This township is situated in the northeast corner of Clay County. Its name might indicate that the people are religiously inclined, and as five church buildings are to be found here, this conclusion may not be quite amiss; however, its name is derived from the fact that a Bible was found by hunters in a grove near where Georgetown now stands. This was many years before this township could boast of permanent settlers, and although the original grove has long since passed away under the sturdy stroke of the early pioneer, yet the name clings to it and is prized highly by the citizens of the township, as are many things which are handed down to us by tradition. By the Government survey, this division of the county is described as Town 5 north, Range 7 east, and lies between Effingham County on the north, and Hoosier Township on the south ; the east boundary is formed by Pixley Township and Jasper County, and the west boundary by Blair Township.The general features are those of a prairie country with plenty of timber abounding on its many creeks, which invariably run from the north to the south, indicating a slope to the south. In the northeast corner, running through Sections 1 and 12, is Limestone Branch, on the banks of which John Pulliam settled in an early day.
Cottonwood Creek rises in Section 12, flows south, and leaves the township in Section 36. It is fed by many tributaries arising in Little Prairie which lies west of it. Little Muddy, the principal creek, rises in Effingham County. It enters this township in Section 2, aud flows nearly through the center of the township, leaving it in Section 33. It receives many tributaries, among others that of Little Muddy from the west and Wolf Branch from the east. The former received its name from its muddy banks and bottoms, and the latter from an old settler catching wolves on its banks. Little Muddy Creek rises in Section 4, and drains the largest western part of the township; it flows south into Big Muddy in Section 28. The country between Big Muddy Creek and Cottonwood Creek is called Little Prairie, also Levitt Prairie, and on it the first settlements were made.
To the present generation, the timber along our creeks seem to be a vast thicket, with no grass plot nor pleasant retreats. To the first settlers the timber presented a beautiful sight, where now a chaos of thick underbrush obstructs the view and the progress of the traveler. Here were large grass plots, called glades: trees grew in groups, and among the trees would be found the blue stem grass in luxurious abundance, so that deer and cattle grew fat on it. In the fall of every year, after the grass had grown about two feet, a stem would shoot from each bunch and grow to a length of from three to six feet. No trace of the grass now remains, and, like many other things of the past, is only remembered by the old settler who delights to tell stories of by-gone days to the willing ear of the stranger or historian.
In our search for the oldest settlers, we came across a number of names but nothing definite is known of them. The first actual settlement, so far as we can learn in this township, was made in 1835, on Section 31, by Cyrus Mason, whom the old settlers represent as a splendid man. After a few years' residence in this county, he removed to McLeansboro, Ill.
The next was William Lewis, who entered land in Section 15 in the year 1836. The farm is now known as the old Henry place. His last wife's name was Susan Colclasure. She died March 5, 1854 and was the mother of seven boys and one girl. A few descendants are yet living in this county. The Lewis family is one of the best known in this county, though some say that some of the Lewises were more notorious than noted, yet we can say of old William Lewis, while living in this township, he was a respectable man, smart, though without an education.
He lived a number of years near Xenia, on what is now called the old Davenport farm. More is said of him in the history of Xenia Township. It is supposed that William Lewis came to the township in 1832. He died here. November 24, 1844 and it buried on the farm he entered. He was a great hunter, as most members of the family were. On one of his hunting trips in this county, he killed a bear, and sold the hams in St. Louis for $4, including his dinner, of which bargain he often boasted. Another old settler is Washington Lewis, who is yet living in this township. He was a native of Floyd County, Ind. His father, Robert G Lewis, was a native of North Carolina, but moved to Indiana, where he died. Washington Lewis is the only one now living of a family of eight children. He came to Bible Grove Township in 1836, and here, in Sections 28 and 29, he entered 200 acres of land. He now owns 100 acres of land. Washington Lewis was married twice; his first wife, Jerusha Erwin, daughter of David Erwin, was the mother of nine children, viz.: Sylvania McGee, William P., Ann Cook, Priscilla Brooks. Adeline Cook, Robert (deceased), John, Charlotte Murvin and Levina Kepp. His present wife, Mrs. Nancy (Perry) Lewis is a native of New York, and the mother of two children now living from her first husband, viz., David F. and Allen H. Wattles.
The following is a list of persons who entered land in Bible Grove:
1835 - Cyrus Mason, Section 31.
1836 - William Lewis, Section 15; John Harding, Section 20; Henry Brooks, Section 23; Nelson Vickrey, Section 23; William Brooks, Section 26; Washington Lewis, Sections 28 and 29; Eli Erwin, Section 34.
1837- Jess Hamilton, Section 24; David Erwin, Section 28: Thomas H. Johnson, Section 33.
1838 - Alfred Logan, Section 1 ; Nathaniel Cherry, Section 21; Thomas Cherry, Section 21; Watson Reeves, Section 10; Alcy Mason, Section 27; Robert Colburn, Section 27; John Cherry. Section 28; Andrew Fulk, Section 31; George Henshaw, Section 31.
1839 - R. B. Lewis, Section 1.
1840 - J. J. Spriggs, Section 12; Leonard Brooks, Section 12; Zachariah West, Section 33.
1841 - Hauseman and Sundermann, Section 33; William A. McKnight, Section 35.
Some of the above named men probably never lived in this township, and of others nothing or but very little can be obtained. A complete history of some of the above families can be obtained by referring to the biographical department of this work. The Brooks family, William Brooks, Sr., came to this township in 1838, accompanied by his wife and a number of children, of whom some were married. His wife, Susannah (Wyman) Brooks, was the mother of ten children who reached maturity, viz.: Henry, Catherine Hampton. Elizabeth Vickrey, William, Leonard, Margaret Vickrey, Susan Woods, Dillon, Jonathan and Lucy Fields. Many of their descendants are now living in this township. The family came from Indiana to this county; the father and mother were natives of North Carolina. They both died here, the latter aged eighty-three years. The best known of all the Brooks family undoubtedly is Henry Brooks, who is yet a resident of Georgetown. He was born August 7, 1810, in Orange County, Ind. He was reared in Indiana, where he was also married to Susan McCoy, who is the mother of seven children, viz.: America Hord (deceased), William, Lydia, George (deceased), Katie, Henry, Jr., and Susie. Henry Brooks first came to this county in 1836 with his father, and entered land in Section 23; but fearing a new country would not suit his young wife, he did not come here for several years afterward, and after farming many years on his farm near Georgetown, he moved to the town in 1804, and has kept hotel ever since. His honesty and sincerity are proverbial, and though life's twilight is gathering around him, and he is past the allotted three score and ten, he is yet a halo old man, and enjoys the respect of all with whom he comes in contact. He and his esteemed wife are working members of the Christian Church. Robert Colburn and family came here in an early day. See biographical department also.
Joseph Holt, a mason and plasterer by occupation, was a native of Indiana. He came here about 1840, and died in Louisville. Thomas H. Johnson, another early settler, entered land in 1837, on Section 33. He probably came here long before that; some say in 1832. He was a valuable man, perhaps a little too fond of his cups, but otherwise a quiet man, a blacksmith by occupation. He is well remembered by our older citizens, and the farm he entered is yet known as the Johnson farm. He died here, and has descendants living in the township. Jacob Wolf settled in an early day in Section 33. He bought his land from Andrew McCaukel, who had purchased it from Richard Lewis, who was one of the very first settlers in the south part of Bible Grove Township. Adam Booth came from Indiana. He lived in this township several years, never owned land. His two sons, Elias and Wash Booth, are yet residents here.
About 1840, Andrew Fulk, a native of North Carolina, came to Bible Grove Township, settling in Section 32, where he died. He was of German descent. His two children, Mrs. Betsey Booth and Mrs. Sarah Webster, are yet living in this township. James Mathews lived in the timber about 1840. He was a hunter, and his wife a good seamstress, and thus with needle and gun they managed to live comfortably. Stephen and Abraham Hardin came here from Indiana in 1842, and settled in Sections 20 and 21. They were bought out by their brother, Aaron T., whose sketch appears in this work.
George Monical came here about 1843,and settled in Section 17. where his son Moses Monical now resides. George Monical died here. He laid out Georgetown, which he insisted on calling Edinburg. He is also mentioned in another part of this work. John Pulliam came from Indiana. He came here in an early day. and married Jane A. Lewis, daughter of William Lewis. John Pulliam acquired considerable property. His widow Mrs. Jane A Monical, is yet living in the northeastern part of this township, as are also several of her children. Anderson Wolf came in the fall of 1840, settling in Section 23. He is yet living, a native of Kentucky. He came here from Orange County, Ind., and has been a farmer by occupation. He has been married twice. His first wife, Polly Ford, a native of Indiana, was the mother of five children, viz. William, Hannah Pugh, John F., Nancy Wood and Leonard. His present wife was formerly a Mrs. E. Vickrey.
F. C. Falley, a very useful man in Georgetown, is a native of Licking County, Ohio. He is a son of Samuel and Ruth (Root) Falley, natives of Massachusetts. He came to Illinois in 1839, and to Clay County in 1852, just about the time Georgetown was laid out. He has been identified with many of the township offices, and seems to be the right hand man to the majority of citizens. He has filled the office of Township Assessor for fifteen years, and Township Treasurer twenty-five years, to the satisfaction of everybody. Bible Grove Township has no railroad facilities, yet her wide-awake business men are fully able to compete with merchants situated in the neighboring towns, and even Louisville, the county seat.
The thriving little village of Georgetown was laid out in 1852 by George Monical, E. Nixon doing the surveying. It is situated on the west bank of Little Muddy, in Section 17. a little west of the center. The first house built was a little log cabin, where A. Smith's brick store now stands (this was before the town was laid out). The second house was a frame (which is yet standing), 16x18, built and used for a store room by Finnemore & Apperson. in which they kept a general store one year and then sold out to Walker Apperson and F. C. Falley, who sold goods a year and a half, and then sold to Stephen Hardin. It changed hands several times after that, and is at present used as a store room by Cogswell & Nash. Several cabins were put up during the year 1851. In 1852, A. Apperson put up a frame dwelling house, which yet stands, and two log houses were put up in the fall of the same year.
In 1860, Messrs. G. W. Monical and Dr. Boyles erected a brick store, now known as Smith & Co.'s store, in which they kept a general store. During the war, about 1862, Henry Brooks put up his hotel, which he has kept ever since. Several other houses were put up the same year.
Things moved along smoothly and quietly till 1878, when the town took a fresh start, and several substantial buildings were put up, among others that of T. Gould's store and dwelling house, a fine brick building used for a drug store, post office and Odd Follows Hall.
The first general store was kept by Finnemore & Apperson: first blacksmith shop by Alexander Apperson and J. Smith; first drug store by Thomas W. Kepley; first saw mill was put up by George Monical & Son; first shoe shop was kept by a Mr. Jackson, now a resident of Xenia, Ill.; a tan yard was operated by F. G. Barnes, yet a resident of this township. A steam mill and carding machine was built and operated by W. W. Wolf. It changed proprietors several times, and was finally removed to Iola.
Present business of Georgetown: General stores, A. Smith & Co., Theoren Gould; drags and groceries, John Murvin; groceries, Cogswell & Nash, John R Lewis; shoe shop, John Peters; blacksmiths, Charles Bleeker, George Slictimyre; mills, A. Smith & Co.'s Bible Grove Star Flouring Mills; hotel, Henry Brooks; physicians, W. W. Duncan, E. L. Shumaker; millinery and dress-making, Mrs. William Hardin ; carpenters, D. Rose, Andrew Ballard and J. Byrnes. D. Rose also works at cabinetmaking and Andrew Ballard at wagon-making. Masons and carpenters, J. Byrnes and Newhouse.
At present, business is good. The town has about 200 inhabitants. It is not incorporated, and is not cursed with saloons at this writing. Vast quantities of game, poultry, butter and eggs are shipped yearly from this town. A stranger can have no conception as to the amount of business done in this little village. Everything seems alive and in a healthy, prosperous condition. When the village was yet in its infancy, the people realized the need of educational advantages, and a private school was organized, with James Cox as its teacher, who taught the school in a private house, with good success. The first school in Georgetown was a frame, 22x28, cost about $500, in which Samuel Fox taught the first school. The present commodious schoolhouse cost $1,700. It is a two-story frame. The present teachers are Josiah Harman and A. M. Rose; present enrollment, about 130 pupils. The school is considered a success. William McCracken was the first Postmaster, and John Murvin is the present Postmaster.
Georgetown was formerly called Edinburg by its founder, George Monical, and it is also recorded, but the name was afterward changed to Georgetown by the people. The town has two church societies, viz., the Methodist Episcopal Church and Christian Church. The Methodist Episcopal Church was organized in the year 1843 by Rev. Stafford. The causes which led to the organization were as follows: Three families who had been members of the Methodist Episcopal Church in Washington County, Ind., emigrated to Bible Grove Township, Clay County, Ill., and when here felt the need of church facilities. The names of the families were Stephen and Mary Hardin, Abraham and Elizabeth Hardin, and George and Hannah Monical. Rev. Stafford accepted a call from Abraham Hardin, who threw open his log cabin and invited the neighbors to attend. The first members were Stephen and Mary Hardin, Abraham and Elizabeth Hardin, George and Hannah Monical, and Mary Erwin. The church grew rapidly, and at present counts ninety members. The following is a list of ministers who have at different times officiated: Revs. Stafford, Rodgers, Gillam, R. J. Wall, Ephraim Joy, Abraham Campbell (in 1850 and again in 1870; he intended to preach again in 1870, but death called the worker to his rest, Rev. Cox, L. C. English and A. B. Morrison, A. B. Morrison (again), Henry Manifold, John Shepard, Gary Lambert, James Trapp, Rev. Babbett, William St. Clair, Jesse Green, Thomas Stephenson, J. L. Waller, William Hennessee, John Yungling. Joseph Rutherford, Rev. Laughlin, John D. Reeder, Powell A. Bartley, A. Snell. John Flesher, George A. Seed, J. G. Dee, John F. Harman.
The first church was brick, and cost $800. The present church, which is a fine edifice, cost $1,200. The first church trustees were George Monical, Jacob Gibson; James D. Plotner. William McCracken, Stephen Hardin arnl Aaron T. Hardin. The present trustees are Arch Burk, Aaron T. Hardin. Ashbury McKnight, Richard McWilliams, Francis C. Falley, U. Rose and Moses H. Monical.
A Sunday school was organized in 1846. Abram Hardin was the first Superintendent. Considerable interest was manifested. The present officers of the Sunday school are Albert M. Rose. Superintendent; John Marvin, Assistant Superintendent; William A. Hardin, Secretary; Mary D. Cox. Assistant Secretary; R. McWilliams, Treasurer; Edward O. Folks, Chorister; Anna Duncan, Librarian; and Thomas W. Carrick, Assistant Librarian. The condition of the school during the spring, summer and fall months is good, the average attendance being about eighty.
The Christian Church was organized about the year 1875 or 1876. Owing to the fact that the records of this church have been purloined by one of the former members, we are sorry to say a leader of the organization, we cannot give a very full history of it. The church edifice in which they hold their meetings is a frame. The first minister was Elder W. H. Krutzinger, who was succeeded by Elder Clifton. There is no regular minister at present. The church was organized with thirty-seven members. The membership at present does not exceed twenty eight. Church Elders -Henry Brooks, Sr., William Brooks, Alexander Vickrey, T. W. Kepley, Church Deacons C. T. Kepley and L. P. Weaber. Church Deaconesses Mary C. Kepley and Lydia E, Lewis. It must be said that Henry Brooks. Sr.. and his esteemed wife are worthy pillars in the Christian Church.
The G. A. R. has a post at Georgetown, and the I. O. O. F. have also a lodge. The G. A. R. Post is known as the Bible Grove Post, No. 360. It was organized by William Mattoon November 14, 1883, in Georgetown. It received its charter October 30, 1883. The following are charter members: Theoren Gould, John B. Cogswell, Elias Booze, James Connerley, Richard McWilliams, Leonard Wolf, William B. Corder, John Cottrell, S. G. Curtright, Henry Nash, M. N. Lewis, E. T. Ryan, William P. Lewis, Robert Carrick, Jesse B. Vickrey. Jacob Rinehart, Joseph Killifer, Joseph Harper and Joseph Cook. The following are new members: John Pugh, Jesse Roberts and Joseph S. Lowe. First officers: Theoren Gould, Commander; John B. Cogswell, Senior Vice Commander; Henry Nash, Junior Vice Commander; Leonard Wolf, Adjutant; Moses M. Lewis, Quartermaster;John Cottrell, Surgeon; Richard McWilliams, Chaplain; Joseph Killifer. Officer of the Day; William B. Corder, Officer of the Guard; W. P. Lewis, Sergeant Mayor; Joseph Harper, Quartermaster Sergeant. Present officers are: Theoren Gould. Commander; S.G. Curtright, Senior Vice Commander; Henry Nash, Junior Vice Commander; Leonard Wolf, Adjutant; John Pugh, Quartermaster; Joseph S. Lowe, Surgeon; Richard McWilliams, Chaplin; Joseph Killifer, Officer of the Day: William B. Corder. Officer of the Guard William P. Lewis, Sergeant Major; Jacob Rinehart. Quartermaster Sergeant. Everything is reported in good running, order, the meetings are held in the Georgetown Schoolhouso onceamonth, on or before full moon.
The I. O. O. F. society is called Bible Grove Lodge, No. 273. It was first organized in Flora, on the '24th day of May, 1859, and called Flora Lodge; its charter was granted on the 12th day of October, of the same year. Its charter members were John Lowry, William B Wilcox, I.C. Gadde, N.A. Oddy, E. P. Turner and William C. Goodsell. It was located in Flora a number of years and then removed to Louisville, the county seat of Clay County, where it stayed only a short time and then moved to Georgetown, where it retained its old name for many years; it was only changed within the last few years. The first officers of the lodge, while yet at Flora, were: E. P. Turner, N. G.; John Lowry, V. G. ; N. A. Eddy,R. S. and Secretary; W. Goodsell, Treasurer. Present officers are : J. E. Cooper, N. G. ; E. L. Shumaker, V. G. ; John Murvin. Secretary; Theoren Gould, Treasurer; J. H. Kellums, Warden; John Cogswell, R. S. of N. G. ; D. F. Wattles, L. S. of N. G.; F. Underwood, E. S. of V. G. ; L. Cook, L. S. of V. G. ; Charles Martz, Inside Guardian. The Lodge owns its own hall, which is situated over the post office. They hold their meetings every Saturday night. Thirty members are now enrolled and the Lodge is in a prosperous condition.
Five churches afford ample facilities for religious worship to the citizens of Bible Grove Township. Two of them have already been mentioned in connection with the history of Georgetown. Of the other three, but little can be said. The Mount Olive Church is located in Section 27. The ground on which it was built was given by Alexander Vickrey. The church itself was built by different denominations, perhaps mainly the Protestants who were assisted by the Methodist Episcopal and Christians. Any denomination may preach in the church if is not occupied by the Protestants. The German Methodist Episcopal Church, known as Immanuel Church, was built in 1874, in the southwest corner of Section 5. The land was given by Charley Nuetzmann. It is a frame and cost $800. The following names were the first members who, having been members of the same church in the East, felt the want of a German Methodist Episcopal Church, and organized the church: A. Smith and wife, J. Sehnert and wife, John Schmidt, M. Schmidt, G. P. Seitz, Peter Sehnert and wife, Catharine Sehnert, Charles Nuetzmann and wife. The present membership numbers about forty.
Before the church was built, the above named received their pastoral help from Altamont; the meetings were held in the homes of some of the members, and Revs. Brinkmeyer and Buchholtz were the officiating ministers.
The German Evangelical Church is situated on the county line in the northwest corner of Section 4; its members are from this and Effingham Counties.
The first school taught in the township was about 1839. Young Van Cleave was the teacher. The school was conducted on the old subscription plan, and was held in the proverbial log pioneer house with puncheon floor and mud and clay chimney, built by Nelson Vickrey and the Brooks family, on the old farm of Henry Brooks in the southeast part of the township. J. Y. Rhodes taught another school afterward, one mile south of the first one, after which several subscription schools were taught, till finally the free school system ushered in the dawn of intelligence and prosperity. At present, Bible Grove Township is divided into five school districts, and has five frame schoolhouses. The estimated value of school property is $2,950; number of months taught, twenty-nine. Eight teachers are employed, five males and three females. The average salary for male teachers is $30.24, and for female teachers $20.06. The number of pupils of school age is 381, and of these 201 are males and 180 females; of these 177 males and 147 females are enrolled. Total expenditure for the year 1882, $2,762.56.
Among the early mills in this township we must note one owned by Henry Brooks, which is well remembered by our early settlers. It was properly called an ox mill. Another old mill was built about 1838, in the southwest corner of the township, by a man named Dowthard. It was run by horses, which walked around a stump on which two stones ground the corn. The saying is that the horses would go around twice, while the stones went round once; yet it was better than none.
We must here record the enterprise, of one of our former citizens, Levi Colburn, who built a fine steam grist mill in Section 24 about 1868. It was considered one of the finest in this or adjoining counties. Mr. Colburn operated the mill till about 1873, when it burned down, supposed to have been the work of incendiaries. Several portable saw mills are now at work every winter along the banks of the thickly timbered creeks, and convert the timber into building purposes. Jackson Hungate and William Sundermann were undoubtedly the first who sold goods in this township. The latter peddled goods in a two-wheeled cart which was a well-known and welcome sight to our early settlers. The primitive and meager stock of goods owned by these early merchants can be imagined when it is remembered that they hauled their goods from St. Louis. At one time, Henry Brooks, wishing to lay in a stock of groceries before winter, wanted to buy twenty pounds of coffee from William Sundermann, but was greeted with the words " Mein Gott, man, do you want to buy out mine whole store? "
Between the years 1835 and 1844, a number, of people settled in Bible Grove Township, but stayed only a few years and moved away, no one knows whither; they belonged to that restless roving set of people that sometimes start from the coast of the Atlantic; go across the continent to the shores of the Pacific, and sigh because they cannot go further west. Very few crimes have been committed in this township. In an early day, while Walker was Sheriff, a man by the name of Webb was killed on the old William Lewis place, at a shooting match, by John Easton, who stuck a knife in him; the usual causes, such as card-playing, drinking and quarreling, brought on the calamity. The accidental shooting of Frank Colburn by his little brother will also be remembered by our citizens. The most noted incident which occurred and which elicited the sympathy of the whole community in this township, was undoubtedly the robbing and assault with intent to kill of William McKnight, the father of Cameron McKnight, whose sketch appears in this work. William McKnight was spending the night of October 4, 1864, at the residence of his son-in-law, Daniel Dillman, who was absent at the time, and was attacked and brutally beaten by five men, who then proceeded to rob him, and secured $3,320. They left William McKnight nearly dead, he dying from the effects of his wounds the following year. The family spent considerable time and money to bring the perpetrators to justice, but failed, though several men were arrested. McKnight had sold 600 acres of land, and as every man was his own banker in those days, it was naturally supposed by the villains that he had considerable money with him.
The words rail-making, corn husking and house-raising, together with dances and whisky stews, bring back pleasant memories to the old timers. People would come ten miles to a house-raising. In an early day, William Sundermann invited his neighbors to a rail-making, who responded with a will, especially when it was understood that Billy, as Sundermann was generally called, had gone to Vincennes to get flour (a rare article in those days), rice, sugar plums, and five gallons of the best whisky. A dance closed the day, and those who had worked through the day took the floor, while the others were made to stand back by Billy, who seemed to believe in the saying, no work, no play. At another time, William Sundermann received a number of New Year's calls, and, so as not to be behind the times, had made a most excellent whisky stew, when one of the visitors hit the glass which was presented to him by Sundermann with his list, and spilt the contents over Billy's head, who promptly responded by knocking his visitor down with the large hot can which contained the stew. No hard words or feelings existed afterward. This is but one of the many praise worthy characteristics of the pioneers which have nearly all passed away with them. Game and wild beasts abounded in this part of the country. Deer and turkey were the only game on which the hunter would waste his powder. As an evidence of the abundance of deer, it is said that William Brooks, Sr., killed twenty-two the first fall after he came to the township.
Owing to the fact that the early records of Bible Grove Township have been lost, the list of township officers cannot be ascertained. The following is a list of the present township officers: A. H. Harmon, Supervisor;John R. Lewis, Township Clerk; D. Rose and George W. Colburn, Justices of the Peace; Elijah Kepley, Noah Webster and John McKnelly, Township Commissioners; Leonard Wolf and Moses Lewis, Constables; A. R. McKnight, Township Collector, and C. C. Hall, Township Assessor.
[Source: "History of Wayne and Clay Counties, Illinois", Chicago :: Globe Pub. Co.,, 1884]
BACK -- HOME
© Genealogy Trails