Is bounded on the east by Hensley, on the north by Newcomb, on the west by Piatt county, and on the south by Scott, and is otherwise described as being Township 20, Range 7 east. The Sangamon river, the largest stream in the county, passes in its winding way through nearly the center of the town, from the north-east to the south-west, supplying an abundant power for mill purposes, as well as for the various purposes of agriculture. The lands, like that of all its sister towns, are gently undulating, and characterized by its deep, rich, loamy soil; though in this town more of a variety exists than in many others.
The first entry of land made in this town was by Isaac Busey, in October, 1832, he entering the E. 1/2 of the S. E. 1/4 Sec. 15, Town. 20, Range 7; also, N. W. 1/4 Sec. 23, Town. 20, R. 7.
The name, until March, 1871, was Middletown, then changed to Mahomet, the name of the post office and village.
The first settler in the town was one Thompson, who settled upon what is now called the Joe Bryant farm, in 1830. It is not known where he was from. He died and was buried there in 1832, the first death in the town. Jonathan Maxwell was the next comer. He came from Indiana, and settled here in 1832, and commenced the improvement of a farm, now owned by Wiley Davis. He died in 1845, and the heirs sold the farm and improvements to Wiley Davis, the present owner. The Maxwell boys are still living in the township, successful farmers, an honor to society, and possessing the confidence and esteem of extensive acquaintances. Henry Osborn, also from Indiana, settled here in 1832, and commenced the improvement of a farm, but sold out in 1836, and left the State.
John G. Robertson also came in 1832, from the State of Kentucky, and improved the farm where he now resides. He is now 77 years of age, has seen all that there is of this county, from the unbroken wilds of the prairie and the timber, all along through the years of growth and improvement, to the richly promise-laden hours of the present. He has seen this, we say; aye, more, he has helped to make it; and to him and his associates, who braved the discomforts of early life, are we indebted for the comforts and privileges of to-day.
Fielding L. Scott settled there in 1835, upon the land now owned and occupied by him. This he improved, and added to it, until he had over 610 acres of excellent land, under a high state of cultivation. Subsequently, however, as age advanced, Mr. Scott divided his lands among his children, settling them near about him, reserving to himself the old homestead, where he commenced his life's work thirty-six years ago. Two of his sons are prosperous merchants in the flourishing village of Mahomet, hard by the old home.
In 1835 the road from the Sangamon to Urbana, traveled by the early settlers, was of so circuitous a character, that Mr. Scott, who was compelled to travel it often, concluded to straighten it; and accordingly took his horses and plow, and drew a furrow from the Sangamon to Urbana, a distance of twelve miles, and by this direct line a new road was made, which finally became the well known Bloomington road, now the highway from Champaign to the west.
One Daniel T. Porter entered the land where the village of Mahomet now stands, and at once laid off the village, in 1836. Mr., Porter erected a hotel, and also kept a small variety store. This place for very many years, made but little advancement, but as the country about it increased in population, it became a place of importance; as, however, there were no railroad facilities, its improvement was slow. In 1869, the I.B. & W. Railroad was completed through the place, since which time its advancement has been remarkable. The energies of its citizens were aroused, and no prophecy is necessary to inform those who see this "ville," of the beautiful flourishing town to come. It is most beautifully situated in thick groves of forest trees, on the banks of the Sangamon river, which at this place is capable of being turned into an immense power for manufacturing purposes. The population of the village is 670, a large portion of which has come to the place within the last three years. They have three fine churches, and a graded school, one of the best conducted in the county, with mercantile houses of all kinds, and manufactories in all branches of industry, while the business men are wide-awake and energetic.
In 1836, one A. Crozier, from Condit, erected a small mill here, which, after changing hands many times, was washed
away by the floods in 1867; and John Humes erected on the site of the old one, one of the best and most complete flouring mills in the county. Just below this mill, a beautiful iron bridge spans the river, reflecting credit upon the enterprise of the citizens.
Wiley Davis, who came to the town in 1847, has a fine farm of 900 acres of well cultivated land, which bears testimony to the energy and well directed labor of its owner.
James W. Fisher came from Ohio, and settled upon land in this town in 1849. His farm (now containing 500 acres) is a model, every part of which shows that a man of superior judgment and energy is at the helm.
John R. Rayburn, from Ohio in 1852, with a farm of about 400 acres, has no superior in the land as an agriculturist The secret of his success, as well as the many of this town we could name, lies in the fact that they bring to their vocation an enthusiastic love for it, and do not (as is the case with too many) engage in farming, because they have not the means or ability to do any thing else. The fact ought to be known, that the man who has not the ability to engage in other employments, is utterly unfit to farm, that business requiring more real intelligent brain-work than any other known.
This town is bounded on the east by Condit, on the north by Brown, on the west by the counties of McLean and Piatt, and on the south by Mahomet; being Town 21, Range 7 east. The Sangamon river traverses the eastern portion of the town, and it is further watered by one its tributaries from the north-east, and one from the west, dividing the town in nearly the center; while about the Sangamon, at the confluence of these streams, is the largest and finest body of timber found on that stream, in its course through the county. The land in this township is all that could be desired for farming purposes, and especially is it adapted to stock husbandry. Its well watered condition, with the fertility and strength of its soils, producing abundantly of grasses and cereals, especially commends it to the cattle grower or feeder.
The first settler was James W. S. Mitchell, who came to the county about 1834 from Kentucky, and located at what is now called Pancake Point. He was the first to bring blooded stock into the county.
About the same time came A. and William Pancake, from Ohio, and settled near Mr. Mitchell. We are unable to learn how long Mr. Mitchell remained in the county, or where he went. The Pancakes remained and improved farms, giving the name to the place of their location, as before stated. One Harnspecker came into the town in 1835, but went away in 1837. In 1836, Mr. J. T. Everett, from Kentucky, came to the township, but did not move his family until 1841. At that time, the only settlements in that section of the county were at Pancake Point; in the Phillipe neighborhood, and Jas. Newcomb (for whom this town is named), then in East Bend, and King, in Brown; and the country did not change rapidly until 1856.
Mr. Everett was the first to have a "house raising" without the usual allowance of whisky, as was the custom in those days. His example was followed by others, and the old custom of strong drink at places where undisturbed nerve is required, was finally abolished. In 1859, Mr. Everett moved to Champaign, where he has since resided.
Mr. William Pancake planted the first orchard in the township.
Among the prominent men in this township, and we may add of the county, is John Thrasher, who settled here at an early day, and lent all his energies in reducing the then wild regions to fit habitations for men. He is a most excellent and accurate surveyor, and for many years held the office of county surveyor, elected by the people without regard to party, and
against his desires, as he preferred the quiet of his home, in the improvement of his farm, to any office that could be given him. He also held the office of supervisor of his town the two first terms. He is a thorough farmer, and a substantial citizen.
G. W. Harwood, Geo. S. Walker, Hiram Trotter, H. F. Corner, and many others of the town, are doing grand work in advancing the interests of the agriculturist, in bringing his calling up from the depths in public estimation, to which it has so long been consigned, to that point where it belongs-first among the vocations of men.
The first land entered in the town, was by James W. S. Mitchell, in October, 1834-the south-west 1/4 Sec. 23, Town. 21, Range 7.
Is bounded on the north by Urbana, on the west by Tolono, on the south by Crittenden, and on the east by Sidney; being Town 18, Range 9 east. There is not in all the township a single forest tree of nature's planting. It is wholly a prairie town, yet on the broad earth there cannot be found a finer body of land of its size. Yankee Ridge, as it is called, divides the town in twain, yet takes in the whole township in its course, dividing the course of streams from east to west, and near the southern limits to the south. The highway from Urbana to the village of Philo is along this ridge, which passes through the whole county, from south-east to north-west, but is more prominent here than at any other place. In traveling this road, in approaching Philo, the scene is one of singular beauty. On either hand the prairies descend by those gently waving lines, seen nowhere else but on the prairies; falling gradually away, the one below the other, till the undulating surface meets the timber lines, standing like a dark back-ground to set out the more strikingly this beautiful picture; in the shades of Sadorus Grove, the borders of Salt Fork, or the belts surrounding the Ambra. Nor does this commanding site render the soil less valuable in consequence of its altitude, for on the very apex, water in abundance is found at a short distance. below the surface, supplying moisture and enduring strength to the deep, rich soil that covers this prairie, in all things adapted to a mixed or class husbandry. Every variety of cereal and grasses flourish here, while stock, especially swine, are raised with success and profit.
The first entry of land in the town was in April, 1837, by Philo Hale, being the north-east quarter of Section 15, Town 18, Range 9 east. The first settler in the town was one Hooper, who came here in 1853; where from, we are uninformed, nor are we able to tell how long he remained, or where he went.
Lucius Eaton was the next, who came there in 1854, built his house and commenced the improvement of a farm; he still lives thereupon his farm, which gives evidence of his careful and earnest attention. In 1855 population flowed in quite rapidly, there being at the end of that year quite a number of persons who had made permanent settlements. It may be a matter of marvel, why, while the towns along the streams and timber belts, boasted of settlements as early as 1830, and even, earlier, the town of Philo must wait until 1853, more than twenty years later, to commence improvements. The answer, or explanation, of this is, as has been before stated, the earlier settlers regarded the prairies wholly unfit to live upon, and that he who would venture to live there was a fool, or insane. This opinion prevented the early settling of the prairies, while all of those who came early flocked to the timber.
The town derived its name from Philo Hall. It was first called "Hall," but afterward, in 1861, was changed to "Philo." One remarkable feature of this town is, the absence of any very large farms. There are some of fair size, as that of Jos. Davidson, nearly 600 acres, and of Jesse and Abram Meharry, about 1,000 acres, but by far the larger part are in 80 and 160 acre farms; that size, which for the thrift and prosperity of the community, is by far the most advantageous, securing that healthful growth, unattainable in the large farm communities. Philo boasts of many prominent men in their various callings, and in the history of the county; among them Jesse Meharry, though a new comer, has few peers in the county, and gives to the town and county his earnest endeavors to promote the public good. He has twice represented his town in the county legislature, with satisfaction to his fellow townsmen. His large farm is yet new, but under his hand and that of his brother, is rapidly developing into comeliness and usefulness.
The old Griggs farm, now owned by Spradling, is one of the best improved in the State. The houses, barns, orchards and all its appointments are of the most perfect character, and in all respects it furnishes a model for farms, large or small.
George Havens, B. F. Rice, Mr. Ennis, the Cliffs, McHarry, E Thayer, Van Vleck, and many others, are making wonderful strides in the science of agriculture.
The small farm of the late Captain B. F. Helm is a model of its class, and shows conclusively that the ambition for neat, tasty and handy farms, need not be confined to large landed proprietors. The improvements here are crude, to be sure, as the place is a new one, but the Captain's plans are all developed, and leaves none in doubt of the beauty and utility to come, if the care is bestowed that was designed by its former owner. His untimely taking away was a severe loss both to the town and county.
The village of Philo stands on the most commanding lookout in the county, and is one of the neatest villages in the whole Northwest. It was laid out in 1864, by K B. Hall, the son of Philo Hall, and includes 80 acres of land. One Mr. Wright built the first house in the village, and he was also the first station agent for the Toledo, Wabash and Western Railway, which runs through the place. The house which he built is now used for a depot and passenger house. The next settler here was Elmer Elthorpe, who erected the next house, which now stands in the village, and we are informed is used for a harness shop. B. C. Morris, M. D., was the first to sell goods, and drugs; also, to build a hotel; and was the first physician. He came here in 1865, and was the third man to make improvements. That was five years ago, and in that short time the population has run up to 300, and gives evidence of a steady, healthful increase. Lewis Crawford has done much to improve the place. He has built, in all, about sixteen dwelling houses, which shows that he is an enterprising man of superior order. S. Fee is a lawyer there, of rare merit, possessing a logical and legal mind. The town contains one fine school house, two churches, one mill, eight stores, three blacksmith shops, two hotels, two grain dealers, with warehouses, one lumber yard; and all the citizens are energetic, go-ahead, thriving people.
Is bounded on the east by Crittenden, on the north by Tolono, on the west by Sadorus, and on the south by Douglas county; being Town 17, Range 8. This, too, is mostly prairie, though the timber of the Kaskaskia on the west barely brushes the edge of the town. We cannot speak of high locations and commanding sites here, though we can of exhaustless treasures hidden in the dark bosom of its soil, which the thrifty framers of the township are yearly extracting. We have traveled far in this and other States, and we do not hesitate to pronounce the tract of land included within the boundaries of this town, the equal of any, and vastly superior to many of similar proportions that we have seen in our rambles. The contour of the surface is gently rolling, and while this point is nearly the lowest in the county, the lands are not flat, there being ample drainage to bear off the surplus water. The soil in its strength yields abundantly and richly to the efforts of the husbandman.
The first entry of land in this town was by Henry Sadorus, Jan. 8th, 1836, he entering the west half of the south-west quarter of Section 6, Town 17, Range 8, the place where Sadorus village now stands. The first settler, as best we have been able to learn, was Squire Lee, who came from Kentucky, in 1850, and settled on Section 31. This he improved and sold to Paul Holliday, and purchased another farm in Section 30, of 320 acres, which he has brought to a high state of cultivation, with substantial buildings, and all those surroundings that go to make up the home of a thrifty, intelligent, agriculturist. Mr. Lee is extensively known and respected, a genial, warm-hearted man, receiving and deserving the respect of his acquaintances. Thomas Johnson is said to have been the next settler, and is also from Kentucky, and improved a farm on Section 29. He left the county some time since and went to Iowa.
Among the prominent farmers of the town we mention Henry Nelson, who settled in the town about 1856, and commenced the improvement of a farm, bringing to his aid a sound, practical judgment, and so vigorously has he prosecuted his work, that, though he commenced with nothing save a vigorous constitution, and a determined purpose, he now has one of the best improved farms in this section of the State, containing one-half section of land. The improvements are substantial and valuable.
David Cooper, also, from small beginnings, by dint of industry, and well directed effort, has accumulated a fortune since his settlement here in 1862. The secret is, constant application of labor in the right place. Josiah Merritt, S. S. Baldwin, William and Henry R. Nelson, Christopher Batterman, not forgetting "Bachelor Bill" the Supervisor, John Darrah, A. J. Foster, and many others, are thorough practical farmers, and doing grand good service in the agricultural world. C. B. Carpenter, also, has a most magnificent farm, thoroughly improved, with all of the neatness, beauty and comfort one could desire.
John Davis is also deserving of special mention, being a farmer of rare merit, cultivating his lands in a way that evinces constant thought and study.
The village is a neat little collection of houses on the I. C. R. R, not large; it is true, but making up in energy what is lacking in numbers. The principal business establishment is that of Mr. Cox, dry goods merchant He is a live man in
every respect, studying well his business, and attending strictly to the same. His first work in the county was on a farm, where, as in the store, he was successful. He commenced trading with a small capital, but has steadily increased, until now his large, well stocked store would do credit to any town in the State.
Pesotum boasts one of the best schools in the county, taught by Mr. Sandusky.
Dr. J. Oatley, a physician of more than ordinary merit, has a large and increasing practice. He came from Ohio, and settled here in 1868, yet in that short time has proved that he has few peers in his profession. There are many others, in connection with this enterprising village, of whom we should be pleased to speak, but the want of space forbids, and we must leave them, regretting, that from inability and the want of room, we have not been able to do them justice.
Is bounded on the east by South Homer on the north by Sidney, on the west by Crittenden, and on the south by Douglas county, the Congressional Township being 17, Range 10 east. The contour of the surface is in all respects similar to Crittenden, but is probably upon a slightly more elevated plane; otherwise similar in character. Raymond, however, is but newly settled, the first being John Starkey, from Indiana, in 1852. He improved a farm of 320 acres, and sold out in 1856 to William Shahan, of Kentucky, who now resides there in the possession of as fine a farm as one would wish to see; made by unceasing and untiring application to his business.
J. R. Southworth, from Connecticut, settled there in 1854, and was the second settler in the town. He commenced the improvement of the farm on which he now lives, and which he has brought to a very high state of cultivation. His orchard was the first planted in the town, and is now the largest, containing about 1,000 trees of rare fruit, in the selection of which Mr. Southworth has displayed rare judgment, and a knowledge of horticulture possessed by few. He is a thorough, practical farmer, richly deserving the success he has attained.
Jos. Bongard came in 1858, and the condition of his farm, containing nearly 500 acres, proves him to be a man of no ordinary ability in the agricultural world. Every department of his farm gives evidence of care and thought, without which none may hope to conquer success.
A few parties came and went, but no other than those named settled permanently until 1863, when Mr. Nathaniel Raymond, from Ohio, came and purchased the light improvements of one B. Dilworth, and since that date has made a farm that would do credit to any State in the Union. The farm contains about 900 acres of choice land, improved with all that care and taste that may be expected of a skillful, practical man, backed by unflagging zeal and industry. Such farms as that of Mr. Raymond are land marks, guiding the young and the inexperienced farmer safe on to the high road of success. It was mainly due to the efforts of Mr. Raymond that the town of Raymond was organized, being set off from Sidney for that purpose in 1868, and Mr. Raymond has since held the office of Supervisor, the new town taking his name.
Unfortunately for Raymond, the large farm of Mr. Alexander includes one-half of its territory (18 square miles) within its limits, and this being owned and operated by one man, does not admit of settlement or increase of population within the lines of that farm. This will be remembered when our readers are comparing statistics of the towns, that Raymond is in fact but half the usual size of her sister towns; and yet, considering that the settlements, nearly all, are of very recent date, it will compare favorably with any in the county. The energy and thrift of its farmers are unsurpassed, and one cannot pass through the settled portions of the town without being impressed with the rich promise of wealth and prosperity sure to be fulfilled to the people here. Ditches and hedges, and other evidences of earnest, intelligent labor, are on every hand.
The first school was taught by Mrs. Reed, then Miss Addie Southworth, in 1857. There were then but four families in the town, and but one school district. Since then, the town has done nobly in the cause of education, raising in 1869 and 1870 nearly $3,000 for school purposes.
Mark Carley entered the entire section of 17-10 in October, 1850, the first in the township.
Is bounded on the east by Compromise, on the north by Ludlow and Harwood, on the west by Condit, and on the south by Somers and Stanton, and includes Town 21, Range 9, two tiers of sections from the west side of Town 21-10, and the south-east quarter of 34, and south-west of 35, Town 22-9, making 48 1/2 square miles.
The first entry of land, as it appears of record, was by Lewis H. Long, in June, 1853, being the entire Section 9, Town 21, Range 9. The land, with the exception of Mink Grove, which lies just west of the village of Rantoul, is entirely destitute of forest trees, save those planted by man. The land, though high and elevated, has a gently rolling surface, indicating a deep, rich soil, exhaustless in its fertility and productive wealth, and is of that character most excellent for mixed husbandry, in which by far the largest number of farmers are engaged.
The first settlement in the town was at Mink Grove, which by the Indians was called "Nieps-wah" their name for Mink. The whites taking that name gave it to the grove, and to the town, which was called Mink Grove until 1854 or 1855, when it was changed to Rantoul, the name of one of the corporators of the Illinois Central Railroad, then but just completed.
Mr. Archa Campbell, well known to the citizens of this county, was the first settler. He was born in May, 1816, in Stark county, New York, and came to the county in 1835, but did not settle in Rantoul until 1849. The next year after Mr. C. settled at the grove, he broke up a large tract of prairie, and planted the same in sod corn. At this time his nearest neighbor was one Adkins, at the head of Big Grove, about nine miles distant, and one Dodson, about the same distance to the west, on the Sangamon river, the man of whom we have had occasion to speak before.
The farming operations of Mr. C. consisted mainly in providing food for his stock, of which he had a large number, and so confident was he that he would never be troubled with near neighbors, that he only entered 40 acres, expecting to cultivate the domain of "Uncle Sam" to any extent he might desire, which illustrates the prevailing opinion of but twenty years ago in regard to the improvement of our prairies. Game, at this date, was oppressively abundant. Wild fowl of all kinds, deer, muskrat, wolves and hogs. Mr. Campbell says that he discovered his corn field was being destroyed by some animal which rooted like a hog, but could not find the depredators. One morning, however, he made the discovery by hearing the baying of his dogs. Upon going out he saw about a dozen long, lank, lean, fearfully ugly looking creatures, resembling the hog, standing at bay, the dogs having attacked them; and this mode of defense was as wonderful and novel as it was effective. Like trained soldiers on skirmish line, they rallied by sections, and the whole squad, tail to tail, stood with an unbroken front, presenting on every side most formidable rows of teeth and tusks, against which his dogs threw themselves in vain. Mr. C, having secured a good opportunity, discharged his piece into the mass of hogs, killing two. This broke their ranks, which they immediately re-formed, and closed up, not five paces from the old one, where two of their number lay dead. A second shot brought down the leader of the band, but without effecting a breach in the ranks of the well disciplined hogs; a third killed one and wounded another; by which time the porkers of the woods, finding that this style of warfare was entirely new to them, and was getting altogether too warm for comfort, concluded upon a change of tactics, and taking to their heels, soon disappeared in the deep shades of the grove, and were never afterward seen in that vicinity.
Settlements here were exceedingly sparse, until 1855, when the Illinois Central Railroad having been completed, the tide of immigration turned this way, and has continued to this date.
Guy B. Chandler, John and Guy D. Penfield, and the Jennings, were the next real settlers, though others had come and gone before their advent.
In 1855, the village of Rantoul was started by the erection of depot buildings by the Railroad Company. Then came John W. Dodge, from New York; A. and I. Cross, from Pennsylvania; with others, who located at the village, probably as unpromising a spot to the casual observer, as one would expect to find. But those men, who invested their money there, knew what they were doing, and knew, too, that it would, or rather, they would make a place of credit and importance. They were joined by J. J. Bois, A. J. Benedict, P. Myers, S. Tomlinson, I. Estep and others, of kindred grit, who have pressed the improvements, and advanced their town with such persistent energy and vigor, that to-day, a more flourishing, comely, wide-awake and inviting village cannot be found in all the Northwest, of its population.
It is a noticeable fact, that they have more sidewalk, to the extent of their territory and number of inhabitants, than any village or city in the country, while the whole appearance of the place impresses one with the idea of thrift, comfort and wealth.
The first house in the village, excepting the Railroad buildings, was built by the Penfields. The first orchard in the town was planted by John W. Dodge, in 1857.
The principal business men are Peter Myers, whose extensive flouring mill and grain warehouse would be an honor to any town in the State. This mill has a storage capacity of 20,000 bushels, can grind 300 bushels in 12 hours, has 3 set of burrs, and is run by a 40 horse-power engine, and has the most perfect facilities for loading and unloading at its bins. Mr. Myers is an enterprising business man, too well known over the county to require any notice from us, and in all quarters deservingly popular.
Isaiah Estep & Son, blacksmiths, are superior in their craft, of which the citizens of Rantoul and vicinity are well informed.
Mr. J. M. Gray has no superior in the harness and saddle making business. He is an energetic man, pursuing his vocation with vigor, and has acquired a wide-spread reputation for the quality of his work, and fair dealings with his fellows.
J. H. Doane, the furniture man, has few equals in the land for his prompt business qualities, and attention to the wants of the community in his department.
E. J. Udell, the gentlemanly representative of the Telegraph Express Company at that place, is another of the representative man of the town. He is a Notary Public, and also Agent for the New American Cyclopaedia, and may also be found at his post at the depot; We might multiply these. The dry goods stores, the boot and shoe stores, grocery stores, drug and hardware stores, are all managed by men of practical knowledge, and experience in their business.
They have three church buildings here, the Congregational, Episcopal and Baptist; also two other organizations, the Presbyterian and Methodist.
The schools are their crowning glory, having one of the best graded schools in the county, and one of the best and most complete school buildings that can be found in a town of the proportions of this, in the State.
ST. JOSEPH TOWNSHIP.
This town is bounded on the north by Stanton, on the west by Urbana, on the south by Sidney, and on the east by South Homer, being town 19-10. It is one of the oldest settled, and a glance at the map will convince any one that this is the paradise of stock-raisers and feeders. The Salt Fork enters the township from the west, near its northern line, and after flowing nearly across it, and being joined by an important tributary from the north, bends away to the south, making, with its northern tributary, a stream over fourteen miles in length, within this town of six miles square. Along the whole length of this stream is a rich growth of timber, principally of oak, ash and black walnut, exceedingly valuable. The prairie lands are gently undulating, exceedingly fertile, well adapted to the cultivation of the cereals and grasses, as well as the raising and feeding of stock.
The first settlers in the county were Jonathan Kazan, and Silas Yount, who came from Ohio, and settled here in 1831.
In 1833, Mr. Joseph Stayton, from Ohio, came, and bought out Mr. Kazad, who then left the county. Mr. Stayton continued the improvements but barely commenced by Mr. Kazad, and through the years of discomfort and privation, brought his farm to the rank of first class among those of the county to-day.
In 1834, William Peters, from Kentucky, bought out Yount and continued the work there, he had begun. Both of these were energetic, determined men, true types of the early pioneer character of the county, through whose might and courage the wilderness has given place to the garden, and uncultivated wilds to bloom and beauty. Jacob Bartley, Joseph Stayton, and William Peters, each planted an orchard in 1835, the first in the town, and among the first in the county. That year there were, in all, ten families in the township, which did not increase much beyond that for many years. The first land entered here, was by James Roland, in Feb. 1830, the east half of south-east quarter Section 23, Town 19, Range 10.
Among the prominent farmers of the town is John Kirk, who came from Ohio. His farm of about 1,000 acres, is one of the best stock farms in the State, reflecting great credit upon its owner, by whom it was planned and improved. In all its details there is manifest a care and judgment, worthy the attention of farmers of all classes, as it is by observing and intelligently comparing the work of others that perfection is reached in any branch of business.
David B. Stayton has also a large, well improved farm, devoted to mixed husbandry, of which stock-raising is the leading feature. He, too, has attained success through a thorough practical application, and earnest labor, which proves the superiority of the man and the farmer.
Uncle David Swearingen, as he is familiarly called, has a reputation second to none, as an agriculturist. His farm, with its buildings, orchards, and other surroundings, shows the careful planning of its manager.
H. W. Drullinger, whose fine farm, with its hospitable mansion, close by the Salt Fork, is another of this class, who honor their calling, and the county in which they reside.
John L. Smith also holds a place in the history of the town that will not soon be forgotten. He is possessed of unlimited energy and perseverance, and well deserves the high confidence reposed in him by his fellow-citizens.
These, and many others, are making their mark in the vocation they have chosen, that shall tell for good, when they have passed off the stage of action, and their places are filled by another generation.
The I. B. & W. R. R. passes through this town, and the little village of St. Joseph gives promise of prosperity and importance.
SOUTH HOMER TOWNSHIP
Is bounded on the east by Vermillion county, on the north by Stanton, on the west by St. Joseph, Sidney, and Raymond, and on the south by Douglas county, and occupies Towns 17, 18 and 19, Range 14 west and 11 east, being four miles wide and eighteen miles long, containing 72 square miles, and altogether is one of the finest bodies of land in the State, well calculated for mixed farming or specialties. The Salt Fork runs through the town from west to east, along which there is a splendid growth of valuable timber.
The first lands entered in this town, were by John and James Parker, October, 1828, the S. E. 1/4 of Sec. 28, Town 19, Range 14; Josiah Conger, November, 1827, N. W. 1/4 Sec. 5, Town. 18, Range 14; Joseph Davis, December, 1835, W. 1/2 N. W. 1/4 Sec. 6, Town. 17, Range 14; Zebulon Beard, February, 1830, S. W. 1/4 Sec. 31, Town. 19, Range 11; Henry Thomas, February, 1828, E. 1/2 S. W. 1/4 Sec. 6, Town. 18, Range 11; M. L. Sullivant, May, 1853, entire Section 18, Town. 17, Range 11.
The first settler was a man by the name of Gentry, who settled just north of the Salt Fork timber, in 1827. It is not known how long he remained there, but the ruins of his cabin may still be seen. It was the first white man's house in the town. In 1828, Mr. Osborn, Mr. Harris, and Thomas Butler, settled in the township. Mr. Butler now resides in Sidney, the oldest settler living in this part of the county. In 1829, Moses Thomas, a man well known in this and Vermillion county, located on the site of old Homer village, and made improvements of a valuable character. In 1835 he built a grist mill and the first saw mill in the county, and otherwise did much to advance the interest of the location he had chosen for a home. His son, John B. Thomas, has been spoken of in the former pages of this book, and like the father was in all respects, worthy that confidence of the people of the county which was so freely and fully bestowed.
M. D. Coffeen, so well known in the history of the county, was born in New York, 1813, and settled at the site of old Homer in 1836, and immediately commenced merchandizing ; which business he has followed with success ever since. He was, and still is, though well advanced in years, an energetic, thorough going business man, and has devoted the best part of his life in developing the wealth of his town, to the interests of which he is warmly and ardently attached.
His life and business represents well the growth and material advancement of the county during the past thirty years. From small beginnings, with no advantages or comforts, his store has steadily increased and grown with, the years and the country, successively requiring increased facilities and room, until today Homer boasts a mercantile house, managed by B. E. Coffeen & Co., that would do credit to any city in the land, complete in all its departments.
J. J. Swearengin is another of the old citizens who has made his mark in his calling. He came to the town in the fall of 1839, from Kentucky, and entered about 200 acres of land, to which many more have been added. He has farmed from boyhood, and brought to the new lands of Illinois, a rich practical experience, which he put into practice here; and any one who will take the pains to visit his farm, will be richly repaid the same. His residence is one of the most complete of its class in the county, and presents to passers-by a beautiful and substantial appearance, indicative of thrift and comfort. His barns, and all the appointments of the farm, are in perfect, keeping with the house and surroundings. His orchard is among the best, containing nearly one thousand trees of the choicest varieties of all kinds of fruit.
Another place where it does one's soul good to visit, is that of Henry Michenor, whose palatial residence, with its beautiful surroundings, gives evidence that a superior hand is at the helm. In all matters pertaining to the farm, thoroughly practical; withal, a fine appreciation of the beautiful and the useful harmoniously blended, Mr. Michenor has so planned and arranged his farm, that few of its equals can be found in the State; and in all candor we say, that our farmers would not only do well for themselves, but deserve the thanks of posterity, by imitating his example, and learn from this matchless farm.
Broad Lands, for the most part located within this town, is deserving of special notice. The farm, containing 26,500 acres of the best prairie land in the State, was first improved by M. L. Sullivant, who, about 1866, sold the same in one body to A. T. Alexander, of Morgan county, Ill. It is seven miles east and west, and six and one-half miles north and south, in solid block, with the exception of about 1,660 acres which are owned by other parties, in different places, standing like islands, surrounded and enclosed by this monster farm. The land is all improved, and is controlled and cultivated by its owner, Mr. Alexander. In doing this, he keeps employed about 150 men on an average, the year round, to work the land and take care of the stock constantly fed there. In addition to the farm laborers, a foreman is also employed, one bookkeeper, a blacksmith, a wagon maker, hostler, butcher, and cooks, for the several ranches, as he calls them, on the farm. Thus the work is all done on the place, repairs of tools and implements, and also the manufacture of same. These shops, during the year ending June 1st, 1870, had done a business amounting to $2,300. There is on the farm over fifty miles of excellent board fence; but a better idea of it may be gained by giving a few statistics.
The farm contains 26,500 acres; of this, 26,350 acres are improved, and is valued at $800,000; the farming tools and machinery valued at $10,000; the amount of wages paid for hired labor the year 1870, $36,000. There are on the place, 40 horses, 90 mules, 25 milch cows, 120 work oxen, 2,000 head of neat cattle, 400 swine-all valued at $180,000. There was grown in 1870, 6,000 bushels of wheat, 1,000 bushels of rye, 250,000 bushels of corn, 40,000 of oats, 2,000 of potatoes; made 2,000 lbs. of butter; cut 3,000 tons of hay; made 250 gallons of molasses; and slaughtered, or sold for slaughter, stock to the value of $250,000. The whole estimated value of farm products during 1870, including increase in value of stock fed on the place, is $255,390. Of course, all the expenses of the farm and of feeding the stock, must be taken from this, which will reduce it to less than ten per cent, of the value of the land, to say nothing of the utensils and stock required to run it. Whatever may be said of the ability of Mr. Alexander, who, in addition to this, has another farm of 10,000 acres in Morgan county, or however we may boast in having this mammoth farm within our borders, its presence, as one farm, is a calamity.
The tract of land here controlled by one man, would make 331 farms of 80 acres each, and it is idle to say that it will produce as much wealth together as thus separated and owned by the many. In the one case, we have the rich lands, without roads, but few dwellings, cultivated by hirelings, who have no interest in the work, no schools and no enterprise, save what is carried ,in the person of one individual. In the other, we have 331 residences, 331 men, all owners, all interested, no hirelings, no necessary waste, schools, roads, enterprise, thrift and prosperity.
This township is by far the most wealthy in its agricultural department than any other in the county. Mr. James has a farm of about 600 acres, worth $23,000; David Michenor one worth $14,000; M. D. Coffeen, 12,000 acres, $600,000 ; O. M. Conkey, 4,000 acres, $240,000 ; W. A. Conkey, $18,000; M. Custer, $18,000, and others of similar character.
The village was laid off in 1855, the principal part by M. D. Coffeen. Before this a village had grown up at the river, two miles north of the present site, now called "Old Homer." We are unable to trace, with any satisfaction to ourselves, or the citizens of that beautiful village, the history of the same, since its organization, as our space will not permit At the time of the completion of the railroad, there was in the little village by the river, about 200 inhabitants. These Mr. Coffeen induced to remove to the new site, by exchanging with them lot for lot, of equal dimensions, and the movers to take their houses with them to the new place, which was accordingly done, and the old town deserted. The first public house opened in Homer was by William Elliot, in 1843, and this building is the north
half of the hotel now in Homer, kept by mine host - Holms. M. D. Coffeen made the first wagon in the county, in 1837, in his leisure moments, while engaged with his store; but the first wagon-shop here was by C. C. Stearns. R. C. Wright erected the first house in the new village, and a sketch of this gentleman may be found in another part of this work.
Of the principal men, we have already mentioned B. E. Coffeen and M. D. Coffeen. C. J. Tinkham is another live, energetic man, and, in justice to him, we must make a more extended notice. He was a graduate of West Point Military School, leaving that institution in 1849, well up in his class, after which he was employed by the Government as civil engineer, at the harbor of Chicago, Ill., and remained in Government employ until 1858, when he came to this county, and, with Judge Thomas, was engaged to survey the swamp lands. Upon the outbreak of the rebellion, Mr. T. assisted Captain Somers in raising a company for the war, and after it had departed, within ten days he had raised another, of which he took command, and left for the field of strife. This company became company F of the 26th Illinois Infantry, and Mr. Tinkham the Lieut. Colonel of the regiment. It is unnecessary to follow the Colonel through all the shifting scenes of war, for it is a story told too oft to be of interest. Col. Tinkham was a most gallant officer. Being in command of the regiment at the battle of Farmington, Miss., he was ordered to cover the retreat of the main army, across a swamp; in doing this, he was compelled to change front three times, and each time under the most galling and destructive fire. Yet although himself painfully wounded, he maintained the most perfect order and discipline among his men, and when all was safe, retired as if moving from dress parade, mid the heaven-rending thunders and hurtling shot of the baffled and enraged foe. Ill health compelled him to retire from active service, and, returning to Homer, he engaged in the hardware business, where he now is, prosecuting the same with vigor and energy, his usual characteristics. J. O. Gillman, grain dealer, Samuel Custer, dry goods merchant, E. Cusick, blacksmith,--Morris, furniture dealer, and scores of others, are driving, earnest men. Other statistics of the town will be found in this book.
Is bounded on the east by Stanton, on the north by Rantoul, on the west by Hensley, and on the south by Urbana, being Town 20, Range 9 east The land is much the same as that described in every other town in the county. The Salt Fork rises in the northern part of the town, and runs south through the town, giving ample supply of water for stock purposes; and ample drainage to the lands to the east and north-east. The attention of the farmers of the town is directed mainly to stock raising, and the improvement of stock, of which they have the finest quality of bloods.
The first land entered here, was by Sarah Coe, January, 1829: the west half of the south-east quarter of Section 27, Town 20, Range 9.
The first settler of whom we have been able to learn, was one Mr. Rineheart, who came from Ohio in 1827, and commenced the improvement of a farm north of the grove. Elias Kirby, also from Ohio, settled there about the same time. In 1828, one Moore came and located on a farm at the head of the grove, which he afterwards sold out to one Lewis Adkins, who carried on the improvements. One P. Stanford came the same time that Moore did. William Corray, of Ohio, John Whittiker, of Kentucky, and John Brownfield, of Pennsylvania, came to the town in 1832, and all have performed their part in the settlement of the county. Mr. Brownfield for many years held the office of County Commissioner, and Judge, and performed the duties with fidelity. His three sons, Thomas, Joseph, and James Brownfield, are still residents of the township, prosperous farmers, and among its honored and respected citizens.
The character of the prairie soil, contiguous as it is to the timber and flowing streams, and, also, good markets, has attracted farmers who desire to engage in stock raising and feeding, although it is equally adapted to mixed husbandry. Among the wide-awake farmers of the town, we name A. M. Fauley, who is at present directing his attention to swine breeding and raising; his essay, in another part of this book, will be read with interest. In this he has been pre-eminently successful, and the many premiums he has taken, where his stock has been in competition with that of other breeders, attests their purity and value.
Dr. Henry Haley, also in the stock-raising business, has a farm of about 700 acres well advanced in improvement, though comparatively new. His barn and dwelling, with their surroundings and all the arrangements and appointments of the farm, are admirably designed, and perfected with intelligent skill and care.
M. Powell, Richard Allen, B. P. Prather, E. E. Goodrich, Thos. Wilson, C. R. Morehouse, and many others, have farms of which any town may well boast, in quantity, quality, and the manner of their cultivation.
The farm of H. C. Stewart is also a model worthy of imitation, showing the common sense handling of its owner.
This town is bounded on the north by Compromise and Rantoul, on the west by Somers, on the south by St. Joseph and South Homer, and on the east by Vermillion county; and occupies the Congressional Town of 20, Ranges 10 and 11 east, and 14: west, being six miles by ten, and containing sixty square miles. Of this town we would probably hazard nothing in saying, that in all respects a more perfect body of land for agricultural purposes does not exist. An important tributary of the Salt Fork passes through this town, and in its course is joined by another from the north-east, which gives ample drainage and water privileges, to aid the farmer in the prosecution of his work. The first land entered here was by Samuel McClughen, October, 1836: the east half of the north-east quarter of section 20, Town 20, Range 14. John J. Trimmel, May, 1850, entered the east half of the south-east quarter of section 26, Town 20, Range 10; and Josiah Brown, June, 1853, entered the south-west quarter of section 31, Town 20 Range 11.
The first settler in the township was Samuel McClughen, who came from Ohio in 1834, and settled at the beautiful grove at the east end of the town, known as Burr Oak Grove. Here he engaged in tilling the soil, and here he built the first house, and planted the first orchard in the town. He was born in Ohio, in 1810, and, though he some years since departed this life, he still lives in his works and plans, that are manifest in the farm which he made, and where his estimable widow still resides. Mr. McClughen was for many years the sole inhabitant of the town; Mr. Trimmel, it is believed, being the next
settler. He came there in 1843, and still resides in the town. In 1862, at the organization of the town, there were but thirty families, all told, within its borders, while eight years later the records show 209, an increase of which the citizens may well be proud; and in looking over this town, noting the character of the soil, productions, and men, it is not hard to see that at no distant day, in population, in intelligence, wealth, and all that goes to render a home in any community desirable, it must, take and hold a high rank.
The first to settle at the head of Salt Fork timber was Levi Craine, who came from Indiana, and located there in 1856. One James McGill, also, came to the town in 1853, and William Scott in 1854, all of whom are still upon their farms, giving to the town and county the benefit of their earnest, well directed labor.
Milton Babb is one of the prominent farmers of the town, and we may add, of the county. His large, well-stocked farm has few equals, and no superiors. He located there in 1860, and has, since that period, brought his land to a high state of cultivation. His farming is that of stock-raising principally; as also is that of M. Putnam, who can also show as fine a farm as any in Central Illinois; very few can show better. B. J. Clark, also a practical farmer, is making his mark in the agricultural world, and deserves great credit for the untiring energy and persistent zeal with which he conducts the affairs of his farm. He located there in 1866, from Indiana.
There are two church buildings in the town, the Christian and the Friends, and each have beautiful houses of worship.
Although no railroad runs through the township, yet but a short distance south of the township, line, is the track of the I.B.& W.R R, running parallel with the same its entire length, giving excellent facilities for shipping farm productions.
Is bounded on the east by Champaign, on the north by Mahomet, on the west by Piatt county, and on the south by Colfax ; being Town 19, Range 7 east. The first land entered here, was by I. V. Williams, September, 1835, the east half of north-west quarter of Section 6, Town 19, Range 7. Mr. Williams also was the first settler, building the first house, and planting the first orchard.
With the exception of a small tract in the north-west corner, there are no nature-planted trees in the town, and for that reason, which we have seen obtained everywhere, settlements were very slow, and not until after the war, or about 1865, was there any particular attention paid to this town. The surface of the prairie here, for the most part, is gently rolling, though in the north-western and western parts the swells are more abrupt and sharp, the sloughs or water-courses narrower, and the streams more rapid than on the prairies usually. This part was first settled, proving, what we have often stated, that the more level lands were not understood or appreciated. In traveling over this town, we have been struck with the new appearance of a very large majority of the farms, especially in the southern portion. Like Colfax, this section seems to have changed, in a day, from the broad, unbroken surface of a grass-grown prairie, to extensive tracts of rich black mold, surrounded by narrow belts of green, undisturbed prairie, which mark the highways and winding watercourses, while houses of greater or less pretensions tell of the habitations of men; or, later, we see the broad acres supporting a luxuriant growth of corn and other cereals in the place of the rank wild grasses, that, but a few years since, were its chief glory. There is no soil, or condition of soil, that surpasses that of Scott township, in all that can be desired for mixed cultivation, while the ease and certainty with which abundant supplies of water may be brought to the surface, answers every objection that can be urged against stock-growing or feeding.
The town was organized from the south half of Mahomet, in 1861, and at that time there were but 49 voters, and, as has been said before, the increase was slow until after the close of the war. We refer the reader to the statistics in the latter part of this book for information, that will show the astonishing increase since that period.
Among the prominent men of the town, we name Samuel Koogler, whose large stock-farm of over 800 acres of choice land, is among the best improved in the county. Mr. Koogler has several times represented his town in the county legislature, showing the confidence reposed in him by his fellow-townsmen.
F. G. Seymour and J. R. Lytle have also figured extensively in the history of the town, and as successful farmers, few surpass them.
The large farm of B. F. Cresap has few equals in the State, and no superiors. It is designed and used for stock-growing and feeding, and in all its appointments, approaches as near perfection as one can attain without having control of the contour of the land. It contains over 1,000 acres.
Seth Merriman also has control of a section of land improved for stock purposes, which is a model of its class.
William Dighton also has a large, well improved farm of 1,440 acres, while the new farm of E. J. Anderson gives promise of holding first rank among the model farms of the county. Henry Tilbury, Noble M. Crawford, T. Mallory, William D. Lytle, F. M. Young, and many others, are deserving of all praise for their determined efforts to advance the interests of the town and agriculturists generally.
The grading for the track of the Monticello and Champaign Railroad, has been completed through the town, and the coming summer the track will be laid, and the road put in operation.
Is bounded on the north by St. Joseph, on the west by Philo, on the south by Raymond, and on the east by South Homer; being Town 18, Range 10 east. Within this town is a magnificent body of timber, a woodland, lying on the Salt Fork, which enters the town from the north, near the center of the town, and after winding through the same, passes out near the north-east corner; the space in the huge bend being covered with stately trees of oak, ash and black walnut; invaluable for fencing material, and manufacturing purposes. The country south and west from the Salt Fork is prairie, of the same characteristics to be found in all parts of the county, well adapted to mixed or special husbandry.
The first to enter land here was Jesse Williams, February, 1827, the east half of the north-east quarter of Section 12, Town 18, Range 10.
The first settlers in this town, of whom we have been able to obtain information, were Thomas L. Butler, who came from Ohio, in 1834, and one Adam Thomas, the same year. These men made improvements. Mr. Thomas planted the first orchard in the town. G. W. Towner came in 1837; he was born in Pennsylvania, 1815. George Wilson came in 1839.
Dr. James H. Lyons came in 1837, and made valuable improvements, building the first house where the village of Sidney now stands. It is said of him, that he brought the first blooded stock to the county; but from all the light we have on that subject, that honor rests with one Mitchel, who settled in Newcomb township.
From this early period, until 1854 or 1855, the growth of the town was slow, receiving, occasionally, new accessions to the number of its inhabitants, of those who dared to brave the trials and discomforts attendant upon the life of the pioneer.
In 1855, the Toledo, Wabash and Western Railway was completed through the town, and immigration flowed in, settling up the lands with, great rapidity, about the woodlands of the Salt Fork, and stretched out to the west and south, as it came to be known that the prairies could be inhabited by man, without the danger of freezing, or blowing away.
Fountain Busey, whom we found in Hensley township, and who sold out there to H. Phillipe, in 1841, resides here, and his farm of over 500 acres tells plainly that he has not been idle.
Thomas Butler has a farm that for improvements is excelled by few. In all of his farming operations, there is stamped the impress of a guiding hand, controlling the work, and not controlled by it
The farm of J. B. Porterfield is the boast of the town, and they have a right to boast, for one more complete in all its parts does not exist within the State, or out of it.
Mr. Porterfield's farm contains about 1,000 acres, in a high state of cultivation, improved almost to perfection. The design is for stock-growing and feeding; and in buildings and appointments generally, there seems to be no fault.
E. Waters, Samuel Love, Geo. Wilson, and many others, have large farms, the cultivation and improvement of which give evidence of the care bestowed by their owners, and also of the great improvement in the management of farms over the earlier days.
The village is located on the T.W. & W.R. W., at the point of woodland at the bend in the Salt Fork to the east, and is a thriving, flourishing town. One of the tributaries of the Salt Fork runs through the village, rendering its location peculiarly advantageous for cleanliness and health. Its inhabitants are a wide-awake, driving people, evincing a thorough knowledge of the value of time. The extensive flouring and saw mill of William Parks is an acquisition of which any town in the West might boast, while all the business men are of the right mettle.
They have two fine church buildings; one graded school, that is an honor to the county; three blacksmith and wagon manufacturing shops; two dry goods houses; drug store ; agricultural warehouse; and all the various branches of industry, fully and well represented by active business men, all in happy accord, in making their town, as it really is, worthy the attention of capitalists.
Is located in the extreme south-western corner of the county, and is bounded on the east by Crittenden, on the north by Colfax, on the west by Piatt county, and on the south by Douglas county; and occupies Town 17, Range 7 east. The first land entered here, was by Henry Sadorus, Dec., 1834, south-east quarter of Section 1, Town 17, Range 7 east. Mr. Sadorus was also the first settler, and, for a long time, the only settler, as has been seen in the former pages of this book, where we have given this worthy gentleman some little notice; we fail, however, in doing him justice. Long and alone, he lived and labored the life of the pioneer, and through his persevering influence, gradually, but surely, neighbors came to him, and now in his ripe old age, he rests from weary labor, eating the bread of honest industry, and enjoying the comforts that years of care have secured.
The next settler in the town of Sadorus, outside of the Sadorus family, was one Marcus, who located south of the farm of Mr. Sadorus, about the year 1833; he did not stop long, but left for some point farther west.
It will be seen by the map, that the Kaskaskia river flows through the entire length of this town. This, with the heavy body of timber which borders the stream, occupies the eastern portion, and here the settlements of the town were confined, until as late as 1855, when the new comers began to push out upon the prairie.
The surface of the prairie, west of the grove, is gently undulating, and towards the southern line, inclines to the level order. This part also is the lowest point of land in the county, and is known as "Lake Fork." For many years it was believed to be impossible to cultivate those lands, so low they seemed, so wet in the spring time, and appeared so utterly incapable of drainage. Yet the few who ventured there, found this all a mistake.
John Quick, who owns a farm in the extreme south-western corner of the county, says: "I have never failed to raise good corn. Sometimes, owing to a very wet spring, I have been late in planting, but the exceeding strength and fertility of the soil has always brought it forward to maturity; and, repeatedly, when my corn and that of my neighbors has stood rank and green, I have seen corn on the high and sharp rolling lands, dwarfed, spindling and yellow."
Mr. Quick is one of the oldest settlers in the town, and had lived on that farm about thirty years. He is a hale, healthy, and hospitable man, and with his estimable lady, can give to friend or stranger a true old genuine welcome.
William Rock is also an old settler, and his large, well improved farm, on the Kaskaskia, shows a life of earnest, well directed labor. His buildings are all constructed for use and not for display, and all the surroundings give evidence of thrift and home-like comfort. D. Rice, D. Gunnery, H. and William O'Brian, each have extensive farms in an advanced state of cultivation. They are stock growers, and none better in that branch of husbandry can be found; their superiority being evinced in their farms, and the arrangement of the same. William Rosenstiel, also, has an extensive farm, well improved, for the purpose of broom corn raising, wherein he is making a decided success. D. Campbell's farm of 600 acres, though new, shows through its rough exterior the plans of a superior workman, and will one day stand high among model farms.
William Ellers has a farm of 1,500 acres on the west side of the Kaskaskia, which in character of improvements, fertility of
the soil, and adaptability to the purpose for which it is designed, has no superior and but few equals. All of the improvements, in buildings and large orchard of rare fruits, have been placed here by Mr. Ellers. The farm is devoted to stock growing.
The village of Sadorus was laid off by William Sadorus in the fall of 1855, the same year that the Toledo, Wabash and Western Railway was completed through the town, and is located upon that road. The first house built in the village was by Mr. James, in 1855, and the same year Mr. J. Roger-son built a warehouse. Mr. Rogerson is a driving business man; is a Canadian by birth, and an American by adoption. In the grain buying and forwarding business he exhibits rare judgment, doing a large and rapidly increasing business of nearly $75,000 per year.
A. Catron was the first physician, and came to Sadorus in 1856. They have now three large grain elevators, three dry goods stores, one grocery store, two wagon and blacksmith shops, furniture store, one church, and a most excellent graded school. The whole village, now numbering over 300, presents a neat appearance, and is bound, through the industry and perseverance of its citizens, to become a place which any county might well be proud to have within its borders. Besides this village there is the beautiful village of Ives Dale at the western extremity of the county, on the T.W. & W.R.W. It is located on the prairie in the heart of one of the richest sections of country in the State, and must some day become important, as it is now an ornament to the county. Soonover, (now, we learn, called Parkville) near the southern line of the county, is a flourishing little place. Mr. Snyder has there a fine grist and saw mill; and other branches of industry are represented by active men.
Is bounded on the east by Philo, on the north by Champaign, on the west by Colfax, and on the south by Pesotum; being Town 18, Range 8 east.
The first land entered in this town was by Philo Hall, in April, 1836, the south half of Section 27, Town 18, Range 8 east. With the exception of a small tract along the edge at the south-west corner, there are no forest trees in the town, planted by nature, and the large tract of prairie land within its limits possesses the same characteristics as the other towns of the county. It is, for the most part, best adapted to that class of farming known as mixed husbandry, and to which the attention of farmers is now mainly directed, making, it is true, in many instances, some one branch a leading feature.
The first settlers here, according to the best information we have been able to obtain, were Isaac J. Miller, and Samuel Miller, who came about 1848, and located at the head-of Sadorus Grove. These men were of the right mettle for pioneers ; shirking no duty, shunning no hardship, they worked through the years of solitude and discomfort, up to the genial smiles of a gladdened civilization, which reflects credit and honor upon their persevering efforts and endurance. Their farms which they have made are worthy of comparison with any in the land.
The advancement of Tolono in population was slow until 1855, when permanent settlers located there arid rapidly filled up the township, which is now very nearly all improved. The farm of Michael Lochrie is well worth visiting. Its improvements, in orchard, buildings and surroundings, are of that cosy, home-like character, which partakes largely of the Scottish views of its owner, brought with him from that land of original neatness and good taste.
Among the fine farms of the town we will name those of Phoenix Baker, David Fisher, Joseph Nelson, and John Goudy. There are many others, but our space will not admit of further notices in this line. The first house built in Tolono village, was the Marion House, now kept by Charles Tewksbury. Dr. Chaffee was among the first to settle here, in 1856, and one Jack Bushy built the first residence, in the spring of that year. William Redhed, the first merchant, located there in 1856, as did also, William Pierce, the first blacksmith. Charles Twyford came there in 1857; he was from Maryland, and was in the State as early as 1843. At Tolono he became the proprietor of the Leonard House, but sold in 1858 to Mr. Holms, who still owns the property, though he may be found at Homer, doing the entertaining at the hotel of that place.
At the time of which we write, and as late as 1865, the improvement in Tolono was very slow. The misfortune of that important point was in the fact that near the depot, where all who visited here must stop, the ground was a bog, covered with a greenish, filthy water, in which pigs and geese held equal command. The business part of the town, and the dwellings, were back out of sight, and only the unsightly and disgusting spectacle we have described met the eye of the would-be citizen, so with a crash destroying his preconceived notions of the importance of this railroad junction, that he either did not stop, or took the first opportunity to get away. The citizens, however, knowing well the importance of the location, and the advantages to be gained there, have, with untiring industry and zeal, worked steadily at this improvement, with the most gratifying results. The ponds of filthy slime have disappeared, walks have been laid, streets improved, and during the last two years the town has rapidly increased in population, and added greatly to its material wealth. It now stands upon a basis which, if properly managed, as it doubtless will be, must urge it forward upon the high road of prosperity to an enviable position among the prairie villages of the State; a village now, but, not long. The grain buying and shipping business there has become immense, as its market is the best in the county.
Of dry goods stores, and all the various branches of industry, the representation here has few superiors in the State, while energy and a restless activity are the leading characteristics of its business men. There are many fine residences which would compare favorably with those of more pretentious places. They have four church buildings, the Presbyterian, Baptist, Methodist and Catholic, all fine buildings. The warehouses and mills have no superiors in the county. The village is located at the junction of the Illinois Central, and Toledo, Wabash & Western Railroads, giving to its citizens superior advantages, and to farmers and shippers the best markets the country affords.
This town is bounded on the north by Somers, on the west by Champaign, on the south by Philo, and on the east by St. Joseph; being Town 19, Range 9. The first settlers in the township were one Runnel Fieider, who located on what is now the Roe farm, about the year 1822 or '23, and one Tompkins, who settled about the same time, near where the Union Mills now stand in Urbana City, but which of the two settled first is not known. They were not only the first in the town but the first in the county, as has been stated in the first pages of this work. The Big Grove, which lies mainly within this township, is one of the finest bodies of woodland in the West, and is situated north of the city of Urbana, in the northern portion of the town. Through this grove, and through the town from west to east, runs the Salt Fork, an important tributary of the Vermillion and Wabash rivers, which furnishes unsurpassed facilities to the stock-grower or feeder. The prairie lying mainly in the southern portion of the town, presents to the husbandman that variety rarely found in the same breadth of territory, from the high rolling lands, through all the grades of undulating surface, to the level or fiat lands, noted for their depth of soil and exhaustless fertility.
The first land entered here was by Runnel Fielder, June, 1828, the east half of the north-west quarter of Section 12, Town 19, Range 9, now known as the Roe farm. We have been unable to learn at what time Mr. Fielder left the county, but probably about 1830. It was on this farm that the first orchard was planted in the town, and the first house supposed to have been built, and here, too, the first furrow was turned in the county.
Prominent among the agriculturists of the town is the name of A. G. Carl, whose fame as a horse breeder extends beyond the limits of the State, and in this department has no superior in the land, and few equals.
The farms of Wallace Silvers, Samuel Douglass, George Burton, Thomas Arnold, George Webber, and others, all devoted to mixed husbandry, are models of their class, giving ample proof of the thorough business qualities of the owners.
THE CITY OF URBANA
Is beautifully located at the south-western point of the Big Grove, in Town 19, Range 9, on high, rolling lands, almost surrounded by the stately trees of the grove. The Salt Fork, which runs through the corporation, furnishes an abundance of water for mill purposes, and adds greatly to the beauty of the scenery. To the north and north-east of the city, beautiful parks, of nature's planting, wanting only the care and attention of man to make them the peers of any in the land, may be found within twenty minutes walk of the Court House; and we wonder that long ere this the citizens of Urbana have not added this to the attractions of their town.
The first house erected here was by one Tompkins, about 1822, and was upon or near the site now occupied by the Union Mills.
The first hotel kept in the city was by Charles Busey in a small frame house on the spot where the brick storehouse of John Gere now stands.
The second was by Asahel Bruer, where the Pennsylvania House now stands.
The first mill was a saw mill built by Col. Busey, north-west of the Court House, on the creek, and was washed away by a flood.
The first flouring mill was by one Heptenstall, in 1838, a water mill, which also disappeared.
The second was a steam flouring and saw mill, erected by Wm. Park, in 1850. This mill still stands, and has no superior in the county.
The third mill was built by Eli Halberstadt, also a model flouring mill of great capacity.
Upon the organization of the county in 1833, the first act of the County Commissioners' Court was to appoint commissioners to select a site for the location of the county seat. Parties from Bloomington had purchased a tract of land in the grove north of the "Salt Fork," and there laid off a town which they called "Byron," and tendered to the commissioners land whereon to locate the seat of government. At this time the road from Danville to Bloomington ran north of the grove, and it was supposed that the county seat would be located on or near that road. Col. M. W. Busey, however, who had settled here about the year 1831, tendered forty acres of land to the infant county, on the high ridge just south of the grove, which, being considered the most desirable, was wisely selected, and the county seat permanently established at that place, and the name of Urbana given to the same.
The first store (variety) was kept by T. E. Webber, opened in 1834, and closed about 1837 or 1838. This was in a small building on the place where the store of Alex. Spence now is. Mr. Webber was succeeded by Charles Tiernan. Noah Bixler opened a store in 1841.
The first blacksmith and wagon maker was Joe Mills, about 1838.
The first physician was J. S. Sadler, from Indiana, in 1838.
The first preacher who settled here was A. Bradshaw, of the M. E. Church in 1840, and under his administration the first church in the town was built; Mr. B. himself hewing out the frame. This church is now used by Mr. Benner for a livery stable. The first cost was $500.
The next was the Baptist church, which was built by J. S. Busey in 1855, costing about $3,000, and Bro. Farr, of the Baptist church in Champaign, was the pastor.
The next was the new brick M. E. church in 1856, costing $10,000.
In 1866 was erected the Presbyterian church (frame), at a cost of about $5,000, a very neat, beautiful structure.
Schools. - A. Bruer taught the first school in the city, and the first school house was erected in 1854, of brick, costing $8,000, and has since been enlarged by additions of wings to a cost of $22,000.
Wm. D. Somers, the first lawyer, was born in North Carolina, 1814, and came here in 1840 as a physician; but soon after studied law and commenced the practice of the same in Urbana, where he has since resided. It may be said of him, that few men who commence practice at the bar, reach that high point in the profession now occupied by Mr. Somers. He has a clear, logical and legal mind, presenting his views in the argument of a case plainly, and when aroused by its importance, with great force and effect. He has served long at the bar, and stands among its members honored and respected. His partner (Mr. Wright) also is a young man of promise in the profession.
A. M. Ayers, judge of the county court, and H. W. Ayers, his brother, are also at the head of the profession in the city, well known throughout the county as able and trustworthy attorneys; and none are superior to J. O. Cunningham, of whom we gave a short sketch in another part of this work. Milton Mathews is an attorney of rare merit and great promise.
The first court held in the county was in an old log stable belonging to Col. Busey, 1833, Judge Harlan presiding. It is said the judge boarded with one Madam Cook, and fared sumptuously on roast possum and pumpkin.
We cannot forbear speaking of Col. M. W. Busey, the founder of the town. He was born in Kentucky, and went thence to Indiana, and thence to Urbana in 1831, as before stated. Those who knew him best, say of him that he had few superiors. He was gifted with a sound, practical mind, and gave, to the city he had established all of that energy which he possessed so largely, born of an ardent, enthusiastic temperament, backed by common sense; To the city and its interests he was devoted; to his friends, warm hearted and generous; and to all he was just. In 1840 he represented his county in the legislature of the State, retiring with honor and credit.
The bankers, Busey Bros., are the sons of M. W. Busey, of whom we have written, and have a bank that would do credit to any town in the West.
Ermentrout, Harvey & Co., successors to Alexander & Ermentrout, are also bankers, deserving the confidence of the public, which they have so liberally received.
The "Illinois Democrat" published here, by P. Lochrie, is of itself a testimony of the thrift and enterprise of the town ; while the bookbindery and job office of Flynn & Scroggs is the most complete establishment of its class in Eastern Illinois.
Their presses here are run by steam, and they are possessed of every facility necessary for the performance of the work designed there.
There are now here, five dry goods houses, doing a large and rapidly increasing business, one clothing store, three boot and shoe stores, with groceries, drug, and all other mercantile houses, and the various branches of industry, represented by careful and skilled men.
Among other evidences of prosperity, the Griggs House, a large, beautiful and well appointed hotel, erected in 1870, will bear inspection. Mine host, E. Ater, has demonstrated that he can keep a hotel, while in all the departments there is nothing lacking in comfort or elegance, wherewith to satisfy the demands of the hungry and weary. A full description of this house would occupy more space than we have to devote to it, but we will say, that all things considered, it is the best in, Eastern Illinois.
Another evidence of prosperity is in the fact that a large number of new residences have been built during the past year, and are still being erected with great rapidity, though still unable to supply the demand; very many houses being occupied by two or more families.
The, B. & W. K B. which runs through the city, has established its Bound House and repair shops here, and a branch of the celebrated "Wilmington Car Manufactory" will soon be put in operation.
C. B. Griggs, to whom this town owes much, was born in North Adams, Mass., in the year 1824. He came to Champaign county in 1859, and settled on a farm in the town of Philo, which he improved, and made one of the best farms in the State. During the six years he was on this farm, he handled over 3,000 hogs, and never lost one with the cholera, which fact speaks well for his judgment and skill. In 1867 he was elected to the legislature of the State, and after the expiration of his term, actively engaged in the construction of the Indianapolis, Bloomington and Western Railroad, which but for his persistent energy, and untiring zeal, would never have been built. Through all discouragements, and over all opposition, he has compelled success to crown his efforts.
We cannot close this little sketch, without reference to one, who, though young in years, gave rich promise of usefulness to come.
M. W. Romine, born in the county of Champaign, Illinois, Aug. 12, 1844, is the person to whom we refer. His early life was passed on a farm, where learned what all farmers must learn, habits of industry, and economy of time. In 1861, when but seventeen years of age, he responded to his country's call, and enlisted in Company E, 51st Illinois Infantry Volunteers. With this organization he performed the duties of a soldier, until the 19th of September, 1863, when on the ill-fated field of Chickamauga he was fearfully wounded, and taken prisoner. While thus a prisoner, he was taken to Richmond; thence to Danville, Virginia; thence to Andersonville, Georgia; thence to Charleston, South Carolina; thence to Florence, South Carolina; thence, December 7, 1864, after more than one year of captivity, to the Federal fleet of Charleston Harbor; and was discharged, February 14, 1865, for disability. In 1865 he entered the Chicago Law School, where he prosecuted the study of the law with earnestness and zeal, and was admitted to the bar in 1866; and commenced practice in the town where he was born, the year following.
In 1867, he was appointed United States Internal Revenue Collector, for Champaign county. In the Spring of 1868, he was elected Attorney of the city of Champaign, by a large majority over his competitor, who supposed himself to be a tolerably popular man at that time. During all this time, however, the rebel bullet which had crashed through his body, was fast doing its work; weaker and fainter, day by day, the emaciated form of Mathew Romine drew nearer the portals of that narrow house to which thousands of his fellow-victims had gone before him. He died Aug. 10, 1868, lamented and mourned by all who knew him, from the least to the greatest.
His mind and intellect were of a superior order; and in his turn and disposition, he was peculiarly calculated to honor and adorn the profession he had chosen; while in any capacity he would have been an ornament to society, and to the county a useful citizen.
This closes up the historical sketches of the towns and of the county. In this work we have been assisted, and are indebted to a large number of men from each of the towns, for items of history, and in some instances, for the historical sketch complete. We have endeavored to have all correct, and labored long and assiduously to accomplish that purpose.
Of necessity, we have been brief, and much that would be of interest has been left out, but nothing that is essentially necessary in showing the wealth and prosperity of the county, or the towns comprising the same.
It remains but to add a few pages of statistical matter, being tables giving Population of the County by Townships for 1870, the Mortality by Townships for same year, Statistics of Farms and Farm Productions, etc., etc., which cannot fail to interest all who have at heart the welfare and prosperity of Champaign County.... (statistical charts follow, here omitted....)
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