Peoria County, Illinois Genealogy Trails
Est. Nov. 6, 1849;
Named after the chief town of Brimfield.
Brimfield Township History [from "The History of Peoria County, Illinois; Johnson & Co., 1880. Transcribed by Karen Seeman]
Brimfield Township History [From Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois and History of Peoria County, Edited by David McCulloch, Vol. II; Chicago and Peoria: Munsell Publishing Company, Publishers, 1902.]
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BY L. L. GUYER.
Brimfield Township (10 N., R. 5 E.) is one of the richest agricultural sections of Peoria County. It doubtless has more good arable land than any other Township, there being not over forty acres that cannot he plowed and cultivated. There is an abundance of bituminous coal underlying the surface of the whole township in five or six veins, some of which are being successfully worked. Two groves are found in the township, one of which, situated in the southwesterly part, is called Atkinson's Grove, from the first settler, the other French Grove, west of the Town of Brimfield; besides which, there is a point of timber one-half mile northeast of the village. There are quarries of lime and sandstone, and an abundance of living water.
Philip Atkinson is considered to have been the first settler, he having arrived in the township in 1834. He was a Protestant Irishman and well educated, as were his whole family. He settled in the small grove which goes by his name. Two of his sons became Methodist ministers, Philip, the youngest, became a college professor and afterwards wrote a work consisting of four volumes on the subject of electricity.
In the year 1837 a number of new-comers settled in the township or in its immediate vicinity. Among these may be mentioned L. S. Booth and family who settled in the west end of Atkinson's Grove; Levi Jennings, a Quaker, who settled on the section on which Zion's Church now stands; John Tucker and family, Isaac Cutter and family, Daniel Simons and family,—all of whom settled in French Grove; and John Sutherland, who settled on the northwest of French Grove near the present Presbyterian Church. Northeast of Brimfield there was another group of settlers, among whom were William Compher, who represented the District in the Legislature in 1838-40. Others were Jacob Willis, who was the first blacksmith and the man who opened the first coal bank; a Mr. Martin, whose son, still living, was the first child born here; Thomas Johnson and family; a Mr. Schenck and family; David Shane; Hiram and William, sons of William Shane, Sr., with their families, and Isaac Harrison and family.
As the village of Brimfield, which early became the center of population, is on the extreme eastern edge of the township, it has been thought not out of place to mention some who were not within the township, but who were within the old precinct of Brimfield. East of the village, along the State road, was the following group of settlers: Thomas Martin, Wm. Lambert and family, Clark D. Powell, who was one of the County Commissioners and a Justice of the Peace, a man of liberal education and a very pleasing speaker. He also had a brother, Thornton T. Powell, who with his family settled in the same vicinity. About two miles southeast of the village was a small colony from Pennsylvania consisting of Roswell, Asahel and Isaac Walker, with their families; Isaac Harkness, a prominent citizen who afterwards removed to Harkness Grove in Elmwood Township; Edson Harkness, a broth-
er of Isaac, with his son, Wright. and family, and Ichabod Rowley and his family.
In 1836 Jacob Snyder, with a large family, H. N. Wiley, John F. and Hiram Wiley, with their sisters, Elvira and Marcia, William Lynch, William Berry, Daniel Stansberry and family, and Mr. Hoyt, Noah Alden, a very old man with two sons, Hiram and Noah, all arrived.
In 1837 the following came: James Berrian, Thomas N. Wells and family, and, in 1838, Bradford Hall and his family. David Sanborn, John W. Perran, Samuel and George Pulsipher. Mr. Marvin, Captain Fisher, S. H. Judson, John Shores, Edward Hayward and M. D. Villings.
On May 6, 1836, a town was laid out on Section 25 called Cambridge, but the stage-route from Peoria to Burlington having been located one-half mile north of it, another town was laid out by Abner Clark (June 9, 1836) on Section 24, called Charleston, and the former was abandoned. The first settlers in Charleston were Woeniger and Jacob Van Houten,—the latter being the first Postmaster. The mail was then carried from Peoria on horseback.
When Mr. Guyer came to Charleston in December, 1836, he found two families living here,— Van Houten and Woeniger—the former on lot 10, block 16; the latter, on lot 6, block 16. The proprietor of the town had an empty log-cabin which had been moved from Charleston, into which Mr. Guyer moved with his stock of goods, which was the first general stock of merchandise in the town. He boarded with Van Houten until he moved away, leaving Mr. Guyer, for company, a dog and a cat. About the same time Woeniger also took his departure, leaving Mr. Guyer alone to "keep bach" with only the dog and cat for his companions. Two or three months later. Dr. Prouty, a young man from New Hampshire, came and took up his abode with Mr. Guyer. About that time James Wolcott came to look at the country, bought Van Houten out and returned to New York for his family who, upon their arrival, took their first meal with the two bachelors. Early the next spring Mr. Guyer built a two-story log-house, into which he moved his goods and "kept bach" above stairs.
Mr. Wolcott's coming here brought quite a number of enterprising and intelligent families. Mr. and Mrs. Wolcott were both very intelligent and refined people, and their house was the center of all the social gatherings of the village. They had a son, James P. Wolcott, and a daughter, Miss Lucretia, both very accomplished young people, who made the social circle of the house very attractive. Amongst others who had the pleasure of enjoying these social gatherings at the Wolcott home may be mentioned the following well-known citizens of the county: Mr. and Mrs. Thomas N. Wells, Mr. and Mrs. Washington Cockle, Mr. Charles Wells, Mr. and Mrs. William Fessenden. Mr. and Mrs. Daniel Belcher, Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Judson, Mr. and Mrs. William Tobey, Mr. and Mrs. Caldwell. Hon. and Mrs. W. W. Thompson and two daughters, Mr. and Mrs. David Sanborn, Hon. S. S. Guyer of Rock Island; Mr. L. L. Guyer, Drs. Prouty and Kellogg, Mr. John M. Wiley and H. N. Wiley and their two sisters, and Mr. Edward Hayward.
Mr. Wolcott was a man of more than ordinary talents, at one time a manufacturer in Wolcottsville, Massachusetts, from which place he moved to New York City, where he was in partnership, 'for a time, with Mr. A. S. W. Goodwill, as brokers in merchandise. He was a good public speaker, and it is said that his speeches would compare very favorably with some of the best made in Congress. He was a Whig in politics, and quite a strong politician. He was a brother-in-law of the Hon. W. W. Thompson, who was a Democrat, and their discussions of the political questions were often quite animated and interesting. Mr. Wolcott died in 1853, and Mrs. Wolcott in 1862.
Daniel Belcher arrived in the winter of 1838 and, in the following spring, erected the first frame house, which was kept as a hotel by him and the members of his family, who survived him, for a period of about fifty years.
In 1838 Charleston received quite a stream of immigrants, among whom were A. S. W. Goodwin, with his family, one of whom, his aged mother, was the first person who died and was buried in Charleston; William Toby, the far-famed manufacturer of the steel plow: Daniel Caldwell, L. A. Jones and his brother Darius, the first carpenters, with their respective families.
In 1839 came Charles H. Freeman, William H. Fessenden, Curtis Cady, James M. Wiley and others.
From 1840 to 1850 the surrounding country filled up very rapidly, and new farms were laid out and improved in every direction. During the session of the Legislature, to which Hon. W. W. Thompson had been elected, the name of Charleston was changed to Brimfield, the name of his native place in Massachusetts.
About this time a lyceum was formed at Charleston, which was the leading one in this part of the State. Its officers were W. W. Thompson, President, and L. L. Guyer, Secretary. The meetings and debates were very spirited and attractive, the most prominent members of the Peoria bar often attending them. Its prominent members were James Wolcott, W. W. Thompson, James P. Wolcott, A. S. W. Goodwill, William Compher, Clark D. Powell, Thomas N. Wells, William H. Fessenden. David Sanborn and Samuel Pulsipher. Of these, W. W. Thompson, William Compher and David Sanborn—as also, Washington Cockle, another resident of the vicinity— became members of the Legislature: Clark D. Powell was County Commissioner; William H. Fessenden removed to Peoria and there became Postmaster. James L. Riggs, another resident, became Sheriff of the County (1850-2), removed to Peoria and there laid out two additions which bear his name.
The first election was held in 1837, at the home of Mr. Cutter in French Grove. This was a precinct election, which, at that time. included Brimfield and part of Jubilee Townships. John F. Wiley and Clark D. Powell were elected Justices of the Peace, and Samuel Johnson, Constable. In 1838 the Frink & Walker stage line was started, carrying the mails from Peoria westward. Postage was paid at the end of the route— that on letters, carried 300 miles or over, being 25 cents; under this distance, 18 3/4 cents or less, according to distance. During the rush of immigration the coaches were of the finest construction, drawn by finely matched and richly caparisoned teams of four horses each. Charleston was the first station from Peoria where horses were changed, and as the sound of the stage horn was heard, the inhabitants turned out to witness the grand equipage round up in magnificent style in front of Belcher's tavern. Mr. Belcher was a dignified and affable landlord, who was always ready to welcome passengers to the best table a prairie country could set—a table that would put to blush many in the more pretentious hostelries of the present day.
As other means of travel—such as steam-boat lines, canals and railroads—began to open up, the stage lines were deserted of all through travel, the splendid coaches were withdrawn, and those of inferior grade, drawn by two horses, were substituted.
The first school house was built in 1839. The first teacher was Miss Ellen Bartlett, of Peoria. Among the arrivals this year were Charles H. Freeman and Captain Fisher.
The first marriage in town was that of Mr. L. L. Guyer and Miss Elvira M. Wiley, Rev. George Wilkinson performing the ceremony.
According to the census of 1900 Brimfield has a. population numbering 667.
The Baptist church of Brimfield was organized on Saturday, May 4, 1850, pursuant to the recommendation of a council of ministers and members of the neighboring Baptist Churches, which convened here on the same day. The constituent members were nine in number, named as follows: Eli Bailey and Elizabeth Bailey, Dorothy Getty, Deborah Alden, Elizabeth J. Aiken ("Aunt Lizzie") of war fame, and Elizabeth Layman (by letter), and A. E. Martin, A. Taylor and Matilda Taylor (by profession). On Sunday, the day following, five persons were received by baptism, the ceremony being performed by Elder Simeon G. Miner, of Canton. They were: Lewis Atkinson, Eddy Baker, Eliza Baker, Mrs. Margaret Martin and Miss Jane Layman. The above fourteen composed the whole membership of the church when it was received into the Illinois River Association, which met in Peoria, June, 1850. Lewis Atkinson, who had formerly been a Methodist preacher, was the first pastor of the church; Elder Bailey, its first Deacon, and Adonijah Taylor, its first Clerk, all of whom were elected at the organization of the church. Mr. Atkinson served at first as licentiate, and was regularly ordained in July, 1850. The number of members in 1851, as reported, was eighteen.
Early in the year 1852, the church resolved to erect a house of worship. Five trustees were elected, a building committee chosen and most of the timber delivered on the ground that spring. During that conference year ten members were added to the society. The frame of the building was raised in August, 38x60 feet in size, and the church was finished in 1854, at a cost of $3,000. The church increased in 1853 to thirty-five members. In February, 1854, Rev. E. N. Jencks was called, and entered upon pastoral duties April l, following.
The First Congregational church was organized on the 29th of March, 1847, Rev. J. Blanchard, then President of Knox College, being Moderator, and Rev. Milo N. Mills, of Newberg, assisting. The following persons entered into church covenant upon that occasion: Bradford Hall and wife, Catherine Hall, Margaret Cummings, Julia Ann Jones, James Delano and wife, Elizabeth Delano. On April l0th following, seven other persons were added to their number. They held their services either in the school house, or at the Methodist Church for some time.
Some time late in 1852 this society resolved to build a church. The heavy timbers were cut, hewed and squared in the woods near by. The work progressed slowly. In May, 1854, the new church was dedicated, under the pastorate of Rev. J. E. Roy, D. D.. now Field Secretary of the American Missionary Association of the Congregational Church, and located at Chicago. The building was 50 feet by 36 feet, well built, and was a handsome structure for those times. Its first pastor was Milo N. Mills, followed in order by George Sill, John Somers, L. H. Parker, J. E. Roy, H. W. Cobb, M. W. Fairfield, J. Vincent. L. Benedict, I. W. Atherton, C. E. Leach, A. J. Drake, W. Wakefield, A. J. Marshall, H. P. Chase, L. P. Norcross, J. E. Storm, E. W. Jenney, Wm. Parker, J. S. Onion, I. L. Rozelle, and the present pastor, W. H. Jordan, who began work here in August, 1894. Some of the pastors here named remained but a short time, three of them only a few months.
In February, 1809, after much preliminary discussion, the society resolved to build a new church: the passage of time had done its work on the old building, and a violent wind storm, in May, 1896, had injured it considerably. The building was sold and removed one block away, to a lot near the present hotel. The new structure was started on the site of the old one, made ready for use and was dedicated on November 26, 1899, free of debt. having cost close upon $5.000. It is a gem of beauty: forty-two feet square, with basement rooms, in modern style of architecture and well equipped in every respect with furnishings and furniture. The membership never was, nor is it now, very large: but it is a loyal, faithful organization of intelligent and a generous people.
This society has an excellent and commodious parsonage close by the church, and the entire property is in good condition, of great service co the church, and a credit to Brimfield.
The Protestant Episcopal church.—Right Reverend Philander Chase, Bishop of Illinois, began to preach in Guyer's Hall in the year 1838, and continued to preach there frequently until the year 1845, when the parish erected a new stone church. In the year 1844, Rev. Mildoller came to this place from Brooklyn, New York. He was a very able preacher and preached here several times. Contrary to the customs of the country, he was the owner of several valuable tracts of land lying to the south of the village, on one of wdiich he formed the design of erecting a parish church. To this end he had worked amongst the people outside the village, had obtained a subscription of about $600 and had had a board of trustees appointed. Mr. Guyer having learned of this project, promised the minister some assistance if he would build in the village. This he declined to do, saying he could get all the money he needed in Brooklyn. Mr. Guyer communicated his information to Mrs. Belcher, who was a member of Bishop Chase's church, to whom she, in turn, told what she had heard. The Bishop, having been promised assistance if he would order the church to be built in Brimfield, did so. The church was erected in 1845. It is a stone building and still stands. It was the first church built in the village, or nearer than Jubilee College. Rev. Mildoller never returned, but died soon after leaving here.
Catholic church, Brimfield.—Previous to 1840, but few Catholics lived in the vicinity of Brimfield, and those few lived in sod houses. Others soon followed the pioneers, bringing some means with them, and erected better dwellings. They were first visited by Rev. Rauh and Rev. Rosetti, in succession, from Peru, Illinois; then by Father Brady, Father Doyle, and Father Drew, stationed at Peoria. Until 1852, divine services were held in several private houses. In 1852 the Catholics had increased to thirty-five. They concluded to erect an edifice for divine worship at Alec McDonald's place in Scotland Prairie, but by the advice of Rev. Father Brady, changed their purpose and built a little church at Brimfield, 22x36 feet, Rev. Father Brady being the first priest to officiate. In 1864 Rev. Theodore Vanderpoel attending, an addition 22x36 feet was built. January 13, 1867, he was succeeded by Rev. M. Lyon. Services have been regularly kept up ever since.
Methodist Episcopal church.—The Rev. Zadoc Hall organized the first class in this village, November 1, 1836. He was the first Methodist preacher who held meetings in the place. The class was formed at the house of Jacob Snider, and consisted of the following members: Jacob Snider, Catherine Snider, Samuel Snider, L. L. Guyer, Martha Johnston, Margaret Johnston, Catharine Johnston, David Stansberry, Susannah Stansberry, Susan Stansberry, Ephraim Hoyt, Francis J. Hoyt, Isaac Harrison. Sarah Harrison, Eliza Martin. Susannah Wills, Benjamin F. Berry and Polly W. Berry. Samuel Snider was chosen leader of the class. Brother Hall. who preached every four weeks, had twenty-eight appointments on his circuit, traveling about 300 miles. This was called the Kickapoo Mission, the district embracing the entire north part of the State.
In the fall of 1837 the Illinois Conference held its annual session, and John St. Clair was returned as Presiding Elder of this District. The name of the mission was changed from Kickapoo to Wyoming: and John Johnston was sent as "circuit rider." The pulpit was supplied by local preachers a part of the time. In the fall of 1838, the conference sent S. W. D. Chase as Presiding Elder to this District, and this work was changed from Wyoming Mission to Peoria Circuit. The Rev. John Brown supplied the pulpit with the aid of the local preachers. The preachers had to travel over more territory then than the Presiding Elders do now, and their pay was from $60 to $100 per year. The spring of the same year Mr. Guyer organized the first Sunday-school that was established here, and probably the only one between Peoria and Burlington, Iowa.
In the fall of 1830, the name of the District was again changed to Knoxville District, and two preachers were sent to the Peoria Circuit. According to the custom of the Methodist Episcapal Church, each year, or every two years, witnessed a change in the ministers. In the winter of 1846-47 a religious revival was experienced, resulting in a large addition to the church. The corner-stone of a new church edifice was laid by Rev. A. E. Phelps in August, 1848, and the following year the structure was finished and paid for. It was of brick, 28x44 feet, and well finished and seated, forming a pleasant contrast with the log houses and barns in which the society had previously worshipped. The same year the name of the circuit was changed from Peoria to Brimfield, and became a two weeks' circuit with two preachers, thus giving this church preaching every Sabbath. From this time the membership increased rapidly, insomuch that the new church became too small, but the congregation did not feel able to build a larger one until after the Civil War. In 1876 a brick addition was erected, new pews and new pulpit were procured and the entire church carpeted, the whole costing $2,200. This church served the purposes of the congregation until the year 1900, when it was torn down and a new church, modern in style, was erected, heated by a furnace, lighted with gas manufactured on the premises and carpeted throughout. The whole cost (over $7,000) has been paid with a surplus on hand.
The Presbyterian church was organized on May 3, 1854, by Rev. John Turbett and Ruling Elders, James Yates and W. H. Wilson, as a committee from Presbytery. David Lucas, George L. Lucas and Ira Blanchard were chosen Ruling Elders. This organization continued only until 1865, when it was dissolved by action of the Presbytery. A reorganization was effected May 15, 1870, by Rev. J. H. Smith, Rev. J. R. Reasoner, and Ruling Elder John Cameron as a committee of Presbytery. There were fifteen members, William Johnson being chosen Ruling Elder. In 1871 a house of worship was erected at a cost of about $4.000. Rev. James H. Smith, Rev. J. L. Martin. Rev. S. C. Scott, Rev. Mr. Carson, and Rev. McLeur have been pastors. The church had not been prosperous as a Presbyterian Church, and, having united with the Congregationalists, was dissolved in the year 1900.
From Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois and History of Peoria County, Edited by David McCulloch, Vol. II; Chicago and Peoria: Munsell Publishing Company, Publishers, 1902.
BRIMFIELD TOWNSHIP HISTORY
The town of Charleston, now Brimfield, Peoria county, Illinois, was surveyed and laid out in the year 1835, on the N.W. quarter of section 24, in township 10, north of range 5, E. 4th p.m. The proprietors were Jacob Showalter and Almon Clark. Previous to the laying out of the town a number of pioneers had located in the vicinity. Among them Philip Atkinson, supposed to have been the first settler in the township. On section 10 N. of range 6, were Asahel and Roswell Walker, James Adams, and Daniel and A. W. Harkness. The first house in Charleston was built of logs, on the northwest corner of Knoxville and Galena Avenues, by A. Woniger, in 1836, who opened a grocery store in the room below, and made his residence in the room above. The same year Jacob Vanhouton, who was the first postmaster, built a log house on the northwest corner of Knoxville Avenue and Washington Street, better known as the old Wolcott house. In the township and vicinity many new settlers arrived in that year, among them were John F. and N.H. Wiley, Levi Jennings, L. L. Booth, John Tucker, Isaac Cutter, T. N. Wells, Daniel Simmons, Isaac Harrison, and L. L. Guyer, who succeeded Jacob Vanhouton as postmaster, and in the following year built a log house on lot 7 in block 17, in which he opened a general store for supplying the inhabitants of the surrounding country with dry goods, groceries, etc., keeping bachelor's hall in the upper room, which was freely thrown open for preaching the gospel to any pioneer minister who might travel on the circuit. Those who settled in the west half of township 10, north of range 6, east (now Jubilee) in 1836, were the Powells, the Sniders, Shanes, James Berrian, the Martins, the Johnsons, and William Camphor, who was subsequently elected to represent Peoria county in the legislature, Daniel Stansburry, now living in Brimfield, at the age of 88 years; also Jacob Wells, who started the first blacksmith shop and opened the first coal bank in the vicinity, being on the northwest quarter of section 18.
The first settlers had to obtain their mail from Peoria. The first mail to Charleston was carried on horseback. The first line of mail coaches was started from Peoria to Oquawka, early in the year of 1838.
The first election in the precinct was held at the house of Isaac Cutter, when Clark D. Powell was elected justice of the peace, and Samuel Johnson, constable.
The first preaching in the township was at the house of Isaac Cutter, by Rev. Zaccheus Hall, a Methodist minister. Rev. Geo. G. Sill, was the first Presbyterian minister, and preached occasionally at L. L. Guyer's store, in 1838. The late Bishop Chase, of Jubilee College, also preached there a few times.
The year 1838 marked quite an era to the new town in respects to improvements and increase of population. James Wollcott and family, comprising eight in number, came from the East purchased and occupied the Vanhouten House; Daniel Belcher built the two story frame house for a tavern, on the northwest corner of Knoxville Ave. and Washington Street; A. S. W. Goodwin and Daniel Caldwell, who built a log-house on lot 8 in block 16; Wm. Tobey, who was subsequently the manufacturer of the celebrated Tobey & Anderson plow, at Peoria; also came Dr. Prouty, John Towell, John Shores and E. Haywood, making an additional population for that year, of thirty-three persons in the town. Those who settled in the vicinity were Alpheus Willard, David Sanborn, James M. Wiley, Bradford Hall, George H. and Samuel W. Pulsifer, Luther and Gilbert Hathaway, Washington Cockle, Noah Alden, Sr., Noah Alden, Jr., and Hiram Alden; Noah Alden, Sr., died a few years since at the advanced age of ninety-eight.
The first fourth of July celebration in the new town was in the same year, and participated in by most of the inhabitants of the town neighborhood. The Declaration of Independence was read by A. S. W. Goodwin, and an ode composed by Miss Lucretia Wolcott, for the Sixty-Second Anniversary of American Independence, and was sung by herself and others.
Polluted never by thy shrine,
May love's bright halo round thee shine,
And unity and peace divine,
Forever dwell with thee.
In 1839, the Hon. Wm. Thompson with his wife and two daughters removed from Northampton, Mass., to Peoria county. He was born in Brimfield, Mass., on the 23d day of February, 1786. Through a long life Mr. Thompson enjoyed the esteem and confidence of all classes of the community. For four years he was a member of the Senate of Illinois, also a member of the convention to alter the constitution of the State in 1847. He died at Brimfield on the 24th day of February, 1850, aged 64. He married Miss Eliza S. White of Chesterfield, Mass., who survived her husband twenty-seven years.
The first school-house was built in 1839. The first teacher was Miss Ellen Bartlett, of Peoria. Among the arrivals this year was Chas. H. Freeman and Capt. Fisher.
The first marriage in town was Mr. L. L. Guyer and Miss Elvira M. Wiley, and Rev. George Wilkison performed the ceremony.
In 1842, Wm. W. Thompson was elected to the Legislature of Illinois for the session of 1842-3, and succeeded in getting the name of Charleston changed to that of Brimfield, a change had become necessary on account of two other towns in the State having the same name, one being the county seat of Coles county, which claimed precedence. There was some dissatisfaction with the change, some wanted it called Wolcottsville and others Guyersburg; but the town was to be known as Brimfield, not such a bad or disagreeable name after all for a town with a territory so famous for its fertility of soil and salubrity of climate, the brimfulness of its barns and corn cribs with each retiring year, gathered from its extensive and teaming fields.
In the year 1849, township organization was adopted by Peoria county, so that each congressional township had jurisdiction only within its own boundary lines, and the west half of 10, north range 6 east (now Jubilee) ceased to be a part of Brimfield election precincts, and this township was named Brimfield after the chief town. From the year 1850 to 1860 the town and neighborhood had a very considerable accession to its inhabitants.
A branch of the C., B. & Q. railroad passes through the east side of Brimfield township and the town of Brimfield. It is a place of about eight hundred inhabitants, and contains a number of prosperous business houses in different lines of trade, prominent among which are C. B. & E. K. Hayes, in dry goods; Wesley Stain and W. Cowls, in groceries; J. P. & B. B. Bowman, in hardware; Wm. Robinson, in drugs; F. P. Wiley, in jewelry, wall-paper, etc.; F. H. Camp, in furniture. Daniel Belcher is proprietor of the Brimfield House, one of the best managed and popular country hotels in the county.
Baptist Church of Brimfield--Was organized on Saturday, May 4, 1850, pursuant to the recommendation of a council of ministers and members of the neighboring Baptist Churches, which convened here on the same day. The constituent members were nine in number, named as follows: Eli Bailey and Elizabeth Bailey, Dorothy Getty, Deborah Alden, Elizabeth J. Aiken, Elizabeth Layman, by letter; and A. E. Martin, A. Taylor and Matilda Taylor by profession. On Sunday, the day following, five persons were received by baptism, being baptized by Elder Simeon G. Miner, of Canton. They were: Lewis Atkinson, Eddy Baker, Eliza Baker, Mrs. Margaret Martin and Miss Jane Layman. The above fourteen composed the whole number of the church when it was received into the Illinois River Association, which met in Peoria, June, 1850. Lewis Atkinson, who had formerly been a Methodist preacher, was the first pastor of the church; Elder Bailey, its first deacon, and Adonijah Taylor, its first clerk, all of whom were elected at the organization of the church. L. Atkinson served as the first licentiate, and was regularly ordained in July, 1850. The number of members in 1851, as reported, was eighteen.
Early in the year 1852, the church resolved to erect a house of worship. Five trustees were elected, a building committee was chosen, and most of the timber delivered on the ground that Spring. During that conference year ten members were added to the society. The frame of the building was raised in August, 38 x 60 feet in size, and was finished in 1854, at a cost of $3,000. The church increased in 1858 to thirty-five members. In February, 1854, Rev. E. N. Jencks was called, and entered upon pastoral duties April 1, following. The church now numbers eighty-five members. G. Hathaway, J. B. Slocum and W. A. Arnold are deacons, and Geo. M. Day, clerk. Rev. H. G. James is serving it as pastor. The society sustains a flourishing Sunday school of sixty scholars, superintended by George M. Day.
Catholic Church, Brimfield. Previous to 1840, but few Catholics lived in the vicinity of Brimfield, and those few lived in sod houses. Others soon followed the pioneers, bringing some means with them, and erected better dwellings. They were first visited by Rev. Rauh and Rev. Roseti, in succession, from Peru, Ill.; then by Father Brody, Father Doyle, and Father Drew, stationed at Peoria. Until 1852, divine services were held in several private houses. In 1852 the Catholics had increased to about thirty-five. They concluded to erect an edifice for divine worship at Alec McDonald's place in Scotland Prairie, but by the advice of Rev. Father Brady, changed their purpose and built a little church at Brimfield, 22 x 36 feet, Rev. Father Brady being the first priest who offered up in it the sacrifice of the Holy Mass. In 1864, Rev. Theodore Vanderpoel attending, an addition 22 x 36 feet was built. January 13, 1867, he was succeeded by Rev. M. Lyon. April 15, 1877, Rev. Jeremiah Murphy took charge of the mission, and at this time the Catholics bought a parsonage for $1,600, Rev. J. Murphy being the first residing pastor. April 22, 1868, Rev. Max Albrecht became pastor. He vacated the mission for Father Charles Wensserski, June 29, 1873. Rev. William Kuchenbuch was appointed his successor by the Rt. Rev. J. L. Spaulding, of Peoria, Sept. 15, 1877. The Catholics of Brimfield and vicinty number at present about eighty families.
Congregational Church--The first Congregational Church of Christ in Brimfield was organized on the 29th day of March, 1847, Revs. J. Blanchard, then president of Knox College, and Milo N. Miles, then of Newburg, officiating. On that day the following six named persons entered into church covenant: Bradford Hall, Catherine Hall, Margaret Cummings, Julia Ann Jones, James Delano and Elizabeth Delano. At their next meeting, April 10, 1847, they adopted the faith. On that day there united with the infant church, by letter: Freeman Miles, Maria P. Miles, Adeline Stone, Margaret S. Wiley, and Pennal Richtdmeyer; soon after, on profession of faith, J. M. Wiley and Lavina Richtdmeyer. Of the thirteen who constituted the church thirty-three years ago, nine are still living. The infant church had no where to lay its head, and took refuge for two years in the old school-house which stood on the spot now occupied by the homestead of Mr. Kellogg. Then for a couple of years its occasional gatherings were held in the building owned by our Methodist friends. From 1847 to 1850 the church was served at irregular intervals by President Blanchard, Milo N. Miles, Geo. Sill, and others. With joy and alacrity the people gathered by the wagon loads in the old school-house to a meeting by candle light for a Sabbath service. From 1850 to 1852, Revs. John Somers and L. H. Parker, of Galesburg, supplied the pulpit, and held a series of meetings, which resulted in great good to many.
In July, 1853, J. E. Roy was invited to the pastorate, and was ordained by council--the only council ever called by this church-- on the 25th day of October, 1858. Up to this time the young church had been homeless. In June, 1851, Bradford Hall and M. D. Billings were chosen to go to Fremont and procure plans for a building. In this year the stone for the foundation was furnished by Edward Hayward. In 1853 the frame was put up by D. B. Jones and A. G. Stone. The building was finished and dedicated some time in 1854; the dedication being preached by Rev. J. E. Roy. The cost of the building was about $2,400, and nearly all was raised in Brimfield, by economy and self-denial.
In March, 1855, a parsonage was provided, at a cost of $800, which has been used by the successive ministers of this church for nearly twenty-four years. Since 1855, the pulpit has been supplied by several different preachers. The Rev. W. H. Cobb was called in 1857; Rev. M. W. Fairfield in 1858; Rev. James Vincent in 1859; Rev. O. Benedict until 1864. In 1865, Rev. I. W. Atherton had charge; in 1866, C. E. Leach; in 1869, A. J. Drake, and remained for three years. Rev. Mr. Wakefield supplied the church the first half of 1873. In December, 1873, A. J. Marshall was called. He closed very acceptable labors in 1874. October 10, 1875, Rev. H. P. Chase was called. The church prospered, and in two and a half years thirty-eight were welcomed into the church. Despite this very broken pastoral care, this church has prospered. Organized with thirteen members, it increased slowly to thirty members at the end of three years. The next ten years, from 1850 to 1860, was a period of decided growth, gaining 178 members during that time. From '60 to '70 it received but forty-three. The sum total received into the church for thirty-one years was 319.
The first trustees on record are: Bradford Hall, J. M. Wiley, and Freeman Miles; clerk, J. M. Wiley; deacons, Bradford Hall and J. P. Bowman. The present membership is 100.
Methodist Episcopal Church-- The Rev. Zaccheus Hall organized the first class in this village Nov. 1, 1836. He was the first Methodist preacher that held meetings in the place. The class was formed at the house of Jacob Snider, and consisted of the following members: Jacob Snider, Catherine Snider, Samuel Snider, L. L. Guyer, Martha Johnston, Margaret Johnston, Catharine Johnston, David Stansberry, Susannah Stansberry, Susan Stansberry, Ephraim Hoyt, Francis J. Hoyt, Isaac Harrison, Sarah Harrison, Eliza Martin, Susannah Wills, Benj. F. Berry and Polly W. Berry. Samuel Snider was chosen leader of the class. Brother Hall preached every four weeks; had twenty-eight appointments on his circuit, traveling about 300 miles. This was called the Kickapoo Mission, the district embracing the entire north part of the State.
In the Fall of 1837 the Illinois Conference held its annual session, and John St. Clair was returned as presiding elder of this district. The name of this mission was changed from Kickapoo to Wyoming, and John Johnston was sent as "circuit rider." The pulpit was supplied by local preachers a part of the time. In the Fall of 1838 the conference was sent by S. W. D. Chase as presiding elder to this district, and this work was changed from Wyoming Mission to Peoria Circuit. The Rev. John Brown supplied the pulpit with the aid of the local preachers. The preachers had to travel over more territory then than the presiding elders do now, and their pay was from $60 to $100 per year.
The Spring of the same year Mr. Guyer organized the first Sunday school that was established here, and probably the only one between Peoria and Burlington, Iowa. The same year the Rev. Bishop Chase of the Episcopal Church, and founder of Kenyon College in Ohio; also the founder of Jubilee College of Kickapoo township, commenced preaching in this place and continued until 1845, when they built a church here.
In the Fall of 1839 the name of the district was again changed to Knoxville district, and two preachers were sent to the Peoria circuit. According to the custom of the M. E. Church, each year, or every two years witnessed a change in the ministers. In the Winter of 1846-7 a religious revival was experienced, resulting in a large addition to the church. The corner stone of a new church edifice was laid by Rev. A. E. Phelps in August, 1848, and the following year the structure was finished and paid for. It was of brick, 28 x 44 feet, and well finished and seated, forming a pleasant contrast with the log houses and barns in which the society had previously worshiped. The same year the name of the circuit was changed from Peoria to Brimfield.
Presbyterian Church of Brimfield-- The committee appointed by the Presbytery of Peoria, to organize a Presbyterian Church at Brimfield, met in the Town Hall on the 17th day of May, 1870. After a sermon by Rev. J. H. Smith, of Yates City, an election was held to elect ruling elders. William Johnson and George Pursell were chosen. Mr. Pursell declining to accept the office at that time, the committee proceeded to install Mr. Johnson, who had formerly been ordained a ruling elder. The original members were Mrs. Jane Darr, Sarah J. Pursell, Martha J. Rusk, Belle Moore, Laura Frazier, Elizabeth Martin, Elizabeth Johnson, George S. Pursell, Samuel Moore, William Johnson, James Frazier, Isabell Martin, Mary Walters and Matilda Fisher. The committee was composed of the following named gentlemen: Rev. J. H. Smith, J. R. Reasoner, John Cameron and Henry Hervey.
At the session, June 18, 1870, Rev. H. J. Smith, moderator and Wm. Johnson, elder, seven persons were received into the church by letter, and at the session of 1871 eight persons united with the church.
The church erected a place of worship in the year 1871, 36 x 50 feet, with an addition of ten feet, costing $4,000. The church is in a prosperous condition with a membership of ninety; and a Sabbath school in connection with an attendance of seventy, J. A. Pyle, superintendent. Rev. J. E. Carson is pastor. The ruling elders are G. D. Pursell, William Johnson, A. Whetzell and J. H. Pyle. Clerk of session, J. H. Pyle.
Brimfield School--The present school building was erected in the Summer of 1877. The plans and specifications were drawn in Peoria by a man by the name of Quail, and was contracted and built by Bryson & Silloway. It is a brick structure, two stories high; has six departments, five occupied. The cost of the building and furnishing was $11,000. The present directors are Milton Duncan, Dr. Lowe and James Farnum. The principal is R. Stone Hill; assistants, Frank E. Pummer, Ella Hall, Ellen G. Slattery and Ada Hall. The school is divided into five departments and about fifty in a department, making an attendance of 250, with good and efficient teachers, and is in a prosperous condition.
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