Littleton may wellbe referred to as the “Prairie” Township of Schuyler County, and, witha location on the watershed between Crooked and Sugar Creeks, its wideexpensive prairies make it one of the most populous and wealthy townshipsof the county. It is one of a tier of four townships which forms the northboundary of the county, lying adjacent to McDonough County on the north.The south part of the township is more broken, where flows Horney Branchand Brushy Creek, but even this land has now reached a high price on accountof its close proximity to the rich level lands that surround it.
The first pioneer settlersin Schuyler County were attracted by the richness of the virgin fieldsof Littleton Township, and as early as 1825, David Trainor located thereand built his cabin on the west half of the northeast quarter of Section27 and put in his first crop.
The following year ThomasMcKee and his son-in-law, Garrett Wycoff, moved from Bainbridge Townshipto their new home on the southeast quarter of Section 35. Another of thefirst settlers of Schuyler County, who was attracted to Littleton Township,was John Ritchey, who had located in Buena Vista Township in 1824 and,two years later, removed to Littleton. He purchased the claim of GarrettWycoff on the southeast quarter of Section 35 and his travels in searchof a home then ceased, for he was an honored resident of the township upto the time of his death.
Among other early settlersin the township were David Snyder, who entered the north half of the northeastquarter of Section 33 in the fall of 1830; Elijah M. Wilson, who came fromKentucky in 1831; James Thompson, also a Kentuckian, located in Littletonthe same year. Mr. Thompson had come to the county in 1826 from Kentuckyin a spirit of adventure, but was impressed with the possibilities of thecountry and, in the fall of 1831, returned to his old home, where he wasmarried to Miss Catherine Crawford, and they soon afterwards took possessionof the cabin he had built in the wilderness.
The Littleton settlementwas further increased in 1832 by the arrival of Richard P. Applegate, whomade the long trip overland with his wife and two children. The followingyear William H. Crawford, wife and five children were attracted from theirKentucky home to Schuyler County and settled on the southeast quarter ofSection 20.
By this time Littleton Townshipwas well known among the settlements of the county, and the rush of immigrationmakes it difficult to follow the settlements in their natural order. Butamong the settlers who came to the township in those early days, and madeit their permanent place of abode, we may mention the following: RandolphRose, Drury Sellers, Michael Matheney, Joseph Logan, Col. Samuel Horney,George Garrison, William Lambert, James DeWitt, John S. Walker, SamuelDodds, Joseph W. Snyder, Adam Walker, John Seward and D. C. Payne.
Hon. L. D. Erwin, one ofthe few pioneer residents of Littleton now surviving, in conversation withthe writer, says he well remembers when deer and prairie wolves were plentifulin Littleton Township, and gray wolves were occasionally seen. Mr. Erwinhas also given us some interesting facts regarding the early electionsin the township. It was customary to hold the elections at the cabin ofone of the settlers, and in the early ‘forties the cabin of Richard Applegatewas chosen on account of its central location. This was before the countywas divided into townships, and the residents of that precinct agreed uponOregon as an appropriate name and it so appears on the early election records.But when a postoffice was first established in the township, Dr. W. H.Window filed with his petition to the Postmaster General a request thatthe postoffice be named Littleton, in honor of his father-in-law, JamesLittle, and this was done and the township was so named when it was organizedin 1854.
The first school in LittletonTownship was taught by Thomas Bronaugh in the summer of 1835, in an olddeserted log cabin on the southwest quarter of Section 21, and the firstbuilding erected for school purposes was built in 1838 on the southwestquarter of Section 19.
The first marriage in thetownship was that of James Trainor and Miss Mary Shields, which was celebratedon Christmas Day, 1828, Thomas McKee, a Justice of the Peace, officiating.
The village of Littletonis located in the geographical center of the township, and was plattedby Leonidas Horney, County Surveyor, July 31, 1849. James Little and hisson-in-law, Dr. William H. Window, were the townsite promoters, and thelatter had built the first house in the village in 1847. He also kept thefirst store and, in 1847, was appointed postmaster. The first school buildingin the village was erected in 1849, and was replaced in 1856 by a two-storybrick building. On October 26, 1856, Littleton was devastated by a destructivetornado, particulars of which are given in another chapter of this history.
By reason of its locationin a rich agricultural country, Littleton has always been a commercialcenter for the country round about, but with the coming of the Macomb &Western Illinois Railroad, which made the village its southern terminus,new vigor was enthused and, in late years, many extensive improvementshave been made. The old frame business houses have been replaced with substantialbrick buildings; a bank, elevator and newspaper have been started, anda coal company, with a capital stock of $25,000, is making an effort todevelop the mineral wealth of the locality. In 1907 a handsome new andmodern church was erected by the Methodist Episcopal congregation, anda four-room, two-story school building, of concrete block construction,replaced the old frame building that had done service for many years.
The village of Doddsville,located on the northern boundary of Littleton Township, lies partly inSchuyler and partly in McDonough County. It was laid out by Samuel Doddsand Paris Wheeler, July 6, 1836, and was platted by Allen Persinger, CountySurveyor. Samuel Dodds built the first house and kept the first store inthe village. Since the inauguration of the rural free-delivery system,Doddsville has lost its identity as a government postoffice, and its businessis tributary to adjacent towns.
The population of LittletonTownship in 1900, according to the census of that year, was 1,092.
Excerpted from HistoricalEncyclopedia of Illinois and History of Schuyler County, 1908, editedby Howard F. Dyson, pp. 703-5.
Transcribed by Karl A. Petersenfor Schuyler County ILGenWeb
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