Hale is situated in the western tier of townships, and is numbered 10 north, of range 3, west. Its northern boundary is Sumner Township, on the east lies Monmouth, on the south Tompkins Township and on the west Henderson County. The first election after township organization had been adopted, was held April 4, 1854, in school house number 1. Wm. Nast presided as Moderator, and W. S. Wier, Clerk, peo tem. Upon a vote being taken for these officers, Wm. Cannon was chosen Moderator, and S. W. Rodgers, Clerk. Fifty-nine votes were cast at this election, which resulted in the choice of Wm. Fleming for Supervisor, Wm. Clark, Clerk, B. B. Findley, Assessor, J. C. Ward, Collector, G. H. Smaley and Andrew Jenkins, Highway Commissioners, T. F. Lowther and W. S. Wier, Justices of the Peace; Ira a. Palmer and D. Vanfleet Constables.
The first act of the Commissioners of the Highways was to levy a tax of 20 cents on the $100 for the improvement of roads.
The territory now occupied by Hale Township as settled about as early as any part of the county. Adam Ritchey, Sr., with his wife, Elizabeth, were the first settlers. They located near Sugar Tree Grove, in 1828. Here he erected a cabin and began his improvements. This family was large enough to have within themselves social amusement and companionship, and to relieve pioneer life from that dreary loneliness, usually one of its unavoidable and unpleasant features. There was Adam, Jr. John, Abigail, Martha, Elizabeth, Matthew, Caroline and James, Ritchey. Take them altogether they formed quite a little colony, and soon made their impression in the township. Adam Ritchey died many years ago, and was buried in the Ritchey burying ground. His widow, Elizabeth, moved to Iowa, where she subsequently died. David Findley and Thomas Campbell came to this settlement in 1829. In 1830, John Kendall and wife, Elizabeth, William and Samuel Gibson, with their wives, James Jenkins, wife and children and James Maley and wife, added their numbers to the settlement. Soon after came John Caldwell, wife and three children, John W., Eleanor and Martha, and located on section 11. The Caldwells were from Bedford Co., Pa. John Caldwell was man of great force of character, and took an active part in the affairs of the county. He was one of the leaders in the establishment of the Associate Church at Sugar Tree Grove, and was one of the first Elders. His wife died at an early day, and he joined her in the other world in December, 1865. Eleanor married John Black. Both she and Martha are dead. John W. Caldwell is living at Monmouth. (see biography.)
To this settlement was added in October, 1831, William Paxton, wife and seven children. They came from Xenia, Ohio, and located on section 2. The names of the children were: W. S., John S., Thomas M., Jane L., Ann, Margaret F., and Mary E. Mr. Paxton took an active part in the public affairs of the township, and was an upright and worthy citizen. He died in March, 1861, at his home. His wife had preceded him, departing this life in January, 1845. Thomas M. is living on the place; John S. is in Iowa; William S. is living at Monmouth (see biography). The daughters are all dead but Margaret, who is living in Sumner Township.
The next addition to this township was William Turnbull, his wife and two sons, Alexander and Gilbert, and their families, who came in 1832. They located on sections 19 and 30. Mr. Turnbull was a native of Scotland, and had immigrated to this country soon after the close of the Revolution, settling first in Tennessee. Unable to reconcile himself with the institution of slavery, he left Tennessee in 1808, and settled in Ohio. From Ohio he came to Warren County. He was a man of marked character and great religious zeal. He died at his home in Hale Township in 1835.
Gilbert moved to Henderson County, where he died in 1851. Alexander died in Hale Township in 1856. David Turnbull followed his father from Ohio, in 1833, and settled one mile north of Monmouth. He afterward moved into Hale Township, and located near Sugar Tree Grove. He died in Monmouth, at the residence of his son, John M., in 1871. (See biography of John M.)
William Turnbull's home in Tennessee was near Nashville, and joined that of Andrew Jackson. General Jackson came in after the Turnbulls had settled. He had at that day but little of this world's effects; a light wardrobe and a few law books embraced all of his earthly possessions, but he had a strong, bold spirit and an indomitable will, which was good capital to begin life's struggles with. He had paid out his last copper to procure his passage to this place, his future home, and had no money to pay for the hauling of his baggage, small as it was, to his house. This future soldier, statesman and president was here alone in the world, penniless, friendless, and did not know to whom he might appeal for aid. He fortunately met Mr. Turnbull, made known to him his situation, who readily let him have the money to relieve him of his embarrassment. This generous act to a stranger attached young Jackson to his benefactor, Mr. Turnbull, and they ever afterward were warm friends.
It might be of interest to our readers to mention at this point in the history of this township an incident connected with the life of Gen. Jackson, as related by Wm. Turnbull, in which he to some extent figures, the full and correct account of which probably has never appeared in print.
Some years after Gen. Jackson came to Nashville, he being involved in a quarrel, which finally resulted in a duel. It grew out of a difficulty, which occurred at a horse-race, between Gen. Jackson and a young lawyer by the name of Swann, who had recently come into the State from Virginia. The race was for $2,000 and Gen. Jackson had brought forward his favorite steed, Truxton, to win the stakes. Some angry words arose between the General and young Swann, which resulted in the latter sending a challenge. Gen. Jackson refused to accept the challenge on the ground that Swann as not a gentleman, but turned and struck him with his cane. Charles Dickinson, who was also a lawyer, and a man of prominence took up young Swann's quarrel, challenged Jackson, and insisted on an immediate fight. William Turnbull hearing of the trouble and discovering Jackson in the woods practicing with his pistol, approached him and with all the religious zeal for which his countrymen were noted, labored long and earnestly with the General, trying to persuade him from accepting the challenge. Previous to this affair, Jackson was wont to practice with his pistols for hours in the woods. Turnbull discovering this, reprimanded him for his lack of true, Christian principle, telling him that it was not consistent with his religious views. Jackson would reply, that it was not, but that he had to be prepared to live under the "code" or he could not stay in Tennessee. In reply to Mr. Trumbull's remonstrance Gen. Jackson said: "That he could not live there unless he accepted the challenge; that if he refused to accept it he must leave the country." He told Mr. Turnbull, however, referring to the duel, that he did not intend to shoot Mr. Dickinson; that above other considerations, he (Dickinson) had a wife and child whom he had great regard for.
The challenge sent by Mr. Dickinson was finally accepted by Gen. Jackson. The duel as to take place at a day's ride from Nashville, in Kentucky. Jackson left with his friends for the appointed place. Dickinson arose early in the morning, and kissing his innocent, sleeping child, and taking leave of his beautiful young wife, saying, "good-bye, darling, I will be sure to be at home to-morrow night," started on his fatal journey. After a day's journey, the two parties arrived near the grounds. They passed the night at farm houses about two miles from each other. The opponents met at the designated place, which was in a grove, early Tuesday morning, May 30, 1806. The arrangements were duly made. The duelists were to face each other at 24 feet, with pistols drawn, and at the word "fire" were to discharge their weapons. Gen. Jackson had informed his friends of the course he intended to pursue. Dickinson was known as a dead shot, and he said it was useless for him to contend against him. He would receive the fire of his antagonist and hold his own. As the sun rose sending its warm spring rays through the young and tender draperies of the trees, and while the wild, beautiful birds were offering up their sweet notes of praise, these human beings faced each other with drawn weapons, one at least intent on murder. The signal was given and the report of the pistol rang out through the clear morning air. When the smoke cleared away, Gen. Jackson was still standing apparently unhurt. He, as he had promised his friends, held his fire. His antagonist seeing him stand there raised up his hand and exclaimed, "What, have I not killed the damn ----------------?" Jackson on hearing this, calmly and deliberately leveled his weapon and fired. His antagonist fell with a fatal wound near the heart, from which he died in a few hours.
The dueling party broke up. Jackson and his friends mounted their horses and turned their steps homeward, leaving the dying Dickinson with his party on the field. As Jackson and his party started homeward he told them that he did not intend to shoot Dickinson , but when he heard the expression used by him, he considered it a reflection upon his mother, which he could not in any way overlook, or forgive. Riding by the side of the General, the surgeon discovered blood running out of his boot. He made him at once dismount, and submit to an examination. On examination, the surgeon discovered that Gen. Jackson had received a very severe wound in the chest immediately over his heart. The ball, which his antagonist had sent with so deadly an aim, had struck one of his ribs, fracturing it and glancing off, thus saving the General's life. "General," asked the surgeon, "how could you with such a wound in your body, stand so calm and firm, and fire such a shot?" His reply was: "I would have killed him had I been shot through the brain." This was a very strong illustration of the great nerve of Gen. Jackson, which was so prominently displayed in after years.
David B. Findley was an early settler, moving in as early as 1832. He died in the summer of 1885. Albert Rockwell also came in 1832, with his brother, Alfred. Albert died in the fall of 1884. His brother is living on the old place. Bedford Ray settled in the township on section 26.
Several families moved in from 1832 to 1836, among whom were Aleri Rodgers, wife and ten children, with Hamilton Roney, wife and children. Aleri Rodgers was originally from Rockbridge Co., Va., and he came to the township early in the spring of 1836, having previously lived awhile in Missouri. The names of the children were, John, William, Andrew, Alexander, Mary, Joseph, Phebe, Isabelle, Samuel and Caroline. Four of these are living -- Isabelle, Mary, Caroline and Samuel, and all in this country. Isabelle is residing in Monmouth. Aleri Rodgers was a prominent citizen of the township, and took a leading part in all public affairs. He was the first one to introduce the McCormick reaper into the county, which he brought with him from Virginia. He died, respected by all who knew him, Dec. 20, 1863. His widow survived him several years, joining him in that brighter world, July 3, 1879. Andrew was killed by the Indians in Oregon at the time of the Whitman massacre.
Hamilton Roney after residing here 37 years, moved back to Ohio with a part of his family, and settled near Dayton, where he died March 3, 1881, in his 75th year.
David B. Findley and Jane Ritchey were the first to join their hands for life's joys and sorrows, its hopes and struggles. This event occurred in 1829. This partnership began in the budding spring-time the most charming season of all the year; a season when the sweet wild flowers look up to greet you, when all nature puts on its new dress, the beautiful birds choose their mates, and the world looks bright, fresh and happy.
David and Jane did not long for --
"Some bright little isle of their own,
In a blue summer ocean far off and alone,
Where a leaf never dies in the still blooming bowers,
And the bee banquets on through a whole year of flowers."
But they selected a little cottage in the township of Hale, and there, with their loving hearts, and surrounded by their friends, they commenced life's journey. To this couple alone is given the honor of producing a first native citizen of the township, in the person of James Madison, born in 1830.
Martha Jenkins taught the first school in the township, in 1830. It was held in a little log cabin about half a mile north of the old Henderson Church. This is also claimed to be the first school in the county. Martha subsequently moved to Oregon, where she died. The first death in the township was that of William Turnbull, who died at his home in 1835.
The first religious society was formed in November 1830. It was the Associate Church, and as organized by Rev. James McCarroll, of the Western Mission. It was called the Henderson Church, and also known as the Sugar Tree Grove Church. John Caldwell and Adam Ritchey were the first Elders. There were 27 members forming the first congregation, consisting of the Richeys, Kendalls, Gibsons, Jenkins, Findleys and Maley families, and John Campbell. The first building put up for worship by this society was 24 x 30 feet, in 1830, and was constructed with logs. It was the first church building erected in the county.
In 1832 an addition was made, making the building 36 x 40. In 1837, a fine brick edifice was erected, 54 x 60, costing about $4,000. This became one of the noted buildings of the county, and people attended services here from nearly all the townships. It was known for a generation as the "Old Brick Church", and is still spoken of with mournful affection. Having been used for nearly 40 years as a place of worship, it was considered by some of the members that it ought to be torn down and anew building erected. Consequently it was razed by rude hands, and a more modern frame building put up in its place, possibly better adapted and more in consonance with modern religious ideas.
Rev. James Bruce was the first pastor of this Church, taking charge in October, 1830. Members of this Church came from Little York, Sunbeam, North Henderson, Viola, Spring Grove, Monmouth, Kirkwood, Smith Creek and Pleasant Grove. Mr. Bruce remained with this congregation until October, 1847, when he was succeeded by Rev. John Scott, who regularly took charge in 1849, and served for 19 years, a remarkably long period. At the expiration of this engagement he moved to Monmouth, and took a Professorship in the College. Rev. Thos. G. Morrow succeeded Mr. Scott, and remained until 1872, when Rev. David A. Wallace took charge, serving the congregation until 1876. Rev. David McDill was then called, and remained until 1884, and then the Rev. R. J. Davidson, the present pastor, assumed charge. During Mr. Bruce's term there were admitted annually, an average of 25 members, and during Mr. Scott's term 15 members.
In 1838, the Synods of the Reformed and Associate Presbyterian met at Pittsburgh, Pa., and the union between the two branches was consummated under the name of the United Presbyterians. This action was approved by the Henderson congregation, and about the year 1860, they adopted the same name. The present membership of this Church is about 70 and in addition to other services they have a large and interesting Sunday-school.
From 1836, there as a steady influx of settlers, until the land was all taken up. The township was regarded as one of the best in the county for agricultural purposes, and it ranks among the first for stock raising. The land is nearly all rolling prairie, is rich and easily cultivated. There is not a poor farm in it, and but few poor dwellings, while there are very many fine ones. It is watered by Cedar Creek and its branches and some other little streams. The St. Louis branch of the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad cuts across the southwest corner, and the Iowa Central comes in at the northwest corner, running along the Eastern line, and passes out on section 25. The people do their trading mostly in Monmouth; some, however, go to Kirkwood. The census of 1880 gives the population at 1,041, and this is about the number at the present day.
The following information regarding the schools of the township, is obtained from the County Superintendent's report for the year ending June 30, 1885: There were eight school districts, with one brick and seven frame buildings. The school property was valued at $4,625. Of persons under 21 years of age, there were 403, of whom 314 were of scholastic age, 219 being enrolled. The highest wages paid teachers was $65 per month, and the lowest $25. The tax levy for this township was $2,735.
The Assessor's report for the year 1885, furnished the following information:
Number of acres of improved land, 23,009; value of improved lands, $344,450; number of horses, 981; cattle, 2094; mules and asses, 27; hogs, 3,686; steam engines, 1; carriages and wagons, 357; watches and clocks, 214; sewing and knitting machines, 102; pianos, 10; melodeons and organs, 24. Total cash value of personal property, $80,328.
The township has honored the citizens whose names appear below, with the office of Supervisor:
Wm. Fleming ..1854 David Turnbull ..1868-70
John R. Graham ..1855 Newton Barr ..1871
David Turnbull 1855 H. G. Lord ..1872
John Brown .1857 John N. Carson 1873
David Turnbull 1858-60 Newton Barr 1874-5
Edward Burns ..1861 C. M. Rodgers .1876-80
Newton Barr .1862 Newton Barr 1881
David Turnbull .1863-5 C. M. Rodgers .1882
Leander Findley 1866 J. N. McKelvey 1883-4
Hugh Nash 1867 D. A. Turnbull ..1885
Typed and emailed to me by my assistant Kitty Smith edited and reformatted by Foxie