Peoria County, Illinois Genealogy Trails
Est. Nov. 6, 1849
Medina Township History [from "The History of Peoria County, Illinois; Johnson & Co., 1880.]
Medina 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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This township can rightfully lay claim to having been one of the earliest in the county to be settled. It is divided into two distinct sections, one lying on the high prairie, the other on the river bottom, the two being divided by a strip of bluff about two miles wide. That on the river bottom was considered very desirable, not only from its contiguity to the river, but also from the fact that the soil, consisting in part of prairie and in part of timber land, was exceedingly productive. LaSalle Prairie, which, in early days, gave its name to a settlement, occupies a portion of this township. It had two State roads on the bottom, one leading through Northampton to Galena; the other, through Chillicothe, Henry and other towns, to Boyd's Grove, thence to Ottawa and Chicago. On the western, or high prairie side, it also had two State roads —one from Peoria running north by Mt. Hawley, the other branching from that one at Mt. Hawley, and running diagonally through the sections to Princeville, and thence northwesterly to the present city of Rock Island.
The first settler was George Love, who came with his family from. Park County, Indiana, and, on November 10, 1824, settled near the present village of Mossville. His name, as seen elsewhere, is prominently connected with the affairs of the county. At the time of his location here, and for eight or ten years later, Indians were numerous in the vicinity, they having a village on Section 4. It is said that Mr. Love had no nearer neighbors than those at Fort Clark, nine miles distant in one direction, and those at Fox River (now Ottawa) in the other. There was, however, an early settlement at Ten Mile Creek, on the opposite side of the river, which .may have been nearer in miles than Fort Clark; but there being no ferry nearer than the latter point, it was not so accessible.
John Ridgeway was the next to arrive. He came in time to assist Mr. Love in building his cabin. The Ridgeway farm is frequently mentioned in connection with the early highways, and election and school districts. Edmund Weed Briarly, Abner Cooper, Henry Thomas and Samuel Clifton came next. Several other families settled near them within the next few years; but, being mostly transients, they soon disappeared.
Another settlement sprang up in the northerly part of the township in the year 1823. This consisted of the Averys, Stephen French, Stephen Carl and Resolved Cleveland. These, with their families, at first occupied the abandoned bark cabins of the Indians. In the spring of 1831, Mr. Linus Scoville, with his family, came from Vermilion County, Indiana, and settled on a claim on Section 22, which he had previously bought from one of the Love family. Gershom Silliman, a Baptist minister, came in 1831. John E. Bristol and Nicholas Sturm in 1832. Thomas Mooney and his sons, James and William, in 1835. Jerome H. and Imri W. Case in 1836, William Robinson in 1837, and John P. Neal and Jonathan W. Rice in 1838.
In these early days a ready market for the surplus products of the farms was found in the trade with emigrants to the Lead Mines, many of whom passed through this township on the old Kellogg trail, afterwards the Galena State Road. Much was also sold to voyageurs on the river, and, as seen elsewhere, some was taken on flat-boats to New Orleans or sold to the planters on the way.
Among the early settlers whose names are prominently mentioned in connection with the affairs of the county are: George Love, Henry Thomas, Moses Clifton, Stephen French, Resolved Cleveland, John E. Bristol, Thomas Mooney, Simon Reed and Hiram Currey. The first marriage was that of Abner Cooper and Sally Sheldon (called Chilton in the record), in February, 1826, by Rivers Cormack, a Baptist preacher.
Prior to the adoption of township organization, this township was subject to frequent changes in respect to its election precincts, which will be found in detail elsewhere in this work. In 1844, the Rome Precinct embraced a portion of its territory, the remainder being called LaSalle Precinct. In 1850 township organization was adopted, when this township was named Medina, and its territorial limits made to correspond with congressional township Ten North, Eight East. The origin of the name seems to be veiled in mystery, The Peoria & Bureau Valley Railroad, now operated under a lease by the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Company, extends through the eastern portion of the township so far as it borders on the Illinois River. This road was opened for the public travel on November 9, 1854. About that time the village of Mossville was laid out and established as a way-station on the southeast quarter of Section 21. It was named after William S. Moss, one of the proprietors of the land, who at that time resided in Peoria and was operating one of the leading distilleries. He soon afterwards became a member of the firm of Kellogg, Moss & Co., in the building of the Peoria & Oquawka Railroad westerly from Peoria. In 1859 he removed to California, where he amassed a fortune and died in the year 1882.
This village has been well supplied with churches. Its Baptist Church was organized at a meeting held in the school house, April 9, l868. George F. Prunk was chairman and Thomas Hough, Clerk. On November 16, l868, a Presbyterian church was organized by a committee of Peoria Presbytery, consisting of Rev. John H. Morron and Ruling Elders Jonathan K. Cooper, of the First Church of Peoria, and H. Hervy, of the Prospect Church, Radnor. Through the assistance of the citizens a neat and comfortable church edifice was erected at a cost of about $2,600, capable of seating about two hundred persons. As a large percentage of the members resided on the high prairie in the vicinity of Alta, the location of the congregation was, on October 9, 1875, removed to that place, and its name changed to the Church of Alta. The house of worship was sold and the proceeds placed in trust for the erection of a church at its new location, and the old one has since then been used by the Methodists.
The most prominent church on the river bottom is St. Joseph's Catholic Church, situated on Section No. 2. This church was organized in 1855, under the leadership of Thomas Mooney, Sr., who, besides his subscription of $500 towards' the erection of a church edifice, donated five acres of land for the church and burying ground attached. Several other liberal subscriptions having been made, the church was completed in the same year, at a cost of $1,000. It is well seated, well furnished, is supplied with an organ and its services are well sustained. The church was dedicated by Father Halligan of Chicago.
The village of Alta is situated on the Rock Island & Peoria Railroad on the northwest quarter of Section 31. It was laid out in March, l873, by Imri Case, Thomas Hanson and Lorin Wilder—three prominent citizens of the township. It received its name from the fact - which may appear strange - of its being the most elevated point on the railroad between Peoria and Rock Island. It is situated only a short distance north of the celebrated Prospect Hill, which rises to an altitude of near 300 feet above low water in the river.
Schools.—The first school in the township was taught by Jesse McGee, who, having secured the necessary number of scholars, turned it over, in January, 1827, to Moses Clifton, and he, after teaching three months, was succeeded by Zelotes Marks. It was situated near the present site of Mossville, in a building erected especially for that purpose. As this was in one of the earliest districts formed in the county, it is possible this house was erected under the peculiar provisions of the law of 1825, elsewhere noted. It was a log cabin, 16x18 feet, with puncheon floor, paper windows, a clap-board door and was daubed with mud. The cost of tuition was $2.00 per scholar for a period of three months. In 1836 a school was taught by Hiram Curry, which was afterwards removed to the northeast quarter of Section 27, where it remained until the public school was located in Mossville, where a fine school house, costing $4,000, was erected in l868. In the northwestern portion of the township the first public school was located on the northeast quarter of the southeast quarter ot Section 7, and was taught by Joseph M. Batchelder as early as 1840. Prior to that time, and about 1836, a private school had been taught by Mr. John Benjamin in a little log cabin used as a dwelling. A public school house was erected in 1852 and was located on the southwest corner of the southeast quarter of Section 3, where it remained until 1866, when it was determined by a vote of the district, to change the site and build a new school house on the southwest corner of the northwest quarter of Section 2. A school house was built on the farm of John E. Bristol in 1853, but it was removed in the fall of 1856 to its present site, where subsequently, in 1872, a school house costing $2,500 was erected.
When the free school system went into operation the township had several school houses, which have been gradually superseded by others, the township has been redistricted into six districts, in all of which there are fairly good school houses.
There are no incorporated villages in the township. The first election under township organization was held, April 2, 1850, at which time the following officers were elected: Supervisor, John Jacobs; Assessor, Linus Scoville; Town Clerk, Thomas Mooney, Jr.; Collector, C. B. Pierce; Overseer of the Poor, Isaac Wideman; Commissioners of Highways, Harvey Stillman, Samuel C. Neal, and Alanson Vantassel; Justices of the Peace, Thomas P. Reed, and Phineas Crouch; Constables, William Porter and G. W. Hargadine.
The following are the present township officers: Supervisor, Zealy M. Holmes; Town Clerk, Jacob Rench; Collector, John Graham; Assessor, John Mallen; Commissioners of Highways, Edward Schaffner, William Thorne and D. M. Waite; Trustees of Schools. Edward Matthews, James F. Mooney and William Clark; Township Treasurer, Zealy M. Holmes.
From Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois and History of Peoria County, Edited by David McCulloch, Vol. II; Chicago and Peoria: Munsell Publishing Company, Publishers, 1902.
Medina Township History
[from "The History of Peoria County, Illinois; Johnson & Co., 1880. Transcribed by Karen Seeman]
The first settler within the limits now comprised in this township was undoubtedly George Love, who came with his family from Park Co., Indiana, and settled November 10, 1824, near the spot now occupied by the village of Mossville. He had at that time no nearer neighbor than Fort Clark in one direction, and the Fox river in the other. In course of the succeeding year some five or six families settled near them. John Ridgeway was the first to follow and he helped the Loves to build their house. Edmund Weed Briarley, Abner Cooper, Henry Thomas and Samuel Clifton came next. The latter on coming bought out Weed's claim. Several other families whose names can not now be learned settled within a mile or so of Love's cabin, but staying only a short time sold their claims and moved on towards the setting sun. This was at that time the most thickly settled portion of the northern half of Peoria county. No saw or grist mill was erected in the township till about the year 1859, except some circle saw-mills which were put up about 1853. The Indians at that time were very numerous. The Pottawattomies were native to the county, and numerous other roving bands of Sacs, Foxes and Winnebagoes with a few Chippeways and Delawares were encamped and hunted all over it.
In 1825 a small colony sprung up near the northern boundary of the township, and among those forming it were the Averys, Stephen French, Stephen Carl, and Resolve Cleveland with their families and they occupied at first the abandoned bark houses of an Indian town on Sec. 4. In the Spring of 1831, Mr. Linas Scovill with his family came from Vermillion county, Ind., and settled on a claim which he had previously bought from one of the Love family. The claim then entered upon is still owned by Mr. Scovill's son, who bears his father's name. The settlement at Mossville was directly in the track of the emigration going on between the years 1828 to 1835, to Galena, and the numbers passing through afforded a ready market for all surplus grain, garden products, etc. Much was also disposed of to voyagers upon the river. Between 1831 and 1840 the district was settled up rapidly, and good claims advanced greatly in price. Among those coming between these years may be mentioned, Gershom Silliman and family who seton Sec. 2 in 1831. John E. Bristol and Nicholas Sturm in 1832, Thos. Mooney and his sons James and William in 1835, J. H. and I. W. Case in 1836, William Robinson in 1837, and John P. Neal and Jonathan W. Rice in 1838. Simon Reed and Hiram M. Curry were the first justices of the peace, and held office in 1829. The first marriage was that of Abner Cooper to Sally Sheldon in February, 1826, near Mossville. They were married by Rev. Mr. Cormack, a Baptist preacher. Rev. John Thomas, also a Baptist, preached the first sermon.
In April, 1850, the township in common with the others forming Peoria county, was constituted and its present name adopted. The origin of the name is very uncertain. The committee on names wrestled with the problem for some weeks before they fixed upon Medina, which is certainly unobjectionable, both as regards its euphony and its singularity.
The township consists of twenty-nine perfect sections and several fractional sections. It forms the southern part of LaSalle prairie and contains some excellent land. Running north and south through the middle is a belt of bluff land, two miles in width, covered with timber, but on each side and especially to the eastward a level prairie stretches out, dotted with as fine and productive farms as can be found anywhere. Two railroads traverse the township -- the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific, and the Peoria and Rock Island. The former having a depot at Mossville, and the latter at Alta.
St. Joseph's Catholic Church -- Previously to the year 1855 there were but few Catholics resident in the township. In that year the late Thomas Mooney headed a movement for the erection of a Catholic church in the township and gave to it the practical backing of a subscripton of $500 and the donation of a lot and five acres of land upon which to build it and to serve as a burial ground. His sons gave $50 each; Patrick Boylan gave $200, and many others gave freely of their substance to aid in the good cause. The building was forthwith begun, and it was completed in the Fall of that year at a cost of about $1,000 in cash. The church is situated n the northwest corner of the southeast quarter of Sec. 2, and is substantially built of wood with stone foundation. The interior presents a most neat and pleasing appearance. It is capable of seating comfortably about three hundred worshipers, and the average congregation numbers about 150. It contains a large, handsome organ, and the services are rendered by a full choir.
The edifice was dedicated under its present name ten years ago by the late Rev. Father Halligan, of Chicago, and services are held every second Sunday by Rev. Thos. Quigley, of Henry, who divides his time between the church there and the one thus briefly sketched.
The Baptist Church in Mossville was organized at a meeting of the adherents of that body held in the school-house, April 9, 1868. Geo. E. Prunk was chosen as chairman, and Thos. Hough clerk. The membership of the society is at present very small, but services are held in the M. E. church every other Sunday. Rev. L. D. Gowen, of Galva, Ill., is the present pastor.
A Methodist class has been in existence in Mossville for over forty years, but the number of adherents has never been large enough to warrant the organization of a church. Until within the last five years it was upon the Peoria Circuit, but is now upon that of Chillicothe. Services are held every second Sunday in the church edifice of the village, by Rev. J. A. Windsor.
The church building in which the religious services of Mossville are held, is quite a handsome and substantial one, and is a prominent object in the village; is strongly built of brick, and can comfortably seat about 200 persons. It was built about the year 1869 through the united efforts of the church-going people of the village and vicinity, and more especially under the auspices of the Presbyterians, at a cost of about $2,600. The structure is now owned by Mr. S. C. Neal, who is prominently connected with the Methodist society.
Schools -- The first school was started in the latter part of 1826, by Jesse McGee, who secured the necessary number of scholars and turned over the school in January, 1827, to Moses Clifton, who taught it for three months, and he was succeeded by a man named Marks. The school was situated near Mossville in a building erected especially for that purpose. It was a log cabin, 18 x 16, with puncheon floor, paper windows and clapboard door, and was daubed with mud. The cost of tuition was $2 per scholar for a term of three months. In 1836, a school was taught by Hiram M. Curry in a cabin near where the residence of Moses Neal now stands, and about three years afterwards was removed to N.E. 1/4 of Sec. 27, where it remained until the school site was changed to its present location on Sec. 27 in Mossville about twenty years ago. The present school structure in this district is a very fine one, and was built of brick at a cost of $4,000 about 1868.
The first public school in the N. W. portion of the township was located in N. E. 1/4 of S.E. 1/4 of Sec. 7, and was taught about the year 1840, by Joseph M. Batchelder. The first private school in the same district was taught by Mrs. John Benjamin about the year 1836, in a little log cabin used as a dwelling. In school district No. 1, the first public school was erected about 1852, and was located in S. W. cor. of S. E. 1/4 of Sec. 3, where it remained till 1866, when it was determined by public vote to build a new school-house, and to change the site to S. W. cor. of N. W. 1/4 of Sec. 2, where it now is. The first school-house built under the township organization stood upon the farm of Mr. Bristol. It was built in 1853, and was removed to the eighty acres upon which the present school building in district No. 3 now stands, in the Fall of 1856. The present structure was built at a cost of about $2,500 in 1872.
In school district No. 2 the building now in use was erected in 1855; was originally a good building and has lately been repaired and fixed up anew.
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