settle here. He took up a farm in what afterwards became Edgington Precinct, this being named after him. This precinct was afterwards divided into Edgington and Buffalo Prairie Townships, Mr. Edgington’s farm being located in the latter township.

On February 17, 1834, previous to settling in Rock Island County, Mr. Edgington was married to Miss Susan Crabbs, a young lady of Steubenville, and to the wilds of what was then an unsettled frontier, he brought his young wife. Nine children were born of this union, their eldest child, James, being the first white child born in Rock Island County south of Rock River. Their other children were Sarah; William, a son who died in infancy; Jane, now Mrs. Rufus Walker; Casandra, Margaret, wife of C. E. Dodge; Drusilla, wife of S. H. Parvin, and Harriet, wife of Fred Titterington. All of the children are now deceased with the exception of Mrs. Walker and Mrs. Dodge. To her children Mrs. Edgington often recounted her experiences when she came to Rock Island County a bride. For the first six months after coming here, she never saw another white woman, and she was in constant fear of the Indians who then roamed over the country. They took a great fancy to her first born son, James, the first white baby they had ever seen, and the young mother received frequent and urgent offers to trade a papoose for the white baby. This added to her fears, for she was in constant terror lest the Indians great desire to possess her offspring might lead them to make a forcible exchange at some time when her husband was absent. Mrs. Edgington died at the home of Mr. Rufus Walker, in Reynolds, in October, 1886.

But to return to our account of Mr. Edgington. He cleared and cultivated his farm in Buffalo Prairie, where he made his home until 1894, when he sold his farm and moved to Reynolds to make his home with his son, James, where, as has been stated, he lived until his death two years later. He lived the busy life of a farmer, but found time to take an interest and an active part in all that pertained to the advancement of the county. He was justice of the peace and school direct-or for more than thirty years. He served as supervisor from his township for several terms, and served as a juror at the first term of court ever held in this county. He was a hospitable and genial man, and there was always a place at his table and hearth fire for the stranger and wayfaring man of those times, who was seeking a home.

In religious faith Mr. Edgington was a Presbyterian, and he helped to build the first church of that denomination that was built below Rock River in this county. He also helped hew the logs and erect the first school house built in the lower end of the county. It was located about an eighth of a mile east of his residence. The school was supported for several years by private subscription and if there was any deficit in the amount necessary to carry on the work of education, Mr. Edgington was always prompt in making up the balance himself.

In politics Mr. Edgington was always a staunch Democrat, and with this party he was a firm adherent until the silver question became their, paramount issue. Then, not agreeing with the majority of his party upon this question, he cast his vote for William McKinley, but it cost him a hard struggle to do so:

During his lifetime he accumulated a considerable competence, and the farm that he owned became enhanced in value as the years went by until it, in itself, became worth a very considerable fortune. He was a man of great public spirit, a man beloved and esteemed by those who knew him, and his long and busy life was crowned with success.



Biographical Publishing Company. Portrait and Biographical Album of Rock Island County. Illinois; Chicago: Biographical Pub. Co.

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1 thought on “Biography of John Edgington”

  1. Edgington was not named for John but rather his older brother, Daniel, who donated land for the village. When he came to Ill seeking land he was in company of Daniel and Daniel’s father-in-law, Joseph Dunlap, my 3 great grandfather. The area was first known as the Dunlap Settlement. They set out their land, built cabins and put in a crop then Daniel and Joseph returned to Ohio for their families leaving John and Susan to oversee the land until they could return. Susan was only 17 and a new bride when they made the trip.

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