EARLY HISTORY OF IRVING
Irving actually began in the early part of the nineteenth century. After Illinois was admitted into the Union in 1818 more settlers began moving into its fertile prairies in greater numbers. The pioneers came from the Carolinas, Tennessee and Kentucky and traveled by covered wagons and on horseback.
The first pioneer to settle in this vicinity was John Lawrence Franklin in 1826. Others soon followed. John Lipe settled in the northern part of the township in 1828. James Kelly settled where the Irving Cemetery is now located, the graves are where their cabin first stood. They were the parents of ten children. Ezra Bostick, a revolutionary soldier settled nearby and the following year, he was joined by Mark and James Rutledge and Joel Knight, all from Kentucky.
During the early 1830s other settlers included Andrew King and son, John Wesley with Noah Kelly, James Madison Berry, Rev. John Grantham with a family of thirteen children, John and William Wiley, the Carrikers, Hefleys, and Bosts. In a few years, the Gregory, Neisler, Lewey, Roberts, Lyerla, Christian, Morain, McDavid, Mann, Satterlee, Hightower, and Berry Families followed.
In 1844 Jacob Bohn’s father came from North Carolina in a one horse wagon with a family of eight. Mrs. Bohn died on the way and was buried in Tennessee.
A Mr. Irving opened a little store in 1844 and was honored by having the village named for him. Another store was built in 1847 by Edwards and Petra.
In 1854, Madison Berry sold land to Mr. Higgins and Mr. Rider of Alton. They made the railroad survey and the road was 3raded, the village was platted and the town laid out. R.W.Davis and Madison Berry bought out the promoters and began at once to make improvements c Mr. Perry donated the ground for the park, to be used for recreation.
T.G. Black and W.S. Berry erected a store house on the east side of the railroad tracks facing the railroad. In fact, all the early stores on either side of the railroad were built to face the tracks. Land at that time was planted in corn and was fenced with rails, so in going to the stores, the fence had to be laid down to get there.
A brick store was built by H.J. Huestis in 1856 and W.J. McClure built the Irving Hotel. A passenger train stopped each morning while passengers and train crew were served breakfast at this hotel. At this time, W. W, Wiley was railroad agent and post master. He and Mr. Black built a large store house and in 1859 they built the first two brick buildings in the village.
In 1855 a steam flour mill was erected by Kelly and Wiley. A second mill was built by Hanners and Williams in 1868. H.M. Kelly also operated a mill which he bought and moved into the village, and Ezekiel Grantham operated a mill at one time.
In 1870 and 1871 two large elevators were built along the railroad to handle grain in bulk.
A Mr. Sanford built the first blacksmith shop and other black smiths included D.H. Luther, A.M. Edwards, J. Scherer and Mr. Bell.
Among others who contributed to the progress of the village and township were Isaac Lewey, C.B. Cromer, John McDavid, Milton Berry, Charles McKinney, Dr. R. Parkhill, John Wiley, Sam Wiley, Noah Taylor, Jacob Lewey, George File, Marvin Thumb, Marshall Winn, Henry Latham, Samuel Bartlett, James Morain and many others. The descendants of many of these earlier settlers still reside in Irving.
Before much longer, the village had a clothing store, hardware stores, millinery shops, restaurants, bank, weekly newspaper, livery stables, and harness shops.
Taken From: Irving Centennial Book - 1863-1963