ACKERMAN -- What does it mean?
(may have been written by Eliza Ackerman probably in the 1980s)

ACKERMAN -- What does it mean? The name Ackerman is occupational in origin. When translated from German it means, "the acre man", a tiller of the soil.

Christian Ackerman Sr. was born near Regensburg, Bavaria. Bavaria was on the border of Germany and the inhabitants were almost all German speaking people. In the early part of 1838, at the age of 24 years, he migrated to the United States. The long trip across the Atlantic was made by sailboat. After landing he started westward traveling on foot and riding wagon trains. When he reached Ohio he stopped near Hamilton and worked as a farm hand for six months to earn money to be able to continue his journey.

He left Ohio and traveled by river boat on the Ohio, the Mississippi and the Illinois rivers until he reached Spring Bay, Illinois. Here, like in Ohio, he worked as a farm hand. In 1839 he married Anna Belsley, a European girl, who came to this country in 1837 and was also working for farmers in the area.

Approximately two years after coming to Spring Bay, Christian and his wife Anna decided to move to a farm near Groveland.

After ten years of farming in the Groveland area they decided to buy and live on their own farm. They chose some land in Morton Township for their homesite which was one and one-half miles straight north of Evans Corner.

Evans Corner was named after the J. Evans family who in 1831 built a home for themselves and established a trading post. This was located where North Main Street now passes under Interstate Route 1-74. A store, post office, and library constituted the trading post. This was a good. location as it was along the trail between Tremont and Metamora. At that time Tremont was the County Seat of Tazewell County and Metamora of Woodford County. Mail was delivered once a week by horse and wagon to be picked up by area residents at the Post Office. On Sundays the Library was used for Church purposes — one week by the Methodists and the next week by the Congregationalists. It was also used for political meetings and history tells us that Abraham Lincoln made campaign speeches there. He would also travel on this trail when he held court in the Metamora Court House. In 1866 the trading post burned down from a fire of unknown origin and it was then that the Village of Morton was started. in an area approximately 3/4 mile south of Evans Corner.

When Christian Sr. and Anna first moved to Morton a temporary. shelter in the form of a two room log house was built. Water for domestic use was obtained from a cold water spring nearby. Water for livestock was from a stream that ran through the farm.

After they were pretty well settled a permanent dwelling was started. This was a brick home. Bricks were manufactured on the farm. Sloppy timber clay was put into brick moulds to dry and set and were cured by wood fires, the firewood being cut from timber on the farm. Rough lumber cut from trees in the timber was used for the framework. Finishing lumber, doors and windows were secured by hauling a cart loaded with wheat, pulled by a team’ of oxen, to Chicago. The wheat was Bold and the money received was used to purchase these items, load them into the cart, and return to Morton. It took about three weeks to make the trip.

This farm was later owned by Gottlob Aupperle who lived there until his death. He completely rebuilt the house and this brick home still stands. It is now occupied by Chris and. Esther (Aupperle) Getz.

Christian Ackerman Jr. married Mary Gerber in 1867. The Gerbers were of Swiss descent.. They moved on a farm recently bought by his father located East of Morton just beyond what is now the intersection of East Jefferson and Tennessee Avenues. The land had been drained with tile made by the Rapp Brothers who were Potters by trade in Germany and. came to America and started making pottery and drain tile in Morton. A house and barn had been built and it was this house that Christian Jr. and, his wife Mary moved into.

.To induce Rev. George Welk to come to Morton and be Minister and Elder for the people of the Apostolic Christian Faith in this area, the improved farm was sold to the Welks. In 1871 Christian Ackerman Sr. purchased a farm in Sections 15 and 16 from Nathaniel Brown. This land consisted of three tracts; one of which had been originally granted to Sally Brown in 1841, one to William Lomis in 1842, and one to Eli T. Messenger in 1841. This was done by depositing a Certificate of Register of the Land Office of Springfield with the Land Office of the United States showing that they had made full payment according to provisions of the Act of Congress of the 24th of April 1820. It was this Act that made it possible for public lands to be sold to individuals.

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Of the original land bought by the Ackermans in 1871, one hundred twelve acres was recognized as a Centennial Farm in. 1972. Nathaniel Brown who sold. the land to the Ackermans raised horses, and a barn that he built for his horses is still standing today although it has been somewhat altered. He built a house along the trail about 1/4 mile Northeast of where the trading post had burned down in 1866. It was here that Christian ~Ackerman Jr. and his wife Mary, with their infant son John C., moved after the previous farm. they had lived. on was sold to George Welk. It was here that they started farming in 1872. They had a dairy herd, and made butter and. cheese to sell. Besides farming Christian Ackerman Jr. did. custom threshing and corn shelling. Power was provided by eight horses hitched to a horse power beam connected to the machine with a tumbling rod.

 

In October 1884 as Christian Ackerman Jr. was standing on the platform of a Cider and Sorghum Mill, situated on what is now the intersection of First and. Madison Streets in Morton, he was . hit on the back of his head with a piece of steel when the steam engine furnishing power for the mill exploded. He was fatally in-jured and died three days later . Two other men were also killed due to this explosion.

Because of this fatal accident Mary (Gerber) Ackerman became a widow with six children. John C. the oldest was 15 years old. and Christian S. the youngest was 7 months old. The custom work was discontinued. The dairy herd. and equipment were sold at a public sale. With John C. . the fifteen year old. boy taking much responsibility general farming was continued.

John C. Ackerman married. Eliza Velk on January 21, 1894 and they moved into the older house. A new house had. been built 40 rods south and Mrs . Ackerman: three daughters and. young son Christian S. moved into the new house.

The exact year that John C. started farming for himself by renting the land from his mother is not known. In 1905 he purchased the Ackerman farm from her . Previously he had. purchased 40 acres from Horatio Crosby which was a triangular parcel situated directly across the road on the west side of the Ackerman farm. The extreme southern tip of this parcel was where the, Evans family had started. the trading post in 1831. John C . Ackerman was now an independent farmer living on and farming the land that he owned.

In 1911 the John C. Ackerman family decided to build a more modern house. The old house was places. on rollers and moved. to Morton on a lot in the Moschel and Ackerman Subdivision. It was sold to John Tuffentsamer. It is still owned by his daughter Florence and her husband Howard Eertmoed who are presently living in it. The location is 520 North Second Avenue at the corner of Harrison Street. The large cement block house was then built at a cost of $7000.00. The first rural electric line in Morton was built to serve this new farm house which was completely modern with electric lights, running water and hot water heat . During construction the John C. Ackermans lived in the other house on the farm with his two sisters, Anna M. and Sarah, who were the only ones remaining in that house. Some time after completion of the block home this house was also moved to town on a lot in the Moschel and Ackerman Subdivision. The present address of this is 528 N. Main Street. Anna M. (better known as Tanta) and~ Sarah lived here for the reminder of their lives and it was then sold to Carl Feller who still lives there.

In the 1920 ‘s 80 acres of land situated directly North of the

Ackerman farm were purchased from Mr. and Mrs. John Gerber. The

Gerbers had purchased the land from the heirs of Uriah Crosby who

had received title to it during the term of Martin Van Buren as

President.

John C . Ackerman was a farmer but was civic minded and interested in the growth of Morton. In 1903 he and William Moschel purchased a 40 acre tract to be subdivided, and. it was added to the Village of Norton as the Moschel and Ackerman Addition. Mr. Moschel paid for a portion of this by himself, donating it to the School District, and it was here that the first Morton High School was built. In the early 1950’s the new High School was erected on its present location on Illinois Street. The old. building was then .used as a Junior High School. Eventually it was torn down and after several additions the Morton Junior High School is still at this location on Jackson Street.

In the early 1900’. John C. Ackerman made weekly trips to Peoria with a spring wagon pulled by a team of horses . He had a regular route where he sold dairy products and produce from his farm. When the Franklin Street Bridge across the Illinois river was first built it was a toll bridge for many years. At midnight the bridge would be closed and would open again at 6:00 o ‘clock in the morning. Eventually it was made a free bridge and, he was there at 6: 00 AM waiting for it to open so he could cross and. make his deliveries . He was the first person to cross the free bridge.

The John C. Ackerman family lived and farmed here until 1928 The eight children attended Crandall School, a one room country . school that their father and. grandfather had attended. In addition the two children of George Ackerman also attended this school. Three generations served. on the school board with George Ackerman being a member when the one room country schools were closed and. were consolidated with the Morton Elementary School District. After closing the one room country schools were sold. at public auction. The Crandall School being located on the 80 acres that were purchased from the Gerber family in the 1920’s was bought by the Ackerman family. Later the building was removed and the land became a part of the farm.

In 1928 George, a son, married Corinne Knapp and. they moved

into the large cement block farm house and took over the farming operation . John C., his wife, four daughters and youngest son

moved into a new house on North Main Street in Morton. George and Corinne did the farming. When their son John C. "Jay" returned from Army Service in 1959, George and Corinne moved into a home at 216 S. Louisiana Avenue in Morton. John C. "Jay" and his wife Joann (Rhoades) Ackerman took over the farming operation and still live there and operate the farm.

In 1951 at the death of John C. Ackerman ownership of the farm was retained by his eight children. In 1959 the State of Illinois purchased a right-of-way for Interstate Route 1-74. Eighteen acres of land were taken for right of way purposes. Ground. for fill to be used in construction of the highway was also purchased, and now a spring fed. lake serves as a private recreation spot for the Ackermans. In 1978 the 80 acres purchased from John Gerber plus the 22 acre triangular portion containing the lake were sold to John C. "Jay" and Joann (Rhoades) Ackerman .