HISTORY OF TOWNSHIPS
(The following is a small excerpt of the history of Tazewell County townships from the book “Souvenir of Early and Notable Events in the History of the North West Territory, Illinois and Tazewell County.”)
Fon du Lac Township – T. 26 N. R. 4 W.
Under the provisions of the State Constitution of Illinois, adopted in 1847, counties were privileged to adopt either “County Court” or “Township Organization” form of government. At an election held in 1849, the latter plan was adopted. And the County Court appointed and commissioned Benjamin S. Prettyman, Anson Gillum and John H. Coons, as commissioners, to divide Tazewell County into towns or townships. They began at the northwest corner of the county and fixed the boundaries of the first township as they are now, naming it Fon du Lac.”
Thomas Camlin, (the Daniel Boone of Tazewell County), was an early settler here. He was not only a great hunter, but a genial companion and an inimitable story-teller. Among other early settlers of Fondulac, were Jesse, Absalom and Jacob Funk, Jacob Wilson, Jacob Hepperly, Morgan Buckingham, Horace Crocker, Abraham Brown and Jefferson Husham. (For map of the report of Commissioners and statement of early settlement see elsewhere in this compilation.)
In section 11, Fon du Lac township, there is a mound which was probably used by the pre-historic Mound-builders, for remains have been unearthed that were of giant size. At an early date there was found, in the hollow of a mammoth oak tree, growing on this mound, a human skull, which was held in position by the encircling growth of the tree. After its removal, it was in the possession of a Dr. Hazzard for several years, but to-day its whereabouts are unknown.
The village of Fondulac was laid off June 20, 1855, and Bluetown April 1, 1864. East Peoria was incorporated July 1st, 1884 as Hilton, but in 1889, was changed to its present title, and has virtually absorbed the above named villages.
Washington Township – T. 26 N. Rs 2 and 3 W.
Washington township, east of Fon du Lac, was named after the village and post office of that name. The first election was held in the district school-house in Washington. Wm. Holland was the first settler: he built his log cabin home on section 24, about 1820 or 1821. He was an expert gunsmith and blacksmith, and his services were sought by the pioneers both near and far. James McClure, Joseph Kelso, P.P. Scott, A.M. North, Wm. Weck and Wm. Burr, were among the first settlers. The first log school-house was built on section 22, in 1833, and a Mr. Edmondson was the first school-master. The first church was erected by the Methodist society in 1838. Wm. Holland was the first Justice of the Peace. The village of Washington was laid off by Wm. Holland, March 4, 1834. On March 2nd, 1878, Washington became a city.
Deer Creek Township – T. N.R. 2 W.
The boundaries of Deer Creek remain the same as they were. The first election took place at what was known as the Monmouth school-house. Major R.N. Cullom is credited with having named this township after the creek that courses through it. He was the first settler, locating in 1828. Jas. Harvey, Robert Alexander, John Small, Hugh Ross and six sons were among the early settlers. Rev. Wm. Brown preached the first sermon. The first death was that of a twin brother of Hon. Shelby M. Cullom, James C., the first infant son of R.N. Cullom. The first couple to marry were Samuel Watson and Miss Avira Perry, ‘Squire Hittle tying the nuptial knot. Section 27 contained the first school-house, in 1835, and Miss Nancy Parker was the first teacher. Julia Cullom was the first white child born in Deer Creek township. Matthew Kingman was the first Justice of the Peace. The village of Deer Creek was incorporated September 26th 1899.
Morton Township – T. 25. N.R. 3 W.
Morton township was named in honor of Gov. Morton of Massachusetts. The first election was held at W.W. Campbell’s. A Mr. Soward settled on Section 31 about 1826 or 1827, and built the first pioneer log cabin. He was soon followed by a Mr. Field, Richard Ratliff, Mr. Crosby, John M. Roberts and four sons. Rev. William Brown was the first regular minister. In 1832, section 4 contained the first log school-house. Like nearly all pioneer school-houses, it was used for church and town meeting purposes. The first Justice of the Peace were Joseph Evans and Wm. Sample. The village of Morton was laid off by James M. Campbell on Nov. 12, 1850. Organized in 1887.
Peter Sweitzer has been a continuous member of the Board of Supervisors for over 25 years; Chairman about half of that time, and Chairman of the Permanent Building Committee during the entire time of the construction of the new court house at Pekin. He is the Dean of the Board.
Groveland Township – T. 25 N.R. 3 W.
James Scott was the first settler in Groveland township, building his log cabin home on Section 33, in 1827. Among other old settlers were John O’Brien and Mr. Trimble. Mr. O’Brien was elected Justice of the Peace in 1835, and filled the office with dignity and honor until 1867. Rev. Neele Johnson preached the first sermon in 1843. The boundaries of this township remain as located by the commissioners. The first election took place at the Randolph house in Groveland. This township took its name from the village, which was laid of by Isaac Roberts and Asa L. Davidson, May 30, 1836.
Pekin Township – T. 25 N. R. 5 W.
To Pekin township, as originally bounded, has been added sections one, two, three and four, from Cincinnati on the south. For first settlers, and the very historical facts and reminiscences, see elsewhere in this volume. As Pekin embraces the major part of the township her history is synonymous with that of the township. At the land sales in Springfield, in 1828, the excitement over who should possess such valuable property as that encompassed by “Town Site,” caused knives and pistols to be drawn. But the trouble was amicably adjusted. Major M. Cromwell was at the head of the successful bidders and the purchase was divided into twelve parts.
Cincinnati Township – T. 24 N. R. R. 5 W.
The township of Cincinnati, joining Pekin on the south, lost its northern tier of sections by assignment to Pekin, thus bringing the spot where Jonathan Tharp built his first log cabin within Pekin’s limits. The first election was held in Pekin at the “Cincinnati Hotel.” Maj. Perkins, Elisha Perkins, William Woodrow, Hugh Woodrow, Samuel Woodrow, and John Summers, settled in this township as early as 1826; also Daniel Rankin and brother about the same time. The first school-house was built on the Summers and Woodrow settlement not later than 1828.
South Pekin, in this township, was laid out July 10, 1913.
Elm Grove Township – T. 24 N. R. 4 W.
Elm Grove township has had no change in boundary. First election held at the school-house as the same name. John Dillon was the “advance Guard” of the pioneer settlers, building his crude log cabin home as early as 1823. Among other settlers were Hugh Montgomery, Alex McNight, Israel Shreves, Benj. Briggs, James Scott, Thornton Wilson, Jas. Wright, Thos. Bennett, Levi and Thos. Moulton, John Lord, John and Eli Redman, Rufus North and Alexander Barnes. A year or two later came W. Davis, Martin Miars, W. Edds and H. Davis, the later being the first tanner in the county. The first white child born was Isabella Briggs. The first to depart this life was Elizabeth Wilson. Jesse Dillon built the first school-house in 1826, and Joseph Dillon taught the first school. The Quakers erected he first church in the same year. The Methodists did not build their house of worship until 1842.The good Friend, Dr. Grifflth, was the pioneer physician, as well as the first postmaster.
Tremont Township – T. 24 N. R. 3 W.
After Tremont township was formed, the first election took place at the court house. James Chapman settled on section 16 in 1830. He was soon followed by Wm. Sterling, Wm. and James Broyhill, Michael Trout and David Lackland. Auburn, a short distance north of the present Tremont was the first town laid out in this township, but after the advent of the Tremont colony from New York, in 1834, it was soon abandoned. Margaret Lackland was the first born. A post office was established in 1835, and Josiah James and J.H. Harris were the head of the colony, which laid out the village, and built a school house and church. The first postmaster was Wm. Sampson. The county-seat was moved from Pekin to Tremont in 1836, then back to Pekin in 1849. Tremont remained under district control until March 11, 1835, when it was organized as a town.
Mackinaw Township – T. 24 N. R. 2 W.
Mackinaw township remains the same as to original boundary lines. In 1827, A. Smith made first settlement on section 23, and built the first log house. Among the early settlers were Samuel Judy, Mordecai Mobley, Elijah Sargent, Michael and Jonas Hittle. William Hittle was the first white child born in 1828. The first death was that of Abner Smith, which occurred in 1828. The village of Mackinaw was laid off by George Hittle and E. Stout, May 26th 1828. In 1830, Conway Rhodes and Miss Harmon were the first couple to be joined in holy wedlock. Jonas Hittle was made the first Justice of the Peace in 1830. During this year Silas B. Curtis opened the first school. Mackinaw was the first county seat, and the commissioners who located the same, were Job Fletcher. Wm. Lee D. Ewing and Tom M. Neale. The name was derived from an Indian name of a river that flows through Tazewell county. The first court house was built in 1827. It was 18 feet wide and 24 feet long; one story and a half high, nine feet to the story; joint shingles roof; black walnut batton doors, well cased, two 8x10 inch twelve light windows in the lower story, and one four-light window in the front end of the half story; the lower floor was made of puncheons hewn and jointed, and the upper floor, which also became the ceiling, was of sawed plank; the body of the house was of hewn logs, chinked and daubed, and protruding ends of logs sawed off; the lower windows were protected with wooden shutters; a seven foot fire-place four logs high afforded heat from the rear-end of the court room. Amasa Stout received the munificent sum (then) of $125 for building, he being the lowest bidder. This was one of the first buildings in Tazewell to have glass windows. It stood on lot 1 block 11. In the early part of 1831, a 14-light window took the place of the fire-place and a cast-iron stove graced the northwest corner of the court room, and a suitable chimney was built to carry off the smoke. A stairway was built in the north-east corner and the half-story above divided into two rooms. Mackinaw remained the county-seat until 1831, when it was moved to Pekin.
The village of Lilly, in this township, was laid off January 21, 1871, by Edward H. Bacon.
Little Mackinaw Township – T. 23 N. R. 2 W.
Little Mackinaw township retains original boundary lines, and its first election took place at a school-house on Mackinaw creek. The first settlement was made on section 8, by John and Samuel Stout. Among the pioneers were H. Buchanan and a gentleman named Hevenhill. The first death was that of an orphan child, in the family of Samuel Stout. Thos. F. Railsback taught the first school on section 5, in 1830. First sermon preached by Elder Ottman, at Railsback’s home, in 1831. In 1867, Elder Geo. W. Minier, assisted by Messrs. Boyer and Stout, platted the village of Minier, located on section 22.
Hopedale Township – T. 23 N. R. 3 W.
Hopedale township was first named “Highland.” For early County map, see page 32. Aaron Orendorff, the first settler, built a log cabin on section 34, in 1827, Messrs. Whitten and Shaw came next. D.W. Orendorff, son of Aaron, born in 1828, was the first white child. Elias Ogden was the first Justice of the Peace, in 1829, commission signed by Gov. Ford. The first school was held at Mr. A. Orendorff’s home in 1832, and a Mr. Smith was the first school teacher. The first school-house was built on section 2, in 1834. Shiloh was the name of the first church, and it was built about 1835. Hopedale was first named Osceola, but when a postoffice was petitioned for, the department reported adversely because there was another Osceola in Illinois. The old town was laid off in 1853, by Thos. Orendorff, but the new town was not incorporated until February 22, 1869. the first trustees of the new town were T. H. Orendorff, W. Neisen, J. R. Ogden and E. Barnum.
Dillon Township – T. 23 N. R. 4 W.
Dillon township’s boundary remains as at first located. Nathan Dillon, in 1823, settled on section 1, and erected a log-cabin home, it being the first one built in this township. Then came Jas. White, and later the families of Bailey, Studyvin, John and Jesse Trowbridge, Waggoner, Mount, Crabb, Kinman, and others. Hannah Dillon was the first white child born in this township. Daniel Dillon and Patsey Alexander were the first pair to be wedded, 1825 being the year. Rev. Peter Cartwright preached the first sermon in Wm. Brown’s log cabin home; and Jessie W. Fillin, was the first school teacher, in about 1833. The first school house was built on section 2, in 1835. The first pioneer schools were held in log cabins homes and churches. Dillon village, first named Liberty, was laid out June 18 1836.
Sand Prairie Township – T. 23 N. R. 5 W.
Sand Prairie, at first had five-sixths of Malone attached, and was named “Jefferson.” It was now six miles square. Elisha and Major Perkins, (the latter was killed during the Black Hawk War), were the first pioneer settlers who built their crude cabins on section 1, about 1822. Among other early comers were Gideon Hawley, Thos. Lander, John Vancil, John summers, and Mr. Shipman. Wm. Woodrow, Isaac Dillon, Joseph Haines, Daniel Rankin, John Shelton, Jas. Reese, et. al., came later. John Summers lost a son, and John Vancil a daughter, who died at an early date. The celebrated pioneer preacher, Peter Cartwright, delivered the first sermon in John Vancil’s log cabin, about 1823. Rev. Mr. ____ Carmac, who lived for several months in a tent near the Mackinaw river was the first regular M. E. preacher. Mrs. Sarah Hinkle was the first teacher, and her log-cabin school-house stood on section 17 – date, 1827. Joseph Haines is credited with erecting the first frame dwelling, and the barn in this township, as well as Tazewell county, the first in 1829 and the latter in 1831. The village of Circleville, in this township, was laid off by Spencer Field and E. M. Perkins, August 7, 1837. The village of Green Valley, was laid off by Samuel Schureman, October 19, 1872, and incorporated March 11th 1916.
Spring Lake township – Ts. 23 and 24 N. Rs. 6 and 7 W.
Spring Lake remains about the same as originally laid out. It was not settled upon as early as other townships owing, no doubt, to the prejudice for sand and swampy lands. Joseph Offutt built the first log cabin near the lake bearing the name of the township, as early as 1839. The McLeashes, Hibbards and Claytons, came next; then as the years rolled on, the Hawkinses, Abraham Wood, Eli Haas, Charles Seiwell, Ezekiel Poe, Valentine Haas, and others. The first death was that of J.O. Offutt, which occurred Oct 10, 1841. Chas. Seiwell and Deborah Clayton, in 1842, were the first to be joined in holy wedlock. The first school-house was built on section 11, in 1849, and Daniel Hawkins became the first teacher. A Mormon, named Woods, preached the first sermon at the home of Mr. Grover. Louise White, an early settler, said “one such sermon was all a square-thinking man could endure.” In 1856, the Dutch Reform Society built the first church. As an incident of pioneer life, Mrs. V. Haas had a unique experience of a trip on board the first flat-boat, loaded with grain, that floated from Spring Lake to St. Louis.
The village of Spring Lake was laid off on May 15, 1852, by Thomas G. Conant.
Delavan Township – T. 22 N. R. 4 W.
Delavan township, originally had portions of Boyton and Malone attacted. During a western trip, made by Mr. Jonas R. Gale, as a guest of Mr. Wright, of Dillon, in 1836, he was much impressed with the beautiful prairie land, and meeting Mr. Edward C. Delavan, at Tremont, proposed to Mr. D. that a colony be organized at Providence, R.I. Mr. Delavan acquiesced, and an organization, with a capital of over $30,000, was formed and 22,000 acres of the land which surrounds the present city of Delavan, was entered. Under date of Sept. 19, 1936, the company became a reality, with the following list of stockholders; John Jenks, James Brown, Henry R. and David C. Green, Samuel B. Harris, Munson Allen, V.N. Edwards, Samuel B., Daniel C. and Benj. F. Cushing, Wm. C. Cooke, Jonas R. Gale and D.C. Jenks. The land was laid off in 160-acre farms, with a town lot 300 feet square to go with each farm, as a winter home-site. The farms were sold at auction, at Providence, R.I., the highest bids not exceeding $1000, Henry R. Green, Deacon L. Allen and S.B. Harris, were the locating committee and Henry R. Green, the financial agent. In 1837, the Delavan house was built, mostly from materials shipped from the East. W.W. Crossman, who had charged of the construction, with his family, came with carpenters. Mrs. Crossman used to relate “that it was the first dreary and lonesome for she did not see a white woman for months”. In 1840, when Hon. Ira B. Hall became landlord of the Delavan House, it became one of the noted hostelries between Peoria, Pekin and Springfield. The village of Delavan was laid off by Henry R. Green, February 1, 1841; then in 1888, incorporated as a city.
One of the humorous features connected with sale of Delavan Colony’s land, was a map which exhibited a steamboat lying at the wharf (at the mill site), Locust street. Who has one?
Hittle Township – T. 22 N. R. 2 W.
This township was named “Union” by the commissioners, then by the Board of Supervisors changed to “Waterford” – then to Armington,” and finally to “Hittle,” all during the year 1850.
The first settlers locating herin, in 1826, were George Hittle, (after whom the township derived its name), his son Jonas, and son-in-law, John W. Judy. Then came the Hainlines and Wm. Bart, Messrs. Perry and Williamson, in 1827, and Wm. Hieronymus in 1828; then between the latter date and 1835, Messrs. Jacob Albright, Joseph Richmoned, Martin G. Stafford, Thomas Burt, and ___ Quisenbury. Eliza Jane Hittle was the first child born, May 29, 1829. John Hittle died on Sept 1, 1827. The first couple married were Wm. Hefferd and Miss Elizabeth Perry, date 1828. Rev Mr. Walker preached the first sermon at George Hittle’s home, in 1826. C. Ewing, in 1827, taught the first school, on section 16. Isham Wright became the first Justice of the Peace.
The village of Armington, in this township, was platted Aug. 7, 1855, by H. Armington.
Boynton Township – T. 22 N. R. 3 W.
Boynton township was not organized until 1854. It was named in honor of Mr. Boynton. Joe Grant (or Grout) made the first settlement on section 9, in 1839. Albert, son of Robert Houston, was the first white child born, (1842). Among other settlers, prior to 1852, we find Benjamin Roe, G. W. Clamon (or Clarnow), Samuel Faylor, John Blair, Andrew Kerr, Wm. Benton. Wm. Milner, Charles and Richard Holden, John T. Scates, Wm. and Peyton Alexander and John Jacobus. The first Justice of the Peace was John Houston. Ira Judy became the first Constable. The first school was held at Philip B. Ware’s residence, section 21, in 1854, and a Mr. Phillips was the first teacher. The first marriage took place in 1852, the contracting couple being J. T. Morgan and Miss Kitchell.
Malone Township – T. 22 N. R. 5 W.
The first settlers of Malone township, came as late as 1850, owing no doubt to the fact that much of the land was unfit for cultivation – “sand hills and swamp.” They were Silas Dowd, Eber Pugh, James McCoy, James and John Wilson, Dr. Hubbard S. Latham and son, Wm. P. Latham, (the Lathams, father and son, were among the 49-ers, direct from the California gold-fields). Joseph Watts, Wm. Boyer, and others. The first marriage in 1850 was that of Frances M. Griffin to a Miss McCoy, daughter of James McCoy. The first school-master was Mr. A. Kernman. Rev. Samuel Smith was one of the first preachers. Dr H. S. Latham was the first Justice of the Peace and his son, H. S. Jr., the first Constable. Even as late as the organization of this township, deer and feathered game were plentiful, and numerous wolfs kept the settlers alert. Malone was the last township created. Since then, over ten thousand acres have been drained, and are now classed among the most productive in the county.
On Friday, July 30, 1897, at about 7 o’clock P.M., a tornado struck and crushed the residence of Supervisor H. C. McDowell, in this township, killing Mr. H. C., and a nephew, H. E. McDowell, Mrs. Samuel Brownlee and two children, and Miss Jessie Groves, and injuring Mrs. H. C. McDowell, Charles and Mary, son and daughter. Among the unprecedented features of this tornado was the driving of wheat straws, like nails, into trees; stripping feathers from chickens; tearing eyes out of horses; lifting a drove of sheep, which were carried to ‘parts unknown.’ This was the most destructive and death- dealing storm that has ever visited to Tazewell county.