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Cold Brook Township, Warren County, IL

          COLD BROOK TOWNSHIP, or the territory that is now embraced by it, was among the earliest that was settled in the county.  As early as 1828, Peter Peckenpaugh, from Indiana, found his way up into this locality, and put down his stake for a home, on section 30.  Peter did not have long to wait, for Peter Butler and Jeremiah McFarland came on soon, seeking homes for themselves and their families.  The former located on section 31, and the latter on section 25.  These pioneers were from Kentucky.  They all had their families to brighten their pioneer firesides, and this have them hope, courage, and strength to put the axe into the timber, the plow-share into the virgin soil, and carve out homes for themselves and  families.

            If there is any one position in life more lonely than another, it is that of a man starting out in a new country all alone to make his fortune, without wife or children to assist him in the building up of a home; it would seem that his condition must be something akin to “Coleridge’s Ancient Mariner”—

“Alone, Alone, All, All Alone

Alone On A Wide, Wide Sea.

So Lonely ‘Twas, That God Himself,

Scarce, Seemed There To Be.”


            Peter Peckenpaugh died but a few years ago.  His wife died in 1850.  Mr. McFarland has only been dead a few years.  Peter Butler, who figured quite extensively in the early history of the county, moved to Oregon, in 1853, where, after an active life, he died.  He was one of the first County Commissioners.  William Whitman and family, and Josiah Whitman, his brother, were the next to settle in the township, which was in the spring of 1829.  They came from Kentucky and made claims upon section 32.  William was a preacher of the Christian Church, and in those early days, charmed his hearers with his eloquence.  He died at this home in 1838.  Josiah Whitman was married to Hannah Davidson.  He died near Monmouth in 1865.  His widow is still living in this city.  William Whitman’s widow married Rev. Richard Johnson, who was also a minister of the Christian Church.  They are both dead.  Richard H. Ragland and family, of Kentucky, moved into the township at an early day, locating in the timber near Cedar Fork.  This pioneer did not live long in his Western home, but passed on to the eternal one, dying in 1839.  His widow survived him, nearly half a century, dying in 1885, at the old homestead.  Their children are residing in the township.  In 1830, Aaron Hardin, from Schuyler Co., Ill, came in and located on section 33.  He left the county at an early day.  John G. Haley, with his wife, Elizabeth, came in this year, and located their home on section 29.  He was a very active and influential man,  and an Elder in the Christian Church.  He was quite prominent in the early days in county matters, and was at one time Sheriff of the county.  He moved to Missouri in the fall of 1870, and died there some years later.  His first wife, Elizabeth, died in 1847, at the old homestead.  They had a family of seven children,  three boys, and four girls—Mary Jane, Henry, Edward, Eliza, Cynthia Ann, and Thomas.  Of the children three are living—Jane and Eliza in Warren County, and Thomas in California.

            Mr. Haley married for his second wife, Mrs. Martha Whitman, “Aunt Patsey.” Who came from Kentucky, in 1831, locating on section 7.  Her seven children were William C., S.Squire, Sally, C.,JohnC., Lucy A., Huldy A., and Christina J.  They are all living except Huldy A. and William C., and all in the county except S.Squire.  Aunt Patsey is living with her daughter, Mrs. Hascall, on section 7, in  Floyd Township, in her 89th year.  She is still strong and hearty, and bids far to live many more years.

            Of those who came after the pioneers above mentioned up to 1837, there were Phillip Horney, H.S. Hascall, Max Haley, P.R. Haley, Alva Gordon, David R. Shelton,Sr., with a family of 13 children, Edward Grounds, William Harper, Sr., Seth C. Murphy, Jacob Rust, David Morrow, William Fraymeyer, and Mrs. Claycomb and children, Henry and William Bruner, Thomas Wallace, Sr., William and Joseph Murphy, William Wallace, Alexander Moore, Nelson E. Hills, Thomas Griffee, Jesse Cleveland, Henry Landers, William and John Davidson, John Underwood, John P. Cone, S.S. Wallace and John E. Murphy.  Thus a good start was made toward settling the township.  They were an industrious, intelligent class of pioneers, and went to work with energy and perseverance to build up homes, develop the township and improve the country.

            Seth C. Murphy taught the first school in the township, in a small log house on section 30, or in the “Neck”.  This was in 1832.  Mr. Murphy died in the fall of 1836.  Rev. William Whitman was the first preacher to entertain these pioneers with gospel eloquence, which was in the old town of Cold Brook, in 1831, the services being held in Peter Peckenpaugh’s house.  Alma Arasmith and Elizabeth Peckenpaugh led off in this township the first matrimonial venture.  Rev., William Whitman, duly solemnized this very interesting event, which created quite a sensation in this neighborhood, on Christmas Day, 1831.  Jacob Rust was the first man to embark in the mercantile business, which he did by opening a store in  a log cabin in the town of Cold Brook.  Jacob did not have an elaborate assortment of goods, nor was there much capital invested, but his little cabin store, as humble as it appeared, was pleasing sight to those pioneers.  A post office was opened at Cold Brook, in 1832, and Alva Cordon was the favorite son who held Uncle Sam’s commission.

            Thomas Wallace started the first sawmill in the township, about a mile north of Cold Brook, on Cedar Creek.  This was one of the first mills in the county, and was started in the summer of 1832.  Subsequently he put in a stone for grinding corn.  Cold Brook received it’s name from some cold springs which were located near there.  It was platted by John G. Haley.

`           In 1832, Mr. Haggett and John Bundy started a blacksmith shop here, which was the first in the township.  At one time, Cold Brook was quite a town, and a thriving trade carried on.  The Brink and Walker stage line passed through the town.  It was twelve miles from here to Knoxville and eight miles to Monmouth.  Mr. Gordon served as Postmaster until 1840, when H. E. Haley was appointed.  A.D. Hawkins succeeded him and was the last Postmaster in the town.  Upon the completion of the railroad, Mr. Hawkins moved the office with his store to Cameron, where it was established in 1855.  the starting of the town of Cameron broke the town of Cold Brook up, and the owners of the land there have had the good sense to convert the site into fields.  If many of the other would-be towns in the county would follow the example of the town of Cold Brook, there would be many acres of good land put to a proper and beneficial use.

            A sad accident occurred near this town in the early days (1838).  Mat Dean and John Hardin were fishing in the millpond.  They were sitting on a log, one end of which lay on the bank and the other ran out into the pond.  Dean suddenly had a fit and fell of the log into the water.  Hardin seeing him go down, plunged in after him, and they were both drowned.  Singularly enough, their4 bodies were found some distance apart.  Hardin’s body was found a few hours after the accident, but that of Dean was not recovered until the next day, and not until after the pond had been dragged.  It was found clinging with knees and arms to the under side of the log upon which they had been sitting.

            This township was organized April 4, 1854.  The minutes of this meeting are imperfect, but we find that Philip Horney was chosen Moderator, and Joseph Stewart, Clerk.  After the votes were polled, it was found that Benjamin F. Morey was elected Supervisor; J. S. Parker, Clerk; James McFarland, Assessor and Collector; Andrew Claycomb and B. F. Morey, Justices of the Peace; W. H.H. Claycomb,   T. F. Taylor and B. S. Parker were elected Commissioners of Highways.  It is township 11 north of range I west, and is bounded on the north by Kelly, on the east by Knox County, on the south by Floyd, and on the West by Monmouth Township.

            The only village in the township is Cameron, situated on the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad, where some of the people do their trading.

            This road runs nearly all the way on the southern line of this township and was completed through it in the early part of 1855.

            Cedar and Talbot Creeks and their branches water it.  Much of the township contains broad, rolling prairie, and some parts are rather broken.  The land lying along and bordering the streams is very well timbered.  Most of the farms are well cultivated and provided with good buildings.  The farmers with but few exceptions are out of debt and prosperous.  The farmers to the raising of stock than was formerly done are giving more attention, and the production in this line is increasing every year.

            The population, in 1880, was 1,084, and it is estimated there has been a little gain since that time.

            The County Superintendent’s reports for the year ending June 30, 1885, contains the following school items:  There are eight school districts, one graded and seven upgraded schools,  with a valuation of school property amounting to $6,400.  All of the school-buildings are frame.  Of persons under 21 years of age, there were 425, of whom 272 were of school age, and 252 were enrolled.  The highest wages paid to teachers is $45 and the lowest $25 per month.  The tax levy for this year was $2,170.

            From the Assessor’s report for the year 1885, the following information is obtained:  Number of acres improved land, 22,439; value of improved land, $314,025; total value of lots, $3,375;  number of horses, 922; cattle, 1,688; asses and mules, 37; sheep, 157; hogs, 3,249; steam engines, 1; carriages and wagons, 308; watches and clocks, 197; sewing and knitting machines, 99; pianos, 7; melodeons and organs, 35.  Total value of personal property, $708,002.

            Below is given the names of the citizens who have been honored with the office of Supervisor:

BENJ.  S. MOREY…………..1854  L.M.GATES…………..1863-4

PHILIP HORNEY……….1855         J. H. MURPHY……….1865

W.H.H.CLAYCOMB……1856        PHILIP HORNEY…………..1866

PHILIP HORNEY……………..1857               J. R. BARNETT……….1867-70

W.H.H.CLAYCOMB……1858        L. M. GATES………….1871-3

HENRY MURPHY………1859         J. T. HARTMAN………1874-5

W.H.H.CLAYCOMB…….1860       PHILIP HORNEY……..1876

JAMES MCFARLAND….1861-2    J. T. HARTMAN………1877-85


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