Huntsville Township History

That division of Schuyler known as Huntsville is situated in the extreme southwestern portion of the county, and is bounded on the north by Birmingham, on the east by Camden, on the south by Brown county, and on the west by Adams county. Entering the township at its western boundary, near the southernpart of section seven, is Cedar creek, flowing across the entire northern portion, in an easterly and northeasterly direction, then turning southeast it passes into Camden township at the southeastern corner of section twelve, receiving tributaries from the north and south. Along its channel are found beds of coal, fine building stone, and valuable timber, furnishing an abundant supply of water, and affording necessary drainage for the adjacent higher lands. In the southwestern portion of the township three large tributaries of Big Missouri creek drain that section, while from the south the Big Missouri enters the township in section thirty-three, and winds its course through the southeastern corner, and leaves the township at section twenty-five, affording equal water-supplies, coal, and timber for that part of the territory. Along the water-courses the surface is broken, and was formerly covered with dense forests, which have long since yielded to the stroke of the woodsman's axe, and have been converted into fertile farms. In the central portion we see mound after mound, with gentle slopes, in all directions. Upon many of these dome-like hills, handsome residences and commodious barns may be seen. On the hillsides, fields of golden grain, or the growing corn; herds of horses and cattle, and flocks of sheep are browsing upon the rich meadows, or resting beneath the shade of the remaining monarchs of the once predominant forest. In the northeastern portion of the township are many highly-improved farms. Nearly the whole township is susceptible of cultivation, and much attention is given to grazing, and the abundant yield of corn is sent from the township in the shape of fat cattle, hogs, sheep, and horses. The township comprises all of Congressional township two north, range four west, of the fourth principal meridian, and contains thirty-six full sections.

Military Patents

The following were the first patents to lands in this township, issued to soldiers of the war of 1812:
Amos Pitcher, October 6th, 1817, N. E. quarter of section thirteen
Charles Shepherd, October 17th, 1817, S. E. quarter of section one
George W. Dunton, October 21st, 1817, N. E. quarter of section nine
Joseph Jackaway, October 21st, 1817, S. E. quarter of section nine
Joshua Clark, November 1st, 1817, N. W. quarter of section thirteen
Benjamin Scriver, December 5th, 1817, N. E. quarter of section ten

Early Settlers

To William Spangler, a native Pennsylvania, who was taken to Kentucky by his parents, from whence he went to Indiana and married, belongs the honor of being the first settler of the wilderness in what is now one of the best improved sections of the county. In the summer of 1832, he concluded to leave his home and seek an abode in the new country of Illinois. With his wife and children, Purlina, Margaret, and Mary, he took passage on the boat, and landed at Quincy, and from there, with his span of horses and wagon, which he had brought along, turned towards the east, arriving in the northern part of the township; took out a pre-emption right, built his humble log-cabin, and settled on the northeast quarter of section five, which he subsequently entered,--his nearest neighbor being six miles distant. Here he continued to reside until 1851, when he moved to Hancock county, where he died at a ripe old age.

Immediately following William Spangler, came Willis G. Moffett, of Kentucky, who arrived by wagon, bringing his wife and family of children, and on the southwest quarter of section four built his cabin and entered the land, in 1832. We might add, that some claim Mr. Moffit as the first settler, though the weight of the authority seems to accord to Mr. Spangler that honor.

John Thornhill, of Kentucky, born in 1786, a relative of the Browns, of Camden, arrived in the county in the fall of 1834, and with his wife and a large family, William, Ellen, Martha, Jackson, Cynthia Ann, Achilles, Sarah, Jane, Eliza and Lucy, in a four-horse wagon, moved into Huntsville, and settled on the northeast quarter of section twenty-two where he spent many days of his life in farming and teaching, and where he died in 1859, at an advanced age, after trying his fortune in Texas. Jamison Wilson accompanied John Thornhill, his father-in-law, having only a wife, and settled on the northwest of section twenty-two, where he yet lives. Henry Moss was a squatter in the township as early as 1831, and made a small improvement, but soon left, being greatly annoyed by bears, which were plentiful. In 1833 there were a number of arrivals, and among the permanent settlers were Reuben Allphin, of Kentucky, who came in the fall, and brought a wife and family, and settled upon the southeast quarter of section ten, buying the cabin and improvement of Henry Moss. He is still living in the township, at the advanced age of eighty-two years. Robert Clayton, a native of Tennessee, with a family of wife and three children, arrived in the spring, and squatted on the northwest quarter of section thirteen, but never acquired a title. Another Kentuckian, David Tyree, and two grown sons, and his son-in-law, Hamilton Anderson and wife, sought homes in the township in the fall. They bought the southeast quarter of section eleven, on which was a log-cabin, some fence and ground in cultivation, the improvement having been made by a single man, Madison Clayton, a son of Robert, who sold to David Tyree, and went to Morgan county. Tyree improved his farm, and died upon it. Samuel Warren, from Ohio, with a family, arrived in 1833, coming in a wagon, and located on and entered the west half of northwest quarter, the west half of southwest quarter of section four, built his cabin, improved his home, and with his wife have long since passed away; and their children are now enjoying the fruits of their parents’ toil. Stephen Mendenhall, of North Carolina, arrived from Indiana in the fall, and with his wife and little ones made a home on the southwest quarter of section eighteen. Alfred Jamison came with John Thornhill, and took possession of the northeast quarter of the northwest quarter of section fourteen, which Robert Brown had entered for his mother, Mrs. Jamison. Alfred Jamison was single when he came to the county, but subsequently married a daughter of John Thornhill. Stephen Perkins, of Kentucky, came from Indiana, brought his wife and children, two of whom were grown into the township in 1832, and took up a pre-emption right on the southwest quarter of section six; built a double log-cabin and a smoke-house, and improved and fenced twenty-five acres of land, where he lived until the fall of 1834, when he sold his interest and moved to Iowa. A squatter by the name of Swope, a bachelor, had made his appearance in the township about the same time as Perkins, improved the northeast quarter of section five, but soon after left. Jesse Burke, of Virginia, and family, came into the southern portion of the township in 1832, and settled on the northeast quarter of section thirty, which he improved, and subsequently entered, and where he now lives. Robert and William Brooks, brothers, both having families, squatted upon the northeast quarter of section twenty-four, in 1834, and made some improvement, but soon afterward moved into Camden. On the sixth day of December, 1834, there arrived a pioneer, Rev. William Crain, a Methodist clergyman, who has ever since been one of the sterling citizens, not only of this township, but of the county. He and his wife are still living upon the original purchase. In August, 1834, Mr. Crain, accompanied by his wife’s uncle and foster-father, Abraham Newfield, came into the State from Missouri, and entered sixty acres in the northwest quarter of section six, for himself, and the southeast quarter of the northwest quarter of section six, for Ezra Dorsett.  After bargaining for the improvement of Stephen Perkins, they returned to Missouri, gathered together their effects, and with two span of horses, two yoke of oxen, and an old fashioned carryall, started for their new home, and arrived in Rushville December 6th, 1834.  Here they spent the winter, completed the purchase from Perkins, and in February, 1835, took possession of their homes. Rev. William Crain was born in Culpepper county, Virginia, in 1802. He left his native State of Kentucky; from Kentucky he went to Indiana, and thence to Missouri, where he married Miss Harriet E. Tong. He brought with him three children, James N., John F., and William H. Mr. Newfield and his wife died upon the old homestead. Jacob Houts, of Kentucky, came into the township from Missouri in the spring of 1834, and settled on the northwest quarter of section five. He brought with him a wife and nine children. From the wilderness he carved out a home, built his cabin, improved his land, and in the fall of 1834 he had sixty acres of wheat, which yielded well, and for which he received one dollar per bushel. He subsequently sold out and returned to Missouri.

The year 1835 brought a large influx of pioneers to the township. William Anderson, born in Kentucky, May 14, 1800, was taken to Ohio, where he remained until 1822, when he returned to Kentucky, where he resided until 1831, when he returned to Ohio, and was married to Miss Prudence Wallingsford. On the 1st of  October, 1835, with his wife and children, Mary Jane, Cyrus, Andrew and Vincent, in an old–fashioned wagon, with a curved bed, behind four good horses started for his new home in Illinois. He crossed the river at Beard’s ferry, and on Oct. 16, 1835, arrived in Huntsville. He entered the S. W. ¼ of  S. E. 1/4 of section 12, and bought the claim and improvements upon the N. W. ¼ of section 13 from Robert Clayton. Mr. Anderson and wife are yet living on the old homestead. William Nesbit, an uncle of William Anderson, came from Ohio with him. Mr. Anderson brought his goods and family in his wagon. William Nesbit settled on the N. E. ¼ of the N. W. ¼ of section 12. He was a cooper by trade. Samuel Smith, a cousin of William Anderson, also came at the same time in his own wagon, bringing a wife and two children. He bought the improvement right of Hamilton Anderson, who had been living upon the E. ½ of the N. E. ¼ of section 11 since the fall of 1833, and subsequently entered the land. Hamilton Anderson went to Ohio, after selling his interests to Smith. Col. Geo. H. Briscoe and family also came to the township in an ox wagon from Kentucky in 1835, and bought out the interest of an early settler by the name of Levin Tadlock in an eighty acre tract of N. W. ¼ of section 3. About the same time John L. Ewing, a brother-in-law of Col. Briscoe, with his family settled on the N. E. ¼ of section 3. Ezra Dorsett of N. C. and family of a wife and ten children arrived in 1835, and took possession of the land which had been previously entered for him by Rev. William Crain. John Allphin came from Kentucky, stopping in Indiana a short time, and with his wife and children, and brother Thomas, arrived in Huntsville township and built himself a cabin on the N. W. ¼ of section 16, in 1835. Dr. Samuel Clarkson, of Kentucky, though not a resident of the township until 1836, is deserving of mention as one of the early settlers. He came from near Mt. Sterling in the adjoining county, where he had been living many years.  He brought a large family with him, and entered many tracts of land, made numerous public improvements, borrowing money to carry on his different enterprises, and being deeply involved when the gold excitement began in California, left his home for that section, with the hope of retrieving his fortune, and on his return home died at sea, and was buried in the Pacific.

The first marriage in the township was performed by Rev. William Crain, in the summer of 1835, and the parties were a Mr. Cruikshanks and Keziah Perkins. The first birth was that of a child of William Spangler, in 1832. The first person who died in the township was John Perkins, a young man. He died at the house of his father, Stephen Perkins, on S. W. quarter of section 6, and he was buried in Camden. The first graveyard was laid out in 1834, on the S. E. quarter of section 4, and the first interment was that of a little child of a family of strangers, who sought shelter at Willis G. Moffitt’s in the summer of that year. The first school-house was a small log cabin on the S. W. quarter of section 4, and was built in the summer of 1835. The first school was taught by Jeremiah Briscoe. The first sermon preached in the township was that delivered by Rev. Milton  Kimball, at the house of William Spangler, in 1833, though the Methodist circuit riders, Revs. W. Pitner, John P. Richmond, and Peter Borin, preached at the house of Jacob Houts at an early day. Rev. William Crain may also be classed with the pioneer ministers of the M. E. Church. Among the early physicians who practiced in the township may be mentioned Dr. North, the earliest; Dr. John P. Richmond, Dr. Samuel Clarkson, and Dr. A. J. Meade. John L. Ewing was the first justice of the peace; and a man named McDaniels was the first blacksmith. The first mill in the township was built by Dr. Samuel Clarkson, on the S. E. quarter of section 25, upon the south bank of Big Missouri Creek, in the spring of 1837. It was a frame building, undershot wheel, with one run of stones. After running several years, it was abandoned, owing to the insufficiency of the water supply, and it has since rotted down, and washed away. About the same time Willis G. Moffitt built a saw mill with undershot wheel on Cedar creek, just south of the village of Huntsville, and, shortly afterwards, added a run of burrs for grinding corn. At the present time there is not a mill in the township. The first bridge in the township was the one over Cedar creek, south of the village. The roads and bridges of the township at the present day are in good condition. The township is supplied with excellent school facilities, there being nine school buildings, all comfortably furnished and occupied by schools six months annually. An abundance of coal of a superior quality is found on the N. W. quarter of section 8, along Cedar creek, the vein being two and a-half feet thick, and easily obtained by stripping the dirt from the top. This mine is operated by W. L. Carter. The same vein is found on the S. E. quarter of section 5, and in fact on both sides of Cedar creek throughout its course in the township. A quarry of valuable sand-stone is located on the N. E. quarter of section 7. The stone is very hard, admits of high degree of polish, and is extensively used for monumental work and building purposes.

Board of Supervisors

The following are the supervisors who have represented the township in the county board since township organization.
William T.  Clark - 1854 and died during his term of office; and
P. E. Veatch was appointed in March, 1855, to serve balance of term
Thomas J. Poe - 1856
James Baxter - 1859
William S. Nelson - 1861
Henry Cady - 1864
Samuel S. Benson - 1866
John W. Scott - 1868
Zebulon Allphin - 1870
A. J. Aanderson - 1872
William H. H. Rader - 1873
Nathaniel Milby - 1879
Nicholas Burmood - 1881
Zebulon Allphin - 1882 to present

The census of 1880 shows 172 farms in the township, and places the population at 1193.

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

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