The History of Princeville


William Chase Stevens
Founder of Princeville

The area of Princeville was home to the Illinois people until the late 1600s - early 1700s when they were pushed west by the Sauk, Fox, Kickapoo, and Potawatomiafter a murder of the Ottawa Chief Pontiac sparked a war between these people. It was probably the Potawatomi or the Kickapoo that Daniel Prince first encountered when he came here from Indiana in 1821. Said to be the first European to live among the native Americans in the area later known as Prince’s Grove, he appears to have been accepted as a friend as well. The Native Americans saved his life after a deadly rattlesnake bite and he was able to remain in the area, unmolested throughout the Black Hawk War, when the other European Americans took refuge in the Fort at Peoria.

Daniel Prince was a conservationist. He plowed furrows and burned the grass early in the season to prevent massive prairie fires from endangering the stands of trees where he built his home on the high prairie a few miles West of the Illinois River. On June 22, 1837, William C. Stevens, Benjamin Clark and Jesse M. McCuthen acknowledged Daniel Prince's contribution to the settlement of the area and filed a plat of the original town of Princeville. Two years later, Mr. Prince left for Missouri telling friends things were just too crowded for his taste. As late as 1841, the town had only nine families.

Founders Clark and McCutchen were land speculators while Stevens lived in nearby Rosefield Township. Before the railroad was built, Princeville was one of the stopping places on the stage coach route running from Peoria and Chillicothe through Southampton to Princeville and on to the west and northwest. The stage, which carried mail as well as passengers, first came just once a week...then twice and later three times a week. It stopped at the Bliss-Millen Hotel.

Princeville was incorporated on March 24, 1874. Trains began visiting the village during the next decade as the line connecting Peoria and Rock Island was completed.