Woodstock Township History

Woodstock township, is situated in the extreme southern part of the county, and is one of the finest bodies of broken land in Schuyler. It contains all of township 1 North, Range 2 West, lying north and east of Crooked creek, and also that portion of township 1 South, Range 2 West, and township 1 North, Range 3 West, that is cut off from Brown county by the course of Crooked creek. It is rectangular in shape, bounded on the north by Camden and Buena Vista, east by Bainbridge, and south and west by Brown county. Originally the whole surface was covered with timber, and there is yet a considerable amount along the various water courses and on the bluffs adjacent to them. The surface is generally broken, and upon approaching the stream in many places it becomes very rugged. The principal stream is the La Moine river, or more commonly known as Crooked creek, which washes the western and southern borders of the township. There are also several affluents to this stream cousing through the lands, the larger of which are Horney branch in the north, Strammel branch in the central portion, Town branch on the east and Adam branch in the extreme southern point. These are good-sized creeks, and furnish a good system of drainage, and an abundant supply of water for stock purposes. For a portion of the year Crooked creek is navigable for small crafts for a few miles from it mouth. The soil in Woodstock is rich and productive, particularly adapted to the growning of wheat and corn of which large crops are annually raised, and hauled to the various markets. The improvements in this township compare well with any in the county, and the citizens are of an intelligent, industrious class, who are united in their efforts to make this one of the first townships in the county.

Early Settlement

The honor of being the first settlers of Woodstock township belongs to George and Isaac Naught, who came from Whiteside county, Illinois, and located on section 36, in the southeast part of the township in the year 1824. George Naught, however, soon located across the line into Bainbridge, and lived there until his death in 1847.  He left no posterity.

The maiden name of Isaac Naught’s wife, was Nancy Evans, and they had a family of eleven children, five sons and six daughters. At present there are seven living, four sons and three daughters, four of them in this county, two in Oregon, and one in Missouri. The oldest, John Naught, served in the Black Hawk war, and two sons, George and James, are at present living in the township. Isaac Naught settled the farm now owned by the heirs of Alexander Stutsman, and erected his cabin on the southeast quarter of the southeast quarter of 36, T. 1N., R. 2 west, and lived there until he sold out to Manlove, when he moved about a mile west and south of the base line. He continued to reside on this place until 1859. It was at his residence that the first church in the township was organized. This occurred in 1827, by the regular Baptist denomination, and the preacher’s name was Ray. The first elections were also held at his house. The Naught settlement, as it was called in early days, was the earliest in this township, and are of the first in the county. In the year 1825, were added to it the families of John Starr, and Hasting Starr, son of John Starr, and Thomas Eggleston. The Starr family came from Indiana, and descendants of the old sire, John Starr, are yet living in the county. The first settlement made in the northern or central portion of the township occurred in the year 1826. The pioneer was Richard Black, a native of South Carolina. He was born in 1784, and grew to manhood and married there. He moved with his family to Kentucky, where he lost his wife and was married again to Elizabeth Fowler. In November, 1825, he emigrated and landed at Rushville with is family, and purchased Willis O’Neal’s improvement. This was the land upon which the center of the city is built, and his cabin stood near the site of the old court-house in the public square. For this improvement Mr. Black paid O’Neal two hundred dollars, and he raised only one crop, when he was “entered out” by the county, which was then a new organization; and that particular spot had been selected for the site of the county seat. Mr. Black never received more than twelve dollars in money, and a two year old heifer, for the place for which he had only a short time before paid two hundred dollars. In the fall of 1826 he moved to Woodstock, and settled on the S. W. ¼ of section 15. His cabin was so located that the road from Rushville to Mt. Sterling, which was afterwards laid out, ran past it, and his place became almost an inn, the traveling public halting there at all times of the day and night. His children that grew up were Nancy, Elvina, Sophia, William T. and Issac; James P. Black, a married son of his, came to Rushville in the spring of 1826, and made his home with his father till the fall, when he moved with his father to Woodstock, and afterwards settled on the N. E. ¼ section 35 north range. He remained in the township until his death. In 1827 we find Isaac Sanders, who arrived here from Indiana in the fall of that year, bringing with him his wife and four children, Tolbert, John, James and Purlina. He located on the S. W. ¼ of the N.  E. ¼ of section 15, where he erected a cabin and in the spring broke five acres and planted it in corn.  He lived and died on the place, but his children have all left the county. He was also accompanied with Jacob Fowler, father-in-law of Richard, who was a South Carolinian.  His family consisted of his wife and children, William, Isaac, Mary, Sarah, and Rebecca. They drove a flock of geese all the way from Indiana, which were probably the first domestic geese brought to the country. He located on the S. E. ¼ of section 15, and spent the remainder of his days in Woodstock, and there is but one of this children now residing in the township. He was for a number of years a mail carrier and at one time controlled many of the mail routes in the state.

Moses Pettigrew, James Edmunston and Benjamin Golston came into the township early in 1827. Pettinger moved across the creek into Cooperstown township, Brown county, a few years later, where he was among the early settlers. There also arrived in the same year Archibald Paris, James William and John Evans, and Daniel Matheny. Captain Daniel Matheny, as he was better known, was a patriot of the War of 1812, and was with General Jackson at New Orleans, and captain of a company of rangers in the Black Hawk War. He came to this county with Joel Tullis, from Indiana, in a pirogue, down the Ohio river and up the Mississippi and Illinois, in 1826. May 5, 1831, he sold his place, the southwest quarter of section 21, to James Tompson, and subsequently moved to Iowa.

In 1829, Mrs. Amelia Riley, with a family of six sons, Daniel, Caleb, Anderson, Martin, Isaac Shelby, and Pressly, and a married daughter, the wife of Mordecai Fowler, came into the township from Indiana. They came in wagons, drawn by horses. Daniel was married when they came, and they all settled together, except Fowler, on the N. W. quarter of section 7, north range.  He (Fowler) located on the same section with his father, Jacob Fowler. The Rileys were great sportsmen, very fond of horse-racing, shooting-matches, etc., in which the early settlers frequently indulged. The children of Martin Riley are all of the family now residing in the county.

Early in 1826, John Logsdon came from Indiana with his wife and one child, and stopped with Richard Black at Rushville, for about three months, and some time afterward became a resident of the southern part of this township. He finally moved to Missouri. About the same time that he came into Woodstock, his brother Vaughn and family settled on the S. W. quarter of section 3, north range, and remained for a few years. His brothers, Amos, Redman and Jackson, single men, also became early residents, but afterwards went to the same state.

Allen Alexander and his family came about 1829, and settled on section 28. He kept a ferry across Crooked creek, at a point near where the Rushville and Mt. Sterling road crossed the stream, at a very early day.

Timothy Harris was also an early arrival. He was a native of one of the eastern states, and came here from Morgan or Sangamon county. He brought with him considerable stock, cattle and horses; had a wife and one child, and settled on the N. W. quarter of section 15, north range. He had purchased the land before moving, and came with the intention of becoming a permanent settler.  He died here at a very old age.

Zachariah Wells and his sons, Tenney and Joseph, and John Conrad settled in the southern part of the township in 1830.  James Beard, John Howell, and Jonathan Manlove, Jr., came in 1831. John Skaggs, Pierre J. Jonte, Peter Hermitete, James F. Groscloude, and Peter Adams, also, in the southern portion, settled in the year 1833. Jonte, Hermitete and Groscloude were native Frenchmen. Jonte and Groscloude were brothers-in-law.

Alexander Stutsman was another prominent early settler. He was born near Louisville, Kentucky, in 1798, and came to this county with his family in 1834, and purchased the old place that Isaac Naught settled, of Jonathan Manlove, and resided there until his death, Oct. 30, 1876. He was married in Indiana to Rhoda Seybold, and she still survives him, and is residing on the old homestead, in the seventy-fifth year of age. They had born to them eleven children, who are now living--two sons, John S. and Alexander Stutsman, Jr.; and nine daughters, all married but one, and six of them residing in the county. Alexander Stutsman, Jr., died in 1862, and three of his children reside in the county. John S. resides near the old homestead, and is one of the prominent and influential men of the township, having served several times as supervisor, and seventeen years as school trustee in Woodstock. In the Black Hawk War the Naught settlement furnished seven volunteers, viz:  Captain Daniel Matheny, George Naught, Sr., John Naught, Benjamin Golston, William Allen, Hasting Starr, and Daniel Edmonston. The township was equally patriotic in the other wars, and the names of her gallant sons may be found enrolled in the chapter of patriotism in the former part of this work.

Joseph Hoffman, a Pennsylvania German, and family, emigrated from Ohio, and located in section 16, about 1837 or ’38.  Michael Palmer, another Pennsylvanian, also settled about the same time. In 1839, John Brown, a Kentuckian, who had come to the county in 1831, made his home in Woodstock. He had lived at Rushville for eight years.  He located on sec. 16, and remained there until his death in 1858. Six of his children are living; only one, however, in Schuyler county--Robert Brown, on section 10 of this township. The father, John Brown, was an associate judge, and was elected to the legislature, while the capitol was yet at Vandalia; and was re-elected to serve his county two or three times in that capacity. He was also elected to the state senate for one term, was supervisor of the township, and also served the people in other minor offices. His son, Robert Brown, served one term in the Illinois senate; John C., another son, was sheriff of the county for two terms; and his son, George W. Brown, residing in Kansas, has also represented the township in the lower house in that state.

Thus have we sketched a few of the earliest and most prominent families in the township. We have not mentioned all of them, nor should it be expected of us to do so. Early in the decade of 1830-’40, there began a steady immigration, and in some years during that time there was a large influx, many of them becoming permanent settlers, and others remaining but a short time.

Military Patents

In 1817 and  ’18, long before any settlements were made by the white man, in this part of Illinois, these lands were set apart by Congress for the survivors of the war of 1812, and each soldier received a patent for 160 acres of land; and the following are a few of the first claims located in this township:
T. 1 N., R. 2 W--
Joseph Clough, November 15, 1817, S. E. quarter of section 1
Samuel Pierce, November 29, 1817, N. E. quarter section of 4
Nicholas Wells, November 29, 1817, N. W. quarter of section 4
Isaac Brayman, November 19, 1817, S. E. quarter of section 8
L. Winson, October 6, 1817, N. W. quarter of section 9
William Linton, December 24, 1817, S. W. quarter of section 10

T. 1 S., R. 2 W.--
Virgil Eachus, October 6, 1817, N. W. quarter of section 14
John W. Fancher, October 6, 1817, S. E. quarter of section 2
John H. Kersey, January 15, 1818, S. W. quarter of section one;
William Randle, January 15, 1818, S. E. quarter of section one.

The first school taught in the township was in a small log cabin on section 36, in the year 1827, by John Taylor. The earliest school in the northern part of the township was taught by a man named Hatfield, in an elm pole cabin, built in the fall of 1833, in an elm grove, and the children “daubed” it after the session began, making the mortar inside the house, which had no floor.  It was a subscription school, $1.50 or $2.00 per pupil. Among the scholars of that term were William T. and Isaac Black, Sarah and Rebecca Fowler, Houston and Elihu Alexander, James and Thomas Sanders, Alexander, Isaac S. and Pressly Riley. Anderson and Isaac Riley, took the teacher Hatfield out tied his hands and set him down in the snow, because he would not agree to treat his pupils with whiskey, which was then the custom, on Christmas day. He did not comply with the request on Christmas, but signed their petition agreeing to treat on New Year’s day, which he did.

The first church was built by regular Baptists on N. E. ¼ section 2 south range, as early as 1831. John Ray, John Logan, William Cross, John Taylor and Granville Bond were among the earliest preachers. James P. Black was the first justice of the peace. Isaac Fowler did the first blacksmithing in 1827 and Gamaliel Hill was the first wheelwright. He made many of the spinning wheels for the early settlers. The earliest mill was built by Robert Burton, on Crooked creek, on the S. E. ¼ of section 28, in the fall of 1837. It was a saw and grist mill propelled by water; a frame building, and had one wheat and one corn burr. Another mill stands on the same site, which was built by Michael and Henry Huffman about 1865, and is now owned and operated by Joseph Long. It has one wheat and one corn burr. The building is frame, and the mill is propelled by water. There is a good vein of coal underlying the whole surface of the township, and it is worked for local demands at several different points. William Lowden works the vein on section 11, and it is also being obtained on sections 14, 9 and 12.  There is also an excellent quality of building and whet stone quarried in section 24.

The township is supplied with several churches. There are five neat and well furnished school-houses, where teaching is held the greater part of the year. There is but one post office, Sylvia, which was established in the spring of 1881. Austin Black is the postmaster.  It is situated near the center of the township on the Mt. Sterling and Rushville road.

Board of Supervisors

Below are the supervisors who have represented Woodstock since township organization.
1854 - John Brown
1858 - John Howell
1859 - James H. Browning
1861 - John C. Brown
1862 - John C. Brown
1863 - William P. Thompson
1869 - John S. Stutsman
1870 - John C. Brown
1873 - John C. Brown
1875 - Perry Logsdon
1878 - John F. Langford
1879 - John C. Taylor
present incumbent:  John C. Taylor

Woodstock was reported in the census of 1880 to have one hundred and ninety-three farms and 1381 population.

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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