Genealogy and History
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Previous to the adoption of the act empowering the incorporation of township, Buckeye Township was known as Center Precinct, which comprehended the territory that has since been subdivided into Buckeye, Dakota, Harmen and Lancaster Twps. This was the case as late as August, 1838 for, on the 6th of that month, an election was held at the house of Josiah Clingman, in Center Precinct for State officers, at which John Edwards received 25 votes for Governor, and Stephen A. Douglas 7 votes for Congress; Ira Jones, Levi Lewis and G.W. Clingman were Judges, and Thompson Vilcoxon and Joseph Green, Clerks.
The earliest settlement made in the present township of which there are any data to deduce conclusions, was during the year 1835. In the spring, John Goddard came to the southern portion of the township, and, in the fall of the same year, David Jones and Levi Lucas came, the former making claim to a large tract of land contiguous to what is now known as Buckeye Center, where he built a cabin and began housekeeping. There was little beyond the hope of what the future might give birth to encourage the lonely lives of these pioneers, yet they accepted the gauge of life as they found it, and survived to realize many of the promises reserved for after years. In addition to these George Trotter, Richard Parriott (sic) and Henry and William Hollenback came about this time.
In 1836 the roster of inhabitants was increased by the arrival of a few families, including William Robey, who had made a claim there the previous year, Jenu Pile, Andrew St. John, Ira, Job and Daniel Holly and others. Parrott (sic) and Pile located near the present town of Cedarville, while the balance entered claims in the northwestern part of the township.
In 1837 the influx of population was somewhat greater. Among those who established themselves in Buckeye that year were Dr. Thomas Van Valzah, J. Tharp, G.W. Clingman, Jackson Richart, Lazarus Snyder, Jacob S. Brown, Joseph Green, and some few more. Dr. Van Valzah purchased the mill claim of John Goddard and Barton Jones, and built what has since been known as the Cedar Creek mills, also a log cabin for his family. The mill was started in November 1837, John Fisher turning the bolt, and so continuing until the 1st of January, 1838. In that year, a sudden rise in the creek overflowed an temporarily destroyed the dam, when Fisher's occupation was gone, the power thereafter being furnished by the medium since employed.
In the month of May (9th) 1837, occurred the first death in the township, being that of Richard Parriott, Sr. Robert Jones and A. Richart laid him out after death and he was buried near Buckeye Center in a coffin fashioned by Robert Jones, the Rev. Mr. Harcott officiating at the grave.
Among those who came in 1838 was James McGhee, Adrian Lucas and others, and it was in this year that the first marriage known to have taken place in Buckeye was recorded. Robert Jones and Mary Herlacher were united in indissoluble bonds at the residence of Dr. van Valzah, the Rev. Mr. McKean being the clergyman. In those days, pretentious weddings, with the accompaniments of bridal presents, tours, etc., were unknown factors of social life, and not generally indulged. The bridegroom escorted his wife to the cabin he had erected, as above mentioned, and began his dual existence without the accessories thereto now deemed indispensable to prosperity and happiness. On the 23rd of June following, David Jones was born to the couple, the first birth of record in the township. John Murdaugh and Benjamin Bennett were also among the arrivals this year.
In 1840, the population began once more to increase. The Pottawatomies and Winnebagoes still flourished in the vicinity, and had their camp at the mouth of Richland Creek; but their presence deterred no one from venturing into the neighborhood and setting up a home. J.B. Clingman came this year, as did also Philip Reitzell and George Reitzell, who settled near where Buena Vista now is; Henry Wohllford, John Fryebarger, Richard Parriott, Jr., Franklin Scott, George Ilgen who afterward laid out Cedarville, a man named Eddy, etc. Indeed, 1840, was the golden year of Buckeye Township, so far as the increase in population and development of resources were concerned. Farms were opened, homes prepared, and notwithstanding the "hard life" that was imposed upon settlers, the county and township began to fill up quite rapidly.
In those primitive times, the inhabitants depended mainly upon their guns, and skill in the use, for meat, which was obtained from the herds of deer and flocks of prairie chickens which were to be found in the timber. Flour was almost an unknown quantity, and until mills were erected on water-courses the settlers were obliged to obtain that commodity either at Galena or Wolf Creek. When this was impossible, they scraped corn on what were known as "gritters," by which a coarse-grained meal was obtained, from which "dodgers" were baked, and the pangs of hunger mitigated.
Soon after 1840, the conveniences of life became more accessible. The rough, unsatisfactory character of the mills gave place to handsome buildings and improved machinery. The population increased annually, and, by the time that Cedarville was laid out, numbered many families, with then names of which the earlier comes were not familiar. The townships and its towns are in a prosperous condition, with a population estimated at about 1,800, and with promise of future wealth and usefullness.
TOWNS in the TOWNSHIP
BUCKEYE CENTER -- is located three miles north of Cedarville and the seat of the town house, also an Evangelical CHurch, one of the oldest in the county, having been erected in 1849. The congregation was at one time quite extensive, but is today limited to 30 members. The Rev. J.D. Shuler occupies the pulpit every other Sunday, alternately with the Rev. Mr. Schaffle.
BUENA VISTA, a town of about 125 inhabitants is located on Richland Creek, in the extreme western portion of the township, 11 miles from Freeport, and three miles from the line dividing Illinois and Wisconsin. The town was platted September 19, 1852 out of 40 acres of land contributed by Philip Reitzell, Marcus Montelius acting as surveyor. At that time, the county, was but imperfectly settled, and lots in Buena Vista were not in general demand. Along in 1856, lots became marketable commodities and were sold to William H. Hoff, Lewis Coppersmith, Thomas Strahorn and others. From that date, the rush of purchasers has never been "booming" and Buena Vista remains today an inland county town without much to attract or discourage the visitor or speculator. The school facilities are ample, but there is no church in the village, the residents attending service at the Bellevue Church, one and a half miles east of the town.
Cedarville, the chief town in Buckeye Township, and a point presenting many attractive features for residence and business purposes, is located six miles north of Freeport, and contiguous to the line dividing Buckeye from Larlem and Lancaster Townships. Its sitution is singularly beautiful, presenting every variety of landscape to the artistic eye, without the quality of sameness which palls by its very monotony. Cedar Creek courses an eneven and eccentric way to the east, rugged hills rise in prominence to the north, which, on the east and west, orchards, meadows and fields flowing with ripening grain, are sights which greet the eye of the visitor in that perfect of perfect months, laughing June.
When the earlier settlers of what was at first known as Center Precinct made their advent into future Buckeye Township, they, as a rule, tarried about future Cedarville, not only impressed with the beauty of the scenety, but the advantages it then presented for all desirous of establishing a home. Nothwithstanding these patent advantages the pioneer pilgrims into this part of Stephenson County, tarried not, but pursued their wandeerings in the van of those competing with the Star of Empire and Greeley's young man, for a claim further west, and it was not until 1837 that any movement was inaugurated, which finally culminated, whough not until twelve years after, in teh surveying and laying - out of the present town. In that year, Dr. Thomas Van Valzah, as has already been stated, established himself in Center Precinct, raised a log capin for the protection of his growing family, built a saw-mill and laid the foundation for the abundance of strift today visible to the traveler, as also the resident, in all directions. The old mill has passed through a varied experience since those days of primitive wants and unpretentious inhabitants, and still, in parts, stands a wreck of its former magnificence, at a distance from the spot whereon its birth was celebrated. The territory allotted to its occupation, long since yielded possession to the Cedarville mills, revsed and corrected editions of the saw and grist mills, with which Dr. Van Valzah, nearly half a century, ago, sought patronage in contributing to the necessities as also the luxuries of his neighbors.
In 1849 George Ilgen, an early settler in the township, first conceived the idea of establishing the present town of Cedarville. He had emigrated to the West years before from PA, and made claim to a quarter-section of land, on which the town, in part, now stands, but removed to a distant part of the county and engaged in farming. About the year mentioned, he procured a survey of the town site, laid off streets, towns lots and other landed appurtenances appropriate to the object and waited the rush of purchasers of his realty. Marcus Montelius officiated as surveyor, and beyond the log cabin and mill erected by Dr. Van Valzah, no other edifices were to be seen in the vicinity. For some months the tide of emigration failed to realize his possibly too sanguine expectations, and it was not for two years thereafter that buildings began to add the spice of variety to the scenes of woodland and prairie visible on all sides. Some time in 1850, James Canfield, established a brick-kiln two miles west of the prospective village, and from this date improvements proved other than exceptions.
Samuel Sutherland built a brick house on the main street which still stands, being occupied as the store of Richart & Son, also the post office. Francis Knauss put up a frame residence and tin shop; James Bensen, a brick store, and Jacob Latshaw, building a tavern, enacted the role of the village boniface. It should be observed that the first cabin covered for occupation within the precincts of the town site, was that finished and ocupied by George Seyler. David Clements erected a brick house along in 1851, as also did Dr. Bucher, ( the latter still standing opposite the post office), and lived there for years, his widow now occupying the premises. During the years 1850-52, improvement was rapid, but after these years there was a falling off, no marked effort being made to render the village either attractive or populous. In 1854, the handsome private residence of John H. Addams was erected, and in 1858, the mill owned by the same gentleman.
There are four churches - the Methodist, completed in 1849 of brick; the German Reformed and Lutheran, in 1854, also of brick; the Evangelical, of brick in 1859 and the Presbyterian, a handsome frame with an attractive and well-proportioned steeple, in 1876.
In 1878, improvements began to appear again and prosperity to once more "boom." J.W. Henney & Co. began the manufacturing of carriages in a larger frame warehouse occupying a prominent corner in the eastern portion of the town, and Reel & Seyler put up a commodious establishment of north of Henney's carriage deport for the manufacture of middings purifiers. Since that date, however, improvements have hardly kept pace with the times; the village remaining a quiet, prosperous, attractive resort, presenting very few, if any, of the features which entice with the glare and dissipation fo her more populous neighbors, yet furnishing all the inducements for health and modest ambition to be found in numberless villages which dot the landscape of Northern Illinois.
The school system in force is the same as obtained throughout the county, affording a complete and ready means for obtaining an education substantial and comprehensive; the religious interests are large and generously supported; the manufacturing establishments afford employment to a number of laborers, and the surrounding country pays a liberal tribute to the maintenance of its commercial and other interests. Cedarville contains a population estimated at 400, and has not yet been incorporated being under the form of government appropriated to township organizations.
The cause of education found expression in Buckeye long before the metes and bounds of that township had been legally defined. A school was opened three miles northewast of Cedarville in 1836, but it was not until ten years later that the town itself succeeded in providing the young idea with comfortable accommodations wherein to pursue knowledge, unattended by the difficulties which inivariably accompany every initial effort in that behalf.
In 1846, subscriptions were made for the organization of a school, and the erection of a building, the latter to be located near the burying-ground. The efforts primarily undertaken were far from encouraging, but finally these succeeded through the influence and patronage of the Clingmans, John H. Adams and other enterprising residents, and the schoolhouse, a one-story frame, 20 x 30 was completed and ready for service.
A.Mr. Chadwick, now residing in LaSalle, and Miss Julia Putnam were the first teachers who sought to elevate the youthful generation of scholars coming from far and near to partake of the mental papulum furnished in those days. Among these were George, Mary and Caroline Clingman, have been forgotten by the limited number who were familiar therewith thirty-four years ago. This school was operated with gratifying success until 1853. By that time, the daily attendance became so numerous as to necessitate larger quarters and the basement of the Lutheran Church then completed, and awaiting the erection of the superstructure, was obtained, and used for school purposes being so used until 1855.
Soon after taking possession of the late-named quarters, the School Directors decided upon building the present brick edifice, and inaugurated measures looking to that end. Their first effort was directed toward the obtaining of funds, which were secured by the levy of a tax on resources not realized, that is, by anticipating the tax for school due two years from that time. This was accomplished without opposition, and $2,000 rewarded this extra legal proceeding. With the amount thus obtained, the brick building since occupied, being 55 x 30, and two stories high, was completed and turned over for use in 1855, the lower room being reserved for school uses, while the upper part was used as a public hall. In 1857 the hall was reconstructed and fitted up for a private school, taught by Miss Gorham, since married to Col. H.C. Forbes, who remained in charge until 1865, when she gave place to a successor, who continued the guardian of ambitious youth for a brief period, when the private venture was abandoned, and the entire building opened to public partronage. This is now known as District School No. 5, furnishing a good common school education to an average daily attendance of 90 pupils, and is governed by a Board of Directors, consisting of J.H. Addams. Joseph P. Reel and Jacob Sill. Two teachers are employed at an annual cost of $500, which is obtained by taxation, and the school property represents a valuation of about $2,500.
METHODIST CHURCH -- The followers of Wesley first manifested their presence in Buckeye Township as early as 1839, and were composed of the families of residents who have since been included among the most substantial and enterprising of those who have materially contributed to the building up of the county and the State. These comprehended Josiah Clingman and family G. W. Clingman and family, Barton and Ira Jones and families, WIlliam Robey and family, A.K. Richart and others. Prior to 1849 the communicants were dependent upon the visits of circuit riders and worshiped int he log schoolhouse near the branch, at private houses, and such points as convenience or necessity dictated. In 1849, the Methodist Church at Cedarville was commenced and completed in 1850, since when the pious residents of the township have rejoiced in a local habitation, as also name. The edifice is of brick, one story high 35 x 40 and though completed in 1850, was not ready for use until a year later, when the dedicatory services wereheld and the auditorium formally opened. Its cost is stated to have been nearly $1,400 and services are held on alternate Sundays, the Rev. H. Wells, Pastor, officating, dividing his labors between the congregations of Cedarville and Dakota. The congregation is stated at about 50 families and the value of the church property is $1,500
PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH - Of Cedarville, was organized in 1872, with John Coates, Pascal and Mrs. Wright, Simon Yerger, John Thomas, Nancy and Elizabeth Boles, George Thompson and James Wilson as charter members. Immediately upon the organization being perfected, the associating procured accommodation in the Methodist Church for worship, remaining there for two years, when a move was made to the Lutheran Church, which was occupied conjointly with the Lutherans for a similar period. In 1876, it was decided to erect a church for the sect, and the congregation labored so effectively that before the year closed the present handsome structure was completed, at a cost of $2,600, and taken possession of. The edifice is commodious, built of frame and by far the most attractive church, orchitecturally speaking, to be seen in the village. The following Pastors have officiated since the society was founded; . The Revs. A. March and E. Ross, 1872; C. Elliott, 1873, after which and until 1875, transcient ministers filled the pulpit; L. Mitchell, 1875; John Irwin, the present incumbunt, 1879. The communicants number fifteen, and the church property is valued at $2,500.
EVANGELICAL ASSOCIATION - This religious organization was established in Buckeye at an early day, where it has increased in numbers and influence in a remarkable degree. Prior to 1856, the class worshiped in the schoolhouse and at the residences of members, prominent among whom were the families of Benjamin Hess, Christine Auman, David Neidigh, Benjamin Levan, Robert Sedam, William Vore, Henry Mark, Jacob Sills and others. In 1856 the needs of the society for a house of worship influenced the appointment of a committee of arrangements and preparations to be made in the behalf. Lots were purchased in the southeastern part of town, of Sophia Otto and George Ilgen contracts concluded for labor on the church proper and the edifice erected of brick, during 1856. It is a handsome building 40 x 50 appropriately furnished, supplied with an organ, and cost, reading for occupation, $3,000. The first services, it is believed, were conducted by the Rev. Levi Tobias who remained in charge some years, and has been suceeded at intervals by the following Pastors: The Revs. Joseph Snell, H. Messner, A. Swartz, C.G. Kleinicht, David Kramer, and W.W. Shuler, the present incument. The congregation numbers 150 members, and the church property is valued at $2,000.
LUTHERAN and REFORMED CHURCH - Was organized by the Lutherans on the 11th of October 1850, with 15 members. Services were held by the congregations, jointly, in the schoolhouse in Cedarville until about 1852, when the present chruch edifice was contracted for. It was completed during the same year and occupied, but its formal dedication was postponed until some years later.
The church is of brick, 40 x 55, handsomely furnished throughout, supplied with an organ, and cost, when completed ready for occupancy, $3,000. The following Lutheran Pastors have officiated since established; The Revs. G.J. Donmeyer, E. Miller, J. Stoll, A.B. Niddleswarth and B.F. Pugh. The congregation at present numbers 30 members. Services are held alternately in the church by the German Reformed congregation, led by the Rev. Mr. Shimpf of Orangeville.
REED & SEYER - Purifier Manufactory - The invention of a middlings purifier, of superior excellence, is of recent date, and is due to the genius of Joseph P. Reel, a resident of Cedarvile, and head of the firm of Reel & Seyer. In 1877, these gentlemen erected a building on Main Street, and having perfected the patent, began to manufacture the machine, which is rapidly attaining an extensive demand both in America and Europe. The building cost $1,100 to finish, wherein the firm employ six hands, at a weekly compensation of $60; turn out one hundred machines annually, and do a business of $30,000 per year.
McCAMMON'S CARRIAGE FACTORY - This enterprise is of recent date and was established by J.B. McCammon, April 1, 1880, in the premises formerly occupied by J.W. Henney & Co. who removed to Freeport, thus affording an opportunity for enterprise and industry to build up a large busienss. Mr. McCammon employs five hands, at a weekly cost of $35, and will do a business this year (1880) of $10,000. His manufacture includes every variety of buggy, spring and lumber wagons.
CARRIAGE FACTORY of JOHN SHAFFER - Established in 1859 in Cedarville. During the year 1875, Mr. Shaffer purchased th shop of J.W> Henney, and has constantly done a large and annually increasing business. He now employs six hands, at a weekly expense of $53, and turns out a totalof sixty vehicles per annum.
CEDARVILLE FLOUR MILLS - Among the oldest establishments of thekind in the county, owe their origin to Dr. Thomas Van Valzah, who put up a saw-mill near the site of the present building in 1837. The affair was of the simplest pattern, and during the following year he increased his responsibilities by the addition of a grist-mill, supplied with one run of buhrs and a pair of "choppers." Dr. Van Valzah retained control until 1840, when he sold to David Neidigh, who, in turn, disposed of the property to Conrad Epley and John W. Shuey. These gentlemen, held the title until 1844, when it became vested in J.H. Addams for a consideration of $4,400. In 1846 Mr. Addams rebuilt the mill, added two run of stone and otherwise improved the venture at a cost of $4,000. These were operated until 1858, when the present mill supplied the place of its pioneer predecessor, under the direction of Mr. Addams, and still remains. The building is of frame, three stories, high 36, 54, supplied with three run of stones and cost, complete, $10,000. It has capacity of turning out 100 barrels of flour daily and the investment represents a valuation of $15,000.
CEDARVILLE LIBRARY - As already stated, this library was established thirty-four years ago, when the village of Cedarville was known as Cedar Creek Mills and when it patrons, if less numerous , were more choice in their selections than the reading public of today. The association was organized early in the spring of 1846, and placed under a Board of Trustees, consisting of the fllowing-named gentlemen; John H. Adams, A.B. Clingman, A.W. Lucas, Josiah Clingman and William Irvin. In may of that year, the purchase of books was commenced and the same placed on shelves in a room in teh residence ofJohn H. Addams, accessible to all who desired to avail themselves of the privileges thus afforded, which are still continued on the stop of their origin. The collection is made up of standard works, including those of Gibbon, Macauley, Prescott, Hume, Etc., history being the basis and comparatively little of a character calculated to entertain without improving. The library, which has been a source of infinite pleasure and instruction to the residents of Cedarville and vicinity, is still in active operation, with a large number of volumes waiting the requisition of patrons to contribute to their edification.
INDEPENDENT BANK of CEDARVILLE
A musical association organized on the 8th of July 1873, with the following members and officers; O.P. Cromley, O.P. Wright, Ashley Barber, John Wright, John W. Henney, J.B. McCammon, Charles Rockey, E.J. Benethum, Samuel Barber, John Oswald and W.M. Clingman; George W. Barber, President; A.W. Templeton, Secretary and Henry Richart, Treasurer. These members furnished instrumental music on all occasions, when their services are required, and meet for practice on Monday and Thursday evenings. The present officers are Henry Richart, President; George W. Barper, Leader; J.B. McCammon, Secretary and W.M. Clingman, Treasurer. The value of society property is stated at $406.
The first post office established in the village was located at Cedar Creek Mills, about 1841 or 1842 with Geoge Reitzell as Postmaster. He was succeeded, it is thought, by William Irvin, who was followed by Robert Sedam, Jonathan Sills and Jackson Richart. The latter was appointed in 1856 and still serves the people.
WHITEHALL MILLS - Grist and saw, were erected as early as 1839 or 1840, by Philip Reitzell, though the saw-mill had been built by Ezra Gillett. Mr. R. died in 1852 when Buena Vista was laid out, and his sons succeeded to the management of the mill business. They operated the business until 1869, when the mill property was sold under foreclosure proceedings to the Northwestern Life Insurance Company, for the $22,000. In 1870 Jacob Schatczell and Jacob Rumel purchased the investment and sold it in turn to Samuel Wagner, who sold to Jerry Wohlfort, the present owner, for about $18,000. The Mill is of frame, three stories high, 50 x 66 with three run of buhrs and capacity for 100 barrels of flour per day. When Schatczell & Rumel took possession, they tore down the old saw-mill and rebuilt the same at some distance north of the grist-mill. The mill is furnished with an upright saw, with rip and other saws, enabling the present owners to turn out a large quantity of building material annually. Both mills are moved by water-power obtained from Richland Creek.
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