BrooklynTownship History

This township comprisesall of Congressional township 3 north, range 3 west of the 4th P. M., andcontains thirty-six full sections, being in form a perfect square. It isbounded on the north by McDonough county, on the east by Littleton, onthe south by Camden, and on the west by Birmingham. Crooked creek entersthe township from the west, in section 18, winds its course through sections17, 20, 21, 22, 28, 33, and passes south into Camden, through the southeastcorner of 32. From the north it receives a large stream which supplieswater and affords drainage for the northern and western portions. Fromthe east it receives the waters of Horney and Fowler branches, besidesseveral smaller ones. Along Crooked creek and vicinity the surface is verymuch broken, and was formerly covered with heavy timber. Small patchesof prairie are scattered over the northeastern part of the township. Alongthe other water course the country is more or less broken and covered withtimber where not cleared. The township is now well cultivated, and theland yields a ready recompense for labor. The residences present a neatappearance, and the commodious barns and sheds afford shelter for sheep,hogs, cattle, and other stock, with which the township abounds. On everyhand are evidences of that prosperity and wealth which invariably followindustry and ecomomy, showing that the example of the early settlers hasnot been ignored by their descendants. Orchards abound on all sides, andhere and there may be seen small vineyards.

Military Patents

The following are the firstmilitary patents issued to land in this township: November 29, 1817, apatent was issued to Gideon Gardner for the N. E. ¼  of section30; December 10, 1817, to James Kean, for the N. W. ¼ of section29; December 11, 1817, to Christopher McDonald, for the S. E. ¼section 5; March 5, 1818 to Jeremiah Hester, for the N. E. 1/4 of section24; August 4, 1818, to Peter Poorman, for the S. W. ¼ of section20; and on December 4, 1818, to William Bradish, for the S. E. ¼of section 13.

Early Settlers

In all probability, to WilliamOwen belongs the honor of breaking the first ground and building the firstcabin in this township.  He was a native of Kentucky, where he grewto manhood, and married Miss Helen Swan in 1828; and in the early fallof 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 winterwith her father, George Swan, in Buena Vista township, and in the earlyspring, came into Brooklyn and built a cabin, improved some land and putin a small crop. He took his wife back to her father’s in the fall, andreturned to Kentucky to get his household goods, which he had left there,and some stock. Upon his return from Kentucky, he sold out his preemptionright, together with the crop, in Brooklyn, believing that is was not ahealthful place, as he had the ague from almost the first day he arrivedin the township. He subsquently bought land and settled in Buena Vistatownship. William Manlove was also among the first to settle in this portionof the county. He was a brother to David and Moses Manlove, who settledin Birmingham township in 1832, and in all probability came to Brooklynat the same time, and settled on the N. E. ¼ of section 7, withhis family. Here he made extensive improvements and succeeded in providinga 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 settledon 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 subsequentto his settlement. With William Huff, came John E. Rigsby and family fromIndiana, and for his home selected the E ½ of the S. E. ¼of section, building the cabin of those days, and making the usual improvements.Rigsby gave the small prairie, upon which he settled, the name of “GuineaPrairie,” 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 dayof 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 portionof that time, only coming into the township occasionally, until the springof 1832, when he built his cabin on the N. E. ¼ of section 20. Hemarried in the winter of 1835, and settled permanently in the township.He commenced the erection of a fine residence, but before its completiondied, and it remained unfinished. None of his family are residents of thetownship at the present time. Rev. Samuel L. Dark, who is still livingin the township, came into it in 1832. He was born in North Carolina, andwas taken, while a child, to Tennessee, by his parents, where he remaineduntil he was about twenty years of age, when he started for Schuyler countyin 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 crossedthe river at Beard’s ferry, and on the 17th day of February, 1830, arrivedat his brother’s, Robert L. Dark, who had come some years prior, and wasthen living in Buena Vista township.  Here Samuel L. remained untilthe fall of 1832, employing his time in working for farmers in the summerand teaching in the winter; at which time, having married a daughter ofJohn Moore, he moved into Brooklyn, built a cabin, and commenced improvingthe N. W. ¼ of section 5. At the close of the Black Hawk war, inwhich he was a soldier, Samuel L. was converted to Christianity, and sincethat 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 hisfather 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. HoraceDark, with a wife and child, came soon afterward, and made an improvementon the E. ½ of the N. E. ¼ section 15, by building a cabinand cultivating a few acres of land. After living here a year or two, hesold his improvement and went to Missouri. Hugh Hays and family also camethe same time that his father-in-law, Samuel Dark, Sr., did, and improvedthe N. W. ¼ of section 21, where he died. One of the pioneers ofthis township, who has witnessed the wondrous change, wrought by convertinga wilderness into abodes for man, is William Lewis, who is now living inBrooklyn village. William Lewis comes from an illustrious family of thesame name, his grandfather being the leading jurist in Philadelphia duringGeneral Washington’s administration. Mr. Lewis was born in the beautifulValley of Wyoming, Pennsylvania, where he grew to manhood, and receiveda thorough education. At the age of twenty-eight, consumption seemed toclaim him as her prey. To save his life he came west, arriving in Rushvillein 1829.

In the fall of 1832, in companywith a young man named Samuel Oliver, whom he had brought to the countywith him as an employee, he came into Brooklyn, and was at once impressedwith 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 wasnot his intention at first to make his home in the West, but becoming moreattached to the country, and rapidly improving in health, at the solicitationof his companion, he at last decided to remain. He at first had only apre-emption right, which he soon converted into a good title by purchaseor entry. Having fully recovered his health, he, at the solicitation ofOliver, sought a wife. To this end he went to what is now Beardstown, purchaseda suit of clothes, went down to Jacksonville, and there found and marriedMiss Rebecca Compton, who is still living in the enjoyment of excellenthealth. Samuel Oliver never married, but made his home with William Lewis,and slightly improved the west half of the southwest quarter of section19. 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 commodioustwo-story frame dwelling–the first in the township–where he resided someyears, 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 southwestquarter of section 30, where he died some years ago. A company from Ohio,composed of Obed Griffith, Absalom Willey and Robert Frakes, all bringingfamilies, arrived in 1833. Griffith settled on the northeast quarter ofsection 5, and Frakes on the west half of section 3 built cabins, but didnot remain long. John Huff, a brother of William Huff, with his familycame in 1834. He and his family settled on the east half of the northeastquarter of section 7. Samuel Dark, Jr., having married in Buena Vista,came into the township in 1834, and made an improvement, and died in thetownship. Nicholas Pyle, a Kentuckian, came from Morgan, with his wifeand family, and built a cabin, made some improvement, and acquired a pre-emptionright to the southwest quarter of section 10, but soon moved away. FieldingAtchinson, 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, improvedthe northwest quarter of section 10, which William Pyle afterwards entered,but subsequently sold, and went to Kansas. Madison Bobbett arrived fromMorgan county, a young man, who soon after married Sarah, the daughterof Nicholas Pyle, and improved the southeast quarter of section 10, in1835. Dr. James S. Blackburn, whose earlier history may be found in thechapter on Rushville, where he landed in 1830, came to Brooklyn in thespring of 1836, and entered and improved the west half of the southwestquarter of section 21, where he died. His son, Robert S. Blackburn, isa merchant, and the present post-master at Brooklyn.  His daughter,Prudence, the widow of Capt. H. E. Hankins, is also a resident of the samevillage, and Bryson, another son, resides on the northwest quarter of section20.

The first death of whichwe have any information was that of a man named Defenbaugh, who died inthe 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 taughtthe first school in the township, in a little log cabin, which was alsothe first school-house built in Brooklyn, in 1837. Rev. Samuel L. Darkpreached 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 in1832, while William Ralls was building his mill, which was the first onebuilt in this section of the county. The contract for building the damwas given to Joel Tullis, who completed his work in the early spring of1832. 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 thefirst in the township. The roads and bridges of the township are kept ingood condition, and all parts of it are readily reached by the lightestvehicles. Education receives proper and merited attention, and the sixneat school-houses are occupied six months in the year by the childrenof the community. The financial condition of the schools is excellent.A handsome frame church building stands on the southeast quarter of section36, where the Methodist Episcopal congregation worship, under the directionof 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 supervisorsthe 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 farmsin the township is 153, and the population 1,135 as shown by the censusof 1880. The township was named after the village, when the county adoptedtownship organization in 1853.

Excerpted from The CombinedHistory of Schuyler and Brown Counties, Illinois, 1882
Transcribed by Carol LongwellMiller for Schuyler County ILGenWeb

Copyright 1999-2006 Judi Gilker; 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.

Return toBrooklyn Township index