Woodford County

El Paso

A History in Pictures

Researched, written and donated by Steve Slaughter




Forward 1850's
1860's 1870's
1880's FIRE !!!!!!

Part 1


Part 2


Part 3


Part 4


Part 5

1910's 1921-1945



The first written record of anyone crossing over the site that became EL PASO (IL) goes to the Black Hawk war veteran JOHN D. GARDINER, who later lived in El Paso and is buried in Evergreen Cemetery.

The Native Americans and bison made the overland trails, and our pioneers made other trails as they rode overland to discuss mutual problems, including that of the Indians. The POTAWATOMI were the first to move from the immediate area, leaving from Six Mile Creek near Hudson in 1831 before the Black Hawk War broke out. The DELAWARE, MIAMI, OTTAWA, POTAWATOMI, and the early PEORIA's were reasonably friendly, with the KICKAPOO usually listed as undesirables. The SACs and the FOXes were the most dreaded. In the Winter of Deep Snows (1830-31) the local Indians were of more aid than danger to the hard pressed pioneers, and they sometimes brought in food when the whites found hunting too difficult.

With 5 other families, William McCord, Sr. and his family left their Southern home in Tennessee on June 7, 1827. They traveled in tightly packed covered wagons in which the women and children rode while the men and older sons walked behind with their cattle. After a very trying journey in a lot of rain, they finally arrived in the little settlement of Twin Grove, a few miles west of Blooming Grove (now called Bloomington.) The only settlements were in the groves and the only mill was a corn cracker at Twin Grove which was operated by horse power.

In March, 1831, the McCord family moved north to the upper Panther Creek settlement in Greene Township where their cousins, the Patrick's, had located. William McCord made a claim for land, which when surveyed, was the northeast quarter of section 19 in Greene Township & filed his claim at the Danville land office.

The families who preceded the McCord's to the Greene Twp. settlement were:

THE PATRICK'S: William, Allen, Eliza, Winslow, Almira, Eli, and Mary Amanda





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Illinois Central #1


This is the Illinois Central Locomotive #1 which pulled the first scheduled train into Kappa, IL, & Panola, IL, (Woodford Co.) on May 23, 1853. El Paso did not yet exist.

What is today called the Main Line of Mid-America made its first scheduled passenger run northward, passing KAPPA at 8:00am on May 23, 1853, and PANOLA at 8:54am. The engine and cars had been previously brought south from the Illinois River on a non-scheduled run. ALLEN HART, an early Palestine Twp. settler, came into Kappa on this train, the first ever scheduled over the first 50 miles of rails of what became the vast Illinois Central Railroad System.

There was an early Rock Island Railroad connection at LaSalle with the Central, but in the construction work, rails and equipment for the latter had been shipped from far away Birmingham, England, by water and mostly paid for with Illinois Central stock. One boat loaded with precious rails was sunk off the mouth of the Mississippi River causing a delay in completing the road for the Illinois Central.

Moores' Mill on Panther Creek

Uncertain date

Pioneer Home


El Paso's First Store


Built by the Jenkins Brothers

The first freight train from Peoria arrived in early 1856 and its cargo was lumber for the Jenkins Brothers. They erected the first business in El Paso at Front & Cherry Sts. A block eastward Thomas McClellan completed his home, the first in town, followed by David Hibbs.

William M. Jenkins

William M. Jenkins (aka: Uncle Billy) was El Paso's first store keeper and First Postmaster.

William Merideth Jenkins was born in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania on March 23, 1814. He came to Illinois in 1837 and settled near Kickapoo initially. He later settled in El Paso in 1856 and built the first store building, the materials being the first bill-of-goods shipped by freight over the new Peoria & Oquawka Railroad into El Paso. Jenkins moved here in early 1857 and lived above the store. He was appointed First Postmaster on March 21, 1857, and married Mary Bainbridge in 1862. Together they had 2 children, David H. & Frederick M.

He served as Notary in 1859 and as Mayor in 1881. Except for Ludwik Baron Chlopicki's (1788-1869) restaurant, all El Paso business in 1856 was at the Jenkins Brothers store. The family later moved to San Bernardino, California in 1884 where William died.

Robert Mayne Home


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