Location: McLean County IL

Military History of Dry Grove, Illinois

In the Black Hawk war, Dry Grove was well represented. Col. William McCullough enlisted as a private in the company commanded by Merritt Covel. His great courage, spirit and daring are well known by all. James Phillips, Thomas Brown and Berry Wyatt were under Col. McClure. Col. McCullough was on the battle-field of Stillman’s defeat, and there supplied himself with a gun which a hostile Indian was wont to use against the whites. McClure’s command did not reach the scene of action in time ” to save the day ” nor participate in the flight. We are thus saved the pain of chronicling any disaster to these men on that occasion. But they were in the field, ready to go at their Captain’s command, and the simple fact that they had no opportunity of dealing the enemy a heavy blow, should not detract from them any honors. They went at the call of an emergency and left their friends and relatives, not knowing whether the Indians would visit their home while they were gone, or whether their own scalps would be trophies strung to some chieftain’s neck. In the war with Mexico, Dry Grove claims honors, too. Among those who went to Southern battle-grounds, we learned the names of Benjamin Wyatt, A. J. Mason. John Cranmer, Allin Palmer, J. S. W. Johnson and Thomas Johnson. These all went, and...

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History of Churches in Dry Grove, Illinois

The Christian Church is the strongest at Dry Grove. It was organized by James Robinson and Amos Watkins. They held their first meetings at the residence of Samuel Barker. The house was a cabin, just across the road from where Mr. Snodgrass now lives, in the eastern side of Dry Grove. These pioneer preachers lived oil Panther Creek, in Woodford County, and came down to this grove to preach, and start a church, if possible. They were successful. This was in 1842. Belonging to the first list of membership, we find the names of John Harbard, Abraham Staggers. William Beeler, Samuel Harley, Stephen Webb, Francis Johnson, James Ward, George M. Hinshaw and others. After the first organization, the church experienced a season of inactivity. For some time, the cause was at a low ebb. But they revived again, and built their first church in 1850 and 1851. It stood on the site of the present. church, and cost about $600. It was 30 by 40 feet. With the progress of the society, this house became too small, and was replaced by another of more spacious dimensions, in 1864. This building stands on Section a3, near the southwest corner. It is jut in the south edge of the timber. There is a neatly-cared-for and elegantly-ornamented cemetery in connection. Here rest many of the earlier settlers. This is a frame house,...

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History of Schools in Dry Grove, Illinois

The citizens of Twin Grove and Dry Grove suffered all the inconveniences usually experienced by the original inhabitants of any country. The few who dwelt within convenient distances of one another were not, at first, sufficiently numerous to support a school. So far as can now be ascertained, the first school taught in the township was held in a log cabin on the farm that Jacob Hinshaw bought of Abraham Carlock, when Hinshaw first carne to the settlement. The teacher was Daniel Crooks. His was, as all others at that time, a subscription school. The number of pupils or the amount of money the worthy teacher received for his services, we know not; but it would not be in accordance with the spirit of the times to suppose that he more than earned a sufficiency for family necessities. It is probable that the first schoolhouse in the township was at Twin Grove. The exact date of its erection we were unable to learn, but it was quite early in the history of the settlement. The first teacher here was James Garten. About the time of the building of the schoolhouse in Twin Grove, the progressive spirit manifested itself at Dry Grove. The pioneers concluded that the private residence on Mr. Hinshaw’s place was no longer sufficiently ample, commodious or dignified to serve as the educational edifice of the community....

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Early Settlers of Dry Grove, Illinois

The two groves on the south side of the township offered as many points for settlement to the pioneer. It is no wonder that these hardy, hunting men should select the places that they did for their early efforts at civilization. These woodlands are still attractive. They are in the upland. There are no marshes nor swamps in them. The ground is rolling and soon dry after the rains. In early spring, the grass is seen peeping out from under the leaves, clothing the woodland with a carpet of green before the somber prairies put on their summer’s garb. The first to enliven the township with a white man’s home, was Peter McCullough. He came from Flemingsburg. Ky., and settled in the grove in 1826. Peter McCulluugh was a noted character in early times. He was a man of remarkable shrewdness and decisiveness. His son William McCullough is well known in the general history of the county, both as an honored and respected citizen, and as a brave and efficient soldier and officer. There are several of the descendants of Peter McCullough still living in the county. He kept a kind of inn for some time, and many anecdotes might be told in regard to the primitive modes of entertainment. The next man in the township was Stephen Webb. Mr. Webb came originally from North Carolina, but moved early...

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History of Dry Grove, Illinois

Dry Grove Township was so named from a grove in the southwestern part. This grove was long known as Dry Grove. Who first gave it the name, we do not know. All the groves in the county were named early. The reason for calling this Dry Grove may probably be found in the fact that it is on high ground, without. any stream of water running through it. The township bears the same name that was given it at the first organization in 1857. It lies in the northwestern part of the county, and includes one Congressional town. It is bounded on the north by White Oak, on the east by Normal, on the south by Dale, and on the west by Danvers Township. It is known as Town 24 north, Range 1 east of the Third Principal Meridian. As will be seen by this the Third Principal Meridian forms its western boundary, separating it from Danvers Township. Besides the grove mentioned above, there is another in the southeastern part of the township, called Twin Grove. These skirt the southern border, forming almost an unbroken line of timber nearly across the southern side. On the north there is no native forest; but the many clusters of forest-trees planted by the industrious farmer, together with the orchards, give the country the appearance of a woodland. This is upland prairie. It...

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Early Mills of Downs, Illinois

There were several mills put up on the stream; none Of them lasted a great while, though. The difficulty was to get a dam which would stand the pressure of spring freshets and the rainy season. John Rice had a mill which, by constructing a long ” race,” had about seven feet fall. It was built about 1840, and had the old-fashioned “flutter” wheel and gate. Hon. John Cusey run this mill for some time. He says that he has sawed as high as four thousand feet in twenty-four hours, though this was far above the average capacity of the mill. It was customary to saw logs for the half, or small lots for 50 cents per hundred feet. Much of the lumber went to build Bloomington, and some of the houses stand there yet. In the absence of pine, which now forms every portion of the houses built, the buildings were made entirely of hard wood-home-sawed lumber. The clapboards and casings were of black-walnut, the frame of oak, hewn out, and the joints, braces, etc., sawed. No ” balloon” buildings were built in those days. The floors were ash, and the lath either basswood or oak, split with an as by laying the pieces on a plank, so that the entire board would hang together when put on the wall, and separated to the required distances by driving...

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The Village on Downs, Illinois

There seems to be a difference of opinion in regard to the true name of this station. Priceville is the name by which the neighborhood was known for several years; when the station was established near the center of Section 4, in 1870, the railroad officials called it Downs. The same year, the Downs Post Office, which was for several years at Mr. Peasley’s house, was transferred to the station, and the post office authorities have since known it as such. Soon after, the small office of” Delta,” in Old Town; was discontinued, and all mail matter for that place was ordered sent to Downs. The reader will please take his choice. P. B. Price, son of old Father Price, laid out the town and platted fifteen blocks north of the railroad. It is nine miles from Bloomington, on the Indianapolis, Bloomington & Western Railroad, and is the only station and the only post office in the township. C. D. Bellville, as soon as the place was laid out, built a store on the block north of the depot, and filled up with a general stock of goods. He now lives at Weedman, where he is engaged in trade. In the fall of the same year, J. A. Davis and Amos Allen built a store and put in a stock of merchandise- The following spring, the Killian brothers built...

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Town Officers of Downs, Illinois

The following figures, taken from the last report of School Treasurer E. Homer, show the condition of the schools: Principal of Township Fund, $3,683 ; whole number of children under twenty-one, 607 ; whole number between six and twenty-one, 397 ; number of districts, 9 ; whole number enrolled, 370; average number of months taught, 7.l ; whole amount paid teachers, $2,268; whole amount paid for other purposes, $868 : total amount paid, $:3,136. In addition, is the Independent Kickapoo School District, which is located partly in this and partly in Old Town. The following is a list of those who have been elected to the township offices from the date of township organization. Downs Illinois Town Officers DateSupervisorClerkAssessorCollector 1858 Sylvester Peasley J. Hedrick J. Cusey N. McDaniels 1859 N. McDaniels C. E. Barclay John Cusey C. H. Rutledge 1860 N. McDaniels A. M. Savidge C. E. Barclay C. H. Rutledge 1861 C. H. Rutledge A. M. Savidge William Benjamin P. C. Eskew 1862 C. H. Rutledge E. R. Young P. Brickey N. McDaniels 1863 C. H. Rutledge George Waddington John Cusey N. McDaniels 1864 E. Horner S. McTeer John Cusey J. J. Hancock 1865 John Cusey Joseph Null John Cusey Eber Horner 1866 John Cusey Joseph Null J. J. Hancock J. B. Weaver 1867 J. B. weaver Joseph Null A. P. Lott J. J. Starkey 1868 Sylvester Peasley...

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Early Churches of Downs, Illinois

Elder 1. D. Newell, a home missionary of the Baptist denomination, was in this field at work, holding meetings as early as 1836. He organized a church, and a building was erected at Lytleville about that time ; and soon after him, Elder Elijah Veatch preached there and in the surrounding country. There was a church organized, and preaching maintained by it for a time, at the Macedonia Schoolhouse, in this township; but it has disbanded. Rev. Joel Hulsey, of the same denomination, came from Kentucky and preached at Lytleville awhile, and, in 1835, came to this town and bought land on Section 19, and remained here for some years. There was an organization of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, and meetings were regularly maintained along the Grove; and a union church was built by that denomination, co-operating with the Methodists, on Section 2, and was occupied by those two denominations in harmony for several years. Rev. R. D. Taylor, Revs. Neat and Archie Johnson and James McDonell were the preachers of the former, and Father Shepherd, Father Royal and Rev. Miflin Harker were the Methodist preachers. Rev. William Bishop; a minister of the Cumberland Church, lived here a few years, preaching and teaching. He went to Mexico in 1846. The United Brethren early held meetings, and formed an organization very early. In 1844, that terribly rainy season, when it...

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Early Settlers of Downs, Illinois

Henry Jacoby took up a claim here about the same time, and was for years a neighbor of Downs. These early adventurers did not find all the conveniences here which would make life pleasant. The hunting was better than now, but all those things which are now thought to be necessaries were wanting. Money was so scarce that it was hardly talked of as a commodity. In place of the short-horns and Berkshires, which you see now in every pasture and feed-yard in this magnificent county, were the black, brindle, piebald, polled, streaked and speckled cattle which, for want of a name, we usually call natives. They were as uneven in quality as variegated in colors, and lacked all the finer beef-qualities for which their successors, the short-horns, are so famous. They answered the purposes for which they were wanted, however, perhaps full as well, perhaps better, than the present popular breed would have done. The working cattle were lively, and endured fatigue and heat well ; and even after they were fatted, they stood the long drives, which the then system of marketing demanded, much better than the cattle of the present day would. They could hardly have been called handsome, but they were in all ways the main help and chief profit of the farmer. As much can hardly be said of the wind-splitting prairie-rooters that were...

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History of Downs, Illinois

Downs Township occupies, in the southern tier of townships, the fourth from the eastern border of the county, and is described as Town 22 north, Range 3, and the northern two tiers of sections of Town 21 north, Range 3 east of the Third Principal Meridian. Downs was principally a prairie town, having no timber except Diamond Grove, a small collection of timber on the Kickapoo, in Sections 5, 6 and 7, and skirting of ” Old Town Timber,” along the northern border of Sections 1, 2 and 3, and “Johnson’s Point,” a small grove in Section 25-covering in the aggregate scarcely four sections of the forty-eight which constitute the town. The Kickapoo is the only creek in Downs, running for about three miles across its northwestern corner. °’ Blue Branch ” and ” Jacoby’s Branch ” run through the -town, and the Long Point Creek, a branch of the Kickapoo, forms in the southern part. The land in the northern half is high and considerably rolling, containing some of the finest farms in the county. The southern portion is more flat, and contains fewer which attract the pleasurable attention of the traveler. The timber here was good, and several mills were built early along the Kickapoo for sawing it into lumber. Before any mills were built, the hardy pioneers whittled out the first lumber with whip-saws, a process...

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History of Cropsy, Illinois

Cropsey Township embraces the south half of Town 25, Range 6 east of the Third Principal Meridian, is three miles by six, and is territorially the smallest in the county, being only one-third the size of Gridley. which is the largest. During most of its political history. it has been attached to the present town of Anchor (24, 6) and in school affairs is attached to, and forms a school township with Belle Prairie, in Livingston County. The township is entirely prairie; and, as a consequence, had no early settlements. Probably the first to settle here was Col. A. J. Cropsey, from whom and by whom the town was named, in 185S. Col. Cropsey came here from Will County, Ill., where his parents had long resided in Plainfield, and commenced farming operations in 1854. He had entered two sections of land, and built a house in or near the center of Section 22. He was a man of enlarged views, having enjoyed the excellent advantages which the son of an intelligent and prosperous farmer in Will County would even at that day receive. He was at once looked up to as a leader among men. He was ardently attached to the M. E. Church, of which he was a member, and a local preacher of considerable note. He did not remain here long, however. He became interested in the...

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Railroad History of Cropsy, Illinois

The center of the old town of Cropsey was, and is yet, about fourteen miles from the nearest railroad station, being about equidistant from Saybrook, on the south, and Fairbury, on the north. This of itself was enough. during the era of railroad-building and bond-voting, to make it of interest to railroad-builders and popular with voters to go into the bonding business. Several propositions were made and votes taken in this direction. None of these propositions were received favorably until the Decatur State-Line Railroad took form. This road was to run from Decatur, where it well connect with the Decatur & East St. Louis road, of which it was to be an extension. direct to Chicago, passing through Chatsworth. The road would have been, had it been built, an almost air-line route from St. Louis to Chicago-several miles shorter than the shortest line between those two cities. The Boodys, of the Toledo, Wabash & Western Railroad, which controlled the Decatur & East St. Louis line, were very anxious to build it, for it would give them a Chicago connection which they had been, and still have been, unable to get. The proposition really seemed the most feasible of the many railroad propositions then in existence. They were in business relations with the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific railroad, and were really dependent on that company for the money to...

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Township Officers of Cropsy, Illinois

The township was organized in April, 1858, at a meeting held at the house of Levi Straight. A. A. Straight was chosen Moderator, and A. J. Cropsey, Clerk. The town was divided into two road districts on the half-section line running through the town north and south, which now has the iron bridge on it. Below is given, in table, the officers who have been elected to the principal offices during the official life of the town. Cropsy Illinois Town Officers DateVotes CastSupervisorClerkAssessorCollector 1.858,00 A.A. Straight B.A. Wiggins J. Harkness J. Darr 1.859,00 J.H. Van Eman E.W. Mahoney E. Merrill N.M. Stoddard 1.860,00 J.H. Van Eman E.W. Mahoney E. Merrill H. Crabb 1.861,00 N.M. Stoddard E.W. Mahoney G.W. Freshcorn S.P. Alford 1.862,00 19 Charles Crabb G.W. Freshcorn H. Crabb 1.863,00 17 Charles Crabb A.B. Carr N.M. Stoddard 1.864,00 14 N.M. Stoddard Charles Crabb B.M. Stoddard Robert Rand 1.865,00 14 J. Ward Charles Crabb H. Crabb J.W. McCullough 1.866,00 19 Henderson Crabb Charles Crabb J.P.W. Eson J.W. McCullough 1.867,00 39 H.L. Terpenning Charles Crabb J.P.W. Eson J.W. McCullough 1.868,00 36 M.H. Knight Charles Crabb J.I. Robinson J.W. McCullough 1.869,00 64 H.L. Terpenning J.C. Swatsley J. McCullough Anson Dart 1.870,00 105 H.L. Terpenning J.C. Swatsley H. Crabb A.W. Green 1.871,00 76 H.L. Terpenning J.C. Swatsley Z.C. Worley J.C. Swatsley 1.872,00 76 H.L. Terpenning J.C. Swatsley Z.C. Worley J.C. Swatsley 1.873,00 101...

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History of Farming in Blue Mound, Illinois

For some years, the people of all this prairie country suffered great inconvenience in consequence of the expensive fencing necessary to protect their crops from the great herds of cattle which were allowed to roam at will over the prairie. In 1872, the township provided by ordinance against cattle running at large, at their regular town meeting. The ordinance followed the one of the town of Cropsey, which had been sustained and proved successful in its operation. Since the first experience in wheat, corn has been, and probably will continue to be, the great staple crop. The adoption of the law preventing cattle from running at large, made it possible for men to crop their land without fencing, and hedges were started, although there are many pieces of land in the township which are still open. There is no railroad, marketing of the crops being done at Lexington on the north, and Ellsworth and Holder on the south. Old settlers tell of a terrible tornado which swept over the town in the summer, which did much damage and caused more fright. The wind had blown from the east all day, and at night came back from the west in a terrible gale. For years, the people at the East had heard heart-rending stories of the awful winds on these treeless prairies. This was the first experience these settlers had...

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