township was not settled as early as some of the other townships in
Macon county. The first to come was Amos Wright, who
arrived from Pennsylvania in 1845. He erected his home in
Section 1, this being the first house built in the township.
years later John Story settled in the same section.
From that time on, new arrivals appeared occasionally. Among
those who came in the '50s were Samuel Lowe, who came from
Ohio in 1854; James S. Parker, who arrived in 1855, coming
also from Ohio; and Andrew Hawkyard, who came in 1858.
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JAMES S. PARKER
James S. Parker
gradually increased his land holdings until he had in the
neighborhood of 2,000 acres in Austin and Maroa townships. He
moved to Maroa in 1877 and died in 1880. He held a number of
public positions, including township treasurer, supervisor and
assessor. His sons, W. H. Parker, J. H. Parker
and J. P. Parker, all were well known farmers of the
community in later years.
Mr. Hawkyard also held public
office in the township, serving as school treasurer, township
collector, and supervisor.
The first land entries were made by
Charles G. Draper who entered 40 acres in Section 1, 40 acres
in Section 5, and 80 acres in Section 6, and Jacob Miller,
who entered 155.43 acres in Section 1. These entries were made
March 4, 1850.
Austin was the only township in Macon county which
did not sell its school section of land, thus providing for school
revenue in future years by renting the land, and giving the township
the lowest school taxes in the county. At the time Illinois
became a state, Section 16 of every township was set aside for
school purposes. Not realizing what that grant would mean in
future years, other townships disposed of their land at an early
day. The wisdom of Austin township, in holding on to its
section was recognized in later years. It was largely through
the influence of James S. Parker that the school land was not
The first school in the township was started at the home of
Samuel Braden in 1856, and the next year a school house was
erected in Section 11. Another school, built in 1868, later
became the first church in the township.
The first school teacher
was Mr. Burns. The first preachers were Rev. John Moore
and Rev. C. R. Robinson. The first physician was Dr. John
Demsey and the first justice of the peace was Richard Ross.
James S. Parker was the first supervisor
One of the extensive land
holders of the county was Aquilla Toland, who came in 1865
and who died in 1878. He became owner of more than 1,300
acres. Other prominent early residents of the township were
David Patterson and Joseph W. Emery.
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MACON COUNTY ILLINOIS 1930
One of the
long-time residents of Austin township was George Johnston,
who made his home in the township for fifty-nine years. He
died in 1927. Mr. Johnston was active in politics, and
served as chairman of this county for the Woodrow Wilson
foundation. He was a great admirer of Robert Burns,
Scotch poet, and was a founder of the Robert Burns cabinet in
the Elizabethan study at the James Millikin university.
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HARMONY U. B. CHURCH
Austin township has no
railroads and no villages or towns. A center community life is
the Harmony United Brethren church. Within recent years this
church has been improved extensively, and the basement has been
fitted up for community events. Not only church gatherings,
but rural school graduation exercises and other public events take
place in Mud Chapel school house, about a mile south of the present
location of the church. The present building used by the
congregation was erected about the year 1902.
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WILLIAM WARNICK, who
later became the first sheriff of Macon county, and his family were
the first arrivals in Blue Mound township, coming in the year 1824.
An account of Mr. Warnick is given in an early chapter in
He was one of the first county commissioners.
Mr. Wilson was a brother-in-law of William Warnick
Dempsey Pope came from Tennessee, also in 1827. He
located on Mosquito creek. Mr. Pope also was a native of North
In 1830 came Garland Hall from Kentucky. He settled
about two miles north of the village of Blue Mound.
Others who came at an early date were Wyett Cherry, William
Pope, James Y. Taylor, Joseph Austin, Benjamin
Moffett, and Vinson Morris.
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WILLIAM T. MOFFETT
William T. Moffett, son of John B. Moffett, settled in
the township in 1841 and afterwards became prominent in affairs of
the county and state. He held the office of supervisor a
number of times, was elected to the state legislature, was named a
member of the state board of equalization, and became state senator.
Many additions were made to the township's list of citizens in the
'50s. Among them were John H. Sleeter, George F.
Cottle, Henry T. Brown, Frederick Bailey, John
Pistorius, E. W. Crow, Henry Josser, W. H.
Weatherford and E. F. Delbridge.
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Frederick Bailey and John Pistorius, natives of
Germany, came to this country together in 1853 and settled in the
same township. They began farming together. By and by
each bought land. Gradually they added to their land holdings
until both were owners of hundreds and hundreds of acres. Both
lived to old age, and they died within about a year of each other,
Mr. Bailey passing away in 1909, and Mr. Pistorius in
The first land entered in Blue Mound township was on March 16, 1833,
when James Edwards entered 40 acres in Section 20.
Others who entered land early were Garland Hall, Dempsey
Pope, Benjamin Wilson and Francis G. Hill.
The first child born in the township was Willis Z. Pope, son
of Dempsey Pope. The first death was that of Nancy
Wilson, daughter of Benjamin Wilson. She died in
1828. The first couple married were Benjamin Austin and
Margaret Warnick, who became man and wife probably in 1825.
The first church organization in the township was the Blue Mound
Methodist society, started in 1829 or 1830. A chapel was
erected in 1863. The first preacher to locate in the township
was Rev. H. A. Pasley, who came in 1834 from Kentucky.
He was a Methodist minister, and church services were held in his
home many years.
The first church building erected in the township was known as the
Mosquito church. It was near Mosquito creek, in Section 20.
In 1855 German Methodists organized a church at the home of William
Sleeter. Rev. Philip Kuhl led in the
organization. In 1865 a building was erected.
The Madison Presbyterian church was organized in 1854 by Rev. John
C. Smith. Some of its members had formerly belonged to
the Bethlehem church, which Mr. Smith had organized in 1850.
According to report, the first school in the township was taught as
early as 1828 by Daniel McCall. William Austin
taught the school in 1832. One of the early schools was the
Peru school. A big oak tree, near this school, under which
Abraham Lincoln often rested in the shade, was dedicated May 5,
1910, to the Grand Army of the Republic. The Peru school often
had unruly pupils, and stories still are told of the days when Frank
H. Coleman, six feet tall and of strong build, took charge
and tamed them.
J. C. Armstrong was the first supervisor from the township.
Other early supervisors were William T. Moffett, F. A. Brown, R. H.
Hill, D. F. Barber, Frank H. Coleman and H. H. Rosengrants.
The town of Boody was laid out in Sections 11 adn 12 in 1870 by
Messrs. Nientker and Smith. A postoffice was established, and
Fred Nientker became postmaster. In after years his son, W. G.
Nientker, held the same position.
The first house in the town, was erected in 1870 by Frank Reafly.
Mr. Nientker erected and opened the first store in 1870.
In 1871 the Binkley elevator was built. The first schoolhouse
was erected in 1874 and Byron Lewis was the first teacher.
Another early teacher was T. D. Weems. The first
physician was Dr. A. C. Douglas.
Boody did not grow much in size, but it became an important shipping
point for grain, being in the midst of a good farming community.
It is on the Wabash railroad, and on State Route No. 48 hard road.
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THE history of Decatur township is largely the history of Decatur,
so only brief mention will be made here of this township. The
first land entries were made before Decatur had been laid out.
James Miller was the first to enter land. On Nov. 13,
1827, he entered 80 acres in Section 10. Jonathan Miller
entered 80 acres in Section 14, July 7, 1828. Dorus Stevens
entered 80 acres in Section 3 July 16, 1828 and the same day David
Miller entered 80 acres in the same section. On Nov. 1,
1828, David L. Allen entered 80 acres in Section 14. Nearly
all of this land is now inside the city limits of Decatur.
Early settlers in this township, who were prominently connected with
the early history of the county, are listed in early chapters in
this volume. Much of the land they purchased afterwards was
absorbed into the city of Decatur.
When Macon county was divided into townships in 1860, Henry B.
Durfee was named as the first supervisor from Decatur township.
He also was chosen as chairman of the Board. Decatur township
at first had one supervisor and one assistant supervisor. As
the population increased, the number of assistant supervisors
increased until now the township has eighteen assistant
representatives on the board.
Decatur township has an area of 18,560 acres, or 29 square miles.
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JOHN SAWYER HOME
One of the old homes of the township, now in the city, is the John
Sawyer home on West Harrison avenue. This house, which
is still standing, was built about 1848 by Levi Gulick.
Afterwards it came into possesion of Mr. Sawyer, and
it was his home for forty years.
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FRIEND'S CREEK took its name from the first settler on its banks,
George W. Friend, native of Ohio, who came in 1822 and built
the first log house in what afterwards became Friend's Creek
township. His cabin was about two miles north and a mile east
of Argenta. It was the third home in the county, the other two
being those of William Downing and Leonard Stevens.
Mr. Friend stayed in the community only a few years but his
name has remained, in the name of the creek and the township.
Next to some was Charles Nelson, who settled in Section 12, about a
mile north of Friend's cabin in 1824. He came from Kentucky.
Nelson became a permanent resident, and many of his descendants
still live in the vicinity.
Nathan Burril also came in 1824, moving from Ohio. He
settled near the Friend cabin. Other early comers were Josiah
Abrams and William Dickey, who settled in 1828 in
Section 24. William Dickey had been a Revolutionary
soldier. He died in 1832 and was buried in Friend's Creek
cemetery. In 1912 a bronze marker was placed on his grave by
Stephen Decatur chapter, Daughters of the American
Mr. Dickey had a large family, and several of his sons took up land.
One son, John Dickey, became the first justice of the peace, in
1836, and held the office until he died ten years later. His
brother, Andrew Dickey, succeeded him as justice of the peace.
The Pettyjohns, the Wilsons, Nathaniel Brown, John and Joseph
Jacob Snyder, John Lowrie, David Chapman, Israel
Carver, the Jimison brothers, Andrew Corn, the
Beebees and the
Robinsons were among the arrivals in the '30s. Later came
Alexander Greenfield, George S. Young, James Querrey, Joseph G.
Hugh O'Neil, John A. Scott, David Troxell, the
Brennans and numerous
John and Joseph Long, who were cousins, invested all their money in
land. They continued to add to their holdings until they had
as much as 2,000 acres each.
The Pettyjohn family furnished the first bride in the township,
Susan Pettyjohn marrying Levi Abrams. They not only had the
distinction of being the first couple married in the township, but
their son, Eli Abrams, born in 1829, was the first child born in the
One of the influential early residents was David E. Wilson, who came
from Tennessee in 1844. He was a leader in the Comberland
Presbyterian church, and was a man of interesting personality.
In 1858 Mr. Wilson and Andrew Dickey made brick, from which they
built their own houses. These houses stood as landmarks for
Josiah Abrams made the first land entry in the township. He
entered 80 acres in Section 24 Aug. 28, 1830. Elizabeth
Stephenson entered land in the same section March 25, 1831.
The land taken up by William Dickey May 2, 1831, also was in Section
The first school house in the township was built in 1835. It
was in the northeast corner of Section 25. John Heath was the
Rev. William Owens delivered the first sermon in the township.
For many years religious services were held at the camp meeting
ground, and then a log school house was used for church purposes.
Among the preachers at the camp meetings were William Magee Taylor. Abner
Lansden, Robert Taylor, Neily Johnson and John
About 1851 a Cumberland Presbyterian church was organized, and a
building was erected near the cemetery. This building was
destroyed by fire, and in 1873 another building was put up. It
still stands, though used now only for funeral services. One
of the leaders for years in this church was Jackson Wilkinson, a man
of fine character and the head of a large and interesting family.
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OLD C. P. CHURCH NEAR ARGENTA
In 1849 a Methodist society was organized by Rev. C. W. Lewis and a
building was erected near Friend's Creek in 1859.
About 1858 or 1859 the United Brethren church erected a building to
Newburg. It was moved to Argenta about 1885.
Before the days of the railroad, the village of Newburg, laid out in
1854, was the center of the community. William Dowling had the
first store in that village, and Philip Carver the first blacksmith
shop. Early physicians were Dr. Millison, Dr. Gueren, Dr. H.
O. Hetzel, and Dr. W. B. Hostetler. Dr. R. F Carr came in
1856. Dr. Charles Dennison practiced medicine there for some
years. He was a surgeon in the army during the Civil war.
A schoolhouse was erected in 1854. One of the early teachers
there was Jasper Wilkinson, who afterwards became principal of the
Decatur high school.
Both Newburg and West Danville, commonly known as Dantown, once
flourishing villages, are now practically gone, due to the fact that
the railroad passed them by. After the railroad was built
through the township in the '70s the village of Argenta was laid out
by B. R. Rodgers. Located on a railroad line, it naturally
drew all the business away from the other towns. Only a few
wrecks of houses remain at Newburg, and the old distillery is the
only reminder left of Dantown.
The first store in Argenta was erected by Garver & Co. B. S.
Schall was the first blacksmith and F. F. McMillin had the first
wagon shop. In 1874 a school house was built. Argenta
was incorporated as a village Jan. 29, 1891.
David K. Wilson was the first supervisor from Friend's Creek
township. Other early supervisors were C. Lukens, Andrew
Dickey, William Daves , S. Payne, F. Swantes, John
Marsh, R. H. Park,
J. Ruddock, J. W. Brown and W. Payne, F. Swantes, John
Marsh, R. H.
Park, J. Ruddock, J. W. Brown and W. A. Vanleer.
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WILLIAM HANKS, relative of
Abraham Lincoln, was the first man to locate in Harristown
township. He came in 1828, and built his cabin and made other
improvements in Section 23.
The same year Christopher Miller
came from Kentucky, and located in Section 14. His sons,
Samuel, William and John, came with him and located homes nearby.
James Miller came from Kentucky
in 1829, James Harrell, another Kentuckian, arrived in 1834.
In the year 1835 Jacob Hostetler located in Section 14.
J. W. Gouge came in 1836 from New York.
John Miller was the first to
enter land in the township. On Dec. 2, 1828, he entered 80
acres in Section 13.
As early as 1830 a school was taught in the eastern part of the
township by William Miller.
About 1841 a school building was erected in Section 13. It
served both school and church purposes for a good many years.
The township's most distinguished resident was Abraham Lincoln,
who came to Macon county in 1830. The Lincoln cabin
home, which Abraham helped to build, was located on a bluff along
the Sangamon, in Section 28.
The land on which the Lincoln cabin stood was afterwards
owned by the Whitley family. Shelton Whitley
came to Macon county in 1831 with the Dr. Speer and Snyder families.
He was a carpenter. Mr. Whitley erected a mill on the
Sangamon in Harristown township, this being one of the earliest
mills in the county. Often the millwheel was clogged with
fish. Shelton Whitley bought this land in Section 28 in
1843 from Perry Strickland, who had entered it from the
government on May 31, 1836. It afterward passed to his
brother, James Whitley, and is still in possession of the
In 1837 Samuel and James Miller
built a mill on the Sangamon in Section 24. They also had a
blacksmith shop there.
After the Wabash railroad was built through the township, the
village of Harristown was laid out. It was platted in 1856 by
Jerden Burkey in Sections 9 and 10. The first house in
the village was built by Jacob I. Hobbs in 1856. The
first postmaster was David Masters. The first store was
opened by Samuel Cox in 1859. The first blacksmith was
H. C. Masters. Summit lodge, No. 431, A. F. and A. M.,
was chartered Oct. 4, 1865.
A schoolhouse was erected in Harristown in 1863, and school was
taught by John S. Randle, who had been teaching in the
neighborhood since 1861.
The Christian church was organized March 15, 1861. Services
were held in an old church building, which had been moved the year
previous from a few miles southeast of the town. Rev. W. A.
Mallory led in the organization of the church, and was the first
preacher. In 1917 the congregation erected the handsome brick
edifice in use today. It was dedicated Dec. 23, 1917.
The Methodist church was organized in 1863, and erected a building
the following year. W. C. Lapham was the first pastor.
In 1865 an elevator was built by O. Z. Greene.
In 1876 a tile works was erected in Section 21 by J. Traver.
The first justice of the peace in Harristown township was Nathan
Averitt. The first physician was Dr. Greeley.
The first supervisor from the township was Abraham Eyman.
Other early supervisors were J. H. Pickrell, J. B. Hanks,
M. G. Camron, W. E. Gouge and J. N. Hoyt.
J. H. Pickrell became widely know as a breeder of fine stock.
Among the prominent early settlers who came in the '50s were J. G.
Willard, C. E. Hunsley, A. B. Camp, and J. D.
McGuire. Jeremiah Freeman, a native born Macon
county resident, was another, Daniel Stookey came about 1860.
One of Harristown township's most widely known longtime residents
was T. J. Scroggin, who settled in the township about 1864,
and lived there until his death in 1911. Mr. Scroggin
was an extensive land holder, owning more than 1,600 acres. He
was known particularly as a most successful breeder of fine cattle.
Mr. Scroggin's fondness for animals resulted in his
maintenance for a long time of a deer park, where he kept a big
heard of deer.
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T. J. SCROGGIN
The village of Harristown is known for its beautiful cemetery and
attractive homes. The Illinois Traction System line passes
through the village and the State Route 10 hard road gives it
connection with other points for automobile traffic.
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DAVID FLOREY, of
Virginia, was the first settler in Hickory Point township. He
came in 1825 and settled in the timber on the west branch of Stevens
creek. Philip D. Williams arrived in 1826 and John
Draper came about a year later. Both Florey and
Draper moved in 1828 to Whitmore township. Williams
moved to Decatur after the town was laid out in 1829. He was a
justice of the peace.
John and James Hanks, Stephen Shepherd, David and John
Manley, all of Kentucky, were other early comers. They
all made land entries and became long time residents of the
The first to enter land in the township was Randolph Rose,
who entered 80 acres in Section 32, on Feb. 5, 1830. The same
day James Johnson entered 80 acres in Section 34.
William Lemon entered 80 acres in Section 32 June 5, 1830.
In the early '30s came William F.
Montgomery and his brother, George
Montgomery of Virginia, Samuel Hornback and
Robert Johnson and James Johnson of Kentucky.
Richard Brett of Virginia, John and Hezekiah Hays,
brothers, of Ohio, Joseph Rife, sr., and John Good of
Pennsylvania arrived a few years later. Between 1840 and 1855
many settlers came from Pennsylvania and became permanent residents.
Among them were Jacob Schroll, Soloman Weigel, Daniel
Weigel, David Houser, Jacob Gepford, Jacob
Keller, Peter Keister, Samuel Weaver, William
Lourash, Alexander Mettlin, Henry Lehman, Jacob
Rife and Joseph Rife, jr.
Others who came, during the early years of the county were George W.
Schroll, Henry Schroll, Ephriam Bear, Jacob
Bear, W. H. Gepford, W. T. Grubbs, Mrs. Nancy
Weaver, David Brett, N. S. Batchelder and Hilleary
After the building of the railroad, the township became attractive
to some Decatur citizens for we find Samuel McKinley, A. L.
Stewart, John Renshaw, Samuel Smallwood, J. Y.
Braden, Ulysses Huston, John Sawyer, jr., H. B.
Durfee and A. C. Gher all left the town for the
The first couple married in Hickory Point township were Zebedee
Sergeant and Nancy Manley. The first child born was
Sarah J. Smallwood, July 27, 1827.
The first blacksmith shop was opened in 1828 by James Johnson,
who afterwards went to the Black Hawk war and became a colonel.
Church services were held first in the cabins and barns of settlers.
Afterwards camp meetings became popular, ground near Boiling Springs
was used as a camp ground.
Many of the settlers from Pennsylvania were members of the Church of
God and wished to have a church of that persuasion in their new
home. On Jan. 3, 1852, a protracted meeting was commenced in
Joseph Rife's brick residence near Boiling Springs, conducted
by Thomas Hickernell of Ohio and George Sandoe of
Pennsylvania, missionaries. It resulted in the organization of
a church Jan. 17, 1852, in the home of Mr. and Mrs. Rife,
their being nineteen charter members. Joseph Rife, Sr.,
and Jacob Schroll were the elders and Joseph Rife,
Jr., and David Houser, deacons.
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MR. AND MRS. JOSEPH RIFE, SR.
In the same house, the ministers of the church in Illinois met on
Aug. 23, 1853, and organized the Illinois Eldership of the Churches
As the population increased and membership in the church grew, the
homes would not hold the worshippers, and accordingly a house of
worship was erected on the Boiling Springs camp meeting ground in
1857. That building had the distinction of being the first
house of worship erected by a church of that denomination in the
state of Illinois. The building was destroyed by fire in
October, 1887, but a new structure was erected, and was dedicated
Dec. 25, 1888.
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JOSEPH RIFE HOME
One of the early preachers was Rev. Robert Henson,
formerly a member of the Baptist church, who settled in Hickory
Point township in 1832. Another early settler of the
community, who was both a farmer and preacher, was D. S. Weigel.
He was one of the original members and also was a pastor of the
Fairview church, organized in February 1871. Its chapel was
located in the southwest corner of Section 9, and the organization
continued there for many years.
Other denominations were represented among the settlers. There
were Methodists, Baptists, Presbyterians, Christians and a few
Millerites. The Methodists
held services in the school house in Forsyth until 1868, when the
church building in the village was erected. The first pastor
in charge was Rev. A. Semple.
The first person to reach school in the township was Walter
Robbins. School sessions first were held in homes.
The first school house was built in Section 34 on the hill south of
Stevens creek, just west of the Bloomington road, on land belonging
to William F. Montgomery.
It was a log structure, put up on 1841. It was used until
about 1853, when a school site was selected three-quarters of a mile
farther north. This school was named Bull Point, but later was
changed to Mound. Another early school house stood a short
distance west of Boiling Springs and was first called Possum Fork,
later changed to Boiling Springs when the site was changed to a
point nearer the Boiling Springs church. In the early '50s a
schoolhouse was built in the southwest quarter of Section 15.
It was named Dutch Point. Many years later it was moved north,
and became the Model school in Section 10. The township now
has ten school districts.
The earliest school trustee record available is for 1858, and shows
Robert Johnson, Peter Betzer and George W. Schroll,
trustees, and Jacob Minch, clerk. At that time there
were three school districts.
The first work on the Illinois Central railroad in the township was
begun in February, 1853. Rail laying was finished Oct. 11,
1854, and the first train came through from the north.
Hezekiah Hays and his brother, Vent, who were husking corn in
the field near the track, were busy men indeed, trying to get a look
at the train and holding their frightened horses at the same time.
The railroad put down a sidetrack and built a section house in
Section 14, naming the stop later as Forsyth, after Robert
Forsyth, owner of the land and general freight agent for the
road. The village of Forsyth was laid out in 1864 by Edward O.
Smith. First houses were erected by N. J. Fitch,
George Shaffer, Dr. Baxter, Gordon Songer and James
Fenner. N. J. Fitch became postmaster dealt in grain and
also had a grocery store. George Shaffer also was a
grocer. Dr. Baxter practiced medicine. Charles
Ruehl was the first railroad agent and was a grain buyer, also.
He built the first elevator. His son, Ernest, was the first
telegraph operator in the depot.
The first school house in the village was erected in 1864. It
still stands through no longer used for a school. Rufus
Crossman was the first teacher.
Dr. Hibbs, Dr. J. C. Hall, Dr. G. W. Drury, Dr.
J. Frank Allen, Dr. J. L. Kenton, Dr. Donovan
and Dr. L. N. Lindsey have served the community as
physicians. Another early doctor was Dr. A. McBride,
who moved to Oreana in the '80s.
Early storekeepers were the Erwin Bros., Joseph Rue,
E. Petch, Samuel Bartlett, Joseph Cooper,
Melhorn & Koehler, and E. B. Collins.
The railroad company also put in a switch and erected a station at
Bearsdale. About 1890 an elevator was erected by Samuel
Troutman. In later years after a new elevator had been
both by William Ritchie on the west side of the track, this
first elevator was used for storage purposes. An active
present day organization of Bearsdale is the Anti-Horse Thief
association, which a few years ago provided a building of its own,
which is used for various community events.
In the period between 1870 and 1880 three other railroads were
surveyed through the township. The I. B. & W., now Champaign
branch of the Illinois Central, crosses Sections 19, 29, 32 and 33.
The other road was the Illinois Midland, now the Pennsylvania line.
It planned to parallel the main track of the Illinois Central, and
work and begun in the Stevens creek bottom, but the panic of 1872-73
halted the work and it never was resumed. Trains were routed
over the tracks of the Illinois Central through the township.
The first public road was the stage line and mail route from Decatur
to Bloomington. The township enjoyed the distinction of having
a station on the horse and cattle thieves road from teh Illinois
river to the Ohio river. These stations were located about a
night's ride apart, the local station, according to tradition, being
in Section 14. Another station was four or five miles west of
Maroa, and the next in the Salt creek timber west of Clinton.
Near the junction of the Stevens creek branches Sole & Bartlett
operated a saw mill and also a grist mill.
J. Y. Braden was the first supervisor from Hickory Point
township. Other early supervisors were
William F. Montgomery, H. S. Manon, Henry
Lehman, A. McBride, Volney Barber and J. R. Hays.
The first road commissioner was A. T. Mettlin.
Robert Johnson was the first justice of the peace after the
township was organized.
Some of the homes erected in early days which are still standing are
the James D. Tait, John Good,
William F. Montgomery, Jacob
Schroll, Joseph Rife, sr., and John Hanks
residences. The Tait home stood on land entered from
government by Mrs. Tait's father, Joseph Spangler.
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OWING to the swampy land and lack of timber, Illini township did not
attract settlers as early as other townships. The first land
entry was made July 18, 1849, by Walter Turner, who entered 80 acres
in Section 33, and two 80 acre tracts in Section 34. The
following year Mr. Turner established his home and began farming.
William Peed of Morgan county and Humphrey Scroggin of Logan county
came soon afterwards. Other early settlers were David Skillman
Allen, James Henry Pickrell, Peter Wise, H. M. Taggart, John
John S. Childs, the Ritchie family, Jacob and Eber Major, and John
The first child born in the township was Carter, son of Humphrey
Scroggin, who was born in 1851. The first death was that of
Sarah Eyman, in 1853. The first marriage was that of John Peed
and Jemima Henson.
Mr. Pickrell, breeder of fine stock, brought the first
Berkshire hogs to the township in 1857. He became the
townshp's first supervisor, and was prominent for years in the
affairs of Illini and Harristown townships.
Mr. Pickrell was president for years of the American
Shorthorn Breeders' Association. In 1885 he became secretary
and treasurer and assumed general charge of its business. He
moved that year to Chicago.
David S. Allen brought the first Shorthorn cattle and
Cotswald sheep from Kentucky, in 1855.
John J. Batchelder first bought land in Harristown township,
Section 10, but sold that land in the early '60s to Mr. Pickrell
and bought other land farther north, in Illini township. He
located his home in Section 21, though he had purchased land in
other sections, also.
Mr. Batchelder had come from Pittsfield, N.H., and through
his influence others from that place came to Illini. Among
them were James T. Winslow, Joseph C. Tucker, Samuel E.
Batchelder, J. T. Clough, M. E. Batchelder and David
Batchelder. These families were the nucleus of what became
known as the Yankee settlement or "Illini" neighborhood.
Others soon joined them. Stephen Brown, Bradbury
Clark, George S. Roberts and son. Edwin J, .
Dearborn Bunker, Josiah Gilman and son, George L., R.
Morse, Thomas Eaton, David Hall and Emery
Janvrin were among them.
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J. J. BATCHELDER
After the Pekin, Lincoln & Decatur railroad, now the Peoria branch
of the Illinois Central, was built through the township, the town of
Warrensburg was located in the northwest quarter of Section 14.
The town was platted by Warren & Durfee, and named for
John K. Warren. Mr. Warren and Z. Boughn
owned the land on which the town was located.
The first house in the new town was built by John Ritchie.
Max R. Schroeder had the first harness and shoemaking shop,
and the first freight train which passed over the new railroad
brought freight to Mr. Schroeder. He also was the first
postmaster, named in 1871. Years afterwards that position was
held by his son, Fred Schroeder.
Samuel Ritchie had the first mercantile store, and Z.
Broughn erected the first grain elevator. The first tile
works were built by Broughn & Kepler. The first
hotel was kept by Jonas Hawood. Husman Brothers
built a mill for grinding grain. Later it was operated by
Tucker & Dunlap. This mill came to an end in a
windstorm. Workman & Binkley conducted the first
wagon shop. Dr. Holbrook was the first physician in the
town, and opened a drug store. The first church and the first
school were built in 1874.
An important industry of Warrensburg of recent years is the canning
factory, where sweet corn is canned. During the canning season
a big force of workers is employed.
In 1885 Samuel Ritchie and his wife started a newspaper, the
Warrensburg Times. They continued publication until their
deaths in recent years. Since then the paper has been
published by A. R. Finkenbinder.
Warransburg was incorporated as a village July 8, 1880, but charter
was not obtained until Nov. 10, 1901.
The first school in the township was started in 1857. Sessions
were held in homes, and Miss Emma Dudley was the teacher.
In 1859 a building was erected in Section 34. In 1874 a school
edifice was erected in Warrensburg. It was remodeled in 1890.
In 1917 a new brick building was put up, and in 1921 a new Community
high school was erected.
The Concordia club, organized in 1899, is one of Warrensburg's
active organizations. The town also has several flourishing
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Methodists of the vicinity who had been holding services first in
the Mt. Pleasant school house and later in the Rolling school house,
moved in 1873 to Warrensburg and occupied a building known as the
"Old Saloon." In 1874 a house of worship was erected. It
was enlarged and remodeled in 1905.
The Church of God in Warrensburg was organized April 28, 1875.
Services were held in a building owned by Samuel Ritchie.
In 1883 a church edifice was erected.
Families in the Yankee settlement were adherents of the
Congregational church. For a time religious services had been
conducted in that neighborhood by J. A. Hood, a Presbyterian
minister. Sentiment for a Congregational church increased,
however, and on Feb. 13, 1868, a church was organized in the
Batchelder school house, with twenty charger members. Only one
of them, Mrs. Mary Hall Thatcher, is still living, at this
writing. The first pastor was Rev. John Jones. At first
services were held in the Batchelder and Brick school houses, but in
1874 steps were taken to erect a building. The new church,
located on the J. J. Batchelder land, just north of Illini
cemetery, was dedicated May 2, 1875. This building served the
congregation until 1910, when it was destroyed by fire. It was
replaced by a new brick edifice, dedicated Oct. 29, 1911. A
parsonage was built in 1884-85 on land donated by Mr. and Mrs. John
The Illini church has been the center of activities of the
neighborhood. Holiday and other gatherings have held together
the traditions of the families of the New England forefathers.
The Fourth of July picnic always has been a big event of the year.
An honored resident of the township who gave up his life in the
Civil war was Captain Lewis J. Eyman, the first of the
Eyman family to come to Macon county.
Captain Eyman, who came here from St. Clair county, was a
veteran of two wars, having fought also in the War with Mexico.
On coming to Macon county in 1856, he made a claim of 160 acres of
land with the land warrant he had received for his services in the
Mexican war. For a number of years he cultivated this land.
During the Civil war he raised a company of volunteers, which became
Company E, One Hundred Sixteenth Illinois Infantry. He was
chosen captain of the company, but was killed in one of the first
battles in which it participated, the battle at Arkansas Post, Jan.
11, 1863. Women of the community made a flag for Company E
when it went to war. It was preserved afterwards by the family
of Captain R. M. Hamilton, to whom it was entrusted.
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TWO men who had married two sisters were the first to select land in
Long Creek township for their future homes. They were William
D. Baker and David Davis, natives of North Carolina, and later
residents of Rutherford county, Tenn. They came to Macon
county in the fall of 1828 and spent that winter in the Ward
settlement. In the spring of 1829 they established their homes
in Section 20, in Long Creek township.
That was the year Decatur was laid out, and when the commissioners,
who had been named to locate the town, visited the Baker-Davis
neighborhood, these two early settlers were very much worried.
They had not yet entered the land on which they had made their
improvements, and they feared they would lose them if a site there
was selected for the town.
David Davis was one of the judges of the first election held in
Macon county, and William D. Baker was a member of the first grand
jury. Davis served afterwards as county treasurer and as
Jacob Myers was the first man to enter any land in the township.
On Sept. 26, 1828, he entered 80 acres in Section 36. David Davis entered 80 acres in Section 20 on Oct. 20, 1829.
[INSERT PICTURE HERE]
WILLIAM D. BAKER
Within a year or two after the first homes were established in the
township, settlers began to come in rapidly. John Florey
located in Section 26 in 1830. Newton N. Baker settled in
Section 29 the same year. John Rucker, who arrived in 1830,
located in Section 15. Mr. Rucker served as county
commissioner for a period of fourteen years, and his wise counsel
had a large influence in directing the affairs of the county.
Other early settlers were Allen Travis, Andrew Haddick, James
Wheeler and Joe Davis.
the first marriage in Long Creek township was that of Bailey Myers
and Jane Black. The first child born was William M. Davis, son
of Mr. and Mrs. David Davis. He was brn Jan. 14, 1831.
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The first mill was built by Joseph McGuinas. John Bell started
the first blacksmith shop in 1830 in Section 28. Joseph Davis
was the first justice of the peace. David Cooper was the first
physician but was not a resident.
Peter Casner, native of Pennsylvania, came in 1845 from Mercer
county, Ill. He entered land in Section 31 and established his
home in the southwest quarter. There a postoffice was
The village of Casner was named for Lewis B. Casner, son of Peter
Casner. The elder Mr. Casner gave 80 acres of land to each of
his five children when they came of age. Lewis B. Casner
remained on the farm until 1891 when he moved to Decatur, where for
some years he was interested in the banking business and other
[INSERT PICTURE HERE]
LEWIS B. CASNER
Traces can still be found of the old Decatur-Paris road, which was
the earliest in the township. It followed the general
direction of the present day Route 121. On this old road were
located several taverns. One was at the Joseph Davis house,
which was a stage stand and also for a time a postoffice.
In 1852 a postoffice was established in the home of Allen Travis,
and was called Hopewell. About a mile east of Hopewell was the
John Stickel, sr., tavern. That house is still standing.
It is a place of historic interest, for in that home Abraham Lincoln
stopped occasionally when he was traveling the eight judicial
Another tavern was the Jacob Myers home, a mile east of the
house. It is believed that Stephen A. Douglas was a guest at
this tavern, for he made speeches in that community.
One of the successful farmers of Long Creek township was Michael
Eichinger, who came in 1858. He acquired considerable land and
became prominent in the community.
The first school house in the township was built in 1834 in Section
16. Daniel Stickel was the first teacher. It was called
the Ehrhart school in honor of Henry Ehrhart. Another early
school was the Black school on the John Jones farm.
The first supervisor from Long Creek township was John Rucker.
The first church organized was the Long Creek Methodist church,
which had its start in the early '30s, and erected its first
building in 1848. The first regular pastor, D. Coulson, was
appointed in 1838. The first building was burned to the ground
during the Civil war, and it was believed the fire was incendiary.
In 1855 the North Fork Cumberland Presbyterian church was organized
at the Emerson school house with fifty-four charter members.
Many of them had been members of the Mt. Zion church. Rev.
John C. Smith organized the church and Rev. Daniel Traughber was the
Charles Emerson, lawyer, whose home was in Long Creek township, gave
the land for the North Fork church.
The Antioch Christian church was organized in October, 1859.
The last charter member of this organization, Mrs. Sue Tyler
died only recently (1930). In 1864 a church building was
erected on land given by her father, Rev. J. W. Tyler, who was
instrumental in organizing the church and was its first pastor.
The Old Order Brethren church in Long Creek township was organized
in the '80s. Its church building erected in 1898 is about four
miles southwest of Cerro Gordo. This organization, though
small in numbers, in 1901 entertained the national assembly of the
Long Creek township has two railroad stops. Long Creek is in
Section 27. A postoffice was established there in 1875, called
Long Creek, and a store was started the same year by Kizer &
Benson Myers was the first postmaster. The town was laid out
Antioch was a flag stop on the railroad for years, but afterwards
One of the early residents of Long Creek township, who in later
years was called upon often to tell of the early days of the county,
was Rev. Nathan M. Baker, who was born in 1837 in Long Creek
township and spent nearly his entire life there. Rev. Mr.
Baker was a son of William D. Baker. Land entered by the elder
Mr. Baker from the government passed into the hands of Rev. N. M.
Baker, and today is in possession of his children.
Rev. Mr. Baker was a minister for more than fifty years. He
entered the ministry in 1858, joining the Springfield presbytery.
In 1862, he enlisted as a private in Company C, One Hundred
Sixteenth Regiment, and was made chaplain of the regiment. His
service in the army was not confined to ministering as a chaplain,
however, as he frequently was found in the front ranks in the
After the war he spent many years in pastoral work, serving
different country charges. In 1895 he moved to Lincoln to
educate his children at Lincoln university, and while there he
taught astronomy in the university. He was deeply interested n
that subject, and built his own telescope. Rev. Mr. Baker at one
time, for the benefit of his grandchildren, wrote a book in which he
told interesting experiences of the pioneer times. He often
gave addresses before public gatherings and wrote papers for
historical societies, and his contributions to the historical data
of the county were extremely valuable. In 1899 Mr. Baker moved
to Decatur, where he lived a retired life until his death in 1922.
(BACK TO TOP)
MAROA township had its first
settler in 1839, but it was not until the '50s that settlers began
to arrive in numbers. James Pettyjohn was the first to
come. He arrived from Kentucky in 1839 and located in Section
5. The first land entered in the township was a tract of 30
acres in Section 7, entered by Alfred Downen Sept. 6, 1836.
Thomas M. Geddis was the next to enter land, selecting tracts
in Section 6.
Among the early settlers were Garrett J. Schenck and Joseph
Hilt of Ohio, Joseph S. Clough of Morgan county, the
three Gray brothers, Robert, John and George; Milton P.
Funk, John M. Foulkes, Edward Foulkes, John S.
Parker, William Cooper, Dr. J. W. Thayer, Samuel
and William Potter, M. Friedman and William F.
Crawford, most of whom came in the '50s. Andrew J.
Thirft came in 1864. John Longstreet came in 1862.
George B. Short and Frederick W.
Miller arrived in 1863. W. J. Compton came
in 1866. Bazel Cooper, son of William Cooper,
lived to see the day when he was the only person left in the
township who had been there in 1855. Bazel Cooper drove
one of the teams on the family journey to Macon county from Indiana.
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After the Illinois Central railroad was built through the township,
the town of Maroa was laid out by the Associated Land company, and
the railroad company platted an addition known as the Railroad
addition to Maroa. In 1854 a passenger depot was erected and
John Crocker became the first agent, continuing in the
position until 1866. Maroa was incorporated as a village March
7, 1867, Job A. Rice being the first president of the board
of trustees. On April 8, 1889, Maroa was incorporated as a
John Crocker, native of New Hampshire, came to Maroa from
Jacksonville. He was not only first station agent, but was
first postmaster, first banker and first lumber and grain merchant.
He also was one of the founders of the Presbyterian church.
Mr. Crocker died in 1879. His son and grandson have
followed him in Maroa business circles.
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Garrett J. Schenck in 1855 erected the first house in Maroa.
It was used also as a store, and then was enlarged and became the
Schenck House, which for many years was a popular hotel.
The house stood on the site now occupied by the Presbyterian church.
M. Friedman built a house and store in 1857. He was in
business there for many years, and was succeeded by his son-in-law,
William F. Crawford erected the first house on what was
afterwards known as the Bloomington road.
The Prairie Hotel was erected in 1858 by William Greer.
The first grain elevator was built about 1860 by Mr. Ives,
and later sold to John Walker. In 1865 a steam flour mill was
built by Tylee and George E. Conover. Later an
addition, used as an elevator, was erected. The flour mill
afterwards was discontinued.
The first justice of the peace in the township was Milton Funk,
named in 1855. Other early justices were John Crocker,
Squire Ross, Joseph Jones, John B. Carey, C. C.
Crandall and Henry E. Kent. Dr. Smith was
the first physician, coming in 1850. Other early physicians
were Dr. J. W. Thayer, Dr. Josiah Brown, Dr. L.
Tozer, Dr. C. A. McLean and Dr. J. H. Axton.
D. McLean's son, Dr. W. T. McLean, followed him in the
profession and has continued his practice for about fifty years.
The first birth in Maroa township was that of Charlotte Pettyjohn,
who was born Feb. 10, 1852. The first death was that of John
H. Pettyjohn, Aug. 15, 1852. The first marriage was
that of Joseph Garrett and Mary A. Pettyjohn, who were
married in 1856by Rev. George Clifton.
Two fraternal orders organized lodges in Maroa in 1865. The
lodges were Maroa lodge, 454, A. F. and A. M., and Maroa lodge 314,
I. O. O. F. Other fraternal organizations came in later years.
The first bank in Maroa was established in 1867 by John Crocker.
It is still in business, now known as the Crocker & Co. bank.
The first newspaper in Maroa was The Times, started in 1867 by John
Sharp. The Tablet and The Tribune also made their
appearance in early days. Then came The News, started by Henry
B. Funk. The Budget was founded in 1876. It later
became The Messenger. Another paper called The Times was
founded in 1886 by T. C. Grady. The two papers which
survived, The Times and The News, were consolidated in 1903.
Thomas Shaw taught the first school in the township in 1852.
The first building erected for school purposes was put up in 1856 on
"The Ridge", two and a quarter miles west of Maroa. Alvin
Woodward was the first teacher there. Several years later
a building was erected in Maroa, and the first teacher there was
Robert Collins. In 1866 a brick schoolhouse was
constructed, and later a high school building was erected in Maroa,
and the first teacher there was Robert Collins. In 1866
a brick schoolhouse was constructed, and later a high school
building was erected. This high school was torn down in 1915,
when the present day structure was erected.
Members of the Christian church began holding services in 1862 in
Dr. Thayer's home. Rev. J. W. Tyler was the
first preacher. A church was organized May 4, 1862.
Services were held in the public school house for some years.
In 1869 a building was erected. It was used until the present
day church house was put up in 1911.
A Methodist Episcopal church was organized at Belle Prairie in 1867,
and moved to Maroa in 1860. A house of worship was erected in
1867 on the site of the present parsonage. In 1892 the
congregation built a new church which was used until it was
destroyed by fire in 1912. Then the present church house was
The Center Ridge Christian church in Section 32 is one of the oldest
of the country churches. It was organized in 1867 by L. A.
Engle and J. B. Millison.
There have been several other rual churches, where services
afterwards were discontinued. One old church building, not now
in use, still stands in the Ridge cemetery.
William F. Crawford was the first supervisor from Maroa
township, holding that position for five years.
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MAJOR C. F. EMERY
One pioneer settler, active for many years, was Major Charles F.
Emery. He served in the Civil war, and later engaged in
the real estate and loan business. In 1872 he founded the C.
F. Emery & Co. bank. He also started a bank and was in
the loan business in South Dakota, but failure of crops and other
reverses brought loss, and his bank was taken over by Crocker
& Co. Major Emery never recovered from his
losses, and the latter part of his life he spent as a rural mail
carrier, being the first carrier on Route 2 out of Maroa. He
died in 1911.
From 1880 to 1888 Major Emery served as a member of the state
board of equalization.
Maroa township has had many progressive citizens. Among the
early families have been the Stoutenboroughs, Bennetts,
Wendlings, Bairds, Rays, Marshs,
McCanns and many others who have contributed to the progress of
the township. Three citizens, Jason Rogers, John H.
Crocker and Thomas N. Leavitt, have been honored by
election to the state legislature. Maroa has grown to be the
largest town in Macon county, outside of Decatur. Its
population in 1930 was 1,154.
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MILAM township was the last
township formed in Macon county, having been detached from Mt. Zion
township in September, 1869. It had very few settlers until
after the Civil war. The first land entries were made by
Benjamin Durgin who entered 160.24 acres in the NE 1/4, Section 1;
Sarah Nash, who entered 164.18 acres in the same section; and Andrew
Libby, who entered 160 acres in the same section. These
entries were all made Aug. 23, 1852.
Before this, however, James Greenfield and son, Jesse, had located
in the north part of the township, where they erected a house.
They came early in the year 1851.
Joel Cloud settled in Section 12 in 1857, and David J. Freeland
located in the same section in 1858. A man named Hale also was
an early comer.
Practically all the other early settlers came after the Civil war.
Among them were J. B. Gleason, David Shelton, James Kerr, William
Rutledge, Richard Cribbett, William Meyers, John W.
Archibald Dickson, Frederick Wehrman, Henry Wehrman, John C.
McReynolds, William Dudley, J. W. Smith. One by one others
came, until the township was well populated.
J. B. Gleason, the man who gave the township its name, was the first
justice of the peace, and the first supervisor from the township.
Mr. Gleason, who was a native of Connecticut, had lived in Iowa
before coming to Macon county, and had served in various public
offices in that state.
J. B. GLEASON
George A. Bartlett was the first collector, W. E. Kyer the first
assessor, and James M. Kerr the first town clerk. Mr.
also served as a supervisor, and as commissioner of highways.
Mr. Kyer was another who served as supervisor.
The first school district was laid off in 1866, and the name of
Harmony was given to the first school started. The winter term
of that school was taught by Samuel Gregory.
The first child born in the township was Franklin Cloud, son of
Joseph and Nancy Cloud, and the first death was that of Philo Hale.
Milam is one of two townships in Macon county that have no
railroads, and no villages or towns. It also ahs the
distinction of being the smallest township in the county. It
has been the home, however, of many prosperous farmers and its
representatives on the board of supervisors have filled their places
most acceptably and have done their part in handling the affairs of
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MUCH of historic interest
lies with the boundaries of Mt. Zion township. Some of the
earliest settlers in the county located in that township. As
the seat of Mt. Zion academy, the village became widely known.
In a day when institutions of learning were extremely scarce, the
academy was the chief educational center of this section of
The school was established by a stock company, and a two story
frame building, accommodating 100 students, was erected in 1856.
John Kaufman was the contractor. School opened that
fall, with Rev. Prestly H. Crider as principal and W.
P. Baker as assistant. The school was known then as the
Mt. Zion Male and Female academy. The first trustees were Rev.
Daniel Traughber, George A. Smith, Charles Emerson,
J. D. Campbell and John Smith. One of the men
instrumental in founding the school was W. C. Mayers.
The first building was destroyed by fire April 12, 1857, and it was
replaced by a two story brick structure. The brick used was
made from clay taken directly from the school grounds. Mr.
McBey was contractor.
G. W. Kinsolving was the second principal, and he was
succeeded by A. J. McGlumphey. Under the latter's
direction the academy enjoyed its greatest prosperity.
McGlumphey later became president of Lincoln college at Lincoln,
Other principals who succeeded McGlumphey were William
Mariner, Dr. A. J. Wallace, and Professor Hughes.
W. C. Outten was assistant to Dr. Wallace.
Principal Mariner's assistant was Miss Lucy Hollingsworth,
later Mrs. William E. Nelson.
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MT. ZION ACADEMY
WHEN the Cumberland Presbyterian church decided to establish a
collage at Lincoln, Ill., it was feared that such a move would sound
the death knell of Mt. Zion academy. Hence, it was proposed to
put the institution under the wing of the church. It was
re-chartered in 1865 and attached to the Decatur presbytery.
Professor McGlumphey went to Lincoln College, when it was
opened in 1866. and a good many of his pupils when with him.
From that time the Mt. Zion school began to decline, but it remained
open until 1871. When the establishment of public schools,
including high schools, the need for the academy no longer existed.
After the building went out of use as an academy, it was rented
by school directors and used as a public school. Later the
building was bought by the school directors. It was in use
until 1904 when it was torn down, and a new school building erected
on the site. In 1926 Mt. Zion's new high school building was
Many of the men and women who once were students at Mt. Zion
academy became leaders in their chosen lines of work in later years,
both in Macon county and in other places. In after years they
loved to recall the good old days when the school flourished.
A delightful event in their lives was the reunion of academy
students which was held Aug. 14, 1913, at Mt. Zion, when nearly 100
of the former students met to live over again their school days.
Six states were represented on that occasion. A quartet sang
the same songs that had been sung at a reunion in 1867. That
quartet included three of the members of the original quartet, S. S.
Hopkins, J. B. Martin, and Mrs. Lida Hopkins
Wells, and the fourth member, Mrs. Mollie Kaufman Champion
was the sister of the fourth member of the original quartet, Love
There were many stories that day of the pranks of the students,
of the barracks where many of the boys "batched", the McMullen
boarding house, and reminiscences of the teachers.
In Mt. Zion was erected the first church building in Macon
county. It was a log structure put up by the Cumberland
Presbyterian church, which was organized in 1830. The present
church building stands on the site of that first one.
The first land entered from the government in Mt. Zion township
was by Henry Traughber, who, on June 4, 1829, entered the
east half of the N. E. 1/4 of Section 8. That farm is still in
the family, now owned and occupied by Judd Traughber,
grandson of Henry Traughber. It still contains the log
house and log barn built ninety years ago by Henry Traughber.
The barn was enclosed with a cattle barn in 1899. This barn
has the distinction of being the oldest threshing outfit in the
county, for in the early days the wheat, stored in this barn, was
threshed out by the tramping of horses over it.
[INSERT PICTURE HERE]
ORIGINAL TRAUGHBER HOUS
Others who entered land in this township in early days were Elisha Moore, Robert (Uncle Robin) Wilson, and William
James Finley was regarded as the first settler, for he
located in 1827 on Section 10. Finley came from
Kentucky. Benjamin Wilson came in 1827. He was
one of the first county commissioners.
Rev. David Foster came here to preach in 1828. The same
year came William Wheeler, Sr. His son, William
Wheeler, Jr., was prominently connected with the history of the
county as sheriff, assessor and collector.
Rev. David Foster returned in 1829 to locate. In his
home the organization of the Cumberland Presbyterian church took
place in 1830.
John Smith of Tennessee came in 1829 and settled in
Section 9. The same year came Harvey, Finis and Thomas
Travis, Edmund Turpin, James D. Campbell, Andrew
and John Davidson, and Alexander W. Bell. James
D. Campbell was a member of the county commissioner's court
and for many years was a justice of the peace. He died in
Henry Hodge arrived in 1830. William and Madison
Turpin came in 1831 and settled on Big Creek.
The first persons married in the township were John C. Foster
and Emily Montgomery in 1831. The first child born was
Robert S. Traughber, born Sept. 2, 1830. The first
death was that of Thomas Nelms in 1830.
The first school house was built in Section 4, in 1832, James
Scott being the first teacher.
Some of the early ministers were Rev. David Foster, Rev.
Neill Johnson, Rev. Daniel Traughber, of the
Cumberland Presbyterian church; and Rev. J. M. Peck of the
Baptist church, noted in the early history of the state and known as
author of books and pamphlets on early Illinois history.
The first mill in the township was built by Robert Law in 1835 at
Whitehouse's in Section 6. It was a band mill, run by horse
Among the early justices of the peace were J. D. Campbell,
Alonzo Pierce, and Mr. Schuffield. First
physicians were Dr. Buckworth and Dr. Blalock.
The first supervisor was W. C. Myers.
The village of Mt. Zion was laid out in 1860 by S. K. Smith.
It was incorporated as a village April 13, 1882. The first
house was erected by Andrew Wilson and the first store was run by
Skillman and Mays. Dr. Blaylock erected the
first hotel, and it was conducted by John McMullen. As
early as 1851 G. W. Riber had a blacksmith shop.
Mt. Zion postoffice was first called Wilson postoffice, after
Andrew Wilson. When the village was laid out, it was
named after the church there. Mt. Zion.
The Methodist church was called at first the Sulphur Springs
society. It became an appointment in 1857, the membership
previously having been at Mt. Gilead. In 1865 a church was
erected. The Sulphur Springs church moved to Mt. Zion in 1874.
One of the well known residents of Mt. Zion township, Washington
S. Smith, grain dealer and supervisor, was member for two
terms (1890-1894) of the general assembly.
Another village in Mt. Zion township is Hervey City, at the
junction of the Illinois Central and Pennsylvania lines. It
was named after Robert G. Hervey, picturesque settlement
known as Whistleville. Settled years ago by Kentucky.
Settled years ago by Kentucky timber men, who built rude cabins, it
maintained all its old time primitiveness while the outside world
forged ahead to better things. The settlers there had taken
small tracts of land, where a few chickens, hogs, and cow or two,
and perhaps a day's work occasionally, supplied their needs.
They mingled little with the outside. Only in recent years
have changes come to the place. Slowly the little tracts of
land are being absorbed by the larger farms nearby. Much of
the timber has been cleared. No doubt the time will come when
there will be nothing left of the original cluster of cabin homes
and Whistleville will be no different from other farm land.
Woodbine park, formerly owned by Eli Ulery, but now the
state Y. M. C. A. camp, and called Camp Seymour, also is in
Mt. Zion township. For about six years chautauquas were held
at this park annually, and hundreds of campers lived on the grounds.
In 1922 the park, consisting of 55 acres, was sold to settle the Eli
Ulery estate. It was bought for $15,025 by H. M.
Seymour of Payson, Ill., and presented to the state Y. M. C. A.
for an older boys' camp, as a memorial to Mr. and Mrs. Seymour's
son, Charles W. Seymour.
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THE first settler in
Niantic township was Joseph Stirckland, who came in 1825, from
either Ohio or Kentucky, and settled in Section 23. He erected
his log cabin near what is now Long Point cemetery. Strickland
became known as "Devil Joe" because of his rough nature and lack of
cleanliness. He had a large family.
The next to come was William Turner, who arrived in 1826 and
located in Section 15. Other early settlers were Joseph
Blankenship, George W. Gepford, J. S. Kizer, George Hawk, A. C.
Edgar, Thomas Acom, James Hogan, James Dingman, Nathan W. Brock,
Jesse Lockhart, Thomas A. Pritchett, Seth Brock, the Farnam family,
Dr. H. N. Clark, Dr. E. S. Faris and George Wree.
James Dingman, who settled about two miles south of the present
town of Niantic, in 1843, was active for many years in the township,
and became a sort of patriarch in the community. When people
wanted advice they went to "Uncle Jimmy" Dingman. Mr. Dingman
was a man of strong religious tendencies, and was one of the
founders of the Long Point church, in what is known as Dingman's
grove. The church building, erected in 1856, is still in use.
An interesting feature concerning this church is that no musical
instruments are allowed. Above the entrance to the building is
This house was built by the Church of Christ
A. D. 1856 in which no instrumental music shall be used to
[INSERT PICTURE HERE]
LONG POINT CHURCH
The Long Point church was organized in 1850 and for four years
held services in Mr. Dingman's log cabin home. Nathan G.
Averitt was instrumental in organizing the church. From this
congregation have developed the Christian churches of Illiopolis,
Harristown, Niantic and Berea.
James Dingman was one of the three men who divided Macon county
into townships. He accumulated much land, owning as much as 13
acres. He was a leader in the community for many years.
Long Point was known from the very earliest days of the county.
In laying out roads and in giving directions, Long Point often was
mentioned in early records.
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Thomas Acom was another of the prominent men of the early days.
He came to Macon county in 1850, and became in extensive land
holder. For twenty years he served as a school director, and
he also held the offices of school trustee, supervisor and road
commissioner. He became an extensive land holder. Mr.
Acom always was interested in the betterment of the community.
He was strongly opposed to the liquor business, and one time, to
rid the community of a saloon, he bought the saloon with all its
contents, and emptied out the liquor to the last drop.
Wyatt Strickland, son of Joseph Strickland, was the first man to
enter land in Niantic township, entering 80 acres in Section 23 on
Nov. 30, 1829.
The first child born in the township was a child of Wyatt
Strickland, and the first death was that of another child of the
[INSERT PICTURE HERE]
After the Great Western railroad was built through Niantic
township, Thomas Lewis, George B. Richardson and Calvin J. Lockhart
laid out the town of Prairie City, after purchasing twenty-one acres
land of Prairie City, after purchasing twenty-one acres of land from
Jesse Lockhart as a site. That was in 1853. The railroad
station was given the name of Long Point. When the postoffice
was established, Calvin Lockhart became postmaster and the
postoffice was called Lockhart. The three names caused so much
confusion, that it was decided to select one name by vote of the
people. The citizens chose the name, Niantic, which was the
name of a tribe of Indians in Connecticut, that name being suggested
by a former resident of that state.
The first house in Niantic was not built there, but was moved in
from the timber near Long Point cemetery. William Sponsler had
partially built the house, but disposed of it for $12.50 (the amount
it had cost him) to Jesse Lockhart, who moved it to the new town
site. From this beginning Niantic grew to be a good sized
village. Its present population is 591. It was
incorporated as a village Aug. 23, 1894.
The first store in Niantic was conducted by William Gansen.
This store was located on the site of the residence of Mrs. Margaret
Griffin. George Wree, an enterprising German who had come from
his native country a few years before, wanted that site for a store,
and within five minutes he ha closed a deal for it. For over
sixty years Mr. Wree lived in Niantic township. He kept a
store in town for a time, then moved to a farm, but later returned
to town. He served as postmaster and school treasurer, and was
founder of the Bank of Niantic.
The first physician in Niantic was Dr. Stewart. He came in
1856. The following year Dr. E. S. Faris came, and in 1859 Dr.
H. H. Clark arrived. Dr. J. H. Hughes, both physician and
preacher, came the same year. The latter was named as the
first supervisor from Niantic township. Dr. Faris's son, John
P. Faris, was identified with the business life of Niantic for many
hears. He was killed in an automobile accident in 1910.
Niantic's coal mine was sunk in 1882 by Hugh Mooney. It was
the town's leading industry for many years.
Joab Wilkinson was Niantic's first justice of the peace.
The first school house in the township was built in 1847 in the
timber near the Strickland home. School sessions had been held
before that in the home of James Dingman, with James Harper as
teacher. The second school house erected to replace the first,
is still standing, about 200 feet from the original site, but is now
used as a residence. The school was called the Dingman school.
The present Dingman school is located a mile east of the first
In the town of Niantic the first school was taught by Miss
Elizabeth Ryan. Sessions were held in a ware room of the
railroad company. In the fall of 1858 a storm was seen
approaching. Dr. Hughes went to the school room and advised
the teacher to send the children home. She did so. When
the storm struck, the school building was demolished. School
was held in various places until 1861 when a new school house was
erected. That building was turned into a township hall in
later years. Another school house was erected in 1875.
It was afterwards used as a residence, after a brick school building
was put up in 1899. In 1925 a new community high school
building was erected in Niantic, at a cost of over $50,000.
The old log school house erected in 1847 was used for the first
religious services conducted in the township. Rev. A. D.
Northcutt did the preaching. The school building was used
until the Long Point church was erected. The Long Point church
has been moved three times, but is not far from the original
In 1867, after a successful revival conducted by Rev. John
Wilson, a new Christian church was formed in Niantic.
Construction of a building followed, and it was dedicated in March,
1868. Thomas A Pritchett was the first elder, and the first
deacons were George Wree and Griffin Chamberlain. Rev. B. J.
Radford was the first resident pastor. The church building
continued in use until the present day house of worship was erected.
It was dedicated April 22, 1923.
The Methodist church held services in the town hall until the
erection of a church building in 1894. This building was
remodeled in 1904, and is still in use.
Catholics of the community first held services in the home of
Michael Walsh, and later in the John Henebry home. A new
church building was erected in 1892, but it was struck by lightning
and burned in 1923. It was replaced with a handsome brick
structure, dedicated in 1926.
(BACK TO TOP)
FIRST settlers in Oakley
township were James Howell and his son, William. James Howell,
who was a native of Ohio, located in Section 30 in the spring of
1825. A little later the son, William, came with his family.
Other early arrivals in the township were John Rea, Isaac Veech, Guy
Helm, William, David and Achilles Morris, Arch Walton and Garland
Wheeler. Caleb Hess came in 1850. James Chambers was
another early resident. He located in Section 26. Jacob
Seitz also settled in the same section, when he came in 1857.
John Hizer came to Macon county in 1849, walking all the way from
Pennsylvania. The next year he went to work at Spanler's mill.
Later he bought land and began farming.
William Howell was the first to enter land. On March 19,
1830, he entered 80 acres in Section 25.
William Howell, D. B. Landis and Andrew Froman were early
justices of the peace in the township. The first supervisor
was G. W. Forest. Other early supervisors were L. Chambers, H.
McCoy, O. J. Doyle, E. Rhodes, R. Spencer, Dr. S.
Cooper, William Grason and H. J. Manecke.
First physicians in the township were G. H. Young and J. G. H.
The first marriage was that of Caleb Warfield and Nancy Rea, in
The first postoffice was in the home of John Rickett in Section
35, and Mr. Rickett was postmaster.
The first saw mill was erected in 1840 by Rhodes and Wheeler, and
the first grist mill was built by Guy Helm in 1844. John
Hawkins established the first blacksmith shop.
The first school house was erected in the fall of 1830 in Section
26, and there Alexander Patton taught the first school.
Rev. Alonzo Lapham, Methodist minister, was the first preacher to
deliver a sermon in the township. That was in 1835. A
Methodist church was organized in 1858 by Rev. J. F. Everly.
Captain William Grason, who came to the township in 1854, bought
land in Section 9. He enlisted in the army during the Civil war, and
became Captain of Company A, 116th Illinois Regiment. Captain
Grason served as supervisor a number of times.
W. F. Coulter in 1874 bought land along the Sangamon, on which a
mill was located. That mill, known as Coulter's mill, has
stood for many years.
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A. J. VEECH
One of the life-long residents of the township was Andrew J.
Veech, who was born in this county April 13, 1836, the son of Isaac
Veech. A. J. Veech became an extensive farmer and stock
raiser. His home was in Section 3, but he owned land in other
sections and also in Decatur township.
The village of Oakley was laid out in 1856 by William Rea.
A postoffice was established, and D. B. Landis became the first
postmaster. He was also the first justice of the peace.
John Nickey opened the first hotel, and G. M. Everline the first
store. Dr. Samuel Cooper was the first physician, and E.
Rhodes the first blacksmith. The first house in the village
was erected by William Rea.
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SIMON P. NICKEY
Simon P. Nickey, who started in the mercantile business in 1858
in Oakley, was appointed station agent for the Great Western
railroad in 1859. Mr. Nickey who was a native of Pennsylvania,
having been born in Cumberland county, Nov. 16, 1832, came to Macon
county in May, 1855. He was at different times assessor,
collector, school director, school teacher, postmaster and county
superintendent of schools, serving in the latter office from 1873 to
The first school in the village was built in 1860.
On June 1, 1879, T. O. Holcomb opened a general store, and grain
business which he continued many years. In recent years the
business was conducted by his son, Cassius Holcomb, who died in
Sangamon is another station on the Wabash in Oakley township.
A general store was opened there in 1857 by William Harmon
and Benjamin Wheeler. Silas Chappell was the
first postmaster. Mr. Chappell also ran a cooper shop.
In 1867 a blacksmith shop was started by J. B. Spangler.
Oakley is in the center of a good grain district, and has always
been a place of some importance among grain dealers, as a shipping
point. It is connected by hard road with State Route No. 10,
and is a station on the Illinois Traction System line.
(BACK TO TOP)
THE first settlements in Pleasant View township were in the
northern part of the township. Valentine Claywell was
the first to come, arriving in 1828. Other early settlers were
John Reed and John G. Fletcher.
The first land entered was by David Simons, who entered 40 acres
in Section 13 on Mach 15, 1836. Samuel Widick entered
160 acres in the same section.
Among the prominent residents of the township who came in a
litter later were Williams M. Moss, E. F. Delbridge,
William F. Brookshire, O. T. Crow, Abel S. Ferre,
Eleazer House, George W. Carr and Son, Nathan A.
Carr. Another long time resident was James D. Smith,
who was born in this county. Rev. A. D. Northcutt,
early prominent minister, located in the township in 1867.
The first school building was erected in 1862 in Section 7.
Williams Sterrett was teacher. School had been taught,
however, according to one report, as early as 1857.
The first mill was a wind mill erected by James Irwin for
William Brookshire opened a blacksmith shop in Section 8
D. D. Rowles was the first supervisor from Pleasant View
township. Other early supervisors were John Hatfield
and E. House.
The village of Blue Mound was laid out in 1870, and was
incorporated Feb. 17, 1876. The land on which the village was
platted was owned by Dr. Goltra. The first house in the
village was built by William Cummings, but it was erected in
1861, before there was any village. In 1870 o. Ullrich
& Bros. moved a store, which had stood about a mile to the north,
down to the new town. The same year the postoffice was
established and William Clements became postmaster. In
1871 a school house was erected. Isaac Black was the first
teacher. A. H. Eicholtz opened the first hotel in 1870.
Albert Nicholls had the first blacksmith shop in town.
A mill and elevator were erected in 1870 by Henry Kain an
Edward Eicholtz. In 1878 Scott and Lemen
started a tile factory. Willard and Bosworth
started the tile factor in 1877.
The Methodist Episcopal church was organized in 1871 and erected
a building in 1877. Bethel society, two miles north of Blue
Mound, was organized in 1870 by Rev. J. W. Warfield, and
erected a church that year.
The Christian church had its start Jan. 4, 1874, being organized
by Elder A. D. Northcutt. The church purchased a
building that stood a mile and a half south of the village, and
moved it to Blue Mound. In 1874 a United Brethren church was
organized in Blue Mound by Rev. J. Corley. The
following year a house of worship was erected.
E. J. Clements, brother of the first postmaster of Blue Mound,
was named postmaster in 1871 and served for fourteen years.
Four years later he again was given the office, and held it for four
[INSERT PICTURE HERE]
One of Blue Mound's interesting citizens was Robert Warnick,
who was a boyhood fried of Abraham Lincoln, though Lincoln was
fifteen years older than he. Mr. Warnick was a son of
William Warnick, and was a young boy at the home of his
father in Blue Mound township at the time Lincoln lived in the
county. Robert Warnick was a veteran of both the war
with Mexico and the Civil war, and could tell interesting tales of
the big conflicts. Robert Warnick was born in 1824, and
lived until 1915, spending the latter part of his life in Blue
Mound. He was a brother of Ira Warnick, who also lived to a
good old age. Ira Warnick, who made his home in Blue
Mound township, was a great hunter. He also was a friend of
Lincoln and could tell many stories of Lincoln's life in Macon
Pleasant View township has been the home of many progressive
farmers. The village of Blue Mound has become an interesting
point in the county, with good schools, churches and homes, keeping
pace with the progress of the day. In 1930 Blue Mound had a
population of 817. It is on the Wabash railroad
and also on State Route No. 48 hard road.
(BACK TO TOP)
SO far as known, South
Macon township had no settlers before 1835, when William Morris
came from Indiana and located just north of what afterwards was
known as Long Grove. He died the following year. Isaac
Vise came in 1837 or 1838 and located farther south than Mr.
Morris. In 1840 came Thomas Atterberry, called
"Black Tom", who built a house in Section 8. His family came
in 1845. James and Hargus Stewart and Richard
Atterberry came up from Kentucky and settled in the township.
William Portwood also was an early arrival. Thomas Davis,
who had settled in Mt. Zion township in 1848, decided to move over
to South Macon. Isaac Davis came in 1853, and James
Hobson in 1855.
Robert Bivans, for many years connected with the history
of the township, first came in 1859. He served as township
collector, clerk, postmaster at Macon, alderman, and was well known
as farmer, merchant and insurance agent.
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DAVID P. KELLER
South Macon township was the home of David P. Keller, who was
elected a member of the legislature in 1888 and again in 1890.
Mr. Keller, who was a native of Ohio, moved to Shelby county
in 1853, and to Macon county in 1869. He lived in South Macon
township until 1895 when he moved to Moweaqua, where he was engaged
in the banking business until his death Dc. 12, 1901.
As an auctioneer for farm sales for a number of years, Mr. Keller
made a wide acquaintance. He had once said that he could at
one time go between Decatur and Shelbyville over three different
roads and tell who lived in every house and who owned every piece of
In 1884 Mr. Keller began raising Aberdeen Angus cattle,
continuing with that breed as long as he was on the farm. Mr.
Keller was one of the founders of the Macon County Mutual Fire
Henry L. Highly came to Macon county in 1861, and for many
years was a successful farmer in South Macon township. In 1899
he retired and moved to Macon. He held the positions of school
director and road commissioner.
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ROBERT W. HIGHT
Robert W. Hight was the eldest of the Hight
brothers who came to the township in 1855 from Greene county.
For many years he devoted his attention to farming interests, but in
1895 he retired and moved to Macon, where he erected on e of the
finest homes in the town. While on the farm Mr. Hight
served as a school director.
One of the extensive land holders of the township was Sard
Giles, who made his home in Macon. When he first came he
was in the employ of other farmers, but gradually accumulated and of
his own until he had hundreds of acres.
The first land in the township was entered by James Stewart,
Nov. 5, 1835. He entered 40 acres in Section13.
The same day William Morris entered 80 acres in the same section,
then a 40 acre tract and another 80 acres.
The first school house in the township was built in 1854 in
Section 12, and the first teacher was Bradford Stuart.
The first supervisor from the township was W. D. Hamilton.
The village of Macon was platted in 1856 by the Illinois Central
railroad. It was incorporated as a village April 15, 1868, and
as a city April 7, 1879.
The first building erected was put up by the railroad company.
C. H. Ruby, the first resident of the town, lived there from
1854 to 1860. J. S. Ruby was appointed railroad agent
in 1857. For a number of years the Illinois Central maintained
a land office in Macon for the sale of lands belonging to the road.
The first residence was built by A. G. Harris in 1858.
The same year a school house was erected. James Wells
was the first teacher. The building afterwards became a
Religious services were started in 1860, the depot being used
until 1865 when a church was erected by the Methodist congregation.
Rev. S. S. Russell was pastor then. Rev. Mr. Wallace
was the first preacher who located in the town.
St. Stanislaus Catholic church was started in 1866 by Rev.
Anthony Voght. A house of worship was erected in 1868.
The Presbyterian church was organized June 12, 1865, in the
school house. Rev. S. W. Mitchell was the first pastor.
In 1867 the congregation erected a house of worship. It was
wrecked by a storm the following year, and later another building
was erected. It was occupied in 1876.
In 1871 the Lutheran church erected a house of worship.
The first blacksmiith shop was established in 1857 by Charles
Dr. George S. Gray was the first physician to locate in
Macon. He came in 1860 and practiced his profession there many
C. H. Ruby opened a hotel in 1860 and continued it many
In 1857 a postoffice was established, J. S. Ruby being the first
The first death in the town was that of James Gegretty,
who fell from the roof while helping to build the Illinois Central
station in 1855 and was fatally injured.
From these beginnings Macon has grown into a good sized town,
having now a population of 799. It has good churches, schools,
including new community high school; an Eastern Star sanitarium, and
fraternal orders. Among the long time business men of the
place was Anton Beschle, who before his death in 1927 and the
distinction of being the oldest charter member of the Masonic lodge
at Macon, the oldest business man and the oldest church member.
Among other business men with long careers were John Schudel and W.
State Route No. 2 hard road passes through Macon, giving it
connection with points from one end of the state to another.
Another railroad stop in South Macon township is Walker, named
for John W. Walker, stock and grain dealer, who, in 1880, persuaded
the Illinois Central to put in a switch and side track and build a
station in Section 8. An elevator was erected there in 1882.
(BACK TO TOP)
THE first settler
in South Wheatland township was William Downing, the man who
was the first to build a home in Macon county. He sold his
cabin in 1824 to John Ward, and moved to Bond county.
The Ward brothers, as told in earlier chapters in this
volume, settled in the same neighborhood south of Decatur, which
became known as the Ward settlement. Besides John
Ward, the family included Thomas, Lewis, James, Jeremiah and
John Ward ran a ferry across the Sangamon, and kept a
store at "Indian Bluff". He died in 1831, and was buried near
the spot where he had made his home.
Other early arrivals in the township were Elisha Freeman,
Hiram Robinson, Andrew W. Smith, Robert Smith,
Joshua G. Perdue, Lambert Bearden, Ephraim Cox,
Winkfield Everet, Dr. J. G. Speer, John Connard
and William Wheeler.
Robert Smith and William Cox were the first to
build homes out on the prairie, away from the timber. Others
followed, and soon the prairie was dotted with cabins and other
Robert Smith built the first mill in the township, as early as
1829. It was a horse mill, and did considerable business.
Lewis B. Ward entered 80 acres of land in Section 31,
Township 16, Range 2 east, Nov. 9, 1827, this being the first land
entered from the government in Macon county. The same day John
Ward entered 80 acres in Section 33. David Foster
entered 131.04 acrs in Section 1 on March 17, 1831 Jeremiah Ward
entered 80 acres in Section 2 May 27, 1831, and William H. Brown
entered 80 acres in Section 1 on July 1, 1831.
The first church was built in 1848 at Mt. Gilead.
Afterwards, in 1874, it was moved to Elwin. Rev. T. D.
Weems was then the pastor. The church was organized in
1836 or 1837. It was a Methodist church.
Rev. John M. Berry was the first preacher in the township,
speaking at various homes before any churches were erected. He
was a Cumberland Presbyterian minister. Bethlehem Presbyterian
church was organized in 1850 by Rev. John C. Smith.
Salem Separate Baptist church was organized in 1846. A
United Brethren church was organized at Elwin in 1866.
Drs. Thomas H. Read, W. T. Crissey and J. G. Speer
of Decatur furnished the medical attention needed in the early days
of the township.
The first supervisor from the township was I. S. Boardman.
Other early supervisors were John
Montgomery and Hiram Ward.
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Hiram Ward was one of the life-long residents of South
Wheatland township. He was the son of William Ward, and
was born Jan. 28, 1837. All his life he lived on the farm on
which he was born. Being so closely identified with the early
history of the county, Mr. Ward naturally was interested in
the formation about 1883 and subsequent activities of the Macon
County Old Settlers association. He served as its first
president and held the same office in after years, being president
at the time of his death in 1911. His brother, Frank N.
Ward, of Blue Mound township, succeeded im as president.
One resident of South Wheatland township, John G. Imboden,
became nationally, and internationally known as a cattle man.
For years he engaged in buying, feeding and selling fine cattle, and
his cattle won many prizes at international stock shows. Mr.
Imboden was widely recognized as a judge of cattle, and was
called upon many occasions to serve in that capacity. He was
for some time president of the Illinois Livestock Breeders
association and he served on national committees. Mr.
Imboden's home was known as Wayside Place. He passed away
The town of Elwin was laid out after the completion of the
Illinois Central railroad. It was first called Wheatland.
C. E. Connard erected an elevator there. One of his
sons, George S. Connard, was identified for many years with
banks in Decatur, first with the National bank and later as cashier
for the Citizens National bank.
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township was located the first house built by white men in the
county, the Lorton Brothers trading post. The
Lortons erected this house in 1816, and spent certain parts of
the year there trading with the Indians. The cabin stood on
the bank of the Sangamon, in Section 18. For about ten years
trading with the Indians was carried on there, but finally
operations ceased when the Indians left the county. The log
house stood for many years afterwards, and was used as a voting
John Draper is believed to have been the first settler in
the township. He came to the county about 1827, locating first
in Hickory Point township. In 1828 he moved to Whitmore
township. John Draper and Amy Florey were the
first couple married in the township. John Anderson Draper,
son of John Draper by a previous marriage, was the first child born
in the township. He was born in 1828.
Other early settlers were John White, David Florey,
D. H. Stuart, Jacob Spangler, and John Huston.
John White was the first to enter land. On May 8, 1830,
he entered 80 acres in Section 13. John Draper entered
80 acres in Section 18 on April 15, 1831. David Florey
settled in Section 21. Mr. Florey came to Macon county
in 1825, from Virginia, and located first in Hickory Point, moving
later to Whitmore. D. H. Stuart entered 80 acres of
land in Section 13 Dec. 12, 1833. John Huston, who was
a native of Virginia, entered 240 acres of land Nov. 30, 1834, in
Sections 8 and 9.
John Whitmore, after whom the township was named, was the
first bride-groom of the county, after Macon county was organized.
His bride was Delilah Miller.
They secured their marriage license June 18, 1829, and were married
two days later.
When the county commissioners formed a new election district in
1833, taking in the northeeast section of the county, it was called
Draper's district, and the old Lorton trading house was the
Two towns, which later disappeared, were laid out in early days
in Whitmore township. They were Murfreesboro and Martinsburg.
More extended mention is made of these towns in the chapter on
William Martin, who laid out Martinsburg, erected a tile
works there which he sold later to his son-in-law, Dr. H. C.
Johns of Decatur.
Whitmore township was the home of what became known as the Garver
settlement, though that settlement extended over into Hickory Point
Three Garver brothers, John, Jacob, and David, and three
Garver sisters and their husbands, Joseph Rife, Sr.,
Henry Hummell and John Epler, came from Dauphin and
Lancaster counties, Pa., in the late '30s, and brought their
families. Others joined them. John Good of York
county, Pa., came in 1838. Later he married Nancy Garver,
the daughter of Jacob Garver, and moved to Hickory Point
township. Mr. Good built the first house on the David
Garver land. A part of that house still stands.
It was incorporated into the brick house erected in 1849. The
brick house now presents a modern day appearance, having been
stuccoed in 1912. Yet it has a quaint and old reminder of the
past. In the front is a white marble tablet which says:
Built by David and Anna Mary Garver, 1849."
[INSERT PICTURE HERE]
(As it is today)
A unique feature of this home was the bake house, a one-story
brick part which contained an old fashioned brick oven. The
Garver home was on the main road to Monticello in the early
days, and it was used as a stopping place by many travelers.
At such times the big oven came into good use.
In late years this farm has been in possession of Mr. and Mrs. Ed
The Zorgers were another pioneer family. John
Zorger, who came with his family in 1839, lived first in Oakley
township, then came to Whitmore. His brother Benjamin, and his
half brothers and half sisters also came.
Among others who arrived later and became well known figures in
the township were John Magee, Jacob Barnett, Daniel
Good, G. W. Betzer, Perry Strope, John R. Bower,
Samuel Gerber, James S. Shastid and Joshua Green.
O. L. Stuart, who was born in Decatur in 1833, for many years
was a prominent resident of Whitmore township.
The first justice of the peace in the township was Henry
Rhodes. The first doctors were Dr. Walters and Dr.
DeWatney. The first ministers who preached in the
township were Rev. A. Bradshaw and C. W. Lewis.
They preached in the Orthodix school house. Whitmore's first
supervisor was James Lichtenberger. Other early
supervisors were Henry Rhodes, John Gill, Charles
Wooster, Joshua Green, J. G. Harnsberger, J. C.
Ruddock, C. H. Garver and Richard Kirby.
In 1841 the first school house was erected. It became known
as the Orthodox school house. It was built in Section 22, and
it was used for many years for all public gatherings.
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The first religious services in the Garver neighborhood
were held in the David Garver home, then in the Garver
school house. In 1853 a church building was erected, made from
brick burned in the Garver timber, the Garver men
doing the work. The church is called the Brick church, but
often it was referred to as the Garver church. It still
stands. The building was used in early days by the United
Brethren church, and at times since then by other denominations.
At present the Church of God holds services there. For many
years after the original church organization was gone, the building
was used only for funerals.
The Friendship Baptist church was organized March 20, 1858, the
first pastor being Rev. Jacob Bower. A church house was
erected in 1874. The name of this church afterward was changed
to the Oreana Baptist church.
The Christian church was organized at the old Zion school house
in 1860 by Dr. J. W. Thayer and J. S. Clough, elders.
They had previously been members of the Newburg church, which
disbanded. In 1874 a building was erected at Oreana.
The Pleasant Hill United Brethren society was organized in 1850
by the Rev. James Parks and Held services in the Garver
school house. In 1866 a United Brethren society was organized
by J. Blake, and held meetings in a Union church house.
The Pleasant Grove Church of God, organized by Rev. A. Gregory,
also held services for some years in the Union church house.
Rev. D. S. Weigel was pastor.
After the Decatur and Monticello railroad was built through the
township the town of Oreana was laid out on the Bower land.
That was 1873. The first house was built by Henry Morrison.
First business men in the town were S. G. Coale, Frank M.
Pratt, and Ruddock and Kirby. S. G.
Crocker was the first postmaster.
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