Annuals of Knox County, Illinois

typed by Ann Maxwell the whole book for publishing here at American History & Genealogy Project

 

INDIAN POINT TOWNSHIP
By George L. Hagan

Every intelligent and patriotic citizen manifests a pardonable pride in the achievements and progress made in this great state during the past century. To understand these and appreciate them fully, a man must know something of the history of his town, county and state. The origin of the different races of people, who inhabited this country prior to the coming of the white man, has always been a debatable question. Too many there is a striking similarity between the facial features of the Oriental type of mankind and the American Indian. This similarity has lead them to believe that the Indian is of Oriental parentage. Still there are others, who see peculiarities in his physical structure that preclude the American Indian from common parentage with the rest of mankind. In the absence of either history or tradition, archaeologists have advanced many plausible theories relative to the prehistoric races that inhabited this country prior to its discovery in 1492. Discussion of the question of their origin seldom enlightens and frequently confuses. There is, however, one point, upon which all agree, and it is the fact that when Columbus landed on the shores of America, he found the Indians in undisputed possession of the continent.


Early events, affecting this locality, transpired long before Indian Point Township, or Knox County or even the State of Illinois assumed its present boundary. History records the fact that as early as 1673, the Indians had well established trails running diagonally across Knox County, the oldest, and perhaps the most important of which was the one leading from the Mississippi River near Keokuk, to La Salle on the Illinois River. This trail passed where Abingdon is located. There can be but little doubt that this trail followed the same public highway now entering that city from the southwest and extending in a northeasterly direction. It is believed by many that it is the trail traveled by Father Marquette, a Jesuit missionary, on his occasional visits to the Indians of this section of Illinois in 1673. It is said “History hold in her iron hand no more picturesque story than these trails could reveal were their guarded secrets known.”


While the pioneer settlers in Indian Point encountered no Indians, they found many traces of their occupancy. The remains of the wigwams, axes, spears and arrow points, gave evidence that Indian Point was once their “happy hunting ground.”
History records the fact that Azel Dorsey came to this township in 1829. To him is given the honor of being the first white man to enter Indian Point for settlement. He came from Cedar, and remained but a few years. The first permanent settlement in Indian Point was made on Section 16 in 1833, by John B. Latimer, who came with his family from Tennessee. The following year came John H. Lomax and Stephen Howard of Kentucky, John Howard, Isaac and Alexander Latimer and John Crawford. In 1835, Daniel Meek and John Killiam settled in Indian Point. The former purchased the home of Alexander Latimer. This farm lies just east of the Indian Point School, and has for generations been known as “the Meek farm.”


Among the list of early settlers in Indian Point, who came shortly after the above were: Silas Roe, Bartley Boydstun, William Stewart, Seth Bellwood, Hugh Lowry, Henderson Hagan, L.A. McKiearnan, Charles Fielder, George Hunt, David and Benjamin South, William Flannagan, Bry and William Edmundson, James Martin, H. Christman, Henry and Austin Mattingly, Martin Burke, Joseph Probasco, Robert Supple, Harrison and Thomas Immel, Dan Ryan, Jacob, Nathan and Zene Bradbury, Jacob Dorman, George and Joseph Wheat, Francis Robey, George and Mortimer Clements.


Owes Much to Pioneers


The present generation owes much to these sturdy pioneers who blazed the way to civilization. With them must be shared the honor for the many blessings we are enjoying today. Their lives were lives of privation, and oftentimes of suffering. They lived not for themselves alone, but were mindful of the happiness of future generations. When we consider the rigors of the long winters on the open prairies, unprotected by trees, the deep snows that often rendered transportation impossible, the great distances to the river markets, the inconvenience of getting medical aid in times of accidents and sickness, the lack of communication between the scattered settlers, their meager stores of food and fuel, we realize then some of the privations and hardships endured by those good people. Notwithstanding all this, they were mainly happy and content. If they raised a surplus of grain or livestock, it was marketed, usually at either Copperas Creek Landing or Peoria, the nearest river markets. The prevailing prices of farm commodities in those early days were not such as to prompt farmers to produce much in excess of his needs. Dressed pork sold in those days at $2 per cwt., half cash and half trade. Corn often sold at 6 cents per bushel. The good mothers then spun, wove and made the garments worn by the family. Contrast conditions then with those of today. This was long before the advent of the railroad. The completion of the Quincy branch of the CB & Q from Galesburg to Quincy, in 1855, gave an impetus to farming and livestock operations in this locality. Since that time land valued advanced steadily. At that time the government sold land at$1.25 per acre, which today commands from $300 to $400 per acre.
The first white child born in Indian Point was Ann Frances Lomax, daughter of John H. and Nancy Lomax, born September 25, 1835. The first death recorded was a Mr. Hibbard, in 1838.


Educational facilities in those pioneer days were very meager. The principal studies were represented by the three R’s, reading’, ritin’, ‘rithmetic. The first school house erected in Indian Point was on Section 16, near where the Point School now stands. It was built of logs, with split logs fro seats. This was in the year 1837. It was first taught by Dennis Clark, who was afterward elected and served many terms as County Judge of Knox County. He too was an early settler here. The school district comprised all of Indian Point and the eastern part of Warren County. The school year then was only the fall and winter months. Thirty pupils were enrolled the first winter, that of 1837-38. Today very few country pupils have more than two miles to go to reach school. Aside from the country schools there are splendid educational facilities within easy reach of the pupils of Indian Point to complete their education in the high schools, colleges and academies of Knox County.


The Religious Growth
Education and religion usually go hand in hand. They mark the beginning of civilization. In Indian Point there are only two religious bodies, Catholic and Christian. The latter has two church organizations, one At Abingdon and the other At St. Augustine.
Since 1836 Catholic services have been held at St. Augustine. The first services were conducted in that year by Father LeFevre, who afterwards became Bishop of Detroit, Michigan. The first church was built in 1843, and dedicated the following year by Bishop Kendrick of St. Louis. Among the pioneer priests, who held services here were Fathers St. Cyr, Conway, Doyle, Drew, Raho, Brady, Griffith, Kennedy, Edward and Thomas O’Neil, Fitman, Meehan, Albrecht, Larmar and Mangon. In 1863, the present church was erected, and five years later moved to its present location. Father Halpin came in 1873, and was the first resident priest. Since that time the following pastors have resided here: Fathers McMahan, Dalton, Howard, O’Reilly, now auxiliary Bishop of Peoria, Fallihee, Dunne, Scheuren, now of Providence, R.I.; Walsh, Kniery, now of Peoria; Kelley \, Markey, now of Loda, Illinois. Since October, 1912, the present pastor, Father P.V. Egan, has been carrying on the work inaugurated here more than four score years ago. When completed, the interior decorations of the Catholic Church here will eclipse any church decorations, from an artistic standpoint, in the state, outside cities. The present membership is about 400.
 

The first Protestant services held in Indian Point, of which there is any record, were conducted by Rev. John Crawford, a Cumberland Presbyterian minister, at the home of John Howard in 1848. The Methodists effected an organization at the Pleasant Valley School, under the leadership of Rev. Williams. This was in the Sixties. Services were held occasionally, but the organization did not continue long in Indian Point. The Christian church was first organized at Abingdon in 1840, by Hiram Smith and Richard Johnston. The first church was erected in 1849 at a cost of $1,000. The present church edifice is a beautiful brick veneered structure. The interior decorations are artistries and keeping with the attractive appearance of the exterior. The present pastor, Dr. A.M. Hale, is very popular with his people, whom he has served many years. He is a booster for any worthy cause. The present membership is about 300. At St. Augustine, the Christian church organization was effected in 1868. The number of charter members was 104, of whom only four are living, namely, Dr. P. Harrod, of Avon; J.E. Edmundson of Houston, Texas; Nathan Harrod and L.B. Harrod of Galesburg. The first services were conducted here by Rev. Miller. In 1874, Rev. J.A. Seaton held a revival here, and the membership was increased to 148. The present membership is about 100. In 1870, the church was erected. Among the resident pastors of the church were: Revs. Seaton, Kincaid, Stevens, Dillard and Hiett. The following ministers served here at various times since the organization of the church: Revs. Joseph Royal, J.S. Gash, F.M. Bruner, Knox P. Taylor, W.B. Foster, John Hankins, M. Jones, W. Branch, W.J. Burner, Fed E. Hagan, S.M. Thomas, H.G. Bennett, N.L. Collins, D. Shanklin, Rev. Keefer, Davis, Brannie and Cook.


Its Name


Indian Point took its name from a body of timber extending from Cedar Fork to Section 16. Along the edge of this timber was a favorite camping ground of the Indians, the remains of whose camps were extant long after settlement by the whites. This coupled with the fact that many axes, spears and arrow points were found here, gave rise to the name of Indian Point. By this name of “”Indian Point” the township was christened on Monday, January 14, 1850, when the township organization was perfected. Daniel Meek was elected the first supervisor in 1853. The first meeting of the supervisors was held on April 5, 1853, at Knoxville, then the county seat of Knox County.
At the present time Indian Point has the following officials: Willard Tinkham, supervisor; W.H. Clark, town clerk; George L. Hagan, assessor; I.T. Perry, single highway commissioner; W. L. Mills, K.R. Marks and A.C. Fielder, school trustees; W.M. Clark and S. Gray, Justices of the Peace, and S.D. Lomax, constable.
About St. Augustine
St. Augustine is the only municipality lying wholly within the boundaries of Indian Point. It is the oldest town in this section of Illinois. It was originally laid out a half mile south of its present location by Henry and Austin Mattingly on May 6, 1835. The early settlers who located here were principally from Kentucky, Indiana and Ohio. For twenty years business was transacted where the village was originally laid out. Upon completion of C. B. & Q. Railroad from Galesburg to Quincy in 1855, the village was moved to the present site, on account of the improved railroad facilities. Business naturally drifted to the new location. The former location is now known as “Old Town.” Sebastian Pike was the first merchant, Isaac Rubart, the first postmaster, Dr. A. Baldwin, besides being the first physician, was also the first agent for the railway company. Among the pioneer merchants were Clements & Son, Thomas Terry, and Hall & Carbon. Thomas Bake was the first blacksmith. Clements and Smith owned and operated the first lumber yard in 1857. J.G. Gallett and P.H. Smith built the first elevator in 1857. Ten years later the building and contents burned. The only grist mill ever built in Indian Point was erected by Craighton & Ogden at St. Augustine in 1857. Besides making flour and meal, a distillery was run in connection. A few years later, a wool-carding machine was installed. This machine was operated by Henry Livers. During the spring of 1879 the mill and contents burned. While St. Augustine has had several fires, the most disastrous from a business standpoint, was that of April 30 1897. The fire had its origin in a vacant building. It swept all the business buildings on the north side of Sixth Street and left but three on the south side of the street. Buildings of a more substantial nature have since been erected. In April, 1911, the Catholic parsonage burned. The fire was discovered at midnight. It had gained such headway that nothing could be saved. Miss Elizabeth McKeon, the housekeeper, was alone at the time and lost her life.
The merchants of St. Augustine are an energetic lot of business men, who by close application to business have turned the tide of trade their way. Among them are Mills & sons, Harrod & fielder, James Tanney, S.H. Ryan, Miss Kate Jennings and Neice & Co. In 1902, the Bank of St. Augustine was chartered and began business the following year. Since that time the business of St. Augustine has more than doubled. This being an agricultural community any enterprise to succeed must have the patronage and support of the farmers. Much of the success achieved is attributable to them. George L. Hagan, Assistant Cashier of the bank, was born and raised on an Indian Point farm, and is familiar with the likes and dislikes of the farmers. He knows that they appreciate courtesies extended them in business. For this reason, he serves them from 6 A.M. to 9 P.M.


Saloons had a long lease of life in St. Augustine. This had a tendency to drive the better element of trade away from town. However, in 1908 “John Barleycorn” was voted out for all time to come. Since that time many new residences have been erected, and an improvement in business has been very noticeable. Any history of St. Augustine, without mention of the trade boosters, would be incomplete. For the past ten years, T.J. Sailer, Walter Clark, Sherman Babbitt and later on G.L. Smith, have been instrumental boosting the business interests of St. Augustine. These gentlemen are extensive farmers, buyers of livestock and grain, feeders and shippers. Frequently these gentlemen handle 12 to 15 carloads of livestock per week. They also make a good market for all the surplus corn and hay of this community.


Since 1903, the St. Augustine Eagle has kept the village in the limelight, and has given it a prestige that it never enjoyed before. It is published by Karl R. Haggenjos, and has for its local editor George L. Hagan.


The City of Abingdon
This beautiful city enjoys many natural advantages, which tend to make it an ideal location for a city. It is surrounded by broad and fertile prairies, which have contributed much toward its prosperity. As only a small portion of the city lies within the boundaries of Indian Point, it is my purpose to write only of the institutions and enterprises located in this part of the city, leaving the major portion of the city to the writer of the Annals for Cedar Township. In May, 1846, “South Abingdon,” as this part of the city was formerly called, was laid out by Frederick Snyder. At that time it contained only two and one-half blocks. The first school house was a frame structure, 20 X 40 feet, and contained but one room. Later the building proved too small and several additions were added. It stood a few rods south of the present Washington school, which was built in 1888. In 1853, P.H. Murphy opened an academy in a frame building. For two years he lectured among his people, and infused into them much of his own zeal and wishes, to such an extent that they were ready to give his academy the rank of a college and erect the necessary buildings. A plain three-story brick building was erected, in which the college work was inaugurate in 1855. Mr. Murphy became its first president. Ill health forced him to resign the positions in April, 1860, and he died the following august. He was succeeded by J.W. Butler, who was elected in January, 1861. President Butler served until 1874. Dissensions broke out among the faculty a few years prior to this time which had a telling effect upon the influence and power the institution formerly wielded. It was the beginning of the end. The college building stood vacant many years, and was finally razed in 1817, to make room for the new Community High School, which was erected at a cost of near $75, 000.


Foremost among the factories of this part of the city is the Abingdon Sanitary Mfg. Co. This enterprise was organized under the law of State of Illinois in August 1908. Prominent among the early promoters were: James Simpson, Dr. Bradway, Orion Latimer, G.A. Shipplett, G.D. Slough, P.H. Maloney and others. The first buildings erected were thought to be sufficiently commodious to serve the wants of the company for years. The popularity gained by the output of the factory was such that the company was forced to make several additions to the original plant. They make not only plumbers’ earthenware, but many vitreous china specialties. At the present time the company employs 130 men, and the annual production amounts to near a million dollars. While much of the raw material is obtained from the states of Maine, Delaware, New Jersey, Kentucky, Tennessee and Georgia, great quantities are imported from England. The products are shipped to every nook and corner of the Union, and many shipments are exported to South America and Australia.


Another factory that is rapidly forging to the front is the Abingdon Milling and Cattle Feeding Co. On October 24, 1913, the company was incorporated under the laws of Illinois, and the manufacture of feed was begun in May, 1914. the early promoters of this enterprise were I.L. Reynolds, of Clinton Iowa; Roy a. Johnson, of Taylorville, Illinois; D.E. Kincaid, of Greenfield, Illinois; Carl S. Burnside, of Galesburg; L.H. Robertson, E.I. Blevins and S.H. Whiteneck of Abingdon. The feeds manufactured are “Malasso” for cattle and “Jumbo” hog feed. The raw material entering these products are oil meal, tankage, cotton seed meal, bran, hard-wood charcoal, corn, flax seed products and Cuban cane molasses. The bulk of the small grain is bought at Minneapolis, the bran and corn in Central Illinois, the charcoal in the State of New York, and the molasses in Cuba. The products of this mill have grown in favor with feeders all over the Corn Belt. Shipments have been made to the Pacific coast. The demand for the products has steadily increased until many thousand tons are manufactured and shipped annually. The present board of directors is: L.H. Robertson, E.I. Blevins, S.H. Whiteneck, L.M. Fralich of Abingdon, and W.H. Gridley of Kirkwood, Illinois. The officers are: L.H. Robertson, president; C.B. Gaddie of Avon, vice-resident; L.M. Fralich, secretary, and S.H. Whiteneck, treasurer.


On March 8, 1882, the Abingdon Argus was launched by its present efficient and talented editor, Hon. W.W. Clark. For near forty years he has been untiring in his efforts to make the Argus a truly reprensentative weekly newspaper. He is regarded as an exceptional writer.


In reviewing what we are pleased to call the “Pioneer Days,” we must not loose sight of the fact that those good old-fashioned people had their sports and pleasures, as well as their privations and hardships. For the men were the wolf hunts, log rollings, political rallies and horse races. The ladies had their quilting bees, rag tackings and social gatherings. The young people had their dances, singing and writing schools in the winter time. Later on the spelling schools proved both interesting and profitable. Each school took a particular pride in seeing its pupils win in spelling contests. The literary and debating societies were a source of pleasure and profit in their day.


It may be interesting to know that the biggest snow storm that ever visited this county was the winter of 1830-31. It continued to fall for several days, and measured four feet deep on the level. In many places the drifts were twenty feet high. It lay on the ground for months. Another heavy snow fell during the winter of 1863-64 badly, and it drifted badly, and it was not an unusual sight to see teams and sleds driven over hedges and fences.


The following are still living in this community, who were here prior to 1850, Hon. W.H. Clark, T.H. Roe, Miss Delia Bellwood, of Abingdon, Mrs. Leah south, Mrs. L.D. Jennings, William South and wife and Luke Fielder. Those who have spent three score year or more here are: James W. Cox, J.E. Cox, J.E. and W.F. Robertson, J. W. Lomax of Abingdon, David and George South, Mrs. Laura Edmundson, Mrs. T.B. Bourn, Miss Josie Edmundson, Mrs. C.H. Mason, George L. and Albert Hagan and Mrs. Luke Fielder.
The future historian of Indian Point may look back to our times with the interest that we now view what we are pleased to call pioneer days. If our efforts in writing the Annals of Indian Point at the present time prove helpful to him, we feel that our work has not been in vain.
Grateful acknowledgement is hereby made to T.H. Roe. Hon. W.H. Clark, L.M. Fralich and J.E Slater for valuable assistance rendered in compiling these annals.

 

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