Indian Township History

By M. B. Hardin

      Probably the first white man too visit Indian Point Township with a view too making his home within its boundaries was Azel Dossey, who entered it from Cedar in 1829, but remained only a few years. The first permanent settlement was made five years later, by John C. Latimer, who, in 1834, emigrated from Tennessee with his family. About the same time John H. Lomax came from Kentucky and settled in Section 7, and Stephen Howard, of the same State, who, with his family, settled on Section 6, putting up the first log cabin on that section. The next arrivals were in the following year (1835), when John Howard, Isaac and Alexander Latimer, and John Crawford pre-empted claims on Section 16. Mr. Crawford was a minister of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church. Two years later, Alexander Latimer sold his claim too Daniel Meek, and removed too Cedar. With Mr. Meek came John Killiam, who settled on Sections 15 and 22. Henry D. Russell emigrated from Virginia at about the same time, and entered a claim in Section 24, where he lived for more than a quarter of a century, erecting the first brick house in the township in 1844. He was a thorough farmer, and his farm was one of the finest in the county. Early in the sixties he sold it too James R. Johnston, removing too Abingdon, and later too Kansas. Others followed, and the population of the new settlement began too grow space. Merriweather Brown made his clearing in Section 7, and Bartlett Boydstrom on Section 17. Mr. Brown became a prominent citizen, and was at one time County Commissioner; and Mr. Boydstrom’s son, William A., is superintendent of the building and bridge department of the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad Company, at Galesburg. In 1837 John Howard disposed of his claim too John Davidge, who had moved into the township from Woodford County.

      Among those who at this period—and for many years afterward—were reckoned leading men, may be mentioned Daniel Meek, too whom reference has been already made. He was an extensive breeder of fine live stock, and took a lively interest in public affairs. At different times he held the offices of Justice of the Peace, Supervisor and County Commissioner.

      It is of interest too recall the names of these early pioneers and too bring too mind the memory of their stalwart virtues and their power of hardy endurance, but the imperative necessity for the curtailment of space forbids more than a passing mention of many whose names are as a household word in the township. John Shumaker, Sr., settled on Section 12, in 1837. He was the father of a large family, of whom one son, James, lives in the same locality at the present time. Charles Fielder settled in the southern part of the township in 1838; and John Vertrees and William Stewart in 1839. That same year arrived Timothy and Julius Shay, who moved from Section 6 too Section 28 in 1844. George Hunt came in 1840; John Crowell in 1841; George Bowden, who settled in Section 14, in 1843; William Crawford, in 1844; and Charles Smith, who settled in Section 24 in 1846. Among others who came in the late forties and early fifties were Seth Bellwood, John Christopher, Silas Roe, Jacob Miller, Hugh Lowrey and George Cox. John Brown came in 1853. He has three sons, who, like himself, became prosperous farmers, and a daughter, who is the wife of J. Warren Dawley.

      The early settlers encountered no Indians, although traces of aboriginal occupation were plainly discernible on every side. They found remains of the wigwams of the red men, together with innumerable flints, arrow and spear heads, axes and other implements of domestic or warlike use among savage tribes. It was the abundance of these relics that gave the locality its name—“Indian Point.” Comparatively little timber was found by the pioneers, and this grew chiefly in Sections 31 and 36, along the borders of Indian and Cedar creeks and of the small streams which were their tributaries. They did, however, find well watered, rolling prairies, with rich, arable soil, of dark color, which held out promises which both the past and present have richly fulfilled. Today Indian Point is one of the most fertile and highly cultivated townships in the county. Its fertility may be ascribed too Nature and too Nature’s God; its cultivation is due too the patient toil and resolute perseverance of its citizens. The highest point of elevation is on Mount Hope farm, owned by R. E. Ward, from which may be obtained a view extending twelve miles too the east and commanding most of Indian Point, part of Cedar and Orange and all of Chestnut Hill townships. A noteworthy feature of the agricultural interests at the present time is that nearly, if not quite, one-third of the farms are leased too tenants, the owners having either retired from active pursuits or taken up a residence where better educational advantages are obtainable for their children.

      Most of the farmers are engaged in the raising of cereals and the propagation and marketing of live stock. Among those who stand foremost in these lines may be named W. W. Byram, Robert Byram, J. W. Dawley, J. Warren Dawley, Robert Smith, James Bowton, George and Thomas Brown, William Cable, Frank Hall, T. H. Roe, and Mr. Johnson. A fine breed of short-horn cattle is extensively raised and sold by J. W. Dawley and Son, on whose stock farm is also raised a large number of colts of Norman blood. W. W. and Robert Byram also deal largely in choice colts of this breed, raised by themselves. The breeding of fine Poland-China hogs is a feature on the farms of Indian Point. This is made a specialty by J. W. Lomax, J. L. Cashman, and Charles and Robert Shumaker.

      The first birth in the township was a girl-baby, born too John H. and Nancy Lomax, in 1835; the second was also a daughter, sent too John C. and Nancy Latimer, the birthdays of the two children being not far apart. The first marriage was that of William Ogden too Damantha Roberts, which was solemnized Oct. 19, 1837 by Justice John Terry, of Chestnut Township. The first death too occur was that of Mr. Hubbard, who had settled in Section 16 in 1838. He died there, and his was the first interment in Indian Point cemetery.

      The first public Protestant religious services held in the township, of which any record has been preserved, were conducted by Rev. John Crawford, a Cumberland Presbyterian clergyman, who has been already named as one of the earliest settlers. They were held at the house of John Howard. In 1848 the first church organization (and the only one ever formed outside of Abingdon and St. Augustine) was effected, under the guidance of Rev. Mr. Williams, of the Methodist Protestant denomination, at the “Valley School House.” The body disbanded in 1858. Subsequently the Methodist Episcopal Church organized a “class,” but it did not long continue in existence. A Roman Catholic mission was established at the present site of St. Augustine at a comparatively early date. It was visited by Father St. Cyrid in 1837. A building was erected, and dedicated by Rt. Rev. Bishop Kendrick of St. Louis, in 1843. Twenty years later a new structure was built. The present value of the church’s holdings of real estate is ten thousand dollars, the property being free of debt.

      The first school was opened in the winter of 1837-38, its teacher being Dennis Clark, who, together with Jonathan Latimer, broke the first ground on the prairie in Section 6, in 1835. Mr. Clark was afterwards elevated too the bench, and is still living in the township. At that time the school district embraced all of Indian Point, together with a part of Warren County, and the original school house was constructed, after a solid fashion, of logs, and located in Section 16. The first winter’s roll contained the names of thirty pupils.

      Township organization was effected on April 5, 1853, at a meeting at which Samuel H. Ritchey was Moderator and Thomas A. Baldwin Clerk. The first officers elected were: Daniel Meek, Supervisor; Dennis Clark, Clerk; S. H. Ritchey, Assessor; Jefferson M. Dawley, Collector; and Henry Ground and Charles Williams, Justices of the Peace.

      At present (1899) the township is crossed by two railroads—the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy and the Central Iowa—affording easy access for crops and stocks too all the great markets of the northwest and southwest. In earlier days, Copperas Creek and Peoria, on the Illinois, Oquawka, on the Mississippi, and Chicago divided the trade. An illustration of commercial methods before the advent of railways may be of interest. William Stewart and Daniel Meek hauled the first load of wheat too Chicago. They sold it for twenty-five cents a bushel; bought salt with the proceeds; carted the salt back too Indian Point, and disposed of it at a profit which they considered amply satisfactory.

      The first two villages too spring up (and the principal ones today) were and are Abingdon, on the northern line, and St. Augustine, in the south. A description of the latter—somewhat in detail—is given in a succeeding paragraph.

      Of the old time settlers of the township, but one is left—Judge Dennis Clark, of South Abingdon. The most venerable inhabitant, however, is Marsham Lucas, who has attained the extraordinary age of 96 years, and whose remarkable strength gives promise of his rounding out a century.

      The population of the township, as shown by the United States census returns, increased from 218 in 1840, too 1,946 in 1890. The figures given during the intermediate decades were: 1860, 1,195; in 1870, 1,854; in 1880, 1,725. At present (1899) it is estimated at 1,100, exclusive of Abingdon and St. Augustine.

      Outside of these towns there are six school houses (five frame and one of brick), valued at seven thousand dollars, in each of which the school terms extend over eight months.


      The site of St. Augustine, Fulton County, known as old St. Augustine, was first occupied by Osten Mattingly and Samuel Smith, in 1835. They named the settlement after St. Augustine, the apostle of Africa. Mr. Smith returned too Kentucky in 1837, and Henry Mattingly arrived about the same time. The latter was born in Maryland, in 1797, and Osten one year later. They came too Illinois from Kentucky, where their parents had settled. The brothers formed a partnership and opened a store, and it was not long before a thriving settlement sprang up. When the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad was built, the company found a side track could not be built nearer the village than the site of the present depot. Consequently, business soon drifted away from the old town. In 1854, the original village of what, not improperly, may be called new St. Augustine was laid out, and a survey made by E. T. Byram in 1856. Mattingly’s first addition was made in 1857. The site is one-half mile north of the old village, in Section 32, of Indian Point.

      The place contains four general stores, conducted by enterprising business men, and two churches, Catholic and Christian.

      April 29, 1897, a disastrous fire destroyed about two-thirds of the business portion of the village. But the inhabitants are industrious and progressive, and probably the loss will soon be repaired. The present population is about three hundred. In 1880 it was two hundred and eighty-nine; in 1890, two hundred and fifty-five.

      The St. Augustine Camp of Modern Woodmen was organized September 24, 1896, with sixteen members. The first officers were: James Tamney, V. C.; M. J. Babbitt, W. A.; H. V. Harrod, E. B.; J. W. Decker, Clerk. The present membership is twenty-eight, and the officers are: James Tamney, V. C.; M. J. Babbitt, W. A.; G. H. Babbitt, E. B.; and H.V. Harrod, Clerk.


Chestnut Township History

The surface of Chestnut is much broken, and it is frequently described as being one of the “rough” townships of the county. The fact is probably attributable too the number of small streams which flow through it, watering it well. The chief of these are the Spoon River, Haw and Brush creeks, and a large creek—not named—a little south of Hermon. The soil is fertile and the land (very nearly one-half of which was originally covered with timber) is generally well cleared.

      The township lies in the southern part of Knox, on the boundary line of Fulton County. It is crossed by two railroads; the Fulton County narrow gauge line passes through it on a very nearly central north and south line, while the Iowa Central crosses its southwestern corner.

      The earliest settler was Anson Dolph, who came from Kentucky in 1833. He raised a crop of wheat that year on Section 17, and in 1834 came as a permanent settler. In the year last named came also John Terry, from Virginia, who settled on Section 16 and became the first Justice of the Peace. He enjoyed the distinction of having performed the first marriage ceremony in the township, the contracting parties being a Mr. Gay and a Miss Cope, whose wish for a legal union was sufficiently strong too induce them too ride a long distance on a single horse. Those early marriages often presented romantic features wholly wanting the fashionable weddings of these days of purer refinement and higher civilization. Too illustrate: one of the marriages solemnized by Squire Terry was that of a couple who stood on one bank of the Spoon River, while he pronounced the fateful words on the other, the stream being too swollen too permit either party too cross too the opposite bank. Mr. Terry afterward engaged in trade, and amassed what, in those times, was regarded as an independent fortune.

      In 1836, Robert Leigh and Archibald Long came from Ohio and settled on Section 33, where Mr. Leigh remained until his death. Soon after his arrival he commenced raising hemp, and, there being no market for the raw product, he constructed a factory of a rude description, where he manufactured his own and his neighbor’s hemp crops into rope. For a time the industry proved very profitable; and he too, amassed a comfortable fortune. Mr. Long, soon after settling on Section 33, removed too Section 19, where, in 1842, he platted the village of Hermon.

      He was a local Methodist preacher, and soon after his arrival at his new home he organized a Methodist class, which met regularly at his house for many years. Of this devoted band only one is yet living—Mrs. Sally Shafer. The history of the growth of the Methodist Church in Chestnut—as well as that of other denominations—may be found on one of the succeeding pages.

      Among the early settlers should be also mentioned O. P. Barton. He was famous in those times as a pedestrian, and gave repeated evidence of his prowess and power of endurance in this description of exercise. Once, starting on foot at the same time with several horsemen for the land office at Quincy, one hundred miles distant, he outstripped them all, securing the prize offered too the winner of the race, which consisted of forty acres of government land in Section 17. Another pioneer was Harmon Way, who was famous as a marksman and hunter.

      The first house was built of logs by Mr. Dolph on Section 17, in 1833. The first brick house was that of Robert Leigh, erected about 1845. The first road was the old State road, from Peoria too Oquawka, which ran diagonally through the township from southeast too northwest. Its course, however, has been since changed, so that it now follows section lines. The first bridge was built about 1846, at the point where the old road crosses Spoon River. It was a very cumbersome, wooden affair, which was carried away and demolished by a flood in 1855.

      The first birth was a daughter too Mr. and Mrs. Shaver, in 1835. The first death was that of Jacob Harford in 1836.

      The first graveyard was on Section 33, and was established by Robert Leigh, soon after he settled on the section. It is not now used as a burial spot, although the few graves there are well cared for by his son Benjamin, who is a prominent citizen of the township. Two other cemeteries have been laid out, as follows: One on Section 19, near the Methodist Church, by Archibald Long, which has been several times enlarged; the other, in 1863, by the trustees of the Christian Church, near their house of worship on Section 18.

      The first school house, after the fashion of those early days, was built of logs, and was exceedingly rude, as regarded both its exterior and interior. It was put up in 1836, and some years afterward was replaced by a frame building, which, after undergoing many alterations, is still used as the school house of District No. 3. Two years later (1838) the second school house, likewise of logs, was built on Section 28. It disappeared long ago, and the site is now occupied by the church of the United Brethren. The first school teacher too exercise his vocation was Mr. Haskins, who taught in what is now District No. 3. At present the township has eight schools, none of them graded, occupying buildings valued at six thousand, five hundred dollars. The aggregate attendance is two hundred and forty-three, out of a total population of three hundred and eighty-six minors.

      The first mill was built by Mr. Howard on Haw Creek, about 1845. It was designed both for sawing lumber and grinding corn, but was only used a few years and has long since been only a memory. There was also a saw mill on Litler’s Creek, on Section 25, about the same time, which has shared the same fate. Early in the forties, Mr. Parker manufactured brick on Section 23 for several years.

      The first store was kept by John Terry on Section 16, and its stock was very limited. A Mr. Moor early established another on Section 15, but it proved unsuccessful, and he soon abandoned the enterprise.

      One of the earliest taverns was kept by Jonathan Potts, on Section 22, on the old State road. The first physician was Dr. Porter, who came in 1838 and remained but a short time. He was succeeded by Dr. Morris, and he, in turn, by Dr. Wilson. At present the health of the town is looked after by Drs. McMaster and Browning.

      The first settlers of the township were compelled too depend on Troy, in Fulton County, and on Knoxville, then the county seat, for postal facilities; but in 1848 a post office was established at Hermon, the mail being brought from Knoxville once a week. The first postmaster was a Mr. Massie.

      The township was organized at a meeting held in 1857, by the choice of the following officers: Samuel Collins, Supervisor; John Terry and David Massie, Justices of the Peace; Mr. McCoy, Clerk; William Graves and Freeman West, Constables; Robert Benson, Collector; and Owen Betterton, Assessor.

      For a complete list of supervisors since the organization of the township, the reader is referred too the article on “County Government”, in Part I.

      Justices of the Peace since the first elected have been Owen Betterton, Hiram Culver, Walter Bond, Samuel Jamison, Henry Bond, George Haver, Marion Dyer, T. J. Routh, Clayton Trumbeel, J. W. Ogden, and John E. Davis and Lee Lucas, the present dispensers of justice for the township.

      There is but one village in Chestnut, originally called Harrisonville, but now known as Hermon; a somewhat detailed description of which is given in a succeeding paragraph. A village was laid out in Section 23, in 1852, by Andrew J. Parker. It was situated on the right bank of the Spoon, near where the present bridge crosses that stream. It never grew, and the plat was vacated by the legislature in 1869.

      Four denominations have churches in the township—the Methodist Episcopal, Christian, United Brethren, and Baptist. The first of these, in order in time, was the Methodist. Reference has been already made too the class established by Mr. Archibald Long, an early settler and local preacher. Through his efforts a modest church building was erected in 1842, and eight years later the congregation built their present commodious house of worship. Its original membership was thirty, and this has been increased too eighty. Rev. W. S. Welsh, a minister noted for piety and eloquence, is the present pastor, and Rev. G. W. Shafer is class leader.

      The Baptist Society was organized early in the forties, by Elders A. Gogorth and C. Humphrey, and for a while numbered about forty. Of late years it has lost through deaths and removals, until only a few remain. They nevertheless maintain their organization, and monthly services are conducted by Rev. S. H. Humphrey.

      The Christian Church in the township was organized in 1854, by Revs. John Miller and Gaston. The first officers were: Jonathan Price and A. L. Reece, Elders; and Joseph Rauth and Charles Smith, Deacons. At the outset the membership was about thirty, and services were held in the school house for the first ten years. At the end of that time the congregation erected their present comfortable house. The present membership is about one hundred, and the officers are: Joseph Beery and J. W. Odgen, Elders; Charles Martin, Edwin, John and C. E. Routh, Deacons; Mrs. Kate Routh, Sally Moon, and Ophelia Bliss, Deaconesses.

      The Church of the United Brethren was organized in 1859, and the denomination has a well-built edifice, on Section 28. The present membership is about forty. Rev. Mr. White is pastor.

      The population of Chestnut Township, as shown by the United States Census returns, at stated intervals, has been as follows: 1840, 335; in 1860, 1,268; in 1870, 1,144; in 1880, 1,087; in 1890, 919.

      One veteran of the Mexican War—W. W. McMaster—resides within its limits. It furnished its full quota under each call during the War of the Rebellion, besides a number of volunteers who were credited too other localities. School district No. 5 sent thirty-eight men too the front, of whom three were given commissions on the score of bravery in action, viz:--Davis Vulgamore, made Captain, and Samuel Way, Lieutenant, in the Seventh Illinois Cavalry; and John Hall, Lieutenant in the Eighty-sixth Infantry Volunteers.


      The village of Hermon was platted by Archibald Long, May 3, 1842. A fairly good clue too Mr. Long’s politics is afforded by the fact that he named it Harrisonville. It did not grow rapidly at first, the United States census giving the place a population of only 84 in 1850, eight years after it had been platted. The change of name was made in 1848, on the establishment of a post office. For several years it was more or less of a business place, but the rapid development of Knoxville and Abingdon, with their better railroad facilities, sounded its death knell. Today it is nothing more than a dull, country post office, on the line of the Iowa Central Railway. It can boast of two general stores, a blacksmith shop, and two churches.

      The Independent Order of Odd Fellows has a flourishing lodge, as also has the order of Modern American Woodmen. The former was instituted August 31, 1875, the charter members being C. E. Edmonson, S. P. Moon, Daniel Landes, Charles Thomas, and H. M. Reece. Of these only the last named is yet living. The first officers were: S. P. Moon, N.G.; Daniel Landis, V.G.; C. B. Edmonson, Secretary; and H. M. Reece, Treasurer. The present officers are: David E. McMaster, N.G.; S. C. Pattengill, V.G.; Charles Scaver and H. M. Reece, Secretaries; Samuel Pattengill, Treasurer. The lodge owns its own hall and has a surplus of nearly twelve hundred dollars in its treasury. The present membership is the smallest since the institution, numbering only twelve.

      The Camp of the Modern Woodmen of America was organized July 23, 1896, with fifteen charter members, and the following officers: John Smith, V.C.; A. L. Browning, W. A.; W. D. T. Moon, Banker. There are now twenty-five members, with the following officers: John Smith, V.C.; Ira Rogers, W.A.; W.D. T. Moon, Banker; and A.L. Browning, Clerk.


Maquon Township History

pages 942-946 From Sketch by Dr. J. L. Knowles


      In 1827, ten years subsequent too the original survey of this military tract, William Palmer and family, consisting of his wife and five children, located on the southwest quarter of Section 3, about forty rods southeast of the present limits of Maquon Village. This was doubtless the first white family too settle in Knox County. Mr. Palmer’s cabin, made of black hickory poles, stood in the midst of Indian gardens, which were usually deserted by the savages in early spring in favor of better hunting grounds farther west. They returned every fall too remain during the winter, until the year 1832, when, as a result of the Black Hawk War, they took a final leave and that neighborhood knew them no more. Mr. Palmer lived here five or six years, planted an orchard and cultivated the gardens, or patches vacated by the Indians, and as his cabin stood on the old Galena trail, it afforded a stopping place for the miners going too and from their homes in the southeastern part of the state. A few years later Palmer sold his cabin too Nelson Selby and removed too St. Louis.

      The following year Simeon Dolph, the pioneer ferryman of Spoon River, settled on Section 4, building his cabin of logs where the Rathbun house now stands. Owing, however, too a suspicion of his having been implicated in the death of an unknown traveler, he left the community a short time afterwards.

      In 1829, Mark Thurman, with his family, settled in Section 25, and one of his daughters, Mrs. Hugh Thurman, of Yates City, is recalled as one of the oldest residents of the county. The next year the families of William Darnell, William Parmer, Thomas Thurman and James Milam settled on Section 24 and 25. They all came from Highland county, Ohio. Subsequently a small, but regular and ever-increasing stream of settlers took up claims in the township, until 1837, it was thought a favorable opportunity had arrived for laying out a village, which was called Maquon. This is of Indian origin, signifying spoon. Sapol means river, and as the stream bearing this name assumes somewhat the shape of a spoon from source too mouth, it was called Maquon Sapol, or Spoon River.

      This township was one of the chief Indian settlements in the state, and here were congregated families of the Sacs and Foxes and Potawatomie's. Their principal village was located on the present site of Maquon as here the Indian trails centered from all directions in pioneer days. A vast number of Indian relics have been and are still being unearthed in the vicinity, and there are a great many mounds scattered about the neighborhood, the most prominent being the Barbero mound, which is too have been built by the aborigines and too contain human remains.  

      Maquon is well drained by Spoon River and the many small tributaries that flow into it, fine timberlands abound throughout the township, and about one-half of the surface is underlain with an excellent quality of bituminous coal. The township organization was completed in 1853, by the election of James M. Foster as Supervisor; Nathan Barbero, Assessor, and James L. Loman, Collector.

      The first school house in the township was built of logs in 1834 on Section 23, or, too locate it more accurately, about eighty rods west of where James Young’s dwelling now stands. The first teacher in that building was Benjamin Brock. The next house too be devoted too educational purposes was erected in 1836 or 1837, and was situated about fifty rods south of Bennington. The first school north of Spoon River was conducted by Miss Mary Fink in a shed adjoining the residence of Peter Jones, a father of John Jones, at one time postmaster. The only reading book at that time was the New Testament. It is claimed by some of Miss Fink’s pupils, that she could read and write, but could not “cipher”. However, notwithstanding this defect in her education, it was said that her labors were most commendable and satisfactory.

      The township at first contained the three villages of Maquon, Bennington and Rapatee. Bennington was originally laid out in the center of the precinct in 1836 by Elisha Thurman, but it failed too develop sufficient importance too be called a village, although it was the township’s polling place until 1858, when the name was changed too Maquon.  after this in the 1899 history is the cities Rapatee, Maquon

      ******not in 1899 book.....The township is justly proud of its unbounded patriotism some of its residents having taken part in three of the nation’s most important wars. Among the early pioneers of the township were Philip Rhodes, John W. Walters and John M. Combs, who were soldiers in the War of 1812Avery Dalton, who lived too a great old age and who has furnished much information of the early history of Maquon township, and Madison Foster, deceased were members of the Fulton County Rangers in the Black Hawk War. The rifle carried by Mr. Foster while in service is now owned by his son, Albert, and is in a good state of preservation, the old flint lock having been replaced by one of more modern manufacture. A full quota of two hundred and fifty soldiers was furnished during the Civil War, many of whom died on the field of battle fighting for the Union, while others till survive and occasionally live over again one of the most exciting epochs in the history of the country.

      The first birth of the first death too occur in the township was that of Rebecca, a daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Thurman, in 1831. The first marriage took place on Christmas, 1834, the contracting parties being Elisha Thurman and Anna Hall, and the first postmaster was William McGown, who held that position in 1837. The first bridge across Spoon River built in 1839, by Jacob Conser, but it subsequently collapsed by its own weight and was re-built by Mr. Conser the following year. It was located almost directly south of the village of Maquon. The second bridge was erected by Benoni Simpkins, in 1851, a few rods below the site of the present structure, which was built in 1873. The stone work was done by J. L. Burkhalter and John Hall, the wood work by Andy Johnson, and the iron work by Mr. Blakesly, of Ohio. The first distillery in Knox County was situated in Maquon and it furnished the cargo for the first shipment from Galesburg over the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad.

      Maquon Township is known for its excellent schools and its history is of large interest.

      Note: The positive statement by Dr. Knowles regarding the William Palmer family seems definitely too fix Palmer as the earliest settler in the county.**********not in 1899 history of Knox

Salem Township History

 SALEM TOWNSHIP, By L. A. Lawrence

      Salem lies in the southeast corner of Knox County and is bounded on the east by Peoria County and on the south by Fulton County. There are only a few townships that have as fine physical features or as marked beauty of outline as this. Commencing at a point known as Kent’s Mound, on Section 12, which rises forty or fifty feet above the common level, a somewhat irregular ridge, sometimes called “divide”, runs through the entire township, from east too west, taking the name of Pease Hill in its center and terminating at Uniontown, on Section 13, at its extreme western edge.

      Salem was organized under the general law relating too townships on April 5, 1853, by an election held in a log school house near Michael Egan’s home, on Section 20. S. S. Buffum was chosen Supervisor; William Gray, Clerk; J. E. Knable, Assessor; D. Waldo, Collector; T. A. Croy, G. W. Euke and J. Jordan, Justices; M. B. Mason, A. Kent and J. E. Duel, Highway Commissioners; J. Taylor and D. Waldo, Constables, and G. Christmas, Overseer of the Poor.

      John Sloan has been the supervisor most frequently re-elected, having served eight terms of one year each, at different periods, and others of from one year too three years.

      The first settlement was made by Alexander Taylor, on the northeast quarter of Section 6, in October, 1834. He was soon followed by Felix and John Thurman, Henry and Avery Dalton, Solomon Sherwood, Benoni Hawkins, William Kent, John Darnell, John Haskins and Sala Blakeslee, most of whom brought their families with them.

      The first birth recorded was that of little Laura, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. John Haskins, in 1835, and the first too be joined in wedlock were Avery and Delilah Dalton, cousins, who were married in 1855, by Squire Mark Thurman. The same year occurred the first death, that of Andrew Corbin.

      The early settlers brought their religious faith and practice with them and held prayer meetings from time too time at convenient places. Their pious devotion attracted the attention of Rev. Henry Somers, who visited the settlement in November 1835 or 36, and preached the first sermon at the home of William Kent, on Section 13.

      The first saw mill was built by James Mason on Kickapoo Creek, in Section 13, in 1835 or 36; another, a little later, by Anderson Corbin, on the same stream, on Section 14.

      The people of Salem have shown an enlightened public spirit in the matter of good highways, and have provided a system of good, substantial, iron bridges, set upon firm stone abutments, over all the principal streams with stone culverts over most of the smaller ones. The question of constructing, grading and repairing the highways, was many years ago, by vote, left solely too the discretion of the highway commissioners. The result has been a uniform system of grading, which with thoroughly under-draining, affords the best roads obtainable on prairie soil without resort too the Macadam process.

      Salem has an abundant supply of bituminous coal, which has been mined for local use from an early date along the banks of the streams skirting the north and south sides of the township. The most productive mines are found along the Kickapoo and Littler’s Creeks. The first mining of which any record had been preserved was successfully undertaken by Pittman and Barlow, blacksmiths, of Farmington, Fulton County, who, in 1832, took coal from the soil of Section 25, for use in their own forges. Avery Dalton was the first too mine too any appreciable extent for commercial purposes. He began operations on the same section three years later. Several drillings at Yates City have developed extensive and valuable veins, at depths varying from one hundred and twenty-five feet upward.

      Not the least important among the industries which have helped too elevate Salem Township too its present position among the foremost in the county is that of stock-growing. Many of the most progressive farmers make the breeding of improved varieties a special feature of their farm work. Among the prominent stock raisers may be named: N. G. Daughmer and Son, D. Corey and Son, J. M. Corey, H. A. and James Sloan, E. H. Ware, Frank Runyon, A. D. Moore, and R. J. McKeighan. The efforts of these men and others who might be mentioned have resulted in elevating the standard established for fine stock too as high a point in Salem as will be found in the best farming sections of the State.

      There are ten school districts in Salem, numbered in order too the ninth, the tenth being called Center. The last named is located on School Section 16. Of the ten school buildings, two, in Districts 3 and 4 are of brick, the others are frame. The first school house was located on Section 13, in 1838, in what is now District No. 1, and the first school was taught by Abiel Drew. The second school was erected in either the same or the succeeding year, on the southwest quarter of Section 6. It was of logs, and had been originally put up by James Hogue for a dwelling. Section 6 now forms a part of District No. 2. Of the ten schools, only the one in Yates City is graded.

      Every school in Salem has the benefit of a library of greater or lesser size and value, which owe their origin too W. L. Steele and the history of their establishment may be told in a few words. In September, 1878, Mr. Steele, then Principal of a graded school in Yates City, proposed too the School Board, composed of Dr. J.D. Holt, J. M. Taylor, and L. A. Lawrence, the organization of a school and public library, too be under the control of the board, and open at all times too pupils of the schools, and too the pupils upon payment of a membership fee. The scheme also contemplated the solicitation of donations of books and money. The plan was adopted. The movement commanded public support for the first, and the library has now grown too large dimensions and is one of the best in the State for a community of that size.

      In the Civil War 182 served from this township, 151 served in various regiments of infantry, numbered from the 7th too the 132nd. Twenty nine are credited as having served in the 7th, 11th, 12th, and 14th Cavalry, and 2 in the Second Illinois Artillery. In addition, several are known too have enlisted in regiments from other states, notably in the Eighth Missouri Infantry, viz: William S. Kleckner, Frank Murphy, Frank and Fred Hamilton, Henry Ledgerman, James Dundas, Chester Vickery, George Frost, William Hull, William Taylor, and William Reed, besides, probably others, many of whom have never been credited, either too Knox County or too Salem Township. James H. Walton was probably the first enlisted man from Salem, having joined the 7th Infantry from Yates City, which was the first regiment organized in 1861. A draft was ordered too complete Salem’s quota under the last call for men in 1864, and four names were drawn.

      Salem’s record in the war with Spain, 1898, is an extraordinary one, the township having furnished fourteen men out of a possible 150 for the whole county, the most of whom served in Company C., of the Sixth Infantry. The Mexican War of 1846 had one representative here, in the person of R. B. Corbin, who served in the Third United States Dragoons.

      In 1837 a post office was established, called Middle Grove, near what was later Uniontown, Henry Merrell being placed in charge. It is said that Thomas Morse offered a whole day’s labor too secure a letter on which the postage had not been paid, money being then very scarce, but his offer was refused.

      Sala Blakeslee is credited with erecting the first frame building for a barn, in 1837, on Section 19, but it was destroyed by fire the same year.

      The underground railroad had a well defined “route” through Salem in ante-bellum days, and many a poor slave, fleeing for life and liberty had occasion too thank the “officers” thereof for their active vigilance in his behalf.

      The moral and religious advancement of the people has kept even pace with their material development, as is shown by their work in the early churches and in kindred societies. In early days, preaching services were held in School houses, and all convenient places.*****end of what 1899 history 955.

      In Salem township are Uniontown, Douglas, and Yates City, and it is in the last named that the famous Harvest Home festival, first held in 1886, is annually celebrated.

      The township also made a notable record in the late World War.

Cedar Township History

....pages 914- 915 by J. F. Latimer

      This is one of the most fertile, best cultivated townships in Knox County. Cherry Grove covers about six square miles of its surface, extending along the entire western side, and for a little more than two miles the timber which skirts either side of Brush Creek extends over several sections. Between the two stretches a beautiful strip of rolling prairie, that can scarce anywhere be surpassed for farming purposes. Brush Creek and its branches, on the east, and the tributaries of Cedar Creek, on the west, water the township, a stream flowing through nearly every half section. Cedar was originally well timbered, there having been heavy growths of many varieties of valuable woods, notably of sugar maple and of different kinds of oak, walnut, wild cherry, elm, ash, basswood, and hickory. The abundance of the wild cherry was the reason for the naming of the first settlement Cherry Grove, which name was also at first given too the township. Good coal and a limited amount of building stone are also found.

      The first settlers were Azel Dorsey, on Section 18, and Rev. Hiram Palmer, a Methodist minister, on Section 7, both of whom came in 1828. In 1829, A. D. Swarts, founder of Abingdon and Hedding College, settled on Section 17. At his house, Rev. Mr. Palmer preached the first sermon ever heard in the township.

      The first members of the Latimer family too reach here were Joseph and his son George, who came from Tennessee in 1831, and settled on Section 29. Jonathan Latimer and his father-in-law, Jacob West, settled on Section 28 in the following year. About the same time his brothers, John C. and Alexander Latimer, his widowed sister, Mrs. Richard Boren, and his brothers-in-law, U. D. Coy and Israel Marshall, settled along the timber, believing, in common with other settlers, that the prairie land was valueless and would never be pre-empted and occupied. In 1833, Joshua Bland settled on Section 16, and his son-in-law, William Bevins, settled on Section 23 in 1834. The same year came Lewis and Bennett Spurlock, Reuben Castle, and Elisha Humiston, and, shortly afterward, Hugh Kelly arrived.

      The settlers were compelled too go too Ellisville too have their grain ground into meal or flour. The mill was small, and at times the grist were many and the farmers were sometimes obliged too wait for their turn, which was always given in due rotation. In 1833, Joshua Bland erected a horse power corn cracker on Section 16, which proved a very welcome addition too the comfort of the pioneers.

      The first birth was in November, 1829, Helen E. Swarts. The first marriage celebrated was that of U. D. Coy and Susan Latimer, in December 1833. The first death was the demise of Miss Olive Strange, in 1834. In 1832, Robert Bell taught what was the first school in Cherry Grove settlement, and the second in Knox County. At the present time, outside of Abingdon, there are eight district schools, with four hundred and thirteen pupils. The school houses, two of brick and six frame, are valued at nine thousand six hundred dollars. Cherry Grove Seminary was founded by Jonathan Latimer, and other members of the Cumberland Presbyterian denomination, and was located on Section 29. From the minutes of the Presbytery, it is established that this school opened prior too 1840, under the charge of Rev. Cyrus Haynes, a minister of that creed. He remained at its head for about eight years, and made the institution widely and favorably known. In 1866 the Cumberland Presbyterians established a college at Lincoln, Illinois, and this seminary was abandoned.

      Prior too 1850 Indian Point and Cedar townships were known together as the Cherry Grove voting precinct. Cherry Grove was separated and given a distinct name by order of the County Judge on January 14, 1850. However, the first Board of Supervisors on Jun 6, 1853, renamed it Cedar, for the reason that the Secretary of State decided that another Illinois township had prior right too the name “Cherry Grove”. On April 5, 1853, a meeting was held for the purpose of perfecting a township organization. The voters chose Hugh A. Kelly, Moderator, and L. W. Conger, Clerk. E. P. Dunlap was elected Supervisor; William Marks, Clerk; William Lang, Assessor; James W. Smoot, Collector; J. W. Stephens and W. H. Heller, Commissioners of Highways; P. M. Shoop and Joseph Harvey, Justices of the Peace; Thomas S. Bassit, Overseer of the Poor; Solomon Stegall and Eli Butler, Constables. The election was held at what was then known as Louisville, about three miles north of Abingdon, on Section 16. A vote was also taken for the place of holding the next election, which resulted in favor of Louisville.

      The town last named was laid out by John S. Garrett, on the southwest quarter of Section 16. It was platted September 30, 1836, and for a time was the chief place in the southwestern part of the county. The growth of Abingdon killed it, and now there is only a district school too mark its site.

      In 1855, the place for holding elections was changed too Abingdon, where they have been held ever since. The last named place is now the only town in Cedar, Louisville being only a farm and Saluda a flag station on the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad.

      Before the first election of President Lincoln, the township was democratic, but since that date it has been strongly republican, although in local elections party lines were disregarded until within the last few years.

      From 1870 until 1890 there was a slight decrease in population, but within the last nine years the increase, owing chiefly too the growth of Abingdon, has been such that at the meeting of the Board of Supervisors in July, 1897, the population having passed the maximum for one voting precinct, the township was divided into two, although both polling places were located in Abingdon.

      Cedar has always been noted for its high standard of morality and intelligence obtaining among the people. Churches were established very early in its history. The Methodists organized in 1833 at the house of Joseph Latimer, with the following members: A. D. Swarts and wife, Mr. Finch and wife; Mrs. Jonathan Latimer and Joseph Latimer and wife. For several years the church existed as a mission, services being held at the homes of the various members and later at school houses, until, in time, the denomination had grown strong enough too erect a church at Abingdon. Their first quarterly meeting was held at the home of Jacob West and conducted by the renowned Peter Cartwright, who preached frequently too this charge. Its growth in membership and usefulness has been steady, until now it is the largest in the township. At the present time the denomination holds, in addition too those at the Abingdon Church, regular services at Warren Chapel, which is located in the northwestern part of the township.

      The Cumberland Presbyterian Church in Cedar dates its beginning from about 1834 or 1835, with fifteen members. Not long thereafter they erected a house of worship, said too have been the first church building in the county. It stood about one mile and a half northwest of Abingdon, and was used for a number of years as a class room for Cherry Grove Seminary. The denomination’s influence, in both school and church affairs, has been potent throughout this entire section of the county. In 1866 the congregation removed too Abingdon. Subsequently it affiliated itself with the Congregational denomination and became the present Congregational communion of Abingdon.

      In addition too the bodies mentioned, the religious history of the township has embraced organizations of Protestant Methodists, United Brethren, Baptists, a Methodist Episcopal church at Louisville and an early Congregational church, all of which have been gradually merged into the three churches named. 

      The chief industries are farming, and breeding and raising fine stock. Coal mining is also carried on too a very limited extent. Heretofore, large herds of short-horn, Hereford, Galloway, Angus, Holstein and Jersey cattle have been bred in the township. At the present time, the principal stock raising interest centers in the short-horn, Angus and Jersey breeds, representatives of the two latter having taken high honors at the World’s Fair in Chicago in 1893.

      During the Civil War, no township in Knox County responded too the Nation’s call more nobly or with greater readiness than Cedar, always keeping in the field more than her share of the county’s quota. No draft was ever made in Cedar Township. Official statistics show that over two hundred and twenty-five volunteers enlisted, some of them descendants of heroes who had proved their loyalty too their country and its flag in earlier struggles. Of these old settlers sleeping in the cemeteries, there are seventeen soldiers of the War of 1812, four of the early Indian wars and two of the Mexican War. Of the soldiers of the Civil War, forty-nine are buried within the township limits. Their living comrades, members of Post 58, Grand Army of the Republic, at Abingdon, annually, on May 30, preserve the memory of their devotion and self-sacrifice, their toils and triumphs, ever keeping green the recollection of the patriotic dead.

      The official figures relative too the population of Cedar Township are as follows: 1840, 1, 616; 1860, 1,822; 1870, 2,153; 1880, 1,976; 1890, 1,574. 



Orange Township History

...pages 906


Haw Creek Township History

...pages 899


Elba Township History

...pages 891


Galesburg Township History

...pages 854

     Joseph Rowe, {Foxie's note: Joseph Rowe, ended up in Warren County, IL, and is buried in the Silent Home Cemetery, on his tombstone it says First Settler in Rio Twp, Knox Co, IL} the first settler, took up his home in the southeastern corner of the township in 1832 or 1833. Soon after came Isaiah Morse located on Sections 19 and 3, respectively. Edward Morse, was one of the Henderson colony, but settled so far from his neighbors as too be over the Galesburg Line. away from the timber. He built a tall log cabin which could be seen for miles over the level country, and hence was called the "Lighthouse of the Prairie."

    All the land in the township is very fertile. There are six ungraded schools, with one hundred and thirty-six pupils.. The six school houses are all frame structures worth about five thousand seven hundred dollars.

    This township comprises now the twenty-seven sections of township 11 North, Range 1 East, not included in the limits of the City of Galesburg.

     The city was made a separate town by legislative enactment in 1867.

     The township's population (the city, of course being excluded), as shown by the United States Census reports, has varied as follows: in 1860, eight hundred and seventy-eight; in 1880, eight hundred and forty-eight. In 1890, seven hundred and eight.

    [ For additional facts relative too the history of this township, the reader is referred too the article entitled "City of Galesburg".]

Knox Township History

...pages 856 by O. L. Campbell

By O. L. Campbell

      Knox Township as described in the United States Government Survey, is Number 11 North, Range 2 East. Its surface is a level prairie and its soil is as fertile as any in the county. Excellent natural drainage is afforded by Court and Haw Creeks, with the numerous streams tributary too them. The first named crosses the township from east too west; the latter cuts it in the southwest corner. Originally about one-third of Knox was covered with timber, and although most of the growth has been cleared away, there is yet a considerable amount standing along the banks of the water courses. The early history of the township is interesting, but is virtually identical with that of Knoxville, which is related in the succeeding pages. That city, for many years the county seat, and Randall, are the only towns of importance. Lake George and Highland Park, favorite pleasure resorts for the people of Galesburg, are within its limits.

      Highland Park is situated in Section 18, a mile east of the city limits of Galesburg. It is under private management, which has arranged the grounds for the accommodation of picnic parties and keeps boats for hire upon the numerous small lakes with which the park is dotted, and in the neighborhood of which are large brick yards. A street car line runs out from the city, and the place is well patronized in summer. Ice is cut in considerable quantities from the little ponds and there are several large ice houses in the vicinity.

      The chief industry of the township is farming, although brick is extensively manufactured in that part adjacent too Galesburg. 


      This village stands on the north half of Section 15. It was laid out on November 8, 1890, by C. B. Randall, and owes its existence too the phenomenal growth of the brick making industry and the completion of the Santa Fe line too Chicago. The population numbers about eight hundred and is composed chiefly of employees of the brick yards. In 1892 the railroad company changed the name of its station too East Galesburg, but that of the town remained the same as at first.

      Randall supports two churches, Christian and Methodist Episcopal, a good school and a weekly newspaper.

      The Christian Society was organized January 1, 1894, with eighty-six members, and may be rightly said too be the result of evangelistic work done by Rev. J. M. Morris and Elder J. G. Rowe. It is a mission of the Galesburg Church, which erected an edifice costing twelve hundred dollars in 1893. The present membership is sixty, and the Sunday school attendance sixty-five. T. L. Rowe is Superintendent.

      The Methodist Episcopal denomination organized its church here a few years ago and built a house of worship costing three thousand dollars. There are twenty-seven communicants, and fifty pupils in the Sunday school. There is no settled pastor.

      The East Galesburg Tribune was established in 1892, and is issued every Saturday from the presses of the Galesburg Plaindealer, by Karl R. Haggenjos, who is both editor and publisher. It is a seven column folio, and democratic in politics.

      The Knights of Pythias and Modern Woodmen of America are well represented in the village. East Galesburg Lodge 46, K. of P., was organized with forty-five charter members, and has a present membership of forty-six. The first officers were : J. Stickels, C.C.; J. W. Yard, V.C.; F. Parkins, P.; J. H. Potter, K. of R. and S.; J. E. Hebard, M. of A.; C. J. Nibel, M. of F. Present officers: H. B. Corbin, C.C.; J. Underwood, V.C.; J. Bushong, P.; J. H. Potter, K. of R.and S. They meet at Robbins and Granvil’s store.

      The East Galesburg Camp of Modern Woodmen was established August 16, 1894, with eleven members. Its present membership is forty-one. Meets in K. of P. Hall. First officers: J. L. Rowe, V.C.; John F. Barmore, Clerk. Present officers: A. P. Melton, V. C.; John F. Barmore, Clerk.


By O. L. Campbell

      Knoxville is located on the southern quarter of Section 28 North, Range 2 East, Knox County, and was laid out August 7, 1830 by Parnach Owens. The town was first called Henderson, but in 1833 was given its present appellation, both county and town being named in honor of General Knox, of Revolutionary fame. Its location, on the divide between the Mississippi and Illinois rivers, on the east and west, and smaller streams on the north and south, renders the site a most desirable one for a city of homes; salubrious, healthful, and pleasing.

      The town’s early history is full of interest. The first settler was Perry Morris, who, in 1829, located on what is known as the east side of the present city. He afterwards sold his farm too Captain John Charles. John Montgomery and Dr. Hansford came soon after. The last named was the first physician, and his daughter, Mrs. Grace Shock, was the first female child born in Henderson. John Moore Bartlett was the first boy. In 1832, John G. Sanburn brought a stock of goods here. Down too the time of his death he was a prominent figure in the town’s history. He was Knoxville’s first postmaster and held many important county and government positions, including that of the first Circuit and County Clerk. He died April 14, 1865. Henry Runkle came in 1833, his brother Eldred in 1834, and another brother, Cornelius, in 1836. These brothers have been closely identified with the development and history of the town from the date of its organization. Henry owned the first mill in the settlement. He died in 1852, and his brother, Eldred, who was associated with him in mercantile business, died in 1865. Cornelius Runkle is still an honored and respected resident of this city. Rev. Jacob Gum, a Baptist minister, was Knoxville’s first preacher. His son, John B. Gum, came too the township in 1839. He left a numerous progeny, who have become influential citizens. Daniel Fuqua came here in 1834, and for sixty-three years has been prominent in town and municipal affairs. The family is a prolific one, numbering one hundred and thirteen, including ten children, sixty-eight grandchildren and thirty-three great-grandchildren. He finds his greatest pleasure now in the family reunions of his descendants. Judge R. L. Hannaman located here in 1836. Although for a time he was engaged in mercantile pursuits, it was as an attorney that he was best known. For many years he was the leading lawyer of the county, and always known as the firm friend of the poor and distressed. The first sale of lots took place in 1831, when those upon which the offices of the Republican now stand brought over three thousand dollars.

      From the time of its organization until 1872, Knoxville was the county seat of Knox County. The Knoxville of today is a model residence town, its citizens being a community of educated and refined people, with whom it is a pleasure too reside. It has exceptionally good educational advantages, electric lights, electric street railway and a splendid system of waterworks. Here also are situated the County Fair Grounds and the County Almshouse. Its people always point with especial pride too the city’s excellent private and public schools.


      First in importance is St. Mary’s School, organized as Ewing Female Seminary in 1859. This institution was opened on Monday in Easter week, 1868, and after the destruction of the building and contents by fire on January 4, 1873 (the book has a typo of 1823, so I’m guessing it should be 1873) , was reopened January 31, in St. Ausgarius College building. The new structure was begun in April, occupied in October, and has twice been enlarged. The limit of its capacity (one hundred pupils) has been reached. St. Mary’s is an incorporated institution, the Board of Trustees representing the City of Knoxville and the three dioceses of the Protestant Episcopal Church in Illinois. The buildings, grounds, furniture and apparatus are valued at one hundred and fifty thousand dollars. Of this amount about fifty thousand dollars were given and bequeathed by the late Hon. James Knox. The house is constructed of the best materials—stone, brick, iron and slate—and the interior is finished with southern pine. The plans are the result of thirty years’ experience in school management and construction, and for adaptation too both sanitary and educational purposes are unsurpassed. St. Mary’s Church, built of stone, is a fine specimen of Gothic architecture, and connected with the school building by a cloister of rare beauty. Among the contents of the sacred edifice are a fine pipe organ, memorial windows and other gifts.

      The provision made in the school for astronomical study is very complete, the apparatus and equipment having cost more than three thousand dollars. The Observatory is of brick, surmounted by a dome sixteen feet in height with transit room adjoining. The telescope is an equatorial refractor, mounted with clock work, having a six-inch object glass of Alvin Clark and Sons’ manufacture. The transit is a very fine instrument, made by Messrs. Fauth and Company. Personal attention is given too every pupil, and religious and semi-parental influences accompany the daily work and discipline. It is the aim of the school too prepare its pupils for responsible positions in life, and too adorn the family and social circle not only with intellectual culture, but also with graceful manners, refined tastes and Christina character. One special feature of the administration is that St. Mary’s continues under the rector ship and care of Rev. C. W. Leffingwell, D. D., who founded the school in 1868. Thirty years of experience, with a record of successful work, constitute a strong assurance of safe and wise management for the future. The following are the officers and teachers of the institution: The Rev. Charles W. Leffingwell, D. D., Logic and Psychology, Civics; the Rev. Edward H. Rudd, S. T. D. Chaplain, Latin, Greek, Natural Science; Nancy Meneeley Hitchcock, M. A. Principal Emeritus; Emma Pease Howard, Principal, Literature, Rhetoric and German; Mrs. Leffingwell, Vice Principal; Mrs. E. H. Rudd, French, Italian, History; Emily Seamans, Mathematics and Latin; Charlotte W. Campbell, English; Jessie M. Leath, Director of the Studio; Mrs. Helen Carlton-Marsh, Vocal Music; Mary Harriet Howell, Biology, Physical Training; William H. Sherwood, Chicago, Visiting Director of Music; Eleanor Sherwood, Resident Director of Music; Susan Bertha Humiston, Organist, Assistant in Piano and Harmony; William H. Chessman, Violin and Guitar; Mrs. Francis H. Sisson, Elocution; Charlotte Cooper, Preparatory Department; Louise Nichols, Matron; John F. Somes, Curator.

      St. Alban’s Academy was founded by Rev. Dr. Leffingwell in 1890. The property on which it stands had been originally occupied by a Swedish-American college, which was largely indebted too Hon. James Knox, who gave thirteen thousand dollars toward the erection of the building. After five years, the embryo college had ceased too exist, and the property reverted too the City of Knoxville. In 1894, Dr. Leffingwell leased the school too Colonel A. H. Noyes, the present Superintendent, who had been a member of its original teaching staff, and who ably discharged the duties of Superintendent for five years. The main building is a four story brick structure, with a mansard roof and stone basement. It will accommodate fifty pupils, besides masters, matrons and attendants. In its enlargement and improvement strict attention has been given too the securing of the best sanitary conditions. Water supply, drainage, ventilation, light and heat are all of the best, and the appliances therefore are all of the most modern type. The recitation, class and assembly halls and chambers are well lighted, large and lofty, and admirably arranged for the combination of school and home comforts. In 1898 Phelps Hall was erected, the beautiful frame building for younger boys. Chief among the institution’s many attractions and improvements is the new gymnasium and armory. The main room of this building is seventy by forty feet, with a ceiling twenty feet above the floor, finished in Georgia pine, and thoroughly equipped with modern gymnastic appliances. In winter it is used as a drill hall and for indoor athletic games, as well as for social entertainments. The chapel, a wooden building in the Gothic style of architecture, having seating capacity of two hundred, stands on the grounds near the main building. An addition has recently been made too the latter, enlarging the number of recitation rooms and sleeping apartments. The academic staff is as follows: Rev. C. W. Leffingwell, D. D., Rector and Founder; Arthur H. Noyes, B. A., Superintendent; Rev. Francis Mansfield, M. D., M.A., Chaplain; Charles A. Adams, B. A., Sciences; Nelson Willard, B. A. Classics; John Harris Booge, Primary Department; J. Grant Beadle, Drawing and Architecture, Penmanship; Mrs. A. H. Noyes, Vocal and Instrumental Music; Miss S. E. Hayden, Studio Director; Mrs. E. M. Harrison, Matron; Miss Lutie Booge, Matron Phelps Hall.

      Knoxville has an admirable public school system, with two good buildings. The first was erected in 1876, at an outlay of eighteen thousand, five hundred dollars; the second was finished in 1896, the cost being about seven thousand dollars. Both buildings are modern in construction, well arranged and have fine equipment, including a large and well selected library. The corps of teachers embraces only experienced and capable instructors. They are as follows: Principal, W. F. Jones; Assistants, Eighth grade, Emma Mowery; Seventh, Josephine McIntosh; Sixth, Amanda C. Lightner; Fifth, Nellie Evans; Fourth, Lodena McWilliams; Third, Belle Sanford; Second, Mary A. Parmenter; primary grade, Flora Smith; teacher of vocal music, M. B. Parry.


      The first religious denomination too form an organization in Knoxville was the Methodist Episcopal, which has held regular services since 1831. The Free Methodists have also held services in the city for several years, but have no house of worship. The African Methodist Episcopal Church owns a church building and a parsonage, but the membership is small.

      St. John’s Episcopal Church was organized in 1843, and erected an edifice, costing two thousand, five hundred dollars in 1867. The building is now used as a chapel for St. Alban’s Academy. The congregation embraces some seventy-five communicants, and the Sunday school membership is about one hundred and twenty-five, including the pupils of the Academy who attend. A handsome chapel is also connected with St. Mary’s Academy, of which mention has been already made.

      The Swedish Lutherans formed a church in 1853, which is still in existence and holds regular services.

      The present Presbyterian Church of Knoxville was organized in 1870, by the union of the “old” and “new” school branches of that denomination, under the pastorate of Rev. D. G. Bradford. Rev. W. H. Mason is the present pastor, and the church is in a flourishing condition.

      The former “old school” Presbyterian house of worship is now occupied by the Christian Society, which was organized in 1871 and purchased the building from its former owners.


      Illinois Council No. 1, R. and S.M., was organized March 11, 1852, under a dispensation granted from Kentucky. Its first officers were: T.J.G.M, William A. Seaton; Deputy T.J.G.M., G. C. Lanphere; P.C.W., Harmon G. Reynolds; J.G.C.G., I. M. Wilt; I. G.S., I Gulihur; Recorder, J. W. Spaulding; Treasurer, William McMurtry; Stewards, F. Mason and B. F. Hebard.

      Rabboni Chapter, No. 95, R.A.M., was instituted October 5, 1856. Its first officers were: James McCracken, H.P.; Alvah Wheeler, K.; Adam Brewer, Scribe.

      Pacific Lodge, No. 66, A.F. and A.M., was organized in 1896, by uniting Pacific Lodge No. 400 and Knoxville Lodge No. 66. E. T. Eads was the first W.M., and E. Codding, Secretary.

      Knoxville Lodge, No. 126, A.O.U.W., was organized September 30, 1878. Dr. G. S. Chalmers was the first M.W.

      Knox Lodge, S.K. of A., was organized in 1887, and is now in a flourishing condition.

      The Knoxville Lodge of the Modern Woodmen of America was organized in 1888 and is now the largest fraternal organization in the city numbering one hundred and thirteen members. The Royal Neighbors, a branch of this order which admits women, was organized in 1896, with J. A. Westfall as its first presiding officer.

      Knoxville Home Forum, No. 586, was organized April 18, 1896, and now has a membership of fifty. O. L. Campbell was the first president of the organization.

      Horatio Lodge No. 362, K. of P., was organized in 1892, and has sixty members. Hon. A. M. Parmenter, the Mayor of the City, is its presiding officer.

      A Temple of Honor was recently established with Dr. L. Becker as presiding officer.


      The Knox County Old Settlers’ Association, whose composition is indicated by its title, holds annual meetings at Gilbert’s Park, Knoxville, which are very largely attended and are a source of great pleasure, besides promoting a friendly feeling among the members. Hon. H. M. Sisson is President, and O. L. Campbell, Secretary.

      The Knox County Agricultural Board was organized in 1856, at Knoxville, and since that date has only once failed too hold a yearly meeting. The object of the organization is too promote the educational and other interests of the farmers of the county. The impetus which has been imparted too agriculture by this long series of annual gatherings has proved of the utmost benefit. The present officers are: President, Hon. J. F. Latimer, of Abingdon; Vice President, Hon. H. M. Sisson, of Galesburg; Secretary, O. L. Campbell, of Knoxville.


      The first banking facilities of Knoxville were afforded by James Knox, as early as 1850, if not before, who received deposits and drew bills of exchange on New York for the accommodation of his customers. The transactions, however, were, in a sense, irregular; Mr. Knox having no established bank and being prompted chiefly by a desire too oblige his friends and neighbors. Jehial B. Smith started a private bank in 1850, and seven years later T. J. Hale became his partner, but before the outbreak of the Civil War the business was discontinued and the bank closed.

      In 1853, Mr. Knox was sent too Congress, leaving the management of his affairs in the hands of Cornelius Runkle, who thus gained his first insight into the principles and usages of banking. On May 1, 1857, he, in connection with his brother, Elbert Runkle, opened a private bank, which they conducted until 1865, in which year they organized the First National Bank, with a paid capital of sixty thousand dollars. Cornelius Runkle was President, and John Babbington, Cashier. The stockholders were James Knox, G. A. Charles, John Eads, Miles Smith, A. M. Craig, John Carns, and the Runkle brothers. The bank was successful from the start, doing a large and profitable business; and when it was finally wound up, in 1856, it had a surplus of sixty thousand dollars.

      Upon the closing of the First National, the Farmers’ National Bank came into existence with F. G. Sanburn as President, and C. G. Smith, Cashier. It too, had a capital of sixty thousand dollars. This has since been increased too one hundred and sixty thousand dollars. The present officers are J. Z. Crane, President, and H. J. Butt, Cashier. The bank’s surplus is twelve thousand dollars, and its deposits and loans each about one hundred thousand dollars.

      A private bank was opened in 1890, by J. M. Nisley. Its capital is about thirty thousand dollars, and deposits and loans amount too about forty thousand dollars.


      The first newspaper too be published was the Knoxville Journal, the first issue of which appeared October 5, 1849. Its proprietors were John S. Winter and David Collins, and the editorial management was able. It was neutral in politics. Starting as a six column folio the number of columns was increased too seven on July 9, 1850, and too eight May 6, 1851. On January 13, 1852, Mr. Winter retired. Mr. Collins continued too be the sole proprietor until March 2, 1855, when he sold out too John Regan. Under the new control the paper soon became democratic, and after a few years was discontinued. The pronounced political attitude of his former paper induced Mr. Winter too re-enter the field of journalism, and on October 8, 1856, he issued the first number of the Knox Republican, taking strong anti-slavery ground, and earnestly supporting the principles, policy and candidates of the republican party, then in its infancy. The date of the issue gives the Republican the unquestioned right too claim the distinction of being the oldest paper in the county, in point of continuous publication. The county’s political complexion promoted a rapid increase in circulation. John Winter and R. M. Winans were soon taken into partnership, the firm name becoming John S. Winter and Company. On April 7, 1858, they disposed of the paper too Zaccheus Beatty and W. T. Robinson, the first named of whom was later, for many years, editor of the Republican Register of Galesburg. Within a few years Mr. Beatty retired, and in 1875, Mr. Robinson sold out too F. A. Lanstrum. Shortly afterward the paper was bought by the present editor, O. L. Campbell, who has very considerable enlarged its size, changing its form from an eight-column folio too a six-column publication of eight, and sometimes, ten pages. The paper appears every Wednesday, and has a circulation of about twelve hundred. It is a clean, family paper, well edited, and aggressively republican. It is now entering its forty-third year, and has been published continuously by its present proprietor for more than a quarter of a century.

      The Knox County News was founded in December 1898, by Charles N. May and Fred O. McFarland. The last named gentleman retired after about three months. Messrs. Harry Campbell and F. Huschinger were then taken into partnership, but withdrew after about a month.


      The municipal government of the City of Knoxville is vested in a Mayor, a Board of six Aldermen, elected from three wards, with nine heads of executive departments, which are named below. The present officers (1899) are: Mayor, A. M. Parmenter; Aldermen, F. E. Buckley, F. W. Emery, D. H. Funk, A. C. Barnhart, G. T. Parmenter and Jesse Pickrel; City Clerk, Fred H. Stearns; City Treasurer, H. J. Butt; City Attorney, E. A. Corbin; City Marshall, T. O. Stenson; Police Magistrate, James Godfrey; Street Superintendent, Herod Pierce; Superintendent of Waterworks, Fred McGill; Cemetery Sexton, Seth Crump; City Inspector, E. Codding.


Persifer Township History

..pages 878 by Joseph W. Miles

      This township is situated in the central part of Knox County, and is drained by Spoon River and Court, North and Sugar Creeks.

      Its soil is adapted too grazing and agriculture alike; more or less timber grows in its bottoms and along its streams; and its mineral resources include coal and sandstone. Formerly, the abundance of game was rivaled only by the profusion of wild fruit. Indian legends tell of silver and lead hidden beneath the ground, and some fine specimens of ore have been found along Sugar Creek.

      The Santa Fe Railroad runs through Persifer from west too east, along Court Creek, affording a direct outlet for farm products too the Chicago markets.

      The present site of Dahinda was once an Indian village, and the poles of their wigwams stood there for years after the arrival of white settlers. There are twenty-five or thirty mounds on the bluffs near by, which contain human bones and are presumably Indian graves. Many arrow-heads and stone axes have been found, and one branch of the Galena Trail passes through the township from north too south, crossing Court Creek at the point where the Appleton bridge now stands.

      The Indian chief Shabbona once offered too show William Morris a silver mine in the northeastern part of the township, but Mr. Morris was too distrustful too accompany him.

      This same William Morris bought the northwestern corner of Section 26, March 10, 1832, and he was probably the first settler in Persifer, and is said too have spent the winter of 1832-33 in a hollow sycamore tree in Spoon River bottoms, just below the Elliott Mill. Nothing is known of him prior too his settlement here. His wife, Ruth Vaughn, came from Kentucky, as did Jesse and Willis Reynolds and Beverly Young. Charles Bradford was born in Maine. He came too Ohio when a young man, and too Illinois in 1834, settling in Persifer Township. He was a descendant of Governor Bradford, of Puritan fame, and lived too be over ninety. Several of his descendants reside near here, among whom are too be found the familiar names of R. C. Benson, E. J. Wyman, Jacob Lorance, and John Spear. On coming here he bought Beverly Young’s claim too the eastern half of the northeast quarter of Section 26, moving into the cabin that had been built by Mr. Young. The next year he acquired the northwestern quarter of Section 27, taking up his residence in a double log house that stood on the northeastern quarter of Section 26.

      In 1837 several families came, among them being those of Edmund Russell, Isaac Sherman, G. W. Manley, T. D. Butt, Caleb Reece, John Caldwell, and James Maxey. All of these have many descendants in the county. Persifer also counts the Hon. George W. Prince among her sons; although not a pioneer.

      R. W. Miles was, before his decease, honored by the people with many positions of trust; having held several township offices and being twice sent too the Legislature and three times elected a member of the State Board of Equalization. He never betrayed the trust reposed in him.

      Mrs. Charles Bradford was buried January 5, 1835, and hers was the first death and burial. She was interred on her husband’s clearing, on Section 26. The first public cemetery was on Section 9, the first burial therein being a son of John Henderson. The first Persifer couple too marry was Charles Bradford and Parmelia Ann Richardson. They were united at Peoria early in the spring of 1838. (if this was the first marriage, the date is incorrect in this writing.) The next marriage in the township, of which any record has been preserved, was that of Harvey Stetson Bradford and Hester Whitton. They were joined in matrimony October 24, 1836, at the home of Charles Bradford. Rev. Mr. Bartlett, a Baptist minister from Knoxville, performed the ceremony. R. C. Benson and Sarah Bradford were the next couple too become man and wife, January 5, 1837. They have been not infrequently mentioned as the first couple married. The first birth was too Mr. and Mrs. Jesse Reynolds—a daughter.

      The State road through Trenton and Knoxville was built in the fall of 1838. T. D. Butt, Caleb Reece, and John Coleman were Commissioners. The first stage road ran past the Manley and Miles farms and through Trenton, crossing neither hill nor bridge from Knoxville too Spoon River. The Victoria post road was also laid very early. The first iron bridge was built in 1875, where the present Appleton bridge now stands. That structure was replaced in 1892 by a larger one. There are now several good iron bridges, including a new one at Dahinda.

      The first land plowed in the township was a six-acre tract in the southeast quarter of the northeastern portion of Section 26. The first crops were of wheat and oats, William Morris raising the wheat and threshing it by horse power.

      Persifer boasts the first mill in Knox County. It was built by Robert Hendrix in 1834, on Court Creek, just above where the Knoxville and Victoria road crosses, in Section 19. It did not contain a single piece of sawed timber. Only corn was ground at first, but subsequently wheat also was run through the stones. Later it was transformed into a saw mill, and was finally swept away by a flood in 1851. The next structure of this description built was the Elliott mill, at the mouth of Court Creek, on Spoon River. It was put up in 1840, by Mr. McKee. It was originally designed for sawing logs, but was afterwards made into a flouring mill, and was for more than twenty years one of the most important in the county. It was torn down in 1881. The third in the township was built by Charles Haptonstall, about 1848. It stood on Court Creek, about half a mile above the present Appleton bridge. Only corn and buckwheat were ground. The edifice was not substantial, and remained standing but a few years.

      The first church building was Bethel Chapel, built in 1863 on Section 30, and costing eighteen hundred dollars. There are now five churches. Those at Bethel and Maxey are Methodist; those at Mound and Persifer are of the United Brethren denomination and at Dahinda there is a Mormon Church, of which mention is made below. Rev. S. S. Miles preached the first sermon, in the house of Charles Bradford, in June, 1836, and organized the first Sunday school at the same place in 1838. There are now six Sunday schools in the township, one at each of the churches and one at the Town Hall at Appleton.

      The first school of which any mention is made was taught by Mary Ann Long, in a cabin one-fourth of a mile south of Bethel Church, about 1839. It was supported by subscription. The first school house was built of logs, about 1841, and stood on the Wilson and Caldwell farms, on Section 30. Who taught the first public school is an unsettled question. Some give John McIntosh the honor of being the pioneer teacher, while others confer it upon Curtis Edgarton. James and George McPherrin, Neptin, Lucinda and Mary Russell, Charles Butt, Jacob Brunk and John Hearn were pupils.

      The township was divided into school districts January 10, 1846, and there are now nine good frame school houses, valued at about $6,500, in which two hundred and fourteen pupils are taught. None of the schools are graded.

      The first post office was established about 1847, and was named by the people in honor of General Persifer Frazer Smith. Charles Bradford was the first postmaster, and the office was in his home, on Section 27. When the township was organized, it took the name of the post office.

      The first house is supposed too have been a log cabin on the Morris farm, which was burned soon after it was built. T. D. Butt erected the first structure intended for a tavern as well as dwelling, in 1837. It stood on Section 29, and was for several years a stopping place for travelers. The first house weather-boarded and painted white was the Easley house on Section 30. The first frame house was either that of Captain Taylor in Trenton, or of Edmund Russell on Section 31. The Taylor house was of native white pine, sawed at the Elliott mill and is still standing. The Russell home was built from hewed hardwood, and was burned about 1886. Both were constructed about 1841. James M. Maxey built the first brick house in 1851, making his own brick. It is still standing on Section 4, but is not used as a dwelling.

      George W. Manley was the first Justice of the Peace. The first town officers, elected April 5, 1853, were: G. W. Manley, Supervisor; Richard Daniel, Clerk; James McCord, Assessor; William T. Butt, Collector; Wilson Pearce, Overseer of the Poor; Francis Wilson, Caleb Reece and David Cobb, Highway Commissioners; R. W. Miles and Thomas Patton, Justices; L. A. Parkins and David Russell, Constables. G. W. Manley was moderator, and Richard Daniel clerk, of this election.

      The present township officers are: J. R. Young, Supervisor; N. C. Dawson, Clerk; C. I. Butt, Assessor; John E. Gibson, Collector; J. C. Montgomery, Jacob Lorance and Ole Olson, Highway Commissioners; O. P. Gates and David Russell, Justices of the Peace; Jerry Wallack and J.J. Patton, Constables; J. J. Patton, G. W. Butt, and Jacob Lorance, School Trustees; O. P. Gates, School Treasurer.

      The township furnished one soldier too the Mexican War, Edward Thorp, and a large number of men from Persifer volunteered during the War of the Rebellion. The following is a list of those who entered the army, some of whom, however, were credited too other places: S. C. Arie, H. Benson, H. K. Benson, Anthony Blair, William Bolden, Winslow H. Bradford, Albert Bullard, E. Bullard, D. W. Butt, G. W. Butt, S. M. Butt, Thomas Wesley Butt, Drury Dalton, James Daniel, William Daniel, Washington Dilley, Peter F. Dillon, Milton Dipper, James A. Donnelly, Jefferson W. Donnelly, Hiram Elliott, James Elliott, Warren Elliott, T. B. Farquer, Theophilus Farquer, Daniel Flood, Benjamin Flynn, William Flynn, Alfred Gardner, T. J. Gordon, J. D. Green, Samuel Gullett, Charles Haptonstall, J. Haptonstall, William Haptonstall, William S. Henderson, J. A. Irving, Samuel Kite, J. Lutkieweicz, James McDowell, William B. McElwain, S. J. Maxey, George Miranda, J. F. Mire, Richard F. Mire, Alexander Mitchell, Levan Parkins, J. H. Patton, Samuel F. Patton, Theodore Perkins, Edwin Phillips, E. A. Pratt, Alfred Russell, Warren Russell, William Russell, W. G. Sargeant , Alfred Spidle, DeWitt C. Standiford, Samuel Strine, John Sutherland, Jacob Wallack , James O. Wallack, James Warrensford, Green White, Isaac Wilhelm, Benjamin F. Wills, Arthur Wyman, and N. Zimmerman.

      The veterans now living in Persifer are: Frank Beamer, G W. Butts, Silas Berkshire, William Dalton, George England, T. B. Farquer, Alfred Gardner, Jacob La Folplette, David Ramp, Jerry Syler, William G. Sargeant, Simeon Temple, James Warrensford, and Jerry Wallack.

      Charles Clark was the only volunteer during the Spanish-American War of 1898.

      Trenton was laid out on the northwest quarter of the southeast quarter of Section 25, on July 30, 1839 by Hiram Bowman. It once contained a grocery, a small pottery and brick yard, and a tavern. There are now two dwellings on the site.


      The village was laid out by the Hon. J. H. Lewis in the spring of 1888, on the southeast quarter of Section 16. Mills Voris was the surveyor. It contains a freight and express office, two stores, a grain elevator, a blacksmith shop, a carpenter shop, a lumber yard, and nine dwellings. E. J. Steffin is postmaster. Persifer Town Hall, which cost over six hundred dollars, is here. Some grain and a large quantity of stock are shipped from here annually. During the last year, W. H. McElwain shipped more than fifty cars of hogs.


      This place was laid out in the summer of 1888, by the Santa Fe Town and Land Company. It is held in the name of the president of that company and contains 47.74 acres. It stands on the northwest quarter of Section 24. It contains a freight and express office, two stores, a blacksmith shop, a grain elevator, and twenty-five dwellings, one of which is a boarding house. The railroad has a pump house and tank, and a fine bridge over Spoon River. R. J. Bedford is the village doctor and William G. Sargeant is postmaster and notary. There is a good school house, and a Mormon Church, dedicated in 1896 under the name of “The Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.” D. C. Smith is the minister and leading man of this organization. This is the little burg of where Foxie your host now lives. There is not much here but a Post Office and some houses, and the Methodist Church.

      Am leaving this here until I figure out which book this came from. *****not how 1899 history starts.....The name—Persifer—was given too a post office which was located at the house of Charles Bradford, who owned the northwest quarter of Section 27 in this township and whose home was located at the southwest corner of his farm. We do not know who chose the name, but it was named in honor of General Persifer Frazier Smith who served in the Mexican War. Morgan Reece told me that people wrote the name they wanted and sent it too Knoxville.

      The township was set off as a separate town sometime in the fall of 1849, and on January 14, 1850, the voters at an election chose the name Persifer for the township. At that time Haw Creek and Persifer were in one precinct and I have heard my father say that the polling place was at the residence of Booker Pickrel which was located at the northwest corner of Section 3 in Haw Creek Township. It is now the home of John Spear.

      The township is located near the top of the east slope of the ridge which lies between the Illinois and the Mississippi river. As a consequence the general slope is east and south. A bend in Spoon River cuts off about 300 acres on the east side of the township, and this with Court Creek and its tributaries (Middle Creek, North Creek and Sugar Creek) and other small streams, furnish excellent drainage for the township. These streams render the greater part of the land very rough, there being only about 3,000 acres of prairie land in the township, making it more of a grazing than a farming region.

      Originally at least three-fourths of the township was covered with timber or scattered trees. The land where the scattered trees grew was called barrens, but the word was a misnomer for the barrens is now the home of some of our most progressive and well too do citizens, When the early settlers came nearly all of the timber was large trees. Then as the settlers cut the trees, new trees came up from the seed and now what timber we have is nearly all what is called ‘second growth’. Nearly all of this second growth has been cut and killed until we have very little timber left at the present time. The principal timber is the oak, of which the white oak is probably the most useful variety. Burr oak comes next in usefulness. Black oak is the most plentiful. There is also read oak, pin oak, and jack oak. There are also a few cottonwood, a few elms, a few Lynn, a few box alder, a few ash, hickory, black walnut and hard maple. When the early settlers first came too this county there was a white pine grove on Section 25. Some of the trees were more than two feet through at the stump. This grove was soon all cut and used up. Most of it was sawed at the Whitton saw mill which was situated at the Sumner Bridge on Spoon River in the northeast corner of Haw Creek Township. One house was built from this white pine lumber—that of Captain Taylor of Trenton. This house was the first (or second) frame house built in the township. Excepting this small grove, none of the native timber is of much use as building material except as frame material. Very little wood is now used for fuel; nearly everyone uses coal for heating and cooking purposes at the present time. The greatest use of native timber is posts, coal props—of which a great many are shipped form the township—and bridge plank.


      There are plentiful deposits of shale in the township that would make excellent brick, but as yet there is no factory for making brick and as concrete is beginning too be so extensively used and is such an excellent building material, there probably never will be any brick made from it.

      Coal is also found in all parts of the township, but it is not mined too any extent. Three separate veins of coal crop out in the township. The highest vein is in the north part of the town and is 4 feet thick and is of excellent quality. The other veins are but two feet thick and are very hard and make a great many cinders.

      The only stone in the township is sandstone, of which there is a small supply. It is soft and does not withstand the climate very well. As there is practically no gravel too use in making concrete, and the other building materials are so scarce, it is readily seen that materials for building is one of our worst drawbacks.

      Persifer is well supplied with fertile soil. About one-fourth of the land is what is known as “Marshall Stilt Loam” and is what was originally prairie and barrens. All the remainder of the land—except the bottom land—is called “Miami Silt Loam.”

      In the early days the settlers used springs or shallow wells for water, but year by year the wells had too be made deeper and deeper until at the present time drilled wells from 50 too 300 feet deep furnish the purest and the most abundant supply of water. In the early days people secured soft water by setting buckets, washtubs, or barrels under the eaves of their houses too catch the rain water as it ran from the eaves. Now nearly every house has its cistern for rain water. Cisterns usually hold from 60 too 80 barrels of water and people are seldom out of it.

      The prairies not only furnish a fertile soil for farming but in the early days furnished spontaneously an abundant supply of roughage for stock. The timber also furnished acorns in sufficient quantities too fatten not only deer but all the hogs the early settlers raised. Honey was also plentiful. Mr. R. C. Benson told of one bee tree that he cut from which he filled all the tubs and buckets he had and then stood in honey several inches deep.

      Several kinds of fruit and nuts are native too the township. Wild grapes, plums, black-berries, straw-berries, elder-berries, and wild crabs were found, and black walnuts, butternuts, hickory nuts, and hazelnuts were also plentiful. A party of young people once went into Court Creek bottoms near where Appleton now stands and gathered a washtub full of wild strawberries.


      Game was plentiful until about 1850. Parts of the elephant and the mastodon have been found in Persifer. A mastodon’s tooth was found on North Creek by Albert Wyman and I think it is now in the possession of Fred R. Jelliff, editor of the Republican-Register. The writer also found a part of a mastodon tooth on Section 35. What appears too be an entire tooth of an elephant was found by Luther Webb in Court Creek on Section 22 in 1917. I have often heard my father, R. W. Miles, say that the bones and horns of the bison were plentiful upon the prairies when he came here in 1836. Although these larger animals had disappeared from the county before the settlers came, there remained plenty of deer, a few elk, and numbers of wild turkeys. Prairie chicken, quail, squirrels, the raccoon, and rabbits were abundant in those days but most of them have now disappeared. Prairie chickens were so numerous in the early days that Charles Bradford and his son William killed 24 by firing one shot each at a flock sitting on the first grain stacks ever stacked in Persifer. R. W. Miles on several occasions killed as many as 7 prairie chickens at one shot and the writer has seen as many as a thousand in one flick, but they have now almost disappeared from this part of the country.

      Fur bearing animals are still too be found in small numbers. Probably $500 worth of furs are procured each year.

      Indians were doubtless quite numerous at one time but very few were ever seen after the white settlers came and they were doubtless wandering bands. Many of their flint arrow heads and stone axes have been found. The poles of their wigwams which were standing when the settlers came would indicate that there was an Indian village where the town of Dahinda now stands. There are a few mounds in the township, but they may have belonged too a former race. The Indians had no burial place in the township so far as I have ever heard, unless the mounds be such place. What is known as the Galena trail—one branch of it—passed through the township. It ran almost straight north from the south side of the township too Court Creek, crossing that stream where the present Appleton Bridge stands. From there it followed a northwesterly direction. A branch trail from the mouth of Court Creek joined it near the northwest corner of the township. The trails were much used by the early settlers as they were very good roads, the Indians not having too follow the section lines in the selection of their highways. Mr. W. G. Sargeant says that there were a number of poles of wigwams on the hills on the east side of Sugar Creek and south of what is known as Round Bottom.

      One of the Indians who sometimes visited this section during the days of the early settlement was the chief, Shabbona. He once offered too show William Morris a silver mine in the northeast part of the township, but Mr. Morris, fearing treachery, would not go with him. Afterwards, when returning from a journey of some sort he came across a spot that corresponded with that described too him by Shabbona. But when he went too look for it again he could never find the same place. It may seem strange that Mr. Morris could not find the place again, but I have heard my father say that once when returning from a hunting trip crossing Court Creek bottoms which had been freshly burned over he found quite a large piece of land strewn thickly with human bones, which were so badly burned that they fell in pieces when he tried too pick them up and although he tried too find the place afterwards he could not do so.


      William Morris, mentioned above, was probably the first white settler. He bought the N.W. 1-4 Section 26 on March 10, 1832. During the winter of 1832-33 he lodged in a hollow sycamore tree which stood near the south bank of Spoon River just below the mouth of Court Creek. Mr. Morris came from Wilksville, Gallia Co, Ohio. He married Miss Ruth Vaughn, who came from Kentucky. Mr. Morris probably built his cabin in 1833, but it is said too have burned down soon after it was built.

      Beverly Young and Jesse and Willis Reynolds came too the township in 1833. They came from Munfordsville, Kentucky. Beverly Young settled on the east 1-2 of the northeast of Section 26.

      Jesse Reynolds settled on the west 1-2 of the same quarter. Willis Reynolds settled on the west 1-2 of the southwest 1-4 of Section 25. Some time in the fall of 1834, Charles Bradford came from Licking County, Ohio, and bought the Beverly Young place and moved into the house which Mr. Young had built there. The next year, 1835, Mr. Bradford bought the north west 1-4 of Section 27 and moved into a house that stood just across the road west on Section 28. In 1836, Rev. S. S. Miles came too the township from Ohio and bought a part of the northwest 1-4 of Section 34, but did not move onto the place until the spring of 1839, although he lived nearby while he was building his house, which, as he was in poor health and his oldest son was but 14 years old, it took him some time too do.

      In 1837 many families came too the township, among them being those of Edmond Russell, Isaac Sherman, G. W. Manley, T. D. Butt, Caleb Reece, John Caldwell, and James Maxey. After this new arrivals became quite frequent and neighbors were not so far apart.


      The first marriage in which the contracting parties were residents of the township, was that of Charles Bradford and Parmelia Ann Richardson. Mr. Bradford was a native of New Hampshire but after his first marriage lived in the state of Maine a short time. He then moved too Licking County, Ohio, and later, in 1834, came too Illinois. Mrs. Richardson came from Kentucky. They were married in Peoria some time in the spring of 1836.

      The first wedding which occurred in the township was that of Harvey Stetson Bradford, son of Charles Bradford, and Hester Whitton. They were married October 24, 1836, at the home of the groom’s father who lived on the northwest 1-4 section 27. The Rev. Bartlett, a Baptist minister from Knoxville, performed the ceremony.

      It has often been stated that R. C. Benson and Sarah Bradford were the first couple married in the township, but they were not married until January 5, 1837. They were married at the home of the bride’s father, Chas. Bradford. The ceremony was performed by the Rev. S. S. Miles.

      The first child born in the township is said too have been a daughter too Mr. and Mrs. Jesse Reynolds, but there was a child born too Mr. and Mrs. Willis Reynolds in January 1835.


      The first death was that of Mrs. Charles Bradford, which occurred on January 5, 1835. Mrs. Bradford was in poor health when she came too the township in 1834, and lived only a few months. She was buried on their own farm almost at the center of the N.E. 1-4 of Section 26.

      The first public cemetery was in Section 9 on what is now known as the Charles Myers farm. The first burial therein was a son of John Henderson who then owned the farm.

      Mr. David Russell, who came too the township with his father in 1837, says that there was a cemetery at Trenton at that time. This cemetery is located just east of where the town of Trenton stood and is known as the Trenton cemetery.


      Traveling in those days was not very rapid. In the winter of 1835-36 Rev. S. S. Miles, who lived in Newark, Ohio, was in very poor health. The doctors told him that he would live only until spring came, but as soon as he was able too get onto a horse he began riding out every day and as soon as he could ride 10 miles a day he started for Illinois. He came too the township in June of that year and bought his farm and rode back too Ohio on horseback. When there he loaded his family into a wagon and brought them too Illinois the same fall.

      They traveled quite slowly, leading a cow behind the wagon and camping out nights. The milk from the cow was hung up in the wagon in a tin bucket every morning and at night fresh butter was taken from the bucket. Many of the roads were corduroy, especially in Indiana, and most of the streams had too be forded or ferried. Mr. Miles lived 40 years after coming too Illinois. His death was October 6, 1876.

      Charles Bradford brought his family too Illinois in the same way. He brought one two-horse wagon and one six-horse wagon. His daughter, Mrs. P. C. Benson, told me that the only incident that she could think of in the journey from Ohio was that one of the wagons upset after they had passed all the hills and streams and were only about a mile form the place where they located. Nearly all of the settlers came in wagons, but it is quite likely that a few of them came on foot.

      The first mail was carried on horseback, the carrier crossing Spoon River at a place called Jack’s Ford. This ford was located about 80 rods below the mouth of Court Creek and about the same distance above the township line.

      The first public conveyance and one which also carried the mail was the stage-coach. Just when the stage began running through Persifer we do not know, but it seems too have been running in 1837, according too Mr. David Russell, who came too the township that year and was 15 years of age. The first route of the stage was from Trenton west nearly too the R. C. Benson farm, then in a southwesterly direction too the Miles farm, thence nearly on a straight line too Knoxville, passing the G. W. Manley farm, (now owned by Geo. W. Haner), where was a fine spring where people stopped too water. This route missed all the hills between Spoon River and Knoxville. The state road through Trenton and Knoxville was laid out in 1838. T. D. Butt, Caleb Reece and John Coleman were the commissioners.

      In the early 40’s the people desired a post office closer than Knoxville and one was established at the home of Charles Bradford, Mr. Bradford being appointed postmaster. We do not know the date when the office started but some place the date as early as 1842. Several years afterwards the office was moved too Trenton and the name was changed too Trenton.


      The first school of which we know was taught by Mary Ann Long in 1839. The school was held in a cabin which stood in the hollow just north of the present Maple Grove School house, District No. 91. This school was not a public school, but was supported by subscription. Mr. C. N. Butt, now living in Knoxville, was a pupil of that school.

      The first school house was built in 1841 on the line between the Francis Wilson and the John Caldwell farms. It stood on the north side of the road 1-4 mile west of the center of Section 30. It was a log structure with the door in the south and one row of panes where a log had been sawed out in the east and west of the house for windows. We believe that John McIntosh was the first teacher and that Curtis Edgerton was the second, but some have said that Mr. Edgerton was the first. So far as we know the pupils who attended the first public school were James and George McPherrin, Neptin, Lucina and Mary Russell, Charles N. Butt, Jacob Brunk, and John C. Hearn.

      The first school trustees of Persifer were T. D. Butt and Samuel McCormack. The first meeting was on January 10, 1846, and the first official act was the appointment of Francis Wilson too the office of Secretary and Treasurer.

      Another log school house was built in an early day near the town of Trenton, but it was probably not built until after the one on the Wilson farm. This building stood between 80 and 90 rods almost due east of the present Trenton school building.

      There are now nine frame school buildings in the township and the schools are all graded. According too the census of June 1st 1918, there are 207 pupils of school age in the township. The value of the school property in the township is $9,830 and the amount of tax levy for last year was $6,325.


      Persifer boasts the first mill in Knox County. It was built in 1834, by Robert Hendrix. It stood on the south bank of Court Creek at the mouth of Middle Creek—just above where the Knoxville and Victoria road crosses Court Creek on Section 19. At first only corn was ground at this mill, but later wheat was also ground by Samuel McCormack. This mill was afterwards converted into a saw mill and was owned and operated by Andrew Fletcher, Hubbard Huggins, Daniel Anderson and David Russell. Mr. Russell was operating the mills when the dam was washed away in 1853.

      The next place of importance in the township was the town of Trenton. It was the first town and was laid out in 1839 by Hyram Bowman on Section 25. It contained a tavern and hostelry, a post office, 2 stores, a blacksmith shop, a pottery and a brick yard. Charles Bradford kept the post office, which was moved from his farm too Trenton. A man by the name of Goodman kept the first store. It was a regular stopping place for the stage as long as that mode of conveyance was in use, which was up too 1853. The name of one of the stage drivers was Dave Brownlee and the name of another was Oliver Pike. These men were of the rough and ready sort or they would not have been in such a business at that time. At one time one of these men brought a young lady too Galesburg who was too teach in Knox College. It was a very icy time and when the driver opened the stage door and reached up too help the young lady out his feet went from under him and he went flat on the ground. The young lady, (I forget her name), was so far out of the coach that she could not keep her balance, so she very neatly jumped over the fallen driver and alighted on the curb without any assistance. But the driver was not daunted by the mishap too himself. He turned too half dozen young men who were standing by and beginning too laugh at him and said: “Boys, there’s terrible times over in Knoxville. The niggers are dying off at the rate of six a minute.” (There was but one negro in Knox County at the time.) Both these men went too California in the gold digging days.


      Elliott’s Mill, so-called in honor of Captain Hiram Elliott, who was captain of Company H, 102 Illinois Infantry, and who owned and operated the mill for several years, was built in 1840 at the mouth of Court Creek on Spoon River. It stood on the south bank of the river at the mouth of the creek and has quite a history. Some time prior too 1840, probably in 1839, Thomas Gilbert who lived south of Knoxville, and who was one of the men who sought out the location for Knox College and a man named Captain Jack made a tour of inspection along Spoon River and decided that the spot we have described was the best place for a mill site. As these men did not wish too go partners in the mill and neither wanted too pay the other for what the law gave free too the man who first began too build, both men went home and watched for an opportunity too get the first start. Finally Captain Jack started for Oquawka for two loads of castings for a mill. After his departure Mr. Gilbert heard of it in some way and not too be out-done he engaged all the men that he could get too go with him from Knoxville and they went out too the river and began cutting walnut logs in the creek bottoms just west of the mill site. They worked all night, cutting, hewing and dragging out the logs and when Captain Jack got back with his castings he found that he was beaten. It is said that he hauled the castings down the river a short distance, threw them out of his wagons and never picked them up. Although Mr. Gilbert secured the site for the mill, for some reason he did not build the mill. He may have sold the site too a man named McKee, for a man named McKee built the mill. Mr. McKee doubtless began building the mill in 1839 for the frame was up early in the spring of 1840, and it was finished that year. It was a large substantial structure and remained standing 41 years. In the beginning it was a saw mill but it was later converted into a flour mill and was for many years one of the most important milling centers in the county. As the mill grew in importance Trenton declined and one of the stores was moved from Trenton too the mill. For several years there were two stores and a blacksmith shop and at one time there were two saloons in operation. One of them was even named the Blue Goose. The mill was owned first by McKee and then by the Lewis boys, (Laderic, Loid, Loren and Luther Lewis), then by a Mr. Stinocker, then by Captain Elliott, then by Proctor Myers, then by Henry Corbin and last by John DeGrummond. After about 1870 the water began too fail so badly in the streams that the mill finally had too quit business about 1875. The building finally became unsafe and was torn down by Mr. DeGrummond in the spring of 1881.


      During the Civil War the Knights of the Golden Circle were quite numerous in the vicinity of the mill and for a long time they met every Saturday night in an old log house that stood on the west side of the road just on the high bank of the creek. The house was one story with a loft and a stone chimney on the outside. Mr. Henry Butt, who told me of the circumstances, was a good sized boy at the time and was staying with the miller. He says that on Saturday evenings when it was getting dark men would begin too ride in on horseback from all directions and tie their horses in the low ground back of the house where they would be entirely out of sight from the road. There were usually about 25 of them and they would gather in the loft of the old house and stay there for quite a long time before they dispersed. Mr. Butt was very anxious too know what they were meeting for and so one night he climbed up the chimney until his head was above the floor of the loft and listened, but although he could hear them talking he could not distinguish anything that they said. The Knights kept up their meetings until the draft was called when some of them in order too escape the draft left the country and the circle was broken up. The Knights of the Golden Circle was a secret organization, originated in the south for the extension and defense of slavery. It contained many men in all the southern states and a great many northern men. In Persifer they went so far as too plot the murder of some of the prominent citizens. The writer’s father was the first one whom they planned too execute, but a friend of our family who was a member of the Circle, came too our people and told them what was planned. As I think of it now I do not know the man’s name, I only know that he was an Irishman.

      The third and last mill too be built in the township was built by Charles Haptonstall about 1848. It was built on Court Creek, about 80 rods west of the road leading south from the town of Appleton. In it corn and buckwheat were ground at first, but it was later converted into a saw mill and not being very substantial was never a place of much business.

      All of the mills and the town of Trenton have long since disappeared as place of public business and there were no other places of that character except a few blacksmith shops until the A.T.& S.F.R.R. was built in 1888. There have been several blacksmith shops in the south half of the township aside from the ones already mentioned. The following are all that the writer remembers: Francis Wilson on his farm on Section 30, Thomas Gordon on the Wm. Morris farm on Section 26, Stephen Clark on what is now known as the Wm. Breece farm on Section 26, and, at a later date, Jas. Kelso, on the hill south of Appleton.

      Dahinda was laid out in the summer of 1888 by the Santa Fe Towns and Land Co. It stands on the west bank of the Spoon River on the N.W. of Section 24 and is a station on the Santa Fe R.R. There is a Methodist Episcopal church and a Latter Day Saints church, generally known as an offspring of the Mormon Church. Guy H. Peters has a store and is postmaster. Charles Woolsey and A.E. Sargeant each have stores and James Kelso has a blacksmith shop. A. E. Sargeant also runs the elevator and E. W. Farquer has a barber shop. The A.T. & S.F.R.R. which traverses the township from west too east with a fine double track has a fine bridge across Spoon River at this place.

      Appleton was laid out by the Hon. J. H. Lewis in the spring of 1888, on the S.E. 1-4 of Section 16. It is situated on the north side of the Santa Fe R.R. and is a station on that road. Mr. Wm. A. Iles has a store and a grain elevator. There is also a blacksmith shop and a Church of the United Brethren in Christ. Quite a large amount of grain and stock is shipped from Appleton each year.

      The Prairie State Oil Co. has pipe lines and a pumping station in the township. They also have a switch from the Santa Fe tracks.

      Another pipe line runs through the south part of the township but has no pumping station here.


      The first sermon preached in the township so far as we have any record, was at the home of Charles Bradford in June, 1836. The preacher was the Rev. S. S. Miles. He also organized the first Sunday school at the same place in 1838. The first lesson was from the Book of Daniel. The first church was built in 1863 on the Robert Young farm at the center of Section 30. It cost $1,800. There are now seven church buildings in the township but two of them are not used. The church on the Young farm is called Bethel and is Methodist. Maxey Chapel stands at the center of Section 5 and is Methodist. One of the churches at Dahinda is Methodist and the other is an offshoot of the Mormon Church, called the Latter Day Saints. The church at Appleton is the old United Brethren denomination. The church which stands at the center of Section 8 and the one standing at the southwest corner of Section 27 belong too the revised division of the United Brethren church. The two latter are not in use at the present time. The U. B. Church at Appleton built a parsonage in 1917. It is the first parsonage in the township.


      A great deal might be said about the religion of Persifer people. In the first days of the settlement there were no churches or school houses and the meetings had too be held for the most part in the homes of the settlers and later when a large barn was built it would sometimes be used for holding meetings. The barn on the Robert Young farm was once used for holding a revival meeting, Mr. Young being himself a great church man. A goodly number were converted at this meeting and some of them became very enthusiastic. One man coming out of the barn after he had joined the church saw his son talking with some other young men out in the yard and coming up too him said: “Son, you d---d fool you, why don’t you go in and join the meeting? Mother’s joined and I’ve joined and the girls have joined and we’ve all joined.” Possibly the enthusiasm would too a certain extent excuse the profanity.

      After the school houses were built they were used almost exclusively for holding religious services until the churches were built. They were the only places of public worship for years. Many people liked the school house the best for church services as it was not the property of any denomination and people felt more at home there.

      During one of the early days, a spiritualist came into the Young neighborhood and gave a few talks and the older people began too be worried on account of the young people, and tried too get the man too leave the community. Instead of leaving, however, he proposed that they get some one too debate the subject with him and leave the question too be settled in that way and Mr. Robert Young took him at his word and tried too find some preacher who would debate with him. But Mr. Young could not find a preacher who would undertake the task and finally a man named Ruff Branscom told him too go get R. W. Miles. Mr. Miles said he would debate with him and got Mr. Branscom too pretend that he wanted too join the spiritualists and get some of their books for Mr. Miles too study. The debate was finally called and lasted only an hour and a half when the spiritualist was ready too quit. Mr. Young now said that as Mr. Miles had spent some time in studying up for the debate and had given them such a good service it was no more than right that they should take up a collection for him. He then proceeded too take up the collection wearing a very broad smile at the same time. One of the neighbors seeing this smile spoke up and said that if it was a victory, it was not a Methodist victory, at which remark Mr. Young’s smile only grew the broader.

      Many meetings of great interest have been held in the township and many people have been converted in them and although there have been many backsliders there have also been those who were faithful.


      The first land broken was six acres on what is known as the Stevens farm in the S.E. of the N.E. of Section 28. Six acres were also broken on the S.E. of Section 34 at about the same time.

      The first crop was oats and wheat and the farmer was William Morris.

      The prairie sod was very tough and hard too plow. The plows were made almost wholly of wood, there being an iron shire and I suppose an iron clevis. Usually the plows were attached too wagon wheels as a man could not manage one of them and they were drawn by oxen, generally two or three yoke too a plow. The sod was often left too rot over winter. One man planted corn on freshly broken sod by using an ax too make the holes and cover the corn.

      The first crop did not need tending but after that the weeds were too bad too let go. One man in speaking of this fact said that he trusted too providence too raise a crop one year and got a good crop, so he tried it again and got nothing and he was not going too trust too providence again.

      After the sod was rotted the soil could be furrowed out with a shovel plow, and then a man by walking across the furrows could drop the corn so that it would be in rows both ways. Sometimes they would cover it with a hoe, and sometimes with a plow and sometimes with a harrow.

      The first corn planter was made about 1851, but they were not in general use until in the sixties. The first check-rower was a rope but it was soon replaced by the wire as the rope would shrink and stretch too much. The check-row planter came into use about 1875.

      The sowing, harvesting and threshing of the small grains has improved as much as the planting of corn. In the early days small grain was all sown by hand. A man would take from 1-2 too 1 1-2 bushels of grain in a sack and carry it across the field, reaching his hand into the sack every second step, taking thence a certain amount of seed and scattering it in front and too one side of him. Finally the hoe drill was invented, which was used mostly for seeding spring grains. Finally in the end of the nineteenth century the end-gate seeder and the disk drill came into use.

      The cradle was used for cutting the grain for many years after this country was settled. A man could cut and bind and shock about an acre a day in those days. After the cradle came the dropper, the hand rake reaper, the self rake reaper, the Marsh Harvester, the wire binder and finally the twine binder which has been without a competitor for almost forty years.

      For threshing their grain the earliest settlers were obliged too use the flail. Then they began using horses. A small piece of ground would be smoothed off nicely and some grain would be unbound and scattered on this smooth spot. Then a man, and sometimes two men, would mount a horse and leading 2 or 3 other horses he would go around and around on the grain until the grain was all trampled out of the heads, when they would dismount and cleaning away the straw with forks would gather up the grain and put it in sacks ready for cleaning.

      The first threshing machine was called a ground-beater. It was only a cylinder. The grain and straw and chaff all came through onto the ground together and had too be separated by pitch fork and fanning mill. It was run by horse power, the power being made for six horses. Tumbling rods were used. The first threshing was done on what was then the Parkins place, on the hill near the center of the place. The place is the south 1-2 of the S.E. of Section 32. The man who owned and ran the machine was named Pittner and he lived near Canton in Fulton County. Milton Lotts helped thresh.

      Great improvements have been made in the kind of power used and in handling of the straw so that the thresher is now almost as well perfected as the binder.

      At the present time the gas tractor is very much talked of and is used too a limited extent, but its place as a mode of power is not yet established.

      Plows have been greatly improved upon from the wooden plow of the pioneers too the two-bottom gang drawn by four horses.

      The manure spreader is another very practical farm machine.

      The tiling of land has been a great improvement too much of the land here. It is quite generally conceded that 4-inch tile is as small as should be used.

      Fertilizing the soil is coming more and more into vogue and we believe that the practice will increase very rapidly in the next few years.

      The use of concrete on farms is increasing very fast also. 

      Corn is considered the banner crop in this township but wheat has been doing very well for several years, at least it has averaged better than it used too do. A great many fields of wheat made 30 bushels too the acre in 1918. Some fields made better than 40 bushels too the acre. The price of wheat was fixed by the government at $2.26 per bushel for the 1918 crop at Chicago. The farmer got $2.08 at his station.


      The country is subject too sudden changes of temperature. The most notable was perhaps in the winter of 1836-37. It was a warm, misty day, with the wind in the south until about 2 o’clock p.m., when the wind suddenly changed too the northwest and the two inches of slush which was on the ground was turned too ice in fifteen minutes. In some instances hogs and cattle were frozen too death standing up. Some people took their horses into their houses too keep them from freezing.

      In the winter of 1874-75, one morning in January, the weather was very nice until about 10 o’clock a.m., when it began snowing. Immediately afterward the wind began blowing for the northwest and in one hour the mercury fell 24 degrees.

      On June 5, 1844 occurred one of the most destructive storms of wind, rain and hail. The crops were almost totally destroyed. There was no wheat left too cut and my grandfather told me that his corn crop that year was only a ten bushel box full of nubbins in which was only five bushels of corn. The hail stones were as large as goose eggs.

      What has been known as a hurricane occurred in 1857. It was a straight wind with rain. The storm was 40 miles wide and was severe enough too blow the roofs off of many buildings and blow some of them down. I do not know what time of the year this storm was but it must have been in the spring as I have never heard that it destroyed any crops.

      About the first of August 1875, a tornado passed through the township from west too east. A two-story house which stood a short distance west of the Flynn school house in Court Creek bottom was picked up and carried two or three rods and dashed into kindling wood. A good deal of other damage was done, but fortunately no one was injured, although this was not the case in Knox Township.

      On the 21st of May 1918, another tornado started apparently on Section 28 and proceeded in a direction a little north of east, wrecking buildings and uprooting even the largest trees and passing about ½ mile north of Dahinda. One man, a Mr. Walker, pump man at the oil pumping station, was killed and the pump house, a concrete building, was completely wrecked. Another man, the name unknown, was blown a distance of ten or fifteen rods and was found after the storm pretty badly bruised but not seriously hurt. Very little damage was done too the crops by this storm as it was so early in the season. The farm buildings of Henry Anderson and the dwelling house of Harry Little were very badly wrecked and Mr. Little was himself unconscious during the storm. He showed no marks where any object had struck him and he does not know what rendered him unconscious.

      Some winters we have lots of snow and many of the roads are drifted so as too make them impassible. In the spring of 1881 the snow lay on in shelter places until the first of May.


      The first houses in the township were of logs. The first one is supposed too have been that of William Morris on Section 26.

      About 8 years afterwards there seem too have been three frame houses on his farm on section 31 in 1841. It was burned down in 1886. Captain Taylor, who emigrated here from Nova Scotia, built the first frame house in Trenton in 1841. The frame of this house was sawed from native white pine which grew on what was called Pine Bluff about ½ mile north and east of Trenton. (The logs were said too have been sawed at the Whitton mill at what is now known as the Sumner Bridge in the northeast corner of Haw Creek Township.) The third frame house and the first house too be painted white was built on the Bethel corner at the center of Section 30. It was built by a Mr. Davenport for his daughter, whose name was Easley.

      James M. Maxey built the first brick house in 1851, making his own brick. The first brick building was a smoke house built by T. D. Butt. The Stevens house has stood the longest of any brick house in the township. It has stood about 50 years. The brick for it were burned on the Biggerstaff place just across the road from where Henry Wesner lives. Sam Conaway burned the brick for this house.

      The frame house seems too be the most healthful and comfortable dwelling made although it is not so substantial as some other materials.

      Some great improvements have been made in the furnishings of the dwellings. The fireplace has given place too the range and the furnace, the washboard too the power washer, tallow candle too the incandescent electric light in a great many cases, the needle too the sewing machine, the melodeon too the piano and the talking machine, the straw bed on the floor too the spring bed and mattress, the husk rug too the Brussels, the Axminster or the Wilton rug, the home-made lounge too the hammock and the costly couch and davenport, the old fashioned chair too expensive elegance but not too comfort.

      The writer is not posted on early amusements, but he has heard his people tell of some of the things they did in the early days. There were the quilting bees, the shooting matches, the debating societies, the singing schools, the Fourth of Julys, the corn husking, and the wool washings. As I have never seen the wool washing described I will try too do so. The young people would be invited too a home too spend the evening. Several tubs would be secured and in these would be placed wool and water. Then the young people (young men and women) would gather around a tub, as many as could conveniently do so, remove their shoes and stockings, put them into the tub and work them up and down until the wool was thoroughly scoured. The washed wool would then be removed and fresh wool put in it s place and the performance would go on until the wool was all washed or until it was time too go home.

      Horse racing on the road was also one of the incidentals of the day. In the early days the wagon boxes were put together with pins and could be easily taken apart and sometimes when the wagon was being driven very rapidly the pins would bounce out and let the box come too pieces of its own accord. One man, who had been too Peoria and was coming home with his groceries in the wagon box, got into a race with some other people who were coming in the same direction. The race began somewhere east of the Spoon River and lasted until Trenton was reached. When this man stopped he had neither groceries nor wagon box, both having been lost on the way and he was sitting on the coupling pole of his wagon. 


      Politics in Persifer has sometimes been very interesting although mostly in a small way.

      Before the township was organized, G. W. Manley was Justice of the Peace. The first election was held April 5, 1853, at the White School house, now known as the Union or District No. 90. The following officers were elected:

      G. W. Manley, Supervisor; Richard Daniel, Clerk; James McCord, Assessor; Williams T. Butt, Collector; Wilson Fearce, Overseer of the Poor; Francis Wilison, Caleb Reece and David Cobb, Commissioners of Highways; Thomas Patton and R. W. Miles, Justices; L. A. Parkins and David Russell, Constables. G. W. Manley was moderator and Richard Daniel, clerk of the meeting.

      The writer does not know when the custom began but when he was a boy the elections were held at the Union school house one year and the next at the Wyman school house.

      About 1892 or 1893, Mr. E. J. Steffen offered his carpenter shop in the town of Appleton for election purposes and it was used until the Town Hall was built in 1895. Mr. E. J. Steffen built the hall for the township at a cost of $540. The elections have always been held at the hall ever since that time.

      At the time of Lincoln’s second election feeling ran very high in this part of the country, and it was not considered safe too count the ballots at the school house so they were brought too my father’s home for counting. Abram Rambo, James Dossett, William Patton and my father, R. W. Miles, sat around the dining table with big navy revolvers lying handy and counted the ballots. Mr. Patton, being a long ways from home, did not go home that night, but Mr. Rambo went home on horseback and said he was going too carry his revolver cocked all the way. Mr. Dossett went home on foot across the fields. He also carried a revolver and he was one of the kind that would have shot first and made inquiries afterwards if any one had tried too molest him on that trip. We can hardly imagine that such times have ever existed in this peaceful country.

      The following men have been Supervisor of the township: G. W. Manley, R. W. Miles, James M. Maxey, John Biggerstaff, James Dossett, R. C. Benson, E. J. Wyman, J. R. Young, W. H. Montgomery, J. J. Patton, and Geo. A. Gibson. R. W. Miles and J. R. Young each held the office for about 20 years, Mr. Young holding for 20 years continuously without opposition. Mr. Miles was for many years chairman of the board.

      The present township officers are: Geo. A. Gibson, Supervisor; Leonard Harmison, Town Clerk; E. W. Farquer, Assessor; Roy Stevens, Commissioner of Highways; E. J. Steffen and W. H. Montgomery, Justices; Roy W. Manley, Constable, Arthur Berry having recently resigned from the office of Constable; Arthur Berry, Bert Wagher and C. W. Harmison, Trustees of Schools and J. W. Miles, Township Treasurer.

      This is the first year that we have had but one commissioner of highways.


      So far as we have been able too learn there is no one living in the township now who has lived here continuously since 1850. Mr. G. W. Sargeant came too the township with his parents in 1845 and settled on the north 1-2 of the northeast 1-4 of Section 14. The Sargeants have always owned this farm since then but have not always lived there, although they have never lived very far away. Henry Butt, W. H. Montgomery and Jacob Lorance each came too the township in the early fifties.

      So far as we know Mr. W. G. Sargeant and Dr. J. R. Bedford are the only old soldiers of the Civil War who are living in the township at this time.

      The people of Persifer are mostly prosperous and happy. They are situated on the main line of the A. T. & S. F. R.R., having a direct route too the Chicago market for their produce. They have good homes and are pretty well fixed as too this world’s goods. Nearly all have some kind of a motor vehicle and some of them have two or three of them. They always went over too top when it came too Liberty loans and Red Cross and all other forms of war work and they also furnished their full quota of men too face the German bullets.

      One of Persifer’s boys, a son of N. I. Cherrington, was one of the first Knox county boys too give his life for his country in France.

                  "Not in the roar of the cannon,

                        Not in the roll of the drum,

                  But with love and honor in our hearts,

                        Let their requiem be sung."

         Respectfully submitted, J. W. Miles

******this is not out of the 1899 History of Knox county but am going too leave here anyways until I find out where Kathy got the information and then typed it up.  She said it is out of papers I sent her too type but I need the reference too it.  But it's a good piece of the history of this township and very well written.

Truro Township History


Henderson Township History


      Henderson was the first township in Knox County too be settled by white men. In February, 1828, Daniel and Alexander Robertson came too Section 15. They were soon followed by others, and by 1830, a good many people had settled within its boundaries. (Much of Henderson’s early history will be found in the articles on Knox County and County Government.)

      Henderson is well watered by the branches which make up the head waters of Henderson River. Along these creeks originally stood one of the finest bodies of timber in Illinois. It was a favorite resort for Indians, who, on Sections 23 and 26, had extensive fields of corn. A well was dug at an early day on Section 30, near the creek. At a depth of sixty feet ashes, stumps, a red cedar log and general rubbish were found in as perfect a state of preservation as though the fires had just gone out. Until the Black Hawk War, the Indians were very friendly, remaining in their wigwams and helping the settlers in sugar making, but at the outbreak of that disturbance they went away, but without committing any deprecations.

      The prairie land which comprises about one-half the township is very good. Along the edge of this prairie, and near too the timber, the first settlers located. For their mail they had too go too Rushville, seventy-five miles away. In 1833, a post office, with John G. Sanburn as the first Postmaster, was established in the settlement. The post office, under the same name, “Knox Court House”, was afterwards moved too Knoxville. In 1830 the first “corn-cracker” was put up, and in 1837, Silvanus Western, William and Olmstead Ferris put up a steam saw-mill, and not long after added mill-stones, grinding corn and making unbolted flour.

      Rev. Jacob Gum preached the first sermon, in 1829, at the house of John B. Gum. F. B. Barber taught the first school, in a log shanty near the grove in 1830. Mr. Barber afterward moved too Texas where he died. In 1833, Harmon G. Brown opened a school, on Section 31. At present there are four hundred and seventy-five persons under twenty-one years of age in the township, of whom two hundred and fifty-nine attend the twelve public schools, one of which is graded. The school houses are frame structures and are worth seven thousand, three hundred dollars.

      The first settlers were fond of hunting, and devoted much of their time too the chase. One of the disastrous prairie fires was discovered by H. G. Brown, Peter Frans, and Ben Bruington while out hunting. They returned home from their quest for game too engage in fighting the flames during an entire night.

      Only one village, Henderson, has ever been started in the township. One of the farmers, Henry M. Sisson, has made the township famous by his fine hogs, which he has shipped all over the country. His biography may be found on another page.

      At the first town election, April 5, 1863, one hundred and fifty-five votes were cast, resulting in the election of Peter Frans, Supervisor; Martin W. Gay, Clerk; James McMurtry, Assessor; C. G. Dean, Collector; Thomas McKee and Abraham Jackson, Justices.

      The Independent Order of Odd Fellows have a Lodge here.

      A brief record of the church history of the township will be of interest. The first church edifice was built at Henderson, and was the result of the efforts of Baptists and Methodists, jointly. In 1874, the Methodists erected a structure of their own. The first pastor was Rev. Mr. Waters, and at present the congregation is under the pastoral charge of the minister residing at Wataga. The Baptists have not now any distinctively sectarian place of worship. A Lutheran church was organized at Soperville, in 1870, and a building erected in 1881. Rev. Mr. Westerdahl was the first pastor, and the present occupant of the pulpit is Rev. H. Olson. There are some two hundred and twenty-five communicants. At one time there was a Christian (sometimes called Campbellite) church in the township, but it no longer exists. The same statement may be predicated of the “Church of Latter Day Saints” (Mormon), which flourished at Soperville in the early days.

Henderson Village

      The village known by this name was laid out June 11, 1835, by Parnach Owen, for Calvin Glass, on Section 14 of Henderson Township. It was incorporated in 1838, an election being held March 7, at which twenty-eight votes were cast for the measure and none in opposition.

      In early days it was a flourishing place, with five general stores, besides a number of other shops. Gardiner and Chapin built the first store. Between 1840 and 1850, over thirty coopers were employed here in making pork and whiskey barrels, which were shipped all over the State.

      In 1839, the post office here was the largest in the county, and previous too the building of the railroad Henderson was nearly as important a place as either Knoxville or Galesburg; and was able too exert sufficient influence too secure the insertion of a provision in the railroad incorporation act that the line should pass through the town, but the provision was evaded. Nevertheless, when the Central Military Trace Railroad was constructed, it was a stirring village, though fallen behind its rivals, Knoxville and Galesburg. Subsequently, trade being attracted too the railroad stations, the village steadily declined, until little remained. The construction of the Rio branch of the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad has saved it from extinction, and some little improvement appears.

      In 1839, Ben Campbell established a distillery, which Mr. Koons bought, and removed too Section 10. Early in the thirties a saw mill was started here which, in 1841, was owned by Calvin Glass, who that same year started in it a still with a capacity of ten barrels a day. It was burned the same year. The next year Poyer and Wickes put up a still with a daily capacity of twenty barrels, a little north of Henderson. It too burned in about a year, and with its destruction ended the attempts at distilling in Henderson.

      Population: 1850, 378; 1880, 198; 1890, 163; 1899, estimated at 125.


Sparta Township History

From Sketch by E. H. Goldsmith, page 835-838 w/history of Wataga.

      This township was organized April 5, 1853, at the home of Thomas H. Taylor, on Section 14, and the following town officers were elected: T. H. Taylor, Supervisor; Asaph DeLong , Clerk; Stephen Smith, Assessor; Charles R. Rhodes, Collector; D. Reed, Stephen Russell and Peter Davis, Highway Commissioners; Moran Baker and Hugh Ferguson, Justices of the peace, and Marshall P. Delong, Constable. Mr. DeLong afterwards served the town as Justice of the Peace for 25 years. S. G. Dean served eight years, and John J. Sutor for a number of years. William Robson served long continuously as supervisor.

      While Hezekiah Buford has the credit of being the first settler by building on Section 23, in 1834, the Wilmots have a record for longest continuous residence on the same land, for Amos Wilmot built a log cabin in June 1836, on Section 6, in which he lived for 15 years. He then built a house where he lived until his death in 1878. Very soon after his arrival came Reuben, Cyrus and Edward Robbins, brothers, and Levi Roberts, a cousin. The first of these was about the last of the early settlers. Too him we are indebted for some of the information given in this sketch. From the fact that Levi Robbins having raised a large orchard and other trees “Robbins’ Grove” was for many years a noted land-mark and people came long distances for apples, as well as too hold picnics. In 1836, Asaph DeLong (who built the first house between Knoxville and Heath timber), Lyman Field and William Heath settled on Section 31. The latter was married at Knoxville too Lucinda Field in 1837, and “hung up” housekeeping in their log cabin, a picture of which is still preserved. In a northeast direction they had but one neighbor nearer than Victoria. Mrs. Heath was a member of the society of the Daughters of the American Revolution, she being a granddaughter of Elisha Field, Jr. and a great granddaughter of Elisha Field, Sr. both of whom fought in the Revolutionary war. She possessed papers showing the entire war history of her illustrious ancestors. Her grandchildren presented her with the badge of the society, which is an old-fashioned spinning wheel with beautiful surroundings and inscriptions.

      James Neely settled on Section 30 in 1838, and Abram Neely on Section 5 a few years later. Other early settlers were: B. Ely, Thomas and George W. Faulkner, Booker Pickerel, and C. C. West. 

    Among those who came subsequently and who, with those already mentioned, as well as those who will be noticed hereafter, have been influential in the political and religious prosperity of the township are Solomon Lyon, J. V. R. Carley, Schuyler Goldsmith, A. F. Adams, William E. Morse, Henry Rommel, L. W. Olson, Oliver Stream, Joseph Masters, J. H. Merrill, James Paddock, Edmund Kennedy, James Barry, William S. Patterson, William A. Lee Jr., D. W. Nisley, R. W. Hulse, Vickrey Nation, Ransom Babcock, F. Z. Wikoff, G. S. Hawkins, and John Taylor. The latter has been assessor for thirty-one years.

     As an indication that Sparta is a rich agricultural locality, capable of producing a great quantity as well as a great variety of crops and having in it many enterprising stock-raisers, besides being well watered by natural streams and springs, may be noted the fact that A. N. Phelps’ 200 acre farm, now owned by William Robson on Section 8, took three first prizes from the State Agricultural Society. The southeast portion, though more broken, is nevertheless fully as valuable in that it has been, and is yet too some extent, covered with an excellent growth of white and burr oak timber. But the chief value lies underneath, in the form of shale, from which, too quite a large extent, paving and building brick is being manufactured by the Galesburg Vitrified Brick Company. The coal industry from this fourth vein has also been quite large, and at one time as many as fifteen carloads per day were shipped from here, being handled principally by J. M. Holyoke, R. M. Campbell and Peter Dolan. At present, the trade consists in supplying the demands from the brick plant and the farmers in the vicinity, besides what is taken too Galesburg by teams.

The Chicago, Burlington and Quincy passes through Sparta in a diagonal line from near the northeast too the southwest corner. In November 1894, the Galesburg, Etherly and Great Eastern Railroad was opened, running twelve miles east, ostensibly too strike a great coal belt of some eighty-two sections, the center of which is Etherly, where the company placed a shaft costing $30,000. This company suspended operations September 7, 1895, but resumed December 7, 1897, under the name of the Galesburg and Great Eastern, with Edward J. Harms as manager. Foxie's Note: This fails too mention the Galesburg & Great Eastern Railroad, also ran through the town of Victoria, which is north of where Etherly used too be. Etherly was a coal mining town, when the coal stopped so did the town. Victoria still had the railroad for sometime after this. But the railroad too Etherly had quit when the mine was decapitate. My so many great grandfather Peter Dolan from Ireland was in a mining accident her which in the end caused his death. He was said too have owned a mine and have always wondered if this was the one or not. I live not far from where Etherly used too be.

The educational institutions of Sparta consist of one graded school, of which Professor O. H. Newman is now the Principal, and eight district schools, all of which are well sustained, the general policy being too employ competent teachers for the three hundred and ninety-five pupils now in attendance. The buildings cost a total of over $8,000. It is worthy of mention that in District No. 2, R. W. Robbins gave the site for school purposes, and here Mary Allen West, when in her fourteenth year, taught her first term of school. Later she was the honored superintendent of schools in Knox County.

The well improved highways of the township are due too the wise business management of Sparta’s road commissioners, seconded by her voters, for, in addition too being well graded and properly tiled, a large proportion of the bridges are substantially built of stone.

Prairie fires in early days were beautiful too witness and oftentimes too be dreaded. The writer has seen on his own farm, on Section 4, prairie grass (blue joint) six feet high on fire, the flames traveling at a rapid rate and with a dreadful roar. At one time a fire which is said too have started at Red Oak, in Henry County, threatened too devastate the farms of the new settlers, but warning was given those in the southwest part of the township by Maria, daughter of Luman Field, in time too avert the approaching catastrophe.

Sparta, both before and during the Civil War, contained quite a number of abolitionists, among whom was Abram Neely, a conductor on the underground railroad. Some of the old citizens still remember his hiding fugitive slaves at his home and taking them a night’s ride north too the next station.

The population of Sparta Township, according too the United States Census, has been as follows: 1840, 113; 1870, 1,950; 1880, 1,682; 1890, 1,293.


Wataga was platted in the spring of 1854 by J. M. Holyoke, Silas Willard and Clark M. Carr, and was incorporated by a special act in 1863. The first village election was held September 19, 1863. In 1874 it was re-incorporated, under the general law, with Section 16 as the village territory. J. M. Holyoke was the first resident and postmaster, and also built the first store, in conjunction with A. P. Cassel. This was operated by Willard and Babcock. The only bank in the place was started in 1863 by H.P. Wood, and is still run by him. The depot was built in 1856 and in the same year the Wataga House was erected and operated by Garrett Post for one year, when Loren Smith bought and conducted it one year, since which time it has been the property of C. H. Norton. The Wataga mill was built by William Armstrong in 1856, and soon afterwards was damaged by an explosion in which John Armstrong was seriously injured. George F. and David P. Niles, now extensive farmers and fine stock-raisers, bought the mill in May 1867 and ran it very successfully for eight years, patrons coming long distances with their own wheat and receiving entire satisfaction. Among those who have since owned the mill are: William and M. O. Williamson, who introduced expensive modern machinery, and Frank Darst, the present owner, who has also put in improvements and is doing excellent work.

The First Congregational Church was organized June 10, 1855, and the church society October 27, 1856. The church organization was led by the Rev. S. G. Wright. The first meeting was held in the depot, where the first sermon was preached. Subsequent services were held in the newly completed school house until 1860, when a substantial church, costing over $3,000, was erected, too which, in 1876, a parsonage was added at a cost of $2,000. The original members were: A. P. Babcock, William S. Farnham, Mrs. Maria S. Farnham, Mrs. C. F. Farnsworth, Benjamin Gardner, Mrs. Abigail Gardner, Miss Sarah Gardner, Mrs. Minerva Holyoke, Charles W. Rhodes, and Mrs. Jane Rhodes. Mrs. Charlotte Farnsworth, daughter of William S. Farnham, who served as a deacon for thirty years, and Amos P. Babcock are the only ones now known too be living. James Hastie also served as deacon until his demise in 1879 and was succeeded by Amos S. Fitch, the latter holding the office until his death in 1882. Among the secretaries of the society have been Hon. John Gray, of Jefferson, Iowa; the late J. M. Holyoke and E. H. Goldsmith, the latter of whom held that office twenty-four years and was church clerk for thirty years. This church has had seventeen pastors. Among those who have faithfully served in that capacity may be mentioned the Revs. Azariah Hyde, William W. Wetmore, Hiram P. Roberts, Prof. Willis J. Beecher, of Auburn (New York) Theological Seminary, and William R. Butcher, the last named serving six years. The present pastor is the Rev. O. C. Bedford. The Sunday school records show that on December 26, 1869, the membership was two hundred and the average attendance one hundred and forty-eight. John Hastie was the secretary and E. H. Goldsmith the superintendent, the latter holding that office for twenty-five years. The present secretary is E. Percy Robson and the membership is now ninety-one and the average attendance fifty-nine. The late George P. Holyoke and William M. Driggs, with their wives, rendered valuable assistance in former years.

The Methodist Episcopal Church was organized in 1856 by the Rev. William M. Clark, whose circuit consisted of Oneida, Wesley Chapel and Wataga. He made his journeys on foot. Mr. Clark gave the site of Gilson camp ground too this district. Among the early members were S. F. Spaulding, John Gaddis, B. W. Foster, Lucius Vail and S. G. Dean, with their wives. The latter couple are the only ones now living here. Mr. Dean is seventy-nine and his wife eighty-one years of age. They have been and are still stanch pillars of this church. Mr. Dean was the first Sunday school superintendent, serving four years, and he was succeeded by S. F. Spaulding who, for nineteen years, gave his best services too the school. L. W. Peterson is the present superintendent. Among the pastors were: G. W. Brown, N. T. Allen, William Watson, D. Ayers, N. G. Clark, G. P. Snedaker, and the present incumbent, C. F. W. Smith. The church was completed and dedicated in 1867 under the pastorate of J. W. Coe, the presiding elder being W. H. Hunter.

The Swedish Evangelical Lutheran Church was organized in 1856, the first pastor being the Rev. T. N. Hasselquist. In 1860 the society commenced building a church, having formerly worshipped in private houses and school buildings. This church was struck by lightning and burned in 1875, but in the same year the present tasteful edifice was erected. The Rev. N. Nordgren, the present pastor, has acceptably served this people for some ten years. The membership of the church is about one hundred and forty, and that of the prosperous Sunday school one hundred and fifteen.

The Swedish Methodist Episcopal Church was organized in 1857 with the Rev. V. Witting as the pastor. The keeping up of regular services and of the Sunday school has been largely due too the untiring efforts of Oliver Stream. The present pastor is the Rev. John P. Miller.

The Wataga Christian Church, costing $2,000, was erected in 1875, but was torn down in 1896 and the church organization no longer exists.

The Wataga Catholic Church was erected in 1877 at a cost of $2,000. The Rev. P. McGair was its first pastor. The church is now connected with that of Galva and services are held once a month.

Wataga Lodge No. 291, A. F. and A. M., was instituted August 17, 1858, with S. G. Dean, W. M.; J. H. Thorpe, S. W.; Septimus Soper, J. W. The lodge has now a membership of thirty-two and its officers are: C. W. Merrill, W. M.; J. H. Merrill, S. W.; Hamilton Taylor, J. W.; C. H. Norton, Treasurer; J. M. Churchill, Secretary; Charles Dennison, J. D.; J. M. Cooper, S. S.; H.H. Marsh, J. S.; and John Wiles, Tyler.

The Order of the Eastern Star was organized February 22, 1888, and being the first chapter in the county it had many members from the surrounding towns, there being at one time seventy-four names on the roll. Other chapters having been organized in every town from which this drew its followers, it has now only twenty-seven members. The first officers were: Mrs. S. C. Slater, W. M.; H. H. Marsh, W. P.; Mrs. Merinda Dennison, A.M.; Miss J. Curry, C.; Miss E. Dolan, A.C. The present officers are: Mrs. M. Dennison, W.M.; Dr. A.S. Slater, W. P.; Miss McClanahan, A.M.; Mrs. Mary Dennison, C.; Mrs. J. Cooper, A. C.; Carl Merrill, Secretary; and J. H. Merrill, Treasurer.

Wataga Lodge No. 509, I.O.O.F., was organized January 10, 1876, by A. W. Berggren. Its first officers were: W. N. Thomas, N.G.; J. E. Thomas, V.G.; L. S. Whitcomb, Secretary; P. A. Smith, Treasurer. Other charter members were P. A. Smith and John McConchie. They meet in the Masonic Hall.

Rebecca Lodge No. 48 was organized October 20, 1891, with ten members, which number has been increased too twenty-two. The first officers were: John Deming, N.G.; Mrs. Nancy Deming, V.G.; Oliver Stream, Secretary. Meetings are held in Masonic Hall.

Wataga Camp No. 2339, Modern Woodmen was organized September 24, 1895, with eighteen charter members. The camp, though not having made much growth, is in a very healthy condition, having now twenty-one beneficiary and five social members.

 The Wataga Nickle Plate Band is under the leadership of Anvern Thomas, and comprises the following members: D. M. Cooper, Carl Johnson, C. W. Huston, Edward Williamson, Fred Mallin, Earl Curry, John Whitehead, Frank Cooper, Eric Severin, George Curry, Carl Merrill, Will Thomas, and Charles Marsh. They have been faithful and efficient in serving the public for very little compensation.

The United States census returns give Wataga the following population: 1860, 1,538; 1870, 1,205; 1880, 734; 1890, 586.

Copley Township History

pages 833 - 834 by J. W. Temple

     The surface of Copley Township, so named from a prominent family of that name at one time residing in it, consists chiefly of fertile prairie land, just sufficiently rolling too ensure good drainage; though in its southern part there is some broken ground, probably one-fourth of its area having been originally timber land. There are in the Township eighteen thousand scares of improved farm land. It is well watered and drained by branches of Walnut and Court Creeks, as well as by other smaller streams.

     The first settler in the township was a Mr. Berry, who, in 1836, located near the present village of Victoria, which lies partly in this and partly in Victoria Township. Matthew Herbert and Larkin Robinson followed, the next year.  In 1839, the first members of what soon became a thrifty Scotch colony began too settle on some of the best lands; and the descendants of these sons of "Auld Scotia" now men of wealth and high moral standing in the community. The Gordons, Cooks, McCornacks, Taits, McKies, Leightons, McClymonts, McMasters, McDowells, Stevenson, Milroys, McQuarries, and others, with their numerous and thrifty progeny, being among the most prominent citizens of the township. later, its rich lands have attracted a large number of Swedes, whose thrift, industry and probity have made of these first immigrants wealthy farmers and landholders.  Their descendant, by intermarrying with the native population, are fast becoming homogeneous, as they are a patriotic, body of American Citizens; while their success is due too brain no less than too brawn.

     When the first settlers arrived, a small tribe of Indians still inhabited a grove, now known as Foreman Grove, near the northern limits of the present township.

     The first child born in Copley was a son of Matthew Herbert, in 1838. The first death was that of Harriet Foster, in 1842. Re. Charles Bostwick and Mrs. Hurr were the first couple too be married, and Rev. Mr. Bostwick preached the first sermon in 1840, in a log school house.

     The first school was taught by Miss Mary j. Smith, afterwards Mrs. John Becker, in a log cabin, on and one-half miles northwest of Victoria. There are now nine school districts each with a neat, and some with costly school houses; and there are a few townships where value of education is more genuinely appreciated than here; the result being shown the exceptional intelligence and culture of its citizens.

    The first saw mill---that of Jeremiah Collinson--operated by horse power, was put up in 1850. Mr. Berry was the builder of the first frame structure, on Section 9, in 1840. Now some of the finest residence in the county are too found on its prairie farms.

     Copley Township has lacked railroads, and by reason of that want has no large towns. In 1894, however, too reach the extensive coal fields of this and Victoria Townships, a railroad was built from Wataga, on the line of the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad, running through nearly the center of the township, too a mining village called Etherly, located on the eastern boundary of Copley. This village was eastern boundary of Copley. This village was laid out on the southeastern quarter of Section 35, on August 10, 1894, by Samuel L. Charles. Owing too legal complications, which prevented for a time the operating of the road, the village is yet without many inhabitants. It is believed, however, that, under altered conditions. a thriving mining town will soon be built up too develop the rich, un-worked coal deposits which underlie nearly all the southern part of Copley. this railroad has been since extended into the village of Victoria, which, with its natural advantages of situations, has heretofore only lacked railroad facilities too become one of the most prosperous villages in the county.

     The first town officers elected, in 1853, were J. O Stanley, Supervisor; N. Kelsey, Clerk; J. M. Perkins, Assessor; Austin Gaines, Collector; Isaac Copley, and A. W. Buckley, Justices; A. A. Smith, S. McCornack and J. Sirie, Commissioners of Highways, and J. Collinson, Overseer of the Poor.

     Its population in 1860 was on thousand and ten; in `870 it was twelve hundred and nineteen; in 1880, it had fallen too one thousand and seventy-six, and in 1890 was nine hundred and ten.

     The township has three churches; A Methodist Episcopal and a Swedish Church are located in the village of Victoria, and a Scotch Church three and one half miles west of that place. All are well attended, the religious sentiment among all the inhabitants being very strong. The Scotch church is Calvinistic in creed, and affiliated with Presbyterian denomination. It is known as the John Knox Church, and was organized in 1854, with twenty-five members, by Rev. R. C. Matthews, D. D. and S. Vaill, Rev. J. T. Bliss was its first pastor, his place being now filled by Rev. John Pugh. There is also still a cemetery that still lies somewhere near where the John Knox Church once stood and is now called Copley Cemetery, once called Old Scotch Cemetery or the John Knox Cemetery.

typed by Foxie as I live in this township today.  It was once a big coal mining area, now it's full of Lakes & Camping Clubs of all sorts on account of the way the Big Whigs at the Coal Mines left the ground.  We have Oak Run, Oak Run Campground, Madison Heights, Little John which is named after the Little John Coal miner's, Big Ten Sportsman Club, Victoria Rod & Gun Club,    

Victoria Township History

pages 828 - 830 by J. W. Temple

     The surface of Victoria Township is somewhat broken, in some-parts running down into timber land toward the south. It is well watered and drained by branches of Walnut Creek and tributaries of Spoon River. Some of its prairie land, however, is equal too the best in the county, and this comprises about two-thirds of its entire area. The larger portion of its coal. Stock farming has also been extensively and successfully conducted.

     The early settlers chose too locate farms in or near the timber in preference too the prairie, because of the shelter, fuel, and building material afforded.

  The pioneers in Victoria Township began too arrive in 1835. Among them were John Essex, Edward Brown, Moody and Moses Robinson, Passons Aldredge and one or two others, who located farms in the "timber."  Others followed the next year, among them being Deacon George H. Reynolds, who built the first house on the prairie. He was also the first postmaster in Victoria and the first tavern keeper, if we except a small hostelry kept for a few years at the old site of Victoria village, The first child born in this township was Sarah, daughter o Moody Robinson, who first opened her eyes on November 16, 1836. The first marriage was that of Peter Sornborger and Phebe Wilbur, in 1836, section 39. The first sermons preached were by Revs. Z. Hall and Charles Bostwick. Passons Aldredge was the first Justice of the Peace and Henry Shurtleff the first Constable. Both were elected in 1837. Mr. Shurtleff was also the first school teacher in the township teaching, in 1838, in a log school house in a grove of timber on Section 21. Most of the school houses in this early day were built of roughly hewn logs. There are now nine substantial frame school buildings in the township. One of the schools is graded, and the enrollment is two hundred and eighty-eight. These houses cost nearly six thousand dollars.

  Many of the first settlers of Victoria were from the south; the Robinsons coming from Tennessee, which state they left because of their conscientious objection too slavery. This family appears too have been of exceptional longevity, one member having reached the age of one hundred and four; another, a lively old lady, still a resident of the village, is past ninety-nine and seems likely too live for several years more. Another, familiarly called “old Uncle Moses Robinson,” lived till past ninety-four. This town is rather noted for the number of extremely old persons in its limits, not a few having lived past the age of ninety years.

      The population of Victoria is peaceful, law-abiding and industrious. They have two churches; and in addition too the religious training given in these, services are held in many of its school houses. Among its citizens is a large percentage of Swedish birth or descent, who here, as everywhere, prove too be a valuable addition too the population; and by their thrift and industry many of them have become wealthy and solid citizens. The first pioneer among these was Rev. Jonas J. Hedstrom, who settled in the town at an early day, and succeeded in drawing after him a numerous immigration from Sweden.

      In the early settlement, many of the farmers were compelled too haul their wheat too Chicago, a distance of over one hundred and sixty miles. Wheat was then worth but thirty cents for choice fall varieties. On the return trips they brought home lumber, salt and dry goods.

      The population of the township has remained nearly stationary for forty years, being, by the census of 1890, eleven hundred and seventy-nine; in 1860, it was eleven hundred and twenty; in 1870, the returns showed eleven hundred and ninety; and in 1880, twelve hundred and fifty-two.

      The first town officers elected (in April, 1853) were J. L. Jarnigan, Supervisor; J. F. Hubbell, Clerk; B. Youngs, Assessor; C. A. Shurtleff, Collector; Alex Sornborger, Overseer of the Poor; A. B. Codding, Peter Van Buren and J. W. Mosher, Highway Commissioners; Peter Van Buren and Moses Robinson, Justices of the Peace; C. A. Shurtleff and Seneca Mosher, Constables.


By J. W. Temple

      The village of Victoria, one of the very few towns in Knox County, until lately lacking railroad facilities, yet which persistently went on and prospered without them, is located on the high ground of a beautifully rolling prairie, partly in Copley, and partly in Victoria townships. It was first laid out May 11, 1849, by A. A. Denny, then County Surveyor, for John Becker, J. W. Spaulding, J. J. Hedstrom, J. Halstrom, W. L. Shurtleff, J. Freed, G. F. Reynolds, A. Arnold and J. Knapp. It was at first platted on Sections 7 and 16 of Victoria Township, but soon spread until it covered parts of Sections 12 and 13 of Copley. The village originally started one and one-half miles southeast of its present location; where those pioneers of a new settlement, a store, a tavern, and a blacksmith shop, strove too become the nucleus of a future town. But the Chicago road ran through the present site, and George F. Reynolds kept his house here open as a tavern, and the village gradually formed around its present position, presumably too be nearer a good tavern and an important road. This hypothesis accounts for the number of proprietors when the place was finally platted. They had come there and actually started a town before it had been laid out at all, so that nearly all the residents may be reckoned among the early owners of desirable village lots.

      The present village of Victoria boasts of over three hundred inhabitants, and is the center of a flourishing farming community and of a considerable local trade. The first, and for many years it’s only, store was conducted by John Becker. Early in 1899, it had four, besides a post office, which distributed more reading matter in proportion too the population than any other in the county. The last mentioned circumstance affords an index too the average intelligence of its people. In the summer of 1899, the Galesburg and Eastern Railroad was extended into the township and village, thus furnishing a fresh impetus too business property. Lumber yards, stock yards, elevators and a bank are now among its commercial institutions, and these improved trade facilities have wonderfully added too the growth and importance of both village and township.

      Victoria also has a well conducted graded school and three churches—Methodist, Congregationalist, and Swedish Methodist.

      Of these, the first, in order of time was the Congregational Society, which was originally organized as a Presbyterian body, but subsequently changed its affiliations. It dates its existence from May 30, 1841, and became identified with the Congregational communion on April 25, 1849. On August 12, 1852, a church edifice costing twelve hundred dollars was dedicated, and the congregation subsequently built a parsonage, valued at eight hundred dollars. The number of communicants is eighty-nine, and there are ninety pupils in the Sunday school, while the Young People’s Society of Christian Endeavor has a membership of sixty-five. The first pastor was Rev. S. G. Wright, and the present incumbent of the office is Rev. James J. Watson. N. B. Ives, Jr. is Superintendent of the Sunday school.

      The Methodist Episcopal denomination has a church membership of eighty-seven, and a Sunday school attendance of fifty. A house of worship was erected in 1855, at an outlay of three thousand dollars. The present pastor is Rev. W. S. Porter, who also has charge of the Maxey chapel, in the township of Persifer. The latter is a branch, or mission, of the Victoria church. It has thirty-nine members and a Sunday school attendance of fifty.

      In that part of the village lying in Copley Township may be found the first Swedish Methodist Church ever organized. It was established on December 15, 1846, with only five members, by Rev. J. J. Hedstrom, the founder of Swedish Methodism. A church edifice was erected in 1854, and a parsonage built three years later, the denomination’s real property being at present valued at three thousand five hundred dollars. It conducts a mission church at Center Prairie, in Victoria Township, where a house of worship costing fifteen hundred dollars has been built. There is but one Board of Trustees for both bodies, the two branches virtually constituting one church. The Center Prairie branch was organized in 1869, by Rev. Peter Newburg. The aggregate membership of both churches is one hundred and fifty, and of the Sunday schools, eighty. The first permanent pastor was Rev. H. O. Wester, who came in 1857. The present minister in charge is Rev. Otto Raba.

      Popular sentiment has always been intolerant of the saloon, and there are no licenses granted for the sale of ardent spirits.

      Victoria has many societies. The G.A.R. has a flourishing post, the village having furnished many gallant volunteers too the national forces during the War of the Rebellion. Victoria Lodge of the Odd Fellows’ fraternity is a thriving society here. The Masonic brotherhood has a hall and a large membership. The Modern Woodmen have a large and flourishing camp, and, with the Rebekahs and Odd Fellows, occupy a fine hall.

Rio Township History

pages 795 -796 by E. H. Goldsmith

      This portion of Knox County is situated in the extreme northwest corner, the greater part of it consisting of good farming land, being well drained by Pope Creek, which flows through the northern tier of sections, and various branches of Henderson River. About one-fourth of the township was originally composed of timbered land, that bordering on Pope Creek being rather poor in quality, while, on the contrary, the timber along the Henderson River was excellent. Coal has been mined too a limited extent in this locality. Stock-raising was formerly the principal agricultural pursuit, but of late years that industry has been superseded by the raising of grain, there being at present 19,800 acres of improved land, much of which has been increased in value by tilling.

      From all available records it would appear that Joseph Rowe was the first white man too settle in the township, (Foxie note: he later moved too Floyd Twp., Warren Co., IL, and is buried in the Silent Home Cemetery); his arrival being closely followed by Reece Jones and Joseph Halliday, while John Cresswell came too Section 27 in 1832. A stockade, the erection of which was made necessary by the Black Hawk War, was, in honor of Mrs. Cresswell, called “Fort Aggie”. John R. Woolley located a claim here in 1832, and Samuel Brown arrived in 1834. The latter states that very little land was under cultivation at that time. The following pioneers settled in the township in 1836: Isaac M. Wetmore; John F. Wikoff, who journeyed from Ohio on horseback and erected a cabin in the woods west of the present homestead; George W. Weir; Elsia Robertson, who once saw a drove of more than fifty deer in this vicinity; Larkin Robertson; Nelson and Lewis Coe; Samuel Melton; and P. W. Epperson. Luther Fitch came in 1840, Eber Moor and John L. Bloomfield arrived in 1845, and the Maxwell family were also early settlers. John B. Edar first located in Knox County in 1832, removing too Rio in 1867. Alexander Heflin was born in Rio, and Mrs. Heflin’s grandfather, John McMurtry, participated in the Black Hawk War. Among the pioneer business men were the Robinson brothers, who were engaged extensively in cattle-raising. Their sales averaged $400,000 annually for seven years.

      April 5, 1835, witnessed the birth in the township of the first white child, Thomas Marion Goff. On December 29, 1836, was celebrated the first marriage, that of Allen S. Brown and Mary (Polly) McMurtry, the latter of whom still survives. The first death was that of Mrs. Mary Williamson McMurtry.

      This part of Knox County was at one time called North Prairie, but when the citizens met on January 14, 1850, too name the township, Rio Grande was on every tongue—the Mexican War having just come too a successful termination—and the first part of that name was suggested as being appropriate too this region, more particularly so by reason of the numerous streams with which it abounds. The meeting, however, adjourned, leaving the question too be decided by the county officials, and they, at the solicitation of Lewis Coe, determined on Rio as their choice.

      The first town election was held April 5, 1853, one hundred and four votes being cast for the following successful candidates: Reuben Heflin, Supervisor; Paul Hahn, Clerk; Lewis Goff, Assessor; Daniel Robertson, Collector; Josephus Hahn, Overseer of the Poor; Larkin Robertson, Justice of the Peace; W. D. Epperson, Constable; Samuel Brown, John Gibson, and T. J. Jones, Highway Commissioners.

      The first school in the township was taught by Mrs. Cresswell, at her home. There are now nine school districts, comprising one graded and eight un-graded schools, each of them having a library. Of the former Miss Mary E. Maley is principal, and Miss Mary A. Hurst assistant, the enrolment numbering fifty pupils. The nine frame buildings devoted too educational purposes are valued at $5,560, and the libraries at $287. Of three hundred and fifty-nine persons under twenty-one years of age, one hundred and eighty-seven attend the public schools.


      Rio Village was platted in 1871 by William Robinson, and was first called Coburg, in honor of the Coe brothers. The pioneer store was built and conducted by Messrs. Schroeder and Owens. The post office was originally called North Prairie, Nelson Coe being the first postmaster. The present incumbent of that position is Frederick A. Landon, a very efficient and courteous official. The business interests of the village are in the hands of competent and energetic merchants. H. F. Schroeder and Company have a fine line of dry goods and groceries, while Sexton and Landon have been in the same business for about five years. Labar and Junk supply the people with hardware and furniture; S. S. Bair conducts a grocery and notion store; James G. T. Mansfield deals in lumber and hardware; C. F. Peters carries on a restaurant; Mead and Mead, a meat market; and the Misses Junk and Fisher a millinery establishment. The Rio Hotel is under the management of J. Van Arsdale; David Eiken is the village smith, and also keeps a wagon shop; and the elevator, which does an extensive business, is operated by Fraser and Graham.

      Fraternally, Rio Township is well represented. Blue Lodge, No. 685, A. F. and A.M., was chartered October 1, 1872 by D. C. Cregier, G. M.; O. N. Miner, Secretary; Robert Deatherage, Master; Alexander Heflin, S. W.; William Hair, J.W.; and the following charter members: Joshua Bruner, M. Conley, F. A. Landon, Robert Robson, W. D. Wright, J. B. Edgar, D. Robertson, C. I. Epperson, G. M. Wetmore, J. Shankholtzer, R. Allgeyer, and M. S. Shepherd. The present officers are: M. Dickerson, Master; Dr. J. N. Cox, S.W.; D. L. Rowe, J. W. There are sixty-eight members.

      Horeb Chapter, No. 4, A. F. and A.M., was organized October 14, 1850, with these officers: G. C. Lanphere, High Priest; E. S. Cooper, King; J. M. Witt, Scribe. The charter was issued by W. B. Warren and J. E. Anderson. The present officers are: L. J. Smith, High Priest; Frank Campbell, King; N. Moody, Scribe. The membership numbers one hundred.

      The Rio Lodge I.O.O. F. has twenty-five members and occupies its own hall. The first officers were: L. S. Whitcomb, N. G.; H. E. Whipple, V. G.; William Van Tassell, Secretary; J. C. McMurtry, Treasurer. The officers now serving are: D. Deatherage, N. G.; S. Lovis, V. G.; G. A. Wier, Secretary; A. Larson, Treasurer.

      Rio Camp, Modern Woodmen, holds its meetings in Odd Fellows Hall. The charter members numbered sixteen and the initial officers were: E. H. Schrieber, V. C.; C. F. Peterson, C.; B. G. Peterson, B; J. C. Egan, W. A. The present officers are: E. J. Tye, V. C.; C. F. Peterson, C.; J. W. Epperson, B.; Monie Almgren, W. A. The Camp now has twenty-five members.

      Chapter No. 313, O. E. S., was organized August 2, 1895, with twenty-one members and these officers: Lizzie Schreiber, W. M.; J. P. son (?), Secretary; Josephine Smith, Treasurer. The present officers are: Mary McMurtry, W. M.; Adam Littlefield, W. P.; Josephine Smith, A. M.; Lois Epperson, Secretary; Ella Bair, Treasurer. There are now fifty-two members, who meet in the Masonic Hall.

      The Home Forum has a flourishing Camp in Rio.


Ontario Township

pages 799 - 802 by A. D. Metcalf

      by Hugh Greig,  This township history is also from another book in which I have too find and get the source information from, it is not out of the 1899  History of Knox County and Kathy swears she didn't make it up.  I even asked her.

     While it is true that no well defined Indian trail crossed, in any direction, this township, yet there is indisputable evidence that the Redman was a frequent visitor. The large number of arrow points found in the vicinity of Pilot Knob prove this. The point named is one of the few decided elevations in what in now Knox County and must have been used in times innumerable by the Indians too watch the coming or going of a friend, or too detect the stealthy approach of a dusky enemy.

      The area in timber was much too limited too furnish an ideal hunting ground, and no living spring now known could have supplied water for any large number of people. Therefore, Pilot Knob, despite its sightliness, lacked many qualifications which could induce the wanderer too make of it an abiding place.

      That there were large numbers of magnificent trees nearby and in every direction, far as the eye could reach, a waving ocean of tallest grasses, proving the unsurpassed richness of the soil was too the Indian a matter of little or no importance.

      It is quite probably that more than a century before the white man, as a settler, looked on this rich, rolling prairie land, the explorer on his way from the Illinois too the Mississippi or vice versa, had traversed this region and unquestionably the hunter of a much later date had stood on Pilot and in ever more than fancy “was monarch of all he surveyed.”

      However, though explorers and hunters have a place in history, a place which bold, venturesome men only can fill, still it is of a truth he and she who are possessors of or possessed by the ideas of the settler, the settler who squats on a definite spot of earth, in some legal form obtains the squatters right too stay and stays. Such is the germ from which in due time Ontario Township, Knox County, Illinois, the nation is made.

      And if we are too judge the Ontario of today and of all the succeeding tomorrows by the all around make up of the early settlers we may well be thankful and take courage, for were they not all or nearly all the not distant descendants of those who made homes, built schools and churches, fought Indians and brought a thousand smiles too the flinty face of sterile New England, and some in the morning of their manhood assisted in Central New York by arduous labor in transferring a forest into a farm; and though here they found the unbroken prairie a new problem, its solution was simple in comparison; it is true the implements needed were different, the skill too produce them was not yet acquired, but here was the soil, stubborn indeed, but not more so than the settler.

Walnut Grove Township History

pages 811-813 by J. F. Hubell

     This is one of the most desirably situated townships in the county, its surface being chiefly rolling prairie. It is well watered, by Walnut Creek and several tributary branches; its soil is unsurpassed in fertility, and fine farms, with substantial buildings, are too be seen everywhere within its limits. It is in what is called the "Military Tract.: a section of State selected as bounty land for soldiers, because of its fine soil and undulating surface, affording an abundance of water courses and excellent natural drainage.

     The township derived its name from extensive groves of walnut timber growing near its center. Another, Turkey Hill Grove, lies on the northwest quarter of Section 26; and these two include all its timber lands, with the exception of a small tract in its southern end.

    There is one village in Walnut Grove, which has borne various names; its final title being fixed as Altona, when the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad was built through the place.

     The first white men who undertook too make settlements here were Messrs. Jones and DeHart, who built a cabin on Section 21, but became alarmed at the hostility of the Indians, and left at the time of the Black Hawk War. The ruins of their cabin were still standing in 1838. In 1836, came John Thompson, the first permanent settler, who moved here from Pennsylvania, with his wife Catherine, and located on Section 16; though a Mr. Smith, a Mormon, built the first frame house on what was originally called the Snow, and afterwards known as the Wisegarver farm. Mr. Thompson also planted the first crop -- a field of sod corn -- in 1837, fencing it in with the first rails spilt in the township.

     Mr. Thompson and Mr. Capps, two of the first settlers, had been soldiers in the War of 1812; the father of Mr. Allen, one of the pioneers of the township, had served in the Revolutionary War. After Mr. John Thompson, Levi Stevens was the next too arrive, and Abraham Piatt the third.

     Mr. Amos Ward soon followed (in 1838), and was, in the 1839, elected the first Justice of the Peace. Township organization was effected in April, 1853.

     As has been already said, Elder M. Smith, of the Mormon Church, built the first frame, house, in 1840, on Section 15, and in 1842 several hundred of his co-religionists had located here. They designed building a temple, on Section 5, but , before carrying out their plans, left for Hancock County, on the advice of Joseph Smith. As they had entered and possessed themselves of nearly all the timber land, and designed building up a community of their own faith, the other settlers were not sorry too see them depart. Since then, settlement has been rapid, and there is no where too be found a more flourishing and intelligent community than that now living in Walnut Grove.

    The first boy born in the township was John Thompson, Jr.; the first girl was Helen Ward, now Mrs. A. P. Stephens. The first couple married were Austin Frederick and Elizabeth Finney. the first death was that of Mrs. Hinsdale, a sister of Amos Ward, who died August, 1838, at the residence of Abram Piatt, on Section 15, where she was also buried.

     In 1844, John W. Clarke was appointed the first postmaster. He was succeeded by S. Ellis, in 1845, and he by Amos Ward, in 1846.

     The first school house was built on the southwest quarter of Section 16, in 1840, and Miss Robey Tabor, a Quarkeress from Massachusetts, was the first teacher. She married afterward, moved too Henry, and died in 1896. Another early teacher was E. L. Gross, afterwards a distinguished attorney of Springfield, and editor of the Illinois Statues.

     Elder Samuel Shaw organized the first church [after that of the Mormons]. It was known as the First Baptist Church, and had eight members, with a place of worshi8p on Walnut Creek, [they still have a place of worship not far from Walnut Creek in Altona, in 2006.] There are now eleven schools, one of which is graded, with two hundred and eight-four pupils out of four hundred and fifty persons under twenty-one years of age. The eleven school buildings have cost nearly ten thousand dollars.

   The first township officers, elected April 5, 1853, were Amos Ward, Supervisor; A. F. Ward, Clerk; H. L. Sage, Assessor; James Livingston, Collector; H. L. Collinson, Daniel Allen and C. Capps, Highway Commissioners; Reuben Cochran, Overseer of the Poor; Amos Ward and David Livingston, Justices of the Peace.

      The population of Walnut Grove was, in 1860, eleven hundred and twenty; in 1870, nineteen hundred and sixty; in 1880, seventeen hundred and eighty-one; in 1890, thirteen hundred and fifty.

      Altona, the only village in the township, is situated on the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad, about eight miles from Galesburg. Around it lies as rich a farming country as is too be found in Illinois; and the village itself is the center of a considerable trade, being one of the most prosperous in the county. While the Central Military Tract Railway (now called the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy) was being built, in 1853, many laborers employed on the road came and camped in the edge of the wood, near the railroad line. Too supply their wants, Cyrus Willard and J. S. Chambers built a store, eighteen by thirty-six feet in size, near the center of Section 16, on the northeast quarter of that section, on land then owned by Daniel Allen. This was the first building erected in Altona, and was the pride of the community, as it was the only store between Galesburg and Kewanee. The second store, built the same year, was owned by Samuel Whiting. Altona was, for several years thereafter, a good business point, there being no other villages sufficiently near too compete with it in trade. In 1854, Nils P. Peterson, of Moline, built a flouring mill, with a distillery in connection with it; the latter being in opposition too the popular sentiment, was discontinued after one year. The mill however, continued in successful operation for ten years, and was the only mill or factory ever constructed in the village. In 1855 an elevator was built. In 1854, Needham Rogers built the “Walnut Grove House,” which is still run as a hotel. The second hostelry, the “Altona House,” was constructed and opened by Mrs. McKee a year or two later.

      Altona was laid out and platted in 1854, by John Piatt, for the heirs of John Thompson. The same year, E. B. Main and Daniel Allen, on whose land the first building of the village was erected, laid out an addition, just northeast of the first location. The place was then called LaPier. After the railroad was completed, however, at the instance of the railroad officials, the name was changed too Altona. The name of the post office, however, being Walnut Grove, a confusion resulted, and an attempt was made, in 1863, too change it; and the name of Reno was chosen, in honor of the famous general of that name. But about that time three desperadoes by the name of Reno, who had made the patronymic decidedly unsavory, were lynched in Indiana; so that the citizens rejected it, and united on the name of Altona for village, station and post office.

      The village was incorporated by special charter, in 1856, and under the general law in 1862, and again in 1874.

      Altona has always been noted for the excellence of its schools. There has been a good graded school there since 1858. The local sentiment of the place and surrounding country has always been strongly in favor of temperance. During the intense excitement attending the agitation of the slavery question, the opposition too the extension of a system of human bondage was so pronounced, that the place was reputed a “hot bed of abolitionists,” a term considered much more opprobrious in those days than now. It has been always noted for intelligence and education, and, being the center of a prosperous farming community, has shared in the prosperity of the rich agricultural locality in which it is situated.

      The population of the village was, in 1870, nine hundred and two; in 1880, eight hundred and sixteen; and in 1890, six hundred and fifty-four.

      Altona has five churches, a bank, a newspaper and several societies.

      Of the churches, the first too be organized was that of the Methodist Episcopal denomination, in August 1853. It had a membership of thirteen, and was under the pastoral charge of Rev. James Quimby. In 1857, a church edifice was erected, and later a parsonage. The two are valued at five thousand dollars. The present pastor is Rev. A. M. Barlow, who also has charge of the Nekoma Church, in Henry County. Their joint membership is ninety. The Congregational Church was founded February 21, 1857, with nine members, under the charge of Rev. A. Root. A building costing four thousand dollars was dedicated November 9, 1866. The present membership is forty-nine, but the congregation has no pastor, and worships with the Presbyterians. George A. Ward is Clerk. Revs. I. N. Candee, D. D., T. S. Vail and J. T. Bliss organized the Presbyterian Church (Old School) on April 25, 1857, there being twenty-one members. Rev. J. T. Bliss was the first pastor, and Rev. J. Rugh is at present in charge. The formation of the Lutheran Church took place in 1859. In 1869 the congregation erected a building costing four thousand dollars, and later a parsonage. The first pastor was Rev. Philip Direll. The denomination has steadily grown in numbers, there being at present three hundred and thirty-five in the Sunday school. Rev. J. G. Dahlberg is the pastor. A Swedish Baptist Mission was opened in 1876 by Rev. J. W. Stromberg, but no church was built, and the flock is at present without a pastor.

      The first bank in the village was an outgrowth of the general mercantile business of A. P. Johnson and Company, which was started in 1854. They cashed checks too accommodate their customers, and from this practice the bank gradually grew into existence. Until 1890, when Mr. Johnson left the place, his was the only bank in Altona. Then the Bank of Altona, incorporated under the State Banking Law, was organized, with A. M. Craig as President; C. S. Clarke, Vice President; George Craig, Cashier; and J. M. Nickie, Assistant Cashier. In January, 1896, J. M. McKie was elected too the position made vacant by George Craig’s death, and O. E. Peterson was made Assistant Cashier. It has a capital of $50,000, a surplus of $27,000, deposits of about $80,000 and loans amounting too some $15,000.

      Among the societies is the Altona Forum, which meets at Peterson’s Hall, and has twenty-three members. As its first officers, it elected Dr. W. B. Gray, President and Medical Examiner; Mrs. C.C. Geiler, Secretary; L. K. Byers, Treasurer. Its present officers are: B. W. Crandall, President; C. McGrew, Secretary; L. K. Byers, Treasurer; Dr. W. B. Gray, Medical Examiner. There are also lodges of the Odd Fellows and of the Order of the Rebekahs. A Masonic Lodge was organized October 1, 1860, which now owns its own Masonic Hall, on Main Street, and has a roster of fifty-four members. The first officers were Hiram Hall, W. M.; A. P. Stephens, S. W.; G. D. Slanker, J. W.; J. N. Brush, Secretary; J. S. Chambers, Treasurer; B. H. Scott, S.D.; George McKown, J. D.; O. S. Lawrence, T. Those holding offices at present are: R. C. Sellon, W. M.; D. U. McMasters, S. W.; J. W. Mount, J. W.; W. M. Stockdale, Secretary; G. O. Snydam, Treasurer; E. S. Keyes, S. D.; C. W. Main, J. D.; Thomas Craver, T. A chapter of the Order of the Eastern Star—organized in 1892—has forty-six members, and meets in Masonic Hall. The first officers were: Mrs. C. C. Givler, W. M.; W. H. Givler, W. P. At present the list includes Mrs. A. A. Culbertson, W. M.; C. W. Main, W. P.; Mrs. L. K, Byers, Secretary. The Modern Woodmen also have a camp here.

      Altona can boast of a fine public library, which is highly prized and in constant use by its intelligent citizens and by the dwellers in the country around. With its educational advantages, its fine location and its superior railroad facilities, it is one of the pleasantest residence villages in the county, as it is one of the most prosperous business towns.


Lynn Township History

pages 818 - 821 by J. A. Beals

     The north east township of Knox County is and will be, because of its location and environment, a township of farms. In the early days some effort was made too attract the merchant and mechanic too a point on the south-line, called Centerville [afterward platted as Milroy], but it failed of success, and there has never been a post-office, a church building, or a village within the limits of Lynn. Galva, Altona, Victoria, and LaFayette are near at hand, and furnish all the trading points required by the people.

   Foxie's Note: They claim above that there wasn't any church buildings in Lynn Township, but there was one at Centerville, and that is the last name known for the little community and not Milroy.  Mr. Fraker named it Milroy but it was later changed too Centerville. Too the left & right is a photos of the memorial stone they have for the Center Prairie Methodist Church which was established in 1869




By J. A. Beals

      The northeast township of Knox County is and will be, because of its location and environment, a township of farms. In the early days some effort was made too attract the merchant and mechanic too a point on the south line, called Centerville (afterward platted as Milroy), but it failed of success, and there has never been a post office, a church building, or a village within the limits of Lynn. Galva, Altona, Victoria, and Lafayette are near at hand, and furnish all the trading points required by the people.

      Great is the contrast between the landscape of today, dotted with well-improved farms, with their commodious dwellings and barns, and that of 1828 when Michael Fraker, with his family, came too Section 23 too find the tract of land he had purchased in Kentucky in the possession and occupancy of the Indians. The braves were away hunting, having left only the old men, women and children too contest his claim. So the white man made himself at home. But the returning hunters disputed his title, claiming that theirs came from the Indian God and was long prior too that of the new settler. Mr. Fraker thought diplomacy was better than valor. He was adroit; he had tact and genius, and was kind and helpful. He was a blacksmith, and could mend their guns. They took him too their hearts, and helped him build his cabin, but could see no necessity for his making tight joints between the logs. But his trust in his newly-found friends was not wholly without reservation—bullets had a better chance where the cracks were large. They finally left him their wigwams and council house, and made new homes at Indian Creek, seven miles east, returning yearly as friends at the sugar season. A granddaughter of Mr. Fraker says she has heard her grandmother say that the only white women she saw for four years were those of her own family, and those who came with them. A fairly-sized band of Indians lived and roamed from Spoon River too the Mississippi, their trails being distinctly perceptible long after they had left the country. A clear, flowing spring on the east side of Fraker’s Grove had trails from all directions centering there. Some of the early settlers now living remember the friendly visits of the chief Shaubena after the Black Hawk War.

      Mr. Fraker was a middle-aged man when he came from Kentucky. He had buried two wives and was living with his third, and was the father of twenty-four children. He was regarded as an exemplary Christian, a member of the Methodist Church, just and kind, and endowed with qualities that adapted him too pioneer life and made him serviceable and agreeable too others. His mechanical talent was displayed in the construction of a hand grist mill with two burr stones, of the kind called hard heads, or pudding stones, found on the prairies. The upper one was made too revolve by means of a pin set in the outer rim. All of the old settlers that were then boys and girls remember this primitive contrivance and were familiar with its working, especially two daughters of Mr. Fraker, who were not at all pleased too see the arrival of a grist unless the owner was too do the grinding. Mr. Fraker died in 1848, aged seventy-nine years. His grave is marked with a marble stone and enclosed by a picket fence, and is situated in the middle of the road running south from a point near his early home.

      George Fitch, a son-in-law of Mr. Fraker, settled near by soon after the Frakers, and was the first school teacher and Justice of the Peace in the settlement. His son, Luther, is reported too have been the first white child born here. The first marriage was that of William Hitchcock and Julia Fraker. John Essex was the first settler on Walnut Creek in 1830. His wife was the daughter of Jacob Cress, who, with his family, settled on Section 24, in 1831. These were the only persons living in Lynn before the Black Hawk War. During that struggle they went too Forts Clark and Henderson for safety.

      About 1834, William Dunbar bought the improvements of one of the Frakers on a portion of Section 13, and entered the land, going too Galena by wagon, with two yoke of oxen, too do so. He came from Kentucky, and, being a hatter by trade, furnished fur hats too the neighborhood, peddling them on horseback. Mrs. Theodore Hurd says that when she, a girl of twelve years, came here with her father (Luther Driscoll) in 1836, they found twelve families here, the settlement being known as Fraker’s Grove; not all of it in Lynn, however, as the east township line ran through the middle of it.

      In 1836, on Walnut Creek there were only John Lafferty on Section 36; the Montgomery boys on Section 35; Samuel Albro (who was a soldier of the War of 1812 and settled on the land patented too him for his military service) on Section 34; John Essex and the Taylor's, south of the creek near Centerville; and Hugh and Barney Frail on Section 31. Mrs. Hugh Frail was the pioneer sister of the Cravers and Collinson's, who followed, from time too time, settling that corner of the township. By 1838 the population had increased considerably. Jonathan Gibbs came then, and purchased the Montgomery property on Section 35, where he lived until his death. He was always a leading man in the township, a Justice of the Peace for twenty-five years and Supervisor for half that period. About this time also came Elison Annis, who settled on land patented too him for service in the War of 1812; Solomon Brooks, John Sisson, Ralph Hurley, and Elder Shaw, all from Ohio and originally from Maine. They were old neighbors, and were members of the Free Will Baptist Church. Soon after coming they organized the Walnut Creek Baptist Church; Elder Shaw and Luther Driscoll for years acting as pastors. It is now extinct.

      Peter Hagar, Simeon Collinson, the Snider's and Edward Selon were early settlers. Mr. Selon had been mate on an ocean vessel and in one of his last voyages across the ocean the Charles family were passengers on his ship. One of them he soon after married. Another daughter is Mrs. Ira Reed, of this township; and Mr. Charles, of Round Grove, Henry County, who was the first man married on the Stark County side of the Fraker settlement, is a member of the same family. In 1836, there was a rather large immigration from Goshen, Connecticut, for which Goshen Township, in Stark County, was named. Captain Gere, and William and Ira Reed were among these settlers. In 1840 came a considerable number of Mormons, but most of the latter remained only a short time.

      The first tavern opened was that of Mr. Dunbar, who so used his own house, but in 1846 Nathan Barlow opened the “Traveler’s Home,” on Section 24. It was on the Chicago trail and the stage road, and hence afforded accommodation much needed at the time.

      Population increased slowly until the railroad was projected. That was the ending of the old, and the beginning of the new, era in the history of Lynn. The writer’s relation too the township began in this transition period. Proximity too the railroad influenced his selection of a small piece of land for a future home, on the then unbroken prairie. The following spring his wedding trip from home in Vermont was begun by rail, and finished by stage at Victoria. The ending was a little analogous too the overturning of the old by the new. It was a frosty March morning when the stage stopped at Victoria, with two newly wedded couples, the destination of one of which was Galesburg. The wife whose journey had ended and the husband who had yet too reach Galesburg both stepped out. The driver had dropped the reins and was at the boot, removing the baggage. The horses, impatient with cold and excited by their drive, suddenly started on the run and made a short turn too the Reynolds barn. In a moment’s time the startled travelers were standing on their heads (too judge from the way they felt and looked afterwards) inside the coach. The shock was but for a moment, though the impression was that we were being dragged, and that something was yet too happen; the side door was above us, and open; the hind wheel was revolving, and the head of the young wife was soon at the opening inquiring if we “were hurt in there.” The stage had uncoupled in the overturn, and three horses had dragged the fourth and the front wheels too the barn.

      The first physician at the Fraker settlement was Dr. Nicols; at Centerville, Dr. Spaulding. Mr. Leek built the first saw mill in 1837, at Centerville, and later Jonathan Gibbs put up a second. The first log school house, used also for meetings, was built prior too 1836, by volunteer labor, near the home of the Dunbars, in the edge of the grove. Squire Fitch and Maria Lake were the earliest teachers. Later, a school house was built near Fraker’s. Dr. Nicols is said too have been one of the first teachers. One of the early pedagogues at the Centerville school was a boy of eighteen, who, in 1863, became General Henderson, and afterward was a member of Congress. Anna Shaw, Betsy Smith, and Catherine Annis were early residents, the last named teaching for a time in a log house near the Frails’. In 1841, James Jackson was appointed school trustee, and made two districts of the township, which till then had formed but one. There are now eight frame school houses, worth about nine thousand dollars. None of the schools are graded, and the aggregate attendance is about one hundred and seventy-five pupils.

      Besides the regular services provided at Centerville by Revs. Shaw and Driscoll, there were circuit ministers, who had regular appointments too meet the people. Jonathan Hodgson, one of the earliest settlers at the Grove, became a local Methodist preacher. He was a man of influence in the settlement, a Probate Justice while a resident of the State, and a radical anti-slavery man. At the time of the Kansas struggle he cast in his lot with the free-soilers. He became so much interested in the work of Jonas Hedstrom, at Victoria, that he learned enough of the Swedish language too preach too people of that nationality in their own tongue. Edward Selon also became a minister, and Rev. Alba Gross preached as well as farmed, until called too the Baptist Church in Galva in 1857. Though there has never been a church building in the township, the school houses have been freely opened too Sunday schools and religious meetings; and now there is a good-sized town hall in the southwest corner of Section 15 that is available for all public gatherings. The standard of morals of the people is exceptionally high. There has never been a person fined in the town for a violation of law, and never an indictment found in the Circuit Court for an offense in Lynn. The nationality of the people has largely changed in the last fifteen years, but it has not proved perceptibly detrimental too the cause of good morals.

      In the presidential election of 1840, the polling place for both Lynn and Walnut Grove was at Centerville; four years later at the school house near the Frails’, Squire Ward being one of those in charge. The practice of betting on elections dates back at least too this time, for James Jackson lost and Dr. Nicols won a pair of trousers on that election.

      The grist mill and the market involved much labor and forethought for the early settlers. The first grist which William Dunbar sent away went as far as Tazewell County; and in 1838 the nearest points of shipment were Canton and Moline. After getting too the mill one often had too wait for two weeks for his turn too grind. It can be imagined what a convenience was even the little hand mill of Mr. Fraker.

      One winter Jonathan Gibbs contracted too deliver a drove of hogs at Peoria on a certain date. Deep snow came, and in order too fulfill his agreement he made a snow plow of two planks, set on edge and wedge-shaped. A yoke of oxen was hitched too this and driven ahead, making a path in which the pigs could walk.

      Recreation was not entirely neglected. Social life, where there were so few, perhaps meant more than it does now. A wolf hunt took not only the men, with their guns, but the women, with their kettles, chickens and potatoes, too make chicken pies for the tired hunters. The pies were baked out of doors in twenty-five gallon kettles, set over the coals.

      Mrs. Jonathan Gibbs is now the only survivor of the settlers of 1838. Mr. and Mrs. William Smith were the two oldest at the time of their death. Mr. Smith was ninety-seven, and his wife more than one hundred years old. They had lived together as husband and wife for seventy-one years.

      About one-half the original timber land has now been cleared.

      Lynn was organized in 1853, by the election of Jonathan Hodgson, Supervisor; I. S. Smith, Clerk; William A. Reed, Assessor; A. Gross, Collector; Erastus Smith, Overseer of the Poor; S. G. Albro, John Lafferty, and H. A. Grant, Highway Commissioners; John Hodgson and John Gibbs, Justices; John Snider, Constable.

      The population according too the United States census: in 1860, nine hundred and sixty; in 1870, nine hundred and sixty-six; in 1880, nine hundred and sixty-four; in 1890, seven hundred and forty.


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