Peoria County, Illinois Genealogy Trails
 

Jubilee Township

 

 

Est. Nov. 6, 1849
Towns/Villages:
 (Robin's Nest 1875) Jubilee
Other: Fango Run

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jubilee Township History  [from "The History of Peoria County, Illinois; Johnson & Co., 1880.  Transcribed by Karen Seeman]
Jubilee 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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JUBILEE TOWNSHIP.
by Cecil C. Moss.

This township is described on surveyor's plat as Ten North, Six East, is about fifteen miles in a northwest direction from the county-seat and near the northwest corner of the county. The first settlers to locate and acquire permanent homes came in 1835, about fifteen years before the adoption of township organization, settling on or near what is now the west part of the township and at neighboring distance from the little hamlet of Charleston, now the village of Brimfield. A few others scattered themselves on the east side in anticipation of a college being founded by Bishop Chase. The first settlers at that date (1835-40) appeared to be of three classes: First, those who possessed a little money, and wished to begin life and establish homes where property would appreciate in value with time and improvement; and others who, having failed in business, or at their first start in life for themselves in the older parts of the country, came to a new country to begin, life and fortune again. A few of a third class were hunters and frontiersmen who keep in advance of civilization, and who, when game becomes scarce and neighbors too near their door, sell out and move further on.

Jubilee Township has as great variety of land and as many natural resources as any other part of Peoria County. There are a few sections of prairie land interspersed with what is rather a rough and broken township. Several tributaries of the Kickapoo Creek have their source in or pass through the township, also the east branch crosses the southeast corner and joins the main stream near the south line. A few white oak, black oak, burr oak and red oak trees, also several varieties of hickory, were scattered over the bluffs and points at that time called by the settlers "Oak Openings," skirting the streams, and on the bottom lands were a large variety of forest trees, including the oaks (black and white), walnut, sycamore, cottonwood. maples (both hard and soft), and different varieties of willow. As the timber on the upland was scattered or in small groves, and that on the bottoms and along the streams much below the general level, the view of the country was nearly unobstructed and presented to the observer a pleasing aspect. Shrubs and small fruits were found on the open; also some varieties of berries, surpassing in sweetness and flavor those of the cultivated kind, grew in the thickets of timber. Many varieties of grasses covered the ground, furnishing food for the sustenance .of numerous varieties of wild game that roved at will over the country, and which, in turn, furnished a large proportion of the provisions for the settlers and their families.

Some of the cabins or homes of the pioneers were of the most primitive kind and rude in construction, built in the usual style of the pioneer log cabin. Some of the frontiersmen, being skilled in woodcraft, or handy with an ax, built houses of a better class. They hewed the timber to a square, dove-tailed the ends at the corners, laid a stone foundation in lime mortar, erected upon it the walls composed of logs fitted together in dove-tail fashion at the corners of the building, and carrying walls, perpendicular and true as a wall of brick, to the height desired, usually one story and a fourth, or one and a half. The rafters, hewn smooth, were set at a good slant, with ribs fastened on crosswise, to which shingles, split and shaved by hand, were nailed. Fireplace and chimney were built of stone or brick filled with mortar, as were also the joints of the timber walls. The floors were often laid with boards taken from the boxes in which the people brought their goods, with a wide board for a door, one window of sash and glass for each room—and what more could human nature want?

The few vehicles, tools and agricultural implements were of the simplest design and construction, and were often made by those who used them. Teams of oxen were more generally used than horses or mules, being cheaper and easy to keep at that time. The first breaking of the prairie sod was done with four yoke of cattle, a large plow held in the proper position by axle-lever and wheels, cutting and turning over a sod of twenty inches in width. This work was usually performed in the months of June and July because the tough sod rotted sooner when broken up at that time, besides growing a crop of sod corn and pumpkins the same season. Cradles were used to harvest the small grain, while the hay and wild grasses were cut with a scythe and all stacked by hand. Small grain was threshed and corn shelled with flails or trodden out with horses, until the advent of the little thresher, a cylinder and concave set in a small frame and run by a four horse sweep power, the straw being raked off by hand. The grain was afterward cleaned up with a fanning mill. Possibly the hardest and most difficult labor which the early settlers had to perform was the construction and maintenance of their fences, the kind in general use being built with rails, the splitting of which would occupy the entire winter to make enough to fence a few acres for cultivation. Fenced pasture at that time was unknown, all stock running at large or in common. The spinning wheel and hand loom were found in many of these cabin homes, where the women folks made the homespun cloth for clothing their families and a carpet for the floor. These primitive outfits and homes did not require much money, as that was scarce and hard to obtain. With the few things that were brought to the country, and such as human ingenuity
could contrive, the pioneer had the necessaries and a few of the comforts of existence. Such was life in the log-cabin days.

Prominent among the pioneers of the township was the Rev. Philander Chase, Bishop of Illinois, who came to the then West to found what became known as Jubilee College. He settled permanently in 1836 on a part of Section thirty-six in the southeast corner of the township. Erecting a log cabin for himself and family, as did the other settlers, he set about the college work. Securing some funds, partly from friends in England and some from others in the Eastern States, and at times contributing from his own resources, a tract of land was secured, embracing about three thousand acres, more than two thousand of which was in Jubilee Township, and here was located the home chosen for himself. Procuring stones and timber near the site chosen for the buildings on Section twenty-six, the corner-stone of the chapel and school house was laid on the 3d day of April, 1839. The ceremonies on this occasion are thus described by Bishop Chase in his reminiscences or autobiography :

"On Tuesday evening came our dear Samuel, and the Rev. Mr. Douglass; with the latter, a Mr. Jones, from Tremont. On Wednesday, at nine, came the Charleston people; at ten the congregation began to gather; at eleven, came the Peoria folks. Robin's Nest more than full. Divine service at half-past eleven. The Rev. Mr. Douglass read prayers, and Mr. Chase preached. Music, the best in the world for us. Notice given that the Rev. Mr. Chase would preach at Lower Kickapoo next Sunday, and myself hold a confirmation at Pekin.

"At one o'clock the procession formed at the bottom of the hill. The Rev. Messrs. Chase and Douglass in front; then the foottrain; then the Bishop and his son, Philander, in his carriage; then a sequence of carriages and wagons too long to be even conjectured by you. The course of the procession was directly through the fine lowlands, on dry and very pleasant grounds parallel with the stream, about midway between the bluff and the bank, pointing and aiming at the new bridge, which you know I built in the coldest weather last winter, now finished in the best order. When the procession turned to the right to cross the bridge, I could have a view of the vast extent of the train, and seldom have I been more elated at the goodness of God in giving us favor in the sight of all his people to gather such a multitude (for indeed, in this solitary country, a few hundred may be justly termed a multitude) together to praise His holy name at the laving of the corner-stone of Jubilee Chapel. As we passed over the bridge, now (on the night before) finished in the neatest order, and looked up and down that beautiful stream, and then went along in solemn pomp over the level and exceedingly fertile and dry bottom land. in full view of the rising grounds, covered with budding trees, under which we could see the vast pile of stone for the chapel, and people there waiting for our arrival, you may well fancy my feelings. The flush of joy, the throbbing of the grateful heart, ready at every vivid reflection of my painful life, now about to terminate in the accomplishment of this great design, to burst the very bands of its tenement. Oh, that you could have been with me at this moment! you, who have shared my woes, to share also in my joys. The day fine, the sky serene, and just enough to remind us of the breath of God in the gentle influence of His Holy Spirit, refreshing beyond the power of language to describe.

"We mounted the rising ground slowly, and at every step looked back on the cavalcade behind. What a sight for a lonely backwoodsman! What an effect it had on me, when I reflected on the purpose for which we were now gathering on the ground together. Philander drove my carriage round to a pile of stones, to give room for all to dismount in order. The whole of the foundation, I found, had been already laid, but the corner, to the level of the first floor of the building. This enabled the eye to realize the plan, which you have seen, of the groundwork of this interesting building. We gathered round the southeast corner, where all was prepared for the present important solemnity. Before commencing I looked around me, and never was a sight more heart-cheering. The crowd were on the heaps of stones, and the friends and musicians were near me. Oh, how sweetly did they smile through tears of joy, as they saw my aged self among them. And when, after the address, we raised our souls in prayer and praise, may we not hope and believe that. unworthy as we were, the God of Mercy and Love looked down upon us through Jesus Christ, and gave us his blessing? It is this which crowns all. and makes the remembrance of yesterday's service and solemnities sweet unto my taste. It has, indeed, left a relish on my moral enjoyments, more exhilarating to my soul than any thing in the course of my whole life. The self-same thing was said by Samuel as we came home; nothing could exceed the expression of his joy." The erection of the college, with the other necessary buildings, soon followed; residences for the teachers, boarding houses for the scholars and workmen, so that in a few years' time, not later than 1859, nearly all of the various industries of the times were represented in the little village of Jubilee and the near surroundings. A saw-mill was constructed on the Kickapoo Creek two miles south from the college, to which was soon added a flouring mill, with both steam and water power. A store building near at hand was filled with such goods as were used by the early settlers. A blacksmith shop and a shoemaker's shop were added for the convenience of all near by. A small hand printing press was operated in the college building, on which was printed, at short intervals, a small sheet entitled "The Motto." Farming and stock-raising were carried on extensively by the college, which introduced and operated the first agricultural machinery seen in the vicinity; such as McCormick's reaper, Allen's Mower, Emory's Tread Power and Thresher. Students soon filled the buildings and the college flourished for a number of years.

The first graduating exercises held at the college occurred on the 7th day of July, 1847, at which five persons received their degrees in the arts and sciences. A large booth was erected for the occasion, constructed of poles set in the ground and covered with branches from the trees. A band from Peoria City furnished the outdoor music. The exercises were attended by several hundred people, and it was indeed a happy and proud event to the founder of the college. A little knowledge of the work and the difficulties encountered in the building of such an institution, in those early days, may be obtained, when we realize that the stone was first dug from the quarry and shaded, the brick was burned within a few rods of where it was used, and nearly all the timbers were cut and hewed from the native forests by hand. On one occasion (in the year 1842) the father of the writer of this sketch made the journey to Chicago in the winter with a team, bringing from that place a barrel of salt for use at the college and a load of lumber with which to make sash for the buildings. A few of the settlers procured some of the materials for their first homes in the same way.

Township organization was adopted, April, 1850, and the usual township officers were elected. The formation of school and road districts was completed in a few years afterwards, the number of each at the present date being eight—the schools in each district continuing from six to eight months of each year.

Religious services and Sunday Schools were held at various times in several of the school houses, until the building of various edifices for public worship, of which Jubilee has three—The Episcopal at the College, German Methodist and Lutheran. Five cemeteries situated in different parts of the township, give the unwritten history that many have finished their labors and gone to the other shore. But few of those are now living who purchased their land directly from the Government, and, at this writing, but one is living on the land which was purchased in this way.

For a time elections were held at private houses or at the residence of the Town Clerk. Elections and town meetings are now held at the Town Hall in the center of the township. The number of legal voters in Jubilee at present is two hundred and twenty-five. Some changes of town officers have been made at every annual meeting, and but few have served the township many years in succession. Three members of the Illinois General Assembly have been chosen from the township, viz.: William Rowcliff, H. R. Chase, and Peter Cahill. As township officers, William Church, H. I. Chase, Gilbert Hathaway, James H. Forney. J. B. Slocum, John Moss, William Rowcliff, H. R. Chase, Richard Pacey, Peter Cahill and Cecil C. Moss, have served as Supervisors. Those having acted as Town Clerk are: David Sanborn, William M. Jenkins, George Radley, Noah Alden, George Paul, William H. Paul, S. S. Stewart, Chas. Hayes, F. E. Coulson, R. H. Van Renslar, George Stewart, F. T. Keefer, L. Hasselbacher, L. S. Barrett, S. P. Bower. Gilbert Hathaway held the office of Treasurer of school funds twenty-seven years, Thomas Pacey and Charles Hayes about twenty years, and L. Hasselbacher is the present incumbent of a few months.

From Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois and History of Peoria County, Edited by David McCulloch, Vol. II; Chicago and Peoria: Munsell Publishing Company, Publishers, 1902.

 

 

 Jubilee Township History

[from "The History of Peoria County, Illinois; Johnson & Co., 1880.  Transcribed by Karen Seeman]

 

The first settlements in Jubilee township were made in 1835, by Clark D. Powell, Roswell Walker, Samuel Johnson, A. W. Harkness, Jacob Snyder, Samuel Snider, Daniel Stansbury, David Shane, and Mrs. Lambert, of whom only two are now living, viz.: Samuel Snider and A. W. Harkness.

Rev. Philander Chase, Bishop of Illinois, secured funds from the friends of the Protestant Episcopal Church in America and England, in 1836, with it he founded the Jubilee College, selecting lands in section 25, and came with his family into the township. He called the place "Robin's Nest," because, as he says, his first dwelling was "built of mud and sticks and filled with young ones," and the place is called by that name to this day. It is the only postoffice in the township. Although the village was known at this early date, there is perhaps now not over a score of houses within its limits. Bishop Chase was the first postmaster, and was appointed in 1837. On the 3d day of April, 1839, Bishop Chase laid the corner-stone of the chapel of the Jubilee College, from which the township was afterwards named. Noah Alden and Hiram Shane were the first justices of the peace; they were appointed in 1843.

Prominent among the citizens of this township is the name of Gilbert Hathaway, who settled here in 1838, and has always taken an active part in the affairs of the town. He held the office of assessor five years, collector four years, and supervisor two years; and held the office of township treasurer for twenty-seven years continuously, from 1851 to 1878. Mr. Hathaway has dealt considerably in real estate in his town, and has done much to improve and build up the township. Hon. William Rowcliffe, residing on section 11, has also taken an active part in the township, as well as the county matters; has held nearly all the offices of the town, and has honorably acquitted himself as a member of the General Assembly. His prospects are perhaps as favorable as any man in the township for further promotion; in fact, his influence throughout the county is probably greater than any other man in the township. J. B. Slocum, one of the early settlers of Jubilee, although not taking so active a part in the public affairs of the town and county, has held many of the offices from time to time, and been counted as one of the leading men of the place. He has dealt largely in real estate, and improved a number of farms in the township, but has resided for some thirty years on section 29, and now owns a farm of over two hundred acres on sections 20 and 29.

Jubilee was first divided into four school districts, viz.: number one, or the Rowcliffe district; number two, or the Shane district, which built its first school-house in 1847; number three, or the brick school-house district, which was built in 1848; number four, or the Bramble district, which built its house in 1850. Nathaniel F. Shaw was the first teacher of a public school in the township. The first marriage was that of Samuel Snider to Mary Jane Stansbury, in 1839. Samuel, son of Daniel Stansbury, was the first child born. Mr. Squires, who lived on the southern line of the township, was the first person who died in the township after its settlement. Rev. L. N. Hall preached the first sermon, in the house of Jacob Snyder. There has never been a house of worship erected in the township, except the chapel referred to in connection with the college, but arrangements are now being made to build a Lutheran church on section 28, and also a Methodist church on section 33. A part of the plat of land set apart for the Lutheran church is to be used as a cemetery. The first person buried here was the wife of Philip Killstadt, who died April 15, A.D. 1880. The school-house known as the Town House, is built on section 15, where all township meetings and elections are held. The increase of population in this township has so augmented the demand for educational facilities that the number of school disctricts is now not less than nine, with very good school-houses in each. The principal market for this township is at Brimfield, one by Benjamin Tucker, an old resident of the place. The present officers are as follows: Supervisor, Peter Cahill; collector, George Rowcliffe; assessor, Cecil Moss; town clerk, Frank Coulson; township treasurer and justice of the peace, Thomas Pacy; justice of the peace, Wm. Rowcliffe, constables, Phil. Lully and George Rowcliffe.

This township is well watered by numerous branches of the Kickapoo and their tributaries. There is plenty of timber throughout the whole area, and stone and coal of good qualtiy abound. Jubilee, although not as rich as some of the neighboring towns, is perhaps as favorable a location as can be found in this section of the county. It is surrounded by railroads on all sides, at distances varying from a few rods to three or four miles, and yet it has never voted any tax or bonds for either road, and hence it is as free from debt as any town in the county; and its taxes lighter, perhaps, than any of the surrounding towns.

 

 

 

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