Annuals of Knox County, Illinois

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



Cedar Township

By Mrs. A. I. Sargent


A township is not large, yet, he who tells its story realizes how many people live within its borders and how much has been lived during the decades that are past.  It is impossible to tell it all.  I will sketch briefly the first ten years of the township’s settlement as the pioneer days, will tell something of the schools and churches that have been influential in the development and of the men and women who started them, will gladly pay tribute to those who went from its borders at their country’s call, and will mark a few of the noteworthy enterprises in which its citizens have had a share.  Most of the story will center around Abingdon and its vicinity, for here the first settlement was made and here is the larger portion of its population.


Cherry Grove, our fathers thought to call this township, because of the abundance of wild cherry trees, but, finding that name already preempted, they changed to Cedar, a name suggested by a certain cedar tree, which as a seedling, Joseph Latimer had dug up on his journey into this new, wild country and had planted with the planting of his home.


Some government claims had been taken in the township and land transfers made before the time of permanent settlement, so that some of the early settlers bought or traded for their land and some filed claims.  Government land was $1.25 per acre.  In those early days, most of the Western and Eastern borders of the township were irregularly but heavily timbered.  Much has been cut away but beautiful timber may still be found in these sections.  Between the wooded borders, stretching from north to south, were miles of fertile prairie.



Henderson Township is always spoken of as having the earliest settlers in the county.  It is not probably fully realized that Cedar was settle the same year and only a few months later.


Among the families I shall mention as pioneers in Cedar Township, it is interesting to note that more than half are from the middle southern states, Maryland, Tennessee, Kentucky, Virginia and the Carolinas.  These settlers were very largely of the sturdy Scotch-Irish stock, to which the Historian, Fiske, pays such warm tribute of praise, in showing their enterprise as pioneers and their prominence in legislative life. 

The first recorded settlers in Cedar Township were Rev. Hiram Palmer, a Methodist preacher, and a little later, Azel Dorsey, who settled in 1828, as near neighbors on Sections 7 and 18.  In less than a year, Dorsey sold out his claim to a Mr. Finch, who also soon sold out and both men left for other places.  Hiram Palmer moved four years after his coming onto Section 32, where the Abingdon Cemetery now stands.  The first settlers whose life was built up surely and lastingly into the life of the community was Abraham D. Swartz, who arrive with his wife in 1829, settling at first on Section 17, but moving soon, perhaps with Hiram Palmer, onto Section32.  It was Mr. Swartz who laid out Abingdon, but that was seven years later.  

The winter of 1830 is always characterized as the “winter of the deep snow.”  There are no records to tell how these first lonely settlers weathered the storms of that notable winter but there is no  doubt about the glad welcome they extended to Joseph Latimer when he arrived with his family early in 1831.  Joseph Latimer, who settled on Section 29, came to Illinois from Robertson County, Tennessee, having gone thither many years before by ox wagon from the family home near New London, Connecticut.  As a young boy he had watched the burning of New London by the British and cried because he was not old enough to bear arms.  His father, Jonathan Latimer, served in the French and Indian War and was a Colonel in the Revolutionary War.  Six sons, older brothers of Joseph, also served in the Revolutionary War, all of them at some time under their father’s command.  Two, one a Major and one a Captain, died in the defense of Bunker Hill. 

Mrs. Joseph Latimer, who shared the pioneer days in Cedar Township with her husband, came from North Carolina  and used to tell the story as she remembered it, of the raid of Tarleton’s men on her father’s home and how the British carried off everything they wanted from the house and cut the rim of her mother’s spinning wheel.  Six sons and daughters of Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Latimer had been married in Tennessee, all but one of whom later followed their parents to Knox County.  Five children came with them and as they all figure in this story, I will name them:  George, John, David, and unmarried daughter, Susan, and a widowed daughter, Mrs. Sarah L. Boren. 

Mrs. Boren at once took up a claim of her own and settled with her children near her father on section 29. 

George added to the early settlement in the following manner:  In the Fall of 1831, some business necessitated a trip to Vandalia, at that time the capitol of the state, and George Latimer was sent on this errand.  In Sangamon County a few miles south of Springfield, he stopped overnight at the home of William Drennan, a man of prominence in that community, where the guest was served by Mr. Drennan’s seventeen year old daughter.  They had not met before and did not meet again until just a year from the time of his first visit. George Latimer went back to claim her as his bride.  Their wedding journey was the trip on horseback through the glory of the October woods from Sangamon County into Knox County where he had a log cabin ready for his bride on Section 29.  Here they established a rarely happy and influential home. 

The same year, Jonathan Latimer and family, Joseph’s oldest son, came up from Sangamon County where they had temporarily reside and settled on section 28.  With them and settling near them on the same section, came Mrs. Latimer’s parents, Mr. and Mrs. Jacob West. Jonathan Latimer was a man of marked character, who figured largely in the community for many years.  He began his business career in the township by trading a horse for the land upon which he settled.  He was ever a trader but combined as shrewd knowledge of values with a kind and generous heart.  He has one son still living in Cedar Township, Hon. Joseph F. Latimer, three times elected to the Legislature, whose home stands right where his father’s log cabin was built in 1832.

The same year John Latimer left the parental roof and became the first permanent white settler in Indian Point Township.


Another married son of Mr. and Mr. Joseph Latimer, Alexander, arrive with his family in 1834 and settled on section 21.  About the same time, came a son-in-law, Israel Marshall, and his wife Mary Latimer or “Aunt Polly” as she was generally known.  They settled on Section 31.  Israel Marshall brought with him from Tennessee some fine-blooded stock, the first to be brought into a township which later had a wide reputation for its high grade stock. 

There were thus, in the first four years of the decade from 1830 to 1840, six Latimer families all settle near each other in the Cherry Grove neighborhood and one just over the line in Indian Point Township. 

About this time, other settlers were arriving in other parts of the Township.  Josehua Bland came in 1833, settling with his family on section 16.  The story comes down to us of a “corn cracker mill” owned by Mr. Bland.  It stood near where the Heller School house now stands and although a primitive affair, run by horsepower, it ground many a grist of corn for the scattered neighbors who were thankful not to be obliged to go as far as Ellisville, on spoon River, to get their corn ground.  A few years ago, Stewart Williamson, a grandson of Mr. Bland’s had the old mill post around which the horses or oxen plodded their monotonous way, dug up and made into canes


Early Comers


There was early a scattering settlement along the eastern timber border.  The year 1834 saw the arrival in the township of seven families with staying qualities.  All but one settled in the eastern portion of the township.  The one exception was Wm. Kays, who, with his wife, came from Kentucky, stopping temporarily in Indiana, and established his home on Section 8, about three miles north of the Latimer settlement. 

Hugh a. Kelly, prominent in township life for many years, and his wife, came from West Virginia and settled on Section 15. 

The Castle brothers, coming also from West Virginia with temporary stops along the way, took up claims, Reuben and Henry on Section 12 and George on Section 26.  They were all prosperous farmers and good citizens.  Two grandsons of George Castle, George and Thomas, sons of Vinton Castle, are living now in Abingdon. 

Onto Section 1 came William Thomas Williamson with his wife and family of young people.  He came here from Indiana where he lived for a time, but his boyhood home was in New England.  His father had been a soldier in the Revolutionary War and once when he, with others, was hard pressed by the British; dropped out of sight behind a log and the British had passed him by unseen, he thus escaping capture.  Mr. Thomas Williamson’s sons and daughters married and many of them settled around him where they were highly respected citizens.  His son, James, married a daughter of Mr. Bland’s and they, with their married sons and daughters, later became, and some still are especially identified with the neighborhood around Warren Chapel.  Squire Frank Williamson and Stewart Williamson, of Galesburg, are the sons of James Williamson.  He also has descendants in and around Abingdon.  Children and grandchildren of James Williamson were fond of hearing him tell of riding over the site where Galesburg later stood, when the only road was the Indian trail from Henderson to Brush Creek, which crossed the goodly stream of Cedar Fork where Leroy Marsh’s horse barn now stands. 

With the Williamson’s, came Daniel Green Burner, a native of Kentucky, who reside in Sangamon County before coming to Knox.  Abraham Lincoln boarded at Green burner’s father’s home for four years in New Salem and he and Lincoln slept together.  When the Burners left their home in New Salem to come to Knox County, it was Abraham Lincoln who drew up the deed of sale.  Green Burner settled on Section 1 and from that time on through a long life he was closely identified with this part of the township.  He added many fertile acres to those originally taken up until he was the owner of more than one thousand.  The widow and part of the family of his son, Milton, are now living in Cedar Township, a few miles north of Abingdon. 

Settling as near neighbors to the Williamson’s and Burner’s and coming the same year, was the Swartz family, which from that day to this have been prominent in the Brush Creek neighborhood.  Albert Swartz and his sisters, Miss Mary and Miss Sarah Swartz, are still living on the original farm, now beautiful cultivated, which was occupied by their grandfather in its wild state, while their brother Thomas lives on his own farm across the road. 

                   The seventh family to arrive that year was that of George Long, who came from Ohio.  They spent their first winter in Knoxville, and the next year settle upon the farm on section 12, where some wooded land then purchased is still owned by members of the Long family.  Two sons of Mr. Long, George and William, when returning home from the mill at Henderson, were caught in a snow storm and lost their way on the wide prairie where Galesburg now stands.  They wandered around, through the growing darkness until they came upon a little stream to the southward that they knew and so found their way home.  The township is indebted to the Long family for many years of teaching in its public school.  George Long, son of George Long, taught school as a young man and put his earnings into the first payment for an eighty acre piece of prairie land, paying for it $5.00 per acre.  His sister, Martha Long, was a teacher in Cedar Township and Knox County for a number of years, and his daughter, Miss Jennie Long, taught in the public schools of the county for 38 years, part of the time in Cedar Township and for 29 years in the city of Galesburg.  Another daughter, Miss Catherine Long, was prominent in W.C.T.U. work, for eight years being State Superintendent of its Department of Work for Soldiers in the Cherry Grove neighborhood and one just over the line in Indian Point Township. 

         Largely through the efforts of their mother, Mrs. George Long, a Sunday school was started in an early day in the Brush Creek School House and maintained through many difficulties.  This Sunday school kept up more consecutive years of service than any country Sunday school in the Township.


An early wedding in the township was that of Miss Mary Long with Reuben Castle. 

            Settling on Section 11 along the road traveled by the pioneers in their trips to Knoxville for trade, was another worthy family, who, among the first to arrive in 1835, have descendants living in Knox County.  This was Thomas Marsh and his wife, the parents of LeRoy Marsh, Mrs. Blair and Mrs. Crawford of Galesburg. 

            With them came Elisha Humiston and family who settled nearby.  Mr. Humiston later moved on to Section 17.  In the northwest part of this section is a small, fence-in grave yard, known as the Humiston Burial Ground.

            Before turning to other localities, mention should be made of Lewis Spurlock and William Bevins.  Both came in 18334 and settled on Section23. So far as I know, none of their descendants are now left in the county, but they had a place in the community life in the early days for Lewis Spurlock was a great deer hunter and William Blevins was a great bee hunter, and the venison and honey they brought in for the little colony were much enjoyed.  The Spurlock name is also associated with other parts of the township.  

             In the northwest corner of the township, near where Warren Chapel now stands, Uziah Conger, coming from New York State, settled in the early thirties.  His family of nine sons and one daughter grew up around him here, some of them marrying and living in the neighborhood for many years.  Here were spent the boyhood of Edwin H. Conger, who, when Ambassador to China, won the gratitude of the Chinese people for his valuable advice in helping settle the indemnity money question, after the Boxer uprising and who gave the rich and beautiful banner, presented to him by the Chinese people, to Lombard College.  He was a grandson of Uziah Conger and the son of Lorentus, who served the county on its Board of Supervisors at the time of the Court House fight.  Here also grew up Seth Conger, another grandson, later identified with business interests in Galesburg, whose son Frank L. Conger is at the present time cashier in the First National Bank of that city. 

            Into this neighborhood also, at a somewhat later date, came Ralph Mount.  Two of Mr. Mount’s sons, Thomas and William, owned farms and lived for many years along the main road between Abingdon and Galesburg.  It was one of his sons also who failed to return home at the close of the Civil War and his brothers and sisters, supposing him dead, divided his portion of the estate among themselves, when suddenly one day he arrived home all alive and well and they gave it back again. 

            Into this northwest section of the Township (Section 6) in 1836, came Francis Portus Goddard whose son, Uncle Jimmy Goddard, a veteran of the Civil War, lives there still. 

            In the central north portion of the township, in 1835, Benjamin Marks who came from Kentucky was the first to stake a claim out on the open prairie. “You will freeze in winter,” they told him, but the fierce winter winds blew the snow banks around and clear over his little cabin and kept it snug and warm.  Benjamin Marks’ son,  Pleasant, has long owned the farm on which his father settled, adding to many acres of his won and is proud to tell of this land having been in the Marks family for 83 years. 

            Other early names in this general locality are Garrett, McPherren, Lowrey, Nelson, Crawford, Belden, Bundy and Snyder, who later lived in Abingdon and added Snyder’s addition to that town. 

            Because of her long residence in the township, “Grandma Reed” should be especially mentioned.  She and her husband, John Reed, settled in the edge of the timber southwest of Benjamin Marks’ home in 1836.  The location was near an excellent spring and had been a favorite camping ground for the Indians before the Black Hawk War.  After her husband’s death, Mrs. Reed, who was born near Edinburgh, Scotland, continued to live in this part of the township, spending her last years in the home of her son-in-law James Kays.  She lived to be ninety-seven years old.  James Kays’ son, Reed Kays, is living on the Reed farm today. 

            The Dunlap family, prominently connected with the township’s life, came during the latter half of that first decade.  Henry Dunlap, with his two sons, Edmund and Jackson, and his daughter, Mary, took the long journey on horseback from Kentucky to Illinois, Knox County and Cedar Township. They arrived early in 1837 and settled just north of Cherry Grove, the father on Section 20 and Edmund making a home for his bride of a few months on section 19, where his twin daughters, Alice and Ellen, still live.  Edmund Dunlap paid $100 for his original one hundred and sixty acres.  A few months later, Mrs. Henry Dunlap, with her children and Edmund’s young wife, arrive to complete the home circles.  They came by boat down the Ohio and up the Mississippi to Oquawka, bringing their household goods with them.  They brought also a colored woman, whom Mr. Henry Dunlap’s father had presented to his daughter to be nurse for her first baby.  Henry Dunlap, as the law required, went security for her good behavior.  Aunt Phyllis, as she was generally known, lived to be very old and acted as nurse to four generations of Dunlap children. 

            So far as is known, the only one now living who remembers coming to Cedar Township in that first decade is J. W. Stephens, who, when a lad of thirteen, came with his father, in 1828, and settled on Section 16.  Mr. Stephens is ninety-three years old, a tall, well-preserved man, whose memory is clear and who abounds in many and interesting reminiscences.  His father, when he came, bought of Mr. Kays eighty acres of fenced and improved land for which he paid $10 per acre.  The original Stephens land is now owned by J. W. Stephens’ son, Charles, and so has been in the Stephens family since 1839.  Mr. Stephens tells of his first trip to the village of Knoxville the summer of their arrival where he saw the old Court House, the one now standing, in process of erection.  Its walls at that time were about four feet. 

            The decade of the forties saw the township rapidly filling up.  I will not trace its population farther with just one exception.  I want to mention Isaac Hunter, who, with his brother-in-law, Mr. Jordan, came from New England to Peoria in 1839 and on to Knox County and Cedar Township in 1841, building a log cabin on section 23.  Here he lived for many years.  At the time of his sojourn in Peoria in 1839 and 1840, it was a town of seven hundred inhabitants.  Later Mr. Hunter drove a stage coach between Peoria and Rock Island but the story most often told of him is of how he and Mr. Jordan drove 1,000 sheep across country from Massachusetts to Illinois, the trip taking one hundred and twenty-two days. 

            Early Conditions and Experiences 

Now that the township is furnished with inhabitants who have gotten a firm foothold it is time to hear a few tales that have come down to us of these early days. 

            It is natural to wonder whether or not the early settlers were trouble by Indians.  There are indications that, at a still earlier day, the Indians had had favorite camping places on Cedar Township land, especially the vicinity of Brush Creek.  Leroy Marsh tells of plowing his father’s farm when he was a boy and finding many arrow heads and once the skull of an Indian. There are some reasons for thinking they favored other localities in the Township but none were very pronounced.  Indians frequent found them, but there is no record of their being distinctly hostile. 

        Something of the terror of the Black Hawk War days in 1831 and 1832 was felt by the pioneers of Cedar Township, although all alarms proved false.  Mrs. Joseph Latimer, looking from her door just at dusk one evening, saw that some kind of visitors were approaching.  They were coming single file almost completely hidden by the tall prairie grass.  She instantly thought of Indians but her alarm was quieted when she saw Mrs. Swartz with her children.  Lonely and afraid, they had come to spend the night, Mr.  Swartz being away from home. 

       From the little settlement at Cherry Grove, the name given to the neighborhood where the Latimers first settled, consisting of three or four families, George Latimer and U.D. Coy joined the volunteer rangers in the Black Hawk War.  George Latimer was first lieutenant when the little volunteer band was formed.  How rank was determined at that time, I do not know but always after the Black Hawk War, these two men were known as Colonel Latimer and Major Coy.  Each of the Rangers furnished his own horse.  One hundred guns were brought from Rock Island to Oquawka and from there by wagon to Knox and Warren Counties.  The men from these counties ranged as far as the Mississippi River in the vicinity of Oquawka.  They were gone from home more than two months and did good guard service, although engaging in no battles.  Each man was paid eight-six cents per day for himself and horse. 

 About the Indians

            In the years following the Black Hawk War, the Indians almost all crossed the Mississippi either voluntarily or taken to reservation lands by the government.  A large band of Indians very early camped in their westward journey on a hill south of Jonathan Latimer’s home.  A granddaughter of his, in a school composition when she was quite young, tells a little incident of this Indian Camp in these words:  “One little Indian shot another, and the murdered boy was buried on the hill, with his head to the north and his heels to the south, with his pipe, tobacco, guns and his valuable trinkets, beads, furs and feathers also.  Being a chief’s son, there was a great “Pow-wow” at his death.  My Aunt Emily attended the funeral and remembers distinctly about it.”  By Indian rule, the little boy who shot the other should forfeit his life but Colonel Sands, who was conducting the Indians westward, succeeded in arranging a compromise whereby the parents of the boy that was killed received certain valuable gifts.  While these negotiations were being made, the boy was kept in hiding in the Brush Creek woods.           

            A very large company of Indians, estimated at from five hundred to seven hundred, accompanied by government officials, on their way to western reservation land, crossed the township, camping over night by Brush Creek.  Leroy Marsh, then a little boy, visited the camp which was about half a mile from his father’s farm and was badly frightened by their yells to each other.  One government teamsters, accompanying the Indians, was taken ill and left at the Marsh home where he was cared for for several weeks.

            The log cabins of the first settlers have been often described.  The more pretentious ones had two large rooms with an intervening space, roofed, and enclosed on one side.  Each room had its large fireplace with cooking accommodations and a bed or beds and trundle beds, a spinning wheel and sometimes a loom. The construction of such dwellings was not a length process.  Neighborly helpfulness was universal.  Mr. Stephens tells an incident which illustrates this.  William Kays had eight daughters and one son.  Two married daughters were early left widows and returned to their father’s    house with their children.  It is easy to see that the  family were undesirably numerous, considering the log house accommodations, so a day was set, the neighbors all came early, cut and hauled the timber, and in one day put up a log cabin of the double kind just mentioned.  So that one daughter and her family had one end and the other, the other.  In like manner, when Alexander Latimer’s log house burned down, the neighbors gathered and helped him put up another.  Here again in one day, the trees were cut down and the building erected.  The next day, he put down the puncheon floor, cut some windows and made some furniture and that evening the family moved in.  Alexander Latimer’s one chief regret in connection with the burning of his log cabin was that a number of letters written by Abraham Lincoln to himself were destroyed.  He had served under Lincoln in the Black Hawk War and was greatly attached to him. 

            Soon after Jonathan Latimer came, his horses strayed away and he was gone several days hunting for them.  The finishing touches had not been put upon his cabin and their only door was a bed tick hanging down from the top, weighted at the bottom with straw.  So plentiful were the wolves at that time that during the three nights of his absence, Mrs. Latimer had to keep a bright fire burning in the fireplace to keep the hungry animals from coming in.  Wolves were great pests to the early settlers, especially in their propensity to carry off the sheep, for almost everyone owned some sheep, upon which they depended for the wool to be carded, spun and woven into blankets and clothing.  Panthers were not uncommon and old and young avoided paths which let through the thick underbrush at night.  Deer were also plentiful for a time, as were many kinds of small game. 

Log cabins soon began to give place to more pretentious houses.  In 1840, Jonathan Latimer began the construction of a commodious brick house, which was long considered a fine dwelling.  It was built in southern style with a wide hall extending through it from north to south.  He had chosen a rarely beautiful building site and had planted two long rows of maple trees which soon formed a handsome avenue leading to the house.  The lumber used in the house came from his own timber and the bricks were made from clay dug on his farm and burned in two kilns he made.  The first brick burned, he sold to buy window glass and to pay for the sawing of the black walnut lumber and the oak shingles.

            Watson Barber, living just north of Louisville, hauled lumber on wagons from Chicago and put up a frame house for himself.  This house was torn down only  a few years ago.

            Mrs. Joseph Latimer and Mrs. Swartz used to go on horseback fifteen mile to Henderson to trade before there was a store in Knoxville.  Knoxville being nearer and of growing importance, soon became the trade center for Cedar Township people.  Heavy, wide-gauge wagons, drawn by either oxen or horses, were used at first but lighter and less clumsy vehicles must have soon come into use.  Horseback riding was universal. The women were expert riders, often carrying arm produce to market in this way and bringing back   goods in exchange.  At one time, Mrs. Jonathan Latimer marketed so much maple sugar of her own making and linsey-woolsey of her own weaving that when the trading was finished she still had fifty dollars to her credit.

Stoves were rare.  There was occasionally a square-boxed heating stove to be found but cook stoves did not come into the township until the very last of that first decade.  Then one was hauled down from Chicago by Mr. Garrett.  J.W. Stephens, at that time a boy in his teens, tells of going to see this stove as a great curiosity.

For laundry purposes in the very earliest days, any good sized stream was sufficient.  Mrs. Swartz and Mrs. Jonathan Latimer would carry their washing down to the creek where together they washed the clothes.  When these were dry and ready to iron, they would carry the clothes to one or the other cabin and visit while they ironed. 

The Markets

The nearest markets where the Cedar Township farmers could dispose of their grain, corn and stock were at Oquawka, about forty miles distant and especially at Peoria some fifty miles away and Copperas Landing, below Peoria.  Mr. Stephens says he has hauled many a load of corn to Peoria, and sold it for fifteen cents a bushel, taking it out in trade.  Mr. Stephens spent one winter helping run the saw mill at Old Henderson which sawed the logs for the old First Church at Galesburg.  As a young man, he sometimes came to Galesburg for evening entertainments and it was not easy to take the ride home without getting lost, as all was open prairie to his home some six or seven miles south.  To use his expression, “there was not a stick from there to Galesburg.”

In case of sickness, home remedies were mostly used.  Knoxville was the nearest place where medical aid could be secured.  In the fall of 1836 Joseph Latimer’s youngest son, David, was seriously ill.  He was taken to a doctor in Knoxville who asked that he be left in his care for a few weeks.  Seeming improved in health, his brother-in-law, Major Coy, with the best conveyance obtainable at the time, was sent to bring him home.  When well on their homeward journey, the young man complained of feeling faint and asked Major Coy to help him to alight.  There, sitting by the roadside, death came quickly and with no one to call upon for help.  Major Coy lifted his brother’s body into the conveyance and went on alone to the sad home coming.

These are some of the experiences of those early days in Cedar Township.  While some were hard and some were sad, the pleasant part predominated for the exuberance and strength of youth was in the newly settled country. 


The history of the township’s schools and churches began with its settling.  From the day when A.D. Swart and Azel Dorsey joined Hiram Palmer in 1829, religious services have been maintained.  The services were held first in Mr. Swartz’s house, where also, four years later, a church organization with seven members was effected.  From this humble beginning grew the strong Methodist Church of Abingdon which later founded and fostered Hedding College.  But before that day there was a school at Cherry Grove, the outgrowth of another church organization, which was far-reaching in its influence.  In Chapman’s History of Knox County is this sentence, “The first church and school house erected in the county, was at Cherry Grove in Cedar Township in 1832, and Major Coy said he cut the first log for this church and school house.”  It was a log building and stood just southwest of where Cherry Grove Cemetery now is.  Both religious services and school were held in this building.  The school and church were always so closely associated that their story belongs together.

            On June 20th, 1835, at the home of Joseph Latimer, a little company met and organized a Cumberland Presbyterian Church with thirteen members.  Joseph Latimer and John Howard were elected Elders and George G. Latimer, clerk, an office he held until his death, thirteen years later.  The records of this meeting and those that followed are in the passion today of one of George Latimer’s descendants.  Quaint old records they are and interesting reading.  The brethren and sisters are carefully watched over and reproved by the church when their steps go astray.  The little church, full of zeal and purpose, in 1836, the year after its organization, erected a frame building which stood about eight rods northeast of the school house  “in a beautiful walnut and sugar maple grove, just at the edge of the prairie.”  It was here that Cherry Grove Seminary was started, by this young church, 1837. 

Cherry Grove Seminary


            Its beginning was small but the hopes of its founders were large.  They hoped the school might develop into a college and in 1840; a charter from the state for a first class college was obtained.  A graduate of both Cherry Grove Seminary and Knox College, in later years compared the curriculum of the two young schools and found them almost exactly the same except that more Latin and Greek were taught at Cherry Grove.  In 1841, Rev. Cyrus Haynes, a college graduate and an experienced and capable teacher, took charge as principal.  Let me quote from Perry’s Knox County History: “For eight years, under Mr. Haynes’ management, the school prospered.  In his time, a considerable addition was built, adjoining the church, to afford more room for the school.  In 1849, a large substantial, two-story frame building was erected, the lower story for a chapel and church purposes, the upper story arranged for recitations and other school uses.


            “Mr. Haynes was followed by a succession of strong, wide-awake teachers among them Rev. J.M.B. Roach, C.H. Baker, Rev. J.C. Wagamon and others, all of whom did good work and under whose management the school continued to prosper.  There came to the school a fine class of young people, earnest, enthusiastic and loyal.  There was a successful literary society, Upsilon, and a semi-monthly paper, “The Cherry Leaf,” edited by the students.  Also, in later, years, music was taught.  The school was in a sense under the advice and patronage of the Rushville Presbytery of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church.  There were students from a large part of Western Illinois and they came also from Iowa, Missouri and Kentucky.  A large percent of those who were students here made a good record in after life, some remarkably so.


            “There were grouped about Cherry Grove Seminary grounds and within a half mile, ten or twelve houses where these students were boarded or boarded themselves.  Besides these, homes from a mile to a mile and half away, took students to board when it was necessary.  In maintaining Cherry Grove Seminary, all the community joined heartily.” Many sacrifices were necessary and were made cheerfully.  In some respects, the burdens fell heaviest on the women, who, with meager facilities for doing so and very small pay, had to care for the students and see that they had as comfortable homes as possible while at school.  Some of the students were poor and some of the young men were studying for the ministry and were to be encouraged in every possible way.


“Among the many unselfish and devoted women who helped in this, one is worthy of especially mention because of her long service and her helpful influence. When Cherry Grove Seminary was started, George Latimer with his father and brothers, Jonathan and Alexander, were among the active leaders in the move and gave much of their time and liberally of their means in forwarding the enterprise.  George Latimer’s home was but sixty rods from the Seminary and Church building and every interest that pertained to either, always received a cheerful and hearty support from Mrs. Latimer.  She was with the foremost in entertaining comers and goers and always, of course, without a thought of pay.  When the school was started and from that time on, her home was always full of students and at almost a nominal price for board.  Her sympathy for and helpfulness to young men were a marked feature of her Life.  Here Dennis Clark, who for eighteen years served so acceptably as judge of the Knox County Court, lived for twelve years.  He always held Mrs. Latimer in grateful esteem and affection.  In 1848, Mrs. Latimer first great sorrow came.  In the space of two weeks, her husband and three children were taken by death, two of the children being buried in one grave.  Left with the entire care of a young family, in addition to her household duties, she now took the management of the farm.  Her only son was but ten years old.  Besides her watchful care and training of her five children, her management of the farm and stock upon it was equal to that of the best farmers in the neighborhood.  Meanwhile, she in no degree relaxed her interest in the school.  Her only son, after attending Cherry Grove Seminary, graduated from Knox College and Law School at Albany, New York.  Without coming home from Albany, he went directly into his country’s service.  In the fall of 1864, while on shipboard off Fortress Monroe, returning from an expedition into the Carolinas, he died of yellow fever and was buried at   sea.”  What it meant to this widowed mother to have her   only son fall in the service of his country, just when he so well prepared for the work of manhood, many mothers at the present time can understand.  With sincerest sympathy, her many student friends shared her sorrow.


            Let me pause just here to note again the date of the founding of Cherry Grove Seminary, 1837, the year we Galesburg people know so well as the year of the founding of Knox College.  These two institutions then were twins.  Though not so perfect in its conception and organization as the college we honor, yet it is with pride and a sense of appreciative gratitude that I write of this school.  Honoring as I do and have long done with all my heart, the founders of Galesburg and Knox College, I want here to pay a tribute to these other founders, still earlier pioneers, who, having experienced the sense of insecurity against Indians and wild animals and endured cheerfully the discomforts and inconveniences of the very early days and who, without any strong and well organized colony to stand back of them with sympathy and financial support, yet conceived, prayed over and established a school which did them honor, throughout its almost thirty years of history.


            In the year 1866, there was located at Lincoln, Illinois, a college by the Cumberland Presbyterian churches of the state.  This school was intended to take the place of two or three schools similar to the one at Cherry Grove and make of all one strong college.  The establishing of this college, together with the fact that there were at the time two colleges in Galesburg, two in Abingdon and one or two in Knoxville, made it apparent that there was no longer a demand for Cherry Grove Seminary and accordingly in 1866, the school was closed.


            The town of Abingdon now has one and has had two schools of college grade, Abingdon College in South Abingdon which is in Indian Point Township and Hedding College in North Abingdon.


            In 1858, Abingdon College received its charter.  It had been opened as an academy in a plain wooden building two years before by P.H. Murphy.  The story of this college, for many years a strong and influential school, belongs to Indian Point Township.


Hedding College


            Hedding College in North Abingdon is the fulfillment of a prophecy made by the city’s founder, Mr. Swartz.  Soon after he and his wife came to live in their log cabin near where the Abingdon Cemetery now is, the story goes that he took a walk one day  and stopped to rest on a little knoll of rising ground.  As they stood looking around them at the wide stretching prairie, Mr. Swartz said to his wife: “We shall live to see a village here and where we stand a college will be built.”  On the ground where he stood when he uttered those words, Hedding College now stands.  At another time he said to a companion: “Here is my college site.  I do not expect to live to see it, but I have an impression that some day there will be a college built her.”  Mr. Swartz died in 1852.  In the division of property, the present site of the college fell to his daughter Sarah, who afterward married Thomas R. Wilson.  They gave five acres of ground and $500 to help carry out the plan of establishing an institution of learning.  Oregon P. and Benjamin, sons of A.D. Swartz, were also among the most liberal donors.  The school was first opened November 19, 1855, and held its sessions for two years in the old Methodist Episcopal Church with Rev. N.C. Lewis as principal.  It was called Hedding Collegiate Seminary in honor of Bishop Hedding.  The name was suggested by J.B.F. Chesney.


            The first building was erected by voluntary subscriptions in 1856 and 1857.  September 16, 1857, the school opened in its new building.  On February 9, 1857, a charter had been granted and the name changed to Hedding Seminary and Central Illinois Female College.  Ten years later, the first class graduate in the regular Seminary course.  In 1873 and 1874, the large main building, seventy-one by seventy feet and three stories high, was put up at a cost of $45,000.  In 1875, the name was again changed to Hedding College and a new college charter was granted.


            The college is under the patronage of the Methodist Episcopal Church.  Like all colleges, Hedding has had its times of special prosperity and adversity.  Let me quote from its last college catalogue: “The decade of the 1890’s saw the beginning of an endowment fund. In 1903, the gymnasium was erected and the era of expansion ushered in.  The endowment campaign of 1908 and 1909 added materially to the resources of the college, while that of 1911 and 1912, was carried forward for the next four years, coming to a victorious conclusion on December 6, 1916.  At midnight of this date, a total of $350,000 was announced.  The Board of Trustees set aside $250,000 of this amount for endowment and $100,000 for indebtedness, building and equipment. $10,000 have been invested in the purchase of books for the Library, equipment for the laboratories and in the remodeling of the basement of the main college building, and $40,000 have been spent in remodeling Old Main.  The plant is now modern in every detail.”  At present, the college has the following buildings:  Old Maine, enlarged and remodeled; the gymnasium; the Nessie Blodgett Hall for young women and the Novella McHard Home for boys; besides owning a handsome residence for the home of the president.  Nearly four hundred names are on its alumni roll, including many who have achieved commercial or professional success above the average.  Doctor Walter D. Agnew is its present efficient and beloved president.


Hedding College and Cherry Grove Seminary are the only schools of higher education which Cedar Township has had, but district schools, almost all of them begun in log houses, were erected wherever settlements were made.  There are today and have been for many years, schools taught in the Louisville, Brush Creek, Hunter, Heller, Warren, Earle, Cherry Grove and Cross Lanes districts.  Professor W.F. Boyes, County Superintendent of Schools, has written for Mr. Perry’s County History and authoritative article upon The History and Development of the County Common Schools.  In this article he makes a mention of the valuable work of Leanna Hague, who was closely identified with educational interests in Cedar Township for many years.  Her father, with his wife and two little children spent the winter of 1851 and 1852 in the Cherry Grove neighborhood, where he had come in October from Pennsylvania.  The next year, he moved over into Galesburg Township where he lived for the remainder of a long life.  His oldest daughter, Leanna, after graduating from Waynesburg College in Pennsylvania, came back into Cedar Township and for fifteen years taught school in the newly erected school house at Cherry Grove.  She proved herself a rare educator.  Thorough and enthusiastic in her work, she had the gift, to a marked degree, of inspiring her pupils with great loyalty and ambition.  Working in close association with Mary Allen West, County Superintendent of Schools from 1873 to 1882, she did valuable service to the township and county in classifying and providing graded courses of study for district schools.  Her own school was repeatedly the banner school in number of premiums taken for fine work shown at the County Fair.  For several successive years, this district school excelled all others in the state, in number and value of premiums taken for superior work shown at the State Fair.  Leanna Hague’s work with Cherry Grove School ceased when she married George Dunlap in 1883.  She is living today, frail in body, but strong in mind and spirit, in the city of Galesburg.




In the history of the township, its churches have had an important part.  The organization of the two oldest has already been mentioned.  I will add a few facts about these before telling of others.


The Methodist Episcopal Church of Abingdon was organized in the home of A.D. Swartz in 1833, three years before the town of Abingdon waslaid out, with the following members:  Mr. and Mrs. Swartz, Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Latimer, Mr. and Mrs. Finch and Mrs. Nancy Latimer.  Two years later, Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Latimer withdrew to help organize another church of their own denomination.  The little new Methodist church worshipped for sometime in private houses.  In 1846, their first church was erected in Abingdon on the corner of Washington and Jefferson streets.  This building was used both for religious worship and for two years by Hedding College for school purposes.  When the first college building was put up in 1857, the congregation worshipped in its chapel until a new church building was erected in 1867.  This building, a fine one for its day, stood for thirty years on the corner of Washington and Latimer streets.  It was torn down to give place to the present well-appointed, modern church building, which was completed in 1898; this strong church has always been closely identified with the life of the city of Abingdon.


The Congregational Church of today in Abingdon had its origin in the Cumberland Presbyterian Church at Cherry Grove about which I have already told in connection with Cherry Grove Seminary.  For its history and in explanation of its change in denominations, I quote from an article prepared at the time of the dedication of the present Congregational Church building: “At the present time when the new Congregational Church building in Abingdon is being dedicated, it seems most appropriate that there should be given and recorded a brief history of the congregation that worshipped  in the old church home and is now entering the new one, showing a continuous and connected history of the organization that took its start more than 80 years ago, and thus preserve in permanent form some, at least, of the more important facts connected with a congregation that has taken an important part in shaping the religious and educational life of this community from the time of its very first settlement.  Briefly therefore, we find that between 1830 and 1835, there came hither from that part of Tennessee and Kentucky, known as the Cumberland country, several families and located in the vicinity of Abingdon, mostly to the north of what is known as Cherry Grove neighborhood.  These people were of staunch Presbyterian, Puritan stock.  They brought with them letters from the Cumberland Presbyterian Church.  On June 20, 1835, these families by appointment met at the home of Joseph Latimer and organized the Cherry Grove congregation of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church.  Rev. James H. Stockton, a minister of that denomination, was present and after preaching a sermon, acted as moderator, and conducted the service of organization. The following names were enrolled as members:  Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Latimer, Mr. and Mrs. John Howard, Miss Ellen Howard, Mrs. Susan P. Coy, Mr. and Mrs. George G. Latimer, Mr. and Mrs. John Crawford, Mr. and Mrs. Alexander Latimer and Mrs. Nancy Lomax.”


This was the first church that built, as has been related, the first meeting house in the edge of the timber and later worshipped the Cherry Grove Seminary building.  I resume the quotation:


“In 1866, there was located at Lincoln, Illinois, a Cumberland Presbyterian College for the state.  Cherry Grove was a competitor for this college but failing to secure         it, the church decided to abandon the school and build a church house in Abingdon.  Thus, after a career of marked usefulness for nearly thirty years, was the dual work of this congregation abandoned.”


“In the fall and winter of 1866, the church building in Abingdon on the corner of Washington and Pearl streets was erected and in February of 1867, it was dedicated and occupied.  At that time it was the most commodious church building in Abingdon.  Rev. J.R. Brown, D.D., was then the popular and well beloved pastor.  After a period of fourteen years, during which time every department of the church work was maintained without an interruption, the  congregation decided to change to  the fellowship of the Congregational Church. In 1881, by a vote of the congregation, they changed their fellowship in a body from the Cumberland Presbyterian Church to that of that of the Congregational Church. This action was taken without any change in belief, they then and now retaining the same articles of faith as formerly.  It was done for the sake of closer fellowship with the churches in the nearer vicinity and because of the then existing prejudice between the North and South growing out of the recent rebellion.  The Cumberland Presbyterian Church was organized in the South and had its membership largely there.  Its name, too, tended to localize it there.  Because of this prejudice, the church felt that its usefulness was being hindered.  Rev. James M. Campbell, D.D., was the last pastor before this change was made and Rev. William Clerk, was the first after the change.”  The present and commodious and modern Congregational church building was completed and occupied in 1917.


            A Protestant Methodist Church was started in Abingdon about 1838.  They at first worshipped in a small frame building on the corner of Main and Latimer streets.  In 1846, or near that time, they put up a church building on Jackson Street a little west of where the C.B. & Q. railroad tracks now are.  Later, about 1868, they built a commodious and substantial church home that stood on the corner of Jefferson and Jackson streets.  For a while they were a flourishing church.  After some years the church organization was abandoned.


In this Protestant Methodist church building in 1879 a congregation was organized known as the Jefferson Street Christian Church.  After worshipping here for a time they purchased the old Methodist Episcopal Church building on the corner of Washington and Jefferson streets.  They refurnished it and worshipped there until 1884, when this church reunited with the Christian Church then worshipping in the chapel of the old Abingdon College building.


The present Christian Church of Abingdon, so long connected with Abingdon College, was founded in 1840 by Hiram Smith and Richard Johnston.  It is another strong church closely connected with the life of the city, but its history belongs to Indian Point Township which township it is located.


About 1858, a Congregational Church was organized in Abingdon.  Among those who started this church were Isaac Hunter, Thomas Marsh, Thomas Andrews, Thaddeus Merrill, William Hughey and their families.  They bought a lot and put up a building on the west side of Main Street opposite the present city park.  Here they worshipped for ten years, or until 1868, when the church was disbanded.  Each member of the church was given a letter of dismissal and recommendation to any church he or she might wish to unite with.


In 1910, a Universalist Church was organized in Abingdon, which is doing service at the present time.


There have been several influential country churches in the township.  About 1838, both the Methodist Episcopal and Methodist Protestant people organized each a church.  The Methodist Episcopal organization occurred in the village of Louisville; the Methodist Protestant a mile north of it.  Both congregations worshipped for a time in private houses.  In 1841, a Methodist Episcopal Church building was erected on the public square of Louisville.  Mr. Stephens thus describes it: “It was built by Reuben Castle in 1842 and he received for the labor and the    material which he put into it, $150.  Every piece of dimension stuff that was in the building was hewn out of oak.  The structure was exceedingly well built and thoroughly pinned together with wooden pins.  It stood on blocks that raised the building quite high from the ground so that the sheep that was running at large used to go under the building and stay there during their resting time and in the hottest part of the day.” In 1878, under the leadership of Rev. Kinney, the little church known as Warren Chapel was built, at which time the Louisville church was abandoned as a house of worship.  It was given to Rev. R. Kinney and he occupied it about five years as a residence. Then J.W. Stephens purchased the ground and the church which stood upon it.”  The Warren Chapel Methodist Episcopal church did good service for a long time.  The building now stands unused, the organization having been given up.


The Methodist Protestant church was built soon after the Methodist Episcopal, near where Pleas Marks now lives.  Their first building was, in process of time, replaced by a larger and more imposing structure.  This, however because of so many deaths and removals was abandoned long ago, and in 1894, the building was sold and torn down.


Sunday Schools were kept up more or less regularly for some years at Warren Chapel, Louisville, and in the Brush Creek, Hunter and Earle School Houses.  No school house Sunday Schools are held regularly so far as is known at the present time and out of all these churches, there are only three in the township today, the Abingdon Methodist Episcopal, Congregational and Universalist.


Towns and Industries


It is interesting to note that Galesburg, Abingdon and Louisville were laid out as towns in the same year—1836.  Abingdon was laid out by A.D. Swartz, Louisville by John S. Garrett.


On the map of Cedar Township in the 1870 Atlas Map of Knox County, the plat of the town Louisville, on Section 16, is shown. Louisville never grew to be more than a village but had several good-sized hewed log houses, a post office, a Methodist Episcopal church and a store started by Alexander Ewing of Knoxville.  The post office was at first called “Farmers’ Hall.” The mail was carried by a hired conveyance from Macomb to Galesburg.  Thus both Abingdon and Louisville were on this mail route.  The mail was all carried in on bag, the postman stopping at each town on the way and sorting out the mail for that town.

When, in 1853, a township organization was perfected, the first township election was held in Louisville with Hugh A. Kelly as moderator and Lorentus W. Conger clerk.  The result of this first township election was as follow:  E. P. Dunlap, 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 Peace; Thomas S. Bassett, Overseer of the Poor; Solomon Stegall and Eli Butler, Constables.  The election of the following year was also held at Louisville but ever since, it has been held at Abingdon.  No trace of the village of Louisville is left today, but the Louisville District School House stands near the original site.


Abingdon, beautifully located on high rolling ground in the southwest quarter of Section 33, as originally laid out by Mr. Swartz, comprised sixteen blocks.  In 1849, the Frederick Snyder addition, just over the line in Indian Point Township was added.  It was long known as South Abingdon.  There have been a number of later additions.  The town was named after the city of Abingdon, Maryland, the birthplace of Mr. Swartz. From the fuller accounts of Abingdon as written up in the various Knox County histories and from old residents, I have culled a few facts.  The first residence, a one-room, log house, was erected on Main Street by A.M. Curry.  He and John Green built a log store near the dwelling and received a license to sell goods in 1837.  Alonzo Reece, a brother of Dr. Reece, who was so long and closely identified with Abingdon life, was the first child born in the town.  Where the Globe Factory now stands the first hotel was erected.  It was run by Captain Thomas Ellison.  Before this, in 1836, the very year the town was started, we are told there was a tavern kept in a double log house by a certain John Evans.  Here both man and beast could find accommodations.  The first school, taught by Mr. McIntosh in 1838, was held in a small frame building which stood just north of where the Globe Factory now stands.  In 1855, the population of Abingdon was only about five hundred.  The founding of its colleges about that time, an account of which has already been given, gave great impetus to the growth of the town.  In 1867, a large brick graded school building was built.  At present, Abingdon has two graded schools and has a fine new high school building in process of erection.


Abingdon was incorporated as a village in 1845.  In 1857, north and south Abingdon united and were incorporated as a city by a special act of legislature.  The first officers were:   W.H. Gillespie, Mayor; O.C. Lewis, Sidney Owens, Jesse Perdue and George Inness, Aldermen; C.L. Summers, Clerk; Jesse Burr, Assessor; Andrew Bradbury, Collector; W.H. Gillaspie, Treasurer and W. Merrick, Marshal.  In accordance with the terms stipulated in its original charter, no intoxicating liquor has ever been legally sold within the boundaries.  The store kept by Jonathan Latimer, later known as Latimer and Meeks, is noteworthy because it demonstrates the fact that a department store flourished in the forties and fifties even if not so well organized or extensively housed as those of the present time.  Perry’s History of Knox County says of this store:  “Under one roof were employed a shoemaker, a tailor and a milliner.  This store kept dry goods, groceries, boots and shoes, hardware, meats cured by themselves and a small variety of drugs.  They also bought and sold cattle, hogs, sheep and all the products of the farm.  There were two ways in which they disposed of hogs of which they often owned several thousand taken in exchange for goods sold during the year. They would either slaughter them on the farm and haul their carcasses to Copperas Landing on the Illinois River, or they would drive them on foot to the same shipping point.  Sometimes, the meat that was slaughtered would be packed in barrels, salted and shipped in this way.  Generally, the return wagons would be loaded with goods to be again traded to the farmers for their farm products.”  Copperas Landing was the center of this shipping trade as it furnished water facilities to St. Louis and other cities.


There are two prosperous banks in Abingdon at the present time, the First National, known as the People’s Bank, organized in 1879 by M. C. Bates, J. B. McKay and M. C. Kimball and the State Bank, organized in 1902 by John Mosser and sons, James Cox, J. W. Hunter, Henry Simmons, and Joseph Main.


Abingdon is justly proud of its manufacturing interests.  They began back in the forties and fifties with certain hand-manufactured articles.  J. B. F. Chesney manufactured plows which were celebrated throughout this section of the country.  Also, Jonathan Latimer built carriages and buggies in the early days.  Boots and shoes were made by Henry Frey.


The following statistics for 1918 have been given me by the city officials.  At present, Abingdon has sixteen factories with an annual pay roll of approximately $500,000 and numbering some eight hundred or more employees. The annual production is approximately $2,000,000.  The largest of the manufacturing concerns are the Globe Shirt and Overall Company, Abingdon  Wagon company, Abingdon Sanitary Manufacturing Company and the American Sanitary Manufacturing Company.  In a factory way Abingdon has the largest production per capita in normal times, of any city, town or village in the State of Illinois, today, 1918, her large factories are all employed in producing war materials, Abingdon is a city of homes, factories and schools.  Her present population is three thousand.


Outside of Abingdon, farming and cattle raising have always been the main pursuits of Cedar Township people.  There is a very small proportion of poor land in the township and its farms have reached a high degree of cultivation.  Anyone riding over the township as I have done in search of material for this paper cannot fail to be impressed with the rich productive beauty of its farm land.  In the business of stock raising, Cedar Township has ranked with the very best and still ranks high.  Perry’s County History says of this industry in the Township:  “Some as fine stock has been raised there as could be found upon the market.  Large herds of Shorthorn, Hereford, Galloway, Angus, Holstein and Jersey cattle have been bred in the township.”


The Quincy Branch of the C.B. & Q. Railroad passes throughout the length of Cedar Township.  At the time of its building, the two ends building toward each other, the one from Quincy, the other from Chicago, met just south of Abingdon and formed a completed line.  A Cedar Township man, Jonathan Latimer, took the contract for furnishing the ties for what is now the Quincy Branch of this railroad and for furnishing a large amount of corded wood to be use as engine fuel.  Wood was the only fuel used at first in the railroad engines.


Some Noteworthy Emigrations


Cedar Township has sent many of its sons and daughters to be pioneers in other states.  I will mention three instances involving more than usual experiences.


When the memorable little company of “Knox Forty-Niners,” known as the Jayhawkers started from Knox county April, 1, 1849, in quest of California gold, Cedar Township furnished one of the men, Lorenzo Dow Stephens, a brother of J.W. Stephens.  The Jayhawkers, thirty-nine in number in seeking a short cut to California, left the Los Angeles Trail and entering through a ravine,” struck out boldly, at first, into the great American desert.”  They wandered for weeks in the desert, including that awful desolation of Death’s Valley, which they discovered and which was never crossed before by a white man.  Three perished there and the rest, having been fifty-two days with almost no food and suffering terribly for lack of water in the sandy valleys of salt and alkali, came out at last, little more than living skeletons at a hospitable cattle ranch near the head waters of the Santa Clara River in Ventura County, Southern California.  Of this company, only two are living today, Lorenzo Dow Stephens of San Jose, California, and John B. Colton of Galesburg, Illinois.


In the very early days of Minnesota, a young couple went from Cedar Township to be missionaries among the Indians.  These were Mr. and Mrs. Amos Huggins.  Mr. Huggins was for a while a student in Knox College and his wife was Sophia Marsh, oldest sister of Leroy Marsh.  It was a time of much hostility among the Indians.  After a few years residence there, Mr. Huggins stepped out of his house one evening into the yard on some errand.  The light, a streaming out of the open doorway, made him a fine target, a shot rang out and he fell, the victim of a hostile Indian’s bullet.  His wife and baby were held as captives by the Indians for six weeks and carried 100 miles farther north before they were rescued by some government troops.  Mrs. Huggins is still living in the State of Missouri.


A little company from Cedar Township became pioneers in the far west and the founders of a great city.  Mentioned among the first to settle in the township, in 1831, was Mrs. Sarah Boren, the widowed daughter of Joseph Latimer.  Mrs. Boren lived on the land adjoining her father’s until her one son had grown to manhood and her two daughters were young women. The older of the daughters, Mary, married Arthur A. Denny, who was the County Surveyor in Knox County, from 1848 to 1851.  Soon after this marriage, the parents of the bride and groom, Mrs. Sarah Latimer Boren, the mother of Mary Boren Denny, and John Denny, the father of Arthur A. Denny, were married.  John Denny, who had been a volunteer in the War of 1812 and served in the legislature where he was associated with Lincoln, Baker, Yates and Trumbull, with his five sons and Mrs. Sarah Latimer Boren Denny with her sons and two daughters, became enthused with the idea of settling on the far Pacific coast.  They had known pioneer days in Illinois and had the true pioneer spirit.  On April 10, 1851, just two years after the Jayhawkers left Knox County, Mr. and Mrs. John Denny with their grown-up sons and daughters, children and grandchildren, began the great journey across the plains.  They started that April morning, from the family home at Cherry Grove in four “prairie schooners” as the canvas covered wagons were called, three of them drawn by four-horse teams, one by a single span; they took also a few saddle horses and two faithful watch dogs, that proved of great value in traveling in the wilds.  Their long toilsome journey, full of incidents and adventures, was ended when in the fall; they reached Puget Sound and Eliott Bay.  They camped temporarily for the winter and in February of 1852. Less than a year after leaving Cedar Township, Arthur Denny, having made soundings of the bay and determined where the city of his dreams should be located, use the experience gained as surveyor in Knox County, in surveying and laying out claims where was to be the city of Seattle.  He, with his brother, David, and two or three other men, was the first to occupy claims and start business interest in that city.  They lived to achieve great wealth and many of their descendants reside in Seattle today.


War Record


Cedar Township is justly proud of its war record.  All through the Forties and Fifties, its inhabitants were wide-awake to war issues, These issues were ardently discussed in the Upsilon society of Cherry Grove Seminary and in the college debating societies in Abingdon and were often hotly disputed in gatherings of the men.  When Lincoln and Douglas spoke in Galesburg, wagon loads went from Cedar Township to hear them.  Among the Township’s strong Abolitionists was Abel Thomas, already mentioned in this history as one of the early settlers.  He lived in the country east and north of Louisville and was a zealous pilot in the Underground Railway traffic.  Mounted on a fence post, where the lane leading to his house turned off from the main road, he always kept the skull of a cow or of some other animal.  This was a sign which meant to those helping runaway slaves, that here they would find a friend.


When the call to arms came, the Township responded quickly and loyally, with its full quota, probably more, of men.  The strong loyalty everywhere manifested before and during the Civil War is noteworthy because such a large proportion of those who had been shaping the opinions of the different communities for the thirty years preceding the war grew up in homes where the passing generation had come from semi-southern states and some of whom had slave-owning relatives.  Exact statistics are almost impossible to obtain.  In the Knox County list of Civil War volunteers, three hundred and seventy-two names from Abingdon and Cedar Township appear.  Some of these men merely enlisted from Abingdon and were not Cedar Township people.  The Township can undoubtedly claim three hundred volunteers and probably sent more.  All who went from the Township were volunteers.  There were no drafted men from Cedar.


While the men were serving on the battle field, the women were doing all they could to furnish needed lint, bandages and supplies.  Nowhere was there sincerer mourning when the bells announced the death of Abraham Lincoln.


In 1897, Company D of the Illinois National Guards was organized in Abingdon. At the outbreak of the Spanish War in the spring of 1898, members of Company D volunteered and were mustered in with the rest of the regiment forming the Sixth Illinois Volunteer Infantry, which served through the war and was mustered out at Springfield, Illinois, November 25, 1898.


The men and women who had to do with the settlement of Cedar Township and with the shaping of its early life are almost all resting now and their voices are silent.  It is fitting that we who come after not so farm removed in time but that we have often heard rehearsed the stories of pioneer days, should pass on to coming generations, the annals of those times.


            Admiring, honoring, loving those who have wrought for us, to us in these days, comes the message Emerson voices: “I have no expectation any man will read history aright, who thinks that what was done in a remote age, by men whose names have resounded far, has any deeper sense than what he is doing today.”




Owing to the omission of a line which makes the meaning obscure, the following showing the Liberty Loan Record of the county in the late war is republished:


The county by its response to the call of the government for funds also gave its soldiers the most substantial backing.  This is indicated by the following tables showing the total contributions to each of the four Liberty Loans and the Victory Loan:











$  923,180

$  659,600

Not Known






















The county far exceeded the total quota.  


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