Littleton Township History

This is the best and most finely improved of all the townships in the county; and here we find the model farms, the most beautiful farm residences, elegantly furnished with all the conveniences of modern life. The pastures are dotted with blooded stock, and the large and commodious barns are tenanted by fine horses and comfortable and handsome carriages. Beneath surrounding sheds stand the latest and best improved machinery of all kinds necessary for the successful cultivation of the soil. As one drives along the well-kept roads, feelings of pleasure well up in his breast, as field after field of golden grain, or green corn meets the eye upon all sides, while the ear is not unfrequently greeted with strains of sweet music issuing from the farm houses by the way-side, indicating that the wives and daughters of the proprietors have time for the cultivation of the taste as well as for labor. Littleton is one of the northern tier of townships. McDonough county borders on the north, Oakland on the east, Buena Vista on the south, and Brooklyn on the west. Its entire surface is slightly rolling prairie, highly productive, naturally, and improved by extensive tilling. There is sufficient timber along the water courses to answer all demands for fencing and fuel. Horney Branch in the northwestern corner, Brushy creek in the southwest, and streams in each of the other corners aford an ample water supply and the necessary drainage.

Military Patents

Military patents for services in the war of 1812 were issued for land in this township as early as 1817 to the following named persons:
Jacob Newman received a warrant for the S. W. 1/4 of section 11, on the 27th of November, 1817
John Cyphers, for the N E. 1/4 of section 8, on the 29th of November, 1817
Charles Hodgedon, for the N. W. 1/4 of section 8, on the 29th of November, 1817
Amasa Turner, for the N. E. 1/4 of section 5, December 6, 1817
John Merritt, for the S. E. 1/4 of Section 13, December 15, 1817
Benjamin Spearmin, for the S. E.1/4 of section 10, December 27, 1817

Early Settlers

This township was one of the earliest settled in the county. Its fertile soil, beautiful location and proximity to the first settlement made, were circumstances that soon attracted the attention of the pioneers, and David Trainor, a young man, was the first to enter the township in the summer of 1825. He built a cabin, put in a crop in the weeds, and then went back to his former home, and in the spring of 1826 returned with his father. He improved the W. 1/2 of the N. E. 1/4 of section 27.

The next to seek a home within its inviting borders were Thomas McKee and his son-in-law, Garrett Wycoff, with their families. They both settled upon the S. E. 1/4 of section 35, in the spring of 1826, at which time they had moved up from Bainbridge. McKee was subsequently killed in a coal mine in Rushville, and Wycoff subsequently sold his interests in that portion of the township, and about the fall of 1832, took possession of, and improved the S. W. 1/4 of section 19. His cabin he constructed of clapboards in form of a frame house. He was a native of Maryland, and died upon his last improvement in the township, leaving a large family of children, some of whom are now residents. John Ritchey was a native of Pennsylvania, where he married and came to Cincinnati, and from there to Schuyler county in the fall of 1824, bringing his wife, and Martha, Daniel, Addison B., his children, and first settled in Buena Vista, where he remained until the fall of 1824, sold out and then moved around, and in the spring of 1826 came into Littleton and took up the S. W. 1/4 of section 35, which he purchased from Garrett Wycoff, December 7, 1826. The first summer he spent in a camp constructed of clapboards resting upon a ridge-pole. The beds were made upon the ground, until one morning in making them up, a large rattlesnake was discovered in a bed from which one of the children had just been taken, and then Mr. Ritchey made bunks by driving a forked stick of timber into the ground and laying sticks across. He died in the township some years ago, and several of his sons now reside here. David and Thomas Blair, brothers, came from Bainbridge, also settled on the N. W. 1/4 of section 36, about this time, but did not remain long. James Trainor purchased from William H. Taylor the E. 1/2 of the N. W. 1/4 of section 27, on the 22d day of December, 1825, and in the following spring came into the township and made his home, building his rude cabin and plodding along, in the manner of those days.

James H. Smith, who came from the southern part of Illinois and who was commonly known as "Judy Smith," from the fact of his replying when asked to trade, "that he would have to see Judy," (his wife) was also one of the early settlers in this section and one of the first in the county. He purchased the N. E. 1/4 of section 27 from William H. Taylor as early as December 24, 1825, and the following year he made some little improvement but did not remain long. David Snyder, a native of Virginia, came from Kentucky--where he had married--in October 1830, direct to Littleton. He brought a  wife and four children, making the whole journey in a four-horse wagon. He entered the N. 1/2 of the N. E. 1/4 of section 33, built a cabin and commenced a life of toil, which ended only with his death, which occurred some years ago in the township. He left several children, Sarah, the wife of  Joseph Walker, being one of the number. Elijah M. Wilson with his family of a wife and four children was another of the pioneers from Kentucky, who assisted in the settement of this township. He arrived in the spring of 1831 and made his home on the N. E. 1/4 of section 22, where he died several years since. James Thompson, a Kentuckian, and one of the young men who made the journey from Indiana to this county with Joel Tullis in a pirogue in October, 1826, first settling in Buena Vista, but selling his interests in that part of the county to his brother and coming to this township in the early spring of 1831, a single man, bought out a pre-emption right to the S. W.  1/4 of section 21, from James McKee, a son of Thomas McKee. There was a cabin and some improvement in the way of fencing and ground broken ready for cultivation, which had been made by young McKee, who had lived there about two years. The place was in the skirts of the timber bordering on the prairie. Young Thompson built a new cabin and made further improvements, and in the fall returned to his old home in Kentucky, and on New Year's day, 1832, was married to Miss Catharine Crawford. He and his young wife left Kentucky on the steamboat Water Witch, and on 1st day of May, 1832, arrived at the new home which he had prepared, where be died in 1843, leaving a large family of children. The eldest son, William C., now occupies the old homestead. Richard P. Applegate came from Kentucky with his wife and two children in the spring of 1832, first stopping at the house of Elijah M. Wilson, his brother-in-law, until he purchased the claim of James Trainor to the W. 1/2 of the N. E. 1/4 of section 27, where he built a cabin in which he spent the remainder of his days. His son, Madison, now lives on the old homestead. William H. Crawford, of Kentucky, arrived in the township in the spring of 1833, with a wife and five children, and settled on the S. E. 1/4 of section 20, which he occupied until his death, which occurred from injuries received in a hurricane, while in the village of Littleton. He left a large family of children, Mrs. Jane Horney, the widow of Col. Leonidas Horney, being a daughter, and James Crawford, the superintendent of the U. S. Mint at Carson City, a son. Absalom Willey, 0badiah Griffin and Mahlon Shaw, all having large families, were squatters living in one small cabin on the S. W. 1/4 of section 21, in 1833. Randolph Rose, Drury Sellers, Michael Matheney, Joseph Logan, Col. Samuel Horney, George Garrison, William Lambert, James De Witt, John S. Walker, Samuel Dodd, Joseph W. Sayder, Adam Walker, the Wells' family, Joseph Walker, may all be classed as old settlers, as all came prior to 1840.

Lester Seward improved the N. E. 1/4 section 3, in 1832; Darius Runkle made the first improvement on section 4, in 1840; Samuel Dodds, section 5; Jonathan Horney, section 6, in 1834; Thomas Legg section 7, in about 1838; David Smith, section 14, in 1835; Samuel Cooper, section 15, in 1834; Hugh Hays, section 18, in 1832; Garrett Wycoff, section 19, in 1832; Obadiah Griffin, section 20, in 1832; James McKee and Michael Matheney, section 21, in 1829 or 30; E. M. Wilson, section 22, in 1831; Thomas Cooper, section 23, in 1833; James Trainor, section 27; Thomas Bronaugh, section 28; James Thompson, section 29; Greenwood, section 30, in 1831; Thomas Townsend, section 31; John Logan, section 32; David Snyder, section 33; John Ritchey, section 34; Thomas McKee, section 35; David and Thomas Blair, section 36.

The first marriage in the township was that of James Trainor and Lucy Shields, which was celebrated on Christmas day, 1828, by Thomas McKee, Justice of the Peace. The first death was that of a young man, Solomon Stanbury, who died at the cabin of Garrett Wycoff, and was buried on the S. W. 1/4 of section 35, which became a grave-yard, and was the first in Littleton. The first school in Littleton township was taught by Thomas Bronaugh in the summer of 1835, in an old deserted cabin on the S. W. 1/4 of section 21.

Among the pupils in attendance at Bronaugh's school were Julia, Margaret, John and Ephraim Snyder, children of David Snyder; Martha, Nancy, Evaline and Ludwell, children of Elijah M. Wilson; Eliza and Benjamin, children of Richard P. Applegate; Andrew Wycoff, a nephew, and John, Thomas, Asher, Daniel and Jacob, children of Garrett Wycoff, and Jane, Elizabeth Ann and Tolbert, children of William H. Crawford. The first school-house was built in 1838, on the S. W. 1/4 of section 19. School was taught in old deserted cabins prior to that time. The first sermon was preached by Levin Green in the McKee settlement; and in the Snyder settlement by Rev. John Logan, a Missionary Baptist, at the house of Elijah M. Wilson in 1835. The first church in the township was the Union church, a frame building, erected in the village of Littleton in 1847.
The first physicians, who practiced, were Drs. Teal, Blackburn, Rogers, and Blackburn. Thomas McKee was not only the first justice of the peace, but also the first blacksmith, wheelwright and mechanic. The first post-office was at Doddsville, where the town was first laid out and Samuel Dodds was the first postmaster. The first mill was also in Doddsville, and was erected in 1857, by John Pelsor. It was a large four story frame custom and merchant steam mill, complete in all its appointments. The machinery was removed to St. Louis in 1879. The roads and bridges of the township are kept in excellent condition, making travel safe and even pleasant.

Board of Supervisors

The township has been represented by the following named gentlemen, as supervisors, since township organization:
1854 - James De Witt
1856 - E. D. Wells
1861 - Dr. Hosea Davis
1862 - James Prather
1864 - Dr. Hosea Davis
1865 - Joseph Walker
1866 - Dr. Hosea Davis
1870 - John M. Dennis
1871 - James De Witt
1873 - William Pollard
1875 - Dr. Hosea Davis
1879 - James T. De Witt
1882 - William Pollock

But few people were more patriotic than those of Littleton, as no less than one hundred and forty-nine of her citizens answered their country's call and did battle in her behalf during the late civil war, a complete list of whose names may be found at the close of the chapter on patriotism. Littleton is accredited with 161 farms, and a population of 1060, in the census of 1880.

The interest in public education is apparent from ten handsome frame school buildings, with all the modern conveniences, where half-yearly sessions of school are maintained. The moral education of the people is inculcated through the medium of the churches of Doddsville and Littleton, and Bethany Christian Church, situated on the N. W. 1/4 of the S. W. 1/4 of section 36, which, however, is without a pastor at present. Religious services are also held in the several school-houses, and but few people have greater respect for religion.

Excerpted from The Combined History of Schuyler and Brown Counties, Illinois, 1882
Transcribed by Robin Petersen and Karl Petersen for Schuyler County ILGenWeb

Copyright 1999, 2000 Robin L. W. Petersen; 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.

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