Spring Grove Township, Warren Co., IL


Spring Grove Township was organized under the Township Organization Laws, April 4, 1854.  A meeting for this purpose was held at the usual place for holding elections.  Thomas Gibson was chosen Moderator, and James H. Carmichael, Clerk.  When the ballots were counted it was found that Robert Gilmore was chosen Supervisor; Thomas Gibson, Jr., Clerk; John Ray, Assessor; James L. Porter, Collector; Watson Gates, Overseer of the Poor; Robert and William Walker, Justices of the Peace; Josiah Porter, S. R. Boggs and Thomas Averel, Commissioners of Highways; Joseph Ray and Joseph Meyers, Constables; James R. Patterson, Robert W. Gerlaw, Overseers of Roads and James H. Carmichael, Pound Master.


Spring Grove is situated in the middle of the northern tier of townships, number 12 north, or range 2 west.  The county of Mercer is at the north, and on the east, south and west sides lie respectively the townships of Kelly; Monmouth and Sumner.  The nature of the land is the greater portion of the township is rolling; in the western part it is in places quite broken.  It is literally watered by the Middle Henderson, Cedar Creek and tributaries, which meander westward into the Henderson River.  Along the water courses the township is pretty will timbered.  The facilities for drainage are good, and there is but little dead land in the township, nearly all being subject to cultivation, and very fertile.


James Humphreys has the credit of being the first settler in the township, having located here in 1833.  He was soon followed by Robert Gilmore and family, of who James T. and L. H. Gilmore were members.  He located on section 25, which he subsequently sold, and bought a farm on section 24.


John Armstrong and Wm. Miller with their families came in, in 1834.  John H. Frantz and family located in the township, in 1835, and David H. McCurry in 1836.  Horace Smith with his family enlarged the settlement in 1837.  He came from Pennsylvania with his wife, Margaret, and four children -- Robert, Isabelle, Mary and John.  Charles and Owen were born in the township.  Mr. Smith located on section 3, on which place he lived in 1858, when he died.  His widow survived him nearly a score of years and died in the spring of 1885.  All the children are living.  Mary, who was married to Nathan Pettit is living at Alexis.


Elder Richard Haney was the first preacher to hold service in the township.  He preached at first in private houses.


Mrs. Wilket, who was quite an elderly lade, taught the first school, in 1841, in a house built by her brother, on section 5.  She had sixteen pupils who were very much attached to her and did all they could to please and make her happy.  She long ago passed on to the other world. 


A postoffice was opened at Spring Grove in 1835, soon after the Rock Island stage route was established.  There was a little settlement at this place, and some trading done before the Rock Island & St. Louis R. R., was built and the town of Alexis was started, when the business, with most of the settlement here, moved to the latter place.


Spring Grove is a beautiful township, many parts of it very picturesque, and containing some grand farms.  It ranks second in the production of stock, and is very fair in the production of the cereals.


The Rock Island & St. Louis R. R. was completed through the township in June, 1871.  It enters in the northeast corner of section I, and running south by west, passes out on section 34.


The people do their trading mostly at Alexis, and at Gerlaw, from which places considerable stock is shipped.  In 1880, the population according to the census, was 1,400 and it is estimated now to be about 1,500.


There is a United Presbyterian congregation at Spring Grove, which was organized by the Monmouth Presbytery, June 22, 1855.  J. C. McKnight was the first pastor, serving from June, 1856, until March, 1860.  He was succeeded by Wm. M. Graham, who served the Church until 1863.  Then they were without a pastor for about a year, when they secured the services of T. P. Patterson, who remained until December, 1868.  Rev. David Inches then took charge and remained until 1874, and was followed by Rev. Rufus Johnson, Wm. J. McCroney and A. W. Johnson, the present pastor, who was installed Aug. 25, 1885, this being his first charge.


They have a good church building costing about $3,500, also a good parsonage.  The membership is about 85.  In addition to the services they have a fine Sabbath-school.


On section 10 there is located a religious society called Church of God.  It was organized in 1865 by Randolph White.  The first meeting of this society was held in school-houses.  In 1869 they completed their church building at a cost of some $1,500.  No regular services are held here now, but sometimes they have preaching by a woman of the faith who comes from Monmouth.


From the County Superintendent's report for the year ending June 30, 1885, the following statistics have been obtained:  There were 10 school districts in the township with one graded school, and 9 un-graded.  The 10 districts embraced 1 brick and 9 frame school buildings; the value of the school property was $7,050.  Of persons under 21 years of age there were 695, of whom 412 were of scholastic age, 551 being enrolled.  The highest wages paid teachers was $60; the lowest $25 per month.  The tax levy was $3,459.86.


From the Assessor's report for 1885, the following facts are obtained:  Number of acres of improved lands, 21,794; number of acres of unimproved lands, 766; value of improved lands, $283,140; value of unimproved lands, $3,625; total value of lots $35,150; number of horses, 849; cattle, 2009; mules and asses, 19; sheep, 440; hogs, 3,706; steam engines, 4; carriages and wagons, 253; watches and clocks, 54; sewing and knitting machines, 85; piano, 4; melodeons and organs, 44.  Total cash value of personal property, $92,925.






Robt. Gilmore………………..1854-56                                 Craig Hanna……………….1873

M. A. Thompson……………..1857                                      L. H. Gilmore……………...1874-78

R. W. Gerlaw…………………1858-62                                Angus McCoy……………..1879

L. H. Gilmore………………..1863                                       A. J. Reid…………………..1880

R. W. Gerlaw…………………1864-65                                B. F. Forwood………………1881-82

R. H. Gilmore………………...1866-68                                John C. Blaney……………..1883

James B. Porter……………….1869-70                               John S. Winbigler…………..1884-85

L. H. Gilmore…………………1871-72



     [Homepage] [CEmetery Index] [Warren Co Twps]




This pretty and attractive little village is situated in the northeast corner of Spring Grove Township on section I, and on the line of the St. Louis Branch of the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad, about 12 miles northeasterly from Monmouth.  It was platted in 1870, by Messrs. Robert Holloway and J. E. Alexander, and was named after the latter gentleman.  The survey was made by Thomas F. McClanahan on the 7th of September, and recorded on the 16th of the same month.  The original plat contains 160 acres, on section I, in Spring Grove Township, and 160 acres in Mercer County, section 36, town 13 north or range 2 west.  With the exception of a few residences the town has not extended into the latter section.  Schuyler Palmer originally owned this land; he planted the first crop and made the first improvements here, which was in 1855.  His house stood on the east side of where Main Street now is, near the little grove, and was the first house built in this part of the county.  Mr. Palmer sold the land to Thomas Lawhead, Sr., and he to Messrs. Holloway and Alexander.  It was first named Alexandria, in honor of one of its founders, but there being a name similar to this in the State, considerable confusion followed in the mail service and in the shipping of goods.  Consequently it was changed to Alexis.  This name was suggested by the arrival in this country, about this time, of the Russian Grand Duke Alexis.


O. G. Chapman and C. W. Gates opened the first store in the town in November, 1870, on Main Street; they also received the first car-load of lumber that was shipped on this part of the railroad.


T. B. Patterson opened the next store, on Market Street, near the Baptist Church, or what is now the Presbyterian Church.


Richardson & Riner opened the first hotel at the depot.  This hotel is now kept by Blayney and called the Alexis House.  About the same time, U. W. Hull started a hotel on the corner of Main and South Streets, called the Alexandria House.


The railroad was completed to Alexis and Monmouth about the 1st of January, 1871.  The post office was established Jan. 17, following, and O. G. Chapman was appointed Postmaster, a position he has held since that time.


The town grew so rapidly, the people decided that they ought to have a village government, and an election was duly called to take this matter under consideration.  It was held June 28, 19873, at Churchill & Wray's Hall.  The County Judge appointed T. Loveridge, W. T. Richardson and Robert S. Wray, judges of election.  This was quite an important event to the people of this new town, and the following named citizens were entrusted with its destinies:  John C. Blayney, A. G. Talbot, O. G. Chapman, O. E. Bugbee, Daniel Churchill and James Loveridge.  These trustees met a Flake's Hall, July 28, and completed the city government by electing John C. Blayney, President of the Board; John Douglas, Clerk; Charles E. Johnson, Treasurer; and H. R. Gilliland, Street Commissioner.


On the night of Jan. 24, 1878, fire broke out under the floor of the Masonic Hall on Main Street, and nearly destroyed the west side of that street.  Among the sufferers was D. S. McKnight, hardware dealer, two stores and one dwelling; James Shaw, notions and grocery; Dr. J. P. McClanahan, drug store; Thomas Loveridge, dry goods and grocery; Hardy & Knox, dealers in groceries and clothing; Bolinger & Yarde, grocery store; Benjamin Churchill, restaurant and boarding-house; Jacob Wolff, harness and saddlery.


On May 8, 1879, another fire broke out, on the east side of Main Street, which destroyed several business houses.


This town is excellently located and is surrounded by a rich agricultural country.  It has a healthy growth, and improvements are steadily going on.  The industrial interests of Alexis, for a new and small town, are very good.  The Alexis tile and brick factory was established in 1878, by George Bruington and Thomas Townsley.  The business was carried on two years by them, when Bruington sold out to Townsley, who has since had sole charge and ownership.  Mr. Townsley is prepared with machinery and buildings to do an extensive business in this line of manufacture.  He has the best of clay, which is easily obtained and comparatively inexhaustible.  At present he has 20 hands in his employment.


Another very important industry for Alexis is Daniel Churchill's wagon and carriage shop.  For hand-made wagons, buggies and carriages, Mr. Churchill has a wide reputation.


Porter Bros. Have also established a reputation for handling good buggies and carriages.


A creamery was established here last spring by D. W. Little, who is making about 1,000 pounds of butter a week.


There are several good business houses in the town and all appear to be prosperous.


Alexis is one of the desirable towns to live and do business in.  It has a population of 398.  Present officers:  N. P. Bruington, D. W. Burt, S. B. Miller, F. J. Pine, J. S. Canon and W. E. Durston, Trustees.  Mr. Bruington is President of the Board.  T. B. Patterson is Clerk; C. W. Postlewaite, Treasurer; and George Poe, Street Commissioner.

A short distance west of Alexis, on the county line road, is the stock farm of Col. Robert Holloway, one of the most extensive breeders of horses in the State.  (See biography.)  He breeds pure Clydesdales, of which he is a large importer.  His large farm, containing 640 acres, his extensive stables and long experience, eminently qualify him for achieving success in carrying off the prizes in the Clydesdale line of stock.  At the Chicago exhibition of 1884, Col. Holloway won three-fourths of all of the premiums in the Clydesdale list.  His Carmerogie, a yearling, took the first prize in New Orleans, St. Louis and Chicago, for the best bred horse in this country from imported stock.  Carmerogie Kier, once belong to Col. Holloway's stables, is now in Scotland, owned by the Duke of Hamilton.


Col. Holloway established his stables about 12 years ago.  He has spent many years of hard labor and large sums of money in improving his stock and perfecting his breed, and eminently deserves the success that has followed his efforts.




Alexis has a good graded school, where a full English course is taught.  They have a good frame building, large enough to accommodate all of the scholars.  J. S. Canon, is Principal; Miss Ann Bain has charge of the grammar department; J. P. Campbell, the intermediate; and Miss Maggie Boggs, the primary department.  They have an average attendance of 150 pupils.




Alexis is not without its newspaper experience, and, like most all small towns, she has furnished another field for the entombment of those enterprises. 


The Alexis Journal made its first appearance Feb. 13, 1874, and was a seven-column, folio paper, edited by James Everett.  The patronage was not enough to warrant its continuance, and it was suspended at the close of the third volume.  The plant was purchased by Dr. Chaffee and the Alexis Index was started.  This was a five-column, eight-page paper.  It had a brief life and expired like its predecessor.  Since then no one has been enterprising enough to attempt the publication of another journal here.




Alexandria Lodge, No. 702, A. F. & A. M., was instituted Oct. 8, 1872, with 11 charter members.  John E. Alexander was W. M.; John H. McGrew, S. W. M.; Joseph R. Scott, J. W. M.  They have at present 46 members, with a good hall; they were burned out in the fire of 1878.  The present officers are:  C. W. Postlewaite, W. M.; J. R. McCall, S. W. M.; Wm. Jackson, J. W. M.; Wm. Bellinger, Tyler; Truman Lord, Secretary; John Bellinger, Treasurer.  The lodge was named after John E. Alexander, the founder of Alexis.

Alexis Lodge No. 526, I. O. O. F.--This lodge was organized Oct. 1, 1873, and received its charter the 15th of the same month.  The charter members were Thomas M. Bell, J. H. McGrew, Daniel Churchill, John N. Carr and R. T. Wray.  Thomas M. Bell was the first N. G.


n the fire of 1878 the hall of this lodge was burned, together with all their records, furniture and regalia.  They have now a membership of 77, and are in good working condition.  Present officers are:  George Bellinger; N. G.; Chas. Bellinger, B. G.; S. P. Leonard, Secretary; Alfred Bellinger, Treasurer.  They contemplate the erection soon of a fine hall for their use, and have already purchased a lot.





The Presbyterian Church was organized at Blayney's Hall, in 1881, in connection with the Norwood Church, with 60 members, by Rev. . T. Whittemore.  Meetings were held for a while in Blayney's Hall and afterward in the United Brethren Church.  The organization of the First Presbyterian Church of Alexis was at a meeting held in the United Brethren church, May 29, 1883, with 65 members.  In the summer of 1883 they purchased the building belonging to the Baptist Missionary Association for $1,200, and re-modeled it at a cost of $800.  After several removals, the present membership  about 75, and is under the pastoral charge of Wm. J. Palm, the first installed pastor.  The Church is steadily growing with hopeful prospects.  They have a Sabbath-school connected with the Church, with a membership of 100 scholars, presided over by J. P. McClanahan.


United Presbyterian Church -- This congregation was organized April 4, 1871, by Rev. J. H. Henderson, with about 25 members.  M. McClanahan and W. A. Elder were the first elders.  Mr. Henderson supplied the Church for a year, and after him Drs. Black and Doig.  Meetings were at first held in the school house, near town.  In 1873 the society erected a very neat frame building, which is tastily finished, costing 3,100.  With this they have good parsonage, located on the same lot.  In 1876 they secured the services of Rev. F. McKerahan, their first regular pastor.  He served the congregation until 1882; they were then without a pastor two years.  In June, 1884, Rev. J. D. Palmer accepted a call and is the present pastor.  It has a membership of 63 and an interesting Sabbath-school of 100 members.


Methodist Episcopal Church --  This Church has a small congregation here.  When first organized, meetings were held in the grove, then in Caldwell's Hall.  Rev. P. L. Call, from Iowa, preached for them awhile.  They hold their meetings now in the church of the United Brethern, and have service every two weeks, being supplied from the North Henderson Church.


The United Brethern Church have an organization in the village.  This society was formed in the township in 1856.  After Alexis was started, the society located there, where they put up the first church building.  It was dedicated in November, 1872.  The building is a good, substantial, frame structure, costing $2,250.  Rev. H. Kline is the present pastor holding services here every two weeks.  Present membership about 24, with a Sabbath-school of 48.




Robert Gerlaw's farm and the town of Gerlaw in the backgrd. 

Picture from the 1889 P&B of Warren Co., IL, click for bigger view

Click on pictutre to see a bigger view.  Is the home of Robert W. Gerlaw with the town of Gerlaw in the background.  It was laid out on his farm and named after him.


Gerlaw post office was established about the 1st of January, 1871, with A. Elder as Postmaster.  Mr. Elder had a long service, remaining until Aug. 1, 1883, when J. A. Foster took charge.  It was established soon after the advent of the St. Louis branch of the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad.  Gerlaw was founded by R. W. Gerlaw, who owned the land about here, and was platted by Thomas S. McClanahan, May 2, 1871.  It is located on the northwest corner of Section 34.  (See view, page 356.)  A. Elder opened the first store in town.  He deals in general merchandise and grain.  Mr. Elder sold out to Parker & Hart and Hart sold out to Parker, in 1883.  Subsequently, he took in J. A. Foster as partner.


Dr. W. H. Rupp attends to the medical wants of this hamlet.  J. P. Lindquist has a wagon shop and there is also a blacksmith and a shoe shop here.  Gerlaw has a good school building, and a good school, with an average attendance of 30 pupils.  Its population numbers about 75. 


Christian Church.  This congregation was organized June 20, 1859, by Rev. L. S. Wallace, at Mauck's Grove, with 29 members.  Of these members, only three are now living--Sarah Lair, Harriet Carson and B. H. Gardner.  They have erected a house of worship, before organizing, at a cost of $1,100, which is a very neat and substantial building.  It was moved to Gerlaw, in September, 1873.


Reverend Mr. Lucy succeeded Mr. Wallace, remained one year, and was followed by James Gaston, who also served one year.  Revs. Henry Murphy, H. R. Trickett, J. B. Boyer and Mr. McPherson followed in succession.  After this the Church had supplies for some years, when, in November, 1883, they secured the services of the Rev. Chas. Laycock, who is the present pastor.  They have services every Sunday, with a membership of some 60, and a Sunday school of 30 scholars.

The information on this page was obtained from my copy the Portrait and biographical Album of warren county, Il, published by the chapman bros. in 1889.  all rights reserved.... Ë©2006 by Foxie Hagerty


Typed and emailed to me by my assistant Kitty Smith; edited and reformatted for the world-wide web by Foxie FH©2006 by Foxie Hagerty


Hit Counter
Hit Counter