History of Belleflower, Illinois
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Belleflower is the extreme southeastern township of the county, and was one of the latest to come into general settlement. It is like the others in the southern tier, six miles by eight, being described Town 22, Range 6 east, and the northern twelve sections of Town 21, Range 6 cast of Third Principal Meridian. In topographical appearance, it is gently undulating, the highest ridge of land being that which forms the “divide” between the Sangamon and Salt Creek, running through from north to south about two miles east of the western boundary line of the town. Salt Creek runs along near the western boundary from Sections 18 to 31, when it crosses into West. The Sangamon River barely touches the northeastern corner, and makes off toward the east, thence southwest again. The land from northeast corner to southeast corner is pretty level. There is very little wet land in Belleflower; nearly all is capable of cultivation, and all of good drainage. In the northern portion of the township, the land is diversified by numerous round hillocks, which give an interesting appearance to the surface. It was originally entirely destitute of timber, except one poor lone tree which stood on Section 19, near the ford of Salt Creek, and for years seemed to stand as sentinel to that important crossing. Several non-residents got hold of considerable of the land, but most of it has now been brought into cultivation.
The Springfield Division of the Illinois Central Railroad runs directly through Town 22, Range 6, touching at the northeast corner of Section 1, running thence almost a due southwest course, hardly bending, and leaving the township a little south of the corner
of Section 31. The Chicago & Paducah Railroad runs across the southeastern corner of the township, and the Havanna, Rantoul & Eastern Narrow Guage runs very nearly east and west across it.
Considerable drainage has been done by open ditches, and tile draining is now being practiced. J. W. Snyder is making tile in the southeastern part of the town, and the township owns one of the Pontiac Graders, which stands out night and day, like the Lone Tree, as a kind of sentinel or watch dog. It has done pretty good service for the town, however.
The town was named by Jesse Richards, the first Justice of the Peace. It was first called Prairie, but Esquire Richards had a great admiration for the Belleflower apple, and proposed the name, which was readily accepted.
All the earlier settlements were made along the northern tier of sections, and along the County Road, so called. This road, for reasons that do not seem to be fully understood by the present generation, was run on the half-section line half a mile west of the section line, which is in the middle of the townships, entirely across the county, except that it makes a set-off at Rankin’s Grove, in the northern part of Cheney’s Grove Township, and has on it the post office at Potosi, the two post offices, Garda and Dart, in Anchor, the iron bridge over the Mackinaw in that township, Saybrook, and Belleflower station in this town. The first schoolhouse was built in 1857, and the first school was taught by Miss Green. There are now ten districts and eleven schoolhouses in the town, the Belleflower District having two schoolhouses, which are both occupied in the fall and winter terms, the schools being consolidated during the summer term.
When the Gilman, Clinton & Springfield Railroad was built, in 1871, the township of Belleflower voted $30,000 in twenty-year ten per cent bonds, and the road established the station of Belleflower near the center of the township, where the railroad crosses the county road which runs through the county on the half section-line before spoken of, on Section 21, forty miles from Gilman, and seventy-one from Springfield. George N. Black bought the south 100 acres of the southeast quarter of that section, and laid out forty acres in blocks and lots, and the remainder into out-lots of from one to five acres each. He then transferred it to the Railroad Company, and title comes from the Trustees of that corporation. When the road was mortgaged, this (and other) town plats do not seem to have been mortgaged, for, in the transfer to the Illinois Central, the town was not included, and title still comes from the said Trustees.
R. E. Moreland was the first to engage in any business here. He commenced to buy grain in August, 1871, and has continued to this day. A. & A. J. Henry, of Chicago, commenced the winter following. That fall, John Nichols began the grocery trade, and put up the first dwelling-house. He also kept a boarding-house near where the post office is, and A. Libairn commenced the trade in general merchandise. which he still continues. In the spring of 1872, T. B. Groves, from Logan County, built and occupied a hardware store, which has since been continually occupied by him in his large hardware and implement trade.
J. W. Eyestone built a grocery store and occupied it awhile, and sold it to R. Rome, who still continues in the same line of trade. Then E. L. Rush built the building near the post office for a drug store, which he stocked and continued to run for two years. Hiram Rush built a store next to Rome’s, and ran it for a year, and then went to Kansas.
Soon after these, G. W. Stokes built and occupied a drug store. He afterward added groceries to his stock, and has since carried on a very successful trade, with full stock of goods in these lines.
About the same time, the building now used by the post office, was built and occupied by the Cline Brothers, dealers in groceries, fur a time. The first Postmaster was A. H. Marquis, then J. W. Eyestone; E. L. Rush and L. B. Grant followed.
The present business men are: Dry goods, A. Libairn; groceries and provisions, R. Rome; groceries and drugs, G. W. Stokes; hardware and implements, T. B. Groves; grain. R. E. Moreland, H. F. Plummer, J. H. Pumpelly, the latter also dealing in lumber, lime, etc.; wagon-maker, E. H. Fuller; blacksmiths, A. C. Brandon, George H. Mittan; boarding, W. T. Ward. The population is about two hundred and fifty.
Belleflower has always done a large grain trade, averaging 350,000 bushels one year with another. The grain from this station has usually been shipped East to Providence and Boston, especially the oats; but now, dealers find it to their interest to sell on track. A large amount of it has been sold to the Halliday Brothers, who have shipped to Cairo or to Chicago. Osman Station, on Section 1 (21-6), is on the Chicago & Paducah Railroad, which runs across the southeastern part of the township. It was laid out and named by Moses Osman, long an officer of that road, and one of its builders. Mr. Sherrard is engaged in the grain trade, and Mr. Dillon is selling goods there.
The Havana, Rantoul & Eastern Narrow Guage Railroad, built in 1578, runs from west to east, angling across three sections of the west half, and on the half section line of the remaining ‘three sections. leaving the town line at the center of Section 36. Lorette is the name of a station recently established on that road, east of its crossing of the Illinois Central. Business has not begun to tower up at Lorette yet. but the narrow-gaugers propose to buy some corn there in the future.