BuenaVista Township History

The second settlementin the county, was made in this township, and from the solitary familywhich invaded its solitude in 1824 it has steadily increased in populationand wealth until it now ranks second in the county in population. Uponits entire surface are found valuable and highly improved farms, occupiedby thrifty farmers. Neat and pleasant homes greet the eye of the traveleras he passes over its roads.

The location is near thegeographical centre of the county, its boundary upon the north being Littleton,on the east, Rushville, on the south, Woodstock, and on the west, Camden.Its surface is gently undulating, and that portion lying between the watercourses, a strip extending diagonally across the township from the southwestto the northeast, is rolling prairie, while the portions along the streamsare more broken, and were formerly covered with a dense growth of timber,nearly all of which has long since yielded to the axe of the sturdy pioneeryeoman, and is now transformed into fertile and productive fields. Thesoil is rich and highly productive, yielding large crops of the cereals,and hay, and excellent pastures. It is strictly an agricultural township,though much attention is paid to grazing, and much valuable and fine bloodedstock of all kinds add to the wealth of its inhabitants. Access is hadto all sections by well-kept roads and bridges, which span the streamsin all directions. Its citizens are moral, well educated and intelligent,and are surrounded by all the accessories necessary for comfort and happiness.All this has been accomplished in less than sixty years, and the formerabode of the red man, the deer, and other beasts of the forest, is nowone continued seccession of fertile and beautiful farms, with handsomeresidences, commodious barns, improved machinerym and valuable stock. StonyBranch and Brush creek enter the township from Littleton on the north.The former enters in two distinct branches, one in section one, the otherin section eight, both meeting in the northwest corner of section nine,and keeps the same southwesterly direction in which they enter, and passwest in Camden, through sections nineteen. Brush creek enters through sectionsix, flows south and west, and passes out in section seven. Green Branchrises in three distinct branches in sections twenty-two, twenty-three,and twenty-four, all flowing southwest and uniting in one, in section thirty-two,then bears due west, and passes out through section thirty-one. The streamsfurnish a plentiful supply of water for stock, and afford the necessarydrainage for the surface water, and are greatly aided in the latter bytiling, to which much attention has been given of late.

Land Patents

The first land entries orpatents to the heroes of the war of 1812 were issued to Dennis Owens, forthe S. E. quarter of section one, October 6, 1817; to James McArthur, forthe S. E. quarter of section seven, October 13, 1817; to Robert Reynolds,for the S. W. quarter of section three; and to Joseph Sealey, for the S.E. quarter of section three, both bearing date of November 19, 1817; toJohn Hutchinson, for the S. W. quarter of section four, December 6, 1817;and to Nathan Lake, for the N. E. quarter of section eight, November 29,1817.

Early Settlers

About the 1st day of November,1823, Levin Green, a Methodist local preacher, made his appearance at thecabin of Calvin Hobart, in Schuyler county.  He met with a heartyreception, such as was common only in pioneer times, and the next morninghis host started with a team to bring his visitor’s family to the settlement,as well as that of George Stewart, his brother-in-law, all of whom werecamped sixteen miles north of where Frederick now stands. These familiespassed the winter in a vacant cabin, which had been built by two youngmen, James and Samuel Turner. Green and Stewart were natives of North Carolina,but had been living in Missouri, from which place they had just come. In the early spring of 1824, Henry Green, Jr., arrived at the Hobart settlementwith a wife and two children, and the Greens went into Buena Vista township,built their cabins, and then moved their families. Levin selected for his home the S. E. ¼ section 23, Henry Green, Jr., the S. E. ½of N. E. ¼ of section 20; and some time in 1825, George Stewart,the S. E. ¼ of section 18.  Stewart’s family consisted of awife and two children, and Levin’s family consisted of four persons, makingeight human beings in the settlement. Levin Green and George Stewart movedto what is now Missouri township, in 1829, and they, and Henry Green, Jr.,subsequently emigrated to Texas. John Ritchey arrived shortly after LevinGreen, and with his wife and three children took up a pre-emption rightto the S. E. ¼ of section 25, which he sold to Samuel Turner, andwent to Littleton. This early settlement was augmented in March, 1825,by the arrival of two brothers, Samuel and Manlove Horney, with families,consisting of a wife and one child.  These pioneers were natives ofNorth Carolina, but came from St. Clair county, Illinois, where they hadbeen living since 1818. They settled in Buena Vista, Samuel, on the S.W. ¼ of section 14, and Manlove, on an adjoining quarter. They bothresided here until 1834, when they moved up into Littleton. The settlementwas further increased in numbers by the arrival on the 2d day of May, 1825,of Philip Spohnamore and family of eight persons; George Green and familyof wife and six children; John Spohnamore, a nephew of Philip, wife andtwo children; Henry Green, Sr., and wife, parents of Levin; John Green,wife and three children; James Robinson, Levin’s brother-in-law, with awife and three children, making in all an increase of thirty-four in thepopulation. All came from Missouri, and all relations of Levin, being brothers,or relatives by marriage, and it was through Levin’s importunities thatthey came. Philip Spohnamore built his cabin on the S. E. 1/4 of section24, and died in Rushville at the age of eighty-four years. George Greenmade improvements, and built a house on a portion of the same quarter in1827, living in the meantime about a mile north, and died in the township.John Spohnamore lived on the land with his brother-in-law, George Green,until 1827, when he took possession of the S. E. ¼ of section 20,upon which he spent the remainder of his days.  Henry Green, Sr.,and his wife made their home with their son, John, on the N. E. ¼of section 23, where the old people died, and John followed his brotherLevin. James Robinson, the brother-in-law of the Greens, selected the S.E. ¼ of section 29, as a squatter, made limited improvements, bybuilding a cabin and clearing a small patch of ground. He subsquently returnedto his old house in Missouri. Samuel Turner, the young man mentioned ashaving built the cabin in the Hobart settlement, returned in the springof 1825, and found his cabin occupied. He sold his interest in the improvement,and commenced a new one on the S. E. ¼ of section 25, where he marriedin 1830, and continued to live until 1834, when a claimant with a superiortitle appeared. He then moved to to S. E. ¼ of section 11, whichhe purchased, and upon which he died at the ripe old age of seventy years.Charles Teas arrived in the fall of 1826, with a wife and family of children,and made improvements on the N. W. 1/4 of section 23, building a cabin,and continuing his residence there until the fall of 1829, when he soldto Lemuel Sparks, and moved to Rushville, where he remained until March,1831, when he parted with his interest, and went to McDonough county. AlexanderRoss, of Kentucky, with a wife and six children, was also one of the earlysettlers, having arrived in the summer of 1826, when he built his cabin,and took a settler’s claim to the N. E. ¼ of section 16, where heimproved a farm, subsequently purchased the land, and spent his decliningyears in the enjoyment of the home made with his own hands. In the springof 1827, William Boyd, with a large family of children, arrived from Missouri,and made a home for his little ones on the S. W. ¼ of section 23,which he subsequently purchased, and after living here a number of years,until his neighbors became to numerous to suit his pioneer disposition,he disposed of  his farm, and moved to Iowa, where he died at a ripeage.

We next invite the attentionof the reader, to the settlement made in the extreme northeastern portionof the township. In the spring of 1827, Joel Tullis, with his family ofwife and one child came into the township April 26th, 1826, accompaniedby William McKee his father-in-law, whose farm in Rushville township wastheir point of departure. With McKee he spent the first year.  Hetook possession of the N. W. ¼ of section 2, built his rude logcabin, and began the toilsome life of the hardy pioneer.  He subsequentlybought a tax title to the property, and continued his residence there until1847, when the country becoming too thickly settled to suit him, he soldhis home, and with a family of wife and twelve children, in an ox wagon,he undertook an overland journey to Oregon, where he arrived, after greatsuffering and the loss of six of his children.  He returned in 1851,and bought the farm upon which he now resides, hale and hearty, and overeighty years of age. Joel Tullis had the first distillery in the township,upon the N. W. ¼ of section 2, as early as 1833. In the spring of1827, Charles Hatfield and family made their home on the S. W. 1/4 of section2, but subsequently returned to their former home in Bainbridge township,where they had been living prior to making their home in Buena Vista, andwhere they both now reside, upon the land, which they first improved. Forneighbors, Joel Tullis had James Thompson, a single man, and John his brother,with his wife and three children, who came with Tullis and William McKeein a pirogue in 1826.  They moved into Buena Vista, shortly afterMr. Tullis, and built a house on the N. E. ¼ of section one, whichthey purchased together, December 4th, 1827.  James subsequently soldhis interest to his brother John, moved into Littleton as one of the earlysettlers, where he died.  John died upon his home place, and his widowbecame the wife of Randolph Rose, who was one of the early settlers ofLittleton. Drury Sellers, a native of Kentucky, with a large family, movedinto this settlement in the spring of 1828 and bought the claim of CharlesHatfield on the S. W. of ¼ section 2, and afterwards moved intoLittleton.  Robert L. Dark, a son-in-law of Sellers, and a wife andone child came with his father-in-law, and resided in the same place, untilhe moved to the N. W.  ¼ of section  where he built acabin and then went into the north-eastern portion of Littleton. The year1829 witnessed the arrival of George Swan, William Owens, Lemuel Sparks,Thomas Bronaugh and others.  In the spring of this year George Swan,with a large family, arrived from Kentucky, and purchased the S. W. ¼of section 13, and built his cabin and made a home, where he lived untilhis death. He was followed in the fall from the same state by his son-in-law,William Owens, who brought his wife with him. They came on horseback andspent the winter with him. The next summer they spent in Brooklyn, andin the fall returned to Buena Vista and purchased the N. W. ¼ ofsection 24 from Samuel Horney, paying two hundred dollars therefor. Mr.Owens died some years ago, and his widow survives him, living upon theold home place. Lemuel Sparks, a native of Maryland, arrived with his wifeand six children, from Indiana, on the 17th day of September, 1829, andpurchased the improvements of Charles Teas, the N. W. ¼ of section25. He died some years ago, and many of his children are now residentsof the county. With him came a young man named Ephraim Haines, who diedat his house. Thomas Bronaugh, a single man, arrived from Kentucky in 1829and made a home on the N. W. ¼ of section 4. He was among the firstteachers of the county. He moved into Littleton. In 1830, Hosea Tullis,a brother of Joel, and John Boggs, arrived from Ohio, built cabins in theTullis neighborhood but returned to Kentucky in less than a year, becomingalarmed by the Indians. Both had families.

On the 31st day of May, 1827,John R. Skiles was married to Eleanor Spohnamore, and at once took possessionof the N. W. ¼ of section 14, upon which he built a cabin, and madesome improvement, but neglecting to purchase the land he was ousted andmoved to Browning, where he now resides. Among the early settlers may bementioned the Doyles, John McCreery, Robert McCreery, the Parrotts, Moores,Henry Kirkham, the Hughes, Hales, Hares, Lesters, Kings, Snyders, Cunninghams,Coxes, Smiths and Youngs. We have been compelled to mention the early settlersbriefly, for want of space, and for a fuller account of the first settlersthe reader is referred to the chapter on the Pioneers.

The improvement of the firstfarm and the building of the first house may be unquestionably accordedto Levin Green. The first wedding was that of William Hobart Taylor andMiss Elizabeth Spohnamore, which was celebrated on the 27th day of November,1825, at the residence of the bride’s father, Philip Spohnamore. Rev. Levin Green officiated and performed the ceremony. The whole neighborhoodwas present. The bride was attired in a calico dress and store shoes, andwas bedecked with gay ribbons, a garb seldom seen in those olden times.The groom had laid aside his everyday clothes and wore a suit of home-madejeans. After the ceremony, the guests sat down to a table spread with wildturkey, venison and other game, corn bread, honey and sassafras tea. Thegroom being a professor of religion at the time, the old time fiddle wasnot present and the merry dance was not indulged in. The first birth wasa little daughter born to Levin Green. The first death occurring amongthe early settlers of the township, was that of a little four-year-oldson of Henry Green, Jr., in the summer of 1827, and his body was buriedon the northeast quarter of section 20. This was the beginning of the firstgrave-yard. While attending the funeral, the old white headed grandfather,Henry Green, Sr., who had been a soldier in the Revolutionary war, selecteda place, where he requested to be buried, and his wishes were compliedwith, after his decease, which occurred May 1st 1835.

The inhabitants of the earlysettlements for many years sent their children to the schools in the westernedge of Rushville township, they being very convenient, and no school-housewas built until 1828, when a small log building was erected on the northwestquarter of section 1, in which Robert Sexton was the first teacher fora short time; but the first that might be called a school was a sessionof six months, commencing on the 10th day of May, 1825, in an old log cabin,on the norteast quarter of section 22. In May, 1825, Levin Green came tothe house of Col. Samuel Horney, with the request that he would make hima pair of shoes, as the people were getting hungry for preaching, and statedthat he could not preach without them.  The shoes were made and towardsthe close of the month the whole neighborhood gathered in the humble cabinof the pioneer preacher and listened to his rough, though eloquent appeal.Levin Green was the pioneer preacher, and among those who preached in earlytimes were:  Peter Cartwright, Asa West and James Bankston. The firstbuilding ever erected in the township, exclusively for church purposes,was a small frame building, situated on the southeast quarter of section15.  It belonged to the Methodist Episcopal congregation, was builtabout the year 1832, and was known as Spark’s Meeting House.  Rev.Henry Somers preached the first sermon in the building.

Levin Green was the firstjustice of the peace, his commission being the first one issued after theorganization of the county. Drs. B. V. Teal, Crosset, James Blackburn andAdams Dunlap were the first physicians in the county. Joel Tullis had thefirst mill as early as 1831.  It was at his home on the northeastquarter of section 2, and was the old fashioned tread-mill; horses or oxenfurnished the motive ower.  It was liberally patronized, being inconstant use by some of his neighbors.  Col. Clark, an Englishman,also had a horse-mill, the burrs being made of what were known as “nigger-head”rock, found on the prairie, on the northeast quarter of section 17, asearly as 1835.  John Green had a cotton gin at his house as earlyas 1827.  The first steam grist mill in the township was built byGeorge C. Clark, in 1857, on the southeast quarter of section 14. It was first a saw-mill, and two run of burrs were afterwards added. With the site of ten acres, it was valued at $6,000.  It was burnedin January, 1880.  Another mill was built just south of the site ofthe old one, by Alexander Young, in the summer of 1880, at a cost of threethousand dollars.  It is provided with one three-foot burr stone forgrinding wheat, and one of like dimensions for corn. Its capacity is fifteenbarrels daily, and is kept almost constantly employed in grinding on theshares; it being strictly a custom mill.

A fine quarry of buildingstone was opened upon the southwest quarter of section 13, on the farmof Joel Tullis, about twenty years ago. The township is well supplied withschools, which are in session six months in the year. The buildings areall neat, comfortable frames, conveniently located, and well attended.There are two chruches in the township, the Methodist Episcopal, of whichRev. Lyon is the pastor, and the Protestant Methodist supplied by Rev.Bryden Mayall. Both buildings are frame. In 1880, the population of thetownship was 1,728, and there were 162 improved arms within its boundaries.

Board of Supervisors

The township has had thefollowing named representatives in the board of supervisors, since townshiporganization was adopted in the county:
1854 – John Mitchelltree
1856 – Thomas J. Wilson
1858 – Simon Doyle
1861 – John L. Moore
1862 – John A. Young
1863 – Samuel S. Benson
1864 – Simon Doyle
1866 – John F. Davis
1867 – Simon Doyle
1868 – G. B. Sharp
1869 – Isaac Lindley
1870 – A. L. Noble
1871 – Charles Ryan
1872 – Simon Doyle
1873 – William R. McCreery
1874 – John Tullis
1875 – John H. Tullis
1876 – John N. Roach
1877 – Thomas Cunningham

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

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