Ellison Township, Warren Co., IL

            Ellison was organized as a township, April 4, 1854.  Agreeable to the notice previously given, the legal voters of this township met on this day and proceeded to elect their officers and perfect their organization. 


E. Mitchell was chosen Moderator, and A. S. Smith, Clerk.  The result of this meeting was the election of E. Mitchell, for Supervisor, William Coleman, Clerk; J.P. Rutherford, Assessor; N.B. Cramer, Collector; H.F. Sexton and S. D. Perkins, Justices of the Peace; H. S. Sexton, Overseer of the Poor; D. Leacock and N. Eldridge, Commissioners of Highways; W. H. Gilmore, George W. Scott, Constables.

            Thus equipped for self-government the people of this township, received new life and went on in their development and prosperity.

            This territory is in township 9 north of range 3 west, and is bounded on the north by Tompkins, on the east by Roseville, on the south by Point Pleasant Township, and on the west by Henderson County.

            Field Jarvis was the first settler in this township, locating in 1829 at the head of Ellison Creek.  It was some years before he had any neighbors.

            Isaac A. Watson and William P. Thompson settled in this township in 1835.  Kenner Brent, his wife, Elizabeth, and a large family of children among who were Kenner, Jr., David C., William P., and Paul, came in March, 1836, locating on section 18.  They were from Lancaster Co., VA.  Mr.Brent was in the war of 1812, where he distinguished himself for his bravery in several active engagements, Seneca Salsbury and family from Ohio, located in 1836, on section 4.  Among those that soon followed these pioneers and settled in the township before 1840, are:



Mr. Meacham and family, C. Higler and family, Mathew Cox and Family, Samuel Baldwin and Jesse Coleman with their families also, Mr. Staley; John and Edward Ray, with their families; Benton Godfrey, Paul, William and John Birdsell, Daniel Leacock, James Gregory, William Talbot, Decatur Loftus, and family from Tennessee; William Brown and family from Virginia.  Mr. Jarvis was a large, powerful man, and a noted bee-hunter.  The early settlers depended upon Field almost entirely to furnish them with honey.  Horace Sexton and wife, Hannah, came in and settled in the northwestern part of the township in the spring of 1840.  When they settled, there was but one house between them and Monmouth.  They came from Ashtabula Co., Ohio.  Horace Sexton died at the old homestead, in October 1877; his widow is still living.  Seneca Salsbury and wife are both dead, the former but recently.  It is said that at the time he erected his dwelling house, it was the finest house in the county.  Mr. Salsbury was the first Postmaster in the township.

            The first village that started was Lancaster, on section 22.  It contained a tavern, two stores, a black smith shop, and Post Office. As a village it is now deserted, and is only known in the memory of the early settlers.


“But now the sounds of population fail,

No Cheerful murmurs fluctuate the gale;

No busy steps the grass-grown foot-way tread,

But all the blooming flush of life is fled.”



            Nevertheless, while it is no longer a village, on its site can be traced broad fields of grain, and extensive herds of cattle graze and chew their cuds at ease on the green pasture.

            The first couple to enter into the sacred ties of matrimony were Stephen Decatur Loftus and Mary  Barnett; were married December 24th, 1841--this information provided  by a descendant of the Barnett family. I had Barrett and it should of been Barnett.  Their honey-moon and after life were spent on section 25.  The first birth and death are not remembered.  This township has not been exempt from the wrathful winds of earth, though it has been shown that it deserved no such affliction.  On the 30th day of May, 1858, towards sunset, the blue sky became overcast with dark, ominous clouds.  Soon the roar of the wind was heard in the timber west of Ellison Village.  The dreadful sound increased and in a few seconds a tornado with lightning-like speed and destructiveness overshadowed the town.  But a few moments and only a few, buildings were left standing, and nearly all of the inhabitants were more or less injured, many of them killed.

            The gale came from Iowa and did no damage until after it passed the Bluffs.  Its path was about 40 rods wide and about 6 miles long in its destructive course.  It made one of its fearful revolutions in front of Mr. Kelly’s house, and after demolishing the town, raised up from the ground a few miles northwest and passed away.  There were several stores in the village, blacksmith shops, taverns, etc., all of which were demolished.  Fifteen persons were killed and fatally wounded and many were disabled for life.  Of those killed and who died from the effects of their wounds, were


 the Misses McWilliams, Mrs. Thompson and child, Mrs. Brazelton, Martin Wentworth, Miss Lacy, Mrs. Boyd, Mrs. McCartney and child, Mr. Johnson and child, Mr. Hurd, and Mr. Thompson, who lived out on the prairie.  


            On the approach of the tornado, Mr. Thompson, with his family, had gone into a cave, dug on purpose for protection against such a catastrophe.  Curiosity got the best of his judgment, and against the admonitions of his sensible wife, he put out his head to see how a tornado looked in its best humor, when the end of a rail that was flying about in the air struck him in the head, knocking it off, and sending his headless body back into the cave, where it feel at the feet of his wife and children.  This tornado was terrible in its power and must have been very heavily charged with electricity.  It tore the ground up for rods, and took wagons and literally tore them to pieces.  From one heavy wagon wheel it took the tire and neatly cut a piece fro  it two feet in length.  Over s score of the dead, wounded and dying were brought into J. M. Kelly’s residence and laid almost on the floor.  The scene was most heartrending and beyond all description.  Their groans and sufferings were sickening to behold.  There were only two men in the town unhurt; these were J. M. Kelly and W. L. Edwards, who are still living.

            Ellison, before this dreadful visitation, was a thriving, attractive, pleasant little village.  It broke up and disheartened its business men and virtually ruined the town as a trading point.

            This town is the home of Mrs. Nancy Wilcox, grandmother of the celebrated opera singer, Emma Abbott.  A very good story is related about the grandmother.


In the fall of 1854 Mrs. Wilcox attended the Methodist Love Feast, in the Methodist Church at Ellison village, which was presided over by ;the Rev., Richard Haney.  During the meeting, or Love Feast, Mrs. Wilcox arose to give her religious experiences.  Among other facts related by this lady, was one of the difficulties which beset her before she joined the Church.  When she had made up her mind to number herself with God’s people, she addressed her husband, saying : “Isaac, my beloved husband I have decided to give my heart to God, and join the Methodist Church.” Her husband very energetically replied: “Nancy, I’ll be damned if you do!”  Mrs. Wilcox, with equal emphasis, replied: “Isaac, I’ll be damned if I don’t !”  Since that day Isaac died the death of the righteous and Mrs. Wilcox is still living, in her good old age, the life of a Christian.



            Ellison Township is very liberally watered, by Nigger Creek, with its tributaries, and Ellison Creek.  In the southwestern part the land is broken and pretty well timbered; the balance is mostly rolling prairie, with a rich and productive soil.  There are many fine and well cultivated farms in the township, and the farmers are mostly all in independent circumstances.  No railroad lines pass through its territory and the people do their trading mostly at Roseville and some at Ellison.,  Population, in 1880, was 1,041, and it has not gained any since that time.

            The county Superintendent, in her report ending June 30, 1885, gives the following information relating to the public schools of the township:

There are seven schools districts, with a valuation of school property of $6, 525.  In these districts all the buildings were frame.  Of persons under 21 years of age, there were 401, of whom 293 were of scholastic age, 270 being enrolled.  The highest wages paid teachers was $50 per month, and the lowest $25 per month.  The tax Levy for this township was $2,450.


            From the Assessor’s reports for the year 1885, the following information has been obtained:

Number of acres of improved lands, 22,740; value of improved lands, $325,585; number of horses, 787; cattle, 1,647; mules and assess, 40; sheep, 18; hogs, 3,055; steam engines, 1; carriages and wagons, 290; watches and clocks, 141; sewing and knitting machines, 97; pianos, 5; melodeons and organs, 34; total cash value of personal property, $56, 610.


            The following named citizens have represented Ellison Township as Supervisors:

Eliphalet Mitchell, 1854-55;  George W. Palmer, 1856; N. A. Eldridge, 1857-65; William A. Albright, 1865;

N. A. Eldridge, 1866-67; Thomas. Paul, 1868; W. R. Rayburne, 1869-70; J. A. Pierson, 1871; S. B. Crane, 1872;

E. Mitchell, 1873; S. B. Crane, 1874; E. Mitchell, 1875-77; A.K. Morries, 1878; E. Mitchell, 1879;

A.K. Morris, 1880, E. Mitchell, 1881-82; M. V. Jamieson, 1883-85.


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