« AnteriorContinuar »
Mr. Lewis Case, continued to be the place of meeting for thirteen years. The Presiding Elder on this district when the meeting was first organized, was John Sinclair. Quarterly Meeting was held at one time in the same barn in which was taught the first school. Peter Cartwright, the renowned pioneer of Methodism, used to preach at Old Town Timber, but he never preached at Mr. Case's cabin. There are quite a number of Methodists in the southern part of Old Town, but their place of meeting is in Downs. They have a church and a large and flourishing society there.
The Methodists built a church at what is known as Benjaminville—a clump of houses near the northeastern corner of the township. This was built in 1859. It is a neat little building, 20x32 feet. The society flourished and did well in Benjaminville, but when the L. B. & M. R. R. came through only a mile and a half south, and the little town of Holder was laid out, they thought it would be better to move the church to Holder. Accordingly, in 1873, it was taken down to the station. But the church was sold, in 1877, to the United Brethren, who still own it. The Methodists then built a church in Padua Township, east of Benjaminville, where they now hold services. This society of United Brethren was organized recently. Its pastor is Rev. F. R. Mitchell.
The Protestant Methodists first held their meetings in the schoolhouse near Scammon Rodman's. They had a great revival there. A society was built up, and as a result a church was built. It is called Pleasant Grove Chapel, and is located on the northeast corner of Section 27. It is 28x38 feet, and was built about sixteen years ago. Among the prominent early members, may be mentioned Messrs. Rodman, Fogle and John Brown. There is a very fair society at present, with the Rev. T. J. Gregory as Pastor.
The first and only Christian society in the township was begun about twelve years ago, in a schoolhouse west of Benjaminville. They began with about twenty members. Robert Moore and Harrison Horine were Elders. They organized the Cnurch and were the only preachers for
time. In 1869, they built a church in Benjaminville. The cost of construction was nearly $2,000; size 30x42 feet. The coming of the railroad had the same effect upon the Christians that it had upon
the Method ists. They, too, moved their church to Holder. The society is not as strong now as it has been. Some of its members have died and others moved away. The Rev. Robert Moore is still Pastor, although they have had others.
In the northeastern part of Old Town and adjoining townships, there is one of the strongest settlements of the Friends that is to be found anywhere in the State. John R. Benjamin may be regarded the father of the society. In 1854, he came from Columbia County, N. Y. There were very few settlements, at that time, on the prairie. There was an opportunity for making a selection. He bought the south half of Section 1 and the northeast quarter of Section 12, adjoining. In the spring of 1856, two other families came-Joseph Marot and Timothy Benjamin, a brother to John R. Benjamin. Marot moved to Padua, but Joseph Benjamin occupied the northwest quarter of Section 1. Abner Moore, their first minister, came in the spring of 1858. He was a New Yorker, too, and came from near Rochester. After his arrival, they had regular Sabbath services. For this purpose, they used the upper story of a building erected by Mr. John R. Benjamin, and used as a shop below, but with a fair room above. In this hall, they held their meetings for a year and a half. They built their first church in 1859. It is three-fourths of a mile south of the northern line of the township. This became too small, and was moved off the church lot, and is now used for public meetings of all kinds. It is a frame house, 24 by 32 feet. The second church was built in 1874. This, too, is a frame church, 32 by 42 feet, and cost $1,800. From the first, the society has continued to grow, and has increased to about twenty-five families. At one time, Sidney Averill taught a Friends' school in the hall over the wagon-shop. He was a preacher, and exercised himself in both teaching and preaching. Before the building of a church here, the members used to go to Putnam County, to attend Quarterly Meetings. Since 1875, the Quarterly Meeting has been held here twice a year. They hold one in Indiana, and one in Putnam County, this State. These are the only Quarterly Meetings held anywhere in the States of Illinois or Indiana, and, as a result, these meetings are attended from long distances.
At the southeast corner of Section 1, and just across the line, in Padua Township, several dwelling-houses were built. Mr. Benjamin built a wagon-shop, and a store and blacksmith-shop were afterward set up. Then came the three churches, so that the place was called a town. No organization was ever effected, but it is known as Benjaminville. There is now a store and blacksmith-shop, with several dwellings. There is not much demand for a village. Holder is only one and a half miles south. Both are quite small, most all trading being done in Bloomington.
WAR RECORD AND POLITICS.
There were very few inhabitants here during the Black Hawk war. We found no soldiers of the Mexican war. The late war called out the full strength of the township. There were no drafts. Of those who lost their lives from service in the army, we learned the names of none but Henry Mannen and Samuel Fogle. There probably were others, but they rest in their unknown graves, with no one to herald their deeds abroad or “draw their frailties from their dread abode.”
Since the organization of the Republican party, Old Town has been Republican. This township alone gave Lincoln 100 majority. Since that time, the Republicans have not held their own, or what would be, perhaps, a different thing, the opposition has developed more strength. But on all national or State questions, where party contest is direct, the Republicans carry by a greater or less majority. Party spirit does not generally run very high. All are amicable and disposed “to bear the evils that they have,” etc. In township elections, only one ticket is put in the field. This is composed of Democrats and Republicans, little attention being paid to parties so long as the candidates are able and willing to discharge the duties of their respective offices according to the best of their ability, and for the good of their constituents.
The first child born in Old Town was Disa Maxwell, and the next was Chloe Bishop. The former was born in 1831. The first marriage was solemnized in 1835. The parties made happy were Alice Hendryx and William Brewer. The husband afterward died, and the widow married William Hartly. She now lives in Bloomington. The first death is supposed to have been that of a little child about a year old. This was in 1834. Mr. Case split out slabs from a basswood-tree and made a coffin. He planed it, and, after considerable labor, made it appear quite pretty, but it was white. To blacken it, the ladies took straw and burned it, and made a paint of the ashes. They were surprisingly successful, and had the coffin nicely colored.
The Old Town settlers suffered frequently from prairie-fires. No one, who has never witnessed a fire on the prairies, can form any just conception of it. There is nothing that seems more like the indignant breath of the Almighty, or reminds one more forcibly of that passage of Scripture, “ The elements shall melt with fervent heat," than does the onward rush of a prairie-fire as it gathers strength from a sweeping gale. It bounds on with a speed equal to that of the swiftest horse, and often overtakes the traveler on the road. We were not informed of any losses of property from these tornadoes of flame, but we learned that Abner Case, in fighting the fire in order to extinguish it, lost one eye.
Game was plenty, and there were a number of hunters along Old Town Timber. The hunters used to make the ruins of Mr. Evans' cabin, that he left on the creek, after the hurricane of 1827, a place of rendezvous. Wolves were numerous on the prairie, with turkeys and bees in the woods.
Some of the customs in the domestic economy were unique, and suggest the adaptability of the pioneers. In salting meat, they used troughs made from logs. For a wash-tub, the ladies frequently used one-half of a salt-barrel. The barrel was sawn through the middle, and thus furnished two to the barrel. The wheel and the loom were the necessary furniture of every dwelling, and to make them often required a vast amount of work. Trees had to be cut down and split into timbers of the proper
dimensions, and then hewed and planed and mortised until things would fit all round. Mrs. Lewis Case reports her first wash-board as follows: A stick of wood of moderate size, split in the middle, then smoothed off a little with a plane, then sawed across to a short depth, and tolerably close together; after this, alternate spaces between the saw-cuts, chiseled out with a narrow chisel. This leaves a board on which a pioneer woman could wash and get her clothes clean, by a rough usage of the hands and careful management of the clothes.
A sad affair occurred only a few years ago, which gives another text from which to preach a temperance sermon. Frederic Hendryx had had some trouble in his family; he went to Bloomington, became intoxicated and started home; he got hold of a revolver and declared that he would shoot his wife. When he reached home in this condition, his wife became frightened and started to run; she had only reached the gate when she was shot by her husband. All the large children were frightened off the place ; but when the people came to the house next morning, they found Mrs. Hendryx lying dead at the gate with her little child in her arms. The child was alive and had been asleep. Farther search revealed the fact that, after killing his wife, Hendryx had gone to the straw-stack and there shot himself, so that the morning found them both dead.
RAILROADS AND HIGHWAYS.
The La Fayette, Bloomington & Mississippi Railway was completed through this section in 1871. The cars began running in the fall of the same year. The Indianapolis, Bloomington & Western was finished a short time before. The former extends through the township on the half-section line, two and one-half miles from the north side; the latter crosses the southwestern corner. These roads both received aid in the way of bonds. Bloomington subscribed heavily; but Old Town owes them nothing.
While it is questionable whether they have been of any material benefit to Bloomington, there is no doubt about the advantage which the country derives from them. They take the farmers' grain and stock, right at home, almost. They increase the value of land, since any one who wishes to farm can have ready means of transport for his products; and any one desiring a country residence, can have it with about all the conveniences of a suburban villa, and at a much smaller cost. These influences cause thorough development of all the resources of the country. In contrast with the present facilities for shipping grain, Mr. Case mentions the fact that he has hauled wheat all the way to Chicago and sold it at 38 cents per bushel.
There are forty-one miles of authorized roads in the township, excluding twelve miles on the outside lines, kept in repair by other townships; these are generally kept in good condition. The prairie is sufficiently rolling to permit the drainage of all roads that need it. There is one iron bridge; it spans the Kickapoo. The old State road from the Big Grove to Peoria, crosses the township a short distance; it runs along the north line of the township a short distance; when near the southeast corner of Section 33, it turns obliquely north and west, through Sections 29, 30 and 32. There is another old road that follows no lines on its course; this is the road to Cheney's Grove from Bloomington. With the exception of these two roads, all follow section lines, most of which are regularly laid out as public thoroughfares.
ORGANIZATION OF THE TOWNSHIP.
With the other townships of McLean County, Old Town began her separate organized existence in 1858. It will be seen that some of the men who were elected at the first township election-April 6, 1858—are now officers of the township. The return made to the County Clerk in 1858 was as follows: Scammon Rodman, Supervisor; Lindley Hefling, Town Clerk; Samuel Noggle, Assessor; Frederic R. Cowden, Collector; John B. Chores, Overseer of the Poor ; Chalkley Bell, Samuel Sunderland and Elihu Rogan, Commissioners of Highways; John Rowley and James A. Savidge, Justices of the Peace; Gilbert Tompkins and Samuel Mitchell, Constables. The present officers are : James Rayburn, Supervisor; J. M. Dooley, J.J. Cowden and J. Fleming, Commissioners of Highways; Jeremiah Whitcomb and J. D. Rowley, Justices of the Peace; Gilbert Tompkins, Constable; Scammon Rodman, Dennis McBarnes and Archibald Campbell, Town Trustees; J. M. Dooley, Town Treasurer; 0. G. Dooley, Assessor ; S. C. Fuller, Collector.
is a station on the La Fayette, Bloomington & Mississippi Railroad, on the east line of the township. It is on the prairie just north of the small stream that is the principal source of Kickapoo Creek. Holder was surveyed in October, 1871, by W. P. Anderson, County Surveyor. Charles W. Holder was the owner of the village, and had it surveyed. It comprised, at first, forty acres—twenty acres in Old Town and twenty in Padua. The portion in Padua was located in Section 18—ten acres in the northwest corner of the southwest quarter, and ten acres in the southwest corner of the northwest quarter ; but this has been bought back and belongs to the adjoining farms. So, also, has the ten acres on the south, in Old Town. Ten acres is all that is left. This is the southeast corner of the northeast quarter of Section 13. F. I. Bradley has been the station agent from the first. There was never a post office in the township until this one was established here. Fleming Brothers keep a general country store. They also buy and ship grain. William P. Anderson is also a grain-dealer. More corn is shipped than anything else. There is a considerable shipment of hogs and cattle to Chicago by way of the Illinois Central. G. A. Rowley has blacksmith-shop. There are two churches. The history of these, may be found under the heading “Churches," in the general history of the township. There are but few dwellings in Holder, but it does an amount of business more than proportioned to its size.
GILLUM is a flag-station on the Indianapolis, Bloomington & Western Railway, in the southwestern corner of the township. It is on the section line between Sections 31 and 32, near the center from north to south.
Township 25 north, Range 5 east of the Third Principal Meridian. Lawndale is a full Congressional township, but, owing to the fact that its northern tier of sections lay along the “correction line,” they are, on an average, a half mile longer from north to south than the standard section, and it makes the township six by six and one-half miles. The name given it was by “natural selection," and was suggested from the topographical appearance when in a state of nature. An elevation which but for its continuous stretch would properly be called a mound, extends m the northwest corner of the township through it to the east center. From this ridge, the slope toward the northeast ends in almost a dead level, which stretches away for miles to Indian Grove in Livingston County. Toward the southwest the decline is more gentle and more undulating. Free from any break or unpleasant appearance, the early settler must have looked with real pleasure upon the slope stretching away to the Mackinaw Timber, to the extreme southwestern corner of the town, a scene not easily forgotten by one who viewed this beautiful nature's lawn, now thickly studded with houses, orchards, hedges and all the insignia of healthy cultivation, before a furrow was struck or anything to disturb the eye nearer than the curling smoke of three or four cabins along the stream in the distance. That such beautiful dales should lie open to settlement for twenty years after being brought into market, must ever remain to the younger opes who read these pages, in a great measure a mystery. Standing on this elevation, one cannot fail to partially realize the fear that hung over poor Maj. Darnall's mind on that desperate winter's trip from the Mackinaw to Indian Grove. With but slight help from a tropical imagination, one can almost see hope, fear and dread despair by turn taking possession of him, as his faithful horse flounders through the deep incrusted
snow on that never-to-be-forgotten ten-miles trip. No military leader ever led an · army on doubtful engagement more fully impressed with the magnitude of the respon
sibility of his every move than was Maj. Darnall on that lonely, trying ride to his snowbound little family. For the first five miles, his way led gradually up the rise of land. the Indian Grove not being in sight until he had completed the first half. Hardly knowing whether he would ever see the trees which surrounded his home, he pressed on in the terrible snow until this height was gained, after which the way was more easy by the natural declivity of the land, but the difficulty largely increased by the fatigue