Early History of Mason County- Sherman Township PT 2

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Passing down through the years 1849 and 1850, we find the names of Samuel Adkins, Granville Cheny, Vincent Singleton and Alexander Holler.
These all settled in the southwest corner of the township, on what is known as Bull’s Eye Prairie. Adkins and Holler were from Tennessee, Cheny from Tennessee or Kentucky, and Singleton probably from the State last mentioned.
Adkins settled in the northwest corner of Bull’s Eye, and, after three or four unsuccessful attempts at farming, sold out to Henry Cease, lived in different parts of the township until five or six years ago, when he went west to Kansas.
Cheny located on the north edge of the prairie, but finally moved to De Witt County, where, quite recently, he lost his life by accident. Singleton remained
a few years, moved to Salt Creek, thence to Mason City, of which he is at present a citizen. Alexander Holler lived in the township but a short time,
moved into Havana Township, and died a number of years ago.

William G. Stone, now a resident of Havana, was a citizen of Sherman as early as 1850. Stone was originally from New Jersey, but came from Pennsylvania to Mason
County. John Spellman and Amos Heater came in 1851, and were both Pennsylvanians. Heater settled on Section 9, and resides on the farm originally entered and improved. Spellman lived only two weeks after completing his house and moving into it. His widow, since married, is still a citizen of the township. His sons, Henry and George, went west to Nebraska some years since. William entered the army in the early part of the war. He was, doubtless, an ardent admirer of the sentiment expressed in the couplet,
” He that fights, and runs away,
May live to fight another day,”
for, after the first engagement, he ingloriously deserted, and was seen among his
comrades no more. He is supposed to have died some years since, though this BB fact is not definitely known. H. Elderbush settled in the edge of Crane Marsh timber about 1852 or 1853 ; the exact date of his coming cannot now be ascertained. James M. Samuels, one of Sherman’s most prosperous citizens, located on the northwest corner of Section 36, where he still resides. The family,
originally from the Old Dominion, had emigrated to Kentucky in 1815, and settled near Hopkinsville when that thriving city was a small village of not more than one hundred inhabitants.

In the spring of 1835, his father, Andrew Samuels, came to Illinois, and first settled in Morgan County. Ten years afterward, he settled in what is now Bath Township, Mason County, on the
farm now occupied by his youngest son. The remains of himself and wife lie entombed in the cemetery at Bath. ^When James M. settled here twenty-four years ago, there were none living east of him in the township, and, with the exception of Mrs. Devenport and family, none south before reaching the set- tlers in Crane Creek. To one visiting his pleasant home, occupying as it does, one of the most eligible sites in the entire township, the matter of wonder is, that a location so desirable should have been left unoccupied to so late a date, while others, far less so, had been occupied and improved fifteen or twenty years earlier. His connection with the village of Easton will be given in the
history of that village. Jacob Kissler and family, consisting of Mark A., William, James, Thomas, Charles, John and three daughters, came from Washington County, Penn., and first stopped in Havana. In 1859, they came to the township, and, with the exception of Thomas, are enterprising citizens to-day.
Thomas returned to Pennsylvania not long after coming. There are others, doubtless, whose names are worthy of mention as being among the early settlers of this section, but whose time of coming and date  of settlement cannot beaccurately given.
TRADING-POINTS, MILLING, ETC. What Chicago is to Illinois and the West, Havana was to the early settlers of Mason County the point to which all their produce must be brought to find
sale and shipment, and in which they obtained their dry goods and groceries. Hogs were sometimes driven to Beardstown and slaughtered, as, at one time, it enjoyed the distinction of being the ”
Porkopolis ” of the entire region. Meal was obtainable in limited quantities at Mount’s mill, on Crane Creek, but,
when flour was to be procured, they were obliged to make the journey to Woodrow s or Kinman’s mill, on Mackinaw, or to Wentworth’s, on Otter Creek, in Fulton County. The former, though more distant, were generally preferred on account of the scarcity of the ‘ ; needful “to pay the toll at Ross’ Ferry (now Havana) which was 87 cents the round trip. It was by no means an unusual
occurrence to consume four or five days in making the journey back and forth to mill, the length of time being governed somewhat by the period one might be required to wait for his grist to be ground.

The mills of Sim monds andMcIIarrv, on Quiver, built at a later date, brought almost to their doors con- veniences which the early settlers scarcely dared dream of, much less expect in
their own day and generation. All mail matter was received at Havana. There was never a mill built or a post office established within her borders until since the advent of railroads through this part of the county. They enjoyed the distinction of having a blacksmith-shop convenient to them at quite an early day. Martin Scott opened a shop just across the line, in Havana Township, as early as 1848 or 1844.

Eli Hibbs built a shop in 184 8, the first in the township, and has worked at his trade more or less every year since.
Before t he building of schoolhouses, the “school marm ” was abroad in the land. Miss Eliza Dentler was the first to instruct the youthful Suckers in this part of the county. The school was kept at the residence of her mother. She was regarded as a first-class teacher at the time, though it is probable that herliterary attainments would fail to secure for her an appointment in most of our
city schools of to-day. The first schoolhouse built in the township was designed to be located on the southeast corner of Section 8, on land belonging to James H. Chase. Upon a more accurate survey, it was found, however, to be on Section 9, on the land of Amos Heater. The building was erected in 1846-47, and Abe Millerson presided over the destinies of the first school. At present, the township has seven good school buildings and makes ample provision for the education of all her youth. The circuit-rider, who came to proclaim messages
of divine love, followed early in the wake of the first settlers. Rev. Michael Shunk was, perhaps, the first through this section. Revs. Moreland and Hardin Wallace were here in an early day. Moreland was a man remembered for his more than ordinary ability in the pulpit, while Wallace was a young man noted for his fine singing. Of the latter, it is said he could open services, deliver his
sermon, and close the exercises all inside of twenty minutes, especially when a few handsome young ladies were in his audience. Moreland was sent from his
charge here to Purgatory Swamp, a name suggestive of the fact that all his eloquence and persuasive powers would be needed to reclaim its inhabitants.
A small frame church, the only one in the township outside of the village of
Easton, was erected by the German Evangelical Society in 1855 or 1856.nAmos Heater and wife, John Shinglemeyer and family, Jacob Shinglemeyer and family, Henry Mehlhop, P. Morgenstern and others were among the early communicants. The first practitioner of the healing art was William Coder, who had settled in the eastern part of Havana Township in 1838. He was a
minister of some reputation as well as a physician, and sought by his labors to heal spiritual as well as physical infirmities. Dr. Allen, from Indiana, was a man of fine abilities, and was also here at quite an early date.
Elizabeth Hampton, daughter of John Hampton, born January 24, 1840, and Mahlon Hibbs, son of Eli Hibbs, born May 8, 1840, were the first births to occur in the township. Hampton’s daughter attained to womanhood’s estate, and was living a short time ago. Hibbs’ son died at the age of nine months.
The first death to occur was that of Mrs. Thomas K. Falkner, whose death took place in May, 1839. She was buried at the then recently established burying-ground on the farm of Robert McReynolds. The first interment in the cemetery was that of Grandma Fessler in 1838. The honor of the first wedding in this section belongs either to John McReynolds and Catharine Dentler, or to Alfred Howell and Eliza Falkner, but which was first, no one living here, at present, is able to assert with positive assurance. Their example, in that respect at least, has been followed by many others of later years.

The war record of Sherman is alike creditable to herself and the county of which she is a part. The patriotism of her citizens was equal to the demands of her country upon her at all times. All calls were promptly filled, and she furnished men even in excess of her quota. At one time, the Republican party was in the ascendancy, but gradually the scales turned, and, for the past few years,
the Democratic party has carried the day. M. H. Lewis was the first Supervisor of the township. Alfred Athey guards her interests at present, and ha held the office by successive re-elections for several terms.


FRIDAY- Part 3, The History of Easton

Early History of Mason County- Sherman Township

For the next several weeks I will be bringing to you some history. What I am giving you if from a book titled “The History of Menard and Mason Counties, Illinois” The author is anonymous so this is free reign to copy and give to you. The book covers Mason County from 1841 to circa 1879. On thing to remember is I didn’t write this material. If things appear to be not quite right then it is from the book and not from me.

I will start with the history of the townships and then a brief history of any towns or villages found in that township. Let’s get started!


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The History of Sherman Township Part 1

When, in 1862, in accordance with a vote of the citizens adopting township organization, the county of Mason was divided into eleven townships.
Sherman had no part or lot in the matter. The voting-places of its citizens were Havana, Forest City, and in the eastern portion of Pennsylvania Township. The distance to be traveled and the difficulty experienced in reaching them, often deterred them from exercising this most inestimable right of the
American citizen. In September, 1866, a petition was presented to the Board of Supervisors, praying that a new township by the name of Jackson might be created out of portions of Havana, Pennsylvania and Mason Plains (now Forest City) Townships.

After mature deliberation, the prayer of the petitioners was granted. Though the name by which it had been christened was
one which the American people had twice honored with the highest gift in their power to bestow, and was calculated to perpetuate the memory of the hero of
New Orleans, yet a greater in military exploits than he had arisen. Sherman, who, at the head of his noble and victorious army, had ” marched down to the
sea,” and by his successful warfare, waged in behalf of his country, had endeared himself to every true patriot heart, was a name well-pleasing to many
of its citizens. At the January meeting of the Board, in 1867, upon motion, the name Jackson was stricken out, and that of Sherman substituted. It is designated as Town 21 north, Range 7 west of the Third Principal Meridian, and comprises thirty-six sections a Congressional Township. The woodland districts are of a very limited extent. Excepting a small grove in the northeast
corner, known as Crane Marsh timber, and the outskirts of Bull’s Eye Prairie timber, along the western edge, the entire township is prairie. A county ditch,
finding an outlet through Crane Creek, crosses the southeastern corner, and, with its tributaries, affords drainage to an extended scope of its territory. The
C., H. & W. R. R. (formerly known as the Havana extension of the Indianapolis, Bloomington & Western) crosses its southern portion, the length of line
through the township being about seven miles.

The geographical position of Sherman is south of Quiver and Forest City
Townships, west of Pennsylvania, north of Crane Creek, and east of Havana.
As an agricultural district, at present it ranks lower than any other township in
the county. This is owing to the large amount of wet, swampy land included
within its limits. Fully three-fourths of its entire area was comprised in that
portion of the county known, a few years ago, as “swamp-lands.” Many of
its broad acres were at one time held by the Government at the small sum of
25 cents per acre, and even this mere pittance it failed to realize. These lowlands, when effectually drained, have proved to be very productive, and the
township, by a thorough system of artificial drainage, may be made to compare favorably with other portions of the county in its annual products. With
this glance at its topographic features, we come at once to a notice of its EARLY SETTLEMENT.
The first improvement made in what is now Sherman Township was that of
Thomas K. Falkner. The family, originally from the Empire State, had set- tled in Dearborn County, Ind., in 1815. In 1830, Thomas, then a married
man, moved to Madison County, and settled on the bank of White River.
Eight years later, he removed to Illinois, and entered lands in Section 7, Town
21 north, Range 7 west of the Third Principal Meridian, then Tazewell, now
Mason County. He built a log cabin, and, on the opening of spring, began to break prairie. After a residence of ten or twelve years, he sold out to Henry
Cease and moved into Salt Creek, where, in 1865, he died. In the summer of
1839, Mahlon Hibbs and his sons, William and Eli, together with his son-inlaw, John Hampton, came from Columbia County, Penn., and settled on the
same section. Mahlon Ilibbs settled on the southeast quarter, made an improvement, and died the fall after coming. William Hibbs entered land on the
northwest quarter, improved it, and, after a residence of some six or eight years,
traded it for mill property in Island Grove, Sangamon County. From there
he removed to Missouri, and, a few years since, to Kansas, in which State he
at present resides. John Opp is the owner, at present, of the land he entered.

Eli .Hibbs made his farm on the northeast quarter, lived there some years, and
then moved to the farm entered by his father, where he still lives. John
Hampton located west of his father-in-law, and lived on the farm he entered
and improved till October, 1878, when he moved to Shelby County, Mo.,
where, at last accounts, he was still living. About two weeks subsequent to the arrival of the Hibbses and Hampton, Mrs. Catharine Dentler and family
came from Northumberland County, Penn., and settled on Section 18, south of
the settlements already mentioned. She moved to Nebraska seven or eight
years ago, and died there in the winter of 1878. Solomon Dentler, a young
man, nephew of Mrs. Dentler, came with the family. He entered eighty acres on Section 20, but did not improve it. In the fall of 1839, he returned East,
and, having traded his land to Henry Cease, did not again come West. The
settlers already mentioned comprised the entire citizenship of this section prior
to 1844. West of their location, toward the town of Havana, there were seven
or eight families along the border of the woods, to wit, Coder, McReynolds,
Robert Falkner, Eli Fisk, Brown, Fessler, and a few others. These constituted
the inhabitants in the first thirty miles or more east of Havana. Nearly the
whole country was a vast, unbroken prairie, over which roamed at pleasure
vast herds of deer and wolves. Mr. John R. Falkner relates that, in the
spring of 1840, he, with two others, counted on Bull’s Eye Prairie fiftynine deer in one herd, and forty-two in another, all in sight at the same
time. James H. Chase was the next in order in the township. He came
from Pennsylvania to Hamilton County, 111., in 1839, and from there to Mason in 1844. His improvement was made on the northwest quarter of Section 8, where he remained till the date of his decease, an event which occurred some years ago.

Joseph Lehr settled in the northwest corner of the township in 1845. He purchased two acres of William Hibbs for a building-site, on which he erected a cabin. He laid a claim on Section 6, which he improved and owned to the date of his death. Lehr came from the Buckeye State, but was a native of Pennsylvania. He moved to Wabash County and lived one
year, thence to Wisconsin and remained one year, finally returning to Havana,
where, a few years ago, he died. Among the list of settlers as early as 184849,
we find the names of Henry Cease, John Blakely, William and John Alexander
and Charles Trotter. Cease was from the Keystone State, and was the fore- runner of a large number from the same section that settled, at an^early date,
in what is now Pennsylvania Township. He purchased the improvement of
Thomas K. Falkner, and, a few years later, moved farther east into the township, on land now owned and occupied by J. H. Kellerman. He moved to Missouri a few years ago, and at present resides there. Blakely and the Alexanders were from Ohio, and settled east of those already mentioned. Blakely continued a citizen till the date of his decease. The Alexanders first settled in
Havana Township, but came, as above stated, to Sherman. William located near the edge of Crane Creek timber, and, several years ago, went to Missouri.
John sold out some three or four years after coming,, and returned to Ohio.
Charles Trotter was an Englishman by birth, and came to this section from the Bay State. Peter Morgenstern now owns and occupies the farm he improved.
He remained in the township but a few years, then moved to Beardstown, Cass County, where, some years later, he died. About the time of the last mentioned
date, Mrs. M. B. Devenport and family, consisting of her sons Henry, Lewis,
William, Joseph and Marshall, settled in the southern part of the township,
about one mile southeast of the present village of Easton. Her husband, Marshall B. Devenport, commonly known as Booker, came from Kentucky to Illi- nois in 1832, and died in what is now Salt Creek Township in 1840. Joseph died here a number of years ago. Henry is still a resident of this part, while
Eli T. resides across the line, in Crane Creek. Marshall Devenport took up his residence in the Golden State some years since, and, when last heard from, was living.


Wednesday is Sherman Township part 2

Friday is the History of Easton