Rushville Township History

O rescue from oblivion the incidents of the past, and to preserve the names of the hardy few, who in fact were the real instruments of paving the way and making the wild forests habitable, is the object of the historian.  In a little time the gray hairs of pioneers, who still live as tottering monuments of the good old times, will be gathered to their fathers; their children, engrossed by the busy transactions of life, will neglect to treasure up the doings and recollections of the past, and posterity will search in vain for land marks and memorials thereof.  How necessary, then, that no time should be lost in gathering together the fragments of our infant history which still exist, and thus rescue it from entire forgetfulness.

A little more than half a century ago, this beautiful country was in a state of nature, and the only inhabitants were the uncivilized Indians, and the wild game of the forest.  The white man came, and lo, the transition!  Beautiful fields of grain wave in the gentle breeze, and neat villages and farm-houses dot the landscape.  The results of the labors and hardships of the pioneers are written no only in our histories, but more unmistakably engraven upon every highway in the land.  Let the reader stop for a moment and reflect, if he would do justice to those who have so bravely done their part.  Do not chide them for their odd, old-fashioned ways, but keep in mind that it is due to them that we, “Young America,” have the surrounding comforts of today.  But a few years, when we have grown gray and feeble, and we shall be pointed out by the busy, bustling throng of a more advanced age, as “old fogies,” and as those who have passed their days of usefulness.

Schuyler county was organized in 1825, and the territory of Rushville was the first that echoed to the sound of the improvements of the white settler.  This was in 1823, two years prior to its organization, it then being a part of Pike county.  Its situation is nearly central, and it is the capital of the county. The township of Oakland bounds it on the north, and it is bounded on the east by Browning and Frederick, on the south by Bainbridge, and west by Buena Vista.  It is a full Congressional township, and contains thirty-six sections, being about equally divided between prairie and timber land. The west and center are mainly of the former, while the latter embraces the rolling, and in places the broken surface peculiar to the timber belts, situated along the margins and contiguous to the various water-courses.  McKee’s creek rises in section eighteen, flows northeast, and passes out in section three.  Crane creek meanders through the southwest, taking mainly a southerly direction, and finally discharges its waters into the Illinois river.  The eastern part of the township is drained by the tributaries of Sugar creek.  Corn and wheat are the principal productions, though grass, oats, etc, are cultivated with excellent success.  A branch of the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad extends through a portion of the precinct, entering in section three, and terminating at Rushville.  A few more years, and the transportation facilities will undoubtedly compare favorably with other towns of the state.

First Settlements

The first settlements were made in section 16 as early as 1823, two years prior to the organization of the county. The honor belongs to Calvin Hobart and Orris McCartney, both making their advent about the same time, February, 1823. The former was a native of Grafton county, New Hampshire. Seeking a more congenial climate, and impelled by a spirit of enterprise, coupled with a fondness for adventure, he turned his face westward and made his home in the wilds of Illinois.  He made the entire passage from the East in a two-horse wagon. His family then consisted of his wife, Sallie, and four children, Chancy, Norris, Elizabeth, and Truman. W. H. Taylor, a single man, also accompanied Mr. Hobart. A small log house was erected on the southeast quarter of section 16, and the life of the pioneer commenced.  Mr. Hobart was an exemplary man, and had the full confidence of all who knew him. He died at his pioneer home in 1831. His widow afterwards married again, and about 1835, they all moved to the state of Minnesota. Mr. McCartney came from New York state, and located near Mr. Hobart, on the place now owned by Jesse Danner. He was then a single man, but put up a cabin and commenced the improvement of this place. A young man, by the name of Samuel Gooch, accompanied him here, and aided him in his work. The latter and Ruth Powers were the first married couple in the settlement. This was in February, 1824. Levin Green, a local methodist minister, performed the marriage ceremony. McCartney was elected the first sheriff of the county. He moved to Wisconsin about 1829. Levin Green located here in 1823 or ’24. He was here as early as the fall of 1823, and preached the first sermon within the entire military tract, but according to the best information did not permanently locate until the spring of 1824. He was born in North Carolina, but emigrated from the state of Missouri here. In 1829, he moved into what is now Missouri township, Brown county. George Stuart, a brother-in-law of Green, came at the same time, and they both lived in a cabin in section 16. Stuart also moved into Missouri township, and subsequently emigrated to the state of Arkansas with his brother-in-law Green. Another settler of 1824, was Nathan Eels. He came from the East and had quite a large family. He squatted in section 15, but remained only a few years when he moved to Beardstown, and thence to the northern part of the state. In 1825, there was quite an accession of settlers to the little colony, among whom was Benjamin Chadsey. He was born in Vermont, and when a mere child his parents moved to the state of New York. They afterwards emigrated to Ohio, and thence to Indiana. At the age of seventeen Mr. Chadsey enlisted as a soldier in the war of 1812. For his service he drew a quarter section of land in section 17, Schuyler county. After the war he stopped in Illinois, and soon afterward married Rachel Johnson. In the fall of 1824, he came to the county to see the land he had entered. Being pleased with the country, the following spring he moved here with his family and located on his land. The family then consisted of his wife and two children, Jerusha and Henry C. Six children have since been born to the family, Benjamin F., John L., Calvin, George W., James, and William. At this writing they are almost an unbroken family, only one of them being dead, Benjamin F. Even the father and mother are yet living, and reside at the old homestead, surrounded with all the comforts that heart could wish in their old age. Mr. Chadsey is 86 years of age and his wife is in her 81st year. The old court-house standing in the square was built by Mr. Chadsey. He commenced the first work upon it in 1829. Two other prominent settlers of 1825, were Samuel Horney and Jonathan Manlove. The latter was a single man, and came with the former’s family. Mr. Horney came from North Carolina in 1818, and first settled in St. Clair county, and in the spring of 1825 moved to Schuyler, and settled not far from Rushville in the edge of what is now Buena Vista township. He had a wife and one son, Leonidas, who was afterwards elected county surveyor. Mr. Horney was an active man in his time. He served in the war of 1812, also the Black-hawk war, and was one who figured largely in the organization of Schuyler county, and subsequently represented his constituency in the state legislature. He died several years ago in Littleton township, where his widow yet resides, and who is said to be the oldest early settler in the county. Jonathan Manlove soon after his coming, married Sophrona Chadsey, and from their union several children were born, only one of whom is a resident of the county, Mrs. Harry Taylor of Brooklyn. Mr. Manlove was a representative citizen, being the first surveyor of the county, besides filling other offices of trust at the hands of the people. He moved to Fort Scott, Kansas, in about 1867, where he yet resides. William Manlove, a brother of the above, came one year later, and first engaged in teaching school. He was elected the second surveyor of the county, and was a leading man of the times. He married here and reared quite a family of children. His death occurred many years ago. The family afterwards moved from the county. Manlove Horney, a brother of Samuel above mentioned, came direct from North Carolina and located near his brother. This was in 1826. He was at the head of a family. Several of his representatives are residents of the county. His death occurred some years ago.

John B. Terry was an immigrant of 1825, and came from the state of New York. He located in section 16, near Hobart and McCartney. After the county was organized he moved to what is now Rushville, and had the honor of filling the office of first county clerk of Schuyler county. His log residence was the first house built in Rushville. He moved to Wisconsin about 1828, where he afterward died. One who figured most prominently in the politics of the county was Hart Fellows. He was born in Cincinnati, O. His parents moved to the state of Indiana in an early day, and it was here that Mr. Fellows was educated, and grew to manhood. He came to Illinois a single man, and located in Green county, where he married Miss Foss.  Early in 1825 he moved to near Rushville, and went to keeping house in a vacated cabin situated in section 27, where he remained until he could erect a convenient house of his own. At this time he had but one child, William Henry. Quite a large family of children were born to them while residents of the county. Their first born, William H., lived but a short time, and was the first interment made in the village cemetery. Mr. Fellows was elected the first circuit clerk, and was the first postmaster in the county. Indeed, in subsequent years he filled nearly every county office, and was one of the most popular men of the times. In 1850 he was appointed by the general government as collector of revenues in the city of San Francisco. He died only two or three years ago. His widow is now residing in Frederick, Schuyler county, with her elder daughter, Mrs. Ann Farwell. Mrs. Farwell is said to be the first child born in Rushville. James Vance and David Wallace also came as early as 1825. William McKee came from Indiana, April 16, 1826, and located in section 18. He had a large family, mostly daughters. Both he and his wife died here many years ago. Several of their children are residents of the county. William, Jr., is residing at the old homestead in section 18. Mr. Vance migrated from the south. He was a mere squatter, and remained but a short time when he moved to McDonough county, and became one of its first settlers. David Wallace was also from the south, and located in section 21. He sold his improvement right in a few years and moved to parts unknown. Among others of 1825, ’26 were David and Thomas Blair, William Pennington, David and Cyrus Watson, Peter Perkins, Philip Spohnamore, Ephraim Eggleston, James H. Smith, and others.

A prominent settler of 1829 was Thomas W. Scott, a native of Maryland. His parents moved to Kentucky when he was a mere boy. He remained here until he was twenty years of age, when he left his Kentucky home and on horseback came through this state, and finally landed in Rushville in 1829. In December of the same year he went to St. Louis and purchased a stock of goods. At this time Rushville was one among the few towns in the state. People came to this town to trade for many miles around. Mr. S. says that some of his customers came from Astoria, at least eighty miles north of Rushville. In 1832, Mr. Scott moved back to Kentucky, and the same year he married Adeline Johnson, from which marriage one son was born, Robert J., who is now in the state of Missouri. His wife died in 1836, and in 1840, Mr. S. again married. Of this union twelve children have been born, six sons and six daughters. After remaining in Kentucky for several years Mr. Scott came back to Rushville, where he has resided since. He has amassed a good competency, and has retired from his active life. Hugh McCreery, another pioneer, was born in Ireland in 1793, and came to the states in 1827, landing at Philadelphia. In the fall of 1828, he moved to Illinois and located at Rushville. His first residence was the old log court-house. He remained here over winter, when he bought some land, now a part of the corporation of the village. His family then consisted of his wife, Sarah, and six children, William, Mathew, John, James G., Margaret and Sarah. Mr. McCreery, his wife and one son, William, all died with the cholera, which prevailed with such havoc in 1834. William was then a member of the State Senate.  Only two of the family are still living. James G. is a prominent citizen of Rushville, and Sarah, widow of John Young, resides in Buena Vista township. Samuel Jackson was an early settler of the county. He was born in North Carolina and migrated to Indiana when a young man, where he married Esther Close. In the fall of 1828 he moved to Schuyler, and settled in section 14, Bainbridge township. He died here in 1838, or ’39. Mrs. Jackson died in 1874. But one of the family resides in the county, Ezra, who is the present landlord of the City Hotel in Rushville. Other settlers of about the same date were John Scripps and Cornelius B. Putnam. The former was quite a noted Methodist minister; his circuit extended over a large protion of the frontier. He died several years ago. One son, John G., resides in section 7. Those of a later date were Hon. W. A. Richardson, Judge T. Lyle Dickey, Hon. William A. Minshall, Judge Pinkney, H. Walker, Hon. Robert Blackwell, Hon. Jno. C. Bagby, Hon. William H. Ray, Hon. Louis D. Erwin, George Little, Thomas Wilson, G. W. Metz, and others. Probably no town in the state of its size can boast of furnishing more prominent men than Rushville, as the above array of names will verify. They were among the early settlers, but most of them have either died or moved away.

The cholera in July, 1834, swooped down with its pinion of death and proved a besom of destruction to many in the Rushville settlement. The town then contained seven or eight hundred inhabitants, and so virulent was the disease that most of them fled to other parts of the country. Only about three hundred were left to take care of the sick and dying. Over a hundred were afflicted, and, nearly one half proved fatal. The first to succumb to the disease was William McCreery and Cornelius B. Putnam; they died about the same time. After the scourge had passed, most of those who had left the town, returned, and business proceeded as usual. It is supposed that the disease originated from a family from Maryland, who while afflicted with it came up the river and stopped at Rushville. It was a time long to be remembered by the old settlers, as many of their homes were made desolate.

The first couple married in the settlement were Samuel Gooch and Ruth Powers, as has been already stated. The first marriage ceremony performed after the county was organized, made husband and wife of W. H. Taylor and Elizabeth Spohnamore, in 1825. Levin Green  was the officiating minister at the nupitals. The first born was a child of Ephraim Eggleston, in the summer of 1824. The first school was taught in the summer of 1826, by Sophrona Chadsey, in a vacated cabin in section 16. Jonathan D. Manlove taught the same year at his own cabin on what is known as the Little place. These pedagogues afterwards became husband and wife. The first school-house site was located in 1825, on section 20, now Benjamin Chadsey’s pasture. The people met and decided to build, with the following agreement; that each head of a household should furnish two logs, and aid in raising the house when ready, etc. A few logs were hauled, but as there was no head to the association the project was abandoned for the time. The first school district in the county was created the 22nd of July, 1825, and embraced twenty-four square miles. The second attempt to erect a school-house was in 1830. This proved a success. It was a small brick building, situated in the north part of the village of Rushville, on the lot where the Christian church now stands. The first church house erected was in about 1832. It was a fair-sized brick building, and situated near the northeast-corner of the square. It is yet standing, and used as a sales-room by Crandall & Son.

The first justices of the peace were Levin Green, Benjamin Chadsey, Hart Fellows, and Jesse Bartlett. The first practitioners of medicine were Benjamin Teel, Adams Dunlap, George Rogers, and Drs. Hall and Smith. None of them are living except Dr. Dunlap, who resides in Buena Vista township. The first post-office was established in 1828, and situated in Rushville. Hart Fellows was the post-master, and the office was situated on the east side of the square, where the marble yard now is. Abraham Lowderback did the first blacksmithing for the people. His shop was situated on Lafayette street, about three blocks east of the square. The first carpenter and wheelwright was Benjamin Chadsey. The first mill built in the county was erected by him for Calvin T. Hobart in 1826; it was what was then known as a horse-mill, and was situated in section 17; its capacity was about 80 bushels of meal daily, and required two horses and a yoke of oxen to give it power. It continued to run for a few years, until water mills were established on Sugar creek, when it was abandoned. Jonathan D. Manlove imported the first blooded stock in 1838; it was the Durham breed, and was brought from the State of Ohio. The first Berkshire swine was imported by Benjamin Chadsey and William Young in 1839. The first hogs brought to the county were by McCartney & Beard, in the latter part of 1823--they were quite a large drove of what were called “pointers” or “hazel splitters”--many of them strayed into the timber and subsisted on the mast, thus becoming independent of their owners. In two or three years the timber was overrun with wild hogs; the Indian dogs chased them as other wild game, and any person killing them was allowed one-half for so doing. As this kind of stock was then somewhat scarce in the country, those wild hogs were of considerable benefit to the settlers. But dissatisfaction with the Indians and the depredations of their dogs became universal and in the spring of 1826 nineteen of the settlers proceeded to call on them at a trading point on the Illinois river, just below the mouth of Crooked creek. They killed some of their dogs, and notified the Indians to leave within ten days. The traders were also given the option to vacate or have their effects dumped into the river. The result was that there was no more trouble with the traders or the Indians. The first orchard was planted by Benjamin Chadsey and Mr. Blair, in the spring of 1828, and was in section nineteen. Some of the trees are yet standing.

Land Entries

October 6, 1817, Justus Waterman entered the S. E. ¼ of section 4.
October 28, 1817, Dennis Thompson entered the N. E. ¼ of section 1.
November 29, 1817, James H. Smith entered the S. W. ¼ of section 4.
November 12, 1817, John S. Knight entered the S. E. ¼ of section 12.
December 8, 1817, W. Clayton entered the N. E. 1/4 Sec. 8.
December 8, 1817, Leonard Trask entered the N. E. ¼ of section 7.

Board of Supervisors

The following named persons are those who have represented the township in the county board since township organization:
1854 - Charles Neill
1855 - J. D. Manlove
1856 - Peter C. Vance
1859 - John C. Scripps
1861 - James L. Anderson
1862 - James A. Teel
1864 - George M. Greer
1865 - George W. Metz
1866 - Ludwell H. Demaree
1869 - Jonathan R. Neill
1870 - John C. Scripps
1871 - Robert G. Welker
1872 - John H. Irwin
1874 - Robert McMaster
1875 - Edgar Anderson
1880 - Edwin M. Anderson
1882 - George W. Bellomy, is the present incumbent.

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