LittletonTownship History

This is the bestand most finely improved of all the townships in the county; and here wefind the model farms, the most beautiful farm residences, elegantly furnishedwith all the conveniences of modern life. The pastures are dotted withblooded stock, and the large and commodious barns are tenanted by finehorses and comfortable and handsome carriages. Beneath surrounding shedsstand the latest and best improved machinery of all kinds necessary forthe successful cultivation of the soil. As one drives along the well-keptroads, feelings of pleasure well up in his breast, as field after fieldof golden grain, or green corn meets the eye upon all sides, while theear is not unfrequently greeted with strains of sweet music issuing fromthe farm houses by the way-side, indicating that the wives and daughtersof the proprietors have time for the cultivation of the taste as well asfor labor. Littleton is one of the northern tier of townships. McDonoughcounty borders on the north, Oakland on the east, Buena Vista on the south,and Brooklyn on the west. Its entire surface is slightly rolling prairie,highly productive, naturally, and improved by extensive tilling. Thereis sufficient timber along the water courses to answer all demands forfencing and fuel. Horney Branch in the northwestern corner, Brushy creekin the southwest, and streams in each of the other corners aford an amplewater supply and the necessary drainage.

Military Patents

Military patents for servicesin the war of 1812 were issued for land in this township as early as 1817to the following named persons:
Jacob Newman received awarrant for the S. W. 1/4 of section 11, on the 27th of November, 1817
John Cyphers, for the NE. 1/4 of section 8, on the 29th of November, 1817
Charles Hodgedon, for theN. W. 1/4 of section 8, on the 29th of November, 1817
Amasa Turner, for the N.E. 1/4 of section 5, December 6, 1817
John Merritt, for the S.E. 1/4 of Section 13, December 15, 1817
Benjamin Spearmin, for theS. E.1/4 of section 10, December 27, 1817

Early Settlers

This township was one ofthe earliest settled in the county. Its fertile soil, beautiful locationand proximity to the first settlement made, were circumstances that soonattracted the attention of the pioneers, and David Trainor, a young man,was the first to enter the township in the summer of 1825. He built a cabin,put in a crop in the weeds, and then went back to his former home, andin the spring of 1826 returned with his father. He improved the W. 1/2of the N. E. 1/4 of section 27.

The next to seek a home withinits inviting borders were Thomas McKee and his son-in-law, Garrett Wycoff,with their families. They both settled upon the S. E. 1/4 of section 35,in the spring of 1826, at which time they had moved up from Bainbridge.McKee was subsequently killed in a coal mine in Rushville, and Wycoff subsequentlysold his interests in that portion of the township, and about the fallof 1832, took possession of, and improved the S. W. 1/4 of section 19.His cabin he constructed of clapboards in form of a frame house. He wasa native of Maryland, and died upon his last improvement in the township,leaving a large family of children, some of whom are now residents. JohnRitchey was a native of Pennsylvania, where he married and came to Cincinnati,and from there to Schuyler county in the fall of 1824, bringing his wife,and Martha, Daniel, Addison B., his children, and first settled in BuenaVista, where he remained until the fall of 1824, sold out and then movedaround, and in the spring of 1826 came into Littleton and took up the S.W. 1/4 of section 35, which he purchased from Garrett Wycoff, December7, 1826. The first summer he spent in a camp constructed of clapboardsresting upon a ridge-pole. The beds were made upon the ground, until onemorning in making them up, a large rattlesnake was discovered in a bedfrom which one of the children had just been taken, and then Mr. Ritcheymade bunks by driving a forked stick of timber into the ground and layingsticks across. He died in the township some years ago, and several of hissons now reside here. David and Thomas Blair, brothers, came from Bainbridge,also settled on the N. W. 1/4 of section 36, about this time, but did notremain long. James Trainor purchased from William H. Taylor the E. 1/2of the N. W. 1/4 of section 27, on the 22d day of December, 1825, and inthe following spring came into the township and made his home, buildinghis rude cabin and plodding along, in the manner of those days.

James H. Smith, who camefrom the southern part of Illinois and who was commonly known as “JudySmith,” from the fact of his replying when asked to trade, “that he wouldhave to see Judy,” (his wife) was also one of the early settlers in thissection and one of the first in the county. He purchased the N. E. 1/4of section 27 from William H. Taylor as early as December 24, 1825, andthe following year he made some little improvement but did not remain long.David Snyder, a native of Virginia, came from Kentucky–where he had married–inOctober 1830, direct to Littleton. He brought a  wife and four children,making the whole journey in a four-horse wagon. He entered the N. 1/2 ofthe N. E. 1/4 of section 33, built a cabin and commenced a life of toil,which ended only with his death, which occurred some years ago in the township.He left several children, Sarah, the wife of  Joseph Walker, beingone of the number. Elijah M. Wilson with his family of a wife and fourchildren was another of the pioneers from Kentucky, who assisted in thesettement of this township. He arrived in the spring of 1831 and made hishome on the N. E. 1/4 of section 22, where he died several years since.James Thompson, a Kentuckian, and one of the young men who made the journeyfrom Indiana to this county with Joel Tullis in a pirogue in October, 1826,first settling in Buena Vista, but selling his interests in that part ofthe county to his brother and coming to this township in the early springof 1831, a single man, bought out a pre-emption right to the S. W. 1/4 of section 21, from James McKee, a son of Thomas McKee. There was acabin and some improvement in the way of fencing and ground broken readyfor cultivation, which had been made by young McKee, who had lived thereabout two years. The place was in the skirts of the timber bordering onthe prairie. Young Thompson built a new cabin and made further improvements,and in the fall returned to his old home in Kentucky, and on New Year’sday, 1832, was married to Miss Catharine Crawford. He and his young wifeleft Kentucky on the steamboat Water Witch, and on 1st day of May, 1832,arrived at the new home which he had prepared, where be died in 1843, leavinga large family of children. The eldest son, William C., now occupies theold homestead. Richard P. Applegate came from Kentucky with his wife andtwo children in the spring of 1832, first stopping at the house of ElijahM. Wilson, his brother-in-law, until he purchased the claim of James Trainorto the W. 1/2 of the N. E. 1/4 of section 27, where he built a cabin inwhich he spent the remainder of his days. His son, Madison, now lives onthe old homestead. William H. Crawford, of Kentucky, arrived in the townshipin the spring of 1833, with a wife and five children, and settled on theS. E. 1/4 of section 20, which he occupied until his death, which occurredfrom injuries received in a hurricane, while in the village of Littleton.He left a large family of children, Mrs. Jane Horney, the widow of Col.Leonidas Horney, being a daughter, and James Crawford, the superintendentof the U. S. Mint at Carson City, a son. Absalom Willey, 0badiah Griffinand Mahlon Shaw, all having large families, were squatters living in onesmall cabin on the S. W. 1/4 of section 21, in 1833. Randolph Rose, DrurySellers, Michael Matheney, Joseph Logan, Col. Samuel Horney, George Garrison,William Lambert, James De Witt, John S. Walker, Samuel Dodd, Joseph W.Sayder, Adam Walker, the Wells’ family, Joseph Walker, may all be classedas old settlers, as all came prior to 1840.

Lester Seward improved theN. E. 1/4 section 3, in 1832; Darius Runkle made the first improvementon section 4, in 1840; Samuel Dodds, section 5; Jonathan Horney, section6, in 1834; Thomas Legg section 7, in about 1838; David Smith, section14, in 1835; Samuel Cooper, section 15, in 1834; Hugh Hays, section 18,in 1832; Garrett Wycoff, section 19, in 1832; Obadiah Griffin, section20, in 1832; James McKee and Michael Matheney, section 21, in 1829 or 30;E. M. Wilson, section 22, in 1831; Thomas Cooper, section 23, in 1833;James Trainor, section 27; Thomas Bronaugh, section 28; James Thompson,section 29; Greenwood, section 30, in 1831; Thomas Townsend, section 31;John Logan, section 32; David Snyder, section 33; John Ritchey, section34; Thomas McKee, section 35; David and Thomas Blair, section 36.

The first marriage in thetownship was that of James Trainor and Lucy Shields, which was celebratedon Christmas day, 1828, by Thomas McKee, Justice of the Peace. The firstdeath was that of a young man, Solomon Stanbury, who died at the cabinof Garrett Wycoff, and was buried on the S. W. 1/4 of section 35, whichbecame a grave-yard, and was the first in Littleton. The first school inLittleton township was taught by Thomas Bronaugh in the summer of 1835,in an old deserted cabin on the S. W. 1/4 of section 21.

Among the pupils in attendanceat Bronaugh’s school were Julia, Margaret, John and Ephraim Snyder, childrenof David Snyder; Martha, Nancy, Evaline and Ludwell, children of ElijahM. Wilson; Eliza and Benjamin, children of Richard P. Applegate; AndrewWycoff, a nephew, and John, Thomas, Asher, Daniel and Jacob, children ofGarrett Wycoff, and Jane, Elizabeth Ann and Tolbert, children of WilliamH. Crawford. The first school-house was built in 1838, on the S. W. 1/4of section 19. School was taught in old deserted cabins prior to that time.The first sermon was preached by Levin Green in the McKee settlement; andin the Snyder settlement by Rev. John Logan, a Missionary Baptist, at thehouse of Elijah M. Wilson in 1835. The first church in the township wasthe Union church, a frame building, erected in the village of Littletonin 1847.
The first physicians, whopracticed, were Drs. Teal, Blackburn, Rogers, and Blackburn. Thomas McKeewas not only the first justice of the peace, but also the first blacksmith,wheelwright and mechanic. The first post-office was at Doddsville, wherethe town was first laid out and Samuel Dodds was the first postmaster.The first mill was also in Doddsville, and was erected in 1857, by JohnPelsor. It was a large four story frame custom and merchant steam mill,complete in all its appointments. The machinery was removed to St. Louisin 1879. The roads and bridges of the township are kept in excellent condition,making travel safe and even pleasant.

Board of Supervisors

The township has been representedby the following named gentlemen, as supervisors, since township organization:
1854 – James De Witt
1856 – E. D. Wells
1861 – Dr. Hosea Davis
1862 – James Prather
1864 – Dr. Hosea Davis
1865 – Joseph Walker
1866 – Dr. Hosea Davis
1870 – John M. Dennis
1871 – James De Witt
1873 – William Pollard
1875 – Dr. Hosea Davis
1879 – James T. De Witt
1882 – William Pollock

But few people were morepatriotic than those of Littleton, as no less than one hundred and forty-nineof her citizens answered their country’s call and did battle in her behalfduring the late civil war, a complete list of whose names may be foundat the close of the chapter on patriotism. Littleton is accredited with161 farms, and a population of 1060, in the census of 1880.

The interest in public educationis apparent from ten handsome frame school buildings, with all the modernconveniences, where half-yearly sessions of school are maintained. Themoral education of the people is inculcated through the medium of the churchesof Doddsville and Littleton, and Bethany Christian Church, situated onthe N. W. 1/4 of the S. W. 1/4 of section 36, which, however, is withouta pastor at present. Religious services are also held in the several school-houses,and but few people have greater respect for religion.

Excerpted from The CombinedHistory of Schuyler and Brown Counties, Illinois, 1882
Transcribed by Robin Petersenand Karl Petersen for 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.

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