Although the Quad Cities region today includes a city named Milan, there was an earlier town of the same name in a different location. The first Milan was platted in 1837 into 30 blocks and adjoined the village of Hampton, which was platted a year later. This Milan included the area once known as Well’s Ferry; Block #1 was the spot where Lucius Wells built the area’s first sawmill. Milan counted among its residents Joel Thompson, one of the early settlers of Hampton, and A.W. Hayward, who was well known for his handcrafted skiffs, canoes, and bows and arrows. In 1876 Hampton incorporated and, in the process, annexed Milan.

Today’s Milan, south of Rock Island, was platted in 1843 and initially called Camden; it became known as Camden Mills in 1848 because there was already a Camden in Illinois. Apparently that name was still not good enough, so in 1870, the town became Milan, just five years after incorporating as Camden Mills.