Township History and Early Settlers of Sangamon County
Transcribed from "The Past and Present of Sangamon County"
by Debbie Quinn



Auburn

Curran

Mechanicsburg

Ball

Divernon

New Berlin

Buffalo Hart

Fancy Creek

Pawnee

Capital

Gardner

Rochester

Cartwright

Illiopolis

Salisbury

Chatham

Island Grove

Springfield

Clear Lake

Lanesville

Talkington

Cooper

Loami

Williams

Cotton Hill

Maxwell

Woodside



AUBURN

Auburn township lies near the middle of the extreme southern tier of townships in the county and was organized in 1861. It is bounded on the north by Chatham, on the east by Divernon, on the west by Talkington and the south by Macoupin county. It comprises at present all of government township 13 north, range 6 west of the third principal meridian. The principal streams are Sugar creek and Panther creek, along which lie most of the timber lands in the township. The first white settlements within the limits of this township were made in 1818 by Jacob Ellis, James Black, Samuel Vancil and John Wallace. In 1819 came George Lott, William Wood, Jesse Wilson and Joseph Thomas, and in 1820 Daniel Kessler and Edward White.

Auburn village, the center of local trade, was laid out and platted by Philip Wineman in 1853. It is located on the line of the Chicago and Alton railroad and is also connected by rail on the east with Pawnee. It is a flourishing place of business, with several good churches and schools, a bank and a weekly newspaper. Population of the village, 1281, and the entire township 2363.

BALL

Ball township was organized in 1861 and is in the second tier of townships from the county line on the south. It embraces government township 14 north, range 5 west, and is bounded as follows: On the east by Cotton Hill, north by Woodside, west by Chatham, south by Divernon and Pawnee. Its area was originally one-third timberland, and it is well watered by Sugar and Brush creeks. It has a town hall in the center of the township. The main commercial point for the people of the township is Chatham, in Chatham township. Glenarm, in the southern part of the township, has in recent years become a place of some importance. IT is a station on the line of what was formerly known as the St. Louis, Peoria and Northern railroad.

The first cabin ever erected in Sangamon county is said to have been built on section 21 in this township by Robert Pulliam in October, 1816; but he afterward left it for St. Clair county and did not return with his family until May, 1818. Among other pioneers who settled in the township in 1818 were William and Joseph Drennan, Gorge Cox and Joseph Dodds. Population of the township, 1013.

BUFFALO HART

Buffalo Hart is one of the smaller original townships, organized in 1861, and embraces the south half and four additional sections of government township 17 north, range 3 west. It lies on the northeastern border of the county and was so named for Buffalo Hart grove, where the first white settlement was made. It is bounded on the west by Williams, south by Mechanicsburg, east by Lanesville and north by Logan county. The township is nearly all prairie and is watered by two small streams. The principal local trading point is Buffalo Hart village, on the Gilman, Clinton and Springfield division of the Illinois Central railroad. The first settlement in the bounds of this township was made in 1824 by William Bridges and Charles Moore, and they were followed in 1825 by Robert E. Burns and wife. In 1900 the population of the township was 579.

CAPITAL

Capital township was established and named by the county board on March 6, 1878. Its territory is co-extensive with the limits of the city of Springfield, which at present embraces a small portion of Woodside township. The township of Capital, owing to its large population, now has fourteen representatives in the board of supervisors, and exercises a large influence in local legislation.

CARTWRIGHT

Is in the northwest corner of the county and is the largest of the townships territorially and one of the best cultivated. It comprises all of government township 16 north, range 7 west and fractional parts of townships 16 and 17 north, ranges 7 and 8 west. It is bounded on the south by Island Grove, east by Gardner and Salisbury, north by Menard county and west by Morgan and Cass counties. The township is mostly prairie, and its chief water courses are Richland and Prairie creeks. Pleasant Plains, the only considerable village, is on the line of the Baltimore and Ohio Southwestern railroad, which traverses the township diagonally from east to west. Population of the village, 575, and of the entire township, 1,775.

Cartwright township was organized in 1861 and was so named in honor of Peter Cartwright, the celebrated pioneer Methodist preacher, who died there September 25, 1872, aged 87 years. The first white settlement in the township was made on Richland creek in 1819. Among the early and prominent settlers of this section were Roland Shepherd, Dallas Scott, Solomon Price, John P. Broadwell, William Carson, Samuel Irwin, Robert Milburn, William Crow, Edward Pirkins and M.K. Anderson.

CHATHAM

Chatham township lied in the middle of the second tier of townships from the county line on the south. It comprises all of government township 14 north, range 6 west and a small portion of the congressional township on the east. It is bounded by Curran on the north, Loami on the west, Auburn on the south and Ball on the east. The face of this township is mostly prairie, lying between two belts of timber – that of Sugar creek on the one side and of Lick creek on the other.

Chatham village is in the northeastern part of the township, on the line of the Chicago and Alton railroad, and was first laid out and platted by Luther N. Ransom in 1836. It is a pleasantly situated village, and by the census of 1900 contained 629 inhabitants. Chatham township was organized in 1861 under the name of Campbell, but this was soon after changed to correspond with the name of the village.

The first white settler of the township was John Campbell, who arrived in March 1818 and located on Lick creek. The next settlers were John Darneille and Levi and Samuel Harbor, who came in 1819. Population of the township, including the village, 1337.

CLEAR LAKE

The township of Clear Lake lies in the second tier of townships from the county line on the north and comprises all of government township 16 north, range 4 west. It was organized in 1861 and took its name from the lake of that name in section 22. It is bounded on the north by Williams, on the west by Springfield, on the south by Rochester and on the east by Mechanicsburg. The township is about equally divided between prairie and timber, and is amply supplied with water, the Sangamon river running through it diagonally from southeast to northwest. It is traversed by two steam railroads – the Wabash and the Gilman, Clinton and Springfield branch of the Illinois Central – also by the new electric road from Decatur. The principal village is Riverton, which was originally laid out by John Taylor in 1837 under the name of Jamestown. It is the seat of an important coal mining industry, the first coal shaft in the county having been sunk here by Mr. P.L. Howlett in the spring of 186. Population of the township, including Riverton village, 3071, population of the village, 1511.

The first settler in the township was Hugh McGary, who located on the banks of Clear Lake in 1820. About the same time came Samuel Danby from Kentucky and John Smith from Tennessee.

COOPER

Cooper township is in the southeastern part of the county, on the ragged edge of Christian. It was organized in 1861 and is one of the smaller subdivisions of the county, lying mostly in government township 15 north, range 3 west. The township is well watered by the north fork of Sangamon river and some of its tributaries. It is bounded on the north and northeast by Mechanicsburg and Lanesville, on the west by Rochester and Cotton Hill and on the south and southeast by Christian county. The local trading points of the township are Berry and Breckenridge, on the line of the Baltimore and Ohio Southwestern railroad. It is also traversed by the Springfield extension of the Indianapolis, Decatur and Western railroad. Population 920.

The first settlement in what now constitutes Cooper township was made in 1819. Among the earliest settlers were John and Jacob Cooper, Henry Giger, Benjamin Giger, John North and others.

COTTON HILL

This township lies in the southern-eastern part of the county and embraces about four-fifths of government township 14 north, range 4 west. Cotton Hill is one of the first organized townships and is bounded on the north and northeast by Rochester and Cooper, on the west by Ball, on the south by Pawnee and on the southeast by Christian county. The township is watered by Brush creek, Horse creek and the south fork of the Sangamon river. New City village is the chief local trading place for the people. Population of the township, 983.

The first settlers in what is now Cotton Hill township were Henry Funderburk and William Nelson – former from South Carolina and the latter from St. Clair county. The year of their arrival is a matter of dispute, but it was as early as 1818, if not earlier.

CURRAN

The township of Curran embraces all of government township 15 north, range 6 west. It was organized in 1861 and is situated in the second tier of townships from the west and third from the south. It is bounded on the north by Gardner, on the west by Woodside, on the south by Chatham and on the west by New Berlin and Island Grove. The land is mostly level prairie and is watered by Lick creek on the south-east and Spring creek on the northwest. The township is traversed by the old Wabash railroad and by what is popularly known as the “Bluff Line” of railroad. This makes transportation easy for the large amount of live stock annually raised and shipped from here. The local trading and shipping points are Curran village and Sanger station. Population 1023.

The first settlement within the limits of this township was made in 1819 by immigrants from the south. In that year came Joshua Brown, Jacob Earnest and Thomas Earnest, and in 1820 William Archer.
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DIVERNON

This township was formed by the county board out of parts of Auburn and Pawnee townships in 1886. It comprises about three-fourths of government township 13 north, range 5 west. It is bounded on the east by Pawnee, on the north by Ball, on the west by Auburn and on the south by Montgomery county. The face of the township is mostly prairie, with but little forest land, and the principal water course is Brush creek. This township is crossed from north to south by what was formerly called the St. Louis, Peoria and Northern railroad, but is now a part of the Illinois Central system. It is also crossed by the railroad from Auburn to Pawnee. The principal point of trade is Divernon station. Population 976.

FANCY CREEK

Fancy Creek township is situated near the middle of the extreme northern tier of township bordering on Menard county. It comprises nearly all of government township 17 and a small part of 18 north, range 5 west. When this township was organized in 1861 it was named Power, in honor of George Power, one of its oldest and most influential citizens; but this name was afterward changed to Fancy Creek, for one of its streams. Its chief water courses are Cantrall creek and Fancy creek; timber is found in abundance on the banks of these streams. The township is crossed diagonally by what was formerly known as the Springfield and Northwestern railroad. On the line of this railroad is located Cantrall village, which was laid out in 1872 and contains 396 inhabitants. The other principal village is Sherman, on the line of Chicago and Alton railroad.

This township was first settled in 1819 by William Higgins, Stephen England, his son, David, and his sons-in-law, Levi Cantrall and John Cline, also by Hardy Council and Robert McClelland, and in 1820 came Evans E. Britten and others. Population of the township, including Cantrall village 1407.

GARDNER

Gardner township was organized in 1861 and was named for John Gardner, one of the three commissioners appointed to divide the country into townships. It is situated in the second tier of townships from the north and west, and embraces all of government township 16 north, range 6 west. It is bounded on the north by Salisburg, on the west by Cartwright, on the south by Curran and on the east by Springfield. This township is well supplied with water and timber. In the northeast is the Sangamon river, in the northwest Prairie creek and in the south Spring creek. It is traversed from east to west by the Baltimore and Ohio Southwestern railroad, on the line of which are located the two stations and shipping points of Bradforton and Farmingdale. Old Sangamon town was located on the river in the northeast part of this township. Population, 1185.

The first settlers in what is now Gardner township were Samual Newhouse, A. Inyard, B. Davis, George K. Hamilton and Abraham Dulf. They arrived in 1819 and were followed by others in succeeding years. Hiram and John Gardner, two brothers from Kentucky, became permanent residents in the spring of 1834.

ILLIOPOLIS

This township lies at the eastern end of the county and comprises parts of government townships 16 and 17 north, ranges 1 and 2 west. It is bounded on the west by Lanesville township, on the north by Logan county, on the east by Macon county and on the south by Christian county. This township is almost all prairie, but along the Sangamon river, which forms the southern boundary line, there is a belt of timber from one to three miles wide. The fist settlement in what is now Illiopolis township appears to have been made by a Mrs. Anderson in 1826. Soon after this came Joel Watkins, Chesley Dickerson, William Greeg, James Hampton, John Churchill, John and James Hunter, Josiah Kent and William Bridges, all of whom settled in or near the Sangamon river timber.

The village of Illiopolis, from which the township took its name, is on the line of the Wabash railroad and was laid out and platted in 1856 under the name of Wilson. It is now a prosperous village, containing about 750 inhabitants, and is the most important trading and shipping point in the township. Population, including the village 1615.

In 1834 a town was laid out, but never built upon, about half a mile south of the present village by John Taylor, Eli Blankenship and Governor Joseph Duncan. This “paper town” was alleged to be the geographical center of the state and was a competitor with Springfield for the seat of government.

ISLAND GROVE

This township was organized in 1861, and was then one of the largest in the county, but is was afterward reduced to one-half of its original dimensions. It compromises a part of government township 15 north and parts of ranges 7 and 8 west. It is bounded on the north by Cartwright, east by Curran, south by New Berlin and west by Morgan county. Island Grove, from which the township derives its name, is about eight miles long and one mile in average width, extending along a branch of Spring creek, which runs through the northern part of th township. There is also some timber along Skillet Fork creek, in the eastern part of the township; otherwise it is all prairie. The first settler here was John Roberts, who came from Tennessee and built a cabin in the northeastern part of the grove in 1818. He was followed a year or two afterward by his son, Jerry Roberts, and by David and Fred Troxell, Andrew Scott, William Hart and Josiah Hedges. Berlin, the principal village of the township, was laid out and platted in 1836 by Henry Yates, grandfather of the president Governor Yates. By the last census it contained 256 inhabitants. The chief shipping point is New Berlin, in an adjoining township. Island Grove has always been noted as a great corn and cattle producing township, and is one of the wealthiest and most prosperous sections of the county. Population including Berlin village 974.

LANESVILLE

This township was set off from Illiopolis in 1875 under the name of Wheatfield, which was subsequently changed to Lanesville. It compromises parts of government townships 15,16 and 17 north, range 2 west, and is bounded on the east by Illiopolis, south by the Sangamon river, west by Mechanicsburg and Buffalo Hart and north by Logan county. Its main business point is Lanesville station, on the line of the Wabash railway. Being nearly all level prairie, this township was one of the last to be settled. Among the earlier settlers we find mention of Reuben Bullard, his sons, John and Wesley, Samuel Dickerson, Jessee A. Pickrell and others. Population 760.

LOAMI

This township lies in the southwestern part of the county, in the second tier of townships from the south. It was organized in 1861 and comprises part of government township 14 north and part of range 7 west. Its present boundaries are: New Berlin on the north, Chatham on the east, Talkington on the south and Maxwell on the west. The township is watered by Lick creek and its branches, along which some timber is found. The first settlers in this part of the county were Henry Brown and his stepson, William Huffmaster. They arrived in 1819 and built a cabin on the north side of Lick creek. In 1821 came Paul and William Colburn, and about the same time Willis Coley and others. The village of Loami is an old-settled place and was laid out and platted in 1854. It is on the line of what is now called the Chicago, Peoria and St. Louis Railway. Population of the township, including Loami village 1095; population of the village 481.

MAXWELL


MECHANICSBURG

NEW BERLIN

New Berlin township was taken from Island Grove and established as a separate political township in 1869. It comprises parts of government townships 14 and 15 north, ranges 7 and 8 west, and is in the middle of the western tier of townships of the county. It is bounded on the north by Island Grove, east by Curran, south by Loami and Maxwell and west by Morgan county. The land of this township is nearly all prairie, and it is watered by several small streams. The farms, like those in Island Grove, are generally large, well stocked and well improved. The earliest settlers here were mostly from Kentucky. Among these were John Foutch, John and Thomas Rhea and Mr. Johnson, and later on Joseph Smith, Henry Yeats and others. New Berlin village was laid out and platted in 1838. It is on the line of the Wabash railroad (the first to be built in the county), and is the local center of trade in the township, having a population of 533. Bates station is also an important shipping point for grain and stock. Population of the township, including the village, 1177.

PAWNEE

Pawnee township lies in the south-east corner of the county and is one of the oldest settled sections of the county. It was organized in 1861, and was then twice as large, territorially, as it is now. It comprises at present part of government township 13 north, ranges 4 and 5 west, and is bounded on the west by Divernon, north by Ball and Cotton Hill, east by Christian county and south by Montgomery county. The township is watered by Horse creek and its tributaries, along the banks of which is scattered some timber. Pawnee village is the local center of trade for the township and is connected by railroad with Auburn. This village was founded about 1854 and now contains 595 inhabitants. Population of the township, with the village 1191.

The first settler in what is now Pawnee township was Justus Henkle, from Virginia. He arrived in March 1818, and located on the west side of Horse creek, about one mile north of the present village, where he made improvements and entered the land when it came into market. In the same year came Martin and William Baker, and in 1820 George and Joseph Dixon, but none of these appear to have remained as permanent residents.

ROCHESTER

What is now Rochester township was first settled in the year 1819 by James McCoy, Robert and Archibald Sattley, William Roberts and William Shelton. They were followed by Elias Williams in 1821, Isaac Keys in 1822, C.B. Stafford in 1824 and by others about the same period.

This township lies in the middle tier of townships from the north, and was organized in 1861. It compromises government township 15 north, range 4 west, and is bounded on the north by Clear Lake, east by Cooper, south by Cotton Hill and west by Woodside. The township is watered by the south fork of the Sangamon river and its tributaries, o the banks of which plenty of timer is found. It is crossed diagonally by the Baltimore and Ohio Southwestern railroad and also by the new extension of the Springfield, Indianapolis, Decatur and Western railroad. The village of Rochester, on the line of the first named railroad, is the local commercial point for the township. It was surveyed and platted by James Gregory for the proprietors in December 1831, and now has 379 inhabitants. The population of the township, including the village is 1278.

SALISBURY

The township of Salisbury lies in the northern tier of townships, the second from the west, and is the smallest in the county, comprising less than half of congressional township 17 north, range 6 west. Organized in 1861, this township was first named Sacket, in compliment to one of its prominent citizens, but after some years the name was changed to Salisbury, from the village and post office of the name. It is bounded on the west by Cartwright, south by Gardner, west by Fancy Creek and north by Menard county. The township is abundantly watered by Prairie and Richland creeks and by the Sangamon river. Timber is also plentiful. The village of Salisbury is the local business point for the township and is located about twelve miles northwest from Springfield,. It is an old-settled place, having been surveyed and platted as early as 1832 . Population of the township 589.

The first settlements in what is now Salisbury township were made in 1819 and 1820 by immigrants from the south. Among the early permanent settlers were William Yoakum, Solomon Miller, Marshall Duncan, Mrs. Abigal Coleman, Fielding Harrison, Amos Batterton, William Kirkpatrick, John Davis, Rev. John Antle and others.

SPRINGFIELD

The township of Springfield was organized in 1861 and its history is closely identified with that of the city. It compromises government township 16 north, range 5 west, excepting that portion embraced within the limits of Capital township. It is bounded on the north by Fancy Creek, south by Woodside, east by Clear Lake and west by Gardner township. The township is well supplied with living streams of water, the principal of which is the Sangamon river, which pursues its tortuous course through the northern tier of sections. The principal village is Ridgely, with a population of 1169. The population of the township, including Ridgely village, is 3769.

Among the early and prominent settlers in what now constitutes Springfield township, outside of the city limits, may be mentioned Andrew Elliott, Thomas L. and William P. McKinnie, Samuel H. Ried, James W. Keyes, Goodrich Lightfoot, Simon P. Rickard and later Henry Converse.

TALKINGTON

The township of Talkington (a name, apparently, of uncertain etymology) is situated in the southwest corner of the county and was organized in 1861. It comprises government township 13 north, range 7 and a fraction of range 8 west. It is bounded on the north by Maxwell and Loami, east by Auburn, south by Macoupin county and west by Morgan county. The area of the township is mostly level or slightly undulating prairie, and it is watered by John's creek and a branch of Lick creek. It is traversed diagonally by the Jacksonville and Southeastern railroad, on the line of which is located the village of Lowder. Population of the township, 896.

Talkington was not settled so early as most of the other townships in the county. One of the first settlers appears to have been William Eustace, who located in the north part of the township about 1835. Between that year and 1840 a settlement was made in the central part by Abijah Pete, Theodore Watson, Asahel Coe and Hezekiah S. Gold. Another settlement was made a few years later on John's creek, in the eastern portion of the township.

WILLIAMS

Williams township is one of the extreme northern townships of the county, and comprises government township 17 and six sections of township 18 north, range 4 west. Organized as a civil township in 1861, it is bounded on the west by Fancy Cree, south by Clear Lake, west by Buffalo Hart and north and northeast by Logan county. The northern half of the township is almost entirely prairie, but the south part is well timbered. The principal streams are Wolf creek and Fancy creek.

This township began to be settled as early as 1820 or 1821. Between that date and 1830 a number of families moved in from the south and settled in the timber along the streams. The open prairie was not settled or improved until many years later. Prominent among the early settlers were William Proctor, John Simpson, Jacob Yocum, James and Isaac Taylor, David Clark, Michael Mann, Meredith Cooper and Isaac Constant.

The village of Williamsville was laid out in 1853 under the name of Benton, but this was afterward changed to Williamsville, in compliment to Colonel John Williams, of Springfield, for whom the township was also named. It is a flourishing village on the line of the Chicago and Alton railroad, with three or four churches, a fine brick school house, and contain 573 inhabitants. Barclay is situated in the south end of the township on the Illinois Central railroad. This village was founded by the Barclay Coal Mining Company, which opened a coal shaft here in 1872. Population of the township, including its villages, 2011.

WOODSIDE

Taken alphabetically, Woodside is the last in the list of the townships. It lies in the heart of the county and comprises government township 15 north, range 5 west, excepting a small strip on the north included in Capital township. It was organized in 1861, and is bounded on the north by Springfield and Capital, east by Rochester, south by Ball and west by Curran. The township was originally about two thirds prairie, the remainder being timber and openings. It is watered in the eastern part by Sugar creek and its tributaries and in the southwestern by Lick creek. Its territory is crossed by four railroads, which converge in the city of Springfield. Woodside is an important manufacturing as well as agricultural township, and at Iles Junction, two miles south of the center of the city, are two coal shafts, where coal is mined extensively. The first of these was sunk by Jacob G. Loose about the year 1866. Population of township 2565.

The settlement of Woodside township was contemporaneous with that of Springfield. In the spring of 1819 Zachariah Peter, a native of Virginia and one of the first county commissioners, located a claim on section 27, in the southern part of the township. He appears to have married the widow (a second wife) of John Kelley and to have died in Springfield, August 5, 1864. In 1819 Joseph Inslee also came, and built a cabin on the same section with Mr. Peter. Jesse Southwick, Samuel Little and Thomas Cloyd arrived in 1820. Nicholas Pyle, Joseph Withrow, Washington Iles and Japhet A. Ball settled here in 1825. These were all, or nearly all, permanent settlers. In 1830 George Bryan, a Revolutionary soldier, came hither from Kentucky with some of his children. He died November 22, 1845, in his eighty-eighth year, and was buried near Woodside Station.



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