Orange, as a present defined and bounded, was one of the
first townships in the county to attract the attention of early immigrants to
northern Illinois, and the pioneers were not wholly free from fear of
predatory visits from the aboriginal owners of the soil. As a matter of fact,
however, in 1830—the year the first settlers arrive—the Indians were
migrating to the west, and the comparatively few of them remained. A
blockhouse was erected, however, in 1830 or ’31, and the murder of a white
man by a straggling band of hostile savages during the Black Hawk War threw
the small community into a ferment of apprehension.
The township is crossed by several well defined trails. That which is known
as the Peoria and Galena runs diagonally from northwest to southeast, passing
also through Knox, crossing the northeastern corner of the present city of
Knoxville. A little to the west of this is another, which crosses Brush
Creek, in Section 30, and forms a sort of pathway from that stream to the
headwaters of Haw Creek. Several Indian graves have been found and their
traces are yet plainly discernable just across the Knox Township boundary
line, on Section 32. The last appearance of any considerable body of
aborigines in the township was in 1843, when several hundred Sacs and Foxes
camped on the northwestern quarter of Section 5, while on their way from the
north to their reservation in Indian Territory.
The first white family to settle within the present limits of Orange was that
of Joseph Wallace, who located on Section 15, in 1830, and found a rudely
constructed cabin suffice for their shelter. After the death of his wife, on
the old farm, Mr. Wallace removed to Iowa.
Asa Haynes (born in Dutchess County, Nw York, in 1804,) came in 1836. He had
bought the three hundred acres on Section 30, on which he erected a
one-roomed log cabin, in which he took up his residence with his wife,
formerly Miss Mary Gaddis, to whom he had been married October 7, 1830. He
was hardy, daring and adventurous, but without education other than such as
he had obtained during two months’ attendance at an Ohio district school each
winter during six or seven years. He brought with him his two children, a
half brother, Hiram, and a nephew, Issac Hill. During their journey from
Ohio, which occupied nineteen days, they encountered more or less rainfall
during seventeen days, and found the rivers swollen to the summit of their
banks, even the horses’ harness never drying. Mr. Haynes was energetic and
enterprising, and from the outset proved a potent factor in the development
of the new country. He started the first brick yard and in 1840, built the
first sawmill, which was operated by water power obtained from Brush Creek.
In 1840 he erected a large barn, and the following year replaced his
primitive cabin with a brick house, which in those early days was regarded as
commodious. While by no means a profound scholar himself, he took a deep
interest in imparting of at least a sound primary education to children. For
a time he himself taught an elementary school in his little cabin, and when
his brick home was completed, one room was reserved and furnished as a
schoolroom. Miss Frances Moore was the instructress, becoming later, Mrs.
Hiram Haynes. Asa Haynes became, in his day, the largest land holder in
Orange Township, at one time owning nine hundred and eighty-nine acres. He
was one of the adventurers of 1849 and Captain of the “Jayhawkers” company of
gold seekers formed at Galesburg. He led this little band of sixty across the
continent. The hardships and privations which the men underwent caused many
to drop by the way, but Mr. Haynes reached California safely, where he
remained until 1851. Later in life he returned to California and made that
State his residence for several years. He returned home and died at the house
of a daughter, in Missouri, March 20, 1889.
James Ferguson came from Kentucky, with his family in the same year with Mr.
Wallace settling on Section 11. He had several children but only two are at
present residents of Orange; Andrew J., a farmer living on Section 10, and
Mrs. Sarah Weir, whose home is on Section 15. The elder Ferguson attained
prominence as being the first Justice of the Peace and the first Overseer of
the Poor in the township. He was also a soldier in the Black Hawk War, being
commissioned as Major. He died in 1841, his widow surviving him for twenty
years. Both sleep in the quiet plot of ground reserved for sepulture on the
Peter Godfrey is among the best known settlers of 1832, and he and his wife
are among the oldest and most honored couples belonging to the “Old Settlers’
Association of Knox County.” John Denney and John and Simon McAllister
arrived two years later. Isaiah Hutson and wife emigrated from the State of
New York in 1837. He has since died (1883), but his widow and daughter still
find their home on the homestead, which was heir’s sixty years ago. Thomas
Gilbert was also and early settler, his farm being on section 8. His son,
Thomas, is a prominent citizen of Knoxville, and two of his daughters still
reside in the city.
Other early settlers of the township who are worthy of especial mention are
as follows: Thomas and James Sumner, who came from Ohio in 1837 and settled
on Section 23, James lost his life through an accident.
Isreal Turner emigrated from Chester County, Pennsylvania in 1837. He entered
two hundred and forty acres on Section 32, remaining there until he died.
Anderson Barnett also came in the same year, settling on Section 10. To him
belonged the distinction of begetting the largest family of children
(eighteen) ever reared in the township.
The early houses were, of course, of logs and of these Mr. Wallace built the
first, on Section 15. Thomas A. Rude erected the first brick dwelling, on the
farm of the late William Turner, in the same section. A portion of the latter
is still standing, but the residence of Mr. Asa Haynes is probably the oldest
structure in the county, remaining precisely as it was built.
The two earliest marriages were those of Alexander Robertson to Narcissa
Ferguson and Daniel Fuqua to Lydia Bomar. This was a double wedding and the
ceremony was solemnized by Rev. Jacob Gum at the Ferguson residence on
Section 10. The first white child born (1833) was Cynthia, daughter of James
The first school house was of logs, and stood on Section 14. It was known as
the Wallace School house was of logs, and stood on Section 14. It was known
as the Wallace school, and religious services were occasionally held within
its rude, unplastered walls. The first teacher was Thomas Ellison, who
wielded the birch during the winter of 1836. He died at Abingdon, in 1897.
Mr. Ellison was followed by Anderson Barnett, who taught in 1837 and in 1838.
The school house erected in what is now District No. 8 was of brick, Isreal
Turner being the mason and the carpentry being done by Charles Corwin. Miss
Amanda Corwin, one of the earliest graduates from Knox College, was the first
teacher and remained six years. Another early school house was that within
the limits of the present District No. 3, where Miss Mary Gilbert Chaffee was
the first to give instruction to boys and girls, some of whom have long since
passed away, while others have grown old and silver-haired. At present Orange
Township has eight schools, all ungraded, occupying well constructed frame
buildings. The houses are modern and represent an outlay, in the aggregate,
of about ten thousand dollars. In the addition to this sum, libraries and
equipments have cost a thousand dollars. The total enrollment of pupils is
two hundred and seventeen.
The earliest religious service held in the township was conducted by Rev.
Jacob Gum, a Baptist minister, at the home of James Ferguson.
The first denomination to organize into a church society was the Methodist
Episcopal. This body erected a house of worship known as Orange Chapel, in
1855. It was built on Section 22, and was of brick, burned in the yard of
Anderson Barnett and laid by Thomas Rambo. The building was dedicated in the
spring of 1856, by Rev. Richard Haney. The Gilson Circuit was established in
1857-58, and Orange Chapel was included within its limits.
Early in the seventies revival services were held at the school house in
district No 4, which resulted in a general awaking of religious interest. At
that time there was no organized church other than Orange Chapel, although
there was in the township a moderate sprinkling of Congregationalists and
Protestant Methodists. The fervor of both of these sects was aroused. Both
denominations organized societies, and Haynes Chapel was built (1871-73) by
the Protestant Methodists. The Congregational church had no place of worship
and soon ceased to exist as a local organization. A general religious decline
appeared to be supervene about the same time, spreading over the territory
between Knoxville and Hermon, on the north and south, and Gilson and Abingdon
on the east and west. In fact, for nearly twenty years, or until 1890, Orange
Chapel was the only center of organic Christian effort. In the last mentioned
year, however, a branch of the Young People’s Society of Christian Endeavor
was formed at Haynes Chapel, with nine active members. For several years the
young people conducted weekly services there, after their customary fashion,
and in 1893, Rev. A.W. Depew, of Abingdon, began preaching with marked
success; Haynes Chapel being considered an outlying station. By this time the
Christian Endeavors numbered forty, and it was not long before another
Congregational church was organized with twenty-two members. Its first pastor
was Rev. Mr. Slater, who preached for the congregation from May, 1894, to
The township was organized and its name chosen at a meeting held April 3,
1853. The name seems to have been selected on account of the shape of the
central prairie, which, in those early days, was one of the most beautiful
spots in the State. Asa Haynes was elected Supervisor; a. Barnett, Clerk; A.
Pierce, Assessor; J.G. Rude, Collector; Peter Godfrey and David Stephens,
Constables; Samuel Mather and J. Wallace, Overseers of the Poor; J.H. McGrew,
Thomas Gilbert and Morris Chase, Highway Commissioners.
The chief industries are agriculture and stock raising, although in those
early days, brick yards were started by Asa Haynes, Thompson Rude and
Anderson Barnett. These ventures proved unprofitable, however, and the kilns
long ago fell into disintegration and decay. From the time of its settlement
Orange ranked high among the best cereal producing sections of the county,
although a lack of transportation facilities prevented the marketing of the
grain raised. More than half was used in the fattening of stock. Haynes,
Godfrey and Sumner Brothers manifested great interest in improving the
quality of livestock and were the first to introduce Spotted China hogs and
The principal market of the pioneers was Peoria, although Canton and Oquawka
received a fair share of the farm products. The farmers hauled their produce
by teams, receiving in exchange supplies which they carried home to their
expectant families. The opening of the first railroad, in 1854, altered the
entire situation, shippers now finding Chicago at once the most accessible
and most profitable market.
The only village in Orange is DeLong, a flourishing little station, on the
line of the Narrow Gauge Road, now C.B. & Q. It came into existence in 1882,
and owes its being—as it does its name—to S.H. Malory. He bought the site
from Wayne Marks when the preliminary survey of the line was made, in
anticipation of a station being established thereon, and called the village
DeLong, in honor of the explorer of that name. It can boast two general
stores, one grain elevator, a barber shop, two blacksmith shops, a building
containing a hall and storeroom, and about twenty-five residences. Its
population is about 100 and it is a relatively important point for grain and
The township furnished its full quota of troops in both the Mexican and Civil
William H. Wiley is the only surviving soldier now living, January, 1920, in
the township from which he enlisted.
John Lawrence, Isaac and Samuel Mather were among the early settlers. The
Township Hall is located in the center of the township and is a building
originally used for a Farmer’s Grange Supply Store, William Forlow being the
manager in the years from 1875 to 1880. The White School House, two miles
north of DeLong, was one of the first Schools in the township; the first
building was built of logs. The Civil War was furnished two Captains, William
Reynolds and Wright Woolsey.
Orange Township furnished its quota in the Spanish-American and also in the
recent World War.
(Facts in the foregoing sketch, not contained in the Eiker History, were
furnished by W.A. Wiley.)