Buena Vista Township History

Buena Vista Township is located near the geographical center of Schuyler County, and is the only one of the thirteen townships in the county that does not, at some point, touch the outside boundary of the county. Like all the other townships, Buena Vista has wide spreading prairies and embraces a part of the broken timber country which lies along the many small streams that flow southward into Crooked Creek. Along these streams there is found a good quality of building stone that was extensively quarried at an early day. A good vein of coal also underlies a portion of the township.

Levin Green, the pioneer Methodist preacher whose history has been given in another chapter of this work, was the first settler in Buena Vista Township. He came to Schuyler County in November, 1823, from Missouri accompanied by his family and brother-in-law, George Stewart, and his family. They spent the winter in the Hobart settlement and early in the following spring took up their abode in Buena Vista. They were joined soon afterwards by Henry Green, Jr., and his family, who had driven overland from Texas.

Levin Green selected for his home the southeast quarter of Section 23; Henry Green, Jr., the southeast half of the northeast quarter of Section 20, and George Stewart the southeast quarter of Section 13. The Greens had always lived in the South and the first year they spent in Schuyler they planted a crop of cotton, and the yield must have been at least partially successful, for in 1807 Henry Green, Jr., erected a rude cotton gin to handle the crop.

John Ritchey settled in Buena Vista on the southeast quarter of Section 25 in 1824, but soon sold his pre-emption right to Samuel Turner and removed to Littleton Township. In March, 1825, Samuel and Manlove Horney settled on Section 14, where they resided until 1834, when they removed to Littleton.

In May, 1825, the Green settlement was greatly increased by the arrival of Henry Green, Sr., and wife; Philip Spohnamore and family of eight; George Green, wife and six children; John Spohnamore, wife and two children; John Green, wife and three children, and James Robinson, wife and three children. They all came from Missouri and, being related by marriage, took up their home in the Green settlement and their descendants are today residents of the township.

Samuel Turner, who first came to Schuyler in 1823, returned to St. Clair County soon after building his cabin, and on his return in 1825 found it occupied. He sold his improvement and removed to Buena Vista Township and settled on the southeast quarter of Section 25. Here he cleared a piece of ground and made improvements, but in 1834 a claimant with a superior title appeared and the work of years was lost. He then removed to the southeast quarter of Section 11, and it is said had to buy off three different persons who claimed to have title to the land. Mr. Turner was married on May 24, 1830, to Miss Rachel Robertson, and their son, Allen Turner, still resides on the old homestead farm.

Charles Teas settled on the northwest quarter of Section 23 in 1826, and resided there until 1829, when he sold his claim to Lemuel Sparks, and the old homestead is now owned by J. B. Sparks of Rushville, who is a son of the old pioneer settler.

Alexander Ross, a native of Kentucky, settled in Buena Vista in the summer of 1826, with his wife and six children, and built a cabin on the northeast quarter of Section 16, where he made a permanent settlement.

Joel McKee came to Schuyler County in 1826 with his father-in-law, William McKee, and in the following year he removed to Buena Vista Township and built a cabin on the northwest quarter of Section 2. Here he resided until 1847, when he made an overland trip to Oregon. He returned in 1851 and again took up his abode in the township where he lived to a ripe old age. Mr. Tullis had the first distillery in the township which was built in 1833. John Tullis and John Thompson were neighbors of Joel Tullis and built their cabins on Section 1.

Drury Sellers, a native of Kentucky, moved to Buena Vista in the spring of 1828 with his family, and settled on the southwest quarter of Section 2, but afterward removed to Littleton.

Other early settlers were: Robert L. Dark, George Swan, William Owens, Ephraim Haines and John R. Skiles, and, in the early 'thirties, there came a number of families who made permanent homes in the township.

The first wedding in the township was that of William Hobart Taylor and Miss Elizabeth Spohnamore, which occurred November 27, 1825. Rev. Levi Green performed the ceremony.

The first death was that of a four year old son of Henry Green, Jr., in the summer of 1827.

The first school house was built in 1828 on the northwest quarter of Section 1, and Robert Sexton was the teacher in charge. There had been a school taught in the Green settlement as early as 1825 by William Hobart Taylor, but the residents found it more convenient to send their children to the schools in Rushville Township.

The first mill in the township was operated by Joel Tullis. It was supplied with power by the old tread-wheel with horses for motive power. It was erected in 1831 on the northeast quarter of Section 2. Col. Clark, an Englishman, also had a horse mill in operation in 1835 on the northeast quarter of Section 17. The first steam gristmill was built in 1857 by George C. Clark in the southeast quarter of Section 14.

A portion of the city of Rushville lies within the bounds of Buena Vista Township, and this tract of land was originally owned by William McCreery. He purchased 160 acres lying west of the original town site for $350, and the owner in New York was so astonished at receiving so munificent an offer, that he feared he might be losing some unknown treasure, and in his deed, now on record at the court house, expressly reserves all minerals to be found on the land deeded.

Population of the township in 1900, including part of the city of Rushville, 1,651, the portion coming within the city of Rushville being 629.

Excerpted from Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois and History of Schuyler County, 1908, edited by Howard F. Dyson, pp. 697-9.
Transcribed by Karl A. Petersen for Schuyler County ILGenWeb

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