Livingston County, Illinois
This township is situated in the southern part of the county, or south of the center, and is bounded on the north by Owego, on the east by Pleasant Ridge, on the south by Indian Grove, and on the west by Eppard's Point Township. About three-fourths is prairie to one-fourth of timbered land, while the surface is gently undulating, and better adapted to agricultural pursuits than many other portions of the county. It is drained by the Vermilion River ; the confluence of the north and south branches is near the center of the township, and their margins and bottoms afford an abundance of excellent timber for all farm and building purposes. Avoca is known as Township 27 north, Range 6 east of the Third Principal Meridian.
The first settlement was made in Avoca Township in 1830. In December of that year, Isaac Jourdan made a claim here, upon which he settled, but a few days before the commencement of the "deep snow." He came from Brown County, Illinois, but whether that was his native place or not we were unable to learn. His wife was the first white woman in this township.
William Popejoy, John Hannaman and their families settled in this neighborhood on Christmas Day of the same year, and but a week or two after Jourdan. These latter were from Ohio, and became permanent citizens.
This constituted the settlements in this section up to 1832, when William McDowell came to the county and made a claim upon which he settled in May, which was the Spring of the Black Hawk war. He left his old home in Ohio in 1828, and stopped at La Fayette, Ind., on account of school facilities, as Illinois (or this portion of it) was then beyond the confines of civilization. He remained there four years, when he came to Livingston County and settled in what is now Avoca Township, as noted above, in the Spring of the Black. Hawk war. His family consisted of five sons—John, Woodford G., James, Hiram and Joseph B. McDowell, and one daughter, who married a Mr. Tucker. They, together with John McDowell, still live in Avoca ; Woodford G. and James live in Fairbury, Hiram is in Kansas, and Joseph is Register of the Land Office at Lincoln, Nebraska.
Soon after the settlement of the McDowells, vague rumors began to circulate through the sparsely settled community in regard to the Black Hawk war, which was raging north of their settlement. But there was no mail nearer than Bloomington, no railroad or telegraph lines, and news facilities were restricted within the narrowest limits. In illustration of the disadvantages under which they lived regarding the reception of news, several weeks after the McDowells had settled in their new home, a man named Phillips, living but a mile or two distant, in what is now Indian Grove Township, was out hunting some hogs that had strayed away from him, when he came suddenly upon the McDowell encampment, and the astonishment he displayed in having neighbors of whose proximity he was ignorant was almost equal to that exhibited by Robinson Crusoe when he discovered the footprints on his lonely island.
Rumors becoming more rife of the Indians and Indian outrages, Mr. McDowell and some of his neighbors went to the Kickapoo town, one Sunday, to church, (a missionary had established a church in the Indian town) where there were several hundred Indians, and their suspicions were aroused at the absence of all warriors from the Indian camp. The Kickapoos informed them that the Sacs had threatened "to come and kill them if they did not join them in the war," and advised the whites, with whom they were on the most friendly terms, to return to the settlements further east. This so alarmed the little colony that, after considering the matter, they decided to return to the Wabash, and on the 29th of May, 1832, they commenced their retreat toward the rising sun. Though this retreat never became so famed in history as that of Bonaparte from Moscow, yet an event occurred upon the route worthy of record in these pages.
The first night after their departure, Mrs. Jourdan, who was in a delicate condition, was taken sick, and, notwithstanding their haste and fright, the party agreed to stop a day or two, on her account. But, the next morning, their alarm was much heightened by discovering a couple of Indians ride up and take a survey of their camp from a distant elevation. Believing that an attack would be made, and notwithstanding their arms consisted of but two old fowling pieces, they nobly resolved to stand by the Jourdans. Mrs. Jourdan. however, with a courage and resolution worthy of a Spartan mother, made up her mind to travel, and the cavalcade moved on.
The McDowells, who had a large "old Pennsylvania wagon-bed," surrendered it to the ladies, and they converted it into a kind of hospital for Mrs. Jourdan, and all through the long day that heroic woman bore her suffering and pain without a murmur. The next morning, and the second after starting for the east, she was delivered of a daughter, which, here be it said, grew up and made a most estimable lady. Without further incident worthy of note, they arrived at the Indiana settlement in safety.
In the Fall of 1832, after the storms of war had passed by, and the sun of Black Hawk had forever set on the plains of Illinois, the little colony returned to their claims on the Vermilion River, where they made permanent settlements. The mode of making a claim in those days was by "blazing" it out in the timber or staking it off on the prairie. The land was not surveyed until 1833, and every man squatted where it suited his inclination, providing no one else had preceded him.
Of these few early pioneers, who came here before the Black Hawk war and who sought safety in flight, we would say, before passing to other and subsequent scenes, that Jourdan remained in the settlement for several years, then sold out his claim and returned to the southern part of the State, from whence he came. Popejoy and Hanneman both died in the neighborhood, the latter soon after his return in the Fall of 1832, and was the first death in the new settlement. Mr. McDowell, the old patriarch of all the McDowells, died here in 1834. His widow remained on the homestead ; filled the place of both father and mother toward her children, and died in 1858 at an advanced age.
Before the close of the year 1832, the little settlement was increased by the arrival of Charles Brooks, John Wright and his sister, Mary Ann Wright, who came from Indiana. Brooks was related to Popejoy and Hannaman, and came our perhaps through their influence.
M. B. Miller, from Cazenovia, N. Y., came in the Spring of 1833, and bought the claim of Charles Brooks, upon which he remained for a few years, when he sold out and removed to Ottawa.
In the Fall of the same year, Platt Thorn, from Western New York, settled in this section, but he, too, after a time, sold out and went to Ottawa. About the same time, Isaac Burgit came from New York to this settlement, and, like the other New Yorkers, finally sold out and likewise removed to Ottawa.
A young man named Richard L. Ball, very worthy and highly respected, came out with Burgit. After remaining in the settlement some ten or twelve years, he returned to his home in New York, where he committed suicide, from what cause was never known.
David Terhune and a man named Dean came from New York in 1834. Terhune bought a claim from Hanneman, upon which he settled, while Dean settled near by.
Elijah Thompson came from Indiana, in 18'33, and made a claim in this section. Perhaps no man who had settled here received so warm and hearty a welcome as did Thompson ; and all on account of his having in his family three very accomplished and buxom daughters, who were the first marriageable young ladies in the settlement, and of course great belles. One of them is noticed elsewhere, as the first marriage in Avoca Township. Thompson settled on what, after the lands were surveyed, turned out to be the school section, and, after the survey was made, sold out his improvements and removed " over on Kankakee," where, so far as we know, he still lives.
Harrison Flesher came from the Mackinaw settlement, in 1834, and made a claim in this township.
Thomas G. McDowell, a younger brother of Wm. McDowell, came to Illinois in 1848. He settled out on the prairie, about half a mile from the timber, and was the first actual settlement made outside of the timber. It was spoken of in considerable wonderment, and the people used to say that '" Uncle Tommy McDowell had settled away out on the prairie," which was looked upon then as equivalent to being " out of creation." He states that when he came to Avoca there were but three settlements between the Wabash country and this place. The people did their milling at Green's mill, on the Fox River, and their "store trading" at Ottawa. His first trip to mill was to the one above mentioned, and he was four days in making it. He contracted to take twenty-five bushels of grain to mill and have it ground for a man in the neighborhood, for which he was to receive fifty bushels of corn, worth then the enormous sum of ten cents per bushel.
Nathan Popejoy, James Blake and Col. George Johnson came from Ohio. Popejoy first settled in Pontiac Township, where he remained but a short time, when he removed to this section and made a permanent settlement. Blake settled here in the Spring of 1836, and in 1852 moved to Iowa. Col. Johnson settled in Avoca in 1835, and died in 1859. He had served in the War of 1812, though not as a Colonel, which title was more honorary than otherwise. He took quite an interest in fighting his battles over again, and imitating "noble war" in drilling the militia, and thus obtained the military title.
Isaac Wilson and James Demoss were from Indiana. Wilson settled in this section in 1837, where he resided until 1853, when he removed into Pleasant Ridge Township. He was one of the first lot of Justices of the Peace elected after the formation of the county, and has served as such ten years, altogether. He is still living in Pleasant Ridge. Demoss was originally from Ohio, but had lived for some years in Indiana before settling in Avoca Township. He came to the town in 1844, which date scarcely admits of his being termed an '"old settler" in this neighborhood, where settlements extend back to 1830; but his numerous descendants, who number some of the very best families in this section, it seems meet that they should receive notice in these pages. The old gentleman himself is dead, but has left behind him a number of honorable sons, whose honesty and integrity are above reproach.
James Glennin came from Ireland, in 1845, and, like the last mentioned, hardly ranks as an old settler. He was said to have been a man of sterling integrity, and his word, in all cases, was his bond. His family, too, were as conscientious as himself.
The first white child born in what is now Avoca Township was Charles A. Brooks, a son of Charles Brooks, one of the early settlers of the place, and was born on the 1st day of July, 1833. But for the fright occasioned by the Black Hawk war, which drove the few pioneers from this section back to the Indiana settlements. Master Brooks would have been preceded some thirteen months by the little Miss Jourdan, who made her first appearance on the way back to civilization, as already noticed, and which event prevented her being born in the township.
The first marriage was that of Harvey Rounsaville and Miss Ann Thompson, who were married in September, 1833.
" Will you trust me, Anna dear?
Walk beside me, without tear?
May I carry, if I will,
All your burdens up the hill?"
And she answered, with a laugh,
" No, but you may carry half."
They were married by William McDowell, a Justice of the Peace, who had been elected but a few weeks before, and this was his first official act in tying matrimonial knots. Judge McDowell informed us that his father was very much troubled about a form of ceremony to use on the momentous occasion, and did not know what to do about it. But his wife came to his rescue. She was an ardent Methodist, and, of course, possessed a Discipline, which she presented to her husband. From this book he committed to memory the entire marriage ceremony of the Methodist Episcopal Church, and used it to unite these two loving hearts.
John Hannaman died in the Fall of 1832, just after the return of the settlers from Indiana, where they had gone to escape the perils of the Indian war. This is one of the first deaths in the county, as well as the first that occurred in this township. His coffin was made of lumber, split out of a walnut tree, and hewed as smooth as possible with an axe. Some say that a tree was cut down, and " cut " split open and the halves dug out like a trough, in which he was put as a coffin. There was no such thing then in this section of the country as sawed lumber.
The first sermon preached in Avoca Township was at the house of Squire McDowell, and was preached by Rev. James Eckels in the Spring of 1833. The first religious society was organized at his house in the following Fall, by ''Father Royle," as he was called, and one of the pioneer Methodist preachers of Illinois. It was a kind of mission, and was embraced in the old preacher's circuit, which extended from the Illinois River to the State line, and from Ottawa to the Mackinaw River. When the weather was favorable, he would make his round in four weeks ; but in bad weather was delayed, sometimes, in reaching his appointments on time. McDowell's was the only preaching place in the settlement until the era of school houses.
Judge McDowell informed us that, although his mother was blind for twenty years previous to her death, yet in all that time she never failed to have her house put in order for church. Indeed, from all accounts to be had, Mrs. McDowell seems to have been an extraordinary woman. Her husband died in 1834, and left her in an almost unbroken wilderness, with a family on her hands. But she never shrank from her trust, or sunk down in despondency. She kept her family together until all were settled in life, and her work finished.
The first church in the township owes its erection principally to her and her family. It was built in 1857, and as it was the first church in this part of the country, it was named by Mrs. McDowell the "Pioneer Methodist Church," a name it bears to this day. The edifice is 32x50 feet, sixteen feet to the ceiling, a good frame, and cost two thousand dollars. It has quite an interesting history. After it was framed and put up, and two sides "weather-boarded" in, "the winds blew and the floods came and beat upon that house, and it fell." Literally speaking, we presume it was not founded upon a rock, but upon the sand—or soil. Any way, it was blown down, and not one stone or stick was left upon another. They went to work, however, with renewed vigor.
A subscription of several hundred dollars had been made, and after the disaster. Judge McDowell was appointed Superintendent of the work, and directed to push it forward to completion. He had but little of the money that had been subscribed, and but little of his own, as he informed us, yet it so happened that never was there a bill presented to him, for work or material for the church, but he had money enough on hand at the time to pay it. When the building was finished and dedicated, they owed not a dollar, except to him, and to him their indebtedness was $1,400, on which they agreed to pay him interest until the debt was discharged.
The financial crisis of '57 followed, and the amount, principal and interest, finally reached $1,900. The Trustees concluded they must have a deed for the property, and came to McDowell, who now lived in Fairbury, to know what sum he would take and give them a deed. He told them to go back and collect all the money they could, and then come and see him again. They did so, and finally returned and told him that $200 was all they could raise. He took the amount and gave them a deed to the church, leaving the amount of his subscription to the edifice, including interest, about $1,700.
The first preacher in charge of the church after it was completed was Rev. James Watson. It was dedicated by Rev. Z. Hall, of Woodford County, another of the old pioneer Methodist preachers of Central Illinois. The present Pastor of the Church is Rev. Mr. Underhill, and, all things considered, it is in quite a flourishing condition. It being the oldest church in this part of the country, many others have been formed, which drew on its membership, and thus its numbers are not so large as when it was the only house of worship for miles around. This church is the final result of the little mission established at McDowell's in 1833, by Father Royle, as already noticed.
The first post office was established in 1840, and was called Avoca. Nicholas Hefner was the first Postmaster. The petition for this post office was written by Abraham Beard, a schoolmaster of the neighborhood, and when sent on to headquarters, was found to be addressed to the " Speaker of the Senate and House of Representatives of the State of Illinois," instead of to the Postmaster General of the United States. Education was not so thorough in those days as now, and many had signed the petition without reading it, while many others had signed it with a X who could not have read it if they would. The office was where the village of Avoca was afterward located, and was on the mail route between Danville and Ottawa. It continued in active operation until 1864, when, there being others more conveniently situated, the office at Avoca was suspended.
The first store in the town was kept by W. G. and James McDowell, and was opened in 1854.
The first physician who practiced in this section was Dr. John Davis, of Pontiac, and noticed elsewhere as the first physician in the county. Dr. C. B. Ostrander was the first located physician, and still resides on his farm near Lodemia station. In early times, when his practice extended over a circuit of many miles, he never suffered any trivial excuse to keep him from the bedside of his patients. We were informed by a reliable party, who had the story from the Doctor's own lips, that he was going to see a patient one day, who had sent for him in a great hurry, and crossing Indian Creek, stopped a moment for his horse to take a few sips of water, when one end of the fore axle of his buggy dropped to the ground. Looking to see the cause, he found that one fore wheel was gone, and he had driven so fast the axle hadn't time to drop down until he stopped. On going back to find the missing wheel, he met his dog, who always followed him, coming on, dragging the wheel in his mouth. He has a fine orchard and devotes a good deal of attention to the cultivation of fruits. It is said that he has shipped gooseberries to Chicago by the car load, and boasts of having raised as much as 800 bushels of cherries in a single season.
Harrison Flesher was the first blacksmith in the town, and opened a shop on his claim late in the Winter of 1834.
In 1854, Judge McDowell and his brothers built a steam saw-mill in Avoca Township, to which was attached one run of stones for grinding corn, but the main business of the mill was sawing. In 1860, he moved the mill to Nebraska, where it was chiefly instrumental in locating the county seat of Jefferson County, at the village of Fairbury, named by the Judge for the town in which he lives. He succeeded in getting a post office and blacksmith shop at the place, then moved his mill there, and after interesting the County Commissioners, they located the county seat at his village. This was the first and only mill ever in this town, except perhaps occasionally a portable saw-mill. In the early times, most of the people of this section did their milling at Green's Mill, on Fox River, near Ottawa. This was the principal mill until one was built at Wilmington. Judge McDowell informed us that he once went on horseback to Blue's horse mill down on Rock Creek, and on his return the Vermilion was too high to cross, and he put his “ turn of meal ” on a raft and ferried it over, and swam his horse by the side of it. At another time, he and his brother-in-law, Hefner, went to Green's Mill, and both of their horses died with the milk sickness before they could get back home.
The first public road through Avoca Township was the State road from Danville to Ottawa, and extending on to the Rock River country. The mail was carried along this route on horseback, and was Uncle Sam's first trip through here, except when his armed legions pursued the fugitive Black Hawk and his warriors. The road from Lafayette to Hennepin was also an early highway of travel through this country.
The first ferry we have any account of in the neighborhood was at the crossing of these roads over the Vermilion River, and consisted of a raft of red elm logs, which, when seasoned, are extremely light. When the river was too high to ford, they would put the wagons and freight on the raft and take it across, while the horses were forced to swim themselves over. One day in the Winter or early Spring, a man came along in a wagon drawn by two horses and was very anxious to get over. The river had been frozen for some time and was just breaking up. The man concluded to try to cross on the ice, and taking out his horses led them on to a large cake of ice which broke in two after he had gotten them on it, leaving their fore feet on one piece and their hind feet on the other. With the greatest care he finally managed to get them on one piece and paddled them over in safety. He then recrossed and got his wagon on another ice cake and ferried it over without accident, hitched up his team and went on his way.
The McDowells and some of the neighbors had a canoe in partnership, which was used for neighborhood convenience. Finally, some of the stockholders in this enterprise got at loggerheads, and to end the strife and hard feelings, Judge McDowell and his brother James went down one day and measured out their own part of the canoe, and sawed it in two, and carried their half away, and left the other half floating in the river, cabled to the bank.
When the McDowells came to Avoca, they brought with them some young cattle belonging to a friend in Indiana, and which they proposed to "break to work " for him. After they had become well "broke," Woodford G. and John McDowell took them back to Indiana, and returned them to the owner; and as a kind of coincidence, Judge McDowell related to us an anecdote on the 26th of June, precisely forty-six years after he and his brother started with the young cattle for Indiana. There was not a house, at the time, for forty-five miles after leaving the settlement. For the purpose of riding, and as a protection against the rays of a June sun, they had built them a sled, to which they had added a top, and with a good stock of provisions, they started for the classic land of Hoosier. The trail of emigrant wagons had made two tracks, with a kind of unbroken middle. While moving on, one day, they discovered, settled on a wild crab-apple bush between these tracks, a swarm of bees. In passing each side of them, the oxen struck their legs against the mass, knocking them off, and when the young men discovered them, they were rising around their team in an angry cloud. They whipped up their cattle and ran out from amongst them without serious results. Some distance beyond, they found a man plowing corn, to whom they related the occurrence. He went back and "hived" them, and on their return told them that their bees were "working " well.
The first bridge in Avoca was built over the south branch of the Vermilion, in 1844. Isaac Burgit, Road Supervisor on the west side of the river, and Judge McDowell on the east side, called out the road labor and built the bridge. It was all hewed out of the neighboring forest, and was a substantial structure.
The village of Avoca was laid out in 1854, by Judge W. G. McDowell, who owned the land on which it was located. It was surveyed by Amos Edwards, then County Surveyor.
The first store in it was opened just before it was laid out as a village, by the McDowells, as noticed in the preceding pages, and for several years it was a flourishing business place. But on the laying out of Fairbury, the sun of Avoca began to decline. Many of the houses were removed to the latter place, and the Judge at last got it vacated and discontinued by a special act of the Legislature.
Avoca Cemetery, across the creek from the village, was laid off by the elder McDowell. He and those of his family who have departed this life are buried there. Susan Philips was the first one to occupy the place, and was buried in it in August, 1833.
Moore Cemetery is a private burying ground on the west side of the Grove. Jonathan Moore was the first buried in it, and was interred there in 1839.
Nothing now remains to show where once stood a thriving village but the “Pioneer Methodist Church,” which has already been noticed.
McDowell village is on the Chicago & Paducah Railroad, about six miles south of Pontiac, and has between fifty and one hundred inhabitants. It was laid out as a village in 1873, by Judge McDowell, who owns the land, and it is named for him. Chas. Hewitson surveyed it. The first house was put up by McDowell before the village was laid out, and was used as a dwelling. The first post office was kept by John Cottrell, and was established in 1872. Hugh T. Pound is the present Postmaster. The first store was built and occupied by Ben Walton, now of Fairbury. The village has two stores at present, one kept by R. B. Phillips and the other by Chas. Danforth ; two blacksmith and wagon shops, the one by Henshaw, and the other by Jacob Schide. Frank B. Bregga is an extensive grain dealer, but the village has no elevator or grain warehouse.
One of the principal features of the place is the stone quarry, owned by McDowell, which yields a very good quality of lime rock, quite valuable for foundations, and which makes also an excellent quality of lime. A large kiln is in full operation at present, which turns out about 300 bushels at a burning.
Lodemia Station is on the Chicago & Paducah Railroad, a short distance south of McDowell. It contains nothing but a post office and church. Has no depot, but is merely a shipping point, with switch and side track. The post office was established in August, 1877, with Dr. C. B. Ostrander as Postmaster. It k kept at the parsonage, and the minister, Mr. Underhill, attends to the duties. The church, which belongs to the Methodists, was built here in 1876, and is a very neat little frame edifice, which cost $2,800. The society was organized in 1858, in the school house, under the pastoral charge of Rev. John W. Stubbles, and the church, when completed in 1876, was dedicated by Rev. Robert G. Pearce, Presiding Elder of the District at the time. Their present preacher is Rev. Mr. Underhill, and the congregation is large and flourishing for a country church.
Champlin is also a station, or rather a shipping point in this township, and is just south of Lodemia : makes no pretensions beyond a side track for shipping grain and stock.
The first school taught in Avoca Township was by Samuel Breese, commencing in the Fall of 1835 and continuing until the next Spring. Mrs. McDowell, the widow of William McDowell, Nathan Popejoy, who first settled in Pontiac Township, and James Blake, built the first school house. It was a little log cabin, 16x18 feet, having a big wood fire-place that would take in a stick ten feet long ; and in this cabin Breese taught the first school as noted above.
James McDowell held the office of School Treasurer for twenty-seven years in succession. Lyman Burgit was the first Treasurer, but died soon after his appointment to the office, when McDowell was elected to succeed him, and held the position until his removal into Indian Grove Township. When he was first elected Treasurer, there was but one school district and it embraced the entire township, and the school fund consisted of what was termed the '' College and Academy Fund, " from which this township drew annually about $30. The first Board of Trustees were Isaac Burgit, W. G. McDowell and N, Hefner. When McDowell resigned the office of School Treasurer, the fund was about $1,500. At present, R. B. Foster is Treasurer; and from his last report to the County Superintendent of Schools we extract the following:
Number of males in township under 21: 200
Number of females in township under 21: 210
Number of males in township between 6 and 21: 153
Number of females in township between 6 and 21: 163
Number of males attending school: 86
Number of females attending school: 114
Number of male teachers employed: 8
Number of female teachers employed: 10
Amount paid male teachers: $1,061.30
Amount paid female teachers: $1,808.00
Estimated value of school property: $4,006.00
Amount of tax levy for support of schools: $2,053.87
Principal of township fund: $5,366.49
There are eight school districts in the township containing good, substantial school houses, in which schools are taught for the usual number of months in each year.
The county adopted township organization in 1857, when this town took the name of Avoca, from the village and post office which bore the same, and had been given by Nicholas Hefner, who was the first Postmaster. It is an Indian name, but what its signification is, we are unable to say.
The first Supervisor was Wm. Fugate, and the first Town Clerk, Isaac R. Clark. Gideon Hutchinson is at present Supervisor, and J. W. McDowell, Town Clerk. Formerly, this and Indian Grove Township composed one election precinct. At that time, it was largely Democratic and contained, it is said, but seven Whig votes. But in the revolution of political parties, things have changed in Avoca Township, as well as elsewhere, and it now goes as largely Republican as it did Democratic in the old times.
In the "eternal fitness of things," it is the Whig sections that have generally turned out to be the strongest Republican, and not often that a Democratic stronghold has made a change of this kind. During the late war, its record was as good as that of any township in Livingston County, according to the number of its population, and it turned out many brave soldiers to battle for the Union. So far as can be obtained, their names are given in the general war record of this work : their deeds are engraved upon the hearts of their countrymen, and need no commendations here.
Judge McDowell was Collector of Revenues in 1844, when Avoca and Indian Grove were all one district, and at that time, as we were informed, there was a premium on wolf scalps. A man who had killed a wolf could go before a Justice of the Peace and make affidavit to that effect, when he would receive a State warrant or order for one dollar, which was good for State taxes, and on presenting this document to the County Auditor, would get an order, which was current for all county taxes. The Judge says he collected almost the entire revenue that year in county orders and wolf scalps, not getting money enough to pay his own percentage on collecting it.
The Chicago & Paducah Railroad was built through this township in 1872, and has been of paramount importance and benefit in uniting this part of the county with the seat of justice. The township of Avoca took $10,000 stock in the road, and has always shown the greatest interest in the enterprise and its success. There is but one regular station and depot in the town — McDowell — with two other shipping points, viz. : Lodemia and Champlin. These have switches and side tracks, but at present are not provided with depot buildings and telegraph offices.
The only representative of the legal fraternity in Avoca Township was Judge McDowell, who lived in this town, where he practiced, as occasion required, until 1800, when he removed to the village of Fairbury. In 1859, he was elected County Judge, an office he filled with credit. He was Recording Steward of the Methodist Church at Avoca for twenty-five years in succession.
[The History of Livingston County, Illinois - Wm. LeBaron, Jr. & Co. - 186 Dearborn Street, Chicago (1878)]