Camden Township History

In the early fall of 1829, three hardy and venturesome men, crossed the Illinois river at Beard’s ferry, and with guns upon their shoulders, turned their course westward, following an Indian trail from Rushville, then a small village, and crossed a stream of water on a fallen log, in search of new homes to which they could bring their wives and little ones.  At a distance of fourteen miles west of Rushville, they found a hill in the form of a prefect dome, and from this point, they selected their future homes, staked off their land, retraced their footsteps to Rushville, and thence returned to their families in Morgan county.  These men were John, and Robert Brown, brothers, and Luke Allphin, a brother-in-law of John Brown.  From the entry of these sturdy pioneers, begins the history of what is now Camden township. It is one of the southern range of townships of Schuyler county, and is bounded on the north by Brooklyn township, on the east by Buena Vista, on the south by Brown County, and on the west by Huntsville. In form, it is a perfect square, and contains thirty-six full sections, and is Congressional township two north, range three west of the fourth principal meridian. Originally this township was covered with a heavy growth of timber, especially along the streams, while, here and there, were scattered small prairies covered with tall grass. The surface is gently undulating, save along Crooked creek, where it is very much broken, with rich bottom land upon either side of the streams. The soil is rich and productive, and well adapted to agriculture. It is well watered, Crooked creek entering it in the northeast corner of section four, eight, nine, ten, eleven, thirteen, fourteen, twenty-three, twenty-four, twenty-five, and passing through section thirty-six, into Brown county, furnishing an excellent range for stock, besides abundant water supply, mill sites and drainage facilities. Little Missouri creek also flows across the southern part of the township, and receives many small tributaries. Cedar creek enters the township from the west. Spring branch from the north, and Brush creek and Stony branch from the east, and all pour their waters into Crooked creek.

Land Patents

Believing that the first land entries will prove interesting to the present as well as future generations, we append a few, all being patents granted to soldiers for services in the war of 1812.  The first patent was issued to Elihu Stivers, Oct 6, 1817, for the S. E. quarter of section 13; to William Gray, for the N. E. quarter of section 27, November 29, 1817; to James C. Young for the N. W. quarter of section 20; a patent for S. E. quarter of section 6, February 18, 1818; William Bowden for N. E. quarter of section 7, March 5, 1818; and to J. Bauley, for N. W. of section 24.  The township took its name, at the adoption of township organization, from the village of the same name.

Early Settlers

The three pioneers, who had selected locations in the wilderness, returned to Morgan county, and made preparations for removal to their new homes.  John Brown was a  native of Grant county, Kentucky, where he grew to manhood and married Miss Sarah Points, and in 1825 left Kentucky and, with a wife and two children came to Morgan county, where he resided until the early spring of 1830.  In the last mentioned year, he loaded his household goods, and with his wife and children, Lucy and Thomas B., started on his journey, behind his patient ox team. Arriving at his proposed home, he built a comfortable cabin of hewed logs, covering it with clapboards, which were held to their places with pole weights. He settled on the northeast quarter of section 20; where he died, January 10, 1871, aged 84 years, leaving several children, and his aged widow who still survives, and lives with her daughter, Mrs. Goodwin West, near Camden. With John Brown came his brother Robert and family, and settled on the southwest quarter of section 17, first squatting and afterwards purchasing the land. Here he spent the remainder of his days. The third member of this little band, was Luke Allphin, also a native of  Kentucky. His mode of conveyance was like that of his companions, with whom he started from Morgan county. He brought with him a wife and children, Zebedee and Jane. He settled on the southeast quarter of section 17; building a cabin and making improvements. Tiring of the rapidly increasing population, he migrated to California. The deep snow commencing on the 8th day of December, 1830, caused much suffering to the Browns and Allphins, as they did not have sufficient time to raise a crop after their arrival, and what they did raise was devoured by the crows and prairie chickens which would surround and even enter the house in flocks. Their stock of corn was soon exhausted, and to sustain life it was necessary for John and Robert Brown to go to Rushville for a new supply. During their absence Mrs. John Brown, kept her calves from starving by feeding them with straw from the beds; and when the Browns returned with the corn, it had to be ground upon a hand mill, before they could satisfy their hunger. For several years their most convenient mill was at Quincy.

Following these early settlers came Ephraim Eggleston of Ohio, who had been living in the county since 1823, bringing his wife and children, and settling on the southwest quarter of section 15, where he erected his cabin and spent his life to toil. The number of these early settlers was farther augmented by the arrival in the fall of 1831, of Thomas J. Chapman, a native of Kentucky, and a brother-in-law of John Brown, who had come from his native state with the Browns when they came to Morgan county. He arrived in an ox wagon with his wife, and James, Thomas and Sarah, his children, and settled on the southeast quarter of section 30, building a cabin as usual.  He left the county many years ago and went to Iowa. In 1833, Ephraim Owens located on the southwest corner of section 24, with a wife and family of grown children.  Ira Owens and family made a home on the southeast of section 26, and Hensen Marlow, from Indiana, with his wife and children, Agnes and Richard, built his cabin on the southwest quarter of section 22. Jesse Plunkett, with his wife, came from Kentucky in a one horse wagon, and settled the northeast quarter of section 30. The arrivals in 1835, consisted of the families of Robert Points, on the northwest quarter of section 5, where he started a saloon, and Drury B. Davis from Kentucky, on the northwest quarter of section 22. Wm. Allphin from Indiana, arrived in an ox wagon after a journey of fourteen days, bringing his wife and children, Green, Luke P., Thomas, Jackson, Marion, America and Margaret, and settled on the northeast quarter of 21. Among the old settlers were Abel Whiteman who made his home on the southeast quarter of section 21, in 1837; Isaac Cady, who bought the improvement on the northwest quarter of section 19, and  his eldest son, Isaac G., at the same time selected the southwest quarter of section 20, in 1835. Benjamin West took possession of the southwest of 26, and his brother, Willison West, the northeast of 35, in 1834, both having families. Baalam Busby and family, came from Kentucky in 1833, and made an improvement on the southwest quarter of section 26. Two brothers, named Clark, both men with families, came to the township in 1834, from Kentucky. Harrison Clark entered the S. E. of section 36, and William Clark the S. W. of section 36. Among the early settlers may be mentioned Philander Avery, Robert Brooks, Adam S., and John Corrie, M. M. Cleek, John L. Callison, Geo. L. Gray, Robt. G. McHatton, R. B. Stubblefield, B. F. Taggart, the Wells  family, Joseph N. Ward, all of whom by their industry have made the township one of the wealthiest and most prosperous in the county.

The first birth in the township was that of William Eggleston. The first death was that of a little child of a pioneer named Raphael Wilson, who rented the house on the northeast quarter of section 19, where the burial took place.

The first cemetery was located on the southwest quarter of section 17, 1834, and the first burial in it was that of a little boy of Robert Brown’s. The first school-house was built in 1836, a rude log cabin on the southwest quarter of section 18; and the first session of school was taught in the summer of 1836, by John Thornhill. The first sermon was preached at the house of John Brown in the winter of 1833, by Rev. Paten, a Methodist. Drury B. Davis or Balaam Busby was the first justice of the peace, and Dr. Samuel Clarkson was the first physician. Besides the churches in Camden the United Brethren have a neat edifice known as Union Chapel, Rev. Cisely, pastor. The first bridge built in Camden township was the one across Crooked creek on the Rushville road at an early day. The roads of the present day are in a good and passable condition, and the water courses are spanned in many places with substantial bridges, making all points accessible and convenient. The educational interest of the township are carefully fostered, and in the eight white frame school buildings may be found the youth of the land, six months of each year. The first attempt to build a mill in the township was made by John Taggart, who came to the township with his father-in-law, Wolberton and their families in 1833 and located on the S. W. ¼ of section 26, commenced building a dam and subsequently erected a two-story frame mill, but before they succeeded in getting it into operation they were evicted by the owner of the land, and the mill was allowed to go to ruin. Being a man of considerable determination he applied to the county authorities for permission to construct a dam, not to exceed nine feet in height, across Crooked creek, on the S. W. ¼ of section 11, where he and his family and his father-in-law moved. He was successful in his application, and permission was granted William McKee and Thomas Taggart, on the 8th of December, 1835. Work was at once begun, and early in 1836, the mill was put into operation, and served the surrounding country for many years. Wolberton moved away, but Taggart died in the township. There are now three saw mills in operation in the township: John Pickenpaugh on S. E. ¼ of section 4; Lewis Craycraft on N. W. ¼ of section 32; and Jacob Chapman.

Board of Supervisors

The township has been represented in the Board of supervisors by the following named gentlemen:
1854 - I. G. Cady
1855 - Luke P. Allphin
1862 - John M. Campbell
1863 - Cyrus Morrell
1864 - Isaac G. Cady
1866 - Abner Murphy
1867 - Arthur L. Wells
1868 - E. L. Fuller
1870 - Eli Unger
1871 - Philander Avery
1874 - George E. Harvey
1875 - James N. Rigg
1877 - Philander Avery
1879 - James N. Rigg
1880 - M. M. Cleek
1881 - Philander Avery

Excerpted from The Combined History of Schuyler and Brown Counties, Illinois, 1882
Transcribed by Carol Longwell Miller for Schuyler County ILGenWeb

Copyright 1999-2006 Judi Gilker; all rights reserved. For personal use only. Commercial use of the information contained in these
pages is strictly prohibited without prior permission. If copied, this copyright must appear with the information.

Return to Camden Township index