BirminghamTownship History

The farthest outlayingtownship in Schuyler County is Birmingham, located in the extreme north-westcorner. It is bounded on the north of McDonough County and on the westby Hancock County, and its business is largely tributary to Plymouth, thenearest shipping point. This township is almost equally divided betweenundulating and fertile prairie land in the south and north, and heavy timberland along the water courses. The farms are well improved and the landvaluable for grain farming and stock raising.

Brummel Sapp was the firstsettler in Birmingham Township. He was a neighbor in North Carolina ofthe Manlove family, who first settled in Schuyler in 1824. Their glowingaccounts of the new country fired his enthusiasm and, in the early fallof 1831, he started on the long journey to the frontier in Illinois. Hisfamily consisting of his wife and children, Harmon, Jefferson, Jacob, Adam,Newell, William, S. R. and Sarah, accompanied him, and they reached Rushvillein early winter of that year. Here the family remained until the springof 1832, when they once more packed up their household belongings and beganthe journey westward. Far removed from all other settlements he locatedon the southwestern part of the northwest quarter of Section 3 in BirminghamTownship, and there in the solitude of the forest built his home, and hisafter years were spent on the old homestead and his descendants are todaynumerously represented in the population of the township.

Soon after Mr. Sapp settledin Birmingham his old neighbor in North Carolina, David Manlove, removedthere from the Rushville settlement. He was followed soon afterward byMoses and Jonathan D. Manlove, who settled nearby. Other settlers who camein 1832 were Peter Popham from Kentucky, and a man named Haggard, alsoEdward and David Wade. Isaac Pigeon was a near neighbor of Mr. Sapp in1833, and William and Jesse Bodenhammer and Adam Wier came from North Carolinain that same year. In 1834 the settlement was further increased by thearrival of three brothers, Alexander, John and Charles Bilderback, whocame from Adams County, Ill., where their father had arrived from Kentuckysome years before. William H. and James Bilderback, the remaining brothers,followed in the fall of that year. About this time James G. King and DavidGraham settled in the township. Thomas Twidell and Simeon Morris, fromVirginia, were among the settlers of 1834, settling in Round Prairie. In1836 James and Harrison Graham and John L. Carden and family made the longjourney west from Virginia, in response to letters that had been sent homeby David Graham. William Edwards, John T. Gash, Col. Geo. H. Briscoe, JohnL. Ewing, William Noel, S. S. Walker and Edward Whipple were others ofthe early pioneers who settled in Birmingham Township in the thirties.

The early home-seekers inBirmingham were men who had faith in the future development of the richcountry of Illinois, and as soon as they had reared their cabins and plantedtheir crops, they turned their attention to developing the resources nearestat hand. In 1835 Robert Wilson, a practical mill-wright came to the settlement,and in partnership with David Graham, began the construction of a waterwill on the northeast quarter of Section 11. They built a dam across CrookedCreek at this point, and the first grist was ground in 1836. The mill wasa two-story frame building, and the power was obtained from an undershotwheel. It remained in service until 1882 when, on May 5, a spring freshetundermined the wheel and it was carried down stream.

The building of the millwas an incentive to greater effort in the development of the country, andon July 1, 1836, the village of Birmingham was platted by Allen Persingerfor David Graham, David Manlove and Moses Manlove, the proprietors. Theprospectus issued by the town-site promoters, and published in all theeastern papers, was a most glowing one, and the new town-site was heraldedas a thrifty manufacturing center at the head of navigation on the La MoineRiver. Like many other of the boom towns of 1836, Birmingham failed tofulfil the expectations of its enthusiastic promoters, but is today a prettylittle country village along whose boundary flows the waters of CrookedCreek.

The first school in Birminghamwas taught by William Noel in a log cabin in the village. In 1839 Birminghamwas made a government postoffice and William Noel was named as Postmaster.The first church erected in the township was built by the Protestant Methodistsin the village in 1852.

Population of the townshipin 1900, according to the United States census, 894.

Excerpted from HistoricalEncyclopedia of Illinois and History of Schuyler County, 1908, editedby Howard F. Dyson.
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.

Returnto Birmingham Township index