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LETTER TO THE EDITOR

Posted August 4, 2014

 

Dear Editor:

 

From April 15th thru July 31st, 2014, law enforcement officers did a great job reducing illegal drugs in Christian County.  WTIM, WICS, WAND, and the Breeze-Courier did a good job keeping our honest citizens informed on drug corruption.

If the Chicago Tribune, Herald-Review and the State Journal-Register would have done investigative reporting on illegal drugs in the private and public sectors in the early 1980's, then the 21st century may have been safer.  In Bogota, the cartel shot editors and reporters.

Over the last 45 years most Illinois governors got the 2nd place trophy in the drug war.  During this time, our governors did not address affluent drug users and affluent money launderers.  So far, current candidates for governor have been mute on the issue.

Therefore, from April thru July of 2014, law enforcement officers and WTIM, WICS, WAND, and the Breeze-Courier stood ground for the honest citizen.

In closing, some politicians blame labor unions and the N-R-A for America's economic and social issues, but never China and the drug cartel.  Wonder why?

Respectfully,

Thomas P. Strawn
Taylorville, IL

 

 


 

This year Taylorville and Christian County are celebrating 175 years.  The celebration will be October 4th and 5th.  This is a series of articles on the history of Christian County and its townships.  Most of the information came from the quarterlies and library of the Christian County Genealogical Society.  Our library is housed in the Pence Building at the Christian County Historical Society.  For more information, give us a call at 824-6922 or visit our facebook page.

Locust Township

 

Locust Township derives its name from a stream, which runs through a portion of this territory.  Most of the early settlers stayed close to the timber along Locust Creek and its tributaries.  Among the pioneer settlers were Wesley Westbrook in 1835, G. Wash Cheek and Mr. Harlick in 1838, Josiah Anderson in 1839, Thomas D. Chastain, Matthew Durbin, James Bradley and Thomas Bradley came in 1846 and Joseph P. Durbin in 1850.  Other early settlers of this area were Martin Overholt, Elisha Logsdon, James Durbin, Elisha Durbin, W. H. Madison, James M. Painter, B. C. Cochran, John McCune, Edward Lawton, John White, William Hunter, Achilles Morris and William Lawton.

 

The lands for this township were originally surveyed in 1819 but the first land entries were not until 1836.  W. S. Russel entered 160 acres in NE quarter Section 18, 82/100 acres in NW quarter, and 138 acres in SW quarter and 160 acres in SE quarter.  Hiram B. Roundtree entered 39 acres that year in Section 5 and Zadoc C. Roundtree 52/100 acres in Section 6. 

 

There were a few families living here when the county was organized, however most came after 1850.  In September 1858 the county formed Locust Precinct with Joseph P. Durbin, James Bradley and Seth W. Benepe the first judges of election.  The place of voting was at Benepe’s school house, located in Section 16.  The first constables were G. Wash Cheek and John W. Hunter.  Then a number of emigrants from Ohio and other areas settled here and the wild prairie was soon dotted over.  In the early years the farmers grew corn and used it for feed for their stock.  They would drive their hogs to market in St. Louis, one hundred miles away.   Soon the railroads were built in the county and hogs could be shipped by rail.  In the winter of 1855-56 the first lot of hogs was shipped by Dr. U. C. McCoy, Joshua Pepper and John White.  They had six carloads from Pana and were the first on the completed Terre Haute, Alton and St. Louis Rail.  In 1855 William Hunter brought the first threshing-machine to Christian County and it was used all over the county.

 

In 1866 when the township organized the first supervisor was B. C. Cochran and John W. Hunter and Philip Baker the justices of the peace.

 

The O & M Railroad ran diagonally through the township.  It enters in Section 6 and leaves in Section 36.  There are two stations on the line, Owaneco and Millersville.

 

The population according to the 1870 census was 825.  In 2010 the population was 1,825 with 36.1 square miles. 

 

Old Owaneco

 

This was a small settlement about 2 miles south of the present village of Owaneco.  There were only a few houses in the area.  The old grocery store and saloon was a popular place on a public road from Taylorville to Pana.  It was located at an early date, on the north-west corner of Section 27 and was a lively place with races and shooting matches.  As the population increased the demand for postal service did also.  There was only then a tri-weekly stage carrying passengers and mail from Taylorville through Dollville to Pana.  In 1857 the post office was established and was the first in the township.  Judge Vandeveer suggested the name Owaneco.  J. M Weaver was the first postmaster in a little frame building on the border of Locust Creek timber near the residence of Joseph P. Durbin.  In the office were kept a few dry goods, groceries and an abundant supply of cheap whiskey.  The house was sold once for failure to pay IRS whiskey tax.  The post office changed hands several times.  This settlement ceased to be in existence when the railroad passed in 1869 and Owaneco was established on the railroad.

 

Owaneco

 

The present town of Owaneco is located on the SW quarter of the SW quarter of Section 15 and part of the SE quarter of Section 16.  It was laid out in 1869 and derived its name from the nearby post office.

 

In 1880 there was a physician and druggist, a flour mill, a saddle and harness shop, a grocer, a postmaster sold dry goods and groceries, a grain dealer and blacksmith and wagon maker. 

 

By 1891, on the north side of the railroad there were two churches, hotel, harness shop, grain office, carpenter shop, mill and a depot.  There were also 28 houses.  The Owaneco depot was moved there from Campbellsburg in Buckhart Township.  This depot in 1986 was saved and moved to the Christian County Historical Society grounds.   

 

On the south side of the railroad was a schoolhouse, shoe store, wagon shop, blacksmith shop, meat market and butcher, six stores, the post office, grain offices, an elevator and crib, opera house and the doctor’s office.  There were also 19 houses.  Farther to the east of town was a tile factory.

 

Owaneco was incorporated in 1902.  There has been a hardware store, men’s clothing store, grain, hay and lumber dealers, ladies hat and dress shop, harness shop, drug store, bank as well as the post office, depot, blacksmith ship and general store.  They also had a newspaper with a wide circulation.  Today it is but a small shadow of what it once was in the early years.

 

Millersville

 

Millersville also is only a small part of what it once was.  The town is located in Section 26 and was a shipping point halfway between Pana and Owaneco.  It was laid out in 1873 and was built on the land owned by Thomas Miller.  The town contained four blocks.  Ballard and Miller each operated an elevator, Kirkpatrick operated a general store, Price and Wilkersons were the grain dealers.  There was a school, church, blacksmith shop, several stores, a paint shop, stock yards, scales and coal yard, a depot and engine house and the post office.  They also build an Anti-Horse Thief Lodge.  By 1906 there were four passenger trains traveling through daily and a barber shop.

 

Buckeye Prairie

 

The O & M Railroad, formerly SE RR runs diagonally through the township, entering on Section 6 and leaving on Section 36.  The part of the township lying south of Locust Creek forms an area known as Buckeye Prairie.  It derived its name from the emigrants from Ohio, the Buckeye State, who settled in this prairie.  Its first settler on Cottonwood Forks was Martin


 
Overholt, in the fall of 1851.  He built the first house, and moved into it unfinished for the winter.  It was situated on the west half of SW quarter of Section 29.  It was near where the Buckeye schoolhouse later stood.

Lumber for building was not easily obtained.  It was 4 miles to the nearest sawmill.  In 1852 and 1853 several other families came from Ohio.  Among them were John McCune, B. C.

Cochran and William Hunter.  They built houses near Martin Overholt’s.  There was nothing here.  It was quite a difference from the land they came from.  They eventually had a little colony of 22 people.  Soon the Buckeye School house was built in 1856 in Section 31 near the head waters of Cottonwood Creek.  By 1855 church services were being held at the cabins of Hunter, Witlow and Cowgill.   Soon the Methodists held worship service at the Buckeye school and the Christian Society alternated their worship there after using B. C. Cochran’s residence. 

 

Joshua Pepper, besides shipping hogs, in 1856 built the first dry kiln on the prairie.  He succeeded with the difficulties of the clay cracking during drying and built the first brick house very near the center of the prairie, just over the line in Rosamond Township.

 

 

The Buckeye Church was built in 1867.  One acre of ground was donated by James Maguire for the church site.  As was the custom then, the men and boys used one door and the women and girls used the other end and sat on opposite sides of the church.  This tradition was eliminated in 1920 after the church remodeling.   This little white church, sitting on the SE corner of Section 31 in the center of Buckeye Prairie continues today.

 

 

 

 

Velma

 

This was a small village located on the railroad in the SW quarter of section 5 on land owned by Hiram Shumway.  He built a store and kept the post office in the later 1890’s.  The store changed hands several times.  There was also a machine shop, elevator and the railroad station.  Shumway named the town Velma in honor of his daughter.  In 1930 the elevator burned.  When Route 29 was laid to follow the railroad into Taylorville in the late 1960’s most of the town property was bought by the state for the right of way and the buildings were razed.

 

The Churches of Locust Township played a large part in the lives of the people.  There was the Millersville Methodist Episcopal, Owaneco Methodist Episcopal, Buckeye Methodist and the Free-Methodist of Owaneco. 

 

There are five known cemeteries in Locust.  One Unknown in Section 20 and Durbin Cemetery, in Section 27, donated by Mrs. Logsdon, whose maiden name was Durbin, in 1853 and used until 1914.  The Owaneco Cemetery and the Buckeye Cemetery are both still in use today.  The Donner Cemetery is one of the oldest of the pioneer cemeteries in the county.  It was set aside in 1837.  It is located 2 miles west of Owaneco and contains the grave of a Revolutionary soldier, Jonathon Hincklin.  It is still in use today.

 

The schools of Locust Township were many.  The Johnson School in Section 18 was located about two miles west of Owaneco, on the Owaneco Blacktop Road.  The Owaneco School was built in 1868 and soon an upper floor was built, paid for and used by the Masonic Lodge.  It was also for the voting place, town meetings and church services before the Methodist church was built.  In 1906 a new brick school was erected on the northwest corner of town.  It was used as a grade and high school and closed due to consolidation.  The old building was demolished in a tornado in 1974.

 

Resler School, also known as Tater Eye, was located two miles east of Owaneco.  In Millersville the first school building burned and was replaced by a larger one.  After consolidation of the Christian County schools, it became a part of the Pana schools.  The building was sold and moved away.   

 

Benepe, thought to be the first in the township, was a crude log structure.  It was the place of the first voting in the township when the judges were Joseph P. Durbin, James Bradley and Seth W. Vermillion. 

 

Madison School was formed in 1862 under the direction of three men.  It was about 1 ½ miles south of Velma.   

 

Pleasant Valley School was another early school.  It was erected by John Ward.  The school was destroyed by fire in 1909, rebuilt and later closed. 

 

Lawton School was located 1 ½ miles north of Owaneco.  It was known as Pumpkin Ridge also.  It, like many others, was the gathering place for the activities of the early days. 

 

Meyers School was located about ¼ mile south of Velma in the northeast corner of Section 8.  Durbin College School, which had only one pupil when it closed in 1935 was another. 

 

Buckeye School was built in 1856 on the northeast corner of Section 31.  During the winter of 1855-56, three men, Overholt, McCune and Cochran met at the house of Joshua Pepper and arranged the Buckeye district in order to have a school built.  They voted a tax for the building of the school house and it was built in the summer of 1856.  It served as the center of the community and also for the place of worship until the Buckeye Church was built ten years later.  The school operated until 1947-48.  It was then purchased and moved to the George Wilhour farm across the road.  For more than 30 years this old school building was used as a farm storage shed. 

 

In 1981 the Christian County Historical Society purchased the building.  It was moved, restored and is now on the Society grounds in Taylorville.  The one room school house is preserved for all the future generations.

 

 

 

 

 

May Township

 

At first this territory was attached to Taylorville and Stonington precincts but in 1866 when townships were organized it was a separate township and named Smith Township.   It was intended to honor Thomas Smith, who was at that time a resident of the township in Section 15.  It was then changed to Howard, but as there was already a township by that name, it had to be changed again.  It was named May in honor of Colonel May who served bravely in the artillery in the Mexican War.

 

The area was originally heavily timbered with several kinds of wood and forest trees.  This timber was the supply necessary for fuel, building and fencing purposes for many years.  It is well supplied with streams.  This

Township was more favored that some of the other sections of the county at a very early time due to having milling facilities. 

 

 

When the township was organized the Justice of the Peace was B. M. Burdick and the first supervisor was John S. Fraley.  The pioneer settlers were John Shanock, John Estes, Benjamin Williams, William B. Hall, David Hall, O. Banning, Daniel C. Goode, Hiram Walker, Thomas Dawson, William Rolls, Gabriel McKenzie and their families.  Some of the above were here before the organization of the county. 

 

The first land records entered was March, 1833, Peter R. Ketcham, NW NE Section 3 for 40.45 acres,  in February, 1834 was Daniel C. Goode the W ½ NW Section 19 of 69.19 acres and W ½ SW Section 18 for 74.88 acres and Joseph N. Bennefield in October 1834 the NW NW Section 17 for 40 acres.

 

Many of the residents of May Township are also old settlers of the county.  Among them are William B. Hall who settled in this county in 1835 and his wife Eloisa Moore Hall who came here in 1838.   Nancy Willey came to this county of 1844, while her husband Stephen Willey settled here in 1837.  Robert A. Hazlett became a resident in 1827 and his wife Elizabeth Steel Hazlett came to Christian County in 1829.

 

Other old settlers were Silas Harris, David Rutledge, James S. Grant, James M. Galloway, Joseph Bugg, Thomas Smith, Thomas Bugg, John S. Fraley, J. D. Allsman, John Tedlie, Joseph Fund and William Tedlie.

 

The first mill was erected in the southwest part of the township, in 1836 about four miles east of Taylorville by Isaac Harris.  This old mill house stood on Spring Branch for many years serving as an old landmark of the past.  The Chatham saw mill also sawed native lumber of oak and walnut.  George and John Harris owned a saw mill which was located in Section 20.  B. F. Aiken’s grist mill was located in Section 12 and was run with old fashioned heavy mills stones that were bought in France. 

 

 

The highest point in May Township is 630 feet above sea level and is located ¼ mile east of the Stonington road in Section 15.  This is where many settlers obtained sand to make mortar to plaster their houses, to chink log cabins and to build chimneys.  This sand has a slight amount of clay mixture in it from the second Illinois glacier and does not make a lasting plaster. 

 

Abraham Morgret operated a cider press, molasses mill, saw mill, ice house and blacksmith ship, all of which were located on the west side of the Stonington Road just across Flat Branch. 

 

In May of 1870 this township had a population of 681.  The 2010 census lists the township with a total of 36.41 square miles and the population is 1581. 

 

 

 

 

Waddell Settlement

 

The area along the Assumption-Stonington Road in Sections 22 and 27 was known as the Waddell Settlement because of the number of families of that name who settled in the vicinity.  One of the descendants states that at one time there were 12 families of Waddells living in May Township.  The Waddell families and Closkey families purchased between two and three sections of what was then Smith Township in Sections 8, 22, 23, 26, 27, 28 and 34.  The Illinois Central Railroad was built in 1851 and John Waddell was appointed the real estate agent.  He settled a good many families in old Smith Township.  Several of these families would be the Longs, Stephens, Wallaces, Coonrods and Atkinsons and others.

 

 

Clawson’s Point

 

There was a settlement at the head waters of Spring Creek that ran northward through the east sections in Township 25 on the Taylorville to Assumption Road.  Many travelers from Shelbyville to Springfield found lodging for the night there.  It soon became a resting point in the travels across the prairie.  There was no known post office, store or blacksmith shop.  There were only a few houses in the vicinity and this place served as sort of an inn.

 

Sandersville

 

Nicholas Sanders came to Illinois in 1837 and settled in Section 1 of May Township.  About 1851 he opened a store and it became considerably important and the center of a large trade.    For a number of years he was the post master and served as a justice of the peace.  When the railroads came through and were built business was drawn to other locals and the place soon diminished.

 

Long’s Store

 

This was located on the east boundary of May Township, ½ mile north of the Assumption Road.  These little country stores served the community with material items and as meeting places to learn the news of the day.

 

Willeys

 

This was formerly called Willey Station after Israel Willey who gave the land for the town.  He came here in 1844 entered the tract of land and lived there until his death.  This town in located in Section 6 on the old Toledo, Wabash and Western Railroad.  Stephen Willey laid out the town and built and owned the station house.  There were several stores, an elevator, a depot, post office, school and several residences.  After Israel Willey’s death the store was bought by F. F. Weiser and used as a mercantile business, as it was the only store then.  Mr. Weiser also served as post master, was a grain dealer and was the agent for the Wabash, St. Louis and Pacific Railroad.

 

There were many schools in this township as it was an important part of the settlers’ lives. 

 

The Washington School was located in Section 3 on the SE corner of a T road.  The school house was moved to Stonington and made into a home.  The only thing left was an old concrete storm cellar surrounded by a clump of brush.   The Willeys School was located in the village.  A teacher at the school, Miss Velma Waddle, taught 34 of her 42 years at that school.  When the school was consolidated, the students were bussed into Stonington, Brushy Branch and Taylorville.  The white frame building was used as a meeting place for several years afterwards. 

 

The Pleasant Hill School was first called the Tedlie School and was located in Section 16 across from the Town Hall.  The school was closed in the 1940’s and the site was used to stockpile road rock in later years. 

The Willowdale Schools was located in the NW corner of Section 14.  Spring Creek School was located in the NW corner of Section 34.  It was separated from the Tedlie School when the new Pleasant Hill school was built. 

 

The Fraley School was on the west side of old Route 29 in Section 31.  It was named for the John Fraley family.  It was later used as a home.

 

The Brushy Branch School was built on an acre of ground in Section 25, south of the Co. Hwy. 6.   It is believed the first school was a log house about a mile to the northeast.  The first frame building was built in 1864 close to the stream that bears the same name.  In 1900 a new building was competed.  In May 1927 a few days after dismissal of school for the summer, a tornado wrecked the building beyond repair.  A new building was erected.  It was one of the few rural schools left open during consolidation.  Spring Creek was 2 miles away and Maple Grove school only 3 miles north east in Prairieton Township.  They were moved in and attached to make the one room school a three room schoolhouse when the other two schools were closed.    It too finally closed for consolidation.

 

One of the oldest churches is Old Stonington Baptist Church.  In 1831, a North Stonington, Connecticut church sent three of their members to find a suitable location for them to expand to.  By 1837 they had established their homes and organized the church at Stonington, Sangamon County, IL.  There have been 4 church buildings on the site.  The first three burned.  The last church was built in 1925.  It is still serving the community today.

 

 

The Willowdale Methodist Church was located in the NE corner of Section 12.  It was built in 1887 and was disbanded in 1921 when it was moved to Millersville where it was used for the church that was destroyed by fire there.  That church then closed in 1969 and the building was sold.

 

Spring Creek United Presbyterian Church was situated about 6 miles west of Taylorville in Section 22.  It was on the SE corner of the intersection of Assumption Blacktop and the Owaneco-Stonington Road.  The first sermon was preached in 1852 at the home of John Waddell and the church was erected in 1857.  The church had occasional services until 1917. 

 

Free Methodist Church was in Section 30 at the west end of the Assumption Blacktop Road at the T intersection with the old Route 29 road.

 


The Bethany United Brethren Church was organized in 1884 and located in Section 32 of May Township, south of the Assumption Road on old Route 29.  A ½ acre square was deeded for the purpose of a house of worship by Emily Schumway.

We are in the final planning stages.  We hope everyone will participate in the parade, beard contest, apron contest, send entries for the time capsule, buy a license plate, come to the courthouse and/or visit the civil war reenactment at the historical society. Please visit www.celebrate175.com for more info.

This year Taylorville and Christian County are celebrating 175 years.  The celebration will be October 4th and 5th.  This is a series of articles on the history of Christian County and its townships.  Most of the information came from the quarterlies and library of the Christian County Genealogical Society.  Our library is housed in the Pence Building at the Christian County Historical Society.  For more information, give us a call at 824-6922 or visit our facebook page.

 

King Township

 

King Township is in the extreme south-western part of Christian County.  It is twelve miles long by three miles wide.  King originally formed a part of Bear Creek Precinct.  The land was originally surveyed about 1819, but even after the organization of the county, it was relatively unsettled.  It was remote from any market, and was so low that much of it was submerged and thought useless until modern drainage systems.  Soon it became sparsely settled.  

 

In 1866 when the townships were organized, it was named King for the family who were early residents.  At the election, Wm. A. Potts was the first supervisor with Thos. F. Potts and Jesse J. King the first justices of the peace. 

 

The land in the north half of the township is thickly settled with various owners.  A lake or large swamp lies in the south-east part of the township, in parts of Sections 35 and 36.  In the bottom tier of sections there is very little natural drainage.  Malaria was common until good drainage occurred after the 1900’s.  Ditches were dug to the south and tile laid to drain into them.  This has now helped this precinct become a great agricultural producing area. 

 

The first land entered in the township was 1851 by James McKinney of 40 acres in SE half of NW quarter in Section 35, Arthur Bradshaw of 40 and 70/100 acres in W. Half, Lot 2, NW quarter in Section 3, Henry Parrish of 80 acres in lot 1 of NW quarter and E half of lot 2 in NW quarter of 40 and 37/100 in Section 3 and Wm. Clower of 160 acres in SW quarter and SE quarter of 160 acres in Section 3.

 

 As King is the most recent settled township there are few old settlers living in it.  Capt. Jesse Hanon, son of Martin Hanon, the first settler of Christian County, is one of the oldest native born citizens of the county, but only lived in King Township for a few years.  Some of the leading farmers of the region were J. H. Adams, M. F. Cheney, W. A. Potts and Hatten Gaskins. 

 

The population in 1870 was 413.  The 2010 census says the township has 36.66 square miles and a population of 244. 

 

North King Township

 

Many of the families in the north end centered their trading and traveling more in Pawnee and Virden, as it was only 15 miles to the west in Macoupin County.  Virden, being on the route from St. Louis to Alton to Springfield was important to north King Township as many of the early settlers came on that route to Virden and then to the Christian County prairie and swamp lands.  The route is now a county road known as the Virden-Taylorville Road.

 

 Other residents living in the north part of King were more than ten miles from a town and so grew dependent on the country stores.  They centered activities around the country stores and local schools.   The first religious meetings were held in the country schools and as the size grew a church was built.

 

White Oak

 

This was located in the southwest corner of Section 5 and later the NE corner of Bois D’ Arc Township in Montgomery County and was the general store, blacksmith shop and mail service.   The White Oak Circuit held church classes at various times at Shiloh and King Schools in King Township and White Oak, Star and Lone Elm Schools in Bois D’Arc Township and Maple Grove and Brookside, Palmer and Clarksdale in Bear Creek Township and Providence in Johnson Township.

 

 

Shiloh

 

The Shiloh community served the local residents for many years.  The Shiloh Methodist Church was built in 1875 on the northeast corner of Section 10 in King Township.  It also provided a variety of social activities in this rural area.  It closed in the early 1950’s due to declining enrollment.  The Shiloh School was located on the half-mile line on the north side of Section 11.  It closed due to consolidation of the schools and the building was moved west and made into a home.

 

Zenobia

 

Zenobia was started in 1872. It was first located in the NE corner of Section 33 of Pawnee Township in Sangamon County.  Later a new building was built about ¾ of a mile south and was called the Weber Store, owned by William Weber.  It served the community with items and a doctor.  The blacksmith, barber and tile yard were located across the road in South Fork Township.  Several homes were built also.  The store became Zenobia in 1899 when the post office was established and the name changed.  As the town grew up, some of the buildings and residences were in Christian and some in Sangamon.  In the 1960’s the store was closed and shortly after torn down.  Of the original village, the barber shop still stands, abandoned and a reminder of the community. 

 

The Zenobia Baptist Church stood on the northeast corner of Section 9 of Bois D’Arc Township in Montgomery County across from King Township on the County Line.    It began as a small mission of the Bois D’Arc Church which was located years ago, 6 miles west, on the intersection of the Virden-Taylorville Road and Interstate 55.  That church was established in 1875.  In later years the building was moved to Springfield and is part of a Baptist church.  Some members first met at the Zenobia Hall, above the store, and was organized in 1897 with 37 members.  Plans were made to erect a church building and it was dedicated in 1899 as Zenobia Baptist Church.  It served the community until 1994 when it was burned and members chose not to rebuild.

 

The schools in North King were Shiloh, King and Evergreen.  King was located in the NE quarter of Section 35, west of the corner on the quarter mile line.  It was closed due to consolidation.  Evergreen was located on the half-mile line on the south side of Section 14.  When the schools consolidated in the 1940’s this school remained a few more years, serving as a first, second and third grade classroom.  When the school finally closed, the building was moved to the Morrisonville School grounds and used for a band room.

 

South King Township

 

The Morrisonville Cemetery lies in this township.  It is 11 acres of land located two miles west of the town.  It was deeded to the village of Morrisonville in 1879 by Mrs. Ann Shephard, however is not in Ricks Township as Morrisonville is.

 

Harvel

Only a small portion of Harvel lies in Christian County.  It is the only partial town within King Township.  It is located in Section 34.  It is believed that in 1855 the Tulpin family moved to the area south of the present site.  They built a house and small store and called it Colfax City.  When the railroad was laid out there was already an Illinois town named that so the name was changed.  After the completion of the railroad the house and store were moved to the location that is now Harvel.  It was named for John Harvel, the first man to build at the present site. 


 
The schools of South King were Prosperity and D’Arcy. Prosperity was first in the SW corner of Section 23.  In 1914 a new building was built across the corner on the NW corner of Section 25.  The original building was pulled to Harvel by a steam engine and placed on Geiselman’s property and used for a machine shop and garage until it burned down.  The new building was used until consolidation and the building was destroyed by lightning.  The D’Arcy school was located on the east side of Section 11, south of the Morrisonville-Farmersville Road.  It was used until consolidation of the school district and was the building was then made into a home.

We are in the final planning stages.  We hope everyone will participate in the parade, beard contest, apron contest, send entries for the time capsule, buy a license plate, come to the courthouse and/or visit the civil war reenactment at the historical society. Please visit www.celebrate175.com for more info.

 

 

 

 

This year Taylorville and Christian County are celebrating 175 years.  The celebration will be October 4th and 5th.  This is the fourth of a series of articles on the history of Christian County and its townships.  Most of the information came from the quarterlies and library of the Christian County Genealogical Society.  Our library is housed in the Pence Building at the Christian County Historical Society.  For more information, give us a call at 824-6922 or visit our facebook page.

 

 Greenwood Township

 

For many years this area was sparsely settled.  The early settlers put up their cabins on the skirts of the timber, while thousands of acres of wild prairie lay untouched.  The prairie grass could grow up to ten feet tall.  It covered huge sections of the land in mounds and when blooming looked blue.   These beautiful broad acres finally began to attract the eye of immigrants and land that once couldn’t be sold for $1.25 an acre soon went to $20.00 an acre.

 

The whole section of this country was first attached to the Taylorville Precinct.  This was a major inconvenience and in 1852 the people made a move to have a new precinct voting area.  By March 1852 the new Nevada Precinct was passed.  This was the ninth precinct formed in the county.  The first place of voting was the Nevada School House but by 1855 was changed to the Sassafras School House. 

 

James Pierce, James Linn and Henry Riggs were the first election judges and Robert S. Welch the justice of the peace.  Soon Henry C. Dickson was the other justice of the peace and Madison Busby and William Linn elected as constables.

 

Among the oldest settlers were Mylo and Duane Skinner, William Virden, John McClurg, Chris K. Durbin, George Wilcox, Daniel E. Walker, Bradley Skinner, Josephus and Leonard Durbin, Madison and John Busby, Old Nathan Durbin, Francis J. White, Domenick Simpson, H. C. Dickson, Peter Klinefelter, Daniel Micenhammer, John and John W. and Andrew S. Miller, Edgar M. Thompson, John Carman, Dr. D. C. Goodan, Jerry Welch, George Compton, Peter Oller, H. J. Shaffer, T. L. Bacon, Henry Riggs, William Linn and Willam Sheham.

 

In 1866 the precinct of Nevada came to an end and was succeeded by Greenwood Township.  Part of it was then absorbed by Johnson Township.  The name Greenwood was because of its beautiful groves of timber. 

 

A new election of officers was held and George W. Taylor was elected supervisor with James Miller and Madison Busby the first justices of the peace.

 

The first land transaction was Feb, 1836 by William Virdin for 80, 40 and 160 acres, all in section 36.  This was followed in April by Charles Sprague entering 160 acres in section 21.

 

This township is one of the best wheat and corn producing in the county with lots of grazing and feeding of stock on the many farms. 

It is believed the first church was the Fairview United Methodist church in section 13, on land donated by Andrew Miller, a teacher and farmer.  He deeded the land in 1868 for a church and burial ground.  He died and was buried there in May of 1869. 

 

 

 

This township has never had an incorporated town.  History has said there were two stores but they were gone by 1920.  One was in section 16 run by Mose Davis and Mr. Shafer had one in section 30.   

 

Five country schools were scattered across the township.  The first voting of Nevada township was in the Nevada Schoolhouse.  There was also Sassafras, Noble, Skinner, Compton and Gopher Hill, which was the last of the schools to close when it was consolidated with Nokomis units in 1956.  The 2010 census says the population is 208 with 36.68 square miles.

 

Vanderville

 

This was once a thriving community.  Many founding families of this area still remain on the land in this area in Section 3. 

 

The Vandever family were residents at that time with large land holdings and the community was named after them.

The land was first settled by Richard Fines, an immigrant from Ireland.  The Vanderville store was built about 1896 by his son, William.  The lumber for the store was hauled to the site after being purchased at the lumber yard in Pana.  It was the first load of lumber sold there.

 

It was a large, two-story building with a store and dwelling area on the bottom level and large open area upstairs.  This became a dance hall, boxing ring or meeting place.  There was also latera post office in the store and the mail was brought out from Taylorville and then delivered to the residents.  By 1900 the post office was closed and the mail service became rural Morrisonville.  The store burned in 1923 and a new larger one was built north of the location of the old one.  The new store closed in the 1950’s.    Also in the area was a black smith, harness shop, a doctor and a barber shop. 

 

Johnson Township

 

For many years this area remained sparsely settled and unoccupied.  A large portion of the territory is prairie.  A few settlers built log cabins near the timber in the early days and made some improvements, but the majority was acres of blue stem and other prairie grasses.

 

For many years after the organization of the county, this area was in the South Precinct.  The voting place was at the John Z. Durbin residence in Township 24.    The northern two-thirds was attached to the Taylorville Precinct and the south was attached to the Nevada Precinct.  In 1866 the reorganization of the townships it was first named Douglas, after the Illinois statesman who debated Lincoln, but then changed to Johnson.

 

The names of some of the early settlers in this area are John Z. Durbin in Section 24 and Jesse Hinkle on Section 28 in 1837.  John Vinson, Abram Lantz, Wm. Durbin, Benj. Harris, Lemuel Raney, John Clark, Dr. J. H. Clark, Jeremiah Welch, Benj. Vinson, Samuel McKenzie, W. S. Berry, Noel Rape, Samuel Angel, John Keller, J. W. Morgan, Henry Baker, Jacob Funderburk, Joseph Dawson, John Bowman, Alex. Johnson, Henry Rape, Richard Johnson, Dr. U. C. McCoy, A. J. Willey, Thomas E. Voss, Peter Brown, Samuel Large and J. H. Calloway.

 

The first election of officers in 1866 were then Tavner Anderson as Supervisor and Samuel Shivers and Richard Culley as Justices of the Peace.  The voting place then was fixed at the residence of Shivers in Section 16 as this was the most convenient since it was central to all.  The total population around this time was 640.

 

The first land entries were in 1836 of Thomas Young, Sr. 80 acres in Section 5, Jesse Murphy with 86 acres in Section 6 and Hiram Roundtree with 78 acres in Section 1.

 

The Mound is a community situated in the southern part of the Township in Section 27.  It gets its name from the large earthen glacier hill situated in that area.    Many of the early settlers migrated here from Ohio and settled near each other.  These families are Chesterman, Dappert, Brookens, Resler, Large and others.  There is a Mound Chapel and cemetery and Mound School.

 

There were several schools scattered across this township.  The Mound School was in Section 26 on the Chesterman Farm.  In 1866 the school district changed and the building was moved about a mile to Section 35.  Another early school was Bloody Gympsun in Section 22.   As the township became populated, this school was moved to make the distance to travel shorter.  It was then located to Section 16, being near the center of the district and became known as Center School.  In the southeast corner of Section 2 was the Dawson School.  It was near the site of Dollville.  The Duval School was in Section 3, to the west off the Taylorville-Nokomis Road.  Located in Section 7 was Hazel Green.   This school was demolished in a storm in 1927.  It was rebuilt and used until consolidation in the 1960’s.  Oak Ridge School was in Section 14.  The Douglas school was in Section 29.

 

According to the 2010 census, the population of the township was 673 with a total area of 37.26 square miles of which 1.63 miles is water.

 

Dollville

 

This small settlement was located in the southeast corner of Section 2 of Johnson Township.  The Great Western Stage passed through three times a week from Taylorville to Pana and Vandalia.  As the stage came out of Taylorville, it traveled south and came into Dollville from the west to avoid the quick sands in the bottom lands.  When leaving Dollville the stage crossed Section 12 to the southeast and crossed the stream at Greasy Neck and on to Owaneco.  There was a store, blacksmith shop, a post office and a school.  With the passing of the stage and time the town ceased to exist. 

 

Half Acre

 

Edward Bradley purchased a one-half acre in the northwest corner of Section 8 in Johnson Township.  This was on the north side of the stream in 1855.  He named it “Half Acre.”  He opened a store and a saloon.  There were several cabins, a saw mill, a blacksmith shop and possibly a post office for the few families who located there.  It became a half-way town for those too tired to finish the journey from Bear Creek to Taylorville.  It was a flourishing settlement until a criminal element gained control.  It then became known as “Hell’s Half Acre” due to the roughness of the place.  This settlement was destroyed in the storm of 1880 which swept through much of the county.  In the midst of the raging storm the saloon was struck by lightning and burned. 

 

Lake Taylorville

 

Lake Taylorville was dedicated on June 30, 1962.  It covers 1300 acres with water, laying mostly in what was Johnson Township.  This area, with 44 miles of shoreline, was annexed to the city of Taylorville.

We are in the final planning stages.  We hope everyone will participate in the parade, beard contest, apron contest, send entries for the time capsule, buy a license plate, come to the courthouse and/or visit the civil war reenactment at the historical society. Please visit www.celebrate175.com for more info.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


This year Taylorville and Christian County are celebrating 175 years.  The celebration will be October 4th and 5th.  This is the third of a series of articles on the history of Christian County and its townships.  Most of the information came from the quarterlies and library of the Christian County Genealogical Society.  Our library is housed in the Pence Building at the Christian County Historical Society.  For more information, give us a call at 824-6922 or visit our facebook page.

 

Bear Creek Township

 

Bear Creek Township was named from the tradition that an immense bear was killed on the creek that now carries the same name.  Prior to the organization of Christian County, the township was part of Montgomery until 1839.  Many of the early justices of the peace and constables were elected while it was part of Montgomery and Joseph P. Durbin and Richard Simpson were for many years the magistrates of the region.

 

The earliest white settlers, arriving in 1829 was Joseph P. Durbin, James M. Logsdon, Nathan Painter and John Durbin.  They came from Maryland in covered wagons.  The story goes that a wagon wheel broke down while going through Bear Creek and they pitched a tent and later homesteaded in a crude log cabin on the west side of Bear Creek.  They hunted bears, deer and other game.  Wild grapes and plums grew everywhere.  Bees formed hives and furnished honey.   In 1830 Sylvester, Nathan and Philip Durbin, all of the same family came to the area, followed by Old William and Thomas Durbin.  They settled on the prairie on the east side of the creek.  Together they formed a settlement.  The winter of 1830-1831 is known as the winter of the deep snow.  Thomas Durbin told of cutting down elm trees for the stock to eat.  Later, the stumps that were visible for years afterward were 6 to 7 feet high.  The first years were rugged with bitter cold winters and inadequate shelters.   The first settlers located near the creeks, not realizing the value of the prairieland. 

 

Once it was learned how rich the prairie land was, more settlers arrived.  Other early settlers were Walter Clark, John Baker, Col. Thomas Bond, Garbriel Jernigan, and Alfred Currie.  There was also the McCollum, Ricks, Meads, Glass and Elliott families from 1831 to1836.  Hiram Glass was the first carpenter and helped to build one-room cabins.  They had dirt floors, no windows and one door.  Each had a fireplace that was used for heating and cooking.   In July, 1832, Jesse Agee entered the first land in the township, it being 40 acres on Section 9.  The summer saw raging prairie fires, nearly wiping out the settlement.  There were no stores, churches or schools.  In March 1837, Thomas Anderson settled on section 15.  A log church was erected on his farm and the old graveyard was settled on this tract.  In the ravine below the church was the first distillery in the township.  A wooden mortar for crushing corn was used until Joseph P. Durbin started a mill by using two stones he found on the prairie.   Patrons had to furnish their own power by hitching up teams.  Soon a saw mill was built on the banks of Bear Creek, in 1838 by R. O. and W. C. Warriner using the water to furnish the power.  Because of this mill, a large amount of lumber was sawed and hauled to Springfield.  The first distillery was established by John Baker in 1835.  According to the 2010 census, the township has a total area of 85.83 square miles.

 

Harper’s Ferry

Harper’s Ferry was established as a post office, store and wayside station for the stage couch on the Old Edwardsville Road.  It was on the east side of Bear Creek, near Jernigan’s Bridge.  It was a general store with dry goods and groceries and flourished until new towns sprung up along the railroad and it was abandoned. 

 

Jernigan’s Bridge

This bridge was located crossing the stream in Section 22.  Gabriel Jernigan settled in 1835 and the bridge was built north of his land and named in his honor.  This bridge served in locating other sites.  He was elected Treasurer of the county.

 

Bond’s Point

Bond’s Point was the site of the first post office.  Col. Thomas Bond arrived, improved the land and erected buildings.  It was was established on a point of timber on Section 23 in 1835.  It was a noted place of generous hospitality and lodged many weary travelers in his cabins.

 

Clarksdale


Clarksdale was named in honor of Y. B. Clark and at one time had a population of 150.  The town was platted in 1871 and laid out by Clark.  The post office was established in 1870.  A flouring mill was also erected which burned in 1876.  The school house, erected in 1871 was directed by Clark, E. K. Brock and S. W. Hawkins.   There was a general store, grain business, elevator, wagon repair ship, hotel and blacksmith ships. 

 

 

Wallaceville

This was small village west of Clarksdale before the railroad was located.  It was on land owned by Mr. Wallace.  There was a blacksmith shop, store, post office, school and church.  It was also a stage route that finally gave way to the building of Clarksdale.

 

Palmer

The village of Palmer was laid out in early 1869 by J. H. Boyd and J. M. Simpson. It was given the name for John M. Palmer, the governor of Illinois at the time.  There was a store, hotel, post office and other places of business.  Because of the fertile soil and its location on the Wabash railroad it continued to grow.  Its bank and grain elevator were quite large and widely used. 

 

Buckhart Township

 

Some of the earliest settlements in the county were made in this township.  It was not surveyed by the government until 1821 and for several years the emigrants exercised “squatters” rights.  It is quite large, having 57 sections instead of the normal 36 per township.  Some of the present precinct was originally part of West and South Fork precincts, however when the county population increased and due to the inconvenience of trying to cross the rivers, a new precinct boundary was formed and named Buckhart in 1855. 

 

The first settler was Titus Gragg who came in 1820, erected a cabin and improvements on the edge of the timber near the site of Campbellsburg.  From the South Fork history, it is said that he was a blacksmith.  All the family, save one grandson, died very suddenly and mysteriously.  They were all buried on the same farm, with no stone.  Evidently some kind friend carved their names into a tree and that marked the spot for many years.  When Samuel Williams travelled to Sangamon County in 1821, this was the only cabin he came across and slept in after leaving Terre Haute, Indiana. 

 

Wm. McCallister was a pioneer settler as early as 1824.  He settled a mile north-west of Edinburg.  The family, save one son, all died on the forty acre farm and were buried there. 

 

John and Joseph Brown settled in 1825.  They stayed until 1829, entered the land and sold it in 1832.  Abner and Joseph McLean also came in 1825 and settled Blue Point farm.  Wm. Bragg settled below Campbell’s Point in 1825.  William and John George settled in 1827.  The second entry of land in the county was entered by Jacob Cagle in Section 10 in March of 1827.  In 1829 David Stokes came from Kentucky and settled below Campbell’s Point, erected his cabin and improved a farm.  Of his large family, his son, Iverson was one of the proprietors of Campbellsburg.  The original Stokes cabin was used for many years by the Baptists for their meetings and officiated by Elder Stafford and Aaron Vandeveer.  

 

We also have John L. Cagle, David Cagle, Wm. Harvey, Alfred Bishop and Henry Blount as qualifying as snow birds, being here before the deep snow.


Moses Martin improved the old Jesse Hanon farm, two miles south-west of Edinburg.  He was an old settler, a blacksmith by trade and a widower with nine children.  He stayed until 1840.  William Bennefield settled near Campbell’s Point and owned a distillery.  He moved to Blue Point farm, raised a crop, build a flatboat, loaded it with 300 barrels of flour and went down the Sangamon to the Mississippi and to New Orleans where he sold the flour and came back with a fair profit. 

 

 

  

Campbell’s Point

There was no store or settlement here, but other points were located from here.  Shadrach Campbell came to the county in 1829 and settled at the head of the timber.

 

Robinson’s Point or Bethany

This settlement was at one time a hamlet at the head of the timber and was the first in the county.  It was six miles north of Taylorville, and two miles east of Sharpsburg.  It also bore the name of Bethany as did the post office.  The postmaster was David Robinson, where the place took its original name.  It was a way station for the stage line from Shelbyville to Springfield.  Mr. Robinson also had the first store in Christian County from 1835 to 1837.  There was a general store and blacksmith shop.

 

Sharpsburg

The village of Sharpsburg was surveyed and laid off by R. M. Powel in 1870 for William Hargis, the original proprietor.  The first house was erected by A. D. Ebert in 1870.  The first blacksmith was Joseph Hanon in 1870.  The post office was established in 1871 and G. R. Sharp was the first post master, as he and E. A. Hanon kept the first store.  In 1875 the first church was erected by the Methodists.

 

Campbellsburg

This was a station on the O & M railroad, located in Section 10.  The lots were surveyed and laid out in 1870 for John Rodham, Iverson Stokes and Joseph Throwls.  It adjoins the Campbell farm and was named for the pioneer family.  James Stokes built the first house in 1870 and a blacksmith shop.  A store house was built and opened by Allen Stokes.  There was also a depot and freight house from 1870 to 1877.  A school was built.  Once the station house was discontinued by the railroad due to the merging of Blueville and Blue Point, the town’s growth declined and the site was abandoned.  The Campbellsburg depot was moved to Owaneco.  It is now on the grounds of the CC Historical Society since 1986.

 

Blue Point

This was another of the stage line stations.   Its original land entry was Abner and Joseph McLean in 1829.  As it was 20 miles from Springfield, a public inn was established as early as 1830.  The first store was built by Dr. S. Jerald.  In 1838 Robert Allen of Springfield built a Travelers Inn.  This inn was for years one of the landmarks of the county.  When Robert Allen had financial difficulties, Judge Vandeveer appointed Abraham Lincoln as the administrator to settle the 200 acres.  There were several houses, blacksmith shop and general store.  The post office was established in 1839 but with the end of the stage line, this hamlet ended also.

 

Blueville

A post office was established here in 1855.  When the county lines changed, the post office was listed in Sangamon County.  In 1864 the lines changed again and Blueville was again in Christian County.  This town was about a half mile north of the Blue Point stage stand.  Several houses were erected and it was surveyed in 1870 for Wm. Halford.  It was laid out near the center of Section 14.  It had a store and a drug store in 1868.  There was a blacksmith shop and plow manufactory.  The first doctor was H. T. Moore.  It was a quiet prosperous town and had the Methodist church built here.  The name was changed from Blueville to Edinburgh in 1870 and the spelling changed to Edinburg in 1893.

 

Edinburg

The leading city of Buckhart township is really a consolidation of Blueville and Blue Point.  The tract of land was surveyed in 1870 on the old Blue Point site for Daniel DeCamp.  A small stream, Lick Creek passes through the center.  Blueville was the older place and a half mile away.  In 1874 the two towns voted to consolidate and change the name.  Daniel DeCamp also built the first house, a hotel and blacksmith shop.  The first store was kept by Mumford Pool.  The post office was established in 1870 and Daniel DeCamp was

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