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Edford Township, Henry County, IL

Corn, Commerce, and Country Living
A History of Henry County IL Board of Supervisors
Henry County IL 1968

Transcribed by: Christine Walters


While some of the townships were quick to populate in the early 1800's, today many of the families, with the exception of one or two, are unheardof, having moved through the years to other localities. Edford, on the other hand, although settling a little later, has held the descendants and the familiar names of the early settlers who nourished her in infancy, steadied her in the gangling years of her growth, and remain as substantial families in the area today.

Settler entered Edford shortly after the Black Hawk War and settlement proceeded rapidly. Earliest pioneers were English and Scotch. In the 1850's many familie scame from Vermont, New Hampshire, and Connecticut. By the late '50's and in the early '60's the influx of Germans began to arrive and the area near the present St. John's Church, known locally as the Frame Church and to earlier generations as the Hickory Grove area, was settled. Claire Ringle is said to have described Hickory Grove many years ago as the place "Where if a woman needed household help, her husband could go and find a young girl who would work for a dollar a week and board and room".

Earliest known purchase of land in the area was transacted by Richard Gill who bought it from the government in 1837. This was by short form abstract and is now known as the Hoit farm.

One interesting pioneer was Peter Hammond. At the time of his death at 102 years, on April 9, 1878, he was the oldest citizen in Henry County and reputed to be the oldest Masonic brother in the world. Hammond was a native of Massachusetts and his father, although he never admitted it, took part in the Boston Tea Party. He had been in Boston that day to sell lumber and when he returned the next day, his wife emptied tea from his boots.
Other settlers included Uncle Billy (William) Austin, who produced many fine trees and fruit around 1855. George Wells came to the township in 1850 and kept a detailed set of diaries about his farming activities.

John M. Withrow is a native of the county, and was born in 1848. He is a son of W. W.

Phenix Township, Henry County, IL
Corn, Commerce, and Country Living

A History of Henry County IL Board of Supervisors
Henry County IL 1968

Transcribed by: Christine Walters

Excerpt from the book "Corn, Commerce and Country Living" Edited by Terry Ellen Polson Copyright 1968 by Henry County IL Board of Supervisors..

Some History of PHENIX TOWNSHIP (FOUNDERS) -- Page 43

It was at the very beginning of the popular "Westward, Ho, Illinois" fever gripping the Eastern land speculatiors in 1835 that people swarmed to Phenix Township. The Earl P. Aldrich family from Pennsylvania, who had come by way of Ohio and Indiana, finally looked with satisfaction upon the landscape and stopped. Theirs was the third wagon to lumber into the county -- the Dr. Bakers and Glenns of Colona Township had preceded them by several months.

In the next month, another wagon also found its way to Phenix, coming up from Shawneetown in southern Illinois. Neely and Polly Withrow had been married there on May 20, 1830 and had taken up residence on his tract of land in White County, staying there until 1833. They then began a slow migration to Henry County in the company of several other families. They came to Red Oak Grove families. They came to Red Oak Grove where they took out a claim and built a log cabin with puncheon floor. In the fall of the next year, Neely sold his claim in Red Oak and then came to Phenix where he again staked a claim and built a cabin. He owned several cattle and broken the first ground with oxen. Mr. Withrow was the first Justice of the Peace in Phenix and took part in the election to organize the county in 1837.

As an officer of the law, it was necessary for him to chain his prisoners to a huge block of wood in his own cabin, since there was no jail. They were placed by the fireplace where they could keep warm and get their rest whenever the occasion demanded.

Mr. Withrow was thrown from a sleigh and killed in 1841. His eldest son, Amariah, bought up land and remained in the township as did his widow and family.

Other known early settlers were Jacob F. Butzer, David Barge and George Arnett. Anthony Hunt came with the Glenn Brothers to Colona Twp. but served the area as a carpenter. He made his headquarters in the Brandenburg tavern at Dayton.

William McHenry came to Phenix Twp. in 1838, first settling in White County with his family as a child in 1812. He secured a claim in what is now Osco Twp. then returned to White County until again coming to Henry County. The McHenrys settled on Section 22, built a log cabin with hand-cut stakes for a roof and farmed.

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