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Genealogy Trails - Pike County, Illinois
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Martinsburg Township
Martinsburg Town Hall
Photo by Billie Browning
Source: History of Pike County, C. C. Chapman & Company, 1880
Transcribed by KP]

The surface of this township is generally rolling, and beautifully timbered. From the eminence of some of the knolls in the northern part a grand and magnificent view meets the eye from every quarter. For miles either way during the growing season the eye beholds verdant fields dotted over with fine farm residences, school houses, etc. Before the hand of man had subdued these lands, and when the prairies and woodlands were in their virgin state, the scenery from these eminences must have been supremely charming. With its geen flowery carpet, its undulating surface, skirted by beautiful and refreshing groves that more definitely mark the boundaries, it must have presented to the eye of the lone traveler or new settler s scene most beautiful and sublimely grand. No doubt Fisher Petty, the first settler of the township, was attracted by the beauty of its scenery, the fine timber, and the high, rolling land and running water. These were important things to be considered by the pioneer in making a selection for a home. When Messrs, Petty and Nicholson came here to look up a location, this land had not yet been offered for sale by Government. They were the very advance of the oncoming westward flight of civilization. Mr. Petty came in 1825 and located on sec. 15. As years passed, the groves received the incoming settlers until about 1850, when all the timbered farms were being worked. About that time some of the more enterprising pushed out upon the prairies.

Others of the early pilgrims to this locality were Joseph and Robert Goodin, Wm. Binns, Isaac Hoskins, Wm. Butler and Robert Richardson, most of whom were well known in the early history of the county. Among the older settlers now living are Ira Briscoe, Moses Conner, Mr. McClintock and others.

The first children born in the township were Wm. Ward and Nancy Shinn. The former went to Texas, where he met his death by hanging, in 1862. He was a loyal Union man, and because he would not join the rebel army, was hanged by a band of outlaws.

The first marriage was that of George Williams to Miss Nancy Nicholson, Rev. David Hubbard officiating.

The first preaching was done by elder John Garrison, of the Christian denomination, and the first sermon was at the house of Robert Goodin.

The preachers of the gospel soon sought out and found the pioneers in their new homes, as above mentioned. Nor were they long without the school house and " master." The former was a rude log cabin, and the latter fully as rude, the refractory pupils thought, and not well versed in our more modern studies. Both school house and master, however, were well adapted to the times and the then existing surroundings.

The first school building was erected on sec. 7, in 1827, and the first school taught by Mr. Morrow.

The first church structure was erected by the Presbyterians on sec. 18, in 1839. It was known as the Bethel Church.

The township contains two towns, five churches and eight school houses. The system of education adopted by a majority of the schools of this township is up to the high standard of any part ot the county. Of some of the leading teachers we speak in the de partment of personal sketches given in connection with the his tory of the township. Six Mile creek, with its small and numerous branches, traverses the western part of the township from north to south. There are several small creeks which water the eastern portion. The soil is underlaid with a heavy bed of limestone, and is better adapted to raising wheat and fruit than general farming.

During the speculative period, when towns sprung up all over the State, this village was ushered into existence among the thousands of others. It was laid out by William Freeman and John Kingsbury, Aug. 24, 1836.

It is seated on sec. 22 and 27, and at present has a population of about 200.

It contains one general store, a blacksmith shop, two churches, a school house, etc.

The churches are of the Christian and Baptist denominations, both of which have been founded for several years, and are in a prosperous condition.

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