Sciota Township



Sciota Township, with the exception of a section in the southwest corner, consists of a fine body of prairie land, every acre of which is under fence and cultivation, and used either for farming or pasturage.  Owing to a scarcity of timber, this township was late in being settled.  With fuel and building materials scarce, it was a bold act for the early settlers to fix their homes on the bleak prairie; hence, up to 1855 or 1856, but few had the hardihood to try the experiment.  But with the advent of the railroads the problem was solved, and a rush was made for the bleak but rich open land.  Lumber, fuel and all necessary materials were then easily brought to hand, to enable the settlers to fence their fields, build their barns and maintain comfortable homes.  The township is well watered, as Crooked Creek passes through ten or twelve of its sections.  Within its boundaries are two villages--Good Hope and Sciota--the latter being first named Clarkesville, in honor of William B. Clarke, who first located at that point.  (See chapter in this history, on "Cities, Towns and Villages.")

The first settler of the township was Perley Purdy, who built his log cabin on Section 31.  Some time afterward he emigrated to Oregon, where he died not many years ago.  In 1834 Victor M Hardin came and settled on the same section near Mr. Purdy, occupying his farm for many years and afterward removing to Blandinsville, where he spent the last years of his life.  John Hainline and family arrived in October, 1836, and settled on Section 31, on the southeast quarter of which Mr. Hainline erected a log cabin.  He resided on this farm until his death June 28, 1861.  John W. Hainline, his son, who owns the old family homestead, was born May 10, 1846, and is the oldest living resident born in the township.  In 1838 Benjamin Clarke settled on Section 30, on which he resided until his death in 1854.  Harrison Head located on Section 32, in 1834, and lived there until his death in 1881.  Thomas W. Head, who became a settler of Emmet Township in 1832, located on Section 32 in Sciota Township, in 1848.  After remaining on this place for some years, he removed to the village of Sciota, where he died a few years ago.  

 The above mentioned comprise the earliest of the pioneers, but as stated, on the completion of the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy line, settlers rapidly came in and occupied the choice prairie lands.  Among this latter class may be mentioned the following: Zachariah Ricketts, who, in 1856, located on Section 25; Louis Woolley, who settled on Section 12; and moved to McLean County, Ill., in 1863; Henry Baldwin, who purchased a farm on Section 11 in 1857, later removed to Warren County, Ill., after which he returned to this township; William and Richard Jones, settlers of the same year, who came in March, 1857, improved a farm on Section 23 and in 1870 removed to the West; Lewis Shaffer, who located on Section 12, in the spring of 1858, but removed to Fulton County in 1862; Robert Bishop, who settled on Section 11 in 1859, and a year later migrated to Kansas; and last, but by no means least, Captain Benjamin A. Griffith, who in July, 1863, was made Captain of a company in the One Hundred and Twenty-fourth Regiment, Illinois Volunteer Infantry, was wounded at Vicksburg and at Champion Hills, and after serving to the conclusion of the war, was mustered out of the service August 17, 1865.  Upon his return Captain Griffith located on Section 31, where he died a few years ago.

 The first marriage in Sciota Township made V.M. Hardin and Nancy Purdy man and wife, on the 16th of April, 1840.  The first school house, erected in 1846, was 18x20 feet in dimensions and constructed of native timber, Louis Goddard taught the first term here.  Rev. Cyrus Haines preached the first sermon at the residence of John Hainline, in the summer of 1837.  The death of Samuel Purdy, in September, 1841, was the first in the township.  John H. Hainline was the first child born, his death occurring in infancy.  A man named Townsend, who, in the spring of 1836, entered land on Section 31, broke up the first land in the township.  In the following summer he broke seven acres, but did not put in a crop and left the country during the next fall.  In the spring of 1837, John Hainline sowed the first wheat and planted the pioneer crop of corn.

 Sciota Township was organized in 1856, the first election occurring April 7, 1857.  William B. Clarke and James M. Wallin were elected Justices of the Peace, and so officiated for many years.  The total population of the township in 1900, including Sciota Village and part of Good Hope Village, was 1,304.


 Historical encyclopedia of Illinois

By Bateman, Newton, 1822-1897; Selby, Paul, 1825-1913; McLean, Alexander, 1833-1907

History of McDonough County, Pages 664-665

Published in 1907

 Transcribed by: C. Hainline
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