How did Port Byron get its name?
The Port Byron area belonged to the Pottowatomis when the Syms brothers and Archie Allen settled here in 1828.
The Syms brothers, Robert and Thomas, ran a wood yard that supplied firewood to steamboats carrying lead mined at Galena, Illinois downstream to St. Louis.
Archie Allen settled an area in the north part of Port Byron named Canaan. He later became the postmaster of Canaan, carrying the mail in his hat on his weekly trip from Rock Island to Galena.
The town was platted in 1836 by Samuel Allen, Nathaniel Belcher, Moses Bailey and Dr. Patrick Gregg. Port Byron purportedly was named for the English poet Lord Byron, whom Nathaniel Belcher admired.
In its history, Port Byron boasted a variety of businesses and industries that included construction lime, barrel coopers, merchants, blacksmiths, grain and produce dealers, wagon makers and saw mills. Port Byron was widely known for its manufacture of white lime that had an exceptional whiteness. This industry took place in Port Byron for 75 years starting in the 1850's.
In the late 1800's and early 1900's, Port Byron was home to several educational institutions and newspapers. Established in 1881, the Port Byron Academy was affiliated with Port Byron's Congregational Church. In 1896, it became a college prep school for Beloit College.
From 1908 to 1925, Martin and Ben Lamb operated a ferry, the Dolphin, between Port Byron and LeClaire, Iowa. When the river was frozen during the winter months, folks in both towns used what they called "the ice bridge." Around 1910, the ferry's schedule coincided with the Davenport-Clinton Interurban (electric train) schedule. The railroad finally came to Port Byron in 1861 with the Warsaw, Rock Island & Galena Railroad and the Sterling Rock Island Railroad, and in 1866 via the Western Union Railroad. Port Byron was the terminus for both railroads. They were joined in the 1870's as the Western Union Railroad, serving North Rock Island County. It later became the Milwaukee Railroad.