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New Salem Township

This is a full Congressional township, and is officially known as township four south, range four west of the fourth principal meridian. New Salem is a prairie township, and in an agricultural point of view is an especially fine section of country. It was not settled as early as some of the more southern townships of the county were, but at present ranks with any in regard to improvements. It is settled with an enterprising class of people who never lag in such matters.

Although it is what we may term a prairie township it is well watered and drained. Strange to say, even in this peninsula, formed by the Mississippi and Illinois rivers, there is no well-defined water shed. However, we find so many streams having their origin in this township and flowing in different directions, we conclude it to be one of the highest tracts of land in the county. Bay creek, and one of its main branches, have their origin in New Salem. Also the south Fork of McGee’s creek, a branch of the Middle Fork of the same creek, and another small stream which runs off into Adams county, the name of which we do not know.

The first pioneer who ventured to locate in this township was Mr. Joab Shinn, who came in 1830 and located on sec. 14 in the edge of the beautiful grove there.

The next settlement was made in the southern part of the township, sec. 24, in 1831 by Isaac Conkright and his two suns. About the same time came William Scholl also Nathan Swiggart and Samuel Griffith, who located on sec. 14, in company with Mr. Shinn. Then came William Crump, Henry Brown arid others.

In 1832 the Black Hawk war occurred and although the battle grounds were many miles distant, yet it was the cause of much excitement and apprehension in this county. The immediate result of this was to check immigration to this State and for a few years few new settlers made their appearance in this section. However, after the lapse of a few seasons, when it began to be definitely understood in the East and South that no further molestations were likely to occur, a new tide of immigration set toward this county never before or since equaled. This began in 1834 and continued for about five years. A system of advertising and speculation similar to that now prevailing in the country several hundreds of miles further West, brought thousands upon thousands.

Not unlike the excitement which prevailed at later periods in regard to the Western gold, silver and lead rnines, was that which swept through the Eastern and Southern States in regard to Illinois lands and town lots. During the years 1835 —7, more than 500 towns were laid out in Illinois, many of these in Pike county. Railroads were projected through nearly all of them, and these, with the town sites, were platted, showing depot grounds, parks and drives, and were sent with the most exaggerated descriptions to all parts of the country. The State Governinent caught the epidemic, and bills for railroads, canals, and other internal improvements were passed, corresponding in magnitude with the universal expectancy of the people. In 1837 a financial crisis came and found this State but ill-prepared for the shock. As a consequence, the numerous railroads, canals and paper cities vanished in thin air. For a number of years after this, improvements and immigration was at a stand still. Of course this part of the country, having no extra inducements to offer, partook of the general stagnation, and for a score of years no remarkable advance was made either in population or improvement. Occasionally a new arrival was announced. A relation or friend writing to the old home in the East or South, would induce some one to come out to see the country, and perhaps work a year, and once here, he would likely stay. As in other parts of the State, the first settlers located in or near the timber, and there we find the first improvements. Ere many years, however, some of the more enterprising pushed out upon the fertile prairies. They discovered that farms much more profitable could be made, much easier and quicker than in the timber.

The first person who met death in this township was Mr. Carrington, who died in 1834. The first sermon preached was by Rev. Samuel Oglesby, a Methodist minister. This sermon was delivered at the funeral of Sarah Tedrow.

The first school house in New Salem was built in 1834. The building stood on sec. 15 and for several years was used for religious purposes. The first church was built in the village of New Salem in 1844, by the Methodist brethren. The first steam mill was built in 1856 - 7, by Cooper Temple, near the village of New Salem.

The Wabash Railroad passes through the township, entering from the east about the middle of sec. 24, running on a direct westerly line until the town of New Salem is reached, when it strikes a west northwest course to Pineville.

There are two pleasant little country villages in this township, both of which are on the line of the Wabash Railroad, and in the midst of a fine farming community. The older, New Salem, was laid out Dec. 22, 1847, by William F. Hooper and Jacob Shinn. It is located on secs. 22 and 15. The original town was further north than the main portion of the present village is. Pineville, which is located on the southwest quarter of sec. 7, was laid out by William Pine, Jr., Oct. 26, 1869. The name has since been changed to Baylis, that being the name of the postoffice.

History of Pike County Chapman & Co. 1880 (People/Towns/Religion)

NEW SALEM: The first pioneer who ventured to locate in this township was Mr. Joab Shinn, who came in 1830. In 1831 came Isaac Conklin and his two sons, William Scholl and Nathan Swigert. The first school house built in New Salem was in 1834. New Salem has two enterprising towns, Baylis and New Salem. New Salem was laid out in 1847 and Baylis in 1869. Baylis has a bank and a newspaper. Both towns have enterprising business men and have the benefits of the Wabash Railroad. A noted resident of New Salem township from 1833 until his death a few years ago, was Capt. Henry Browne, who was born in Ireland, highly educated and aristocratic, a quiet and useful man, always held his allegiance to Great Britian. He was a skilled physician, and was a true friend to the poor; and was never known to take a cent for services or medicines. He was noted for his high sense of honor, and marked respect for the rights of others.

"Past & Present of Pike County, Clarke Publ.. 1906"
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