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speak of there being a settlement in that Grove in 1823. In 1824, the Rutledges and Mr. Jesse Funk came there ; in 1830, the Passwaters family, Mr. Jacob Bishop and Mr. Coverdale; in 1830, the Stewarts and the Nobles; and, in 1834, the Rusts. In 1823, the Bensons came to White Oak Grove and made permanent settlements. In 1824, the Funks and the Stubblefields came to Funk's Grove and to Mount Hope and made settlements. In 1825, the Cheneys settled at Cheney's Grove, and the Dickersons at Le Roy, and Mr. E. B. Mitchell at Stout's Grove. In 1826, Mr. Jesse Trimmer settled at Money Creek; and, in 1827, Mr. Matthew Robb and the McClures and the Hodges settled in Stout's Grove. The Spawrs settled in Lexington in 1826 and 1827. In 1828, Mr. Robert H. Johnson came to Dale Township, and the Beelers in 1830. In 1829, Mr. Lawson Downs settled in Downs Township; and, in 1826, came Mr. Henry Vansickle to Dry Grove, followed by Mr. Stephen Webb and Mr. George M. Hinshaw in 1827. In 1827, Mr. William M. McCord settled in Gridley Township, and Mr. John B. Messer in 1829, followed by Mr. John Sloan and the Coons, in after years. In 1829, Mr. Joseph Messer and the Havenses settled in Hudson, followed, the next year, by Mr. Benjamin Wheeler and Mr. John Smith—the veritable John Smith. In 1828, the Henlines settled in Lawndale Township. In 1825, Mr. William Evans, Jr., settled in Padua, followed by Mr. Daniel Jackson in 1830, and Mr. Jeremiah Greenman in 1831. In 1828, Mr. Jesse Walden settled in Towanda Township
Such were the chief initial settlements in this county in former times. the country between Blooming Grove and Lake Michigan was one of the grandest specimens of the “unshorn fields of God” ever presented to the human eye. The foot-prints of no white man contaminated its soil and tainted the air with his vicious breath, fragrant of whisky and tobacco. The sole tenant of this vast region, big with all the elements of future greatness, was one Mr. Lo. Even he was rather an erratic body, with no fixed habitation, following after his equally erratic food—the champion tramp of his day.
In those early times, the style of living was quite primitive, and somewhat different from that of the present. Their dwellings were mostly of the composite style of architecture, being made up of such material as could be most easily obtained. They employed very little of the Corinthian style, but much of the Door-ic style. Their pillars were taken from “God's first temples—the forests.” They constructed their buildings, so as to be adapted to a very economical system of self-ventilation and selfheating. Being rather a hearty sort of people, they could tolerate the prairie breezes and the sun's warm visitations. They were not of too delicate a mold to digest their own food, instead of employing the contents of a drug store to carry on that necessary process; nor did they consider it disgraceful to gain their livelihood by personal industry and constant labor. Very little do the young people of the present day know about the privations and the hardships through which the first settlers in this county were obliged to pass. The first settlers were obliged, sometimes, to go to the Wabash, or to Fox River, to get their grinding done. It was not very uncommon to go a distance of fifty miles, on horse-back, to get their plow-irons sharpened. Sometimes they constructed sort of mills, with millstones, cut from the lost rocks found on the prairies. They contrived, by various means, to pound and crush the grain for their food. It is said that they also used wooden grindstones, with sand worked into the circumference, to sharpen their knives and implements. It was not infrequently, though game was plenty, that they were out of meat when the preacher came to their houses, and a coon had to be caught. But it was not always gloomy and sad with them. There was much of good feeling and sociability among them. Their loves and their hates were demonstrative; and the sparseness of the population, and the consequent mutual dependence upon each other, as well in serious occupations as in their amusements, rendered them more helpful and more hearty in their reciprocal deeds of kindness, and in their social intercourse. There were not a few, even in this section of the country, whose hearts would respond to the following, rather boisterous, but cheerful and expressive language of the poet:
“Oh! to roam, like the rivers, through empires of woods,
Merry and brief will the narrative be:
Master, am I, boys, of all that I see.
The meadow and moorland are marshes no more;
The children, who cluster, like grapes, at the door.
The land of the heart is the land of the West." It may be true that the feelings and sentiments expressed in the above lines are not the prevailing ones here at the present time; that they are fast fading from the hearts of the new population, and that their proper meridian is still moving west-ever west. Yet there are some among us whose hearts still respond to the echoes of the earlier and more demonstrative times of the past. Many of the early settlers, n rapidly passing away, still linger among us; and to them, and to those who have already passed over, the present generation owes an immense debt of gratitude; for bravely have they met the difficulties incident to settliny a new country; and broadly and well have they laid the foundations of future prosperity in the county.
As will be seen elsewhere in this work, Tazewell County was created by the State Legislature at its session of 1826 and 1827. An election was held in that county in the following spring for county officers, McLean County being substantially embraced therein. At that election, Messrs. James Latta, George Hittle and Benjamin Briggs were elected County Commissioners ; Mr. James Benson, of Blooming Grove, was elected County Treasurer, and Mr. William Orondorff and Mr. Absalom Funk were securities; Mr. William Orondorff was elected Justice of the Peace; Mr. William H. Hodge, Sheriff, and Mr. Thomas Orondorff, Coroner.
On the 10th of April, 1827, the County Commissioners held their first court at the house of Mr. William Orondorff. On April 25, of the same year, they held
their court at the house of Mr. Ephraim Stout, in Stout's Grove, and continued to hold them there until the public buildings were finished at Mackinawtown, which had been chosen for the county seat. At the court of the same Commissioners, held June 25, 1827, all that part of Tazewell County east of the Third Principal Meridian and all north of Town 22 was formed into Blooming Grove Precinct; and all south of Town 23 and east of Third Principal Meridian, including one range west of said meridian. in Town 22, formed Kickapoo Precinct.
At the March term, 1829, a road was ordered to be laid out from Jonathas Cheney's, in Cheney's Grove to the mouth of the Little Vermilion, at the Illinois River, and the Road District Supervisor was ordered to make the road. The county revenue of Tazewell County, for 1829, was $1,061.89, and the expenses, $898.53.
At the first session of the County Commissioners' Court, held at the house of Hon. James Allen, in Bloomington, for McLean County proper, May 16, 1831, the report of Messrs. Lemuel Lee and Isaac C. Pugh, Commissioners appointed by the Legislature to locate the county seat, was received and ordered to be entered on record—said report locating the said county seat on the land of Mr. James Allen, on the north end of Blooming Grove. At the same session, Dr. Isaac Baker, Clerk of the Court, was instructed to give notice, by written advertisements, that a sale of town lots in the town of Bloomington, on the land donated by Mr. Allen for a county seat, would take place on the 4th of July, of the same year.
At the June term of the Court, same year, the Commissioners thinking the tax on land insufficient to defray the expenses of the county, ordered that a tax of one-half per cent be levied on all property owned in the county. The Court then proceeded to lay off and designate the election precincts, as follows: All that territory included in Townships 21 and 22 in Range 1 west, 21 and 22 in Range 1 east and 21 in Range 2 east shall constitute Kickapoo Precinct, and the place of holding elections shall be at William Murphey's mill; and James H. Scott, Walter McPherson and Frederick Barnett were appointed Judges of Elections.
Townships 21, 22, 23 and 24 in Ranges 4, 5 and 6 east shall constitute Salt Creek Precinct, and the place of holding elections shall be at the house of Nathan Britton, Esq., Jesse Frankerburger, Amos Conaway and Daniel Crumbaugh being appointed Judges of Elections.
Townships 23 in Range 1 west, 23 and 24 in Range 1 east, 22, 23 and 24 in Ranges 2 and 3 east, and Sections from 12 to 36 in Town 25, Range 2 east, and Sections from 16 to 36 in Town 25, Range 3 east shall constitute Bloomington Precinct, and the place of holding elections shall be in Bloomington; and the Court appointed Peter McCullough, David Wheeler and Seth Baker Judges of Elections.
Townships 26, 27 and 28 in Ranges 2 and 3 east, Towns 25, 26, 27 and 28 in Ranges 4, 5 and 6 east, and Sections from 1 to 12 in Town 25, Range 2 east, and Sections from 1 to 16 in Town 25, Range 3 east, constituted Mackinaw Precinct, and the place of holding elections was at John Patten's ; and John Haney, John Patten and Coonrod Flesher were appointed Judges of Elections.
Townships 24 to 28 north in Range 1 west, and Townships from 25 to 28 in Range 1 east, shall constitute Painter Creek Precinct, and the place of holding elections shall be at John Harbert's, and Mathew Robb, William Patrick and Mathew Bracken are appointed Judges of Elections.
The Court then laid off the Road Districts as follows: Townships 21 and 22 in Range 1 west shall be called District Number One, and Allen McCay is appointed Supervisor.
Townships 21 and 22 of Range 1 east shall compose Road District Number Two, and Jeremiah Greenman is appointed Supervisor.
Townships 21 and 22, Range 2 east, shall compose Road District Number Three, and Gardner Randolph is appointed Supervisor.
Township 21, Ranges 3 and 4, and west half of Range 5 east, the southwest quarter of Town 22, Range 5 east, and the south half of Town 22, Ranges 3 and 4 east, shall compose Road District Number Four, and James Merrifield is appointed Supervisor.
The north half of Town 22, Ranges 3 and 4 east, and the northwest quarter of Town 22, Range 5 east, the west half of Range 5, Town 23 east, and Town 23 in Ranges 3 and 4 shall compose Road District Number Five, and James Vanscoyc is appointed Supervisor. .
The east half of Towns 21, 22 and 23 in Range 5 east, and Townships 21, 22 and 23 in Range 6 east shall compose Road District Number Six, and Robert Cunningham is appointed Supervisor.
Townships 23, 24 and 25 in Range 1 west shall compose Road District Number Seven, and Robert McClure is appointed Supervisor.
Townships 23, 24 and 25 in Range 1 east shall compose Road District Number Eight, and Samuel Barker is appointed Supervisor.
Townships 23, 24 and 25 in Range 2 east, and Townships 24 and 25, Range 3 east, shall compose Road District Number Nine, and David Trimmer is appointed Supervisor
The townships beginning at the southwest corner of Town 24 in Range 4 east, and extending east to the county line, shall compose Road District Number Ten, and John Haner is appointed Supervisor.
Beginning at the southeast corner of Township 26, Range 3 east, and extending north and west to the county line, shall compose Road District Number Eleven, and Young Billberry is appointed Supervisor.
These divisions give a tolerable idea of the relative number of inhabitants in those early times in different portions of the county, and show who many of them were. At the same session, William Orondorff, Esq., paid into court a fine of $6, officially collected by him from Thomas Wilson and Francis Evans, for assault and battery—the first transaction of the kind on record in the county. At the same session, Mr. Henry Miller applied for license to keep a tavern in Bloomington-the first application. The amount paid was $2. At the July session, Messrs. Frederick and Samuel Troxell applied for license to vend goods, wares and merchandise in the county of McLean for one year.
License granted for $5—the first on record. At the December term, Mr. Robert H. Johnson made application to the Court for relief in behalf of Sarah Potter, an insane person in his care. Relief was grantedthe first in the county.
At the same term, a petition was presented signed by Jacob Spawr and others, dated July 27, 1831, praying for a road to be located from Frederick Rook's, on the l'ermilion, thence to Williain Evans', on the Mackinaw, thence to Jacob Spawr's, on Money Creek, thence south, crossing Sugar Creek at a point north of Bloomington, and below the fork, through Main street, Bloomington, south through Randolph Grove and Long Point, to the south line of the county. The petition was granted, and Isaac Baker, Elbert Dickason and Gardner Randolph appointed Viewers of the same.
This was the first important move of the kind in McLean County proper.
The Court appointed William H. Hodge, John Hendrix and William Orondorff Trustees of school lands in Town 23 north, Range 2 east; Ephraim Stout, Robert Drain and Isaac Sample in Town 24 north, Range 1 west; John Moore, Gardner Randolph and Elijah Hedrick in Town 22 north, Range 2 east; James Murphey, Andrew Biggs and Samuel Murphey in Town 22 north, Range 1 east; Walter McPherson, Benjamin Day and John Glenn, Esq., in Town 21 north, Range 1 east; and William Conaway, James Merrifield and Officer Rutledge in Town 22 north, Range 4 east.
At the January term, 1832, a petition was presented to the Court signed by David Maxwell and others, praying for a road to be established, commencing at the west end of Front street , in the town of Bloomington, thence to James Toliver's, John Maxwell's, Samuel Rhodes', Timothy M. Gates', Nathan Low's, John Hougham's, and thence to Funk's Grove. The petition was granted, and Isaac Baker, James Allen and James Latta were appointed to view the same and report.
At the March term, a petition was presented to the Court praying to have a road viewed and located leading from the east end of Front street, in the town of Bloomington, running in nearly a southeast course to Buckles' Grove, on Salt Creek, thence to the county line in a direction to intersect a road leading from Vermilion County to Osburn's Grove, on the Sangamon River. The petition was granted, and Isaac Baker, County Surveyor, Michael Dickerson and Reuben Clearwaters were appointed to view and locate the road and report.
A petition was presented by Ephraim Stout, also, and others, praying for an alteration of the county road from Decatur to Mackinawtown, commencing at Ephraim Stout's bridge, and to run north side of David Stout’s, thence in a direction to intersect the old road opposite Jonathan Hodge's house. Petition granted, and Isaac Baker, Isaac Sample and Isaac Gaskill appointed to review the same and report.
The Court appointed Road District Supervisors for the ensuing year, as follows: District No. 1, Benjamin Shipley ; No. 2, Benjamin Day; No. 3, Elijah Hedrick; No. 4, Alvin Barnett; No. 5, John W. Dawson ; No. 6, William M. Riggs; No. 7, James Watson ; No. 8, Wolford Wyatt; No. 9, Seth Baker; No. 10, John B. Thomas; No. 11, William C. Moore; No. 12, James Benson; No. 13, William Evans.
A petition was presented, signed by Owen Cheney and others, praying for a road beginning at the county line opposite to a road leading through Vermilion County to Osburn's Grove, on the Sangamon River; thence on the nearest and best route to the most suitable fording on Salt Creek, in the upper part of Buckles' Grove; thence on the nearest and best route to intersect the road leading from the Vermilion Salt Works to Fort Clark, at William Maxwell's, on Kickapoo Creek; thence with the said road to the town of Bloomington. Prayer granted, and Isaac Baker, John Dawson and Daniel Crumbaugh instructed to make report thereon at the next term.
The Court levied a tax of one-half per cent on the following-described property : All horses, mules (and their male parents), neat cattle three years old and over, town lots, sheep one year old, pleasure carriages, wagons, household property, watches, and all distilleries.