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and James Alexander built the first warehouse. Mr. Kinnan still resides on a farm near the site of the old saw-mill, on Money Creek. Mr. Alexander lives in town. T. J. Laney built the second dwelling, and with Wesley Fletcher Bishop, the second warehouse. Mr. Bishop built the third dwelling house. He also ran a small grocery store. This was the firs storehouse in the village. The first dry goods store was set up by Frank Henderson in 1857. After running it a short time, he sold out and went on a farm. He is one of Towanda's strongest men. Wesley F. Bishop was the first station agent. He served in that capacity before any dwelling had been erected. When the mail began coming on the railroad, in the winter of 1855 and 1856, the office was brought down “into town," and David S. Kinnan became the first Postmaster in the village. Samuel C. Ware is the present Postmaster. He is also Police Magistrate.
EDUCATION. The first schoolhouse in Towanda was built in 1854. It was a neat frame building, 24 by 26 feet. It is still standing and is a good building yet. In 1866, the number of children had so increased as to demand a new and larger building for their proper accommodation. Accordingly a house was begun and nearly finished, when it burned to the ground before ever being used. The origin of the fire is not known. But the good people of Towanda were not to be discouraged by a fire. The next year a large and commodious building was erected, and it has done good service ever since. The first teacher in the new building was G. H. Thrasher. Three teachers are regularly employed. Mr. James A. Jones now has charge of the schools. Last year, the Principal was paid $60 per month, being the highest wages paid in the township. The School Directors at present are George W. Howard, M. J. Wise and George Hilts.
MILLS, WAREHOUSES, ETC. A good flouring-mill with two sets of buhrs was soon built by Roadnight & Strothers. After running it a short time, the builders traded it to Nathaniel S. Sunderland. He had been in possession but a short time, when the mill was destroyed by fire. Mr. Sunderland lost, at the same time, a large warehouse, which burned with the mill. The property was heavily insured, so that the owner sustained only a partial loss.
After this, Henry Warner built another mill. It experienced a fate similar to that of the Sunderland mill. It had been in operation scarcely a year when it was swept away by the fire-fiend. It, also, was insured.
There remains in Towanda a monument to the hopes and ambition of one of her early citizens. It is known as the "big" building. It is situated on the northwest side of the railroad, just across from the depot. It was built by Charles Roadnight, when he was determined to make a large place of Towanda. The house faces the railroad and is built parallel to it. It is 50 by 100 feet, and two stories in height. It is only partly occupied.
For a small town, Towanda has quite a fire record. Mr. Sunderland's large steam flouring-mill, and with it his warehouse, were the first victims. The fire next seized Mr. Warner's new mill and it was leveled to the ground. These were well insured; but when Mr. Campbell's dry goods store was burned, he lost it all. His policy had expired the day before the fire. The burning of the new schoolhouse before it was occupied at all was another sad fire. Mr. Laney also lost a grocery store by fire.
may be said to be a religious town. It is not to be supposed from this, however, that everybody belongs to a church, but there certainly is a fair proportion that do. There are three churches and each has a comparatively large membership The Baptists built the first church in the village in 1858. Their first minister was James Cairns. Before this, the Presbyterians had organized a society and held meetings in the schoolhouse. They built the second church. This church was begun in 1863 and dedicated January 18, 1864. Robert Conover preached the dedicatory sermon. He was Pastor of the same church continuously until March, 1878. The Methodists organized in 1857. N. H. Craig was Pastor. They, too, held meetings in the schoolhouse until the building of their church in 1866. These churches are all respectable houses of worship; they do credit to the village. Although other religious denominations have held occasional meetings here, none have been able to establish a permanent organization.
INCIDENTS. There is seldom anything to enliven the dull monotony of life in a country village. An occasional suit before the Squire, some neighborhood gossip, or the advent of some small show or unknown lecturer, make up the ordinary sensation. But an accident occurred in the early history of this town that is still vividly recalled by the older inhabitants. This took place about the year 1856, on the Chicago, Alton & St. Louis Railroad. The southern-bound freight, passing through in the night, had exhausted its supply of water. The train was left standing on the main track, while the engine went down to Bloomington to the tank. A watch was placed on the track, that the next southernbound freight might not run into the caboose on the track. The watch, instead of attending to his duty, went into a house and there fell asleep. The train came rushing down the track, and ran into the other one. Three men were killed. Two of these were literally torn in pieces. Parts of their bodies were strewn all along the track. Cars were piled up and thrown around in every conceivable shape and direction. The train had been running at full speed. The third man had been carried along with the engine. In the morning, when the wreck was examined, he was found crowded up against the fire-door. His body had been mashed by a freight-car, and then baked by the fire in the engine. The man was killed by the collision, so that he suffered no pain from the fire. The watch was so frightened when he saw the result of his carelessness, that he left the country immediately, and nothing was ever heard of him afterward.
Towanda has, at present, three churches, one graded school, two drug stores, one dry goods store, four groceries, three grain-dealers, two blacksmith-shops, and two wagon-shops in connection with the smithies.
There are no hotels in the village. When the traveling public stop in Towanda, they are not supposed to stay overnight. But should any one be compelled to remain, the good people will house him comfortably in their own dwellings.
There are no lawyers. When cases come up before the Squire, as come they will, sometimes, a lawyer from Bloomington is frequently seen wending his way to Towanda. All villages have one or more physicians. Towanda has two; but they are trying to starve those by failing to indulge in the necessary amount of sickness.
Hudson Township lies in the northern part of McLean County. It is west of the center, touching Woodford County on the northwest. It comprises one Congressional town, known as Town 25 north, Range 2 east of the Third Principal Meridian. On the north, it is bounded by Woodford County and Gridley Township of McLean ; on the east, by Money Creek; on the south, by Normal; on the west, by White Oak Township and Woodford County. Hudson is well supplied with streams. The Mackinaw Creek is the only large one, but there are several other streams of minor importance. Six-Mile Creek rises by several branches in Normal Township. These unite in Sections 17 and 20 and form one stream, which flows in a very tortuous course north and west, leaving the township near the southwest corner of Section 6. The Mackinaw flows westerly along the northern boundary, cutting in and out at several points. Farther toward the west, it bears south. The northwest corner of Section 5 is left on the right bank of the stream, while the greater portion of Section 6 is also on the north. Money Creek flows northwesterly across the northeast corner of the township. A large branch of the last-named stream rises in the southeast part of the township, and flows mostly north.
There was originally considerable timber in Hudson, but it was not in large bodies. The groves that we look for in every township are represented by Havens' Grove. This was but a small body of timber, lying partly in Sections 20, 28, 29 and 17. The Money Creek Timber extended along that stream in the northeast. Mackinaw Timber skirted the northern boundary.
The Illinois Central Railroad extends through the township. It enters from the north, near the northwest corner of Section 4, where it crosses Mackinaw Creek. It extends south, in the same row of sections, through the township, leaving one-fourth mile west of the southeast corner of Section 33.
Like nearly all the others, Hudson reports a good yield of wheat in pioneer times. It was, probably, superior in the production of that cereal to most other townships of the county. But it is with it, as with others, the days of wheat-harvesting to any considerable extent are past. The principal products at present are corn, oats, rye, potatoes and kindred crops. Cattle and hogs are produced in abundance. Considerable shipping is done, both of grain and stock.
The surface of the country is slightly rolling in places, while in others there is a tendency to too great a level. The soil is black, deep and fertile. Its productiveness is unsurpassed.
Although Hudson had a few early inhabitants, the township was not settled up as rapidly as some others, especially during the first four or five years.
The first to stop within its present limits were Bailey Harbert, his son-in-law, Richard Gross, and Mosby Harbert. When Jesse Havens and company arrived, they found these men and families at the grove, on the east side. They were living in cabins. Gross' was made of split logs, but Harbert's was little more than a pole pen, covered with unshaven boards, that had been riven with a frow. The boards were held on by poles, as nails were unknown, and altogether too much of a luxury, at any rate to be wasted on the roof of a cabin.
Havens came in the fall of 1829. In the summer before, Harbert had raised a patch of sod-corn and sown ten acres of wheat in the fall. But in the winter, the Harberts and Gross sold out to Jesse Havens and his son-in-law, Benjamin Wheeler. They then moved away to Blooming Grove and entered land there, where they remained.
In the summer of 1829, in Licking County, Ohio, there was much talk of the great prospects out West. This was particularly the case in the family of Jesse Havens. A daughter and son-in-law had already spent a year in the new country, and their glowing reports of fine country, plenty of game and rich soil had the desired effect on the relatives in the East. Accordingly, Jesse Havens, Benjamin Wheeler, his son-in-law, and Jacob Moats started West with their families. They stopped first with those who had sent such enticing words back. This was at Hezekiah Platt's, at Big Grove, Champaign County. Here, the emigrants left their families a short time, and went down to the Sangamon River, intending, if they liked it, to settle there. But they soon returned and started northwest, with their families. They stopped a short time at Buckles' Grove, and then came on to what has since been called Havens' Grove. Here the Havenses and relations remained. Jacob Moats moved his family to Money Creek, where he lived till his death, and where his descendants still live.
Jesse Havens was born June 23, 1781, in New Jersey, near the mouth of Squan River. His father was a Welshman, who spent his life on the ocean. Mr. Havens early came West. He was one of the earliest pioneers of Newark, Ohio. He enlisted in the war of 1812, and participated in the wonderful defense at Fort Stephenson, under Maj. Croghan. In McLean County, he was a man of considerable importance. He was County Commissioner before the adoption of the township system, and was generally known throughout the county. He afterward sold out and went to Iowa; but upon his death, in 1862, he was brought back to Havens' Grove for interment by his son Hiram. Several of his descendants live at Havens' Grove.
Hiram Havens, a son of Jesse Havens, tells many an interesting story in regard to early pioneer life. He was quite a hunter and often indulged in trials of skill with the friendly Indians. He reports many of the savages as good marksmen, although he never found an Indian that could shoot at a mark with a precision equal to his own. The Indians would excel in what they called random shooting. They would scarrely ever fail to bring a running deer to a halt, or a flying turkey to the ground. The Indians made Havens' Grove a kind of headquarters, several hundred often camping there. They were wild for whisky, but were careful to keep the Sabbath.
Jesse Havens entered most of the land on which the Grove stood, so that other emigrants beside those of the first company did not come in rapidly. Hezekiah Platt came from Big Grove, not long after Havens settled here.
David Trimmer, son of John Trimmer, of Money Creek, and son-in-law of Jesse Havens, moved up to the southeast corner of the Grove, from Bloomington, where he had been running the first blacksmith-shop ever in the place. Here he lived a long time, until his wife died. Afterward, he went to Kansas, where he still resides.
The next after Trimmer was John W. Hatfield, of Bloomington. He remained for some time, and then went to Eureka and from Eureka to Missouri. These were