Brooklyn Township History

This township comprises all of Congressional township 3 north, range 3 west of the 4th P. M., and contains thirty-six full sections, being in form a perfect square. It is bounded on the north by McDonough county, on the east by Littleton, on the south by Camden, and on the west by Birmingham. Crooked creek enters the township from the west, in section 18, winds its course through sections 17, 20, 21, 22, 28, 33, and passes south into Camden, through the southeast corner of 32. From the north it receives a large stream which supplies water and affords drainage for the northern and western portions. From the east it receives the waters of Horney and Fowler branches, besides several smaller ones. Along Crooked creek and vicinity the surface is very much broken, and was formerly covered with heavy timber. Small patches of prairie are scattered over the northeastern part of the township. Along the other water course the country is more or less broken and covered with timber where not cleared. The township is now well cultivated, and the land yields a ready recompense for labor. The residences present a neat appearance, and the commodious barns and sheds afford shelter for sheep, hogs, cattle, and other stock, with which the township abounds. On every hand are evidences of that prosperity and wealth which invariably follow industry and ecomomy, showing that the example of the early settlers has not been ignored by their descendants. Orchards abound on all sides, and here and there may be seen small vineyards.

Military Patents

The following are the first military patents issued to land in this township: November 29, 1817, a patent was issued to Gideon Gardner for the N. E. ¼  of section 30; December 10, 1817, to James Kean, for the N. W. ¼ of section 29; December 11, 1817, to Christopher McDonald, for the S. E. ¼ section 5; March 5, 1818 to Jeremiah Hester, for the N. E. 1/4 of section 24; August 4, 1818, to Peter Poorman, for the S. W. ¼ of section 20; and on December 4, 1818, to William Bradish, for the S. E. ¼ of section 13.

Early Settlers

In all probability, to William Owen belongs the honor of breaking the first ground and building the first cabin in this township.  He was a native of Kentucky, where he grew to manhood, and married Miss Helen Swan in 1828; and in the early fall of 1829, with his wife, started on horseback for her father’s home in Illinois, where they arrived after a six days’ tiresome journey. They spent the winter with her father, George Swan, in Buena Vista township, and in the early spring, came into Brooklyn and built a cabin, improved some land and put in a small crop. He took his wife back to her father’s in the fall, and returned to Kentucky to get his household goods, which he had left there, and some stock. Upon his return from Kentucky, he sold out his preemption right, together with the crop, in Brooklyn, believing that is was not a healthful place, as he had the ague from almost the first day he arrived in the township. He subsquently bought land and settled in Buena Vista township. William Manlove was also among the first to settle in this portion of the county. He was a brother to David and Moses Manlove, who settled in Birmingham township in 1832, and in all probability came to Brooklyn at the same time, and settled on the N. E. ¼ of section 7, with his family. Here he made extensive improvements and succeeded in providing a good home for himself. William Manlove was accompanied by his brother-in-law, William Huff, who was a native of North Carolina, and had a wife and family, but had been living in Indiana before his arrival in this section. He settled on the N. W. ¼ section 7, built his cabin, and at once began improvements. He died upon his original improvement, which he bought some years subsequent to his settlement. With William Huff, came John E. Rigsby and family from Indiana, and for his home selected the E ½ of the S. E. ¼ of section, building the cabin of those days, and making the usual improvements. Rigsby gave the small prairie, upon which he settled, the name of “Guinea Prairie,” which it still bears. William C. Ralls, a native of Kentucky, and who subsequently raised and commanded a company in the Black Hawk war, came into the township as early as the fall of 1831, and on the 6th day of December, 1831, obtained authority from the county to build a mill-dam, not to exceed nine feet in height, on the S. W. ¼ of section 20. Being unmarried, he made his home in McDonough county, the greater portion of that time, only coming into the township occasionally, until the spring of 1832, when he built his cabin on the N. E. ¼ of section 20. He married in the winter of 1835, and settled permanently in the township. He commenced the erection of a fine residence, but before its completion died, and it remained unfinished. None of his family are residents of the township at the present time. Rev. Samuel L. Dark, who is still living in the township, came into it in 1832. He was born in North Carolina, and was taken, while a child, to Tennessee, by his parents, where he remained until he was about twenty years of age, when he started for Schuyler county in a two-horse wagon, accompanied by his father, Samuel Dark, his cousins, Horace and Samuel Dark, Jr., and his brother-in-law, Hugh Hays. They crossed the river at Beard’s ferry, and on the 17th day of February, 1830, arrived at his brother’s, Robert L. Dark, who had come some years prior, and was then living in Buena Vista township.  Here Samuel L. remained until the fall of 1832, employing his time in working for farmers in the summer and teaching in the winter; at which time, having married a daughter of John Moore, he moved into Brooklyn, built a cabin, and commenced improving the N. W. ¼ of section 5. At the close of the Black Hawk war, in which he was a soldier, Samuel L. was converted to Christianity, and since that time has been a minister of the denomination known as Hard shell Baptist, and his life has been consistent with his calling. He was followed by his father to Brooklyn in 1833, who had a wife and family of grown children, and for a home, Samuel Dark, Sr., built his cabin, and entered the S. W. ¼ of section 1 where he continued to reside until his death. Horace Dark, with a wife and child, came soon afterward, and made an improvement on the E. ½ of the N. E. ¼ section 15, by building a cabin and cultivating a few acres of land. After living here a year or two, he sold his improvement and went to Missouri. Hugh Hays and family also came the same time that his father-in-law, Samuel Dark, Sr., did, and improved the N. W. ¼ of section 21, where he died. One of the pioneers of this township, who has witnessed the wondrous change, wrought by converting a wilderness into abodes for man, is William Lewis, who is now living in Brooklyn village. William Lewis comes from an illustrious family of the same name, his grandfather being the leading jurist in Philadelphia during General Washington’s administration. Mr. Lewis was born in the beautiful Valley of Wyoming, Pennsylvania, where he grew to manhood, and received a thorough education. At the age of twenty-eight, consumption seemed to claim him as her prey. To save his life he came west, arriving in Rushville in 1829.

In the fall of 1832, in company with a young man named Samuel Oliver, whom he had brought to the county with him as an employee, he came into Brooklyn, and was at once impressed with the natural beauty of the country, and as he was regaining his health, he and Oliver built a cabin on the northwest corner of section 19. It was not his intention at first to make his home in the West, but becoming more attached to the country, and rapidly improving in health, at the solicitation of his companion, he at last decided to remain. He at first had only a pre-emption right, which he soon converted into a good title by purchase or entry. Having fully recovered his health, he, at the solicitation of Oliver, sought a wife. To this end he went to what is now Beardstown, purchased a suit of clothes, went down to Jacksonville, and there found and married Miss Rebecca Compton, who is still living in the enjoyment of excellent health. Samuel Oliver never married, but made his home with William Lewis, and slightly improved the west half of the southwest quarter of section 19. He was drowned in the Mississippi river, while on his way to Iowa, to locate some land. James Worthington, a native of Kentucky, came to Rushville, with his parents, at an early day, and soon followed Mr. Lewis into Brooklyn, and took possession of the northeast quarter of section 29, built a commodious two-story frame dwelling--the first in the township--where he resided some years, and then moved to Rushville, where he died, a bachelor. Thomas Deaves, a native of Ireland, with his young wife, arrived in the fall of 1833, ad entered the east half of both the northwest quarter and the southwest quarter of section 30, where he died some years ago. A company from Ohio, composed of Obed Griffith, Absalom Willey and Robert Frakes, all bringing families, arrived in 1833. Griffith settled on the northeast quarter of section 5, and Frakes on the west half of section 3 built cabins, but did not remain long. John Huff, a brother of William Huff, with his family came in 1834. He and his family settled on the east half of the northeast quarter of section 7. Samuel Dark, Jr., having married in Buena Vista, came into the township in 1834, and made an improvement, and died in the township. Nicholas Pyle, a Kentuckian, came from Morgan, with his wife and family, and built a cabin, made some improvement, and acquired a pre-emption right to the southwest quarter of section 10, but soon moved away. Fielding Atchinson, with a wife and several children, came with Pyle, his father-in-law, and in company with his brother-in-law, William Pyle, then unmarried, improved the northwest quarter of section 10, which William Pyle afterwards entered, but subsequently sold, and went to Kansas. Madison Bobbett arrived from Morgan county, a young man, who soon after married Sarah, the daughter of Nicholas Pyle, and improved the southeast quarter of section 10, in 1835. Dr. James S. Blackburn, whose earlier history may be found in the chapter on Rushville, where he landed in 1830, came to Brooklyn in the spring of 1836, and entered and improved the west half of the southwest quarter of section 21, where he died. His son, Robert S. Blackburn, is a merchant, and the present post-master at Brooklyn.  His daughter, Prudence, the widow of Capt. H. E. Hankins, is also a resident of the same village, and Bryson, another son, resides on the northwest quarter of section 20.

The first death of which we have any information was that of a man named Defenbaugh, who died in the village in 1836, and who was the first person buried in the cemetery, on the southwest quarter of section 20, the first cemetery in the township.
Richard Kellough taught the first school in the township, in a little log cabin, which was also the first school-house built in Brooklyn, in 1837. Rev. Samuel L. Dark preached the first sermon, in 1834, at the residence of his father. A blacksmith, named Redfield, was the first in the township, and was brought here in 1832, while William Ralls was building his mill, which was the first one built in this section of the county. The contract for building the dam was given to Joel Tullis, who completed his work in the early spring of 1832. It was a grist-mill, to which a saw mill was subsequently added. The bridge over Crooked creek was constructed as early as 1837, being the first in the township. The roads and bridges of the township are kept in good condition, and all parts of it are readily reached by the lightest vehicles. Education receives proper and merited attention, and the six neat school-houses are occupied six months in the year by the children of the community. The financial condition of the schools is excellent. A handsome frame church building stands on the southeast quarter of section 36, where the Methodist Episcopal congregation worship, under the direction of Rev. W. F. Lowe, of the Littleton circuit. The building erected in 1857, is worth about $2,000, and was the first church erected in the township. There is a large and wealthy congregation, who give it a hearty support.

Board of Supervisors

In the Board of supervisors the township has been ably represented by the following named gentlemen:
1854 - C. M. Leach
1855 - Robert S. Blackburn
1856 - Samuel Leonard
1868 - Benham Bristol
1870 - Henry W. Taylor
1872 - John Glandon

The number of improved farms in the township is 153, and the population 1,135 as shown by the census of 1880. The township was named after the village, when the county adopted township organization in 1853.

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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