The History of McLean County, Illinois

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Allin Township was formerly called Mosquito Grove. It lies on the western side of McLean County, and is the second township from the south side of the county. It includes a full Congressional town, and no more. It is designated Town 23 north, Range 1 west of the Third Principal Meridian. It is bounded on three sides by other townships of the county, viz., on the north by Danvers, on the east by Dale and on the south by Mount Hope; Tazewell County lies on the west. The Third Principal Meridian forms the eastern boundary, being the line which separates it from Dale Township.

Early Settlements[edit]

John Henline, was there in late 1828. He came with his wife, Mary Darnell, and brother, William. John was born November 7, 1786. The building of thecabin and work chopping the timber was difficult. John Henline sustained a broken leg the first day. Two years after first arriving to McLean county, Mr. and Mrs. John Henline returned to kentucky to purchase farm equipment. Mrs. Henline dug up a number of apple sprouts and transplanted then in Illinois. The new settlers in the area eventually built a fort on John Henines land just north of the site of the present day Evergreen church. When ever the alarm was given, the settlers would gather in the stockade from all over the settlement. The alarm came from a large cannon named "Old Yauger." The family built a mill on Henline creek. People within 50 miles of the settlement brought their grain. The children of Mr. and Mrs John Henline were as follows: China, George, John, Jackson, Martin, David, and William. The first log cabin in Brooks' Grove, was put up by Miles Brooks. He moved into it on the 14th day of March, 1830. He was a native of Virginia, but, early, moved to Kentucky. From Kentucky, he came to Indiana, and from there to Illinois, in 1829. He first stopped at Cleary's Grove, in Menard County. When he settled at the grove which has ever since borne his name, he found very few people in that part of McLean County. There was a cluster of families north, at Stout's Grove, and others northeast, at Twin and Dry Groves, but his neighbors were not inconveniently near nor extremely numerous. Miles Brooks opened up a farm there, and continued to reside at the grove. His son, Presley T. Brooks, still owns the farm, and has resided upon it until recently. He has been a noted man in the township from its earliest history. His children reside in the township, two sons doing business at Stanford. Mr. Brooks married a Larison. The Larisons are well known in the early history of McLean County.

The first settlement made at Brown's Grove, was by William Brown. He was from Tennessee. He came to the grove at an early date-some say, about the time that Ephraim Stout came to Stout's Grove, in Danvers Township. If this be true, he was the first inhabitant of what is now Allin Township. William Brown did not remain at the grove which bears his name, but sold out and moved to Mackinaw Creek, where he lived until his death. He had several children, who lived in Allin with their father. They all went with him to the Mackinaw, up above Lexington, where some of them still remain. A son-in-law of Mr. Brown, by the name of Poor, is particularly remembered. He, too, followed the sire ti other parts. There were a number of the Stouts, who moved to Brown's Grove at an early date. They were some of the same company that first inhabited Danvers Township. These were given to hunting and sporting. They spent most of their time in that way. They did very little at farming, and when the country began to fill up with .he tides of emigration from Eastern States, they found a more congenial element in other lands.

Robert Means came early to this same grove. He afterward died of the bilious fever. Mr. Warlow says that he had a young brother, twelve years old, who died about the same time, of the same disease. When a person now has simply bilious fever, he is not considered dangerously ill. But then it was otherwise. He thinks that the doctors killed them. Bleeding was the process for all diseases. The doctors came out from Bloomington and found their patients suffering from an extremely high fever. They then performed the bleeding operation. When the patient's blood was nearly all gone, the fever would abate. When the physician again made his appearance, if the patient was a little better, he would bleed him again. It is true that some survived the treatment; but others died, when, it is thought, the better knowledge of to-day would have relieved the suffering and preserved the life.

Benjamin Harlow entered land on the north side of Brown's Grove in the fall of 1836. Here he built a cabin and reared his family. The Warlows were from -New York. They moved to Ohio, and then to Illinois. They spent the first two years at Dry Grove. Richard A. Warlow still resides near the site of the old log cabin, first built on the north of the grove. He is the oldest inhabitant of this part of the township. He has been a prominent person in the history of the township, having held about all the offices within the gift of the people.

The settlement at Brooks' Grove grew slowly, the Brooks family being the only settlers of note for some time.

Mosquito Grove was settled by the Reddens. This grove, as remarked previously, was a small patch of woods on the branch of Sugar Creek that flows through Stout's Grove. The grove is in the prairie, some miles from any other timber. It, very ,naturally, was selected by a number of brigands and desperadoes as the seat of their depredations. As early as 1836, these men began to collect at Mosquito Grove. They were led by Grant Reddon, who was assisted by his two sons, Jack and Harrison. Although these men were not quite as notorious as the terrible Benders, of Cherry Vale, Kan., whose notorious infamy aroused the whole State, yet their deeds were carried on much after the same fashion. The grove became the rendezvous for thieves. counterfeiters and criminals generally. This gang infested the grove for nearly ten years, and yet the people were aware of the den's location all the time. They were afraid of the Reddons, who were known to be desperate characters. Jack Reddon is said to have assisted in the murder of Col. Davenport, at Rock Island. Crimes of various kinds were committed, horses were stolen, and even murder was supposed to have been perpetrated. A peddler, who came from Peoria, was traced as far as Mosquito Grove, but was never heard of afterward. The Reddons were seen with clothes that the peddler was known to have ; so that the evidence of abduction seemed almost conclusive. The brother of the peddler traced the matter so far, but none of the murderers were ever brought to trial. At last, the situation became desperate. The people began to realize that it was a great detriment to the country, as well as a dangerous thing to permit in their midst. An armed band was formed, and the Reddons compelled to leave the country. This put an end to their work in this country. Where they started again in their nefarious business is not known ; but it seems unfortunate that the leaders were not brought to trial. But, perhaps, the evidence was not sufficient to convict, although suspicion amounted to a conviction and almost to a certainty.


The first school in the township was taught on the north side of Brown's Grove, at the residence of one Mr. Stout. This man had gone up into the northern part of the State. About Elgin, somewhere, he married, and his wife proved to be an Eastern lady, with more education than the average pioneer woman. Accordingly, when she cause to Brown's Grove, it was thought best that she utilize her superabundance of knowledge, and teach school. She taught in her own house. Later, a schoolhouse was built, and the youth taught in the usual way. Mr. Warlow remarks the difference between then and now. Then, three months were all that the year afforded. Now, eight and nine months are the number usually taught. Then, private houses and log cabins were the seats of learning. Now, neat frame schoolhouses appear for the accommodation of all. The people seem to take pride in their schools, and keep them up to the times.

At present, the status of the schools is indicated by the following : Number of children under twenty-one years, 621 ; number of children between six and twenty-one, "4; number of scholars enrolled, 287 ; number of schoolhouses, 7 ; amount paid teachers, $3,225; total expenditures, $4,142.16; estimated value of school property $6,000 ; highest wages paid per month, $60.


The Commissioners who first laid off the county into townships for political purposes, reported Town 23 north, Range 1 west as constituting such a division, and named it Mosquito Grove Township. The name was afterward changed to Allin, in honor of Mr. Allin, whose efforts in behalf of Bloomington are very well known to all the early inhabitants.

The first election held, April 6, 1858, for the election of township officers, resulted as follows : Presley T. Brooks, Supervisor ; John M. Jones, Town Clerk ; Green B. Larison, Assessor ; John Armstrong, Collector ; John WV. Godfrey, Overseer of the Poor ; Thomas Veal, Leonard McReynolds, Jarvis Mack, Commissioners of Highways ; Richard A. Warlow, John Cavett, Justices of the Peace; Henry M. Kerbaugh, Katie E. Cooper, Constables.

This list, besides introducing many new names, takes us back to the early settlement of the township. It includes at least two of the oldest settlers now in it-Presley T. Brooks and Richard A. Warlow.

The late election, for 1879-S0, resulted in the choice of the following township officers : John L. Kaufman, Supervisor ; Abel Brooks, Town Clerk ; Leonard McReynolds, Peter D. Springer, Justices of the Peace ; Awes Harrison, John Armstrong, Andrew Springer, Road Commissioners; Sigh Hennershotz, Constable; Scott Wier, Assessor; Michael Garst, Collector.

Political And War Record[edit]

Unlike the greater portion of McLean County, Allin is Democratic. In all State and national questions, it turns out strongly for the old party which it has honored with its suffrage for so many years. In township elections, the dominant party is generally remembered, although the returns do not always show strict party tendencies.

Further than a general scare, we hear of no harm from the Indian war of 1832. If there were persons who enlisted in the companies sent out from this county, we were not fortunate enough to learn their names. They rest in their unknown graves, with hone to cherish their deeds of valor.

Allen Palmer and Joseph Bozarth were in the Mexican war. These were all, we suppose, that were among the few whom the Government accepted to fight its battles ; for it will be remembered that of the 8,370 men who offered themselves from the State of Illinois, only 3,720 could be accepted.

During the war of the rebellion, Allin furnished its share of men for the defense of the Union. We learned the names of the following who gave their lives to the cause : Austin Bond died from the effects of the measles ; James Gourley, John Brooks and Josiah Bozarth died while in the United States service ; William Ryan volunteered and was captured and paroled, when he returned home. Afterward he went again as a teamster, and was kicked to death by a rebellious mule. If any fell in battle we know them not. To meet an enemy on the field of battle, and there to be shot down like a beast, is hard, regardless of all the glory that is attached to heroic deeds; but to languish on beds of disease, in foreign lands, and there to sicken and die, where no sympathetic hand of mother or sister or brother or wife can press the aching brow, is far worse.

Railroad And Highways[edit]

Before the building of the Jacksonville Division of the Chicago, Alton & St. Louis Railroad, the farmers in the west and south part of the township had to haul their produce long distances to market. Accordingly, when a proposition was made to secure the railroad through the township by taking $25,000 worth of stock, the scheme was strongly supported. The men of the eastern side were not so anxious to take a $25,000 debt, but their interests were not so vitally affected. On election day, the bonds were carried through triumphantly. The township is still owing about half of the amount, but it got the railroad, and the farmers are benefited materially thereby. The road was built in 1867. The first trains began running the same fall.

The public highways of Allin comprise several good roads. The section lines extending east and west are nearly all laid out roads. The only exceptions to this are found in the southwest corner and the east side. The north and south section lines are not generally authorized highways, though several of them are. As is generally the case, the groves are bordered by roads which pay no attention to section lines. Brook's Grove is thus completely surrounded. There is also another road which reminds us of early settlements in the eastern side. It extends north and south through the sections, not even following the half-section line. There are a number of wooden bridges across the streams, but we found none composed of iron. The roads are generally drained or thrown up. This is rendered quite necessary by the lay of the country in many portions. But, notwithstanding a few natural difficulties, the highways are in as good condition as they are generally found throughout the county.

Religious Intelligence[edit]

We have no records of early religious gatherings. As Mr. Hill, of Twin Grove, would put it, " Of course, we have a few funerals," but we find no church in the township at present whose history dates back to the first settlement of the township. Those of the early inhabitants who had any religious preferences seem to have united with churches in other localities. There were plenty of organizations in the various groves, and it was customary to travel what now seem enormous distances in order to reach a place of worship.

The only church in the township, outside of the village of Stanford, is the edifice erected by the Cumberland Presbyterians in 1863. It is a fine country church, standing a short distance northeast of the village of Stanford. It is in the open prairie, but has company in the tall, white tombstones that stand so lonely and still in the graveyard adjoining. The building is 40x60 feet, and cost about $4,000. The members of this society belonged to the church organized at Stout's Grove, before the organization here. The Rev. J. A. Chase began preaching in the schoolhouse, which stood one-half mile north of the site of the present church. Here a considerable interest was awakened in the cause, and a number of additions made to the society. As a result, the members of this denomination, living in convenient distances, met and formed a society, and built a church immediately. John Armstrong, Thomas Neal, Kane Cooper and others were prominent men in the organization of the society and the building of the church. J. A. Chase continued his efforts until two years ago. After him, came J. G. White, of Jacksonville, Ill. He is the present Pastor. The society has been a pretty strong one, there having been over five hundred members since the first organization. The present number of communicants is something over two hundred. The church may be considered a child of the Stout's Grove Society, though the offspring is of more lusty growth than the parent.


What is now Anchor, Town 24. Range 6 east of the Third Principal Meridian, is the easternmost of the middle tier of townships of McLean County, being bounded on the east by Ford County, and is just about midway between Indian Grove on the north and Cheney's Grove on the south, Burr Oak Grove on the east and Old Town Timber on the west. During most of its history it has been a part of Cropsey and, of course, its history is much blended with that. The reader is referred, therefore, to Cropsey for many things which the writer does not deem best to repeat here.

Churches and Schools[edit]

Anchor is reasonably well supplied with churches, and the people seem to be interested in spiritual matters.

" Prairie Chapel" (M. E.), a neat and plain structure, standing near the iron bridge is 30x40, and was built in 1874, at a cost of $1,300. Preaching had been held in the schoolhouse for some years quite regularly, when it was thought best to build the chapel. Messrs. O. D. Butler, Alex. Shannon, J. C. Swatsley, Z. C. Worley and H. A. Thompson were selected to look after the work. It belongs to Fairbury Circuit, and the pulpit has been supplied by Revs. D. R. Dietch, Mr. Bealer and James Sanders. who now officiates. Preaching service is held each alternate Sabbath, and a Sabbath school is maintained.

Bethel M. E. Church was built on Section 32, in 1876. Mr. George R. Buck, a resident of the town, organized a "class " in 1873, at the Sherwood schoolhouse. After the organization of the Church, Rev. Josiah Kern preached two years. Then followed Rev. William Wiley, under whom the church was built. D. B. Spencer, Abraham Crotinger and G. R. Buck were the leading spirits in the building of this neat edifice. It is 32x46, and cost $1,600. Rev. Mr. Souders and Rev. Mr. Flowers have since officiated. This Church belongs to Union Circuit. .

George R. Buck was instrumental in starting a Sabbath school, in 1868, in the Jones' schoolhouse, on Section 21. In 1869, it became a Union Sabbath school, and was so continued until the building of the Bethel Church, when it was transferred to that building and became by general consent a Methodist school ; that is, is carried on under the officers of that Church. During its existence, Messrs. King, Spray, Parr and Moots have in turn acted as Superintendents, and since it has become attached to the Methodist Church, Messrs Grapes and J. M. Green have superintended.

In the winter of 1874-75, Rev. P. W. Bishop, whose recent insanity has been a source of deep regret to the large circle of friends which he has in McLean County, organized a Cumberland Presbyterian Church at the Rockford schoolhouse. Messrs. Pierce, Craig and McReynolds were elected Elders, and fifteen members were received. Mr. Bishop continued to preach for the little society for some time. They have no house of worship.

Rev. Mr. Field, of the " United Brethren," then a circuit preacher, now Presiding Elder, organized a class in 1869, and held regular meetings in the Rockford schoolhouse, Following him were Rev. B. F. Rhinheart, Rev. Joel Corley and Rev. F. R. Mitchell. As a matter of convenience, service was then transferred to the Fairview schoolhouse. Revs. Mr. Denton, Levick, Gilbert and Faulk have officiated. A portion of the time it belonged to Saybrook Circuit, and a portion of the time to Arrowsmith Circuit. They now contemplate building a church upon the Updike land.

The Christians have no church in Anchor, but have one just across the line in Martin, which is convenient to them. Dr. A. W. Green, of Potosi, preaches once a mouth in the Methodist Church near the iron bridge.

The doctrines of the " Perfectionists " or the " Holiness " doctrine, as popularly called, seems to be quite commonly held by members of the churches in this and surrounding towns. In some instances the avowal of this belief has been the cause of unfriendly feeling, in consequence of a lack of sympathy with the doctrine on the part of some of the members.

Many churches do not always indicate increase of religious life, but a lack lack of churches generally shows a lack of religious interest. However it may be, the people here seem, with great unanimity, alive to religious and spiritual matters. There are nine school districts in Anchor, and it has the largest township school fund of any in the county-$14,375. The school section was sold in 1869, for $22 per acre, giving a handsome sum, which seems to have been well cared for. The successive School Treasurers have been, W. H. Anderson, A. S. Dart, C. M. Grapes and J. R. Worley.

Early Settlers[edit]

The oldest resident now living in town is John Sharpless. He came from Indiana with a family consisting of wife and five children, and worked a farm two years at Indian Grove. He made an arrangement, as he supposed, to work a piece for Capt. Johnson, at the Mackinaw timber, for the year 1863; but a misunderstanding occurred, and he left. It was late for renting, and the only chance be could get was a half-section of the Stackpole land on Section 18, and, very much against his will, he was obliged to take a prairie farm. He liked it so much better than he expected, that he lives near the same place, on Section 29, now. There was a farm lying near by that had been cropped in 1861, but had lain idle in 1862. The proprietor offered to take one-fifth grain rent for it, but he could not find any one to take. Sharpless gave the usual rent, one-third. There were plenty of deer and wolves at this time, but he did not give much attention to them. He found his time fully occupied on the farm.

After working the land two years, he bought of Jones, where he lives. Sharpless was and is an ardent believer in the Democratic party, and tells how he felt when he attended the first election in this town and put in his day for the good of the cause ; but it proved an up-hill business; for when the votes were all in and duly counted out, there were three Democratic votes to thirty Republicans. He has lived in the town to see it go the other way, however, and feels better. Dr. Sabin, the same year, or the one following, purchased the portion of the Stackpole property upon which the dwelling house stood, and has continued to live there until the present year. He has practiced his profession over this part of the country, and is greatly respected by his neighbors around him.

A. R. Jones, familiarly known as Abe Jones all over the county, commenced here his great farming and cattle-feeding enterprise in 1865.

The demands of the great army of the Union, together with a lively inflation of the currency, had for two years before made cattle-feeding the great rage in McLean County, and almost every farmer in the county had got rich by it. Jones had made some money and wanted to make more; lie bought some 3,000 acres of land, comprising Section 27, three-quarters of Section 28, five-eighths of Section 29, 520 acres in Section 24, half of Section 15, half of Section 10, one-quarter of Section 14, one-quarter of Section 34 and eighty acres in Section 26 ; a considerable portion of this was the Stackpole land.

Jones lived on Section 27, and there erected a steam-mill to grind feed for his cattle, and built two large barns 28x225 feet each, two stories high, sufficient to stall 300 cattle; these lie kept filled with cattle as long as lie could afford it on a constantly declining market. He sold his mill to John Shorthase, who removed it to Danvers. His barns were cut up into sections and sold off. He at one time sold all his land to persons at a contract to pay twenty-five bushels of corn per acre for ten years. The parties failed to fulfill, and he had to cancel the contracts. He afterward moved to Towanda, and died in 1878. His great farming operations did not entirely use him up financially, but must have crippled him considerably.

A. S. Dart came here the same year and built a house on Section 29. John Ingrain came here from Canada and bought forty acres from Jones in 1566, and Nathaniel Brinley bought the west half of Section 29, and built on it in 1867.

During these two years, the township pretty nearly all settled up. Henry Gilstrap came from White Oak Grove and settled on Section 6 : he afterward moved to Kansas. Moses H. Knight, a preacher of the Christian Church, also settled on Section 6, where he afterward died, much respected by all who knew him. R. H. Arnold, from White Oak Grove, and W. H. Anderson and F. M., his brother, came from Martin township and settled on the same section. D. B. Stewart; of Chicago, purchased Section 5, upon which is situated " Cunningham's Bunch," the only natural grove in the township, and an adjoining section in Cropsey. He is largely engaged in the hay trade, running a press and shipping his hay to all parts of the country. "Side-Hill Dick," a colored man, famous in this region as the only man in existence who is taller on one side than the other, is in Mr. Stewart's employ. Mr. Stewart once sent a lot of hay to Providence. R. I., for which he failed to get any return. He thinks trusting Providence may have been a good thing at one time in the history of the country, but thinks times have changed-in Providence.

J. T. Tanner came here in 1869, and has a fine farm in Section 8. He is the present Supervisor and has been a Justice of the Peace. He is an intelligent man. Can show as good a farm as one need see. J. C. Swatsley, for many years Town Clerk, came here from Metamora, Woodford County, where he bad long been engaged in school teaching, and took up a farm in Section 11. He is a man of superior education. and his record as Clerk shows a careful man, so rarely found in the township offices, which often show a great lack of skill and care. He has an excellent farm.

Maj. J. B. T. Mann, an officer in the Mexican war, commenced to plant a nursery here on Section 4, in company with his brother W. 11. Mann, Esq., of Gilman. The hedge-plant business was a large one for a few years, and for a time the raising and selling of nursery stock was a good business.

J. B. Pierce came from Danvers to Section 28, about 1868, where he still resides. He is a man of large intelligence, and has taken a lively interest in the religious and educational affairs of his town.

John N. King commenced a farm in Section 22, about the same time. He is, as his place shows, one of the best farmers in the town. His buildings are neat and nicely painted, and his farm looks tidy and neat. The same year, John 1'. Worley .settle d on Section 14, where lie still resides.

At the first town meeting held in Cropsey Township, this town was divided on the half section running through Sections 4, !), etc., for some reason which does not now appear very plain, and on this line is the principal bridge over the Mackinaw, an iron one built by the county in 1570, the two post offices in the town, and the principal road of travel from Potosi on the north, to Saybrook on the south. There are five other bridges over this stream, and their early history is that of all bridges on Western prairie streams-having the habit of frequently going off when most wanted. Latterly, the citizens have learned by experience to build them more permanently. There is no store in town, Saybrook being the principal trading point, although those living in the northern part find Potosi a convenient point. No township debt oppresses the taxpayers of Anchor, although the record is evidence that it is not their felt that they have not now heavy railroad taxes to pay. They repeatedly voted to donate the Decatur & State Line Railroad all they asked, to build a road through the town, but the possibilities of that railroad were burned up in the Chicago fire. The citizens living in the northern portion of the town arc now, under the lead of Mr. Stewart, pushing forward the enterprise known as the Clinton, Bloomington & -Northeastern Railroad, with an anticipated station on Section 5.

Corn is the principal crop, and probably will remain so. The farmers feed their crop liberally to hogs ; a few feed cattle. A great deal of corn is drawn to Saybrook, which is the market for this town. A few have been raising flax, with good yield, and an occasional crop of wheat is raised. Oats are generally considered a good crop.

Until 1877, this town and Cropsey were together in political organization. A little unfriendliness had grown up ; there did not seem to be any convenient common center for holding town meetings, and a little strife was known to exist between the north and south ends on town affairs. In 1576, a petition was presented to the Board of Supervisors, signed by many of the principal citizens, asking to have the town divided. The Board granted the petition, and at the suggestion of George R. Back, who was then Supervisor, the new town was named Anchor. What small debts there were, were equitably divided, and the township " property," consisting of a record-book and Clerk's desk, were parted between them, Cropsey taking the desk and Anchor the book. Since the setting-off of Anchor, the following township officers have been elected : Supervisors, G. It. Buck and J. T. Tanner ; Clerk, J. C. Swatsley ; Assessors, S. P. Howell, J. C. Swatsley; Collector, A. Claypool; Justices, J. T. Tanner, C. M. Grapes ; Commissioners of Highways, A. Crotinger, H. A. Thompson. The town has usually been Republican. .

No citizen of Cropsey or Anchor has ever been elevated to political or judicial office of the county or State. While this is not strange, and by the citizens themselves not regretted, as they have not been "seeking office," and, with all the reforms which have been instituted, the time has not come yet when the office seeks the man in all cases, still it is a little singular that two of the local clergy who resided here, moved into adjoining counties to be soon sent to the Legislature. Mr. Andrew Jackson Cropsey moved to Livingston County, and was in 1862, elected to the Legislature, and Rev. J. I. Robinson, who, in 1869, moved to Ford County, was, in 1874, elected to that body by the Republicans of Ford and Livingston counties.

There are two post offices in Anchor, established about two years ago. Both are served twice a week by the mail carrier's line running through from Fairbury to Saybrook. Garda Post Office, which received its name from the famous Italian lake, is at the house of C. W. Kingsley on Section 9, near the iron bridge, and Dart Post Office, at the house of Samuel Cary, on Section 33.

The farms show generally good management, clean culture and thrift. There are many which are worthy of special notice.

C. W. Kingsley has 180 acres in Section 9. When he came onto it, in 1868, it was raw prairie, and he has made it one of the finest in the town. He has good buildings, neat and tastefully arranged grounds, good hedges, a nice orchard and good stock.

A. Crotinger, on Section 32, has 240 acres under good cultivation, with nice buildings and comfortable surroundings.

I. N. King has a beautiful place of 160 acres, in Section 22; everything looks neat and pleasant.

Thomas Hargett, Samuel Carey and David Warren have each a quarter section, on Section 33, with large houses and good grounds.

James Parr has 240 acres in Section 35, which is a good farm, and with a fine house. It would seem that the farmers of Anchor have little to wish to make them contented and happy.

Organization of Township[edit]

Until 1877, this town and Cropsey were together in political organization. A little unfriendliness had grown up ; there did not seem to be any convenient common center for holding town meetings, and a little strife was known to exist between the north and south ends on town affairs. In 1576, a petition was presented to the Board of Supervisors, signed by many of the principal citizens, asking to have the town divided. The Board granted the petition, and at the suggestion of George R. Back, who was then Supervisor, the new town was named Anchor. What small debts there were, were equitably divided, and the township " property," consisting of a record-book and Clerk's desk, were parted between them, Cropsey taking the desk and Anchor the book. Since the setting-off of Anchor, the following township officers have been elected : Supervisors, G. It. Buck and J. T. Tanner ; Clerk, J. C. Swatsley ; Assessors, S. P. Howell, J. C. Swatsley; Collector, A. Claypool; Justices, J. T. Tanner, C. M. Grapes ; Commissioners of Highways, A. Crotinger, H. A. Thompson. The town has usually been Republican. .

No citizen of Cropsey or Anchor has ever been elevated to political or judicial office of the county or State. While this is not strange, and by the citizens themselves not regretted, as they have not been "seeking office," and, with all the reforms which have been instituted, the time has not come yet when the office seeks the man in all cases, still it is a little singular that two of the local clergy who resided here, moved into adjoining counties to be soon sent to the Legislature. Mr. A. J. Cropsey moved to Livingston County, and was in 1862, elected to the Legislature, and Rev. J. I. Robinson, who, in 1869, moved to Ford County, was, in 1874, elected to that body by the Republicans of Ford and Livingston counties.

There are two post offices in Anchor, established about two years ago. Both are served twice a week by the mail carrier's line running through from Fairbury to Saybrook. Garda Post Office, which received its name from the famous Italian lake, is at the house of C. W. Kingsley on Section 9, near the iron bridge, and Dart Post Office, at the house of Samuel Cary, on Section 33.


Arrowsmith Township was named by the Supervisors after Ezekiel Arrowsmith, who was the first Supervisor and one of the early settlers. It contains thirty-six sections, being a full Congressional township, and is known of record as Town 23 north, Range 5 east of the Third Principal Meridian. It is almost entirely prairie, having originally about one square mile of timber in Sections 31 and 32, where the eastern extremity of Old Town Timber lies along the line of Arrowsmith and West, giving to each a little patch of woodland, which was so highly prized by those who first commenced settlement here. There was in addition a small bunch on Section 24, " Smith's Grove." which hardly grew to the importance of being called timber-land.

Arrowsmith Village[edit]

Arrowsmith was surveyed and platted in 1871. Railroad communication was opened in 1872. The land upon which it was laid out belonged to Mr. Young, Jones Fry, James Crosson and 31. Ulmer- ten acres each. The men were required, or permitted, as it were, to convey to the certain persons who had the care of the railroad officials, land enough upon which to start the young town fur 817 per acre, in order to get the station located in the center of township where it naturally belonged.

S. E. Cline put in the first pair of scales here, late in I871, before trains were running on the railroad, so that he enjoys the reputation of being the father of the town. Cline and James R. Larimer at once commenced buying and cribbing g corn. In the spring of 1872, the switch was put in and depot erected. John A. Larimer and Mr. Jones put up the first store north of the railroad and east of Main street. Garrett V. Wall moved in the small house nest north of the drug store adjoining his present residence. W. H. Thompson moved his store in from " Cross Roads " in the beginning of 1873, and continued to sell goods; indeed, before this time, he had quite a reputation for selling. The post office had been previously moved. During 1872, Mr. S. E. Cline built the residence now occupied by him, and Mr. Wall put up the one now used by him as a residence-both of these were on Young's quarter of the town. Mr. R. S. Krum, brother and representative of J. R. Krum, grain-dealer of Bloomington, put up, in the southwest quarter of town, the first residence that was built here, and about the same time put up the small grain office which now stands in the rear of his present store. He has been continuously in the grain trade to the present time, and proposes to stay. No man has done more for the interest of the young village.

In 1873, A. B. Ives and Walter Vanscoyoc built the present large steam cievator, 40x50, which was occupied by Cline & Larimer. It has been in use ever since, and is now in charge of Mr. Ives' son. Seth Mills moved his dwelling house and blacksmith shop the same year, in from the "Cross Roads." He still occupies them, and has built. since, a new shop; and Mr. J. A. Larimer built a residence on Main street south of the railroad. W. H. Thompson built a dwelling on Main street north of the railroad, and Walter Vanscoyoc, who now lives at Saybrook, built one which he occupied for some years. Mr. O. G. Atherton, same year (1873) built the store he now occupies, and put in a stock of drugs; books, etc. He has since enlarged the building to accommodate his family residence, and continues to occupy the building yet. Cline A Larimer put up the building now occupied by Cline as a store, and put in a full line of general merchandise for a country store. Mr. Larimer, in the spring of 1875; withdrew from the partnership, and entered into a partnership with Robinson, which continued until 1879.

In 1872, Levi Heller put up a wagon-shop, which he used for a year, and then sold and built another. In 1873, Edward Wright built and occupied the "granger" store on the corner north of the railroad, with a full line of goods, and, after a year, sold to A. H. Webber, who still continues in trade there. Mr. T. W. Maurice, Jr., built the saddler's shop, and built a dwelling which he still occupies. August Mantle built a dwelling, and in company with Peter Hileman, who built the store used by them, went into the hardware trade. Isaac W. Wheeler built the nice hotel in 1874, and soon •died. Mrs. Westover now owns it and keeps hotel. She is now the oldest resident of the township. A. T. Ives has occupied the elevator since 1874. The following is the business directory of Arrowsmith in the spring of 1879: General merchandise. S. E. Cline, J. A. Larimer; A. H. Webber; groceries and provisions. R. S. Krum : drugs, etc., W. H. Thompson, 0. G. Atherton ; hardware, tin, etc., August Mantle; harness. T. W. Maurice, Jr.; restaurant, Milton Sharpless ; blacksmiths, Seth Mills, John Mills; wagon-maker, Mr. Blake; grain, Sherman Westover, I. R Krum, John Deutsch, J. R. Cundiff, J. R. Larimer; elevator; A. T. Ives; carpenters, Nathan Hawk, William McDaniel, A. Lake; millinery, etc., Mrs. McDaniel, Mrs. Jones; hotel; Mrs. Westover ; physicians, 0. P. Paulding, M. D. Hull; Postmaster, J. A. Larimer; station agent, R. L. Thomas.

The trade of Arrowsmith has been of a more permanent character and more generally prosperous than most of the new railroad towns. Nearly all those who commenced trade here have continued and are prosperous. Only one general assignment, for the benefit of creditors, has been made in the seven years of business. Trade is drawn from ten miles away, on the Mackinaw; and as a grain-shipping point, no station on the line of this railroad has done more one year with another. Only two years in its history has it been exceeded by any.

During the grain year just closing, the trade has not been quite as much as an average. There has been an average of about. 800 car-loads, of 375 bushels each, making, in the aggregate per year, 300,000 bushels, 90 per centum of which is usually corn. Dealers here, as at other points on this road, find themselves compelled to sell on the track, as the system of special contracts, given to large dealers, renders it impossible for them to ship for their own account. Much of the corn goes to Cleveland: but the difference between the rate o£ freight which dealers here would have to pay, and what those parties which buy of them here have to pay, would amount to 8 cents, which would "cut off the profits."

The village is neatly built, the houses being of a neat, substantial and inexpensive character; but are, in comfort and taste, better than are usually found in new railroad villages. A. H. Webber has, perhaps, the neatest one-one which was built by Mr. Hileman-now deceased. Esquire Thompson and Mr. Cundiff have each very pleasant homes.

Early Settlers[edit]

So far as the facts in regard to the earliest settlement in this township are at hand. it seems that the sons of Jonathan Cheney were the first to take up claims and live in what is now Arrowsmith. The land around the head of the timber was attractive on account of its grass. All around the old Indian fort, the blue-grass had come in after the prairie-grass had been killed out. The first year of Jonathan Cheney's residence in the county, he had driven his cattle here for late pasturage. Undoubtedly attracted by this fine pasturage, his sons, when they began to look out homes for themselves, looked this way, for, in 1533, two or three of them had taken claims in this township. Thomas lived for a while in Section 31, where he had a little patch of about ten acres fenced in. He did not remain on it long, however, as a few years after be sold it to Daniel Hall, and joined his brother Owen, in Padua, in building a mill. He afterward went to California. Cassel Bank,. father of Marks Banks, of Padua, rented this land one year.

David Hall came here about 1837, and settled on this land in Section 31. Here h e and his sons, Pryor and Daniel, built their cabins, and remained here until the old gentleman died. Pryor removed to California, and Daniel, Jr., died here, his children living around here. Their sister married Mr. Maurice. William Cheney took up the land in Section 30 about the same time, and, in 1835, Abijah Westover came from New York and bought Cheney's claim, and, in 1839, married a daughter of Aaron Hildreth. About 1850, he went to California, and thence to Australia and returned, and finally settled down in Johnson County, Mo. His wife still remains here, and keeps the hotel at Arrowsmith, and is now the oldest resident of this township, having come here with her father in 1836. Her daughter married Mr. Cundiff, and lives on the Mackinaw, and her son Sherman is engaged in the grain and lumber trade at Arrowsmith.

Aaron Hildreth came here from Lewis County, N. Y., in 1836, and settled in Section 31. He had three sons and two daughters; one daughter married Abijah Westover, as stated above, the other married Hillery Ball, of Cheney's Grove; both are still living. The sons went West, and Charles married Miss Owens, and remained on the homestead for many years, a prosperous and successful farmer. When he died, he had 600 acres of land. Aaron Hildreth died here in 1851, and his wife in 1849. A. C. Jones came here from Ohio, in 1839, and settled on the line between this town and Padua. For some years his residence was across the line on Section 25 of the latter; afterward he lived on this side of the township line. His daughter married Mr. Cline, who was the first one to engage in business at the station here, after the railroad was built, and still continues a prosperous merchant. Mr. Jones had five sons, who are all dead; two of whom died in the service of their country. He now lives in the village, a hale and hearty old man, enjoying the advantages of a frugal life commenced in the privations which are consequent on settlement in a new country. He has seen the wide prairie of Arrowsmith changed into productive farms. Samuel Arrowsmith, the father of the present race of that goodly name, came to this county with his three sons, Ezekiel, John and Henry, and made his home a little west of the present town. Ezekiel came here onto the farm he now resides on, in 1842, in Section 30. He has 2311 acres of land. He was the first Supervisor of the town, and is esteemed one of her best citizens. His house was early the place of religious meetings in this part of the township, and his early interest in the prosperity of religion has not been chilled by the increase of his worldly interests. All these were in the southwestern corner of the town, that being the first inhabited in consequence of the nearness of the woodland. St. Clairville was the voting precinct, and these worthies, that is, the masculine and mature portion of them, had to go there to develop the highest prerogative o£ the backwoodsman, to vote for "Tippecanoe," or little" Van Van Van." No one of them in this " neck of the woods " ever got a chance to vote for Jackson.

The handiest mill to the settlement was that built by Thomas and Owen Cheney. Others before them had put up mills, and used the common prairie boulders, yclept nigger-heads." The Cheneys were progressive men, and would have nothing but the very best buhr stones. So they sent a team to St. Louis to bring them in. Chicago could not furnish any such material in those days.

Mr. John B. Thompson, after his marriage in 1541, made his home with his father-inlaw, and, some years after, his aged father gave up his home on the Mackinaw and came here, and spent his last days with hint. Mr. Thompson commenced selling goods at the place which was known as " Nasby's Cross Roads" about 1860, and for a time did a large business there, selling $ 20,000 worth per year. He also kept the Lenox Post Office, which had been kept by private families about there for thirty years. When Arrowsmith village was begun, lie moved his store and post-office here in 1873. Abram Stansbery was the old mail-carrier, who long supplied the Lenox office and carried the mail from Bloomington on horseback to Cheney's Grove and thence on to Danville.

One of the Indian burying grounds of the Old Town was in Arrowsmith, and Mr. Thompson tells how, for a long time, people used to dig up the Indian remains to get the silver trinkets that were buried with them, such desecration being continued as long as there were any trinkets to be found. No law was supposed to exist against this resurrection, as under the old-time notion, this was the "white man's country." About this time, the settlement at Cheney's Grove on the east began to swell over the township line. In 1838, William Arbogast commenced a farm on Section 13, where he lived until his death. Of his children, one, J. L. Arbogast, remains on the homestead which his father made into a farm, the rest having found homes in Kansas.

Jacob Smith, who has for more than thirty years been recognized as a prominent man here, having several times been elected Supervisor and frequently to other important township offices, came into this township to live in 1844, and took up the land in Section 24, south from and opposite the Arbogast place, where he now lives. He had wandered around a good deal. He came to the Mackinaw Timber in 1833, with his mother; went back the next year to Indiana. The next year, returned, and, a year after, made his home at Cheney's Grove, where, for years, he worked the land of the patroon until he saved enough to enter a little land of his own, when he came to his present farm. He has been fortunate. rather it should be said. careful, in his matters; though not as greatly prospered in his family as many of those hardy old pioneers who can point to a dozen or more children and three or four score of grandchildren. Of his seven children, three only survive.

Garrett V. Wall came here from Vermilion County in the winter of 1845, and took land in Sections 19 and 20, in the west part of the township. He married here and lived there thirteen years, when he sold out and went to Kansas. He returned and has since lived at the village, carrying on his trade. He is a Mason. a man of large information and good abilities.

Elias Owens, from Ohio, in 1848, bought a house of Thomas Martin near Le Roy, and moved it to a farm east of Hildreth's, and Thomas Fry and Gabriel Stein came into Section 19 in 1850. Owens is dead. Fry went to Old Town, and Stein to Missouri. By this time, 1851, the passage of the bill to build the Illinois Central Railroad through Bloomington, closed to market all land lying between the west line of this township and Bloomington, and, of course, every one who wanted to buy land near the latter, then a growing young town, rushed into the towns of Range 5 in a hurry. The entire town soon filled up. Its history from that time (except what refers to the village) is a continued story of prosperity. The hills and the valleys send forth the story of plenty, and the barns and houses show that the men of Arrowsmith have made good use of the natural resources of this goodly land. There are many excellent farms, a short notice of a few only can find room here.

John Marsh came here with little but energy and good judgment, about 1850. He owns 700 acres of land near the head of the Sangamon, with good out-buildings and one of the best houses in town. He keeps about five hundred sheep and trades largely in cattle, feeds a few, and raises grain. The farm is well watered and neatly and successfully managed.

S. T. Bane, joining him on the west, also along the river, running up to the township line, has about six hundred acres with good buildings. He feeds cattle, and is a good farmer, having as good a farm as one need wish for. He has been there about twenty years.

John Slingoff has half a section in Section 34. He is a grain farmer, and with several children whose help he uses, manages to work his broad acres well, and produces some few thousands of bushels each year to sell.

A. C. Hazele, on Section 34, has a good grain farm, fair buildings and good surroundings. He is a good farmer and good manager.

T. W. Maurice, on Section 21, has 240 acres. A nice grain farm with good barn and comfortable house. He is a good farmer, thrifty, intelligent and successful.

David Hileman has 260 acres in Section 22 and adjoining it. Has lived on the land from its first cultivation; is a clean, neat farmer; has good buildings, hedges, etc. He is a public-spirited man and good citizen.

Philip Hileman, on Section 20, has a fine grain farm of 280 acres, with fine house and good crops, almost universally.

Anderson Young lives in the village; his farm is just northeast of his residence. One-fourth of the village was laid out on his quarter-section. Good building and a good farmer. He has a very fine tract of land.

I.C., A. S. and T. P. Bane have 580 acres in Sections 3 and 10, fine rolling land, well improved and well cultivated. They are enterprising, thriving, industrious young men. They have been in the habit of working and trading together, but the former, now married, concluded to be satisfied with his more recent partnership, as it promises to be a success. They have dealt largely in cattle.

Sabina Sackett has a fine farm in and adjoining Section 17. He is a first-rate farmer, has a nice house and says he is bound "to have one of them 'ere thing " called a barn, and is putting up one of the best in town. He has fed cattle some, but does not make it the chief business.

Ezekiel Arrowsmith has 200 acres where he has so long resided, and is considered one of the best farmers.

M. Pemberton, in Section 27, has a large farm-grain and stock; is also engaged in buying and shipping.

James R. Cundiff has 136 acres in Section 27, with good building. He has five acres of black-walnut grove now growing. They stand about one rod apart. He considers them the best timber to raise on the prairie, especially on dry land, for the reasons they grow quick, nothing will kill them out, timber very valuable, and the nuts when people become accustomed to them-will find good market. Mr. C. is a good deal more than three-quarters right.

The Phillips Family

1860 United States Federal Census

Name: Silas Phillips Age in 1860: 20 Birth Year: abt 1840 Birthplace: Illinois Home in 1860: Funks Grove, McLean, Illinois Gender: Male Post Office: McLean Value of real estate: View image Household Members: Name Age Mason Paker 36 Elanor Paker 34 Silas Paker 10 St Clair Paker 6 Thomas Paker 4 Mary Paker 2 Sarah Paker 6.12 Silas Phillips 20

1880 United States Federal Census

Name: Silas Phillips Home in 1880: Johnson, Polk, Missouri Age: 40 Estimated birth year: abt 1840 Birthplace: Illinois Relation to head-of-household: Self (Head) Spouse's name: Rebecca Father's birthplace: Maryland Mother's birthplace: Ohio Neighbors: View others on page Occupation: Wagon Maker Marital Status: Married Race: White Gender: Male Cannot read/write:


Deaf and dumb:

Otherwise disabled:

Idiotic or insane: View image Household Members: Name Age Silas Phillips 40 Rebecca Phillips 34 George E. Phillips 15 Hattie B. Phillips 12 Charlie Phillips 10 Ida M. Phillips 8 Frank Phillips 5 Minnie Phillips 3

1880 United States Federal Census

Name: Frank Phillips Home in 1880: Johnson, Polk, Missouri Age: 5 Estimated birth year: abt 1875 Birthplace: Missouri Relation to head-of-household: Son Father's name: Silas Father's birthplace: Illinois Mother's name: Rebecca Mother's birthplace: Michigan Neighbors: View others on page Marital Status: Single Race: White Gender: Male Cannot read/write:


Deaf and dumb:

Otherwise disabled:

Idiotic or insane: View image Household Members: Name Age Silas Phillips 40 Rebecca Phillips 34 George E. Phillips 15 Hattie B. Phillips 12 Charlie Phillips 10 Ida M. Phillips 8 Frank Phillips 5 Minnie Phillips 3

1910 United States Federal Census

Name: Frank E Phillips Age in 1910: 35 Estimated birth year: abt 1875 Birthplace: Missouri Relation to Head of House: Head Father's Birth Place: Illinois Mother's Birth Place: Michigan Spouse's name: Alice M Home in 1910: Kansas Ward 3, Wyandotte, Kansas Marital Status: Married Race: White Gender: Male Neighbors: View others on page Household Members: Name Age Frank E Phillips 35 Alice M Phillips 32 Earl Phillips 10 Rell Phillips 8

1930 United States Federal Census

Name: Frank E Phillips Home in 1930: Tulsa, Tulsa, Oklahoma Age: 55 Estimated birth year: abt 1875 Birthplace: Missouri Relation to Head of House: Head Spouse's name: Alice M Race: White Occupation:


Military Service:

Rent/home value:

Age at first marriage:

Parents' birthplace: View image Neighbors: View others on page Household Members: Name Age Frank E Phillips 55 Alice M Phillips 51 Ray P Phillips 28

Township Officers[edit]

The following gentlemen have been elected Justices of the Peace: Walter Vanscoyoc, D. G. Tear, W. H. Thompson, Jeremiah Reed, J. R. Lewis, A. G. Barnes, J. M. Thompson, James Crosson. And the following Commissioners of Highways; Isaac Cornell, Jacob Smith, R. Porter, O. H. P. Vanscoyoc, Thomas Fry, Henry Hickman, John Marsh, James Cundiff, John Coss, H. R. Rayburn, R. C. Watson, J. M. Green, John Deutsch, W. C. Jones, J. R. Lewis, William Spencer.

At a special town meeting, June 3, 1867, held, according to notice, to vote for or against subscribing $ 25,000 to the capital stock of the La Fayette, Bloomington & Western Railroad. The vote resulted; For such subscription, 76; against such subscription, 12. At a special town meeting, February 19. 1868. to vote for or against $5,000 additional subscription to the capital stock, the vote resulted; 41 for to 3 against such additional subscription. Ten-per-cent bonds, running ten years were issued for this $25,000, and they are now just about due.

An election was held August 17, 1869, to vote on the question of giving $15,000 to the Decatur & State R. R., which resulted 23 for to 85 against such aid. The bonds that were issued in aid of the L., B. & M. R. R. were issued before the road was built. The terms upon which they were voted, included a stipulation that the road should establish a depot in the town. It was agreed that there was no authority to issue until such depot was established, and that hence the issuing was illegal. It was believed that the three years' interests that was paid before such depot was established could be recovered. A suit was the result, which, after costing the township a few hundred dollars in the way of expenses, lawyers' fees and fee-bills, was discontinued, the Court holding in a similar case that bonds were good.


Belleflower is the extreme southeastern township of the county, and was one of the latest to come into general settlement. It is like the others in the southern tier, six miles by eight, being described Town 22, Range 6 east, and the northern twelve sections of Town 21, Range 6 cast of Third Principal Meridian.

Belleflower Township[edit]

Belleflower is the extreme southeastern township of the county, and was one of the latest to come into general settlement. It is like the others in the southern tier, six miles by eight, being described Town 22, Range 6 east, and the northern twelve sections of Town 21, Range 6 cast of Third Principal Meridian. In topographical appearance, it is gently undulating, the highest ridge of land being that which forms the "divide" between the Sangamon and Salt Creek, running through from north to south about two miles east of the western boundary line of the town. Salt Creek runs along near the western boundary from Sections 18 to 31, when it crosses into West. The Sangamon River barely touches the northeastern corner, and makes off toward the east, thence southwest again. The land from northeast corner to southeast corner is pretty level. There is very little wet land in Belleflower; nearly all is capable of cultivation, and all of good drainage. In the northern portion of the township, the land is diversified by numerous round hillocks, which give an interesting appearance to the surface. It was originally entirely destitute of timber, except one poor lone tree which stood on Section 19, near the ford of Salt Creek, and for years seemed to stand as sentinel to that important crossing. Several non-residents got hold of considerable of the land, but most of it has now been brought into cultivation.

The Springfield Division of the Illinois Central Railroad runs directly through Town 22, Range 6, touching at the northeast corner of Section 1, running thence almost a due southwest course, hardly bending, and leaving the township a little south of the corner

of Section 31. The Chicago & Paducah Railroad runs across the southeastern corner of the township, and the Havanna, Rantoul & Eastern Narrow Guage runs very nearly east and west across it.

Considerable drainage has been done by open ditches, and tile draining is now being practiced. J. W. Snyder is making tile in the southeastern part of the town, and the township owns one of the Pontiac Graders, which stands out night and day, like the Lone Tree, as a kind of sentinel or watch dog. It has done pretty good service for the town, however.

The town was named by Jesse Richards, the first Justice of the Peace. It was first called Prairie, but Esquire Richards had a great admiration for the Belleflower apple, and proposed the name, which was readily accepted.

All the earlier settlements were made along the northern tier of sections, and along the County Road, so called. This road, for reasons that do not seem to be fully understood by the present generation, was run on the half-section line half a mile west of the section line, which is in the middle of the townships, entirely across the county, except that it makes a set-off at Rankin's Grove, in the northern part of Cheney's Grove Township, and has on it the post office at Potosi, the two post offices, Garda and Dart, in Anchor, the iron bridge over the Mackinaw in that township, Saybrook, and Belleflower station in this town. The first schoolhouse was built in 1857, and the first school was taught by Miss Green. There are now ten districts and eleven schoolhouses in the town, the Belleflower District having two schoolhouses, which are both occupied in the fall and winter terms, the schools being consolidated during the summer term.

Belleflower Village[edit]

When the Gilman, Clinton & Springfield Railroad was built, in 1871, the township of Belleflower voted $30,000 in twenty-year ten per cent bonds, and the road established the station of Belleflower near the center of the township, where the railroad crosses the county road which runs through the county on the half section-line before spoken of, on Section 21, forty miles from Gilman, and seventy-one from Springfield. George N. Black bought the south 100 acres of the southeast quarter of that section, and laid out forty acres in blocks and lots, and the remainder into out-lots of from one to five acres each. He then transferred it to the Railroad Company, and title comes from the Trustees of that corporation. When the road was mortgaged, this (and other) town plats do not seem to have been mortgaged, for, in the transfer to the Illinois Central, the town was not included, and title still comes from the said Trustees.

R. E. Moreland was the first to engage in any business here. He commenced to buy grain in August, 1871, and has continued to this day. A. & A. J. Henry, of Chicago, commenced the winter following. That fall, John Nichols began the grocery trade, and put up the first dwelling-house. He also kept a boarding-house near where the post office is, and A. Libairn commenced the trade in general merchandise. which he still continues. In the spring of 1872, T. B. Groves, from Logan County, built and occupied a hardware store, which has since been continually occupied by him in his large hardware and implement trade.

J. W. Eyestone built a grocery store and occupied it awhile, and sold it to R. Rome, who still continues in the same line of trade. Then E. L. Rush built the building near the post office for a drug store, which he stocked and continued to run for two years. Hiram Rush built a store next to Rome's, and ran it for a year, and then went to Kansas.

Soon after these, G. W. Stokes built and occupied a drug store. He afterward added groceries to his stock, and has since carried on a very successful trade, with full stock of goods in these lines.

About the same time, the building now used by the post office, was built and occupied by the Cline Brothers, dealers in groceries, fur a time. The first Postmaster was A. H. Marquis, then J. W. Eyestone; E. L. Rush and L. B. Grant followed.

The present business men are: Dry goods, A. Libairn; groceries and provisions, R. Rome; groceries and drugs, G. W. Stokes; hardware and implements, T. B. Groves; grain. R. E. Moreland, H. F. Plummer, J. H. Pumpelly, the latter also dealing in lumber, lime, etc.; wagon-maker, E. H. Fuller; blacksmiths, A. C. Brandon, George H. Mittan; boarding, W. T. Ward. The population is about two hundred and fifty.

Belleflower has always done a large grain trade, averaging 350,000 bushels one year with another. The grain from this station has usually been shipped East to Providence and Boston, especially the oats; but now, dealers find it to their interest to sell on track. A large amount of it has been sold to the Halliday Brothers, who have shipped to Cairo or to Chicago. Osman Station, on Section 1 (21-6), is on the Chicago & Paducah Railroad, which runs across the southeastern part of the township. It was laid out and named by Moses Osman, long an officer of that road, and one of its builders. Mr. Sherrard is engaged in the grain trade, and Mr. Dillon is selling goods there.

The Havana, Rantoul & Eastern Narrow Guage Railroad, built in 1578, runs from west to east, angling across three sections of the west half, and on the half section line of the remaining 'three sections. leaving the town line at the center of Section 36. Lorette is the name of a station recently established on that road, east of its crossing of the Illinois Central. Business has not begun to tower up at Lorette yet. but the narrow-gaugers propose to buy some corn there in the future.

Early Settlers[edit]

The M. E. Church, a fine structure, 36x50, with belfry, was built in 1873. under the pastorate of Rev. Job Ingram. The Church numbers about one hundred and fifty members.

R. E. Moreland came here to live on Section 6 in 1858. At that time, there were only about a dozen voters in the township, and most of them are now gone. He commenced farming in Section 6, but, some years after, located on Section 9, where he now resides. He has a farm of 160 acres, with comfortable buildings. He commenced to buy grain at Belleflower Station as soon as it was established, and has continued in the same business ever since.'

At that time, Jesse Richards had a farm. Thomas Green, just deceased, had eighty acres on Section 9. He was a worthy old man, but for some time had been in declining health. His son Thaddeus, who lived near him, was then here.

T. O. Bailey had a farm on Section 6. He was a brother of Washington Bailey, of Downs, and remained here only two or three years.

Moses T. Hall was on Section 5. He was one of the first elected Justices of the Peace. He is now gone.

William Riley came from Ohio to Section 21, in 1855. The only neighbors lie bad in that part of the town were rattlesnakes, who made themselves so familiar on closer acquaintance, that Mr. Riley, who had never seen the like of that in the old country, got fairly disgusted with their frequent visits into his castle, traded off his farm, and left.

George Wheeler was also away out by himself alone for several years, on Section 23, but did not let the snakes or the shakes drive him from his legal rights. He remained there until his death, in 1877.

Daniel Abel was among the first. He settled on a farm in Section 8, and still lives there.

George Youle purchased the R. J. Cheney farm about 1869. He has 1,000 acres in Sections 3, 4, 9 and 10, which are given to raising, grazing and feeding of stock. He buys and ships. He generally has a herd of about three hundred horned cattle, and stall-feeds about one hundred and thirty in a winter. He is a man of large business capacity, and a good manager. His farm is probably one of the best in the township, being diversified and well adapted to every line of husbandry carried on in these parts.

W. A. Latham came here from Ohio about 1866, and has a large farm near the center of the town. He is engaged largely in keeping sheep and bees. He is a practical and enterprising man, and has an excellent farm. Gov. John McNulta has a good section of land in the northern part of the town. ship, which is mostly in pasture.

No resident of the township has more largely filled the requirements which are due from the citizen to his day and generation than Robert E. Guthrie, who now, though still by no means beyond his usefulness, cultivates his quiet farm on Sections 10 and 11. Though not strictly belonging to the history of Belleflower, a short and imperfect sketch of his life and labors must find place here, as a tribute to the pioneer, the faithful son, the Christian preacher, the father, and the citizen, and not more a tribute to a well-spent life, than an example to those who shall read these pages.

Mr. Guthrie came to McLean County with his father in 1826, to move Mrs. Cox to Blooming Grove, whose husband had died after purchasing the Dawson claim, being then seven years old. His father was so straitened in circumstances, that during nearly all his boyhood, he required his work on the farms that he severally worked in different parts of the county. He received only about ten months school in his life - in the schoolhouse-though his life has been largely devoted to study, and he is a man of large information.

He worked for and with his father at the north side of Funk's Grove, where the C. & A. R. R. enters it, then at the Henry Moots' place, one mile west of Towanda, then to the Benjamin Ogden place, afterward near Bloomington, where he opened a farm for James Allin, near the present engine house, between Maine and Mason streets, which they farmed for two years, after which, with his father, he engaged in the carpenter and mason trades in Bloomington.

At the age of twenty-two, lie believed he should give his life to the preaching of the Gospel. And those who talk nowadays about taking up the Cross, and leaving everything for the service of God, might possibly change their notions in regard to the sacrifices they make, by comparison with the early itinerants. His duties were such that no man, raised under the system of the present day, could stand it. Going from house to house, and from timber point to timber point, preaching daily and nightly, through storm and darkness, through rain and snow, with no time to study except when on horseback, supported by the strong love for souls, by a constant intercourse with God through prayer and meditation, with so little worldly support that, at the end of six years, he was actually obliged to discontinue preaching and go to work on a farm to raise money to pay his debts, resuming service again as soon as he could see his way out. At the beginning, his "salary " was about $SO. Beecher has been severely criticised for saying that a laboring man ought to get along well and live on $1 per day-if he could not get more. The same men who growled at Beecher, would probably acquiesce if he had said that a clergyman ought to dress well, wax fat until his eyes fairly stick out, and preach eloquently on "two bits" per day. When he was admitted to travel for two years on trial, in 1841, he was examined by the quarterly conference, and recommended to the annual conference, which admitted without the present examination, for in those days conference did not question the spiritual grace of those who sought service in the vineyard at $80 per year and pay their own expenses. Bishop Morris assigned him the first year to the Wauponsett Mission, a three weeks circuit, embracing Indian Grove, Weeds (four miles up the Vermilion River from Pontiac, near the present station of McDowell), Rutterfords (Pontiac), Welman's (Cornell), Long Point, John Argolright, Barrackman's (Reading), Phillips (Newtown), Dice's (below Streator), Vermilionville, Wheatland's farm, Widon Armstrong's, South Ottawa, Lewis (twelve miles above Ottawa), Wauponsett (at John Kellogg's), and on the Mazon, three miles above Sulphur Springs, and other places in Livingston and La Salle Counties as Providence seemed to direct.

After this first year, his field of labor was in the southern part of the State. He served such churches as those at Jacksonville, Springfield, as Presiding Elder of the Quincy District, the church at Decatur, and, in 1858, got back to his old home, among the people with whom he had grown up. He was Presiding Elder of the Bloomington District. In 1862, in response to an almost unanimous call from the men of the Ninetyfourth Regiment, many of whom were members of the churches over which he presided, be accepted the commission and consequent responsibility of Chaplain of that regiment. He carried with him into the service the same earnest and intense desire for the salvation of the impenitent, with a firm faith in the „ Sword of the Lord and of Gideon."

In 1867, he found himself so broken down in health that he was obliged to ask Conference for relief from ministerial labors, and with his children went to work on his farm in Belleflower. A year later, he was elected Clerk of the Circuit Court, a position which was given him by the citizens of McLean as a slight tribute to a life spent in the service of religion without other reward than an approving conscience, and with a rugged constitution, undimmed by the exacting demands of the cause and the care and anxiety of the responsibility of a large family growing up with no other inheritance than that of love and peace.

Since the spring of 1873, he has lived on his farm, surrounded by and with the aid of his children, making home pleasant with the blessings which flow from well-requited toil and the happiness which springs from religious attention to every duty.

C. W. Atkinson, the present County Clerk, is a son-in-law of Elder Guthrie, and was living in Cheney's Grove when elected to that office.

Blue Mound[edit]

In general appearance and in topography, Blue Mound is not unlike Martin. It has no timber-land, however, and the little streams or runs which run across it to the northeast toward the Mackinaw. and to the southwest, into Money Creek, are deeper cut, and show pebbly bottoms not common in this prairie country. Township 24 north, Range 4 cast of the Third Principal Meridian, is a full Congressional township, and is in the centre of the eastern part of the county, being in the third tier of towns respectively from the north, east and south lines of the county, and the third east from the Illinois Central Railroad.

Blue Mound Township[edit]

In general appearance and in topography, Blue Mound is not unlike Martin. It has no timber-land, however, and the little streams or runs which run across it to the northeast toward the Mackinaw. and to the southwest, into Money Creek, are deeper cut, and show pebbly bottoms not common in this prairie country. Township 24 north, Range 4 cast of the Third Principal Meridian, is a full Congressional township, and is in the centre of the eastern part of the county, being in the third tier of towns respectively from the north, east and south lines of the county, and the third east from the Illinois Central Railroad.

With the peculiar beauty of its primeval state, and the excellence of its soil, it is a wonder that it was so long before it came into general cultivation. Probably the fact that it was within the fifteen-mile belt which was withdrawn from market at the time the Illinois Central land grant was made, had much to do with this delay. Certain it is, there is nothing in the nature of the land that would delay settlement.

The name was derived from the mound, an elevation on Section 28, which, though not very high, was, when seen from the level land, stretching off toward Bloomington, high enough to attract general attention and notice. The << blue" part of it was only such as distance lends to it, for there is no blue appearance on close inspection.

Settlements were first made in 1S54, on the north side, near the Lexington line, and, the same year, near the southeast corner.

John Speed Stagner, from Madison County. Ky., but who had been living four years near Bloomington, and one of the best-known men in Blue Mound, from his energy and public spirit, came on Section 27, and purchased 200 acres of land around the sides of that section. While in Bloomington, he had united with the Christian Church, and had been ordained an Elder, and at once took an active part in the spiritual welfare of the new settlement. A few had moved in the year before. Thomas Arnold had settled on Section 27, entering the four inside forty-acre tracts, thinking it would prevent others from buying until he should he able to purchase. He still resides on his original purchase, and has good improvements on it. David Wheeler was at that time on the south side of Section 25. He removed to Kansas a few years since.

James A. Doyle, from Kentucky, who now lives in Ellsworth, was then on Section 23, where he lived about twenty years. John Doman, now dead, was on a farm of 160 acres, in Sections 34 and 35. Alexander Willhoite, from Owensburg, Ky., and William Newton, were opening farms on Section 11. Zachariah Arnold, who, like his brother Thomas, was from Virginia, and at that time unmarried, was commencing to improve on Section 35, where he still lives. All these had come here to live the year before. Stagnor, on the north side of the township, a little settlement, was growing up at the same time. Isaac Smith, who afterward committed suicide in a temporary fit of insanity, had commenced to make a farm on Section 9.

William L. Barton came from Ohio to Section 4 in 1854. William McHugh, a brother-in-law of Mr. Barton, came about the same time. He rented a farm in Lexington for a time, and then purchased the northeast quarter of Section 4. Mr. Burton and N. T. Linthicum, both of whom are now dead, settled in the same neighborhood about the same time. William Russell also purchased a farm at the same time. Anderson Brumhead made a farm on Section 5, where he still resides. Mr. Arnold, father of Scott Arnold, opened up a farm on Section 7, where the younger Arnold still lives. Mr. King also commenced farming on a large scale. He lived on a part of Section 4, east of the church, and owned all of Section S. His operations were large, and so conducted as to indicate an unbalanced mind. Great crops of wheat were raised about this time. Indeed, many men were able to pay for their laud and improvements from the proceeds of a single crop. Forty bushels was not uncommon, and was sufficient to induce many brilliant castles of marvelous wealth to be erected in the minds of the newcomers. They came to believe that wheat would grow almost spontaneously on this virgin soil, and many went in debt for land to sow to wheat. Several years of almost entire failure followed, driving those who engaged in it most largely into bankruptcy. Mr. King had a large breadth of wheat, and, the following year, he sowed on the stubble, without even plowing it, though he did harrow after sowing. The result was what might well have been expected. He was soon utterly ruined, both in purse and mind, and was taken to the asylum. Many others lost all in the wheat-raising mania. William A. Galdon opened up a farm where he now resides, near the corners of Sections 1, 2 and 12. The financial crash of 1857 unsettled affairs greatly, and few settlers came in for ten years. From this settlement, near the Lexington line, to that on the south, around about Speed Stagtier's, was long an open prairie. It was not till the close of the war for the Union, when " Johnny came marching home " to make new alliances or renew Long broken ones, and new homes were needed, that this whole range of country for miles around Blue Mound, stretching out east to the county line, was filled up by the hardy, industrious, patriotic men who now live here. They came almost with a rush. Old settlers tell of their surprise, after living on these prairies for years, at seeing this rush of immigration. Daily, as they were at work in their fields, the vision, unobstructed by trees, sweeping for miles in all directions, new shining roofs would spring up, almost by magic. This migration came from the west, Tazewell, Fulton, western McLean and other counties sending their young and strong men to this open field.

Crops and Farmers[edit]

Since the first experience in wheat, corn has been, and probably will continue to be, the great staple crop. The adoption of the law preventing cattle from running at large, made it possible for men to crop their land without fencing, and hedges were started, although there are many pieces of land in the township which are still open. There is no railroad, marketing of the crops being done at Lexington on the north, and Ellsworth and Holder on the south.

Old settlers tell of a terrible tornado which swept over the town in the summer, which did much damage and caused more fright. The wind had blown from the east all day, and at night came back from the west in a terrible gale. For years, the people at the East had heard heart-rending stories of the awful winds on these treeless prairies. This was the first experience these settlers had after leaving their Eastern homes, and some of them fully expected, when the " storm center " should fairly get " onto " them, to see their cook-stoves going skyward, their cattle's limbs flying promiscuously through the firmament, and the fleeces blown clean off the sheep, going to re-enforce the clouds. The damage was comparatively light, but the fright was enormous. They have now lived here long enough to know that we really have no more wind here than they do in Ohio or New York. We now hear the stories coming from Kansas and Nebraska that Eastern folks heard twenty-five years ago from Illinois.

A short notice of some of the larger and more successful farmers is appended:

John Fletcher, of English birth, has a splendid farm of 600 acres in Sections 19 and 20. He has good buildings, farms well, and carries about one hundred head of cattle.

Joshua Brown, who, besides the farm he lives on, owns other large farms, has 460 acres in Section 31. He was from Tazewell County. Has good house, barns, sheds, etc., attends closely to his business, keeps his fields neat and tidy. He carries about one hundred bead of cattle.

Nathan J. Parr, who has lived here fifteen years, has half a section in Section 23, and eighty acres in Section 14. He has good farm-buildings, and is a good farmer.

William A. Golden, an early settler, farms about half a section, situated in Sections 1, 6 and 12. He has a substantial house and barn, and his farm is kept in excellent condition, and his buildings well cared for.

M. S. Sill had until last year what is generally considered one of the best and best appointed farms in Blue Mound. He sold it to Samuel Etnire, and moved to Normal. The farm consists of 240 acres in Section S. The buildings are large and attractive, with good sheds, and all has an appearance of thrift and success.

Daniel Shay, an Irishman by birth, has recently put up a fine, modern house on his farm in Section 27. The farm is 160 acres, and is in excellent culture.

Leonard H. Bender came here from Pennsylvania in 1870. He has a fine farm of 200 acres in Section 22. The house is probably the largest in the town, and everything about it indicates care, thrift and good attention.

On the Mound in the northeast corner of Section 28, John Butler has good improvements surrounded by a good farm.

Zachariah Arnold has a good farm of 160 acres in Section 35, and his brother Thomas a like farm right in the center of Section 27. Both are considered excellent farmers and good citizens.

A. H. Conger, on Section 18, has a fine-farm of 200 acres, with nice house, barn and out-buildings. Several others might be named. Indeed, a trip over the township shows few ill-managed farms or neglected buildings. The general care of roads and hedges is apparent, and it is altogether a good place to live in.


The following persons have served as Justices of the Peace : J. M. Rayborn, Isaac Smith, P. Barnhouse, G. L. Libbey, J. Van Bushkirk, D. Wheeler, E. Easley, J. B. Bender, L. C. Blake, Thomas Arnold.

The following have had charge of highways: J. Lupton, J. S. Stagner, H. Horney, H. Coal, W. Newton, William McHugh, Isaac Smith, J. W. Abbott, W. H. Hayes, William Benjamin, James Smith, Wesley Lewis, W. I. Arnold, D. Wheeler, W. H. Murphy, J. Arnold, W. L. Sapp, M. S. Sill, L. Bender, E. H. Burbank, E. B. Johnson.

D. Wheeler served as Township School Treasurer three years, Isaac Smith ten years, until his tragic death. After him, William McHugh for some time, then Benjamin McCoy, the present very efficient officer.

On the death of Mr. Isaac Smith, a deficit was discovered in his affairs ; demand was made upon the signers of his bond; they resisted payment for several reasons which seemed sufficient to them, the principal one being that the School Trustees, whose officer the Treasurer is, had been derelict in duty, in not sufficiently examining his affairs, and in permitting him at the time of his last election to serve six months without a new bond. Hon. William H. Smith, of Lexington, was one of the bondsmen. and he was known to be wealthy, which was thought to have bad its influence on the Trustees, they probably reasoning that he was "good for it." The case was tried before Judge Tipton and decision given against the Trustees and in favor of the bondsmen, on the ground that the office was an annual office and that an annual bond must be signed, and for this neglect the signers of the bond were released, following the decision given in the case against the bondsmen of Duff, Treasurer of the State Reform School. The amount was not large; but the legal principle and its effects were important ant to every township in the State. Capt. Rowell, attorney for the Trustees, carried the case to the Supreme Court, where Judge Tipton's decision was reversed and a new trial granted, which resulted in holding the bond good, thus throwing an additional security over all school funds. The Reform School case was never carried to the Supreme Court, through the negligence of the State officials, or it might have been reversed.

For some years, the people of all this prairie country suffered great inconvenience in consequence of the expensive fencing necessary to protect their crops from the great herds of cattle which were allowed to roam at will over the prairie. In 1872, the township provided by ordinance against cattle running at large, at their regular town meeting. The ordinance followed the one of the town of Cropsey, which had been sustained and proved successful in its operation.

Schools, Churches, Etc.[edit]

The town is now provided with suitable schoolhouses, and good schools are maintained. From the report of 1877, the following figures are taken : _N-umber of districts. 9 ; whole number of children under 21 years, 621 ; number between 6 and 21 years, 429; number enrolled in schools, 384 ; value of school property, $6,000 ; amount of town fund, $6,823; amount paid teachers, 82,523. Total expenses, 83,626. The citizens of Blue Mound very early took the matter of religious service and religious instruction in hand. Mr. John Speed Stagner, who, in many respects, is a pioneer in every good work, had, by a recent consecration of his life to religious work, and ordination to the work, according to the custom and rule of the " Christian " Church, come into his new home determined to build up religious institutions. Meetings were at first held in his house. Elders David Sharpless, Anderson and Knight were the first to hold religious services in this neighborhood. After the schoolhouse was built, meetings were held with considerable regularity there by the same preachers, followed by Elder U. H. Watson, Father Johnson and others.

In 1865, the present " Blue Mound Christian Church " was built under the direction of Messrs. Stagner, Arnold, Doyle and Willhoite. The building is about 26x40, plain, without spire or decoration, and cost about $1,200. A Sabbath school is maintained during the warmer part of the season. The " Grand View Prairie " Presbyterian Church is located on Section 2, on land donated by Mr. Golden. The edifice was erected in 1872. Messrs. J. S. Campbell and -Newton Cook, of Lexington Township, and Robert Barr, of Blue Mound, were Building Committee, and had charge of the work. The church is about 30x42, and had a tower, which has been blown away in a storm. The name was taken from a town in Ohio, which was dear to the remembrance of those who organized the church here. Rev. Mr. Elliot, who was stated supply of the church at Pleasant Hill, preached in the schoolhouse here occasionally. Later, Rev. Mr. Criswell, who, since the church organization, has regularly supplied the pulpit, held a protracted meeting, which resulted in a request for regular church organization, which was accomplished by the Bloomington Presbytery, April 19, 1873, Rev. Mr. Conover, a member of that Presbytery, officiating. The original members were Mr. and Mrs. Davis, Spears, Barton, Campbell, Barr and Hastings, who were received by letter, and twenty-three others on profession.

The " Union " M. E. Church was built on Section 5, about 1861. Rev. George Snedaker, of Pleasant Hill Circuit. formed a class at Union Schoolhouse about 1860. After him, Rev. David Carmack preached and organized Union Church, consisting of some twenty-five members, among whom were the families of Andrew Smith, R. M. Hopkins, H. C. Hayes, S. W. Evans, William Russell, A. Brumhead and M. S. Sill. The edifice is about 30x4.5, plain, and cost about $2,000. It is now the head of "Union" Circuit, and has a comfortable parsonage, costing $1,000.

The names of those who were in this enterprise, and to whom the church is indebted for their nice buildings, were A. Smith, R. M. Hopkins, H. B. Downey, S. W. Evans, 31. S. Sill, I. Smith, H. C. Hayes, F. 11. Bowers and S. M. Beebe. The clergymen who have in turn served this church, are the Revs. Robert Pierce, John Lucock, Dr. Aldrige. Frank Smith. Mr. Ferris, Isaiah Giddings, J. Kern, Jacob Souders and J. W. Flowers. A Sabbath school, numbering about seventy-five, is maintained by R. M, Hopkins. The church numbers one hundred.

The"" Free-Will" Baptists formed a society in 1868. Elder Thomas Blanden came here from Kentucky and held meetings in the schoolhouse, and organized a church of about twenty members, and built a large, plain edifice, about 28x36. The loading men in this enterprise were James Scott and H. P. Thompson. The organization is weak, and does not now maintain regular religious services. The church is used irregularly by other denominations.


Cropsey Township embraces the south half of Town 25, Range 6 east of the Third Principal Meridian, is three miles by six, and is territorially the smallest in the county, being only one-third the size of Gridley. which is the largest. During most of its political history. it has been attached to the present town of Anchor (24, 6) and in school affairs is attached to, and forms a school township with Belle Prairie, in Livingston County.

Early Settlers[edit]

G. W. Freshcorn, who is now one of the oldest residents of Cropsey, came here from Chester County, Penn., in 1856. There were then living in what is now Cropsey, so far as his recollection serves (which he admits is at this age somewhat treacherous), Andrew Jackson Cropsey on Section 22 ; Alonzo and Levi Straight and father, Arba Proudfoot Straight, on Section 13 ; Stephen and Nathaniel Stoddard, and Edward Ward, still living here; James Darr, James Harkness on Section 23, and Henderson Crabb on Section 20. Mr. Freshcorn bought land on Section 20, and still lives on the same farm. The largest farm, and, in some respects one of the very best, is the one owned by Moses Meeker, of Tazewell County, and worked by his sons, E. B. and D. B. Meeker. The farm consists of 840 acres in Sections 22 and 27. The buildings are large and good, suitable for so large a stock-farm, well stocked and well managed. The Meckers feed about two car-loads of cattle at a time, and keep a large stock of cattle and bogs. John Straisser has a good firm of 480 acres in Sections 24 and 25. He raises grain and feeds some cattle. J. Hinshaw works a fine farm of 244) acres lying in Sections 28 and 33. Esbon Merrill has a large firm in Section 29, keeping about half in pasture, and the remainder in meadow and under plow. He also feeds some fat cattle, though none of these farmers carry this branch to the extent they did a few years ago. Edward Ward, one of the first settlers, has a fine farm and excellent buildings. He is recognized as one of the best and most successful farmers. J. C. Arnold has 120 acres in Section 34, which is well and nicely managed. The farmers here seem to have paid better attention to their hedges than in many other places, and one sees here some of the finest hedges in the county, unfortunately in too many localities entirely neglected.. In the division of the township which took place in 1877, all that portion of the old town lying in Town 24, Range 6, was set off into a separate political organization with the name of Anchor. The official record before 1877 covers the two towns until that time, but for the years 1877, 1878, it is only for the present town.

Organization of Township[edit]

The township was organized in April, 1858, at a meeting held at the house of Levi Straight. Alonzo Alexander Straight was chosen Moderator, and Andrew Jackson Cropsey, Clerk. The town was divided into two road districts on the half-section line running through the town north and south, which now has the iron bridge on it.

Those who have served as Justices of the Peace are, L. F. Straight, G. W. Freshcorn, J. H. Van Eman, Ellis Elmer, H. L. Terpenning, J. T. Tanner, A. Beale, A. R. Jones, I. C. Lefler, J. P. Worley, J. E. Whiting and J. Hinshaw.

The Commissioners of Highways have been, Alonzo Alexander Straight, G. W. Freshcorn, N. M. Stoddard, Simeon A. Stoddard, D. Thompson, N. Brigham, Joseph Elmer, E. H. Ward, J. W. McCullough, G. Haller, M. H. Knight, John Sharpless, J. B. T. Mann, Z. C. Worley, A. S. Dart, J. C. Arnold, P. J. Decker and E. B. Meeker.

The township, in 1868, adopted at its town meeting a long cattle "ordinance." It contained eleven sections, and was carefully drawn, providing that cattle should not run at large, and providing for empounding and fixing penalties; providing how they should be released, and giving the proper officers power to act in all cases. This was a new way of dealing with a very troublesome subject, and it proved a very effective way. The Legislature had passed a law allowing townships to vote for or against permitting cattle to run at large. One of the provisions of this law was that in case a majority of the legal voters of any township should vote against letting cattle run at large, the law should then be in effect in that township, whether the voters in an adjoining township adopted or not. This complicated matters very much, and there were constant depredations upon the part of those who did not choose to live up to the law. Custom had grown into a kind of law, and citizens were unwilling to take the law into their own hands and make a pound of their own inclosures. This ordinance was the subject of a legal decision, and soon became very effective.


The center of the old town of Cropsey was, and is yet, about fourteen miles from the nearest railroad station, being about equidistant from Saybrook, on the south, and Fairbury, on the north. This of itself was enough. during the era of railroad-building and bond-voting, to make it of interest to railroad-builders and popular with voters to go into the bonding business. Several propositions were made and votes taken in this direction. None of these propositions were received favorably until the Decatur State-Line Railroad took form. This road was to run from Decatur, where it well connect with the Decatur & East St. Louis road, of which it was to be an extension. direct to Chicago, passing through Chatsworth. The road would have been, had it been built, an almost air-line route from St. Louis to Chicago-several miles shorter than the shortest line between those two cities. The Boodys, of the Toledo, Wabash & Western Railroad, which controlled the Decatur & East St. Louis line, were very anxious to build it, for it would give them a Chicago connection which they had been, and still have been, unable to get. The proposition really seemed the most feasible of the many railroad propositions then in existence. They were in business relations with the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific railroad, and were really dependent on that company for the money to build it. When the citizens of Cropsey were shown the magnificent future which such railroad facilities would give them, it is not to be wondered at that they were ready to get all the wealth which this would bring them, and all for just a single vote. It looked like a "big thing," and there could be no doubt that the road would be built.

A special town meeting was held October 25, 1569, to vote for or against a proposition to donate $60,000 of bonds. This was the third meeting which had been held on the matter-the first two resulting adversely to town aid. At this meeting, the proposition was carried by the almost unanimous vote of 44 to 5. A proposition was also carried to donate $5,000 per mile and right of way to the same road. As the town was about eleven miles in length, from the northeast to the southwest corners-the direction the road would take-it was considered equivalent to the other proposition.

January 10, 1870, by a vote of 46 to 31; it was voted to give $15,000 to the D. & St. L. R. R., provided its line touched the town and a station was placed there. The road had the option, of course, of these different proposals. The destruction of millions of dollars of the Rock Island company's property, by the Chicago fire, followed before it had recovered from the loss by the " Granger excitement," and general depression of railroad interests alone saved the township from being as heavily in debt as any other in McLean County.

A railroad is now contemplated, called the Clinton, Bloomington & Northeastern, which is proposed as au extension to the Chatsworth Branch of the Illinois Central. It is projected by the farmers owning land along the line, and is energetically pressed by Mr. D. B. Stuart, a large land-owner in Cropsey and Anchor, H. L. Terpenning and J. T. Tanner, the Supervisors, and other energetic men. The scheme seems a feasible cue, and the road is likely to be built without running the town in debt.

Schools and Societies[edit]

D. S. Cram, Esq., is Treasurer for Town 25, Range 6, and lives in Belle Prairie. From his last report the following figures are taken: Number of districts, 9 ; whole number of children under twenty-one years, 618 ; number between six and twenty-one years, 425 ; number enrolled in schools, 380 ; amount of township school fund, $7,000, about one-half of which is loaned on real estate.

The Belle Prairie Agricultural Society is jointly supported by the two towns. It originated in the Belle Prairie Grange, and was organized in 1874, and has held three annual fairs-that in 1878 in the new hall belonging to the society, which is 28x40, and on the land of D. S. Crum, Esq. The Society pays no money-premiums, but awards blue and red ribbon premiums. No fees for admission are charged. A track, upon which the only a purely agricultural horse-trots " known in this part of the country take place, is one of the feature of the exhibition. No racing is permitted, but it is doubted whether any horse could carry off the blue ribbon unless lie made something better than a snail's time around that agricultural track. The society is largely social in its tendencies and aims, and is worthy of study with a view of extending to similar localities a like institution. Ira C. Pratt is President; H. L. Terpenning, Vice President; William Stickler, Secretary ; D. S. Crum, Treasurer.

The Belle Prairie Mutual Insurance Company, a farmer's company of these towns, together with Indian Grove, is in successful operation. There arc 126 policies outstanding, covering an insurance of $103,000. H. L. Terpenning is President ; C. H. Benson, Secretary.

Lodge No. 631, A., F. & A. M., was organized in 1869, at Potosi. It consists of eighteen members. H. L. Terpenning is Worthy Master, and Dr. A. W. Green, Secretary.

During the preparation of these pages, the death of John Thomas occurred at the residence of his grandson, H. A. Thomas, Esq., one-half mile southeast of Potosi, in the 98th year of his age. Father Thomas was born in Halifax, Windham Co., Vt., March 5, 1782. He enlisted in the war of 1812, and served until its close. He was a cloth-dresser by occupation, and worked on the farm summers and at his trade winters. He was three times married, and was the father of twelve children, nine of whom survive him. In 1852, he went to live with his son, at Adams, Jefferson Co., N. V., where he assisted, for a number of years, in carrying on a dairy. In 1868, he came to Illinois, and has since made this place his home. He bad, for many years, been a pensioner of the Government. Nearly thirty years ago, a cancer made its appearance on his left cheek, which slowly made its way until the time of his death, The cavity was about four inches in diameter. Though this was not the cause of his death directly, still it may have hastened it somewhat. For some years, he has gradually lost strength, but was only confined to his bed about four months. During his helplessness, he was kindly cared for by his son and grandson, and the wife of his grandson. Think of the changes time has wrought in this county during only half of the lifetime of this aged soldier!

There is no church in the present town of Cropsey, though the Belle Prairie Methodist Episcopal Church is just across the line.


Downs Township occupies, in the southern tier of townships, the fourth from the eastern border of the county, and is described as Town 22 north, Range 3, and the northern two tiers of sections of Town 21 north, Range 3 east of the Third Principal Meridian. Downs was principally a prairie town, having no timber except Diamond Grove, a small collection of timber on the Kickapoo, in Sections 5, 6 and 7, and skirting of " Old Town Timber," along the northern border of Sections 1, 2 and 3, and "Johnson's Point," a small grove in Section 25-covering in the aggregate scarcely four sections of the forty-eight which constitute the town.

Early Churches[edit]

Elder 1. D. Newell, a home missionary of the Baptist denomination, was in this field at work, holding meetings as early as 1836. He organized a church, and a building was erected at Lytleville about that time ; and soon after him, Elder Elijah Veatch preached there and in the surrounding country. There was a church organized, and preaching maintained by it for a time, at the Macedonia Schoolhouse, in this township; but it has disbanded. Rev. Joel Hulsey, of the same denomination, came from Kentucky and preached at Lytleville awhile, and, in 1835, came to this town and bought land on Section 19, and remained here for some years.

There was an organization of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, and meetings were regularly maintained along the Grove; and a union church was built by that denomination, co-operating with the Methodists, on Section 2, and was occupied by those two denominations in harmony for several years. Rev. R. D. Taylor, Revs. Neat and Archie Johnson and James McDonell were the preachers of the former, and Father Shepherd, Father Royal and Rev. Miflin Harker were the Methodist preachers.

Rev. William Bishop; a minister of the Cumberland Church, lived here a few years, preaching and teaching. He went to Mexico in 1846.

The United Brethren early held meetings, and formed an organization very early. In 1844, that terribly rainy season, when it rained so much that people could not work their land, and they had not much else to do but attend to their religious interests, Rev. Mr. Zook came here and held meetings around in the schoolhouses, and re-organized the church. While holding his protracted meeting, the people built rafts to get to his preaching, and the attendance was large. A church was decided on, and Solomon Mason, Lawson Downs, S. T. Richardson and other leading men took hold and erected the one standing near the township line. They have generally maintained preaching here, and usually a Sunday school.

A Methodist Church was built about 1863, on Collins' land, in Section 25. Mr. Collins, Elias Walls, Jesse and John Karr were the principal men in this enterprise. Preaching is regularly maintained. It belongs to Le Boy circuit.

The United Brethren built a church in the northwestern quarter of Section 14, about 1873, called the " Pleasant Grove " Church. James and Matthias Killian were largely instrumental in building it. It is about 26x+16. It belongs to Randolph's Grove circuit.

Early Mills[edit]

There were several mills put up on the stream; none Of them lasted a great while, though. The difficulty was to get a dam which would stand the pressure of spring freshets and the rainy season.

John Rice had a mill which, by constructing a long " race," had about seven feet fall. It was built about 1840, and had the old-fashioned "flutter" wheel and gate. Hon. John Cusey run this mill for some time. He says that he has sawed as high as four thousand feet in twenty-four hours, though this was far above the average capacity of the mill. It was customary to saw logs for the half, or small lots for 50 cents per hundred feet. Much of the lumber went to build Bloomington, and some of the houses stand there yet. In the absence of pine, which now forms every portion of the houses built, the buildings were made entirely of hard wood-home-sawed lumber. The clapboards and casings were of black-walnut, the frame of oak, hewn out, and the joints, braces, etc., sawed. No " balloon" buildings were built in those days. The floors were ash, and the lath either basswood or oak, split with an as by laying the pieces on a plank, so that the entire board would hang together when put on the wall, and separated to the required distances by driving wedges in until they were nailed. The shingles were of oak or black-walnut, shaved. Such shingles. if properly laid, would last forty years, or until they were, like the " Deacon's Masterpiece," worn out.

Severe Stringfield had a grist-mill further down stream, near the southwest corner of Section a. It was built about 1831. It was about. 16x20, one story high, and had a water-head of about five and one-half feet. The stones were home-made, being eut out of the bowlders found here on the prairie. They were little more than two feet in diameter, and did very good service. The lower one, since it. has ceased to do service as a " nether mill-store," is serving its generation as a door-step for H. C. Bishop's house. What service it will next see is not for the historian to undertake to say. Elder Elijah Veatch put up a mill, about 1840, on the same stream ; and some genius, whose name even has departed from memory, started a pottery about the same time. It was not a success, however. It was on Section 17, on the Jacoby branch. The township took its name from Lawson Downs, who came here from White County-though originally from Tennessee-in 1829, and took up a claim at "Diamond Grove," on Section 6, some years before the land here came into market. He afterward entered this land, and left it to his children. He was here during the deep snow, and endured the hardships of that terrible winter, when he had to dig his sheep out of the snow, hunting them as the boys do ground-squirrels, by their holes. He served, under Capt. Covell, of Bloomington, in the Black Hawk war for thirty days. He was married, in 1836, to Sarah Welch, by whom nine sons were born, six of whom grew up to manhood. His life was devoted to farming, and received the reward which industry and frugality brought to those who turned the wild places into firms. He died in 1860, at the age of fifty-one, honored and respected by his neighbors.

Early Settlers[edit]

Henry Jacoby took up a claim here about the same time, and was for years a neighbor of Downs. These early adventurers did not find all the conveniences here which would make life pleasant. The hunting was better than now, but all those things which are now thought to be necessaries were wanting. Money was so scarce that it was hardly talked of as a commodity. In place of the short-horns and Berkshires, which you see now in every pasture and feed-yard in this magnificent county, were the black, brindle, piebald, polled, streaked and speckled cattle which, for want of a name, we usually call natives. They were as uneven in quality as variegated in colors, and lacked all the finer beef-qualities for which their successors, the short-horns, are so famous. They answered the purposes for which they were wanted, however, perhaps full as well, perhaps better, than the present popular breed would have done. The working cattle were lively, and endured fatigue and heat well ; and even after they were fatted, they stood the long drives, which the then system of marketing demanded, much better than the cattle of the present day would. They could hardly have been called handsome, but they were in all ways the main help and chief profit of the farmer. As much can hardly be said of the wind-splitting prairie-rooters that were the only hogs then known in these parts. But then, they were hogs, and did not like to be trifled with. They lived on roots and nuts, and could outrun a horse. When the farmer went to feed them, he put the corn where he was sure the contrary fellows would find it; and if he had tried to call them with that long, sonorous, half-shout and half-groan now in use to bring hogs to their feed, the chances are decidedly that he would have scared them out of the timber, and might never have seen them. But they were handy to drive, as men had to drive hogs in those days. The breeds of hogs which farmer now raise and feed never would have stood the trips to Chicago and Galena that those " timber hogs " did.

Thomas Toverca came here from Randolph, about 1830. A short notice is given of him in the accompanying history of that township. He was one of those charac ters that the rapid march of civilization is fast abolishing. He had served under Gov. Edwards in the early Indian difficulties in this part of the State; and in the expedition to which he was attached, an engagement had taken place at the crossing of the Wabash River. Later, they were driven from Old Town Timber, at the place where the early white settlers, a few years afterward, found such fine blue-grass pasture, and were followed until they crossed the Illinois River, near Ottawa. Mr. Toverca was a rough, uncouth man, of no early culture, but was an ardent believer in the truths of religion, and was an exhorter of considerable power. After living a short time with his old friend Randolph, he took up a claim in Section 7, here in Downs, and resided here until 1861. He then moved to Iowa, and died at Oskaloosa.

R. F. Dickerson, of Empire, tells of getting up an exciting reaction at one of Toverca's meetings, by getting a dog and cat to fighting out doors while the meeting was in progress in the schoolhouse.

John Price came here from Kentucky, in 1830, but did not then locate here. In 1834, he entered the land on Section 4, which, in 1836, he made his home, and upon which he still lives. This first, he entered at Vandalia, and later, he entered land at. Danville, making, in all, nearly seven hundred acres, which he purchased at the Government price. His neighborhood was called Priceville, and still popularly retains the name, although the station and post office are called Downs. In 1871, Mr. and Mrs. Price celebrated their golden wedding in a most pleasant and long-to-be-remembered entertainment. He has always been a public-spirited man, and has taken an active part in township affairs. He was proprietor of the little village, and has taken a lively interest in its welfare. The aged couple, who have enjoyed almost sixty years of married life, look back on the trials and privations of those early years with few regrets. Of their eight children, four are still living. Gillum Station, in Old Town, was named after one of his daughters, Mrs. Mary Gillum Condon.

William Weaver came here from Washington County in the fall of 1832, and settled on the township line between Downs and Old Town. He was a preacher of the Anti-Mission Baptists, and used to hold religious meetings in the schoolhouses. He brought sixty head of cattle with him when he came here, and commenced at once to improve his farm. Of thirteen children, twelve grew up to maturity, though only two yet reside in town-his youngest son and the wife of A. P. Craig. Mr. Weaver died in 1838, of congestive chills.

His son, Joseph B. Weaver, who was born the year before his father came here to live, is a man of more than ordinary intelligence. He lives at Downs Station, and has shown a lively interest in the affairs of his township, both political and educational. He served three years in the Ninety-fourth Regiment, and is greatly respected in the community in which he lives.

E. H. Wall came here from Kentucky, in 183:3; and settled in the Priceville neighborhood, in Section 5. He bad for a number of years been a devoted member of the \I. E. Church, and was for ten years a class-leader there. When he came to the new home, he brought his religion with him, and exercised a decided influence for good. When he was quite young, Rev. Peter Cartwright had made a visit to his father's house, and had made a strong impression on the young man's mind. He often had occasion to exercise a good influence for the keeping of the Sabbath, and was one of the first to get a schoolhouse built where schools and meetings could be held. His life was an example of fervent piety, and the exercise of noble aspirations. About 1853, he moved to Section ,i4, and remained there until he died from the effects of a cancer that for fifteen years had slowly spread, withstanding all efforts to stay its progress.

William Bishop, who settled in the same neighborhood, and kept the "Six-mile House" across the line in Old Town Township, entered the land where his son Henry now lives, in Downs, in 1838. Henry C. has a fine farm, and is a prosperous farmer.

Rev. R. D. Taylor came to Old Town Timber in 1836. He had been educated at Princeton College, Kentucky. a school of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, and came here before his ordination. partially because he believed it to be an important field and one needing laborers, and partly because he did not believe in the institution of slavery, and wanted to get away from it. He commenced to preach here, and was ordained by the Mackinaw Presbytery in 1833. He went to work with a will, and preached and taught school. His circuit extended from the Mackinaw to Salt Creek. He lived on the east half of the southeast quarter of Section 3, and used to hold services in the house of 'Mr. Manning; and later, in the Union Church, built on the north east quarter of Section 2, by the Methodists and Presbyterians jointly. While he was preaching, one Sabbath, his house took fire and burned up, with all its contents. He was just expatiating on the mercy of God, and had just remarked that, no matter what calamity comes to us, the goodness and mercy of God are plainly discernable, even in calamity, when the alarm of fire was sounded, which proved to be his home.

He was an excellent school-teacher, and many of the older citizens of Downs received their finishing at his hands. Hon. John Cusey, Wiatt Adams, P. B. Price, Mrs. Condon, J. B. Weaver, Asa Savidge, and many others, were among his graduates. He moved from here to De Witt County, and thence to Le Roy, where he still lives, still laboring in the Master's vineyard; though, for several years, he has not held regular pastoral relation. He is believed to be the first regularly-educated minister who labored here, and his record and labors here show how much good can be done by an earnest, devoted life, when seconded by the aid which education gives.

For more than forty years he has given his labors to the cause of religion, and, as he believes every Christian minister's duty is, has saved enough, and only enough, to make him and his wife comfortable, if he is spared here beyond the time his strength of body and mind will permit him to labor. He has no complaint to make, and few regrets. His later years seem peaceful and lit up with a spirit of unclouded joy.

Mr. Isaac Peasley came from Virginia to this county in 1834, and remained for two years a renter on Jesse Funk's land, and, in 1836, came out onto the prairie and put up a cabin on Section 19, two miles from the timber, a little west of where his son, Sylvester, now lives. When the neighbors came out from Randolph's Grove, to help him put up his house, they made light of his judgment in coming out so far from the Grove, and offered to give him all the land he could see. They were sure he never could live there-a statement he almost thought verified when the '° sudden change" struck his prairie home, the December following. He moved across the road, a few years later, onto Section 30, and remained there till he died, in 1861.

His son; Sylvester, commenced to make a farm at his present residence, in Section 20, in 1847. In his younger days, he did not enjoy many educational advantages, as his time was given to helping his father care for the family, but a well-stored mind shows that he has not let slip any advantages that were in his reach. He is an ordained minister of the Baptist denomination, and continued to preach until a bronchial affection compelled him to discontinue it.

He has given much attention to the raising and feeding of stock, and has, by hard work, good judgment and excellent business habits, acquired a fair portion of this world's goods.. Like all the early settlers, he was obliged to make Chicago his market when it seemed about all the load of grain was worth to get there. He early made cattle-raising his principal business. He has always taken an interest in the affairs of the town and of the schools. He was elected the first Supervisor, and, for the last eleven years, he has been continuously the Supervisor; and, for the last two years, Chairman of the Board. - He owns 300 acres of land, which is being well worked. In 1876, he built a large and well-arranged residence on his farm, really the finest one in Downs. It is 34x48, two stories high, with large, airy rooms, and well arranged for the comfort of the family and the delight of his friends. The cellars are nicely plastered and frost-proof, and, indeed, all its appointments are excellent.

Mr. Peasley has a fine herd of short-horns, numbering about twenty-five, among which are several very fine animals, showing the same good care in selection and excellent judgment in breeding which are seen in all his affairs. He is justly esteemed one of Downs' best citizens, such a one as McLean County knows how to use in her public affairs. W. W. Peasley has a fine farm of 375 acres on Section 29. The buildings are excellent, and the grounds beautifully adorned with evergreen and deciduous trees and shrubbery. The beautiful lawn and neatly-trimmed hedges indicate the home of refinement and comfort. The Sabbath-school Conventions are usually held on his grounds, and it would be difficult to find a more delightful place for these annual convocations. Ebenezer Craig came to Downs and took up land near the northern line of the township, in 1834. He moved to Empire Township two years later, and returned to Downs in 1840, where he resided till his death in 1854.

His son, A. P. Craig, continued to reside on the homestead, making it into a good farm. He married a daughter of Mr. Weaver, and had ten children born to him, nearly all of whom made their homes near by. He was a man of intelligence and probity, dying, respected and esteemed by all who knew him, in 1874. He owned about 600 acres of land, most of which was in this township. His business was principally cattle raising and feeding.

One of the most successful farmers in Downs, according to the testimony of all his neighbors, is Mr. Henry Welch, who came here from Indiana, in 1835, and took up land at Diamond Grove, where he still resides.

He was a driving, energetic man, and permitted nothing to distract his attention from his farming, except that during the first few years he was obliged to team and work around wherever he could earn enough to give him a start. He has, for years, been a large stock-raiser and feeder of cattle, bogs, horses and sheep. His experience in the latter was more successful than the average, except that he was never able to get bold of a herd of sheep that worse than useless dogs would not destroy by the score on every occasion. His losses from dogs have been discouraging. He has a fine farm where he resides, and a large farm in West Township. In cattle raising and feeding, he has no superior, though he never has driven so large a business as the Funk's and some others, he has. neverthless, been a decided success. Mr. Welch is the father of eight children, most of whom have grown up around him to enjoy the advantages of his excellent example, his thrift and good management.

Hon. John Cusey came to McLean County with his father- and brother in 1836, and was for several years engaged in working at his trade, that of a cabinet-maker and carpenter. At different times he has run nearly all the saw-mills erected on this stream. and was engaged in building several of the earlier houses, which were built in this town and in Bloomington. He framed and built the first framed house built in Downs-that now owned by Joseph Kershaw, on Section 21. It was built on Section 11, November, 1842. In 1843, it was moved to Section 1, in Randolph, and, a few years after, moved back to Section 21, in Downs, where it now stands. To move houses in those days was not so great an undertaking. They put a pair of false sills under them, chamfered off like sleigh-runners, and made a bee, getting together a few prairie-breaking teams of cattle, and made short work of drawing it a few miles. After this working around for several years, he, in 1845, entered the northwest quarter of the northwest quarter of Section 6, Town 21, Range . He sold as good a team as he ever owned to get money to enter this, as he supposed; forty; but, when he got to Danville, he found that it was what was known as a fractional corner, and contained fifty-six acres; he deposited his fortune there and came back home to raise enough to pay for the tract. He lived there twenty-three years, and then moved farther east, on Section 5, where he now lives.

For many years, he was in the employ of Jesse Funk as his clerk, going with him to buy and weigh his purchases. Funk could buy more hogs than any man in the country. He placed the most implicit confidence in Cusey, a confidence which it is almost unnecessary to say never was violated in the slightest. It was Funk who gave Cusey the title of " Deacon " against the latter's protest, for Cusey is a Methodist, and does not recognize the Congregational title; but his employer excused it by explaining to Mr. Cusey that people around where be went to buy bogs would not be suspicious of him when they learned that he kept a deacon for his companion and clerk. The " Deacon " never thought of demanding increased salary to support the pomp and circumstance of this titular dignity.

Mr. Cusey has always taken an interest in politics. Following his father's strong anti slavery bent, he became a Republican, and has held strongly to that party since its beginning. He has eight times been elected Assessor and twice Supervisor. In the latter position, he displayed the strong, clear, good sense which is the leading point in his character in so marked a degree, that, in 1872, he was selected by the Republicans as their candidate far the Senate, and he was elected the first Senator from McLean County after it became a district alone.

During the time of his service in the State Senate, the revision of the laws of the State was perfected, and, with untiring zeal, he exerted a large influence on the side of rugged justice, strict accountability of officials, and more prompt enforcement of law against all violators.

Whether the people of McLean County know it or not, the writer knows that no Senator from that county ever goes to Springfield that he does not awaken a kind of undefined suspicion on the part of the others that there is lurking about him sundry embryo raids on the treasury or ill-concealed demands for appropriations which must be opposed and defeated. Mr. Cusey was not free from the suspicion which the locality attaches o her representatives. He was, fortunately, able to do much to not only relieve himself, but those who follow him, from the unjust and disagreeable imputation. On the whole, his term of service in the Senate, while a laborious, was a very successful one. Being at a time when the " Farmers' movement" was at its height, he was, from his occupation, his uncommon good sense and loyalty both to the interests of the farmers and to his own convictions, enabled to do many things to satisfy them that all legislation is not in the interest of monopolies and lawyers.

The peculiarity of his name-his own family and his brothers being, so far as he knows, the only persons bearing the name in America-was the subject of many a remark, and a mistake while he was in the Senate. There sat in the Senate during the three winters that Mr. Cusey was there, Col. Thomas S. Casey, who was, in all things except in his unbounded good nature, the very opposite of John Casey. Tall, handsome, full built, with a full share of the dash which a short year's service which bad given him the title he so gracefully wore, a lawyer of excellent abilities, and the acknowledged leader of the Democracy of the Senate, which was in minority one session, and by union with the Independents and the Haines became a majority the following one, as proud of his name as of his person, it is not strange that the frequent confounding of the names of these two radical opponents should produce amusing mistakes and be the cause of almost endless explanation. It also afforded an easy way out of an unfortunate or unpopular vote. Nearly everything which the present generation learn of their Representatives they get from telegrams in the daily papers, and the frequent mistakes which telegraphic operators make in names is notorious. If Casey introduced a bill to protect the financial interests of owners of valuable horses, Casey was published in his Egyptian home as " giving his valuable legal mind to fixing the legal status of colt and sire." When Casey introduced a bill to protect the Downs sheep from the ravages of dogs, Casey's constituents were congratulated by the local press on the fact that their Senator was finally aroused to the most important farmers' interest of the day. Many laughable incidents arose from these matters, among which was the introduction of a bill by Col. Casey, as he jocosely said, to protect his fair name, for changing the name of Senator Cusey. One of the "Mistakes of the Telegraphers," which the writer is certain never has been in print, but which he is personally able to vouch for, was this The person who held the not very pleasant position of night operator at the Springfield office that winter, and who had, probably, a thousand times clicked off the names of these two worthy Senators, had heard so much said about the confusion he was innocently making that he came to the Senate chamber, one afternoon, to look at them, in order, perhaps, to familiarize himself with their appearance. Calling to his aid an officer of the Senate, be asked to have Col. Casey pointed out to him. After taking a good look at the leader of the Democracy, and remarking that he was a splendid fellow, and suggesting a "pity he drinks," said, inquiringly, "Now, which is Cusey?" The broad grin which followed was the first intimation he had that he had not simply been making the mistake of spelling.

Senator Cusey, since he retired from the Senate, has devoted his time to farming. He was married to Miss Bishop, a daughter of Jacob Bishop, of Randolph, in 1843, who has had nine children, seven of whom are now living.

S. T. Richardson came to Downs and took up a piece of land just south of Diamond Grove, along the Kickapoo, in 1839. He was a brother-in-law of Henry Welch, and came here to bring their mother, Mrs. Welch. He worked a small farm, but his time was much given to teaming. Pekin, in Tazewell County, was the nearest river point to all this country, and much of their farm produce went there after the completion of the Illinois Canal, though Mr. Richardson and others went frequently to Chicago. In going to Chicago, with cattle, they had the first station at Smith's Grove, neat at Eppard's Point, then at Babcock's Grove, called Wolf Grove. There was then a long stretch before they reached the timber on the Mazon.

He has a good farm, of 200 acres, on Section 18, and is enjoying the well-earned rewards of a laborious, honest and well-spent life. He is highly esteemed, as such men always must be. With his fine family of children, and some grandchildren, to enjoy the good example of a faithful life, he does not much regret the trials and discouragements of his early career. He now resides in Bloomington.

In the early days, postal facilities were always of less interest than at the present. Few families took the papers, and the correspondence of an entire neighborhood, like this around Diamond and Old Town, would not amount to as much as that of a school girl now. They depended largely on sending letters by some one going to, or returning from, the new home. Twenty-five cents fbr a letter was too much for frequent correspondence, and it was not unusual for a letter to remain in the office for weeks, especially along about tax-paying time, before the required "two bits " could be spared.

The earliest post office for this part of the county, was at Gov. Moore's, though soon after that, one was established at Lytleville, and one at Le Roy, though, in point of convenience, Bloomington was better than either. About 1556, Downs Post Office was established, and was kept at the house of -Mr. Peasley until the railroad was built, and was then transferred to Downs Station, without a change of name.

Besides the good farms alluded to in the accounts of early settlement, Downs has a number of fine farms and thrifty farmers.

J. W. Kershaw owns 510 acres in Sections 21,22 and 28. He has been largely engaged in raising and feeding, and buying for feeding cattle, and has made this business a success. He has a nice house, and probably the largest, best-arranged, and best barn in town. His farm is well adapted to stock-raising, and the orchards good.

Wyatt Adams has a fine farm of 210 acres on Sections 16 and 17, about two miles south of Downs Station. He has farmed this land 34 years, and there is nothing to indicate that the land is run out. He has a pleasant house, which seems, to the passer-by, to be the home of comfort and well-directed industry. He has raised a family of eleven children, and is naturally proud of them. Who wouldn't be? for there is luck in odd numbers, and most of the early settlers of Downs brought up crops of nine, ten, or twelve. Eleven was not, by any means, a common number. Solomon Mason has 200 DD 712 HISTORY OF McLEAN COUNTY.

acres in Section 18. It is a good farm, and Mr. Mason is nicely fixed to enjoy the frugal luxuries of a rural home.

Henry Wagner has a comfortable home and his farm of 275 acres, in Section 17. He has been a successful farmer, but has never branched out largely into the cattle business, like some of his neighbors. Everything about him bears the indication of thrift and well-directed industry.

Nelson McDaniels has been a successful stock farmer for thirty years. His farm is now in splendid condition.

Eber Hornor came onto his present farm of 300 acres, directly north of Rev. Sylvester Peasley's, in 1852, from Indiana. He bought of Mr. Dennis. The farm had been worked several years, and shows a careful, thrifty manager. He never has dealt much in cattle. George M. Wilson has a good farm on Section S (31, 3), with a nice residence, and everything about the place looks tidy and well kept. He has not made a specialty of of any particular branch of farming, but has been more than ordinarily successful. Jobn McConnell has a fine farm of half- a section in Sections 3:i and ? (21, 3). He has a good house, built two years ago, 26x30, two stories high, with three well proportioned rooms in each store, nicely furnished, with large kitchen and summer kitchen in the rear. The grounds are neatly adorned with evergreens and shrubbery.

The barn, recently built, is large and roomy; about 40x60, and painted. A fine pair of twin boys, Eddie and Willie, now twelve years old, are one of the chief attractions of this beautiful country home. Mr. McConnell has lived here twenty years, and is a respected and honored citizen.

Cornelius and Byron Covey, father and son, have good farms about one mile north of McConnell's, and are excellent farmers.

Very few of the farmers of Downs have been led into unfortunate speculations to their financial detriment. Those who have gone heavily into buying, feeding and shipping cattle, during the years of gradual decline of prices of cattle, have inevitably suffered, and some have been bankrupted. During those years while prices were receding, of course large ventures could hardly fail to bring large losses ; but most of the farmers have cautiously kept their business within their control.

General History[edit]

Downs Township occupies, in the southern tier of townships, the fourth from the eastern border of the county, and is described as Town 22 north, Range 3, and the northern two tiers of sections of Town 21 north, Range 3 east of the Third Principal Meridian. Downs was principally a prairie town, having no timber except Diamond Grove, a small collection of timber on the Kickapoo, in Sections 5, 6 and 7, and skirting of " Old Town Timber," along the northern border of Sections 1, 2 and 3, and "Johnson's Point," a small grove in Section 25-covering in the aggregate scarcely four sections of the forty-eight which constitute the town.

The Kickapoo is the only creek in Downs, running for about three miles across its northwestern corner. °' Blue Branch " and " Jacoby's Branch " run through the -town, and the Long Point Creek, a branch of the Kickapoo, forms in the southern part.

The land in the northern half is high and considerably rolling, containing some of the finest farms in tfie county. The southern portion is more flat, and contains fewer which attract the pleasureable attention of the traveler.

The timber here was good, and several mills were built early along the Kickapoo for sawing it into lumber. Before any mills were built, the hardy pioneers whittled out the first lumber with whip-saws, a process slow enough, and so gone out of date in this part. of the country that many of the readers of these pages will wonder what whipsawing is. The log to be sawed was first hewed to a partial square, so that it would remain in position and could be lined with a carpenter's line, and then raised upon a frame erected for the purpose, high enough for one of the sawyers to stand erect under it; a pit was dug deep enough so that the " man below," or pit-man, could do his work without inconvenience. The saw was not unlike a common cross-cut saw, except, of course, the teeth, which were set for rip work. One man stood on the log, and one underneath, the pitman being obliged to cover his face with a silk hankerchief, or some similar covering, to prevent the sawdust from ruining his eyes. The sawyers were obliged to follow the lines, and it required no small amount of skill to make very decent boards. Two hundred feet a day (board measure) was a big day's work for two men, about what a good mill will cut in ten minutes. Still, this is the way our fathers made their first lumber, and the way still practiced in boat-yards and in countries where timber is so scarce that there is no demand for mills.

In 1868, under the pressure of the popular railroad arguments, Downs voted $10,000 stock in the Indianapolis, Bloomington & Western Railroad. The road was built, and runs, for about five miles; across the northeast corner of the township, from northwest to southeast, cutting Sections 5, 4, 10, 11 and 13. The station on Section 4 is the only railroad station in town.

This road was recently sold out under foreclosure of mortgage, and the stockholders get nothing for their stock. The Court, however, found a way to allow lawyers' fees, amounting to $32,000, for their labors in cleaning the stockholders out. The records of the township do not show that the lawyers have yet "declared a dividend" on the stock owned by Downs.

Politics and the Government[edit]

The following figures, taken from the last report of School Treasurer E. Homer, show the condition of the schools: Principal of Township Fund, $3,683 ; whole number of children under twenty-one, 607 ; whole number between six and twenty-one, 397 ; number of districts, 9 ; whole number enrolled, 370; average number of months taught, 7.l ; whole amount paid teachers, $2,268; whole amount paid for other purposes, $868 : total amount paid, $:3,136.

In addition, is the Independent Kickapoo School District, which is located partly in this and partly in Old Town.

The following is a list of those who have been elected to the township offices from the date of township organization Justices of the Peace: A. P. Craig, S. McTeer, John McConnell, Asa Savidge, Harvey Robertson, H. M. Morehouse, J. B. Weaver, John Price, J. E. Johnson, J. H. Simpkins.

Commissioners of Highways : J. G. Bishop, D. O. Orendorff. J. Kershaw, A. 1'. Craig, P. C. Eskew, 0. C. Rutledge, U. S. Washburn, P. B. Price, J. McConnell, C. E. Barclay, Wiatt Adams, H. Welch, E. Hornor, D. Phillips. J. J. Hancock, A. H. Pogue, J. E. Killian, Byron Covey, Samuel Sniff, H. C. Lott, J. D. Downs, D. W. Mason.

The Village on Downs[edit]

There seems to be a difference of opinion in regard to the true name of this station. Priceville is the name by which the neighborhood was known for several years; when the station was established near the center of Section 4, in 1870, the railroad officials called it Downs. The same year, the Downs Post Office, which was for several years at Mr. Peasley's house, was transferred to the station, and the post office authorities have since known it as such. Soon after, the small office of" Delta," in Old Town; was discontinued, and all mail matter for that place was ordered sent to Downs. The reader will please take his choice. P. B. Price, son of old Father Price, laid out the town and platted fifteen blocks north of the railroad.

It is nine miles from Bloomington, on the Indianapolis, Bloomington & Western Railroad, and is the only station and the only post office in the township.

C. D. Bellville, as soon as the place was laid out, built a store on the block north of the depot, and filled up with a general stock of goods. He now lives at Weedman, where he is engaged in trade. In the fall of the same year, J. A. Davis and Amos Allen built a store and put in a stock of merchandise- The following spring, the Killian brothers built and occupied another. These three were more than the trade would support, and this latter firm bought out the stock of Davis & Allen; and consolidated with their own. In 1874, the Killian Bros. sold to Craig & Rodman, who continued for about six months, when Rodman sold out; and, in the following spring, John Craig sold to his brother Joseph, who closed out the stock in 1376, and closed up the store. In the fall of 1876, Mr. Savidge moved the old storehouse from Delta, and Davis & Killian put a stock of goods in it. In the spring of 1877, C. D. Bellville made another mercantile venture, and six months later moved the goods to Kuniler, and sold the building to A. Anderson, who keeps a shoe-shop there.

In the fall of 1877, John Bellville traded his store for Kansas land to John Denham, who closed out the stock in six mouths, and sold the building to Davis; soon after this, Davis & Killian dissolved and Cowden took an interest; 0. Staten purchased the stock and good will in April, 1879.

When Davis & Killian left the store they had so long occupied, Price Bros. opened a stock of dry goods and groceries, and ran it for a year, when they closed out the balance of their stock, and the store has not since been occupied.

In the fall of 1875, Drs. Montgomery & Chapin built and stocked the present drug store, and have continued to occupy, adding stationery, groceries and wares.

Dr. James Montgomery, the " father of the town," and the good physician " for all the surrounding country, was educated in the " Green Isle " of his nativity, and after serving his adopted country fur three years in Capt. Walden's company of the 94th, commenced the practice of medicine in this neighborhood. In the spring of 1871, he moved to Downs Station. His partner, Dr. S. L. Chapin, came here in the spring of 1875 ; that fall, he entered into partnership with Montgomery, and, in 1878, took up his residence in Holder, north of here, in order to better accommodate his large practice in that vicinity.

P. B. Price, either alone or with J. J. and B. R. alternately, has been engaged in grain, lumber and stock trade, at Downs, ever since the town was laid out. The business, some years, has been quite large and lucrative, but at others very unsatisfactory.

J. H. Robertson came, when the village of Delta migrated southward, in the spring of 1871 ; his blacksmith-shop was burned in 1873, and he rebuilt and took in Frank Lewis as partner. He has all the time carried on a considerable trade in agri cultural implements with his blacksmithing business. When the people of Downs wanted a Justice of the Peace who could " temper" the spirit of the community, they elected Robertson ; he knows how to strike when the iron is hot.

J. K. Gardner sold implements here during the seasons of 1876 and 1877. The Postmasters of Downs, since the office has been located at. the station, have been C. D. Bellville, John Bellville, John A. Davis, and Oliver Staten, who was appointed April 1, 1879.

The railroad agents, successively, have been C. D. Bellville, from 1870 to 1873; J. A. Davis, till 1876 ; George Willhoite, until 1S77, and A. Daller since.

The `° Hopewell " M. E. Church was built about 1867, at where the Hopewell Cemetery was and still is. It belonged to Old Town Circuit at that time, and became attached to Le Roy Circuit in 1873. A year later, it became a station. It is about 36x50, plain, and cost about $2,400. Thomas Twining, J. N. Savidge, John Rice, Dr. James Montgomery, J. H. Robertson, P. B. Price and James Brakey, were, among others, prominent in building this house of worship.

Revs. S. Middleton, W. C. Lacey, J. G. Bonnell, T. J. N. Simmons, assisted by George Reed, S. H. Whittock, William Willis and George Scrimger, have successively served the Church at Hopewell.

In 1878, the building was moved to Downs and repaired, at a cost of $300. Rev. Job Ingram is the present Pastor, under whose earnest ministrations the church and Sabbath school are in a flourishing condition. The church numbers 130, and the school about 100.

What is known as the " Kickapoo Academy " was chartered as an independent school district in 1867. The territory embraced is about four sections in Downs (including the station) and two or three in Old Town, including Gillum Station. This district has, by its charter, a Board of Education, of six members, and certain other privileges, which, by the other school districts, are deemed unfair. One of its inconveniences is, that the district embraces both Downs and Gillum Stations, and as there is but one schoolhouse, all the children which Gillum furnishes must take the railroad for two or three miles to school.

The present Board of Education consists of J. H. Robertson, President; J. B. Weaver, Secretary; J. A. Davis, Treasurer; George P. Wood, P. B. Price, John Cowden and S. Scott.

Miss Jennie Francis and Miss Wallace have been teaching; but for the summer term Miss Chatterton takes the place of Miss Francis.

The building is 24x40, two stories. Nine months' school is maintained, and the pupils number from seventy-five to one hundred.

Dry Grove[edit]

Dry Grove Township was so named from a grove in the southwestern part. This grove was long known as Dry Grove. Who first gave it the name, we do not know. All the groves in the county were named early. The reason for calling this Dry Grove may probably be found in the fact that it is on high ground, without. any stream of water running through it. The township bears the same name that was given it at the first organization in 1857. It lies in the northwestern part of the county, and includes one Congressional town. It is bounded on the north by White Oak, on the east by Normal, on the south by Dale, and on the west by Danvers Township. It is known as Town 24 north, Range 1 east of the Third Principal Meridian. As will be seen by this the Third Principal Meridian forms its western boundary, separating it from Danvers Township.


The Christian Church is the strongest at Dry Grove. It was organized by James Robinson and Amos Watkins. They held their first meetings at the residence of Samuel Barker. The house was a cabin, just across the road from where Mr. Snodgrass now lives, in the eastern side of Dry Grove. These pioneer preachers lived oil Panther Creek, in Woodford County, and came down to this grove to preach, and start a church, if possible. They were successful. This was in 1842. Belonging to the first list of membership, we find the names of John Harbard, Abraham Staggers. William Beeler, Samuel Harley, Stephen Webb, Francis Johnson, James Ward, George M. Hinshaw and others. After the first organization, the church experienced a season of inactivity. For some time, the cause was at a low ebb. But they revived again, and built their first church in 1850 and 1851. It stood on the site of the present. church, and cost about $600. It was 30 by 40 feet. With the progress of the society, this house became too small, and was replaced by another of more spacious dimensions, in 1864. This building stands on Section a3, near the southwest corner. It is jut in the south edge of the timber. There is a neatly-cared-for and elegantly-ornamented cemetery in connection. Here rest many of the earlier settlers. This is a frame house, 40 by 50 feet. Total cost of building and fitting up, ready for dedication, $2,525. It will seat, comfortably, 350 persons, though there are often a greater number in it at one time. The present Pastor is the Rev. George W. Minier, who preaches semi-monthly. There is a large congregation and nearly two hundred members. There is a meeting of some kind every Sabbath, and a large Sunday school is kept running most of the time, in connection with other services.

The Methodist Church; that has for a long time been of considerable prominence in the Twin Grove neighborhood, was first begun in Dale Township. But it was soon brought over the line. The first meetings, in Dry Grove Township, of this church. were held at the residence of Elias York. The prominent members of the first class were Elias York and wife, Elizabeth Rockhold, wife of Francis Rockhold, and a Mr. Overton and wife. Overton was a son-in-law of Elias York. Prominent among the early ministers were Robert McClun and old Father Goodheart. In 1837-38, there was a great revival among the Methodists, at this point. They were also joined by the United Brethren, Father Mason being one of the prominent workers.

The church-building was erected in 1864. It was located on the east side of Section 34, about one-half mile north of the township line. The original cost of building, exclusive of inside fixtures, was about $2,100. It is 34 by 50 feet. At the time of building, Rev. William C. Johnson was Pastor. They had just had an effective series of meetings, and the church was in a prosperous condition for a country church; there being more than a hundred members. Among these early members were Samuel Brown, Daniel Munsell and wife, John Gillespie and wife, and Mr. Gillespie's mother. Carlisle Munsell and wife, Mary Henry, R. E. Strimple and wife and mother, Thornton McFee, William Derryman and wife, and Jacob Johnson. The first Board of Trustees for the house of worship, consisted of R. E. Strimple, Daniel Munsell, Carlisle Mullsell, Samuel Sill, James P. Elliott, John S. Gillespie and Thornton McFee. The house is a neat, country edifice, having been recently repainted and fitted up anew. In the fall of 1877, it was moved from the old site one-half mile south, so that it is now in Dale Township. It was moved to the Twin Grove East Side Cemetery. This cemetery is one of the oldest in the neighborhood. It is not under the supervision of any church organization. An association, bearing the name of the cemetery, has it in charge.

In the history of this church, there have been several stirring revivals. The one of most remarkable results was that known as Berkholder's revival. This took place soon after the church was built. There were more than one hundred joined the church during those meetings. There were seventy received into full connection on a single day. Lately, there has been quite an awakening, under the efforts of Col. Johnson, of Bloomington, who is the present Pastor.

Dry Grove Township[edit]

Dry Grove Township was so named from a grove in the southwestern part. This grove was long known as Dry Grove. Who first gave it the name, we do not know. All the groves in the county were named early. The reason for calling this Dry Grove may probably be found in the fact that it is on high ground, without. any stream of water running through it. The township bears the same name that was given it at the first organization in 1857. It lies in the northwestern part of the county, and includes one Congressional town. It is bounded on the north by White Oak, on the east by Normal, on the south by Dale, and on the west by Danvers Township. It is known as Town 24 north, Range 1 east of the Third Principal Meridian. As will be seen by this the Third Principal Meridian forms its western boundary, separating it from Danvers Township.

Besides the grove mentioned above, there is another in the southeastern part of the township, called Twin Grove. These skirt the southern border, forming almost an unbroken line of timber nearly across the southern side. On the north there is no native forest; but the many clusters of forest-trees planted by the industrious farmer, together with the orchards, give the country the appearance of a woodland. This is upland prairie. It lies in very GOOD shape for farming and pasturing. A few flat places where the water might stand, have been drained at a small cost. Corn and oats are raised to a considerable extent ; hay and meadows are abundant ; stock is raised largely. On the south side, along the timber, the products are the same with some wheat; but wheat is not extensively cultivated. The old settlers tell us of the wheat raised forty and fifty years ago, but the country has undergone a change since that time in regard to the adaptability to wheat-growing. This seems to be the history of all new settlements. The black rich soil that one sees in passing through this township, is enough to make an old farmer feel like stopping and going to work. There certainly can be no discount on the fertility of the soil. One branch of Sugar Creek takes its rise in this township. There are numerous branches of this stream from the center, east and northeast. They unite in one and leave on the south side near the center of Section 33. There is also a small stream flowing northwest from the northern part, and one on the west rises near the railroad, and flows in a zigzag course to near the northwest corner. The Indianapolis, Bloomington & Western Railroad enters the township one-fourth mile west of the southeast corner of Section 35. It passes diagonally north and west through the township, leaving from the middle of the west side of Section 19.

There is not now, nor has there ever been, so far as we know, any post office or village within the limits of Dry Grove Township. The nearest was the old post village of Wilkesborough, just across the line, in Danvers Township. There has been no call for any such thing, its proximity to Bloomington being of more advantage than the building of half a score of villages. The trains on the I.B. & W.R.R. do stop at Twin Grove, when they have a passenger to that point, and there is a switch there where farmers may load grain, but there is no station-house nor regular station.

Early Industry[edit]

The first settlers at Dry Grove had to endure the usual hardships for lack of mills, shops, and such other enterprises of a public character that are always necessary for the happiness and enjoyment of any community. The lack of milling facilities was felt more keenly, perhaps, than the want of any other single thin,_. The great distances which it was necessary- to traverse in order to reach even a water-mill were enough to discourage the most determined. During the deep snow of 1830 and 1831, all were compelled to provide for themselves. The particulars of this ever-to-be remembered winter have been so often rehearsed that it is needless to dwell upon them here. It seems that this taught all to be prepared to make their own meal. The usual sight of the front yard included a mortar and sweep for the pounding of corn. As nearly all families lived in the woods, a mortar was generally made by chopping down a tree, cutting the stump off so as to make it level, and then burning a basin from the top. In this the corn was put, and pounded by a heavy pole with an iron wedge in the end, and swung from the upper end of a sweep similar to the kind often seen used in drawing water from a well. These were common all over this country, and were made so by such times as occurred during the winter of 1830 and 1831.

The first to erect a mill of any kind within the present limits of Dry Grove Township was Matthew Harbard. This was a horse-power "corn-cracker." It was on the Daniel Munsell place. Here the farmers brought their corn and had it ground. They had no sieves. The manner of separating the bulls from the meal was varied and often unique. It was useless to bring wheat to these mills, for they " could not do the subject justice." It is said that sometimes wheat was ground in a coffee-mill, if the family happened to be so fortunate as to own one. Those were the mills that were nailed to the wall. The nest mill was built where King's mill now stands. It occupied the old red building which still stands on the same spot. This was a saw-mill, and was not erected until long after the early settlement. At a still more recent date, Mr. King built a large flouring mill, with three sets of buhrs, at the same place. For some time he did a large business. A few years ago, he took out his machinery and moved it to Kansas. The building and the apparatus for sawing stood unused all the time. But we learn that Mr. King has recently returned, and expects soon to have the mill running again.

The first blacksmith-shop was operated, at an early date, by James Gilson, on his brother's farm on the north side of Dry Grove. He discontinued the shop and left the country after a short time. He was considered a first-class smith. Old Mr. Mason had a large family of boys. A story is told by Mr. Hinshaw illustrating the remarkable success Mr. Mason had in bringing up a number of hands to help him subdue the wilderness and make it "blossom as the rose." Mr. Hinshaw says that in passing through the Grove he came upon Mr. Mason and nine sons, who were all chopping on one log. The father had taken his station at the butt of the log, and arranged his sons in the order of their ages on the log with him. The oldest was nest the father, and the youngest at the top of the tree. These were all large enough to do good work, and enjoyed themselves in a race to see who would be the soonest done. What a number of ages that man must have had ! And what a serious time they must have had when they all began to grind!

Early Settlers[edit]

The two groves on the south side of the township offered as many points for settlement to the pioneer. It is no wonder that these hardy, hunting men should select the places that they did for their early efforts at civilization. These woodlands are still attractive. They are ion the upland. There are no marshes nor swamps in them.

The ground is rolling and soon dry after the rains. In early spring, the grass is seen peeping out from under the leaves, clothing the woodland with a carpet of green before the somber prairies put on their summer's garb.

The first to enliven the township with a white man's home, was Peter McCullough. He came from Flemingsburg. Ky., and settled in the grove in 1326. Peter McCulluugh was a noted character in early times. He was a man of remarkable shrewdness and decisiveness. His son William McCullough is well known in the general history of the county, both as an honored and respected citizen, and as a brave and efficient soldier and officer. There are several of the descendants of Peter McCullough still living in the county. He kept a kind of inn for some time, and many anecdotes might be told in regard to the primitive modes of entertainment.

The next man in the township was Stephen Webb. Mr. Webb came originally from North Carolina, but moved early to Kentucky and then to Tennessee. From Tennessee, he came to Illinois with William McCord and George and Jacob Hinshaw. Their trials and hardships make quite a long story. The journey was made under the most discouraging circumstances, and show hardihood, pluck and perseverance. After reaching this country, some stopped in one place and some in another, Mr. Webb finally locating his claim at Twin Grove, within the present limits of Dry Grove Township. This was in 1827.

Mr. Webb has resided in the township ever since. He still lives at a place lie has occupied since pioneer days. He was born May 8, 1797, and is, consequently; getting along to an extreme old age. He has a number of children residing in the county.

In 1828, Henry Vansickles came to Dry Grove. He was from Pennsylvania, and came to the county and stopped at Blooming Grove in 1826. He remained a long time, but finally sold out and went to Iowa. All the family of children, except the wife of Charles J. McClure, have gone to various parts of the West.

After this, settlers began to come in quite rapidly. It is not now possible to trace theta in the order of their arrival.

In 1530, we find at the Grove, on the west, a number of families ; Jacob Hinshaw, George and Reuben Carlock, Josiah Brown, Thomas Tanner on the south side; James Hefford. Henry Vansickles, William Gilson, John Dixon and Peter McCullough on the north side. Then, in 1831, there came to the same Grove Walford Wyatt, Asa Hutton and Abraham Hays.

In 1830, there were at Twin Grove the following families: Stephen Webb, Matthew Harbard (who lived on what was afterward known as the Daniel Munsell place), Landay Hurst and a Mr. Lucas. In the fall of the same year, George Beeler came to the Twin Grove, from Butler County. Ohio.

Ormond Robison came to Dry Grove in 1832. He remained but a short time, but moved to White Oak Grove in 1835. At this time, John Enlow came to the east side of Twin Grove. He stopped on the prairie and went to farming immediately. In 1837, the Munsells came from Indiana.

By this time, the settlement had increased to respectable numbers. They began to leave off hunting and sports, and settled down to the ordinary routine of rural pursuits. Many of the earliest pioneers began to feel restless under the restraints of more advancing civilization, and hied them away to the more congenial atmosphere of deer and turkey, the wolf and panther, the Indian and buffalo.

Organization of Township[edit]

Before the adoption of the township system, this lay in Bloomington and Concord Precincts. The early officers were not distinct from the Officers of those precincts. On the adoption of this system, December 3, 1857, Town 24 north, Range 1 east, was called Dry Grove, and constituted a township for political purposes. At the first election, held April 6, 1858, the following officers were elected: Supervisor, Elias Yoder; Town Clerk, Alexander Forbes ; Assessor. Samuel C. Deal; Collector, Abraham Harrison; Overseer of the Poor, David Sill; Commissioners of Highways, Eleazer Mansell, Casper W. Harlin, John L. Shorthouse ; Constables, William D. Harbard, Michael S. Sill; Justices of the Peace, Mahlon S. Wilson, Samuel H. Brown; Overseers of Highways, Simeon Lantz, J. Phillips, Roswell Munsell.


The first road through the township was the State Road from Danville to Fort Clark (Peoria). This was located by Robert McClure, Daniel Francis and a Mr. Phil lips. It is followed very closely by the I., B. & W. Railroad. It crosses the South west corner of the township, and is one of the most important roads in it. It is commonly called the Peoria road, and is a much frequented thoroughfare. All the overland travel toward the West passes this way. It was on this road that Peter McCullough kept his "way-side inn." Until the building of the I., B. & W. Railroad, in 1870, a regular line of coaches was run across the country from Bloomington west. This road is kept in good repair, and, as it passes obliquely west and north, it furnishes the shortest route to points off in that direction. Another important road crosses the northeastern corner of the township. It leads from Bloomington northwesterly. It passes obliquely through Sections 24, 14, 11, 10 and 3. The road is thrown up, being pretty well graded and drained, where draining is necessary. Beside these diagonal roads, most of the section lines and some of the half-section lines are regularly authorized highways. They are kept in good repair. There are many small streams in the township, but these are nearly all bridged. Where the Peoria road crosses Sugar Creek they have an iron bridge.


The citizens of Twin Grove and Dry Grove suffered all the inconveniences usually experienced by the original inhabitants of any country. The few who dwelt within convenient distances of one another were not, at first, sufficiently numerous to support a school. So far as can now be ascertained, the first school taught in the township was held in a log cabin on the farm that Jacob Hinshaw bought of Abraham Carlock, when Hinshaw first carne to the settlement. The teacher was Daniel Crooks. His was, as all others at that time, a subscription school. The number of pupils or the amount of money the worthy teacher received for his services, we know not; but it would not be in accordance with the spirit of the times to suppose that he more than earned a sufficiency for family necessities.

It is probable that the first schoolhouse in the township was at Twin Grove. The exact date of its erection we were unable to learn, but it was quite early in the history of the settlement. The first teacher here was James Garten.

About the time of the building of the schoolhouse in Twin Grove, the progressive spirit manifested itself at Dry Grove. The pioneers concluded that the private residence on Mr. Hinshaw's place was no longer sufficiently ample, commodious or dignified to serve as the educational edifice of the community. It was not hoped that anything superior to good, hewn, straight log could be obtained, but there would be an improvement; so they decided to build. A meeting was held to decide upon the location. Those on the west side contended that the schoolhouse should be in the middle of the grove, as 'they were all settled around it in the edge o£ the prairies. But those on the east said " No." They maintained that the greater bulk of settlers was on the east side, and that there would be more discommoded by placing it in the center than by locating it farther east. The west end people could not be persuaded to accept a compromise where they considered themselves plainly in the right. The eastern folks were no less emphatic in their assertions that the west end minority wished to control the majority, and bring a great inconvenience upon many. When it was ascertained that neither side would yield, they split. One party built their house in the eastern part of Dry Grove, and the others built theirs a little west of the center. During the first winter, school was taught in both houses, but the division worked the greatest harm to each party. Neither could keep up school afterward for want of the union that they lost in building. This story is told illustrating the fact that sometimes the usual harmony of the frontier settlements gave place to local strife. It is not to be supposed that the contest was bitter, or that any acted maliciously, but we do learn that men, then as well as now, would hold out for what they conceived to be their rights. The first teacher in the center school was George Hopkins; the first in the east end was Daniel Crooks. Mr. Warlow tells many incidents of the school that he attended at Dry Grove, some time after this, and taught by Milton Williams. This man had come to the Grove quite early from Richmond, Ky. He afterward moved to Oregon with all his family, except Col. William McCullough's wife. Milton Williams taught at Dry Grove for some time. He, kept a loud school. Every boy and girl tried to see how much noise it was possible to make, and those who have taught school know how great the possibilities are in this direction, even in the ordinary school of to-day, where noise is supposed to be at a discount. What a happy jingle those loud schools must have presented 1 There could have been no laws against whispering, for only the merest blockhead would have attempted such a thing. The frequent command to .a keep quiet," so common now in every school, would have been out of place altogether. And yet. there is but little doubt that he was " In his noisy mansion skilled to rule," for the birch was applied without ceremony to all who refused the mild scepter of '° moral suasion." Schools have multiplied and improved till now many neat buildings declare the interest manifested by the people in education. Further details of the present standing of school matters in the township may be found in the following: Number of pupils under twenty-one years, 55-1; number of pupils between six and twenty-one, 370 , number of pupils enrolled, 241 ; number of schoolhouses, 8: amount paid teachers, $2.241.03; total expenditures, $3,455.39; estimated value of school property, $4,450 ; highest wages paid per month, $50.

Among the earliest of the churches was the United Brethren's organization. John Dunham preached all over this country at a very early date, but we hear of no organization in Dry Grove until after the arrival of David Mason. Mr. Mason bought out the old schoolmaster, Milton Williams. Mason was from Ohio, and came about 1836. The organization of the church did not occur until two or three years after ward. A Rev. Mr. Davis was the minister that organized the society. For some time, there were but few members, and the society was quite feeble, but after a protracted effort by the Rev. Abraham Eccles, during which a revival of considerable importance was gotten up, the society was more prosperous. Beside Mr. Mason, Mr. Harmon Gillespie and Philip Rodcap may be mentioned as prominent supporters of the church. The United Brethren built their church in 1850 and 1851. It was 24 by 36 feet. It was put up by the members of the society. The only cash outlay was for such things as must necessarily be bought. They hauled their own saw-logs to the mill and had them converted into lumber, with which to build their church. From this fact, it is not possible now to give the cost of this church. It still stands, and furnishes the necessary conveniences for religious services. The society is not very strong at present. Rev. J. W. Fisher is Pastor.

War and Politics[edit]

In the Black Hawk war, Dry Grove was well represented. Col. William McCullough enlisted as a private in the company commanded by Merritt Covel. His great courage, spirit and daring are well known by all. James Phillips, Thomas Brown and Berry Wyatt were under Col. McClure. Col. McCullough was on the battle-field of Stillman's defeat, and there supplied himself with a gun which a hostile Indian was wont to use against the whites. McClure's command did not reach the scene of action in time " to save the day " nor participate in the flight. We are thus saved the pain of chronicling any disaster to these men on that occasion. But they were in the field, ready to go at their Captain's command, and the simple fact that they had no opportunity of dealing the enemy a heavy blow, should not detract from them any honors. They went at the call of an emergency and left their friends and relatives, not knowing whether the Indians would visit their home while they were gone, or whether their own scalps would be trophies strung to some chieftain's neck.

In the war with Mexico, Dry Grove claims honors, too. Among those who went to Southern battle-grounds, we learned the names of Benjamin Wyatt, A. J. Mason. John Cranmer, Allin Palmer, J. S. W. Johnson and Thomas Johnson. These all went, and returned again unhurt by Mexican balls, and unharmed by the ravages of disease. The call of 1361 met a hearty response, and, during the four years of war that followed, the sons of her soil fought in many a battle and bled on many a field. Robert Johnson died in the hospital; John Brooks died in camp; William Winn also died from the effects of disease; Samuel Randall was thrown from a boat and drowned. If there were others who offered their lives in support of a cause dear to their hearts, we were unable to learn their names. There has been a goodly number of men in every one of the three wars which have occurred since the first settlement of the township. May the memories of the men who responded so readily at every call for the defense of kindred and home, long be cherished by those for whom they hazarded their lives, and may their deeds of valor be told to generations yet unborn.

Politically, Dry Grove has always been Democratic, until within the last few yens. But for some time, the Republicans have been in the ascendancy. In township elections, party-lines are not so closely drawn.


Town 24, Range 5 east of the Third Principal Meridian, is Martin. It is six miles square; is the second from the east line of the county, and the third from the north and south lines. The center of it is twenty-two miles north of east of Bloomington. The Mackinaw runs entirely across its northern tier of sections, and three-fourths of this tier were covered originally with timber. The remainder of the township is prairie-land of the finest kind, both in the richness of its soil and its adaptability to thorough culture at all times.


There are three churches in Martin, each being on the edge of the town, so that it accommodates others than the inhabitants of this township. The "Antioch " Church, as its name would naturally indicate, belongs to the Christian denomination. Early in the settlement of the country, Elders W. G. Anderson, DI. H. Knight, and other devoted men, began to assemble the people together on the Lord's Day and on other occasions, for religious meditation and instruction. A Sabbath school soon followed, and the audiences outgrowing the accommodations, it was determined to build a house for worship. A suitable piece of land was procured in Section 1, and a cemetery was laid out, and in 1873, the present Antioch Church was built, 30x45, a plain four-wall structure, costing 31.400. These brethren were greatly assisted in their building enterprise by S. W. Wiley, John Hinshaw and others. Dr. Green, of Potosi, together with Messrs. Anderson and Knight, have conducted regular religious services in the church.

The " Martin Valley " Christian Church was built in 1873, in the middle of Ritter's meadow, in the southeastern part of town. It is about 40x54, a plain building, without spire or decoration, and cost about $1,500. At the time it was built, it was understood that a road would be laid out on the section line running by it, but difficulties arose in regard to it, and it now seems likely that it will cost almost as much to make a road to it as the house originally cost. It is proposed to move it to Arrowsmith, and as most of those who now attend will be as near there as where it now stands, it will probably go. The gentlemen who were largely instrumental in the building, were John Nickerson, Joseph Goddard, William Hurt, Mr. Lopeman, Elias Buzic and Capt. Kennedy.

The " Martin Valley " United Brethren Church was built in 1869, at a cost of about $1,500. The building committee was James Gillan and Jacob Richie.

Early Settlements[edit]

The first settlements were, of course, along the river, and most of those who broke the land here and put up their little cabins along the Mackinaw, still live here, enjoying the well-earned fruits of their early privations, trials and hopes.

John Wiley and his sons, William, Lytle R. and Silas W., came here from Indiana in the fall of 1835, the year that the land came into market, and entered land on both sides of the Mackinaw, near the head of the timber belt. The elder Wiley made his little home, with the help of his sons, then young men, on the south bank of the stream, where Silas has lived until this year, near the bridge. Here the old gentleman lived and died, and Silas remained on the homestead. As soon as the older sons got their father's farm into good working order, they took up land on the north side of the stream, and commenced making homes for their future families. They were induced to come into this part of the country by the Pattens, who were relatives of theirs, and had preceded them. William built a house, and married in 1841. Eight children were born to them, most of whom are living. He owns and works a farm lying in this and the adjoining township.

Lytle R. Wiley remembers well the early days here. The fall of their migration was rainy and unpleasant. The roads, where there were any, were muddy, and there were no bridges over the streams. The first winter, there was excellent sleighing, though not as good as the recent one of 1878-79. He never has seen a winter equal to this. At first, they went to the mill at Kankakee. There was later a horse-power mill at Cheney's Grove, which they sometimes patronized, and sometimes went to Ottawa. At certain seasons of the year, the patronage at these distant mills was tar beyond their capacity to grind, and the settlers had to go prepared to camp out for a week around about the mill, waiting for their turns. There was no voting place nearer than Pleasant Hill, and there they had to go until township organization was effected in 1858. The nearest store was at Bloomington, and, in case of sickness, they went there for a doctor. They brought some stock with them, and had great trouble with wolves. Sheep were a necessity to the early settlers; without them they did not know how to clothe themselves; but it was almost impossible to save them from the depredations of wolves. During the early years, there was no money to be had. The breed of hogs then known in these parts would hardly pass muster as " lard hogs " in any wellordered market. Cattle and horses were good, and easily raised, but there was no demand for them for cash. What the pioneer had to eat or wear he must make or raise, and store-clothes were at a discount. They raised some wheat, which, by hauling to Chicago, would bring 50 to 60 cents per bushel, but it ,was a good two-weeks, trip to go and return. When Lytle got ready to go to Indiana and marry, he decided to build the best house in this neck o' woods. The house still stands to show its good workmanship. It stands at the road near his present residence. The logs were all nicely hewn, and evenly laid up, framed in at the corners, rather than notched; the gable-ends clapboarded ; the rafters and roof-hoards were sawed stuff. This was in 1843, and sawed lumber could be procured then. The shingles still cover the roof which were put on thirty-five years ago, and, until recently, there was no leak in it. In 1865, Mr. Wiley built his present residence, which is a large, roomy building, and cost, at the time it was built, $3,000. It was the largest and finest house in this part of the country. It stands exactly on the line between Section 4 in Martin and Section 33 in Lawndale. His sleeping room is in Martin, but he gets his washing done" over in Lawndale. He never has had his vote challenged in Martin in consequence of having his week's washing done in the kitchen. He owns over four hundred acres of land, and has always been a good, careful farmer, never taking any speculative risks. He is the father of nine children, eight of whom are living.

Next to the Wiley family came Curtis Batterton from Kentucky, in the fall of 1836. He came here on horseback from Madison County, and went on to Missouri, but did not like the looks of things there, and returned here and bought eighty acres on Section 5, and went back to Kentucky. He returned here the following year, and soon after married here, Melinda Henline. He brought apple seeds with him from Kentucky and planted. When two years old he grafted them and soon set them out, and still has a good orchard. He lived in a log house until he was able to build the present snug brick house. The bricks were made on the place, and it is the first, as indeed it is the only, brick house in Martin Township, and cost about $1.600.

The first schoolhouse in the town was built on his land in 1856, and is still used as a schoolhouse.

For some years after coming here, it was almost impossible to sell anything. He drove hogs to Bloomington and sold for $1.25 per 100, dressed. Those who drove to Chicago did two bits" better, but it was a hard, long trip with hogs. He considers one of the greatests curses to this country the cockle burrs, which were introduced here about 1852, from Kentucky. He never allows one to grow on his farm. He is an extremely careful man. His farm and buildings are nice, clean and tidy. He and his two sons farm half a section. Their stock is good and fences in order. He is a very positive man and does his own thinking. Early in life he was a Democrat, had voted for Jackson, but became estranged from that party at the time of the Cincinnati platform, and the rebellion made him an ardent Republican. His oldest son died in the army at Jackson, Tenn., and he brought his remains home for burial. He was not a member of the church, so had no particular one to go to, to conduct the funeral service, He sent for Elder Sharpless, whom he knew as a clergyman, but was too unwell himself to attend the service. After he recovered from his sickness, he learned that the Elder was a Democrat, and be went off and got a Republican minister and had the funeral over again. Had he attended the first funeral, however, it is not likely that he would have had the second, as David Sharpless was far too good a man to allow political feeling to take even possession of his mind on so sad an occasion. He well remembers Lincoln in the olden time, and speaks of him as a very plain, unassuming man, whom any one would have taken for a plain country farmer instead of a lawyer.

S. W. Bray came from Indiana in 1855, and entered land at Bray's Clump, a little five-acre patch of timber about three miles up the stream, on " Bray's Branch," and about one mile, by direct line, from the Mackinaw, on Section 15. He was a son-inlaw of John Franklin, of Lexington. He entered 160 acres of land, and still lives on it, surrounded by a housefull of children and grandchildren, enjoying a pleasant old age. The only neighbors were the Wileys and Batterton. The nearest post office was Pleasant Hill, and the nearest school was at Batterton's, three miles away, and this was supported by subscription.

There were some singular features of the school-law of thirty-five years ago. The teacher must "board around " a week for a scholar. Each scholar, or rather the parent, was required to furnish a quarter of a cord of wood. It took as much wood to keep a schoolhouse warm in those days as to burn a brick-kiln. It was almost invariably furnished " sled length," always green and full of sap, and the boys had to chop it up noon-times and recesses. Almost hourly the request was made of the teacher to permit one to go out and bring in some wood, for by so doing he could get a half-hour's spell of chopping. Then the wood was almost always too long for the stove. Then the little fellows would ask to stand by the stove, to get warm, ostensibly, but really to scrape the sap off the ends of the sticks, as it "sizzled" out, and eat it. Another thing which seems strange to us now was, that no child who had even a drop of African blood in its veins could attend school under any terms.

Dr. Paine, now of Lexington, entered and improved a farm of eighty acres, at the head of the timber, in 1854. He remained on it a few years and sold to Richard R. Williams, who farmed it ten years and sold to John Bradford, and moved to Lexington.

The Puett farm, of 160 acres, in Section 2, in the same neighborhood, was taken up the same year. It is now owned by James E. Wood, who has gone to Indiana.

In the year 1856, James E. Wood took up 160 acres in Section 3, and lived on it several years. It is a good farm, with good buildings.

Perry' Parker took up or purchased about three hundred and fifty acres of land in Section 3, about the year 1853, and, in 1858, sold it to W. G. Anderson, who had moved from Indiana, but had lived near Bloomington. Mr. Anderson was a man of intelligence and good education, and at once set about improving and beautifying his farm and home. He was an ordained Elder of the Christian Church, and devoted much time to the religious interests of the people with whom Providence bad cast his lot. He established a Sabbath school, and commenced preaching in the schoolhouses as soon as there were any, and carried on, with the aid of other brethren, regular religious meetings, from which grew the " Antioch " Church, a notice of which will be found under the proper head.

He carried on his farm successfully for fifteen years, making cattle-feeding the principal business. He introduced pure blood cattle and hogs, and now has a herd of about thirty-five short-horns and a large lot of Berkshire hogs, which variety has always been a favorite with cattle-men, from their ability to take care of themselves among cattle.

Four years ago, he was appointed Financial Agent of Eureka College, in Woodford County, and has but just returned to his farm, which has been in charge of his son. His energy and zeal have never flagged in the work he has found to do, and he has been a valuable and useful citizen.

The large farm known as the " Harpole farm " lies just opposite these farms, consisting of the east half of Section 10 and all of Section 11, at the head of the timber, and includes the separate grove known as" Funk's Bunch." The Mackinaw runs across both sections, and that it is one of the best cattle-farms in the town or county is evidenced by the fact that it was early selected by Mr. Isaac Funk for one of his farms, and he was never known to select anything but the best when he had his choice. In 1858, lie put J. S. W. Johnson on it, to improve it and feed cattle. Johnson was a good manager, and continued in control of it until 1866, when he died. Mr. Funk having died, it came into possession of his son George, who sold it to Peter Harpole. At the latter's death, two years later, his widow went to Bloomington to live. Alfred Harpole now has charge of it., carrying about two hundred head of cattle, feeding some, but, like all these farmers, much fewer than they formerly did. There is abundance of water, fine feedyards, good buildings and good accommodations.

Soon after this, the prairie began to be made into farms. Prof. Turner had demonstrated that the Osage orange, which was a native of a southern clime, would stand our winters, and could make a fence. Coal had been found to burn well, and it began to appear that men could live on these prairies. Capt. James Kennedy (or Jeems, as he insists upon calling it,) is a character which few men in Martin do not know, and whom to know is to get acquainted with at once. Born and raised in the blue-grass region of Kentucky, he found, as his boys grew up around him, that he ought to get out of that country, not that he expected to find any better one, but his shrewd foresight told him that the stern logic of events must lead to war sooner or later, and he did not want to be in it. He knew that this country never could be divided, and that the attempt would be made, and he did not mean to be in it. He was a firm Whig in politics, and expected always to be.

In 1852, he sold out there and came to Bloomington with means enough to buy him a good farm and stock it. Being particular about his future home, he did not buy at once, but rented a farm at Bloomington on the Peoria road. He carefully looked over all this country, and found in the place he now lives on, Section 21, just what suited him, but it was not for sale. Peter Folsom, who owned it, was holding it, but afterward sold to Alexander Miller, and Capt. Kennedy bought of him.

He had been Captain of the militia, in Kentucky, and raised a company for the Mexican war, but it was not accepted, as the regiments were all full. He brought a thorough-bred, short-horn herd with him from Kentucky, and was one of the early and most efficient friends of the County Agricultural Society, of which he was for some years President. In 1860, he was the candidate of the Democrats for Representative from this county.

He is full of early incidents, one of which is worthy of repeating, as showing the currency troubles of olden times. He started once on a business trip to Bloomington, Ind., and took money out of the bank at Bloomington, before starting. Arriving at Terre Haute, he stepped on the cars, and, when the conductor came around, he had not a bill which would pass in the sovereign State of Indiana. He tried every plaster he had, and none would fit on that soil. He asked the conductor what he must do, and received the reply that he would have to get off. He then asked whether, in the opinion of the conductor, he would be permitted to walk on the. track after the train had gone, with that money in his inside pocket. This sally so amused the conductor that he did not put him off, and he got to the end of his journey by borrowing from an entire stranger.

After he bought the farm he now lives on, there were, for a time, so few people living here that they could not have a school. For a year they did keep a school in a private house, hiring the house-wife to teach it, but in 1865 and 1866 the rush of settlement was so great that schoolhouses were built, and everything moved off smoothly.

He has always taken a lively interest in public affairs, and especially in township affairs. For years this town has been without any pauper expense. He has been repeatedly elected Supervisor, and made a very useful member of the County Board. He has a good farm, bountifully supplied with fruit, and, at seventy-five, he is spending a green old age, with nothing to complain of, and few regrets. He does regret however, that the people of this prairie country did not earlier learn that they could get along without having to fence against other people's cattle. He says he did not know, until after the people over in Cropsey Township adopted their ordinance against cattle running at large, that it could be done. Had it been done twenty years sooner, it would have saved the farmers the millions they expended in fences.

Capt. Kennedy is a member of the Christian Church; has been a liberal supporter of religious affairs, and contributed largely to building four different churches. He has been three times married; is the father of six children, four of whom survive.

The township contains many excellent farms, some of the best of which have been already mentioned.

James Gillan, who for several years has represented the town on the County Board of Supervisors, came here from Tremont, Tazewell County, in 1865, and bought, and commenced improving, what is now a fine farm in Section 23. He is of Irish birth, and a man of excellent judgment, and is held in great respect. At that time land was selling at from $7 to $10 per acre.

Isaac Bunn, originally from Pennsylvania, esteemed by all one of the best farmers. came here in 1$64. He farms three-quarters of a section in Sections 18 and 19. He has excellent land, good buildings, and is comfortably fixed. He formerly fed cattle largely, but that line of farming has become much depressed since the opening of the great cattle-fields of Colorado and the West.

John Ritter was here, on Section 34, as early as 1864, and James Hagler on Section 29 at the same date. They have both good farms and high rolling land. These men came at a time when they had their pick of thousands of acres of as good land as the sun ever shone on.

Jacob H. Richie, on Section 35, and Mr. Springer, on Section 36, have nice farms, and both are among the best farmers in town.

William Wilson has half of Section 16, which is also a well-managed farm. John Nickerson owns a large farm in Section 28, with fair buildings, extensive orchards and comfortable appointments. J. M. Sells has a fine farm of 480 acres, with comfortable buildings and improvements.

J. E. Walden was born in McLean County. Early went into the army, where he served until 1865. On coming home, he bought eighty acres of land in Section 27, where be still resides. His brother, Solomon K. Walden, lives on the large Henline property, which has recently been purchased by Gen. Gridley. The two sections belonging to the Henlines had never been plowed until 1878, when the north one was put into corn, and the south one will be this year. The Martin tract will also be planted this year for the first time. Renters on these new lands give two-fifths, and the chances are a premium at that.

There is noticeable throughout an appearance of thrift and healthy improvement. There are no very rich men to cause jealous emulation ; no very poor to call for pity or pauper bills. A friendly Christian spirit seems to pervade. No neighborhood quarrels, and no expensive litigation have estranged friends or broken in upon the general good feeling.

There is no post office in Martin, the people generally going to Arrowsmith or Saybrook on the south for trade and for postal facilities. They do not greatly desire railroads, either. They seem remarkably contented, peaceful, successful and happy. What more can any neighborhood want?

Martin Township[edit]

Town 24, Range 5 east of the Third Principal Meridian, is Martin. It is six miles square; is the second from the east line of the county, and the third from the north and south lines. The center of it is twenty-two miles north of east of Bloomington. The Mackinaw runs entirely across its northern tier of sections, and threefourths of this tier were covered originally with timber. The remainder of the township is prairie-land of the finest kind, both in the richness of its soil and its adaptability to thorough culture at all times. There is practically no waste land in the town. Bray's Run and other small streams running across it from its southern to its northern border, water and drain its rolling surface, making it unsurpassed in beauty and value. Added to this, the general thrift and care of its farmers, the attention to buildings, orchards and hedges, the general freedom from foul growth which the farms show, all tend to make one remember a visit to Martin pleasantly.

The town was named from Dr. Eleazer Martin, who, at the time of his death, owned a large tract of land, which still belongs to his two daughters, Mrs. Ewing and Mrs. Dr. Elder.

Township Organization[edit]

Those who have served as Justices of the Peace are B. V. Smith, J. R. Williams, R. Horney, W. H. Anderson, N. Hawk, James Gillan, C. W. Spawr, D. Bierbower and S. T. Ridgeley. The following have been Commissioners of Highways: R. R. Williams, S. W. Wiley, H. C. Langstaff, C. Batterton, H. G. Anderson, A. S. Hudson, J. Lyons, L. Warner, J. Carter, J. Bunn, J. R. Williams, J. Twogood, William Wilson, S. Dean, Joseph Nye, William Hurt, T. Wilson, W. H. Anderson, L. J. Willhoite.

Milton S. Morris, Treasurer of the School Trustees, reports, in 1877, the following Number of school districts, 7 ; number of schoolhouses, 6; number of children under twenty-one years, 419; number between six and twenty-one years, 276; number of children enrolled, 256; amount of school fund, $3,478; amount paid teachers, $1,786.66; total expense of every kind, $3,354. Like many other townships, Martin "fooled" away the school section, which, with proper care, would have made a fund large enough to support all the schools in the town.

Money Creek[edit]

Money Creek Township is located in the northern part of the county, being in the second tier from the north. It is directly north of the center. It is bounded as follows: On the north by Gridley, on the east by Lexington, on the south by Towanda, and on the west by Hudson Townships. It comprises one Congressional town, and is designated, Town 25 north, Range 3 east of the Third Principal Meridian.

A Murder in Money Creek[edit]

Two and a half miles northeast of the village of Towanda„but within the limits of Money Creek Township, there was found, one morning in October, 1876, the body of a man, in the field of James Donohue, about forty rods from the railroad. The body was first discovered by Mrs. Strode. She thought it was a " tramp" asleep, and so reported the matter at home. The boys went out and found the man dead, lying on his face. They reported, and immediately sent for Coroner Hendricks. Dr. Smith, of Bloomington, held the post-mortem examination, and found that one ball had entered behind the jaw, and passed back of the trachea, down below the heart. Another ball bad passed through the body just below the ribs and toward the left side. An examination of the skull showed a fracture on the back, as though he had been struck with the breech of a pistol. There was also a mark on the skull at one side, and a piece gone from the ear, which went to prove that the man had been struck. From papers on the body, it was found to be that of Albert Anglen. He was from Grafton, W. Va. He had letters in his pocket from a young lady in Flora, Colo. It was ascertained that he had been an exemplary young man, and had been respected by all of his acquaintances. With the body was found a pair of boots, lying to one side, that he could not have worn. These were recognized by a shoemaker at Shippey, Ill., as being a pair that he had mended for Karl Klusty, a Bohemian. Klusty and Anglen had been working at Shippey. They had passed through Towanda a few days before, and it is supposed that the Bohemian murdered the young American for his money. The revolver probably belonged to the American and was snatched away from him while his attention was drawn toward something else. The men had slept over night at a straw-stack near. A great many arrests were made, but none proved to be the man sought. Quite recently, it has been ascertained that Karl Klusty has arrived in Bohemia, and is there under arrest, where it is hoped that he will meet with the punishment he so justly deserves.


The first preaching on Money Creek was by Isaac Messer, a local preacher, belonging to the church of the United Brethren in Christ. The meetings were held at the residence of Mr. Valentine Spawr, who was noted as coming to Money Creek in 1827. Peter Spawr-a son of Valentine Spawr-had married one of Mr. Messer's daughters, and in that way Mr. Messer became acquainted on Money Creek. For a long time, he made semi-monthly visits to these parts, and gathered the people together to hear the preaching of the Gospel.

A society of about a half dozen United Brethren was formed in 1832. Prom inent among these were Jacob Moats and wife, and Jesse Havens and wife. The Rev.

John Dunham organized the class. After the organization was effected, meeting was held at the residence of Jacob Moats, until the building of the church in 1856. The first regular circuit preacher was James P. Eckles. In 1856. the United Brethren built a neat, substantial church. It is located about one-third of a mile north of the south east corner of Section 30, and still serves as their place of worship. The Moatses are among the strongest members. It is largely due to their influence, that the church was built where it is; and their means have been the principal source of support. The Methodists had an organization in working order, as early, perhaps, or nearly so, at least, as that of the United Brethren. Jacob Spawr and wife, and old Mrs. Trimmer, with her son David Trimmer, were the prominent members, and the only ones; so far as remembered now. Jacob Spawr's residence was the usual place of meet ing. James Latta, a Methodist preacher, held meetings there as early as 1830.

They built a church one-quarter of a mile east of the present schoolhouse, in District No. 3, but after the village of Towanda sprung up, they abandoned it, and united with those farther south in building a new church in the village. The old building was sold and used for other purposes. The first members of the Christian Church, of any prominence. were y1. N. Barn and and Young Bilbrey. Preaching was held at each of these men's houses. Their first preacher was James Robinson. He preached here as early as 1835, and has continued his services, semi-occasionally, ever since. The Christians built a church in 1857, the next year after the building of the United Brethren's Church. This sub stantial country church is located on the southeast corner of Section ?0. The Christians have quite a large membership. The Rev. Ebenezer Rhodes assisted them in the building up of their society. The Christians, Methodists and United Brithren are the principal denominations in the township. If there are others, we were unable to learn anything in regard to them. Taking the township as a whole, the United Brethren are, probably, the most numerous. They have three organized classes-one at Hefner's schoolhouse, another has a church at the old site of Clarksville, and the other meets in their church, just north of Towanda. The Methodists and Christians are by no means scarce.

Early Progress[edit]

The people on Money Creek manifested the true spirit of progress. They built schoolhouses and churches. They erected mills and secured a post office; and if they built no towns, it was not for the want of an attempt. Mr. Pennell and Mr. Baylor Tan the saw-mill, just across in Towanda Township, and George Wallace built a flouring-mill on the Mackinaw. When this mill was built, they had an old-fashioned "raising." Those were the days when the jug went around, and everybody indulged. They had a fine time, but no one became intoxicated. This mill was like its neighbors, it depended upon the force of the running stream for its power. It was near the site of Clarksville, and was built about 1836. But when dry weather came, the neighborhood was compelled to go off long distances to mill. Sometimes they went down to the Murphy mill, on Kickapoo, and sometimes they were compelled to go all the way to Ottawa. Wallace gave up the mill to a Mr. Denson. Denson died with the Asiatic cholera in 1855, and after this, the mill went down, and nothing has been heard of it since. Jacob Spawr was made Justice of the Peace. Justices had but little to do in those days. Lawsuits were seldom carried on, and marriages were necessarily few.

Early Settlements[edit]

"Old Louis Soward," as he is universally known among the few who remember him, came to this country from Ohio. He was one of those jolly old frontiersmen who enjoy themselves best away from the haunts of civilization. One to whom the trials and vicissitudes of pioneer life were preferable to the restraints of more advanced society. He was a great hunter. In those days deer were plenty; they might be seen in droves at almost any time. Turkeys abounded in the woods of the Mackinaw and Money Creek. Wolves nightly indulged in their melancholy lamentations over the scarcity of prey. Bees, too, were plenty in the woods. "Uncle Louis" was a great hand at scenting bee-trees, and often brought home vast quantities of sweets for family use. He was a great story-teller. Many of his stories are repeated around the firesides on Money Creek, and many a hearty laugh is had at the ready wit of this early- pioneer. Mr. Soward had a family of four boys and three girls; but with all the family, he left the township at quite an early day, for the wilds of Wisconsin. The exact date of Mr. Soward's arrival is not now known. It was prior to the settlement; farther up, by the Trimmer family, and as they came in 18'36, the towards must have come as early as 1825. It is thought by some that they came even earlier.

Jacob Harness, a brother-in-law of Louis Soward; came, also, from Ohio, and. it is thought, about the same time. He sold his claim to John Pennell, another Ohio man, and moved to Mackinaw Creek, in Lexington Township.

In 1826, Jacob Spawr, then a young man, took a claim on Money Creek. He worked for Mrs. Trimmer, who was then a widow, and, in the fall of the same year, married her daughter. His father, Valentine Spawr, came to the creek the next year.

The Spawrs were from Pennsylvania. Valentine Spawr had been a soldier under Gen. Wayne.

In 1829, John Steers and the Van Buskirk family came to Money Creek. Van Buskirk lived here until he died. Some of his descendants are still living on Money Creek. A daughter married Mr. Henry floats, and lives just west of the schoolhouse in District No. 3. In the spring of 1830, Mr. M. N. Barnard moved in and bought Mr. Steers' claim.

In the spring of 1830, the Moats family came. Jacob Moats was born in Penn sylvania September 16, 1785. His father was a German, who came from Germany- and settled in the eastern part of Pennsylvania. When Jacob Moats was still a young man the family moved to Licking County, Ohio. They were all farmers. There Jacob married Sarah Hinthorn, who then resided in the same county of Ohio. Miss Hintborn was born in West Virginia, near Wheeling. When forty-four years old. Jacob Moats started West with his lame family of nine children. It took five weeks to reach the Big Grove. Here they stopped for a time. They rented a house of David Smith, who afterward moved to Smith's Grove, in Towanda Township.

In coming West, there were several families in the train with which the Moats family came. From the Big Grove they were accompanied by Jesse Havens. They came to Hudson first, where Havens bought out Baily, Harbert and Moats, another of the Harberts. This was in the fall of 18'29. But spring found the Moats family on Money Creek. From here they never moved, and the family of children grew to manhood and womanhood in this neighborhood.

The old Mr. Spawr had sold his claim to Jacob Moats, and on this he lived until his death, in 18-14. Of his nine children, four died in the fall of 1840. They all died within a short time. -one of the doctors were able to understand the disease or arrest its fatality. Three girls and one boy, ranging in age from sixteen to twenty-six, were carried away within lbur weeks. Two others were taken with the same disease, but recovered. One other brother died afterward. The remaining four children married and settled on Money Creek.

Henry Moats, the oldest of the family, is now the oldest old settler living anywhere in this part of the country. The Moatses have always been an important element. in society, taking the lead in church matters, and giving liberally of their means to the support of whatever they considered beneficial to the neighborhood.

In 1830, Jesse Stretch and Benjamin Ogden came to the settlement, from Ohio. John Ogden came in 1831, and stopped down on the Mackinaw. Benjamin Ogden bought out Louis Soward.

Among the others that came, in a short time, may be mentioned Dr. Ethan McAferty, who came from Ohio and began in the forks of Money Creek and Mackinaw ; William Wilcox, from the same State, who went to the same neighborhood; John R. Wiley, William Young, and a number of others. In 1836, the Bishops came. William G. Bishop held the first post office.

The early settlers went for their mail to the town of 'Mackinaw, now in Tazewell County. After they had gone such a long distance, they had to pay 25 cents for each letter. The post office was pretty soon established at Bloomington, and then they were somewhat relieved, for the post office was not more than fifteen miles away. Finally, there was a mail-route established from Ottawa to Springfield, by way of Bloomington, and Money Creek received an office, being on the route. The mail was carried on horse-back, the carrier making one round trip a week. When Mr. Bishop gave up the office, and Mr. Moore, of Towanda, was appointed, Money Creek lost the only post office she ever had, and she has never been able to get another. But she does not need it. Hudson, on the west, Lexington, on the northeast, and Towanda, on the south, furnish all the necessary facilities.


In the early history of this settlement, Indian trails were the only roads. There was a very prominent trail passing through the settlement, which connected the Wabash with the Illinois. Indian paths, of course, followed the most direct and convenient course. The first road made by white men did the same. Many of these became regularly-established highways, and, as a result, we find the township crossed in all directions by roads that follow section or half-section lines but little. In townships that are composed of prairie-lands almost wholly, we naturally look for roads on every section line, but, where there has been a considerable amount of timber, it is not so. Accordingly, we find a number of section lines that are not authorized highways.

The principal road through the township is the Lexington and Bloomington road. It enters the township from the southwest, with the Chicago, Alton & St. Louis Railroad. Afterward, it passes a short distance north, and then one mile cast; thence one mile north and one-fourth mile west; thence one-half mile north ; after that, one and one-half miles east; one and one-fourth miles north again, and from this point, in a northeasterly direction, through the remainder of the township. Another much-traveled road, is the one leading north from Towanda village. It follows the section-line between Sections 31 and 32 and 35 and 29 ; here it meets the road extending across the township, on the north side of the second tier of sections, from the south.

A strangely-zigzag road passes north, through the second tier of sections, from the west. It extends through the township, and though it makes many turns, it never passes outside of the second tier of sections.

There are a number of oblique roads, the most noticeable being the following: A road, beginning one-fourth mile north of the southwest corner of Section 15, and extending northeasterly, crossing a branch of the Mackinaw on an iron bridge; a road beginning at the southeast corner of Section 2, and passing partly in a zigzag course, and partly in a northwestern direction, through the old site of Clarksville, to the northern line; from the iron bridge on the branch of the Mackinaw, first due north three fourths of a mile, and then in a zigzag and oblique direction to the northwest. Although the roads of Money Creek are thus seen to cut the farms in many places, they furnish shorter routes to market, and any inconvenience is thus overcome by a positive benefit.

The origin of the name Money Creek; is shrouded in mystery. There are. two theories afloat, that we hear of. "Ever since the days of Capt. Kidd, The Yankee thinks there's money hid," and ever since the oldest settlements, there has been a legend afloat in regard to the hiding of some money at Smith's Grove, by some one, who died and left it buried there. It was told how great wealth might possibly be found there. As this story was circulated very early, it may have given rise to the name as applied to the creek.

Again, it is said that some Indians found a piece of money along the creek; and gave it the name of Money Creek, from this fact.

Money Creek Township[edit]

Although Money Creek Township was settled very early, before there had been any considerable settlement in what is now McLean County, and almost as soon as the advent of John Hendrix to Blooming Grove, no villages now dot its prairies or hover along its streams. There is not even a post office within the present limits of the township, and very little remains of Clarksville, the only place that has ever assumed the dignity of even a hamlet.

Money Creek Township is located in the northern part of the county, being in the second tier from the north. It is directly north of the center. It is bounded as fol lows: On the north by Gridley, on the east by Lexington, on the south by Towanda, and on the west by Hudson Townships. It comprises one Congressional town, and is designated, Town 25 north, Range 3 east o£ the Third Principal Meridian. The soil is rich and productive throughout the greater portion of the township. The surface is covered by a considerable belt of timber. In the southwestern corner, and from the center, extending southeasterly, there are some fine prairies. There is, also, a small portion of prairie-land in the northeastern corner. Money Creek enters the township from Towanda at Section 32; after passing in a north, and slightly northwestern direction, it leaves in Section 15, but curves back east into the township again; finally leaving between Sections 6 and 7. Mackinaw Creek crosses the northeastern corner of the township, flowing northwest. It enters at the southeast corner of Section 12, and leaves near the middle of Section 5. Along Money Creek and Mackinaw, there was, before it was cleared away somewhat, very fine timber for this country. The old sawmill on Money Creek did a vast amount of sawing in an early day, and there is consid erable timber yet. This accounts for the early settlements made here. This township is also crossed by the Chicago, Alton & St. Louis Railroad, which enters at the southwest corner of Section 33. and leaves at the middle of the east side of Section 1'.i. The principal products are corn and oats. Wheat is cultivated to a limited degree. Hogs and cattle are raised to a considerable extent.


The first school was taught in a house erected for school purposes, about forty-five or forty-six years ago. This house was built of logs. For windows, it bad openings-where a log had been cut away. These were covered with greased paper. During the long winter-days, these semi-transparent, slits furnished all the light from without. Whenever the huge log-fire could be made to burn with sufficient brilliancy, it may be supposed that the youth suffered nothing from want of light. But, unfortunately, this was seldom the case. The chimney was built of mud and sticks, and it failed to "draw." Mrs. Henry Moats, who was then a young girl of thirteen, tells us that the memory of that old house is terrible. The first winter in it was one of absolute suffering. The fire-place would " smoke " so badly that the schoolroom was continually filled with it. Their eyes grew red, they caught had colds, and their heads would ache continually. They suffered from cold, too. Slabs, hewed from logs, served as seats.

The first teacher was Lindsey Scott. He came from Tazewell County, near Pekin. What he received, we were unable to learn ; but one thing is certain-he got his hoard, for he "boarded round." As near as can be remembered, he had twelve to fifteen scholars. These, at 84 per scholar, for three months; would give $48 to $60 for the term, beside his hoard. This is probably somewhere near the actual facts. It must be remembered, farther, that those were the days when the teacher began school as soon as he reached the house in the morning, and closed only when the approach of night showed that the children must he going or that darkness would overtake them on the road. The Testament and spelling book were about the only teats in general use. Those who aspired to a knowledge or " 'rithmetic," generally had a hook ; but grammars and geographies were unknown. This first schoolhouse was located on the east hank of Money Creek, in the midst of the earliest settlements.

The old log schoolhouse has long since passed away. The children who went to school in it are now old men and women, or have passed away with their early teacher. New and more inviting buildings now furnish comfortable apartments where the young people can delve into the mysteries of science, or puzzle themselves over mathematical questions, without danger of freezing or having their eye-sight impaired for want of light. Schools are generally in a good condition, and the people take a just pride in sustaining them. Some of the leading facts in regard to the educational work of the township may be learned from the following: Number of children under twenty-one years, 583; number of children between six and twenty-one years, 394; number of scholars enrolled, 303; number of schoolhouses, 7 ; number of school districts, 8; amount paid teachers, $,511.31; total expenditures, $3,702.40 ; estimated value of school property, $3,900 ; highest wages paid, $00.

War and Politics[edit]

We found no soldiers that were in the Black Hawk or Mexican wars. In the early days, the settlers were often badly seared by rumors of danger, but farther than this, they were not disturbed. In the late war, Money Creek furnished her quota of men.

They offered a number of brave men on their country's altar. Among those who were killed on the field of battle, were the following: Arthur Busick, John Kriger, James Arbuckle, Davidson Dodson, and two persons of the name o£ William Trimmer. Quesnell Rayburn and Joseph Stretch died of disease contracted while in the service of their country.

In the first settlement of this country, the two parties were Democrat and Federalist; then came the Whigs, and later the Republicans. In early times, the township was Democratic. Latterly, it has been pretty evenly balanced between the Democrats and Republicans. Within the last few years, quite a number have joined the National Greenbackers.

White Oak[edit]

The township of White Oak is one of the most interesting in McLean County; it is the smallest in area-containing a little over seventeen sections of land-being a trifle less than half a Congressional township.

Early Settlements[edit]

It appears that settlements were not made along the Mackinaw at as early a day as they were made in the southern part of McLean County. We find Blooming, Randolph's and Funk's Groves had each several families as early as 1833, while it was five or six years before any are reported as being in White Oak. Doubtless this was owing to the fact that the settlement of this State was then proceeding from the south toward the north, and the early pioneers felt that the Mackinaw Timber was rather a frontier settlement.

The pioneers of the other groves in McLean County preferred to live together, being anxious to build schoolhouses and have the social and religious advantages of well-settled communities, rather than be scattered too far apart. Probably the presence during these years-from 1823 to 1829 - of large numbers of Indians along the Mack inaw had something to do with this state of affairs. These Indians were regarded as friendly, but no one knew just how far to trust them. In fact, in 18'37, troops were called out to protect settlers living north of the Illinois River, and it required considerable courage to locate many miles in advance of a strong settlement.

The southern portion of White Oak Grove - that which forms the north part of the present town of White Oak - must have presented an interesting appearance to the early prospectors. Here was a magnificent body of timber, fronting upon a beautiful tract of the finest prairie to be found in the State. A few miles in the rear was a stream well stocked with fish: while the Grove was a noted resort of deer, turkeys and other wild game of the period. Here the pioneer might reasonably look forward to a long season of good hunting, while lie could, at the same time, avail himself of all the advantages to be derived from timber and prairie adjoining in such large bodies that neither would be likely- to be at once taken by new settlers.

The correctness of this reasoning, so far as it relates to wild game has been proven by the fact that two deer were killed in this neighborhood as late as 1874; while, at the present time, White Oak Grove possesses wild turkeys and more game than any other timber of Central Illinois, though the Mackinaw does not furnish fish as it did fifty years ago.

Smith Denman, the oldest man living in White Oak, was its first pioneer. He settled here in September, 1829. During the same year, Thomas Dixon arrived, and, also. Littleton Sandford.

In 1830, Elisha Dixon. John 13-own, Samuel and Robert Philips settled here. In the spring of 73'.31, three brothers, John, James and William Benson, settled near each other, on the south side of the Grove. A year after that, Abraham W. Carlock made his home about one hundred yards west of the McLean County line, in Woodford. During the same year, Zachariah Brown and Orrin Robinson made their settlement. Reuben Carlock came in 1833.

Other settlers, also, arrived before this time, so that by the end of 1836, there was a goodly number in and about the Grove. Some of the above-named should be credited to Woodford County. Several of the early pioneers bad lived in other portions of McLean County before taking up land here.

The Bensons were sons of John Benson, of Blooming Grove, and came to that settlement with their father in 1823. They took a prominent part in the affairs of that settlement. Their father is often referred to in its history. He taught school at the southwest side of Blooming Grove several terms, was first County Treasurer of Tazewell County and was one of Blooming Grove's best men. He removed to White Oak in 1842. Here he passed the last years of his life-a remarkable instance of longevity ; he died in 1874, having been ninety-six years old. He lived in the " Benson settlement,' with his three sons, his grandchildren and his great-grandchildren - 115 in all, most of whom were living in the same neighborhood.

Mr. Benson was a genuine pioneer. He lived in Kentucky in his boyhood, until 1798, when his father removed to Southern Indiana. In the war of 1212, John Ben son fought with Gen. Harrison at Tippecanoe. In 1830, he removed to Illinois. He was one of the best specimens of the early pioneers, having been a man of some education, while he was, at the same time, a hard-working, industrious settler. His memory will be gratefully preserved by our community as well as revered by the large family which he founded. His three sons, who settled in White Oak, were "chips of the old block "-men most admirably fitted for the work they undertook. In fact, Smith Denman, the Dixons; the Browns, the Phillipses, the Carlocks and all the pioneers were first-class men.

Here was organized, naturally, at an early day, one of the pleasantest communities to be found in the West. The early settlers were well-disposed persons, and their descendants are of the same disposition. It is not saying too much to state that nowhere in McLean County can its equal be found. The present generation is largely made up of people who were born here or who have lived here from their childhood; and they have nearly all fallen into the good ways of the settlement.

The town possesses five churches, with seat-room enough for more than all its inhabitants-something that can be said of but. few towns in the United States. Its inhabit ants are mostly a church-going people. They are honest, moral, religious, social, economical, are not in debt, have no paupers, do not go to law, are generous to each other in misfortune, have no aristocracy, pay their bills-in short, form a strictly well regulated, we might almost say a model, community.

Here we find, more marked than in any other town in the county, the simplicity and good habits of our early settlers, uncontaminated by modern degenerate practices. There are no large villages near enough to attract the attention of the younger people, and they find amusement and sociability at home, and grow up purer and better than would be the case were they convenient to a city. Besides this, we should mention the fact that the population has changed less than any other, is made up more of the families and descendants of the first settlers, and is mingled less with foreigners than is the case in most towns. Fortunately, the foreigners living here are nearly all of the religious, careful, economical class, whose manners and customs are largely in harmony with those of the balance of the community.

The family connections of the Bensons, the Carlocks, the Browns, the Phillipses, and those of a few others of the old families, form some remarkable circles of relatives, living in good circumstances, moral-nearly all of them religious-bringing down to the present generation the best qualities of the early pioneers of this county, they are among the very best specimens of the "good old times" that can be found in McLean County. Their influence has affected the whole neighborhood favorably, and the honesty and good conduct of the people of the township have given it an enviable reputation. "Little White Oak" is the favorite of the balance of McLean County. Its history should be written with more care than we can give, as it abounds in most interesting events. Unfortunately for us, we can devote but little space to the fractional township now under consideration. We hope the history of the whole of White Oak Grove, without regard to the present township lines, will be written by some person who can do justice to the whole Grove.

The deep snow which came late in 1830, and stayed until February, 1831, found only seven families at the Grove-Elisha Dixon, Smith Denman, Thomas Dixon, John Brown, Samuel and Robert Phillips and Littleton Sandford. Elisha Dixon arrived the very day the snow commenced falling. There were over forty days in which snow fell, and it was thirty-six inches deep on a level in the Grove. In some spots where drifts formed from prairie winds, the drifts were from ten to fifteen feet deep. As none of the settlers had been here over about a year, and most of them less than that, they were not as well prepared as were those who lived at Blooming Grove and other old settlements, and there was considerable suffering. This story has been so often told, and is repeated so much elsewhere in this book, that we will give it little space in this chapter.

The sufferings of this little band of pioneers, however, deserve more particular record, it being almost the beginning of history, as far as White Oak Grove is concerned. At the time of the Black Hawk war, in 1835, several of the bravest men volunteered in Capt. McClure's company, and served through the campaign. Among the number were John Benson and Mr. Phillips, and there were several others.

After the news of the defeat of the troops from McLean and Tazewell Counties at Stillman Valley, the whole of this region became panic-stricken, and there were frequent "scares" along the Mackinaw, that in after days were often made sport of, though at the time they occurred they were terrible. There was so much reason to dread the Indians that a company was called out to guard the "frontier" of McLean County, and they patrolled the " border" for sixty days, most o£ the time, however, being farther east and northeast than the territory under consideration. The people living a few miles north and east were much more frightened than the residents of White Oak Grove.

Among the settlers who were in the township of White Oak, or in the Grove very near the present township, in the year 1841. we find the names of Smith Denman, Thomas Dixon, John Dixon, Joseph Dixon. Elijah Dixon, Elisba Dixon, James Ben son, John Benson, William Benson, Silas Garrison, Reuben Carlock, George Carlock, A. M. Carlock, Abner Peales, John Hinthorne, Samuel Kirkpatrick. John McGee, Stephen Taylor, Isaac Allin, Richard Rowell, Frank Rowell, R. C. Brown, Jeremiah Brown, Orman Robinson, Zachariah Brown, John W. Brown, John Denman, James Phillips, Lewis Stephens, D. M. Stephens, Jared D. Franklin, John Hinshaw.

This indicates a very fine settlement for this early date, and shows us that the timber-land was probably all taken that was situated convenient to the prairie.

Organization of Township[edit]

When the county of Woodford was formed, in 1841, there was great interest along the border of the new county. The territory was all in McLean, but it was denied by the latter county as well as by the persons who were engineering the movement for the new county of Woodford. There is no doubt that all the district south of the Mackinaw River belonged naturally to McLean County, while nearly all its residents would have preferred to remain. In arranging the division, however, it was found necessary to adopt a line other than the river. We have two different accounts of the reasons for making such a broken line as the boundary became. One is that the McLean County managers, being Whigs, did not wish to endanger the small Whig majority of the county, and allowed several Democratic families to remain in Woodford, taking just enough Whigs to leave that party in the majority in McLean. The. other story is that, in making the division, the Democratic families preferred to remain in Woodford, which was likely to be of their own faith, while the Whig came as willingly into the Whig county of McLean. Certain it is, however, that the residents of Kansas Township have not remained satisfied with the county in which they live. Most of them, with those inhabitants of Montgomery who live south of the Mackinaw, are in sympathy with McLean. They trade mostly at Danvers, Hudson or Bloomington. In time of high water, they cannot cross the river to reach Metamora, their county seat., without considerable trouble, though since the erection of a bridge at Forneyville, in Montgomery, and one in the northern part of Kansas, they are much better accommodated than formerly.

A majority of the legal voters of the town of Kansas petitioned the Woodford County Board of Supervisors, September 13, 1873, to be annexed to McLean County, giving good reasons for the change. Woodford County was not willing this should he done, though McLean County would no doubt agree to the proposition at any time.

If a railroad is ever built through this township from Bloomington to Eureka, as has at times seemed probable, it will render it easy for many of the inhabitants in Woodford, who reside south of the Mackinaw, to travel conveniently toward their county seat, while the White Oak people can much more readily reach Bloomington.

Within the last few years, the village of Oak Grove is starting up in the central part of White Oak. We find there now the Town Hall, built in the early part of 1878; the post office, two stores, a hotel, a wagon-shop, two blacksmith-shops, a physician, and about twelve families are residing there. All this has happened within the last three or four years, and the indications are very favorable for the building of quite a nice little village, either with or without a railroad. The only wonder is that a village has not been commenced here earlier, as the wants of the surrounding country will easily sustain quite a town. There is no trading-place of any importance nearer than eight or ten miles, and the roads are often so bad that the necessities of a farming community require towns much nearer together than we have had them in the past. Oak Grove may be regarded as a permanent town. It will draw to itself most of the elements from the rich surrounding country that go toward the formation of a village, and will become a town of considerable importance.

Were we writing the history of the towns of Danvers and Montgomery as well as of White Oak, we should give a sketch of the Rock Creek Agricultural Society, whose remarkable success in establishing a well-attended fair, away from any town or village, has attracted a good deal of attention. These fair-grounds are southwest of the town of White Oak a few miles, but the citizens of this town take an interest in the institution.

White Oak Township was organized in the spring of 1858, the first election having been held April 6, 1858. The name of the town was a fortunate selection, as thereby this fraction of a township, the smallest in the county, has obtained a name that entitles it to the historical record of the whole grove. White Oak has always possessed a large share of influence in the councils of the county at large-much more than some of the newer and larger townships have been able to secure. The town has had no debt, or, if it ever bad any, it was only of a very temporary nature. In 1878 was built a town hall, at the village of Oak Grove, White Oak being one of the few towns in this county that can boast of this useful public building.

At the township election, April 1, 1879, Albert Wright was chosen Supervisor; Samuel Lantz, Town Clerk; W. H. Wright, Assessor; James E. Harrison, Collector, and Jesse Chism, Road Commissioner.

White Oak started its free schools in 1837. Reuben Carlock was the first Town School Treasurer, and continued in office fourteen years. The first School Trustees in the same year, were Isaac Allen, Josiah Brown, Ormon Robinson and Elisha Dixon. At first, there was but one school, which was attended by an average of fifty scholars. It was seven years before the nest school was started. At that time, the school matters were managed in the school district of what is now the two towns of Kansas and White Oak acting as one township ; at present, in White Oak alone. There are now five school districts, though some of the support comes from adjoining towns. The number of pupils enrolled in this township alone, in 1878, was 123. The total number of children in the school was 144, being about one-third of the total population.

The amount of the township school fund was $2,858. The estimated value of the school property is $3,150. The present School Treasurer is Samuel Lantz. The total amount of money expended for school purposes in the year ending September 31, 1878, was $1,410. White Oak is a very small town. and, of course, does not furnish large figures, but we notice that it' the children of Bloomington attended school in the same ratio, it would require desk-room for at least 1,000 more pupils.

White Oak is a Republican town. In the olden times, it was a Whig neighborhood. It is noted, however, for the spirit of toleration existing between the members of the different political parties. This town sent a large number of soldiers to the late war, several of whom laid down their lives in the service of their country. Could the full war-record of White Oak be compiled, it would be of more interest than anything we have given in these pages, and would show that its sons have been heroes in the cause in which they volunteered. There' are living in this township quite a number of the veterans of the war, who are among its most respected citizens.

We have mentioned that White Oak is rather remarkable for the piety of the families within its borders, and we might state that, from its early settlement, this remark would hold true. Religious meetings were started early, and at first at private houses. The first sermon was preached at the residence of Mr. Smith Denman, by Rev. Mr. Royal, a Methodist minister. The second was by a man of the name of Beach, a Baptist, who also preached at Mr. Denman's. In the grove near this residence, a great many camp-meetings have been held at different times.

The first church in the township was the Christian Church, at the edge of the grove in the northwest part of the town, and was erected about 1850. A few years after this, the Methodist Church was built near Mr. Denman's, at the edge of the grove.

Some time after, another Christian Church was built, about half a mile east of Abraham W. Carlock's. All of these churches are near the township lines, and as near the county line, and quite a portion of their support comes from Woodford County. They help give White Oak its good name, and we are glad they are on the right side of the line.

A few miles south of the grove is the church of the Presbyterians, which is the most central, perhaps, of any in the town. Near Winton Carlock's is the Mt. Zion Church of the United Brethren, making the fifth in White Oak Township. The total value of these churches is over $10,000. They will seat more people than the total population of the township, something that can be said of the churches of but few towns in the county. There are a number of families of Unitarians, Universalists, a few Second Adventists, and some members of other denominations in the township. White Oak being a farming township, with only one small village, barely three years old, has, of course, no manufactures. As early as 1833, one of its citizens - Thomas Dixon - built a mill on the Mackinaw, which did some service. This mill,, however, was not in this township. Some years ago, the steam saw and grist mill, known as the " Western Mills," were built in the township, near its northern line, the only manufacturing establishment in the township of much importance. They have never proved very profitable.

We find the town of White Oak may be classed as one of the most prosperous of any in this part of the State. When we make this statement, we include its moral, social and financial condition, all of which are on a remarkably good basis. Our report of its early history and present state may be imperfect, but we have endeavored to make it clear to our readers that White Oak is, in every respect, a good town.

White Oak Township[edit]

The township of White Oak is one of the most interesting in McLean County; it is the smallest in area-containing a little over seventeen sections of land-being a trifle less than half a Congressional township. Its population, in 1870, was 532, 9 less than shown by the census of 1860. At the present time, its population is probably about the same as in 1870; but as most of the other towns in this county have gained largely. it is doubtless true that White Oak now contains fewer inhabitants than any other town in McLean County. It has remained about stationary ever since its land was all taken up, about the year 1860.

White Oak Grove, from which the town derives its name, is a very large tract of timber lying on both sides of the Mackinaw River, nearly twelve miles in length from east to west and from four to eight from north to south. Very little of the Grove lies in this township-barely a few hundred acres-the balance being in the towns of Kansas and Montgomery, Woodford County.

White Oak Grove contains quite a number of romantic spots. There are several picturesque views, more striking, perhaps, than any others in this part of the State a little north of the township line, in Kansas, may be found very high ridges, giving fine scenery, while even from the high prairie rolls in White Oak, beautiful views are visible. Indian Point, a little west. of the Carlock farm, is an historical spot, the favorite camping place of the Indians. The Indian trail was plainly to be seen when the first settlers arrived, and is still visible on the bluffs of the Mackinaw, a little below Forneyville. This trail came from the Wabash, touched the north side of Cheney's Grove; from there to Money Creek, not far from Towanda; from there to Indian Point; thence to the Mackinaw, below Forneyville, and so on to Fort Clark, now Peoria. There were other trails, but this one was very distinct and often traveled by the Indians.

The history of the township of White Oak is almost inseparable from that of the whole Grove, and we shall once in awhile find ourselves on the Woodford County- side of the line without being aware of what we are doing. The northern part of the Congressional township, of six miles square, forms the township of Kansas, in Woodford County. while the southern portion is White Oak, in McLean County; and the county line between the two townships is such a jagged "struck-by-lightning" sort of an affair, that we shall certainly be pardoned if we are on the wrong side occasionally.

The early settlers regarded White Oak Grove as one settlement, the later divisions having been brought about in 1841 and subsequently, rather violently, or, perhaps we should say, without the actual consent of those most interested


Yates Township, known officially as Town 3.5, Range 5, was, until 1862 a part of Chenoa; at that date it was separately organized, and by resolution of its citizens, took the then popular name of "Union," at their first town meeting in 1863.

Early Settlements[edit]

Previous to the year 1856, there were few settlements in the township. There being no timber, it was not subject to early settlement. About this date, there came the general rush into the prairie country, but there being no station in this township. general settlement was delayed a few years. The first settlement seems to have been made on the " Harris place," so-called, on Section 10, just south of where Weston now stands. The land was entered by Mr. T. C. Buntin, of Terre Haute, Ind. The land was rented to Boyd and others, when, in 1S67, it was sold to Harris, who, a few years later, traded it to W. H. Levers, for Chenoa property.

David Vance, who, through a long official connection with the school interest. and the general interest he has taken in the affairs of the township, church and every good work, is rightly regarded a most worthy and useful citizen, came onto Section 15, in 1866. He bad previously lived in Lawndale and Lexington. coming there from Ohio, in 1853. He proved a man of excellent judgment and enlarged public spirit. A friend of education, he was early elected School Treasurer, and has done much to conserve the financial affairs of the schools. He was one of the most efficient in building the first house of worship, the Methodist, and has exercised a careful oversight in its financial matters.

John Pool came here from the Mackinaw in 1S65, at which time only the farm of J. 31. Pettigrew (Section S), and the Harris farm (Section 10), were occupied in this northern part of the township. Squire Pool soon took an interest in the affairs of the new township, was early elected a Justice of the Peace; engaged a portion of his time in surveying, and, in 1S72, built a store in Weston, where he has continued in business, quietly attending to his large and prosperous mercantile affairs, and honestly serving the public in his official capacity.

John D. Banta settled on Section 26 about this time, on a farm upon which he remained several years. He took a lively interest in the affairs of his town, and was, while he remained a citizen of the township, often entrusted with its official interests.

Hugh Henning took up a farm and still lives in Section 2'2. A year or two later, Joseph Burger purchased a farm in Section 25, and still remains on it. The brothers J. C. &. G. W. Hanks settled, in 1866, in the southeast part of the township, and were among the very first to take an interest in its affairs. As a singular coincidence, or more properly a pair of coincidences, they were both elected members of the first Board of School Trustees in 1S57, and both of the first Board of Commissioners of Highways in 1863. They early were recognized as among the best men in the neighborhood, a reputation which they have in no way marred during a life which extends through the entire history of the township.

The same year, J. E. Wikoff took up a farm on Section 32, and, the following year, the brothers Christian and Fritz Jacobs made homes near by each other in Sections 29 and 31. These men seemed well satisfied with their locality, and well they might be, for it is of the best farming land; and they have remained, making good homes and good citizens. About the same time, Christian Ziller opened up a fine farm in Section 11, a half-mile from where Weston now stands,' and still lives there, enjoying the fruits of his industry, thrift and intelligent economy.

Anton Adam, an intelligent and thrifty German, was among the earliest on the ground, moving here from Ohio, in 1865, and making a farm on Section 2. Here he has lived ever since, minding his own business, taking care of " Old Adam," as he says ; has got a nice place, looking tidy, comfortable and frugal. He was one of the leading spirits in building the beautiful and sightless German Church at Weston.

Rev. W. P. Graves, long a member of this Conference, and at this time in charge of the Methodist Episcopal Church. Weston, bought what is now known as the Wilson farm, as early as 1864. The following year, lie had a portion broken, and built a house, but sold it in 1566. James Brady opened up a farm at about the latter date. E. D. Westervelt and F. P. Beach commenced farming here the same year.

Organization of Township[edit]

In May, 1857, before the township had been officially organized, the people, feeling the necessity for schools, elected the first. Township School Board. G. W. Hanks, J. C. Hanks and E. D. Westervelt were chosen Trustees. They elected F. P. Beach Treasurer, an office which he continued to hold until 1865. In 1860, the township was divided into five districts, and the trustees caused the north half of the school section to be divided into eighties and sold. The next year, however, they took back one eighty acre tract. In 1865, the Trustees elected J. C. Hanks Treasurer, and, in 1868, sold eighty acres of the school land for $42.75 per acre. In 1869, David Vance, the present Treasurer, was elected. In 1871, the township was divided into nine districts, of four sections each, except that the south half of Sections 9 and 10 arc attached to District., which makes that district five sections and District 3 only three. In 1876, eighty acres of land were sold for $25.30 per acre ; 240 acres still remaining unsold. From the first, the affairs of the school fund seem to have been very judiciously managed, and the men who have bad charge of it seem to have been worthy of the confidence reposed in them. The township now has a fund of $11,151, nearly all placed on real estate, and about $6,000 worth of land left unsold. This fund is the largest, save one, in the county, and will, eventually, be the largest. In some of the districts, no tag is necessary. In No. 3, only $75 has been levied in three years; and the aggregate of debt for schoolhouses in the township is only $1,700.

The following figures are taken from the report of 1S76 : Number of districts, 9 ; number of teachers employed, 15 ; number of children under twenty-one years, 608; num. her between six and twenty-one, 374 ; number of scholars enrolled, 252; amount paid teachers, $3,016; amount paid for incidentals, $246.25; total paid, $4,432.22.

At the September (1862) term of the Board of Supervisors, this township was set off from Chenoa, to which it had been previously attached, and at the first town-meeting, in April, 1863, F. D. Beach was elected Moderator, and John D. Banta, Clerk.

On motion of George W. Hanks, the new township was named Union. A year later, it was changed to Yates, in honor of the then war-Governor. The township was divided into four road districts. Eighteen votes were cast.

The names of those who have been elected Commissioners of Highways arc G. W. Hanks, J. C. Hanks, J. R. Jones, J. W. , J. L. Westervelt, J. M. Pettigrew, H. B. Wikoff, J. R. Gorham, J. D. Banta, Apollos Powell, D. V. Davis, Abram Stevens, J. Castle, Simon Beckler, G. Arnold, J. T. Green, P. Coons. Those who have served as Justices of the Peace are T. C. Powell, John Pool, Erastus Thayer, G. A. Wolfe, G. M. Allison, Justus Castle.

The principal interest of the citizens of Yates is, of course, farming, their principal crops being corn, oats, rye, and hogs. Very few have attempted cattle-feeding, and have escaped the financial disasters which have overtaken so many in the older and richer portions of the county. The richness of the soil, and its suitableness for cultivation in any kind of season, has given a healthy success to the farming community, while the absence of great wealth on the part of any has kept out a tendency to extravagant living and inordinate display, which, sooner or later, must affect the entire community. There are many good f run -no large ones-in Yates. Some of the best it may not he amiss to name, even at the risk of leaving out some quite as worthy of notice.

C. C. Wright, who, for several years, bas ably represented this town on the Board of Supervisors, has a firm of 240 acres, in the northwestern portion of the township, which is well managed and in excellent condition. Abram Stevens has 320 acres, extending back front the village of Weston, a portion of it being in Livingston County, which, though rather flat, is well drained and very productive. He has a fine residence near Weston, and everything about him looks neat and comfortable. John Rupp owns a half section in Section 22, which is regarded one of the best in Yates. 0. T. Phillips bas a fine farm of 330 acres, three miles west of Weston, which is a very good farm and well cultivated. Simon Beckler farms 250 acres on Section 1'.", which is excellent land and well cared for. John T. Green has a fine farm of 450 acres, just west of the village, which is one of the largest and best in the township.


Yates Township, known officially as Town 3.5, Range 5, was, until 1862 a part of Chenoa; at that date it was separately organized, and by resolution of its citizens, took the then popular name of " Union," at their first town meeting in 1863. This is easily accounted for, for at that time fully two-thirds of her fighting population were " at the front " doing their full duty in carrying the tattered flag " on to Vicksburg and the "sacred soil" generally; while fully three-fourths of those who remained at home were praying and paying to help on the glorious cause. No stronger friends of the Union could be found on any six miles square of contiguous and compact prairie anywhere, than here. The name was objected to on account of its having been frequently adopted of late by other townships nearby ; and on the following year was changed to Yates. after the then Governor of Illinois. Nothing could better show the tendency of public sentiment in the young township than the successive selection of these " radical " names. Yates is the northeastern township in the county, and forms, with Chenoa and Gridley on the west, the northern tier of townships which "cap" the county of McLean on the map, not unlike the mansard roof of a house. Like the other townships in this vicinity, some of the land is flat, but at least ninety per cent of it is rolling, and almost every acre capable of the highest cultivation. There is little difference in the lay of the land in the different parts of the township, except that that portion along the railroad (first tier of sections) is more level, and that portion farther south more rolling; the northern portion shedding toward the Vermilion, and the southern half toward the Mackinaw. Yates is a full Congressional township, the Toledo, Peoria & Warsaw Railway running across its northern tier, upon which is Weston, the only post office in the township; the soil is rich and deep, capable of a wealth of production far beyond anything yet accomplished; free from township debt; settled with sober, industrious, economical people, giving a large place in their minds to religious and educational improvement; it would be indeed difficult to find its superior in all respects in this or any other State.