BainbridgeTownship History

This township deservesmention in the history of Schuyler County, from the fact that it was withinher borders that some of the first blows were struck toward civilization.Nearly sixty years ago the woodsman’s axe was heard to resound throughthe timbers of Crane creek; few there were to bear the burdens of pioneerlife, and encourage one another in paving the way for civilization andthe future generations. What a transition! In little more than fifty years,it has been changed from a howling wilderness to a populous and finelyimproved country. The present generation can scarcely imagine the trialsand hardships endured by those hardy men and women, who braved the dangerof pioneer life, cleared the forest, broke the stubborn glebe, and laiddeep and strong the foundation of our present happy condition. Many havegone to their last resting place, and the silent grave holds well the secretsof the past. From the few gray-haired veterans that still linger with us,we have been able to gather information found in these pages. The townshipis situated in the extreme southern portion of the county, bounded northby Rushville, east by Frederick, south by the Illinois river and Crookedcreek, and west by Woodstock. It contains the whole of what is known ascongressional township, 1 North, Range 1 west, and a fractional part oftownship 1 South, Range 1 west. The surface is generally very broken, andwas originally covered with a heavy growth of timber, more than two thirdsof which has been cleared, and is now in a fine state of cultivation. Theprairies, where they occur are small. The soil is fertile and produceslarge crops of corn, wheat, oats, hay, etc. The principal streams thatwater and drain the lands are Crane creek, and its tributaries, which flowsoutheasterly across the northwestern and central portion of the township.There are also small affluents of the Illinois river and of Crooked creek,that assist in carrying off the rain fall.

Early Settlers

The first settlement of Bainbridge,began in the same year of the earliest arrival in the county. The pioneers,and first settlers were Thomas McKee, and Willis O’Neal, who located inthe township in the fall of 1823. Thomas McKee was a native of Kentucky,and was a very early settler in Illinois, having lived in the state forsome time before his advent here. He settled on the N. E. 1/4 of section20, on the place now owned by James W. Lawler; O’Neal located near him,and together they made the first settlement in Bainbridge township. Thiswas at least six miles south of the Hobart settlement in Rushville township,and they were their nearest neighbors. Each of them erected for their families,the same kind of rough unhewed log cabins that all the pioneers enjoyed.There was but one way to build them, and nearly all were alike. It is truethey were rude affairs, but the souls within their walls were happier andmore joyous than many of those who reside in the palaces of to-day.

Mr. McKee was an excellentmechanic, and followed gunsmithing and blacksmithing, and also manufacturedspinning wheels. He was the first mechanic in the county, and was a veryvaluable man in the new country. The Indians with their broken guns, camefrom a great distance to have him repair them. He cleared some land andmade some improvements, having planted a small nursery, from which camemany of the trees of the first orchards in the county. There are yet standingseveral old trees around the improvement. About 1830 or ’31 he sold outand removed north of Rushville on the prairie, where he resided until hewas killed while digging coal a short time afterwards. O’Neal also movedin the vicinity of Rushville and became quite prominent in the early historyof the county. His name will be found in many places through this work.Nathan Eels, an eastern man, settled near McKee, and these three familiesremained together in this settlement nearly two years. Eels was the firstto leave it. He moved and located in or near the Hobart or Chadsey settlement,where he remained for a few years and migrated to the northern part ofthe state. He sold his property to a new comer, James B. Atwood, an Englishman.

The next arrival was probablyThomas Blair, from Ohio. He came with his family soon after those abovementioned, and located in section 3, and remained there until 1831, whenhe sold his claim to Zephaniah Tyson, and subsequently moved to Iowa. Itwas about the same time also, that George Naught immigrated here and settledon N. E. 1/4 of section 31, on the place where Charles W. Davis now lives.He and his wife were hardy pioneers, and remained toiling on their placeuntil death overtook them, many years ago.

In November, 1826, AbrahamLemaster and his son-in-law, Charles Hatfield, crossed the Illinois, atBeard’s Ferry, and traveled in a northeasterly direction to what is nowBainbridge township, halting at Willis O’Neal’s vacant cabin, in whichthe two families took up winter quarters. James B. Atwood, was then theonly family residing in the northern or central part of the township, theothers having moved away as above stated, and McKee being absent. In thespring Lemaster purchased McKee’s improvements on section 20, and raiseda crop, but was compelled to leave there on account of the millions ofmosquitoes. He lived for a few years upon the prairies and again returnedto his place. About 1846, he went to Kentucky on a visit, and while theredied. His wife died in the township. His descendents are still living inthe county. Mr. Hatfield first located on the prairie north of Rushville,where he lived about five years, and then moved into Bainbridge, wherehe has ever since continued to reside. His house is on section 20, andhe and his wife are still happy together, having lived a wedded life fornearly sixty years. Hugh E., his son and his daughter, the wife of JohnDodds, are living in the county. William Gordon, a native of Kentucky,came here from Indiana, with his mother-in-law, Nancy Taylor, and her familyin 1827, and settled in the S. E. 1/4 of section 22, where they purchasedland and improvements of John A. Reeves, who had been here a short time.They all left this part of country. Reeves was a New Yorker, and whilehere his wife died. He went to Indiana, where he was again married, andreturned to Illinois. One son, Simon A. Reeves, still lives in the township.William Mitchell, a brother-in-law of Reeves, was here early and remainedonly a short time. Moses and Jonathan Billing settled in the northern partof the township as early as 1827, and both died in this county. Enoch andJames Edmonston came here about 1828, and took up their abode in the westernpart of the township, and also spent their days here. Some of their familiesare living in the neighborhood. Rev. Joseph Bell, who was an early Baptistminister in this part of the state, located in Bainbridge, under the bluffs,in 1828. He died at this residence here several years ago. Isaac Briggsand George Butler were also very early arrivals. Jacob White was here veryearly, and stopped until 1829, when he moved across the creek, and settledin Cooperstown township, Brown county. It was he who furnished the countywith the money to purchase the original land for the county seat. PeterDe Witt was also among the early settlers, and sold out to Samuel Jackson,a North Carolinian, who came with his family in 1829. He reared a largefamily. His son Edgar, residing in Rushville, is the only one of the familynow living in the county. Sanford Close, Elisha Hudson, and Jerre Jackson,a nephew, came with the Jackson family. They were single men, and marriedand reared large families here. Jerre Jackson is still a resident of Bainbridge.Allen Persinger was also an early settler. He first located under the bluffs,and afterwards moved up on the bluffs near the center of the township,on the line dividing it from Woodstock. He was the first surveyor electedin the county. Among other old settlers were Daniel Matheney, JonathanReddick, Harvey Phinney, John Jacobs, the McCormicks, John Bowling, JohnDoughery, James Lawler, Jonathan Patterson, Ebenezer Grist, and ApollosWard. Prominent among those now living not before mentioned we will nameAaron V. Harris, Solena Dawson, Samuel Tomlinson, Thomas Howell, who camehere from his native state, Guilford county, North Carolina, in 1829, JohnH. Lawler, Jacob Howell and others.

Early Industry

The earliest mill built inthe township was erected by Ephraim Eggleston, on section 19. It was locatedon the banks of Crane creek, and was propelled by its waters. Just afterit was completed in 1827, a flood came and washed it away together withhis cabin, nearly drowning his wife and children. He was awakened in thenight by the rushing of the water, and upon getting up he found the waterwaist deep in his cabin. He had settled here in 1825.

Zephaniah Tyson built a horsemill on his place in 1835. William Clark constructed a water, saw and gristmill where Newburg now stands in the same year, which was in operationfor some time.

Early Schools

The first building for schoolpurposes was built on section 15 [22], and was known as the Lemaster school-house.It was a small log cabin. John Parker, Joseph Bell and William Burnsideswere among the first teachers.

Military Patents

In T.1 N., R.1 W.:
October 6, 1817 – John TraskJr., S.E. 1/4 of Section 1 – Solomon Lovegrove, S.W. 1/4 of Section 5.
October 21, 1817 – ThomasDavis, N.W. 1/4 of Section 7 – A. T. Van Bockel, N.E. 1/4 of Section 7.
November 18. 1817 – GeorgeWintz, N.E. 1/4 of Section 11.
December 1, 1817 – PeterBrush, S.W. 1/4 of Section 11.

Board of Supervisors

Allen Persinger 1854 (2)
Isaac Black 1856 (3)
George Strong 1859
Allen Persinger 1860
Isaac Black 1861
Simon S. Griest 1862
Isaac Black 1863 (2)
Simon J. Grist 1865
George Strong 1866
George W. Campbell 1867(2)
Adam Briggs 1869
Adam M. Briggs 1870
George W. Campbell 1871(2)
John H. Lawler 1873
Adam Briggs 1874
Samuel Dodds 1875
Charles W. Davis 1876
Samuel Dodds 1877
Adam Briggs 1878 (4)
Charles M. Dodds 1879


Newburg is situated on thenortheast quarter of section 20, Town 1 north, Range 1 west. It was laidout by Joseph Newburg, after whom it is named, and surveyed and plattedby Francis E. Bryant, county surveyor, April 24, 1840. At one time therewas a store and blacksmith shop there, and some business was done, butat this writing there is nothing but a few houses collected together asa settlement.


Center is a point near thegeographical center of the township, where there is a town house and post-office.

According to the census of1880 Bainbridge has one hundred and eighty-three farms and 1205 population.

Excerpted from the CombinedHistory of Schuyler and Brown Counties, Illinois, 1882
Transcribed by Karl A. Petersenfor Schuyler County ILGenWeb.

Copyright 1999, 2000 RobinL. W. Petersen; all rights reserved. For personal use only. Commercialuse of the information contained in these pages is strictly prohibitedwithout prior permission. If copied, this copyright must appear with theinformation.

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