Annuals of Knox County, Illinois

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



From Sketch by John C. Eiker

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 old far.

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 Ferguson.

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 February, 1895.

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 Shorthorn cattle

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 stock.

The township furnished its full quota of troops in both the Mexican and Civil Wars.

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.)


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