History of Blue Mound, Illinois
In general appearance and in topography, Blue Mound is not unlike Martin. It has no timber-land, however, and the little streams or runs which run across it to the northeast toward the Mackinaw. and to the southwest, into Money Creek, are deeper cut, and show pebbly bottoms not common in this prairie country. Township 24 north, Range 4 cast of the Third Principal Meridian, is a full Congressional township, and is in the center of the eastern part of the county, being in the third tier of towns respectively from the north, east and south lines of the county, and the third east from the Illinois Central Railroad.
With the peculiar beauty of its primeval state, and the excellence of its soil, it is a wonder that it was so long before it came into general cultivation. Probably the fact that it was within the fifteen-mile belt which was withdrawn from market at the time the Illinois Central land grant was made, had much to do with this delay. Certain it is, there is nothing in the nature of the land that would delay settlement.
The name was derived from the mound, an elevation on Section 28, which, though not very high, was, when seen from the level land, stretching off toward Bloomington, high enough to attract general attention and notice. The “blue” part of it was only such as distance lends to it, for there is no blue appearance on close inspection.
Settlements were first made in 1854, on the north side, near the Lexington line, and, the same year, near the southeast corner.
John Speed Stagner, from Madison County, KY, but who had been living four years near Bloomington, and one of the best-known men in Blue Mound, from his energy and public spirit, came on Section 27, and purchased 200 acres of land around the sides of that section. While in Bloomington, he had united with the Christian Church, and had been ordained an Elder, and at once took an active part in the spiritual welfare of the new settlement. A few had moved in the year before. Thomas Arnold had settled on Section 27, entering the four inside forty-acre tracts, thinking it would prevent others from buying until he should he able to purchase. He still resides on his original purchase, and has good improvements on it. David Wheeler was at that time on the south side of Section 25. He removed to Kansas a few years since.
James A. Doyle, from Kentucky, who now lives in Ellsworth, was then on Section 23, where he lived about twenty years. John Doman, now dead, was on a farm of 160 acres, in Sections 34 and 35. Alexander Willhoite, from Owensburg, Ky., and William Newton, were opening farms on Section 11. Zachariah Arnold, who, like his brother Thomas, was from Virginia, and at that time unmarried, was commencing to improve on Section 35, where he still lives. All these had come here to live the year before. Stagnor, on the north side of the township, a little settlement, was growing up at the same time. Isaac Smith, who afterward committed suicide in a temporary fit of insanity, had commenced to make a farm on Section 9.
William L. Barton came from Ohio to Section 4 in 1854. William McHugh, a brother-in-law of Mr. Barton, came about the same time. He rented a farm in Lexington for a time, and then purchased the northeast quarter of Section 4. Mr. Burton and N. T. Linthicum, both of whom are now dead, settled in the same neighborhood about the same time. William Russell also purchased a farm at the same time. Anderson Brumhead made a farm on Section 5, where he still resides. Mr. Arnold, father of Scott Arnold, opened up a farm on Section 7, where the younger Arnold still lives. Mr. King also commenced farming on a large scale. He lived on a part of Section 4, east of the church, and owned all of Section S. His operations were large, and so conducted as to indicate an unbalanced mind. Great crops of wheat were raised about this time. Indeed, many men were able to pay for their laud and improvements from the proceeds of a single crop. Forty bushels was not uncommon, and was sufficient to induce many brilliant castles of marvelous wealth to be erected in the minds of the newcomers. They came to believe that wheat would grow almost spontaneously on this virgin soil, and many went in debt for land to sow to wheat. Several years of almost entire failure followed, driving those who engaged in it most largely into bankruptcy. Mr. King had a large breadth of wheat, and, the following year, he sowed on the stubble, without even plowing it, though he did harrow after sowing. The result was what might well have been expected. He was soon utterly ruined, both in purse and mind, and was taken to the asylum. Many others lost all in the wheat-raising mania. William A. Galdon opened up a farm where he now resides, near the corners of Sections 1, 2 and 12. The financial crash of 1857 unsettled affairs greatly, and few settlers came in for ten years. From this settlement, near the Lexington line, to that on the south, around about Speed Stagtier’s, was long an open prairie. It was not till the close of the war for the Union, when ” Johnny came marching home ” to make new alliances or renew Long broken ones, and new homes were needed, that this whole range of country for miles around Blue Mound, stretching out east to the county line, was filled up by the hardy, industrious, patriotic men who now live here. They came almost with a rush. Old settlers tell of their surprise, after living on these prairies for years, at seeing this rush of immigration. Daily, as they were at work in their fields, the vision, unobstructed by trees, sweeping for miles in all directions, new shining roofs would spring up, almost by magic. This migration came from the west, Tazewell, Fulton, western McLean and other counties sending their young and strong men to this open field.