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First railway post office in Whiteside

Whiteside County is rich in history. It played an instrumental part in the Indian Wars of the 1830s, was and the United States' first railway post office.

Illinois State Historical Markers:

-- Modern Woodmen building at 707 4th St., Fulton.

It was the first office of the Modern Woodmen of America, a fraternal life insurance society, after it became a corporation in when that organization first became an Illinois corporation in 1884. The house was the home of Dr. Henry M. Kennedy, head clerk of the fraternal society from 1884 to 1888. The society was founded in 1883 by Joseph C. Root of Lyons, Iowa. Between 1886 and 1897 the office occupied three other sites in Fulton before being moved to Rock Island, where it presently stands.

-- Prophetstown on Illinois 78 and 226.

It was the site of the former village of the Winnebago Indian Prophet, Wabokieshiek or White Cloud. Illinois volunteers, led by General Samuel Whiteside, for whom the county is named, destroyed the village May 10, 1832, in the first act of hostility in the Black Hawk War.

-- Illinois and Mississippi Canal in Sterling/Rock Falls.

Construction on the Hennepin Canal began in 1892 and was completed in 1907 at a cost of more than $7 million. The main canal extended 75 miles from the Illinois River near Hennepin to the Rock River, near its juncture with the Mississippi. A feeder canal from the Rock River at Rock Falls, joined the main canal 29 miles to the south, near Mineral. Utilization of the Hennepin never reached expected levels because of rapid technological advances in other modes of transportation. It was closed to all but recreational traffic in 1951.

-- Lincoln in Sterling, 607 Est. 3rd St., Sterling.

On July 18, 1856, Abraham Lincoln spent the night in this house as the guest of William Manahan. He had been invited by Robert Lange Wilson to address a John C. Freemont rally. Wilson was a member of the famous Long Nine of the Illinois Legislature during the 1830s.

-- The Market Place, 8th Avenue in River Front Park, Fulton.

Early Fulton communal activity centered around this area. A ferry powered successively by man, horse and steam, landed at its north end. Stores warehouses and saloons faced all three sides. Later, sawmills rented it to store lumber. It became a city park in 1958.

-- Thy Wondrous Story, Illinois, north side of U.S. 30, six miles east of junction with Illinois 84, near Fulton.

In 1864, the Chicago and Northwestern Railway tracks between here and Chicago, carried the first railway post office in the United States. Under the old system, mail pouches were delayed in one or more distributing post offices until agents could sort it. Assistant postmaster George B. Armstrong of Chicago, devised a way for clerks to sort and re-sack the mail as the train sped along.

-- Dement House at the Fulton Post Office.

An imposing stone hotel was built on this lot in 1855. The owner suffered financial setbacks and the hotel was sold to satisfy judgments in 1858. Over the years, the building houseed two military academies, a veteran's college, a co-educational college and a tire factory.

-- Fulton's First Home at 16th Street and 8th Avenue, Fulton.

John Baker, Fulton's first settler, arrived in 1835 and built a three-room log cabin and outbuildings. He lived in harmony with the Indians and kept a hostelry. Later, Fulton's first doctors, Daniel and Lucinda Reed, made the cabin their home and practiced medicine and entertained travelers.

-- By Todd Welvaert (February 2, 1998)

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