The History of
Crawford and Clark County
W. H. Perrin, O. L. Baskin & Co., 1883
WESTFIELD TOWNSHIP-TOPOGRAPHICAL FEATURES-EARLY IMMIGRATION—SOCIAL CHARACTERISTICS-GROWTH AND DEVELOPMENT OF SETTLEMENT-RICHMOND —WESTFIELD VILLAGE-ITS RISE AND PROGRESS—THE COLLEGE --CHURCHES, MINISTERS AND SCHOOLS.
WESTFIELD Township, one of the smaller divisions of Clark, forms the northwest corner of the county. But half a Congressional Township in area, it contains of that which makes a people prosperous, much more than its proportional share. The first settlers were not dissimilar to those who pioneered the way in other parts of the county, but they early shook off the habits of dissipation that so unhappily retarded advancement of society in the new northwest, and cherishing that torch-light of civilization, the school, have achieved a progress of which their descendants may well be proud.
Originally, Westfield was a fine rolling timber land, somewhat broken along the streams, but easy to sublime and bring under fruitful cultivation, and very inviting to the pioneer seeking a home in a new country. The North Fork of the Embarras River takes its rise here in eight or ten little streams that unite within the limits of the township, or just below, and joined by others as it passes along the western tier of townships joins the main stream in the county below. These water-courses reach out from the central part to all points of the compass, affording fine natural drainage and a good supply of water for agricultural purposes. The land is a rich agricultural soil returning generous harvests of all crops. The native woods contain all varieties of timber known in this region, walnut along the deep black loam of the creek bottoms, and oak, maple, ash, etc., on the light clay of the uplands. Farmers devote their attention to a mixed husbandry, and good homes and comfortable out buildings mark their thrift and enterprise.
Situated on the verge of two counties, at considerable distance from the established lines of early travel, Westfield was not advantageously placed for quick settlement. Fortunately, James Hite settled in Eilgar county, just north of this township, about 1828 or 1830, and having a large acquaintance in his native State of Kentucky, by his glowing descriptions of the country was instrumental in attracting a considerable settlement here. Of fhis immigration the first family was that of James Shaw. He came from Lawrence county and was probably not known to Mr. Hite and was attracted hither by the flourishing settlement in Edgar county. A small cabin was erected, twelve acres cleared off, and for a time was the only evidence of civilization within the present limits of the township. In 1831, Mr. Shaw entered his land, on section 33, and stayed here until about 1831: when he sold to Daniel Evinger and moved to Crawford county. Absalom Kester followed in the fall of the same year. He was a native of Kentucky and went to Indiana when a young unmarried man. Here be married, and subsequently came to this section of the country in search of a site for a new home. He was attracted by the natural beauty of the location and fixed upon land in section 24, for his future abode. He at once removed here and lived long; enough to see the wilderness blossom as the rose, and a prosperous civilization springing up where once it was "all woods." He was an earnest member of the old school Baptist Church, and a public-spirited man, a type of the community that shaped the destiny of Westfield. In he following year, 1839, Thomas Frazier made his way from his native State of Kentucky along the old trail that led up from that State, to section twenty-four. Coming in a wagon he made it his home until he could erect a cabin. He was an enterprising man of good haste and brought with him an admiration for fine stock, and as opportunity offered gave great attention to the raising of fine horses. The farm is now owned by Joseph Cartwright. Esau Morris came in 1830, from Lawrence County. He was a type of the early frontiersman of Kentucky and the East; entered land on section 19, but spent the most of his time in the' woods hunting. When game became scarce he lost his taste for the country and selling his land to Jacob Spears in 1836, he went to wilder country in the West. A similar character came the same year from South Carolina, John Waldrop by name. He was an adventurous fellow and found life here very tame. He made several trips to the West on horseback, and twice made journeys to Texas. On his second return he sold what improvements he had made to John G. Morrell and went to Texas township, where after running an adventurous career he was killed by the Indians. William Comstock was another accession of this year. He was a Kentuckian and made his way from his native State by wagon, consuming two weeks in the journey. He settled on section 20, where his son, Riley Comstock, still lives. Alexander Black, a settler of this year, was a native of Tennessee, and subsequently went to Alabama. From the latter State he came to Westfield by wagon and settled on section twenty- four, removing after some years to Coles County. In 1830 came James Jones also, settling on the same section as Mr. Black. A number of liis former neighbors had made; their way into this country and from their descriptions he was induced to come here. He moved his family over the Kentucky trail by wagon, improved a good farm on which he lived until his death. David Bennett came the same year and settled on the same section. He was a native of Spencer County, Kentucky, and was killed by falling from his horse four years later. His was the first death in the township.
In 1831 William Goodman settled on section 19, his brother George coming about the same time. Both men were noted as successful hunters and fine marksmen, and added to their general woodcraft especial skill as bee-hunters. Neither of them made much improvement on his land, and went further west in a few years. Henry Randall and Elijah Stark, both natives of Kentucky, joined the settlement in this year. The former settled on section 25 and improved a fine farm. Stark was a man of fine intelligence, but rather impractical, and gained more reputation as a coon hunter than as a pioneer farmer. James Bell, who came in this year also, was one of the first violinists of the settlement. He settled on section 3 5, but made very little improvement. He was a man of good education, had a considerable library, but seemed to be unfitted for the rugged experience of a pioneer settlement.
Robert Lowry was an early settler from Kentucky and settled on section 32; and in 1834 Richard Easton settled on the same section. The latter was one for whom the primitive state of the country had the most attraction, and who gave more of his time to hunting than to improving a farm. He was, however, one of the best judges of the quality of land in its wild state lobe found in all this region, and purchasers were in the habit of seeking his advice in making seleciions. He sold his property to Charles Briggs in 1835 ahd removed to Coles County. Francis Davis, a brother-in-law of Daniel Bennett, and a newcomer of this year, was in marked contrast with Mr. Easton. He was a good mechanic and settled on section 33, but he neglected his trade as a carpenter and his work on his farm for gentler pursuits, which, to say the least, were less effective toward subduing the forest. He was a man of tine education and extensive reading, and his retentive memory gave him such command of facts as to make him the oracle of the early settlement. He possessed a large library for that time and took several papers, of which he was an assiduous reader; but fine words not only butter no parsnips, but cut no trees, and he never achieved a competence.
Other settlers of 1812 were William Mack, who settled on section 33; John W. Brooks, who settled on section 33 and subsequently moved to Coles County; and John Barbee, a native of Kentucky, a tanner by trade, as well as a useful mechanic in others. Mack was something of a " Jack at all trades," and proved a very useful member of the community, building houses, making plows, boots and shoes, and in the meanwhile cleared off forty acres of land. Joseph Briscoe was also a settler of 1833. In the previous year he came from Kentucky, a young, unmarried man, as driver of an ox team for James Hite. For this service he received ten dollars, and inspired by the possession of so much ready capital, looked about for an investment. He was pleased with the attractions of Westfield and entered the land on which Waldrop and Morrell had squatted. Returning to Kentucky, he married, packed up what household goods he could secure, and placing all on an ox-cart he set out with his bride for tlie new land. Tlie journey was a tedious one of two weeks' length, but he found a good start in the improvements which Waldrop had made and sold to Morrell. He satisfied the latter with twenty dollars, and entered upon his new possession where he still lives. His father, Henry Briscoe, came in the latter part of 1835, bringing the balance of the family. They came with three ox carts and a drove of cattle, remaining at the cabin of Joseph Briscoe for eight days, while a cabin was put up, on section 28. Henry Briscoe was an old Revolutionary soldier and was present at the surrender of Yorktown. He died in 1838. Coleman Duncan was an early settler on section 19; a man of sum j prominence in local politics and one of the early county commissioners. Samuel Groshart was another early citizen of some prominence in Westfield. He improved a good farm and gained considerable reputation as a hunter. After a residence of some twenty years in this township he moved to Missouri and met a violent death at the hands of a burglar who had made an entrance into his house.
Such were some of the leading men who gathered here. It is difficult in most cases to distinguish marks of individuality in the smaller settlements of a county, especially where all are derived from the same general section; but in the early community of Westfield the intelligent observer will find less of this difficulty. A majority of this community were from Kentucky, and most of those who made this their permanent home were staunch members of the Old School Baptist Church. Another fact which had an important bearing upon the character of the original community was the presence of men of literary taste who joined their fortunes to this early settlement. The rugged experience of pioneer life and the isolation from the closer restraints of older civilization, has a tendency to unduly elevate the importance of brawn and muscle in the general con&idation, and brawling and carousing are tolerated to a much farther extent than where there are gentler influences to counteract this tendency. The prevailing custom of the nation had educated the church of the early day to see no harm in the general use of whisky, and it may not be said that the members were free from intoxication; but excess was deprecated, and as year by year the inevitable result of the practice was foreshadowed, they had the moral courage to reject it. Brawling disputes were never countenanced and the general sentiment was favorable to intellectual progress. It may seem puerile at this day to note the influence of one or two libraries and men of literary taste who were found in this community; but in the formation period of society even little factors often lead to large results. These men, while not commanding the esteem of their more energetic contemporaries, nevertheless exercised a subtle influence which even they were forced to recognize. "A walking encyclopedia " may not be a useful instrument In clearing away the forest, but it exhibits a power not possessed by the average pioneer and commands respect of the unlearned and a little less than awe of his children; audit may scarcely be questioned that the intellectual progress of Westfield drew much of its inspiration from these humble sources. Another favoring condition to this end may be observed in the character of the country. To express it in the language of one of the early settlers, "it was a good poor man's country." The land readily cleared and the soil submitting to little cultivation gave additional value to a poor man's moderate means, and at the same time a leisure to be employed as the predominant influence led him. While there were those who devoted their best energies to hunting, the rather loss than the proportional share of game here did not encourage this diversion beyond the necessity of the family demand, and hence the better influences of the church and school were here felt at their best estate. The early years of the Westfield community were not, however, in marked contrast with other pioneer settlements. The cabin reared and the family made comfortable within it, there was an abundant demand for all the energies of the pioneer in clearing a space on which to plant a crop. Ten or twelve acres cleared was the extent of a season's achievement. On this, corn was generally planted though occasionally a venture was made with wheat on a little patch. Mr. Briscoe's first crop of wheat resulted in a yield of four bushels. Corn was the principal dependence, and "hog and hominy" the general fare. Game, wild fruit, maple sugar and honey varied this plainer diet but many times occurred when from the various vicissitudes of life in a new country there was a painful lack of the simplest food. Considerable stock was brought in by settlers, cows, oxen and sheep being almost a necessity. Hogs were very soon acquired and proved the staple supply of meat. Such stock was very easily kept safe from the ravages of wolves which were very numerous and bold here. Young pigs, calves, sheep and even colts were helpless before these savage animals, the depredations of which were carried to the very doors of the cabins. Pens formed by high strong fences were constructed for the defense of these animals and placed near the house of the owner. About these the wolves would gather in alarming numbers and settlers were very cautious in forcing a fight with them On one occasion Jacob MoiTuIl was aroused by a concoarse of wolves howling and snapping about lhis cabin in the night. His door had retreated to the steps of the cabin and stood at bay, but when he opened the door and encouraged it to the attack it gave a leap into the pack but did not reach the ground; a dozen hungry jaws met in its carcass in an instant, and in five minutes more was rent in as many pieces over wliich the ravenous beasts disputed. In the morning only a few bones remained of what had been a dog. A horse or cow, though not always safe from attack themselves, could often beat off an attack on their young. One of the settlers had a colt throttled by wolves and succored by its dam, which could never afterward tolerate the approach or sight of a dog. In spite of such discouragements the stock was maintained; butter and milk were as plenty as they were healthful, and the simple demands of frontier dress were seldom denied the necessary wool to meet them. Flax, another essential for the supply of clothing, was extensively cultivated and proved a valuable crop in several ways. The seed had a commercial value, its fibre a domestic use, while the effect of the crop on new land was thought to have an excellent effect in "taming" it. The nearest source of supplies was at first at Vincennes; later Terre Haute and Paris brought stores nearer, and Hitesville was founded only six miles away still later. But store goods could be only sparingly afforded. Coarse muslin was 40 cents per yard, calico 50 cents; coffee 40 and 50 cents per pound and little but cash would procure them. At such prices the people could better afford to make their own cloth and clothing and use burnt corn for coffee. The principal source of revenue was the sale of flaxseed, maple sugar, whisky and grain. The latter commanded very small prices and not always a ready market; converted into whisky and hauled to Terre Haute it was a profitable article of commerce but this was not largely engaged in, however. Maple sugar was manufactured largely and considerable quantities sold. The whole family and sometimes two or three families united and spent the season where the best trees were to be found, making from five to eight hundred pounds which was marketed at Vincennes or Terre Haute for cash. Flaxseed was hauled to Vincennes principally and with the other articles sufficed to supply the cabin with such necessaries as could not be derived from the farm.
In 1836, Charles Biggs came to the settlement from Crawford County and rented a farm near the southern line of the township. He started a hucksterina: wagon and bought of the settlers their surplus butter, eggs, maple sugar, bacon, etc., and hauled it to the Ohio River where he exchanged this produce for goods. With the latter he started a little exchange store at his residence and a little later, with the increase of his business, built a frame store building in which he continued the traffic for a number of years, when he removed to the village. In 1829, Benjamin I. White came from North Carolina and settled west of the present site of Westfield Village. He improved a good farm and soon erected a single-geared horse-mill, the first grist mill in the township. He was an energetic, enterprising man and was satisfied with nothing but the best of its kind. The machinery was placed in a log building, 16 by 20 feet, but recognizing the fact that there would be customers in waiting and that without shelter the working as well as the waiting teams would be uncomfortable in bad weather, built a large open shed about forty feet square. The buhrs were " nigger-heads," two feet in diameter and ground a little faster than one could with a good sized coffee mill. The story is told, but not vouched for, that on one occasion tlie flow of meal ceased notwithstanding the grinding still went on. After some investigation it was discovered that a hen had got near the opening of the hopper and as each kernel of corn appeared picked it up. This story may not be susceptible of verification, but it illustrates one of the inconveniences of early milling. This mill was patronized from near and far and though patrons often waited two days to be served, it was in good demand until about 1840, when it was abandoned. A second mill was erected in 1831, by Fergus Johnson. He was a native of Kentucky, emigrated to Indiana and from thence to Westfield, where he settled in the southern part of the township on land now occupied by Dr. Briscoe. This was a double-geared horse-mill, provided with a shed, and did a good business. About 1845, Isaac Koontz bought his mill, but soon afterward sold it to Lewis Walker who worked it until 1848 and then abandoned it. In 1838, the first saw-mill, which also contained a run of stone, was built on section 28, by "William Lee. This was propelled by an ox-tread wheel, furnished with a shed which had become nearly indispensable, and made a further innovation by providing the motive power. This also found plenty of patronage until about 1840, when the machinery was sold and removed. Such prosperity in this line of industry induced William Neal, in 1839, to erect a single-geared mill on section 33, but this was a rude affair and though furnished with the convenience of a shed, did not continue more than four or five years. Abner Stark had a double-geared horse-mill at the crossroads in the eastern part of town as early as 1837, which ran some fifteen years. Here an attempt was made to bolt flour by hand and had quite a paying patronage.
The early cabins have long since passed away from this township, and neat frame houses have taken their places. This is one of the evidences of thrift and enterprise to be found here, and the farm improvements are not less marked in this direction. These marks of improvement began quite early, and during that period when villages were springing up by the hundred throughout the State, it is not surprising that there should be some attempt in the thriving settlement of Westfield. The mania took form here in 1836, when B. I. White laid out the village of New Richmond upon a part of his farm. There was at that time nothing in the history or circumstances of the settlement to suggest the necessity or advantage of a town, save the popular idea that each distinct settlement was sure to give rise to the city of the future, and he would be most fortunate who made the first plat. It was with some such impression that Mr. White laid out New Richmond which was not planned on an ambitious scale there being only nine blocks of eight lots each. The project did not receive an enthusiastic indorsement by the rapid sale of lots, though Stephen Sargent did in the same year secure a lot and erect a hewed log cabin on it. This was a business venture which survived only three years. About the same time James Folger started a little grocery, the principal part of his stock being whisky. It became the rendezvous for all the rougher element in the country about. Sylvester Lewis started a blacksmith shop here quite early. In 1840, Thomas Hiss, sunk vats and ben-an a tannery business, which prospered for some years when he sold out to Wood & Hays, who continued the enterprise for a few years and abandoned it. As a speculation the platting of the town proved a failure. But few lots were sold, and the village finally lost its individuality in that of its more prosperous successor, Westfield.
At the time of the laying out of New Richmond there had just been located a road from Darwin to Charleston in Edgar County. This was a State road and promised to be a considerable thorough fare as all the goods for that upper country wore hauled by wagon from the Wabash River. It was viewed by Isaac P. I Daugherty, Nathaniel Parker and S. D. : Handy, and was subsequent, surveyed by the latter. In 1805, the citizens were warned | out to work on this road. In its course through the Westfield settlement the established line passed through a piece of timber owned by Abugh Darnell who very much objected to the way in which it affected his property. "When the working force reached this part of the road he met them with a proposition to deflect the line so as to leave his "wood pasture" intact. How hard when love and duty clash! The road-makers hesitated, parleyed and yielded. It was clear that they had no authority to change the line legally established, but Darnell had not come to them unarmed. He brought a big jug which he intimated contained whisky, and the leader of the working party, anxious to impose the burden of the responsibility upon the whole force alike, went over a log where the man and jug were and called for a division of the house. Those who were in favor of changing; the line and incidentally in favor of the whisky, were to come on his side of the log, and those opposed, should there be any so lost to the charms of the pioneer beverage, were to remain on the dry side. It is needless to say that the unanimous voice was in favor of the jug. The road thus changed served the public for a number of years, when it was found convenient by later owners of the property to change it to the original line. A few years later the Marshall and Charleston road was laid. Through the influence of Col. Archer, the Legislature appointed Stephen Handy, Wm. Mars and Wm. Swam as receivers of the proposed route, which led from Marshall to Clarkville and thence west through the middle of Westfield Township to the village, and thence at right angles to the north on the older road. The viewers reported against locating the road on account of the blufls near Mill Creek. Archer, however, had set his heart upon the project, and at his own expertise, he employed twenty men, surveyed and cut out the road sixty feet wide and placed mile stones along the whole length to Westfield.
The laying out of this road was conceived bv Col. Archer in a desire to make Marshall easily accessible from all parts of the county, and was with reference to the future prosperity of the county seat, that in 1839, he platted the village of Westfield. It was hoped that a thriving town in this part of the county would attract immigration from the river country and surround Marshall with prosperous settlements which would eventually inure to its benefit. It is suggested that "Westfield village was an independent speculation, but while the sale of lots at a profit was incidental to his plan, Mr. Archer may well be credited with the broader plan which is much more in keeping with his genius and history. The village was laid out on the cross roads on the line between sections 29 and 30, and consisted of forty-six blocks varying in size. State street passing east and west through the plat, and Washington street passing through the center at right angles to the former, and through these streets passed the two roads mentioned above. With his customary public spirit, he donated block 29, as a public square, blocks 5 and 39 for school purposes, and block 19 for a meeting house. The founder was prevented by financial embarrassments from presiding long over the destinies of the village, and in the following year sold the plat to David Evinger, and his two sisters, Polly and Catherine Evinger. The latter owners brought the lots first into market, the first lot being sold to Thomas Tefft, who subsequently erected a log cabin in the north part of town on Washington street and there kept the first post-office in the township. Aaron T. others who purchased lots were Samuel Teflft, J. C. Skinner, a blacksmith, Wm. P. Bennett, John Fiers, Katlian Teii't and Watkins, who came to work in the mill, where he was subsequenth killed.
In 1841, David Evinger erected a log building for the double purpose of store and residence and rented it to Charles Whitlock who brought in the first stock of goods into this village. He carried on the business about two years, when he moved away. In 1844, William Hampton opened the second store in a building erected by Catherine Evinger in the year 1842. This was a story and a half frame building and stood on Washington street. After running the store two years he sold out to Thomas Moore, who, a year later, entered into partnership with Michael York. The latter became sole proprietor in 1843, and afterward sold to one White, brought his business career here, Mr. York erected a two story frame near the central part of the village, on the north side of State street, which a few years later was removed and is now used as a cabinet shop. In 1854, York & Moore moved their stock into the new brick, and Jacob Christianson occupied the frame building which the former built. A year later the latter moved his stock of goods into the Lowden house, standing on the corner of Washington and State streets, and about a year afterward erected a building of his own on the northeast corner of these streets, which is now occupied by Mrs. Lacier.
The first brick business block was erected on the site of the old frame store, bv Mr. York in 1867, but was burned down three years later. It was rebuilt at once and still remains. In 1877, Messrs. J. R. Redman & Co. and C. F. Knapp & Co., erected a large brick block together, on Washington street. Two years later this was burned, Knapp rebuilding his store in the year following. The Watson Block, on the corner of State and Washington streets was erected in 1879. The first hotel stood where the Watson block now is, and was kept from 1841 to 1848, by Capt. TeflFt. The Grant House, standing in the northern part of the village, is its only successor.
The growth of the town was considerably retarded during its early history by the general insecurity of the title to the property. The Evingers were not able to pay cash for their entire purchase and secured the balance of the payment on the property. This was a bar to a clear title, and it was not until 1854, when Dr. Parcel bought the unsold part of the plat, that matters improved. Building new houses and improving lots, he infused a new vigor into the town which has since rapidly advanced. The business portion includes four dry goods stores, two groceries, two hardware stores, three blacksmith shops, two wagon shops, a harness-shop, etc., etc. The manufacturing interest was represented by the Westfield steam mill. This was originally a two story structure erected in 1840, by Woodford Dulaney, W. P. Bennett and D. Evinger. It had two run of stone and a carding mill attached, and did a good business until 1850, when it was burned down. In 1854, Parcel and Evinger erected a mill, four stories high, and forty feet square, at a cost of $9,000. It stood in the northeast part of town, had a capacity of seventy-five barrels of flour per day, and a saw-mill attached. In 1856 it burned down, entailing a loss on property and contents of $18,000. In the same year the mill was replaced by the same firm, with three run of stone and saw-mill at a cost of about $10,000. In 1859, J. I. Parcel bought the entire interest and continued the business some four years when he sold to Clement & Crowfoot. The partnership subsequently changed to Clement & Fish, who sold out to a Mr. Scott, who moved the mill, in 1878, to Brownstown on the Vaiidalia Railroad. In 1808, the Road & Brothers erected a steam saw-mill on section 20, and did a good business lor some ten years there, when they removed the machinery to Westfield. Here they erected a steam flouring mill on the site of the Parcel mill, which has a capacity of seventy-five barrels per day and is still doing a flourishing business.
In 1879 The Index was established by G L. Watson. This was a seven-column folio weekly newspaper. After conducting it for some two years he sold the office and paper to M. R. Bain, who changed its name to The Pantagraph. In 1881 the establishment passed into the hands of S. W. Zeller, and a year later was sold to his son, .J. R. Zeller, who changed its name to The Visitor, and tliree months later sold it to Martin & Baker. Before the end of a year's possession, Charles Martin secured the sole proprietorship, and now conducts the paper. It is now a fivecolumn quarto, neutral as to politics, and has a circulation of about 500 subscribers.
The societies are represented here by Westfield Lodge, No. 163, Free and Accepted Masons, which was organized in August, 1854, by the following original members: Wesley Norman, N. S. Hawley, James L. Parker, Felix Parker, Frederick Hammond, Josiah Connory, Sylvester Lewis, E. B. Hawkins, Chas. Downey, and G. R. Clark. The lodge now has twenty-nine members and meets in Watson Hall. Westfield Lodge, No. Gii, Independent Order of Odd Fellows, was instituted September 29, 1877, with five members: W. R. Smith, M. Laws, J. Hidl, Z. L. Davee, and W. D. Hutchinson. Meetings were first held in Ensley's Hall, and two years later moved to Watson Block, where the lodge has recently fitted up a fine assembly room. The membership now numbers thirty-three. Westfield Post, No. 139, Grand Army of the Republic, Department of Illinois, was instituted August 11, 1882, with G. N. Parker, A. A. Moore, R. S. Gard, J. A. Gassitt, etc., as charter members. The lodge has eighteen members, and meets in Ensley's Hall.
The village was incorporated in March, 1866, the first board of trustees being J. C. Van Sickle, J. II. Parcel, H. II. Cash, Isaac Bolton, and B. H. Hays.
The early members of the community were generally of the Old School Baptist persuasion, as has been noted, and it was to be expected that church influences would early be felt here. In 1831 Coleman B. Dawson came to Westfield and settled, and it should be noted that he and Henry Briscoe were the only "total abstinent" men in the while county at that time. The former was subsequently ordained as a minister, and is now serving the Concord church in this township. In 1833 the regular Predestinarian Baptist Church of Westfield was organized under the name of the Concord Church. Several families had moved here from Spencer County, Kentucky, and others from Indiana, who belonged to this denomination, and decided to organize a church. Elder Daniel Parker, living in Crawford County, was principally active in this organization, the first members being Thomas Lasure and wife, Absalom Kester and wife, William Walker and wife, Daniel Bennett and wife, Henry Randall and wife, and Rebecca Davis, who is the only original member now living. The first pastor was Richard M. Newport, who was then living in Crawford County, necessitating a horseback ride of fifty miles to attend the services, which were held once a month. In 1855 he moved into the township and preached for the church some twelve years, when he moved to Coles County. He subsequently went to Missouri, where he died.
Newport was more than an ordinary frontier preacher. He was a native of Kentucky and came in early manhood to Indiana. Biuel under the rude influences of pioneer life, without educational advantages, he became, by the simple force of his genius, a leader in the circles in which he moved. It was only natural, under such circumstances, that he should be betrayed into excesses which were then hardly acknowledged as disreoutable, and it is stated that he stepped over the line of permitted things so far as to be publicly punished by the legal authorities. He subsequently came under the influence of one of the early preachers of the time, and becoming a member of the Old School Baptist Church, turned his splendid energies and natural gifts to the service of the church. Mr. Newport was in many ways well fitted for the work to which he devoted himself. In that day drinking liquor was not challenged by the church, but was rather considered as a mark of sympathy with the commoner class of people, and gave the preacher who was at home in any crowd an influence that a more highly cultured man would have sought in vain. In this respect he answered the popular demand completely. He was a tall, active, muscular but spare built man, with a reputation for early prowess that few in a later day cared to have verified at the expense of a personal encounter; to which was added the gift of a natural oratory that pleased and swayed the best audiences of the time. As a preacher he went far and near, at first on foot, always drawing large crowds of listeners, frequently being instrumental in bringing about extensive revivals, and this in spite of his known characteristics. It is related of him on one occasion, that when the neighborhood had gathered at the cabin of Mr. Beauehamp to listen to his preaching, he came In nearly frozen from a long ride and promptly took his place near a stand in the center of the room, on which a bible was placed for his use. As he removed his wraps he made considerable demonstration expressive of his benumbed feelings, and finally asked "Sister Beauehamp" if she did not have some "spirits" in the house. Of course she had, and in company with her husband wont to a cupboard around one; corner of the room or chimney, and indicated by some sign that he should come and take the restorative in a somewhat less conspicuous part of the room.
He understood the sign, but replied: "No, no, sister; just bring the bottle here." The jug and cup were produced, and after surveying the cup well filled with whisky a moment, he tossed it off in the most approved fashion, remarked upon the refreshing sensation it caused, and at once proceeded to expound the passage of scripture he had chosen for a text. At another time he had an appointment to preach at Martinsville. The village at that time was noted for the number of rough characters that made it their rendezvous, and at this time the whisky shop was full of these characters, carousing and discussing the character of Newport. In the midst of the noisy conclave a tall stranger came in, called for a drink and sat down by the stove, maintaining the closest reserve. The drink was repeated three times, the discussion of the preacher going on with considerable animation and profanity after the first momentary interruption. In the course of half an hour the stranger departed as non-committal as he came, attracting the conversation to the subject of his identity, etc. With a final drink around, the party concluded to go to the meeting and see what " stuff the preacher was made of, but suddenly lost their curiosity when they saw the tall determined-looking stranger of the saloon expounding the gospel from the desk in the schoolhouse.
As an orator and debater he was in general demand. A 4th of July celebration where he was a feature was always sure of a crowd, and political or religious debates were of little public interest without the incisive eloquence of Newport. He was once a contestant before the Democratic convention for the nomination as member of the Legislature, but was beaten by T. R. Young by two or three votes. The Whigs nominated George Henson to oppose him, but neither of the principals being able debaters. Usher F. Under was secured by the Whigs and Newport by their opponents, to discuss the pending-issues in joint debates. Both were approved champions of the forum under possessed a persuasive eloquence, and a method which appealed to the heart rather than the intelligence of his auditors; Newport exhibited less of culture in his oratory, but possessed a talent in arraying his facts that made them seem to the crowd, utterly unassailable. The result was favorable to the cause which the latter championed.
Notwithstanding the weakness of his moral character which can hardly be fairly estimated at this day, Mr Newport was greatly beloved by the Concord church, and during the twelve years in which he labored here, the church was blessed and increased to a membership of one hundred and three. He was succeeded by Rev. John Shields, and in 1857, Rev. Coleman B. Dawson was chosen pastor and has continued to the present. The first public place of worship was a hewed log cabin erected in 1833, but this was never completed, the church using it in the summer and escorting to private cabins in the winter. In 8-15 a frame house was erected at a cost of about $500, and is still in use. The church now numbers sixty-two members.
Good Hope Baptist Church was organized in 1832, by Richard Newport and S. B. Walker assisted by Abraham Stark and William Stancil. The original members were Lewis Walker and wife, Daniel Gable and wife and S. B. Walker and wife. The church was organized at the cabin of Lewis Walker which with other residences and schoolhouses were used as a place of worship until a log building was erected for this purpose south of Westfield Village near the site of the first mill. This building was used until 1862, when a frame building, 36 by 50 feet, was erected in the village, at a cost of $1,600. The pastors liave been Revs. S. B. Walker, John Doty, Milton Humphrey, Jonathan Riley, Robert Hawkins, T. J. Thompson, Jas. B. Walker, Abraham Jones and Thos. Reynolds, the present incumbent. The present membership is seventy.
The Methodist Episcopal Church was early represented here by Revs. Wm. Blundell and Wm. Adams. A church of this denomination was not organized, however, until 1850, when Rev Mr. Burks instituted a society of which Charles and John Downey with their wives, Martha Downey, Mrs. T. C. Lewis and Miss Lewis, were among the original members. A frame building for church purposes was erected on the site of the present structure at a cost of about $000. This was replaced in 1865, by brick building, 34 by 50 feet with a seating capacity of 300, at a cost of $5,000.
The Westfield United Brethern Church was organized in 1852, from members of the Otterbein Chapel, situated in Coles County. There were about thirty members at the organization among whom were W. H. and Marj' Brown, Katy Evinger, J. b. Kermer, Margaret Evinger, Moses and J. D. Parcel and their wives. The pastors have been Revs. W. C. Smith, J. P. Shuey, James Griffith, A. Helton, S Bussard, J. G. Shuey, H. Elwell, L. S. Chittenden, J. H. Synder, S. Mills, R. L. Prengle, and C. H. Jones, the present incumbent. A frame place of worship was erected in 1852, in the southeast part of the village, at a cost of a thousand dollars. It was sold in 1802, and the church has since used the college chapel. The church now numbers 260 members, and sustains a flourishing Sunday school of about 175 attendants which has been under the management of Professor W. R. Shuey for some twenty years.
The pride of the village and the source of much of its fame and prosperity, is the college located in its midst. The town of Westfield, the name of which the college bears, had little except its topography to mark it as desirable for a seat of learning. Small, its inhabitants manifesting no special enthusiasm in the cause of higher education, without railroad connection, one can but wonder that it drew or cared to draw a college to its midst. But in and about the village there were some spirits whose enterprise and energy made them superior to the adverse elements in a country hardly freed from the social hindrances of pioneer days, and the institution was founded. Wise or unwise as the location may have seemed at first, it now appears probable that all objectors will be constrained to yield approval as its merits become more and more manifest. As the heads and hands and means of a cultivated people bring out the possibilities of the surroundings and turn the whole suburbs for miles around into a very garden of fruits and flowers, men will cease to criticize. And these things are coming to pass by rapid increments. As is nsual, the college, by its attractions and repulsions, and its instruction, has made a great improvement in the intellectual and aesthetic tone of the community, and this reacting in favor of the college has given it the strong moral support of its home constituency.
The forerunner of the college was the " Westfield Seminary," out of which the college grew so directly that the two appear as one, all the property and assets of every kind belonging to the former having been made to inprove to the latter. Three years of successful service had been done by the seminary, when the college was founded. The charter was granted by a special act of the Legislature, passed February 15, 1865, in which were named as incorporators and first board of trustees, Walton C. Smith, Alexander Helton, David Ross, Samuel Mills, Hiram Eveh, Edmund R. Connolly, Daniel Evinger, and J. H. Coons. Section 9, authorizes the trustees " to establish departments for the study of any and all of the liberal professions; to confer such degrees as are usually conferred in similar colleges in the United States in the learned arts and sciences;" and further provides for the establishment of departments for the education of disabled Union soldiers, for ladies for preparatory instruction, and for pupils of the district school, of which privileges the last named and that relative to the soldiers have never been used.
Originally this work was undertaken by the Lower Wabash Conference of the United Brethren in Christ. Afterward, in the year 1865, the Central Illinois Conference, of the same denomination, united in the undertaking. In 1866, the Upper Wabash Conference allied itself to the enterprise, but after three years withdrew for the purpose of building up an institution within its own territory. In 1866, the Illinois Conference, and in 1867, the Southern Wind's Mission Conference assumed a share of the responsibility of sustaining this cause. In the aggregate these conferences occupy perhaps four fifths of the territory of the State of Illinois, together with a considerable area of middle-western Indiana. Throughout this extended area of country members of the Church of the United Brethren in Christ are found in pretty large numbers, and this is the people who own the college and stand first under obligation to sustain it. Yet, it must be said that in its brief career it has been favored with an encouraging amount of patronage from un-denominational quarters, as well as from sister denominations. Nor this only; but generous donations and bequests have been granted it by persons not denominational' interested, but approving of its principles, plans and effects.
Its benefactions have mostly been of moderate amounts from hearts that followed them with their prayers, and have been gathered by the solicitations of laborious itinerant agents, a little here and a little there. One class of its funds has gone to provide buildings, furnish apparatus, libraries and cabinets. Another is set aside as an endowment, the principal to be kept forever sacred, the interest to be currently employed to support teachers. The former has not been adequate to its wants, though its managers have prudently concluded to endure the lack of things desired rather than carry a heavy debt far outreaching their assets. Of its endowment fund, which amounts to $85,000, only a part is yet available. A system of money-raising by the sale of scholarships was early introduced, and has not been discontinued. For $300, perpetual tuition for one pupil is guaranteed. For $200, tuition for a family of children, with no limitation as to number in attendance at any time, is guaranteed. For $100, tuition for one pupil at a time for five years is provided, and for S50, paid in advance, one pupil is provided tuition for two years and a half. Of these proceeds all, e.xcept those from the sale of perpetual scholarships, are used for current purposes, while those from the sale of perpetual scholarships are held as a part of the endowment fund. These scholarships are all negotiable except those for family tuition.
The work of instruction began in the old United Brethren Church edifice, situated in the village of Westfield. In 1803, the first seminary building was erected; a substantial brick, two stories high, sixty feet east and west by forty feet north and south, with a belfry. Its upper story was devoted to chapel purposes, the lower to recitation rooms and the janitor. In 186?, this building was enlarged by an addition on the west, which is seventy-five feet north and south by forty east and west. It also, is a two story brick and contains a lecture room, society hall, and library room on the lower floor, and two society halls, an art gallery, and a recitation room above. The structure as thus improved may be described as being 100 feet long east and west, forty feet wide, with extensions forty feet by seventeen and a half, placed on both the north and south sides of the west end. This building is now the principal center of operations, and, although devoid of architectural elegance it has well served its purpose, and is only now beginning to be felt to be too limited in capacity. In 1872, adjacent property was purchased as a site for a ladies' boarding hall. The two story dwelling already upon it was enlarged, and comfortable rooms were provided for the accommodation of a number of ladies. This is a wooden structure, designed to answer the present need, but will be superseded by a much larger ami more finished edifice upon the same ground. Here the lady attendants of the school board, under the protection of a steward's family, selected with care, and also under the direct supervision of a lady connected with the faculty. Gentlemen find homes among the families of the community. The college campus consists of a wooded plat containing five acres, handsomely elevated on the east, where the main building stands. The grounds attached to the ladies' hall, somewhat adorned with shrubbery, contain two acres. The cost of the college buildings is estimated in round numbers at $40,000.
As stated elsewhere, the original of Westfield College was Westfield Seminarj-. At first no design of founding a college was entertained; stimulated by demand, it grew into the latter. Prior to the formal organization of a faculty, prior even to the charter, in structioii had been carried forward over college ground, and the first graduate received his degree before a faculty was regularly formed or a president elected. The professors in the faculty do not now confine themselves exclusively to college classes, but take charge of any requiring to be taught. Though this is not the most desirable mode, necessity pointed it out, and experience shows it more tolerable than a theoretical view would anticipate.
The following is a tabular view of past and present instructors beginning with the seminary:
Table of College Instructors.
Rev. G. W. Keller Prn'pal of Sem'ry 1861 1863 Rev. F. J. Fisher A. B. " " 1863 1864 Rev. Wm. T. Jackson A. B. " " 1864 1869 Mrs. M. A. Fisher M. A. " L'ds D"pt 1864 1866 Miss R. H. Winter M. A. " " " 1866 1869 Rev. W. 0. TobeyA. B. Prof, of Lnges 1866 1868 Rev. S. B. Allen A. M. Prs'nt of Col'ge 1869
Mrs. R. H. Tobev M. A. Pra'pal Ld's U'pt 1869 " 1873 Mrs. M. H. Fisher M. A. ' " " 1873 1875 Miss Eugenia Gintner A. M. " " " 1875 " 1880 Miss Emma M. Linton B.S. " " " 1880"
Rev. W. 0. Tobey A. M. Prof, of Latin and Greek 1869 " 1873 Rev. Chas. Kiracofe A. M. Prof, of Latin and Greek 1873 " 1878 Rev. Lewis A. Bookwalter A. M. Prof, of Latin and Greek 1878 " 1880 F. E. Phillips A. M. Prof, of Latin & Gr'k 1880
Rev. Wm. T. Jackson A. M. Prof. Math's 1869 1870 Rev. D. Shuck A. M. 1870 1871 Rev. H. A. Thompson A. M. " 1871 1872 Elliot Whipple A.M. 1872 1873 Rev. Wm. R. Shuey A. B. " 1873
Elliot Whipple A. M. Prof, of Natural Science 1875 1877
Besides these, the following persons have been at various times associated with the college as instructors in different departments: Emma L. Knepper, M A.; Sallie .J. Winter, M. A.; Mrs. A. R. Kiracofe, M. A.; O. W. Pentzer, A. B.; Miss M. A. Bright; Minnie Bartmen; Miss F. H. Holmes; S. C. Hanson, B. S.; O. C. Tobey, M. D.; Mrs. M. J. Whipple; D. W. Doran, A. M.; E. M. Goldberg, A. M.; J. R. Swan.
No change in the presidency of the college has occurred for fourteen years, the first incumbent, Samuel B. Allen still occupying that position.
Two courses of study have been honored with degrees, which are designated as classical and scientific. The latter formerly' occupied about two years less than the former, but within the last three years it has been extended so as to embrace two years more work than previously. That there are two courses instead of one is not from the unbiased choice of those who provided it, so much as from the stern dictates of the situation. A large number of students, by having the shorter course and inferior degree placed before them, are induced to struggle for this, while in its absence, deeming it hopeless to strive for the superior degrees, they would abandon their studies much earlier. However, though this gain from the shorter course may be secured by a few, it is probable that there are many who, lazily selecting this course, are thus seduced from the more extended one. There is no special course for ladies, both sexes having equal privileges and being decorated with the same degree. For the encouragement of persons who are hindered from completing either graduating course, a brief list of studies deemed most essential to prepare for the work of teaching in the district schools has been marked out, the mastering of which entitles to a certificate from the faculty. Beside this, since 1870, a normal class has been conducted, where all who are willing are trained by such preparatory students uniting with the same societies as those of the college. The age of twelve is required for admission to this department. Co-education of the sexes has been practiced here from the first. In point of numbers the attendance of ladies has always fallen short of that of gentleman. On the completion of the classical course of study the degree of Bachelor of Arts is conferred regardless of sex. Master of Arts follows in course after three years of uprightness and labor in a scholarly way. Bachelor of Science and Master of Science are granted in the same way with reference to the scientific course. The privilege of conferring honorary degrees has been but sparingly exercised to two gentlemen, has been accorded the title Doctor of Divinity, and to three the honorary one of Master of Arts. From certain societies that had previously existed, in 1869 two literary societies were organized, under the names of Zetagathiean and Colomentian. With an eligible hall assigned to each, they both sprang into active life, each of them proving an aid to the other by "provoking to good works." The Philalethean society is composed of lady members, the others of gentlemen. The Choral society of Westfield college has existed for a number of years. None of these societies are in any sense secret societies, r.or are any allowed in "connection with the college. Each of the societies have small libraries, and the college one of about a thousand volumes.*
The common schools preceded the seminary just thirty years, and in more recent times they have kept pace with the intellectual progress of the township, until now they are second to few in the county. Tlie first attempt at school was made in 1831, by Charles Redman, in a little log cabin that had been built and used by a squatter. The teacher was a man of good education. The cabin stood on what is a part of Alexander Black's farm, and here Mr. Rodman taught several terms for the accommodation of the neighborhood. In 1833, his son, Vincent, taught school in a log cabin on section 38, but the cabin was destroyed by fire in the first year. A short time afterward a hewed log house was erected on Biggs' farm. This was afterward replaced by a frame building, but the location did not give satisfaction and it was removed to Walter Briscoe's place, east of the village, where it still stands. This was the first frame school- house in the township. Among the early teachers here and elsewhere in the township, are remembered. Burgess Berkley, Archer Bartlett, Wm. Hill, G. W. Boyer, Silas Whitehead, etc.
A log school-house was built in New Richmond, in 1835, and was used seventeen years. One of the teachers in this house was Humble Johnson, a man of ordinary attainments, and is remembered chiefly from his unique way of closing his school at the end of a term. Marshaling the whole school he led them to a large wood-pile in the village, and ranging them on it, propounded the final spelling lesson. This done, he produced a quantity of whisky and sugar and regaled the whole school. A two-story frame school building was erected in Westfield village on the site of the present brick, in the northwest part of the village, in 1853. This contained two rooms and cost $600, and, in 1864, another room was added, and tiie whole used until 1881, when it was burned. The present brick structure replaced the one destroyed. It contains four rooms and cost upwards of $6,000. There are five districts in the township, two of which are provided with brick houses and three wdth frame. In 1881, $1,999.71 was expended in teachers' salaries.
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