2637 Knox Road 2300 E, La Fayette, IL 61449

The Farm

Frakers Grove Farm tells a captivating tale of pioneers and their peaceful settlement, dating back to 1828.

The farm’s history intertwines with the dedication of my parents’ family in the Galva Area and the remarkable journey of my grandfather, Edward Claude Collister, from the Isle of Man to Galva, Illinois.

Frakers Grove Farm


Frakers Grove, located in Lynn Township of Knox County, Illinois, has a rich history that revolves around its first settler, Michael Fraker. Frakers Grove is situated in the northeastern part of Knox County, characterized by its farms and the absence of a town, church, or post office within its boundaries.

In 1828, Michael Fraker and his family arrived in the area, seeking the land he had purchased in Kentucky. When they reached Section 23, they found an Indian village belonging to the Potawatomi tribe. The braves were away hunting, leaving only the elderly, women, and children behind. The Indians initially disputed Fraker’s claim, asserting that their ownership came from the Indian God and was prior to his. However, Fraker chose diplomacy over conflict. He showed kindness and understanding to the Indians, negotiating a peaceful settlement. Being a skilled blacksmith, he won their favor by offering to mend their guns. The Potawatomi tribe embraced Fraker, helping him build his cabin and leaving their wigwams and council house for him to use. They relocated to Indian Creek, seven miles east, but maintained friendly relations with Fraker’s family, returning annually during the sugar season. For four years, Fraker’s family and the Indians were their only contact with white women.

Michael Fraker was a respected member of the community and an exemplary Christian. He was a member of the Methodist Church and known for his just and kind nature. He had already buried two wives and was living with his third, having a total of twenty-four children. Fraker’s mechanical talent was demonstrated by his construction of a hand grist mill using two burr stones, which he operated with a pin set in the outer rim. The upper stone was turned manually. The local residents, especially Fraker’s daughters, were familiar with the mill and often sought his assistance for grinding their grain.

Michael Fraker passed away in 1848 at the age of approximately seventy-nine. His grave, marked by a marble stone and enclosed by a picket fence, is located in the middle of the road running south from his early home, about half a mile north of the historical marker. The inscription on his grave stone indicates that he was the first white settler in northeastern Knox County, having arrived in Illinois in 1828.

Frakers Grove and the surrounding area saw an influx of settlers in subsequent years. George Fitch, Fraker’s son-in-law, settled nearby, becoming the first schoolteacher and Justice of the Peace in the settlement. The first marriage in the area was between William Hitchcock and Julia Fraker, Michael Fraker’s daughter. Other families such as the Essex, Cress, Gibbs, and Collinson families joined the community, gradually increasing its population.

The early settlers faced numerous challenges, including the lack of infrastructure and amenities. The nearest trading points were Galva, Altona, Victoria, and LaFayette, which fulfilled the residents’ commercial needs. The absence of mills led to the establishment of primitive grinding methods, such as hand mills and corn graters. The construction of a sawmill by Mr. Leek in Centerville provided some relief for the settlers’ lumber needs. The community also lacked formal schoolhouses initially, relying on volunteer labor to build log structures that doubled as meeting places for religious gatherings.

Over time, the population of Lynn Township increased, and small communities like Victoria, Altona, Galva, and LaFayette became nearby trading points. Churches, including Methodist and Baptist congregations, were established in the area, often using schoolhouses for worship. Despite the absence of a church building within Lynn Township, the residents were known for their high moral standards and good conduct. The township remained primarily focused on agriculture, with cleared farmland.