Happenings in the 1800s

1829 - John Phelps passed through the Valley of the Rock River and formed a fixed determination to explore the beautiful valley.

1833 - John Phelps, original pioneer, staked a claim east of Mt. Morris. His object was to locate as near as possible on a line between Galena and Chicago, believing it would be an important point.

1834 - John Phelps returned and built a log cabin two miles east of Mt. Morris. His family arrived on May 17, 1835. The cabin was later restored by Martin Buhs.

1836 - Samuel M. Hitt and Nathaniel Swingley made several claims, including the patch of prairie on which Mt. Morris was founded. 

1837 - The first settlers arrived and settled east of Mt. Morris. They called the settlement Maryland Colony.

1838 - The first school in Mt. Morris Township, Pine Creek Grammar School, was built in the southwest corner of Mt. Morris.

1839 - Mt. Morris was first settled, and a committee from the Maryland Colony selected a site for the Rock River Seminary. The first house was built in Mt. Morris by Mr. McCoy to house the workers who would build the Seminary Building. The cornerstone for "Old Sandstone" was laid on July 4th. It was the first permanent building to be built in Mt. Morris.

1840 - The first term of the Rock River Seminary commenced.

1841 - The Village of Mt. Morris was officially laid out by the Trustees of the Rock River Seminary. The first newspaper, The Rock River Register, was established. The first general store opened.

1842 - There were 21 houses in the Village. The first printing plant was established.

1845 - The first band in Ogle County was organized.

1848 - The Village of Mt. Morris was incorporated. The first Village Board of Trustees and Clerk were elected. Eight Ordinances were passed.

1850 - Mt. Morris Township was organized.

1853 - Old Sandstone #2 was erected on the College Campus.

1856 - Abraham Lincoln, a friend of Samuel M. Hitt, spent a number of weekends at the Hitt home west of Mt. Morris when he was riding the circuit and debating great issues with Stephen A Douglas. Lincoln may have spent several nights in the home of Daniel A. Pinkny, later owned by Dr. Leo Hardt, west of Mt. Morris. Exact dates are unknown. Sixteen blocks of plank sidewalks were built.

1857 - A pound was built for $50.00 to be used for the imprisonment of hogs running loose.

1858 - Robert R. Hitt reported the Lincoln-Douglas debates. The oath of office taken by the Village Trustees was in part: “We do solemnly swear that we have not fought a duel, nor have accepted a challenge to fight a duel. So help us God.�

1868 - The large stone school house was completed. It was used until 1968. It was demolished after Rahn Elementary School opened.

 1871 - The Chicago and Iowa railroad was put through Mt. Morris.

1875 - It was discovered the 1841 survey was not recorded properly. The new survey brought out the interesting fact that the chain used for the original survey was 8/10 of a foot too long. After a new survey was recorded, a Certificate of Incorporation was issued by the Secretary of State setting the date of incorporation as June 16, 1875.

1878 - The Rock River Seminary was forced to close after 40 years. R.R. Hitt purchased the property. The first saloon opened. A license for the first pool hall was granted.

1879 - The Church of Brethren, or Dunkards, as they were commonly known, began a movement to establish an educational institution in Mt. Morris. Melcor Newcomer purchased the two east blocks of the Seminary property on which the two old buildings stood. With Newcomer, J. W. Strin and D. L. Miller each taking a third, the three men opened the school under the name Rock River Collegiate Institute on August 20th with 60 students in attendance.

1880 - A vote against saloons was taken; 174 against and 0 for.

1881 - The Rock River Seminary and Collegiate Institute closed.

1884 - A new charter for the college was obtained and the name changed to Mount Morris College. For the next 20 years the advancement of the college was steady. Men and women from nearly all parts of the Union came to develop their moral and intellectual capabilities. Mt. Morris enjoyed the distinction of being the literary center of the northwest.

1888 - Kerosene lamps for lighting the streets were purchased.

1889 - Three cisterns of 150 gallons each were built underground to store water for fighting fires. They were unearthed when excavating for Smith’s Dairy at 7 West Center St. A fire company was formed.

1893 - The Brethren Home for the Aged opened on Brayton Road, operating until 1963 when Pinecrest Manor opened. The historic first building built in Mt. Morris, Old Sandstone, was leveled to the ground to make way for a larger building. The first telephone was installed.

1894 - A petition was presented to the Village Board of Trustees requesting that the question of waterworks be submitted to the voters. A request was made to enforce the ordinance prohibiting cattle on the streets. 

1895 - The Current Events Club organized and formed the Kable Memorial Library.

 1897 - The Mt. Morris News Band was organized. It underwent many name changes until 1900 when the final and current name was changed to Mt. Morris Concert Band.

 1898 - A petition was presented to the Village Board of Trustees to erect a bandstand on the east line of the Campus opposite East Front St. Trustees voted to erect a bandstand on the corner of the college grounds opposite the hotel.
Happenings in the 1900s 

1900 - William Keedy was hired as marshal, pump man, lamp tender and street commissioner.

1901 - Electricity replaced kerosene lamps.

1904 - The first automobile appeared
in Mt. Morris.

1905 - The hitching posts on the west side of Wesley Ave. next to the Campus were removed.

1908 - Talks begun to establish a sewer system in Mt. Morris.

1909 - The first building of the Kable Printing Plant was erected.

1910 - The Village Board of Trustees was presented a petition, signed by 23 women, requesting the Village take action regarding the houses of disrepute in the town.
J.C. Herner was hired as night watchman.
The Village Board voted to pay $1.50 for a star badge.

1912 - Fire destroyed Old Sandstone. The building was rebuilt. The first motion picture was shown. The Village Board voted to pave, with concrete, Wesley Ave. from the railroad crossing to the first intersection.

1913 - A petition was presented to the Village Board to remove the stallion business at the corner of Wesley Ave. and Hitt St. The breeding of mares was prohibited within 250 feet of any private residence.

 1914 - The Village Board voted to allow F.A. Tice an extra $10.00 pay for duty during the smallpox epidemic. A committee was instructed to purchase an extension ladder to be used in case of fire.

 1915 - A petition was presented to the Village Board to use oil on the streets instead of water.

​1917 - Watt Publishing Company was established. The Mt. Morris Township Building was erected at the corner of Wesley Ave. and Center St.

1918 - A four-year high school was built. The Village Board voted to hire an expert for the purpose of keeping Northern Illinois Utility Company from raising rates. An ordinance was passed to forbid people from gathering in public places, and a curfew was imposed to prevent influenza.

1919 - Action was taken toward construction of a sewer system. The first airplane landed in a field near Mt. Morris. 

1920 - A motion was approved by the Village Board to install markers at each street intersection and furnish house numbering plans.

1922 - Radio was first heard in Mt. Morris. The Village Board approved installation of boulevard lights on Wesley Ave. from Center St. to the depot if the Women's Club would pay for 40 globes and poles.

1923 - The Board of Directors of Kable Brothers Company petitioned the Village Board to install an adequate and complete sewer system in the Village. A petition was also presented to change the name of Bangs St. to Lincoln St. as Bangs ‘is distasteful and disagreeable’. Short St. was changed to Seminary Ave. 

1926 - The Memorial Fountain at the corner of Wesley Ave. and Main St. was constructed by the American Legion in memory of World War 1 Veterans. Stones were sent from across the United States and the World to be used in the memorial.

1927 - The White Pines Forest State Park was founded south of Mt. Morris.

1930 - The northwest part of Mt. Morris was platted and developed in the 1930's. The first sound movie was shown in Mt. Morris. Kable Brothers inaugurated the first air mail service.

1931 - Flames consumed the College Gym and the Girls Dorm. Old Sandstone # 2 and College Hall were badly damaged; both were later repaired. The wastewater treatment facility was constructed. It was modified in 1961, 1964, 1968 and 1979. 

1932 - After operating for nearly 100 years, Mt. Morris College was forced to close and merge with Manchester College. The property was sold to Kable Brothers Company. The center strip containing the band shell and the gymnasium was deeded to The Village of Mt. Morris. The north side of the campus was sold to Kable News Company. The northwest corner was sold to the United States Government for a Post Office. C.B. and Q. Railroad ended service between Forreston and Mt. Morris. Kable News Company was organized.

1934 - The Village Board of Trustees accepted the Community Gymnasium from Kable Brothers.

1939 - The Village Board authorized a supervised recreation system.

1940 - Carr's addition was developed in the 1940's.

1941 - The Village finances were in deplorable condition. The Village Board voted to reduce officers from two to one, cut salary to $100.00 per month, discontinue use of police car, and pay the officer for use of his own car.

1942 - The Village Board passed an ordinance regarding blackout of lights.

1947 - Daylight Savings Time accepted; 404 Yes, 316 No.

1949 - Mt. Morris began the 4th of July celebrations.

1950 - The Village Board passed a motion to install parking meters.

1951 - Twelve Lustron homes were built in Mt. Morris.

1955 - The new High School was completed. The old High School built in 1918, with an addition in 1937, was then used as the Junior High School.

1957 - Unit School District Number 261 was formed when country and village schools consolidated. Harold Hoff was superintendent until his retirement in 1964.

1960 - The Plum Addition was platted and developed in the 1960's.

1963 - The first Mt. Morris Freedom Bell, located behind the Memorial Fountain, was dedicated by actor Ronald Reagan. On July 4th, the first national bell ringing, as promoted by Clarence "Sandy" Sandstrom, was held.

1965 - Dillehay Community Park was established.

1966 - On July 4th the large official State of Illinois Freedom Bell was dedicated. The annual July 4th Celebration was named Let Freedom Ring.

1968 - The new Rahn Elementary School on Fletcher St. was completed. It was consumed by fire in 2004, and students were transferred to the elementary building in Oregon. The school was not rebuilt. Pinecrest Manor purchased the land on Fletcher St. in 2007.

1970 - The new Village water tower was built on Center St. The old wooden tower was demolished. The original elementary school building, built in 1868, was torn down. The 1949 addition was left standing and later given to the Village when the school district consolidated with Oregon. The addition was later remodeled by the Village to be used as the Village Hall.

1971 - The Illinois State Legislature passed a resolution naming the large Mt. Morris Freedom Bell the official Freedom Bell for the State of Illinois.

1972 - The Weller Addition was officially platted.

1979 - On June 26th the Village Board passed a resolution designating the American Marigold as the official Village flower in memory of Senator Everett Dirksen.

1984 - Pinecrest Village, a senior apartment building, was constructed.

1985 - The first woman was elected to serve on the Village Board of Trustees. The Samuel M. Hitt home, west of Mt. Morris and where Abraham Lincoln had been a frequent guest, was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

1987 - The Mt. Morris Village Flag was developed. Three flag poles were placed behind the original Freedom Bell and Memorial Fountain to fly the American, State and Village Flags.

1994 - The Mt. Morris and Oregon School Districts consolidated.

1995 - The Mt. Morris Village Hall moved from the corner of McKendrie Ave. and Center St. to 105 East Lincoln St. in the 1949 addition to the former elementary school. The building and property was a gift to the Village when the Mt. Morris and Oregon school districts consolidated.
Happenings in the 2000s

2001 - The Park and Recreation Board, with the help of many community volunteers, renovated Dillehay Park.

2002 - The Mt. Morris Public Library remodeled and built an addition to the building at 101 East Front St. on property given to the Library when the Village Hall moved to Lincoln St.

​2003 - The Governors Home Town Award was presented to the Park and Recreation Board for the renovation of Dillehay Community Park. Cross Creek Subdivision was platted and construction begun.

2004 - Rahn Elementary School was consumed by flames. All staff and children escaped with no injuries. The children were transferred to the elementary school in Oregon. The Community protested to have the school rebuilt in Mt. Morris. Instead, a new edition was added to the elementary building in Oregon. Highway 64 was improved with turn lanes and a stop light at the comer of McKendrie Ave. and Hitt St.

2005 - Construction on the Kable Place Condo Development was started.

2006 - Mounder Park was developed by the Park and Recreation Board with the help of many community volunteers and donations. The Pinecrest Grove Planned Unit Development construction began.

2007 - Watt Publishing Company, after 90 years in Mt. Morris, moved their publishing business to Rockford, IL. The company had occupied Old Sandstone and other college buildings on the south side of the campus.

2008 - Watt Publishing Company donated 0.91 acres of southeast campus lawn to the Village to be used as open green space. Well #5 on Leaf River Road was completed in December. 

2010 - The Fulfillment Division of Kable News Company was moved to Palm Coast, FL, and consolidated into Palm Coast Data, dislocating approximately 500 employees. The Distribution Division remains on the Campus in Mt. Morris.

2011 - Quad Graphics (the former Kable Printing/Quebecor printing plant) closed the Mt. Morris location, dislocating 700 employees. Ground for the construction of a new sewer plant was broken in November.

2012 - A new event, Friday Night Concerts on the Village Square, started in June and consisted of performances by local bands. In December a new Dollar General Store opened on the east edge of town.
QUICK FACTS AND IMPORTANT DATES
IN THE HISTORY OF MT. MORRIS