Cruger Township

"The Woodford County History" by Mr. and Mrs. Irvin Kennell

Cruger Township includes 36 sections, except the East Half of Section 12 and the East Half of Section 19 which have become a part of olio Township. It is known as Fractional Township 26 North, Range 2 West of the Third Principal Merdian.

Cruger Township was originally part of olio Township and much of the history pertaining to Cruger also pertains to Olio. In the year 1870 the following officers were elected:

R. N. Radford - collector

Jesse Meek - assessor

Peter Moyemont - town clerk

R. C. Steward - commissioner of highways

Thomas Ellis - commissioner of highways

John McPeak - justice of peace

John Haufman - justice of peace

John Myers - constable

Lewis Myers - constable

The township derived its name from small station within its borders, known as Cruger Station. This little station, which was originally known as Cruger Village, was named after William Cruger who was, at that time, superintendent of the T.P. & W. Railroad. The village was laid out by Mr. Akers of Peoria, who bought the land from Hiram Parker. The village plat was made by E. P. Pratt of Peoria.

Cruger Township is mostly good, level farming ground except for the eastern part bordering Olio Township, which is quite rolling with a good supply of maple, oak, hickory, walnut and elm trees. Walnut Creek flows through this area, which made it most desirable for the early settlers to build their log cabins.

In the early 19th Century, Indians frequently roamed this part of Woodford County. In the year 1830, when an old Indian chief, Shabona, came to settle in what was then called Walnut Grove, the early settlers, fearing some treachery, drove him away. It was said that this made the old chief very angry.

It is possible that there were white settlers before the year 1827, but the earliest known settlers were the Daniel Meek family who settled in that year. Other families known to have lived in the area were James Martin, Robert and James Bird, Joseph Dillon, Moores, Nathan Owen, Thomas Deweese, James Rayburn and John Stevenson. All of these were known to have lived her in 1830.

For many years Cruger Township was made up of rural farm population. Since 1930, the farm population has steadily decreased and the population of Cruger Station has also decreased. In spite of the decrease in these areas the total number of people living in the township has increased since the development of several residential areas known as Eureka Knolls Subdivision (1939), Edgewood (1942), and Lakeview Acres (1966). There has also been development around Lake Eureka, as well as private homes built on small acreage's throughout the Township. The latest census of Cruger Township (1960) was 535.

The Harper and Sauder Implement Company started business in 1946. In 1953 this company sold its business to Loren Leman who has operated it as the Leman Implement Company. Eight people are employed in that business at the present time. Harper and Sauder opened another business in 1955, and now employ between 50 to 60 people. Dry Gas Station located south of Cruger was established by Samuel Leman and sold to Northern Propane Gas Co. in March 1961.

Contract agreement for construction of Farmers

Elevator at Cruger

They employ five or six people. In 1949, Concrete Products opened a small industry, making cattle feed bunks and septic tanks. They employ three men. Rivinius Inc. moved from Olio to Cruger. They employ 65 to 70 people. The first grain warehouse was built north of the tracks, east of the county blacktop by a Mr. King. About 1854, the grain warehouse was purchased by J. N. Harlan and John Metzer for the sum of $700.00. They spent $2,500.00 to enlarge the capacity to 30,000 bushels. This elevator is still in use. The old grain warehouse was torn down about 1910.

The first railroad in Cruger Township was completed to Cruger Station in 1854. It was known as Peoria and Oquawka Railroad. The first railroad station was built in 1854 and the railroad took on the name Toledo, Peoria & Warsaw, known today as Toledo, Peoria and Western Railroad, or more familiarly as the T.P. & W. The only other railroad through Cruger Township was the Pekin and Southwestern Railroad, later purchased by the Atcheson, Topeka & Santa Fe.

The first public road through Cruger Township was laid out in 1836 by Daniel Travis and James McClure. It commenced at what was known as the Cruger bridge on Walnut Creek and extended to Washington, Ill. Today Cruger Township is bordered on the east by Route 117. Route 24 passes the township from east to west along what was probably the first road.

The first justice of peace in Cruger Township was Daniel Meek who was appointed in 1829. The first physician was Dr. James Mitchell, who came in 1835. The first minister was Rev. Deyton Mitchell. He was a Presbyterian and was in the neighborhood about 1833 and 1834. William Hoshor was the first school teacher. He taught in the year 1831.

Benjamin J. Radford came from Christian county, Kentucky in 1834. He settle in what is now Cruger Township and remained here until his death in September 1857. He planted the first grove of locust trees in the county. One of his sons later became President of Eureka College and another son was editor and owner of the Eureka Journal.

Among the early settlers in Walnut Grove who were active in advancing Christian worship were Barton Stone, Alexander and William Campbell. Their desire was to establish a church as nearly like the early New Testament Church as possible. The first meetings were held in homes, barns, schools, and in the groves. This type of worship continued until 1847 when a frame building was erected in Olio Township. In 1857 when the membership increased to more than 200, they met in a schoolhouse in Cruger Village and decided to build a new church three miles northwest of Eureka. The building was completed the same year. This was originally known as the Mt. Zion Christian Church and it was a stabilizing influence ion the community until 1920 when the population trend had shifted to Eureka and the attendance was too small to continue services. The membership moved back to Olio and built a new church which was later known as the Disciples of Christ.

A Methodist church was built in Cruger Village about 1850; it was moved to Eureka about 1865. Another Methodist church, located in the southeast corner of Cruger Township, was built in the early 19th Century. It was closed in 1897.

William Hoshor, (mentioned in the general history of Woodford County as one of the pioneer school teachers) taught the first school in what now is Cruger Township. It was taught in 1831 in an old cabin which stood up near the head of Walnut Grove. His school lasted but a short time and soon after its suspension, John Woosley opened a school near the place where Hoshor had taught. The first structure built in the neighborhood for school purposes was erected in 1834, near the spot where the schools were taught. Three schools which were built about 1850 continued until the schools consolidated. They were the Ray School in the southern part of the township, which closed in 1949; the Cruger school in Cruger Village was closed in 1950, and the Mt. Zion School, near the Mt. Zion Church, was closed long before consolidation abut 1915. There are no schools in Cruger Township at this time.

The largest cemetery in the Township is near the site of the old Mt. Zion Church. It is well kept but seldom used for burial purposes since the Disciples of Christ have their burial place in Eureka. The Methodist burial place is located at the northeast corner of the Kaufman Park Gold Course west of Eureka. It has not been used for burial in many years.

In 1922 a golf course was built on 48 acres of land on Route 24 west of Walnut Creek. This land was later donated by Ben Kaufman, placed under jurisdiction of a board of trustees, and is presently known as the Kaufman Park Gold Course. This beautiful nine-hole course is enjoyed, not only by the local residents, but by many others throughout the Central Illinois area. On April 17, 1941, the Eureka City Council approved construction of a dam for creating what is now known as Eureka Lake. The following year, construction of the dam was completed and heavy rains soon filled the lake. This lake is located in Cruger Township about one mile southwest of Eureka and now covers abut 35 acres. Eureka lake Park is one of the most scenic areas in Central Illinois.

The only community organization was known as the Cruger Community Club and was organized in 1930 and the meetings were held in Cruger Township hall. Meetings were held once each month and the club was active until 1935 when some of the most enthusiastic supporters moved away. The Cruger Unit of the Homemakers extension association was organized in 1930. The present membership[ of nineteen ladies meets once a month in the homes of the members. Originally the occupation in the township was agricultural. Since 1940 the trend has very definitely changed to industrial workers and business men. Many of the people living in the subdivisions within the township work in Peoria or in the industries and businesses within the township or in Eureka.


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