In the early fallof 1829, three hardy and venturesome men, crossed the Illinois river atBeards ferry, and with guns upon their shoulders, turned their coursewestward, following an Indian trail from Rushville, then a small village,and crossed a stream of water on a fallen log, in search of new homes towhich they could bring their wives and little ones. At a distanceof fourteen miles west of Rushville, they found a hill in the form of aprefect dome, and from this point, they selected their future homes, stakedoff their land, retraced their footsteps to Rushville, and thence returnedto their families in Morgan county. These men were John, and RobertBrown, brothers, and Luke Allphin, a brother-in-law of John Brown. From the entry of these sturdy pioneers, begins the history of what isnow Camden township. It is one of the southern range of townships of Schuylercounty, and is bounded on the north by Brooklyn township, on the east byBuena Vista, on the south by Brown County, and on the west by Huntsville.In form, it is a perfect square, and contains thirty-six full sections,and is Congressional township two north, range three west of the fourthprincipal meridian. Originally this township was covered with a heavy growthof timber, especially along the streams, while, here and there, were scatteredsmall prairies covered with tall grass. The surface is gently undulating,save along Crooked creek, where it is very much broken, with rich bottomland upon either side of the streams. The soil is rich and productive,and well adapted to agriculture. It is well watered, Crooked creek enteringit in the northeast corner of section four, eight, nine, ten, eleven, thirteen,fourteen, twenty-three, twenty-four, twenty-five, and passing through sectionthirty-six, into Brown county, furnishing an excellent range for stock,besides abundant water supply, mill sites and drainage facilities. LittleMissouri creek also flows across the southern part of the township, andreceives many small tributaries. Cedar creek enters the township from thewest. Spring branch from the north, and Brush creek and Stony branch fromthe east, and all pour their waters into Crooked creek.
Believing that the firstland entries will prove interesting to the present as well as future generations,we append a few, all being patents granted to soldiers for services inthe war of 1812. The first patent was issued to Elihu Stivers, Oct6, 1817, for the S. E. quarter of section 13; to William Gray, for theN. E. quarter of section 27, November 29, 1817; to James C. Young for theN. W. quarter of section 20; a patent for S. E. quarter of section 6, February18, 1818; William Bowden for N. E. quarter of section 7, March 5, 1818;and to J. Bauley, for N. W. of section 24. The township took itsname, at the adoption of township organization, from the village of thesame name.
The three pioneers, who hadselected locations in the wilderness, returned to Morgan county, and madepreparations for removal to their new homes. John Brown was a native of Grant county, Kentucky, where he grew to manhood and marriedMiss Sarah Points, and in 1825 left Kentucky and, with a wife and two childrencame to Morgan county, where he resided until the early spring of 1830. In the last mentioned year, he loaded his household goods, and with hiswife and children, Lucy and Thomas B., started on his journey, behind hispatient ox team. Arriving at his proposed home, he built a comfortablecabin of hewed logs, covering it with clapboards, which were held to theirplaces with pole weights. He settled on the northeast quarter of section20; where he died, January 10, 1871, aged 84 years, leaving several children,and his aged widow who still survives, and lives with her daughter, Mrs.Goodwin West, near Camden. With John Brown came his brother Robert andfamily, and settled on the southwest quarter of section 17, first squattingand afterwards purchasing the land. Here he spent the remainder of hisdays. The third member of this little band, was Luke Allphin, also a nativeof Kentucky. His mode of conveyance was like that of his companions,with whom he started from Morgan county. He brought with him a wife andchildren, Zebedee and Jane. He settled on the southeast quarter of section17; building a cabin and making improvements. Tiring of the rapidly increasingpopulation, he migrated to California. The deep snow commencing on the8th day of December, 1830, caused much suffering to the Browns and Allphins,as they did not have sufficient time to raise a crop after their arrival,and what they did raise was devoured by the crows and prairie chickenswhich would surround and even enter the house in flocks. Their stock ofcorn was soon exhausted, and to sustain life it was necessary for Johnand Robert Brown to go to Rushville for a new supply. During their absenceMrs. John Brown, kept her calves from starving by feeding them with strawfrom the beds; and when the Browns returned with the corn, it had to beground upon a hand mill, before they could satisfy their hunger. For severalyears their most convenient mill was at Quincy.
Following these early settlerscame Ephraim Eggleston of Ohio, who had been living in the county since1823, bringing his wife and children, and settling on the southwest quarterof section 15, where he erected his cabin and spent his life to toil. Thenumber of these early settlers was farther augmented by the arrival inthe fall of 1831, of Thomas J. Chapman, a native of Kentucky, and a brother-in-lawof John Brown, who had come from his native state with the Browns whenthey came to Morgan county. He arrived in an ox wagon with his wife, andJames, Thomas and Sarah, his children, and settled on the southeast quarterof section 30, building a cabin as usual. He left the county manyyears ago and went to Iowa. In 1833, Ephraim Owens located on the southwestcorner of section 24, with a wife and family of grown children. IraOwens and family made a home on the southeast of section 26, and HensenMarlow, from Indiana, with his wife and children, Agnes and Richard, builthis cabin on the southwest quarter of section 22. Jesse Plunkett, withhis wife, came from Kentucky in a one horse wagon, and settled the northeastquarter of section 30. The arrivals in 1835, consisted of the familiesof Robert Points, on the northwest quarter of section 5, where he starteda saloon, and Drury B. Davis from Kentucky, on the northwest quarter ofsection 22. Wm. Allphin from Indiana, arrived in an ox wagon after a journeyof fourteen days, bringing his wife and children, Green, Luke P., Thomas,Jackson, Marion, America and Margaret, and settled on the northeast quarterof 21. Among the old settlers were Abel Whiteman who made his home on thesoutheast quarter of section 21, in 1837; Isaac Cady, who bought the improvementon the northwest quarter of section 19, and his eldest son, IsaacG., at the same time selected the southwest quarter of section 20, in 1835.Benjamin West took possession of the southwest of 26, and his brother,Willison West, the northeast of 35, in 1834, both having families. BaalamBusby and family, came from Kentucky in 1833, and made an improvement onthe southwest quarter of section 26. Two brothers, named Clark, both menwith families, came to the township in 1834, from Kentucky. Harrison Clarkentered the S. E. of section 36, and William Clark the S. W. of section36. Among the early settlers may be mentioned Philander Avery, Robert Brooks,Adam S., and John Corrie, M. M. Cleek, John L. Callison, Geo. L. Gray,Robt. G. McHatton, R. B. Stubblefield, B. F. Taggart, the Wells family,Joseph N. Ward, all of whom by their industry have made the township oneof the wealthiest and most prosperous in the county.
The first birth in the townshipwas that of William Eggleston. The first death was that of a little childof a pioneer named Raphael Wilson, who rented the house on the northeastquarter of section 19, where the burial took place.
The first cemetery was locatedon the southwest quarter of section 17, 1834, and the first burial in itwas that of a little boy of Robert Browns. The first school-house wasbuilt in 1836, a rude log cabin on the southwest quarter of section 18;and the first session of school was taught in the summer of 1836, by JohnThornhill. The first sermon was preached at the house of John Brown inthe winter of 1833, by Rev. Paten, a Methodist. Drury B. Davis or BalaamBusby was the first justice of the peace, and Dr. Samuel Clarkson was thefirst physician. Besides the churches in Camden the United Brethren havea neat edifice known as Union Chapel, Rev. Cisely, pastor. The first bridgebuilt in Camden township was the one across Crooked creek on the Rushvilleroad at an early day. The roads of the present day are in a good and passablecondition, and the water courses are spanned in many places with substantialbridges, making all points accessible and convenient. The educational interestof the township are carefully fostered, and in the eight white frame schoolbuildings may be found the youth of the land, six months of each year.The first attempt to build a mill in the township was made by John Taggart,who came to the township with his father-in-law, Wolberton and their familiesin 1833 and located on the S. W. ¼ of section 26, commenced buildinga dam and subsequently erected a two-story frame mill, but before theysucceeded in getting it into operation they were evicted by the owner ofthe land, and the mill was allowed to go to ruin. Being a man of considerabledetermination he applied to the county authorities for permission to constructa dam, not to exceed nine feet in height, across Crooked creek, on theS. W. ¼ of section 11, where he and his family and his father-in-lawmoved. He was successful in his application, and permission was grantedWilliam McKee and Thomas Taggart, on the 8th of December, 1835. Work wasat once begun, and early in 1836, the mill was put into operation, andserved the surrounding country for many years. Wolberton moved away, butTaggart died in the township. There are now three saw mills in operationin the township: John Pickenpaugh on S. E. ¼ of section 4; LewisCraycraft on N. W. ¼ of section 32; and Jacob Chapman.
Board of Supervisors
The township has been representedin the Board of supervisors by the following named gentlemen:
1854 – I. G. Cady
1855 – Luke P. Allphin
1862 – John M. Campbell
1863 – Cyrus Morrell
1864 – Isaac G. Cady
1866 – Abner Murphy
1867 – Arthur L. Wells
1868 – E. L. Fuller
1870 – Eli Unger
1871 – Philander Avery
1874 – George E. Harvey
1875 – James N. Rigg
1877 – Philander Avery
1879 – James N. Rigg
1880 – M. M. Cleek
1881 – Philander Avery
Excerpted from The CombinedHistory of Schuyler and Brown Counties, Illinois, 1882
Transcribed by Carol LongwellMiller for Schuyler County ILGenWeb
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