HISTORY OF DOUGLAS COUNTY, IL
F.A. BATTEY & CO., PUBLISHERS, 1884.
BY H.C. NILES
REPRODUCED FROM THE ORIGINALS AND CONTRIBUTED
LARRY M. BURMEISTER,
"The only solvent people- as a class, the only independent people- are the farmers."
UNDER some circumstances, a little of good old Bourbon goes a great way in causing a man to take in retrospectively all his pleasanter old-time experiences to the happy exclusion of the hard part of them. There was always a kind of Kentucky-Ohio-Indiana-Delaware-and-Maryland style about the people of Bourbon Township that made more agreeable the cordial welcome they always extended to new comers in the early days, who had been tempted to share their misery; and they loved him all the more, if, like the balance of them, he couldn't get away.
ORIGIN OF NAME, AREA, BOUNDS, ETC.
This political subdivision of the county takes its name from its first village which was so named in honor of Bourbon County, Ky., which was represented in this county by several families and was formerly known as North Okaw Precinct. This old subdivision occupied all of Township 15 north, Range 7 east, Section 7, of Township 15, Range 8, which now belongs to Tuscola, and two and one-half sections, which are at present included in Arcola. It then contained in all thirty-nine and one-half sections of land, being about forty-five square miles. Under township organization in 1868, Bourbon gave up Sections 1 to 12 inclusive in the north part, which went to Garrett; also three and a half sections on the east, which went to Tuscola and Arcola, and there was added a similar amount of lands on the south, being all the north half of Township 14 north, Range 7 east-eighteen sections. The township as it stands, consists of Sections 13 to 36 of Township 15 north, Range 7 east; Sections 1 to 18 in Township 14 north, Range 7 east; forty-two sections of land according to the Government survey, being in area, forty-two and a half square miles, and containing 27,232.38 acres. It is bounded on the north by Garrett Township; on the east by the range line and Arcola; and on the south and west by the county lines.
NATURAL AND ARTIFICIAL DRAINAGE.
The Kaskaskia River comes in near the northeast corner, and meanders toward the center, where it receives its largest Douglas County affluent, viz. Lake Fork, and then, bearing eastward, leaves the township at the extreme southeast corner. This river, locally known as the Okaw, rises in Champaign County, is wet and dry by turns, and neither long. The immense amount of farm drainage conducted to it of late years, raises it in twenty-four hours, after heavy rains, to a width of four to six rods, and a depth that will easily swim a horse, whilst in a drought, the overgrowth is such, that in many places it can be readily crossed dry shod and unnoticed. This is peculiar to all head-waters near the prairies of this region. The drainage of the township, by a judicious use and improvement of this water-way, can be made very effectual, a fact which is being recognized to a considerable extent by its people. A drainage district of a length of about seven miles has been lately established, comprising 3,000 acres of adjoining land, at a first cost of $2,500. It lies in the southwest corner of the township, and will, when completed, be of very great value to that part of the county. The engineering was done by H.C. Niles, a Tuscola surveyor, who prepared maps and profiles, under the general direction of C.G. Eckhart, the attorney for the Commissioners. This district, from its inception to its final completion, met with less opposition than is usual in such cases. The principal drain enters the township on the west side, south of Arthur, where it takes the waters of a district in Moultrie County and conveys them southeasterly through the lands of Apperson, Bouck and Logan, entering the Okaw finally in Section 11, Township 14, Range 7.
The Illinois Midland Railway, which crosses the Illinois Central Railroad at Arcola City, strikes this township at the southeast corner of Section
36, Township 15, Range 7, and bears northwesterly to the middle Section 30, where it leaves the county in the village of Arthur. The people voted bonds in aid of this road to the amount of $35,000, which were accordingly issued in 1871. The opponents of the measure, being generally those who had most at stake, took immediate steps to prevent the payment of the bonds; the payment of the tax was enjoined, and in addition thereto they forbade the signing of them by the Supervisor and Clerk. Some time in 1873 the injunction was "lifted" to enable the signing to be done, to which end there is a prevailing impression that a monetary consideration was the inducement; the bonds were signed July 3, 1873, though a strong effort had been made to previously get an expression of public sentiment in a public manner. Several townships involved in this matter were, through their Supervisors, sued by Eastern parties who held the bonds, and were accordingly summoned to Springfield. After going the rounds of the courts, the whole matter was set aside as illegal, both the election and the issuance, and these bonds have never been paid.
Several proposed railroads have been surveyed across the township, all tending northeast and southwest, the latest of which was surveyed in the summer of 1883 by a corps of engineers under the charge of H.C. Niles, of Tuscola, and under the general direction of Mr. Livengood, of Danville. This line was regularly located from Tuscola to the village of Arthur, being nearly straight and a measured distance of ten and a half miles via the north side of Bourbon village and the Rork bridge at the Okaw; a profile showing the elevations of points for every 100 feet was made, and with the maps duly forwarded to Danville for further consideration. The expenses of this survey were met by money, contributed for the most part by public-spirited land owners along and near the proposed line. This proposed route being a continuance, as it were, of the old Danville, Tuscola & Western proposed road, and would give to ancient Bourbon the long-desired "outlet," the want of which ruined her in 1859. A railroad here would give the village again the control of a wealthy vicinage.
The sixteenth section in every Congressional township was by law devoted to schools, and for that purpose given to the State by the Government, consequently the title to such lands is derived from the State of Illinois. There are two such sections in this political township. The law required them to be surveyed and divided into lots, the wherefore of which is not apparent, as the Government subdivisions would have answered every purpose of proper description. Section 16, Township 14 north, Range 7 east, was divided into sixteen lots. Each forty acres was a lot, the numbers beginning in the northeast corner and ending in the southeast. The purchasers from the State were made in 1856. Dr. J.H. apperson took two lots, the Logans three, Allen Campbell three, and Thomas Kearney four; others scattering. Section 16, in Township 15 north, Range 7 east, was purchased from 1846 to 1853. N. Garrett took two, Samuel Dehart one, George Dehart two, etc. There is no special record authority for this lotting by the Surveyor, the only clew being the conveyances, where, however, the lot is given, both by its name and the subdivision of the section.
EARLY SETTLERS AND LAND-HOLDERS.
The first entry of public lands in this township was made by Snyder & Keller in 1831, being the east half of the southeast quarter of Section 2, Township 14, Range 7; Thomas Moore entered the west half of the northeast quarter of Section 23, Township 15, Range 7, in 1831; in 1832, James Shaw entered the north half of the northeast quarter of Section 11, Township 14, Range 7; in 1835, Joseph Van Deren took the northeast quarter of Section 13, Township 14, Range 7; in 1837, J.M. Logan, October 30, the east half of the northeast quarter of Section 14, Township 14, Range 7. These lands descended to two sons who occupy them. In 1839 and 1840, L. and G. Dehart entered several tracts. George Dehart and his sons Samuel and Lucas were among the first settlers. George Dehart was Roadmaster in Coles County, and his district extended from Sadorus Grove on the north county line to a point six miles south of the Springfield Road, being about eighteen miles in length. Allen Campbell and William Campbell were of the early comers, and acquired large tracts of land which in the course of
time made them wealthy, Allen being at the time of his decease, 1875, with one exception, the largest land-owner in the county. John Campbell called "Uncle Jack," a brother of these gentlemen, was the last visible type of the old-fashioned pioneer hunter, and the tales told of his ability to "follow a trail" read like the story books. He almost lived out of doors, and was widely known, passing nearly all the time in hunting. He was found dead in the woods. His son Hiram, who died in 1864, had the reputation of being one of the best hunters of his time. Isaac Gruelle, of Kentucky, was County Commissioner of Coles County, elected in 1843 with H.J. Ashmore. The constitution of 1848 provided for a County Judge and two Associates. John M. Logan was one of the two Associate Judges of Coles. Gruelle and Logan have long since passed away, leaving large estates. Malden Jones arrived in the county in 1840, and was Sheriff of Coles when Douglas organized. He was elected in 1858, and removed to Charleston. He was elected to the State Legislature in 1864, and again in 1866, and was also in the State Senate. Israel Chandler and his sons, John, Lemuel, Isaac, Peter and William, etc., most of Mr. C's male descendants, have been prominent in public matters. John was very active in the formation of the new county, and was in great demand at all meetings in either county for his thorough knowledge of the situation. He was good-humoredly called "Old Statistics." He wasn't old, but he had the figures, and used them most effectually.
Lemuel Chandler was the first Supervisor of the township, and served four consecutive terms. William removed to Tuscola; being a builder, he erected many of the first houses in that place. He was for many years a magistrate. His daughter, May, was the first baby seen in Tuscola, having removed from Bourbon.
Dr. James H. Apperson, now living in Bourbon Village, assisted in the making of the new county, and is the nephew of Dr. John Apperson, who was the first physician to settle in Coles County. Dr. Apperson has long been the acknowledged leading doctor in the county, and is the "Nestor" of the profession there. Jacob Moore, Sr., entered his first land in Section 1, Township 14, Range 7, in April, 1835. He died in July, 1860, leaving a large estate and numerous descendants. He was a noted hunter of great endurance, and eventually a large cattle dealer.
German-speaking people occupy a large area of the north part here, the locality being widely known as the "German settlement." Their farms, compared with Western farms generally, are small (not being entered as Government land, the most of the owners not having come early enough), are exceedingly well cultivated, and the proverbial industry and thrift of this class of our fellow-citizens is here fully exemplified. The greater part of them arrived here about 1858-60, with no means whatever other than strong arms, good health and willing hearts, and, with hardly an exception, have acquired good farms.
The pioneer of this community is Wessel Blaase, who settled here in 1852, seven years before the new county was made.
Many of them are citizens of position and means, and accordingly exercise considerable influence upon the German element in all public matters, including politics. The "oldsters" now generally speak as good English and better than some natives.
In the southwest part are settled the "Amish" of some twenty-five families, who were preceded here by M. Yoter, Miller and others in 1864. They much resemble the Society of Friends in plainness of attire, integrity, and almost total exemption from pauperism. The name is derived from that of the founder of the society, who, in the German States of Europe, saw fit to secede from the Mennonites, of whom much has been heard lately, with regard to the emigration of large numbers of them from Russia to the West. The proposed marriages are publicly announced, and a marriage outside of the society is "tolerable, and not to be endured." They dress plainly, partly to avoid the frivolities of fashion, and partly that there may be no notable distinction between the rich and the poor. They have no churches or meeting- houses, but meet at each other's dwellings, as the spirit moves them. The clothing of the men is often confined with hooks and eyes, but the notion that they wear no buttons is erroneous. The heads of the women are always covered with a neat white cap, and over the neck and shoulders decorously spread a plain white hankerchief; this in observance of the hint from the Apostle Paul.
Adults only are baptized, and that by pouring. Infants are not entitled to this sacrament, they preferring to teach first, for every descendant has a birthright in the church. Of German extraction and long settled in Western Pennsylvania, their speech among themselves is an odd mixture of German and English, the "American" part of which can be readily detected by an intelligent observer, and the language is popularly known as "Pennsylvania Dutch." They all speak "American" as well as their neighbors, so that, trusting to the hearing alone, few would suspect the presence of a Germanspeaking person. Almost painfully neat in their housekeeping, forehanded in everything pertaining to the comfort of the inner man, with great hospitality, all educated, with industry, integrity and economy, they are a valuable addition to the population and wealth of Douglas County.
FORDS, ROADS AND BRIDGES.
The old Charleston & Bloomington road crosses the Okaw about north of the village of Bourbon, just west of the present graveyard, at which point a bridge was built by private subscription of citizens of Bourbon and Garrett Townships, so built because the Coles County authorities in those days (1850), declined to contribute any money for bridges so far from anywhere. The bridge was put up by William Chandler, who was the contractor, and was the only bridge for miles around for several years. This crossing, after Malden Jones had acquired the lands surrounding it, was changed to the location it now has, west and near the mill. It was the custom in those early days to survey and lay out roads over the best ground generally, without regard to section lines. These winding roads have since about disappeared, and given place to straighter if not better ones, and longer, if not on better ground.
Caleb Garrett and Thomas Goodson, with the surveyor, reached the Okaw on the location of this road in 1850, and getting across the creeks without a ducking was a problem to be solved by the surveyor, who generally had a pocket full of books and papers. The custom was to get across the creek "somehow," when the waters were up, as was the case at this time; some would swim their horses over, some "coon a tree," which had been felled so as to lay across, and anyway, to get over. They would take a hundred link "Gunther," and sailor fashion heave one end across the creek, attach it to a
horse's bits, and lead him over, then ride him back and repeat. Here Garrett and Goodson were on the north side, and the surveyor on the other, with a young and foolish horse, which he packed with some of his traps; and started him over, the boys on the other side to receive him. On the north side was a tall and shapely ash, which, leaning out over the creek, had depending from it a large grape vine, the bight of which rested in the water. The horse started all right, but got confused, and was caught in the grape vine; as the animal appeared to be drowning, Goodson stripped and shinned up the tree to cut the vine, but when ready to cut, an attempt to take his knife out of his trousers pocket was a dead failure, for the simple reason that he didn't have any pockets about him just then, and he came down amid the approving shouts of the crowd. The horse extricated himself. Near the spot, in 1882, a little surveyor swam the creek in purus naturalibus, and setting up the instrument which he had carried over, searched all his pockets in vain for his reading glass.
A FATAL CROSSING.
The old Stoval Ford on the Okaw in the northeast quarter of Section 15, Township 15, Range 7, about a half mile west of the old Bourbon Mill, was a favorite crossing place for years in the absence of convenient bridges, which in those days were rather scarce. While the ford remained a crossing, there was a certain fatality attached, which is worth mention. In the year 1851, George Taylor was drowned here while attempting to swim his horse over on his way home from the village. The horse floundered and threw him.
In February, 1866, O. A. Squires and Samuel Foster, of Tuscola, were passing at this crossing with a buggy and pair; there had, it appears, been constructed a sort of pontoon or floating bridge, which, however, was hidden by ice, which was on top of the overflow of the creek, and above the bridge. Just before attempting the crossing, they observed a man with a team and loaded wagon come over in the opposite direction, and they confidently took his tracks; when upon the bridge, or rather over the bridge, the ice broke, letting the team down upon the bridge, which proved defective, and, it giving way, the horses went into deep water and floating ice. One horse went under the ice and was drowned at once. After the delay inseparable from such accidents, the nearest house being about eighty rods off, the other animal was gotten out and died upon the bank from exhaustion. The buggy was afterward recovered some distance down the stream. The horse which was gotten out was the only horse that was saved at the Thayer barn fire in Tuscola, which took place in 1866, when fourteen horses, two mules and one cow were lost. Squires in this fire lost a horse, buggy, harness, etc. At this fatal crossing, in July, 1862, a son of John Blackwell, of Arcola, a German, Peter Hanson, and W.R. Rust, son of L.C. Rust, of Arcola, attempted a passage. The lads were about twelve years of age, and were driving with a fine mare and buggy belonging to Rust. Young Blackwell and the Gerrman were drowned, Rust escaping, he never could explain how; and the mare was also lost.
Bourbon Village is situated in the northeast quarter of the southwest quarter of Section 14, Township 15, Range 7. The original village of Bourbon, from which the township takes its name, was laid out by Malden Jones in October, 1853, and is the third village in priority, having been preceded by Fillmore in 1848, and Camargo in 1836. An addition was made by B. Ellars in the following January; the
surveying was done by John Meadows, the Coles County Surveyor. At the institution of the county, this was a thriving village of some twelve or fourteen business houses and the most important trading point in the county. The location of the Illinois Central Railroad, four miles east, was a great disappointment to these burghers, who had for years hoped that the railroad would hit them; the road was completed through the county in 1853, and the villages of Arcola, eight miles southeast, and Tuscola, the same distance northeast, were laid out and interfered with the future prospects of the place to the extent that the merchants not only removed to the new points, but, in several cases, carried their houses with them. One of these buildings, quite a substantial two-story frame, was placed upon runners, made of large sticks of timber, that is, whole trees, and with fifteen yoke of steers, Uncle Dan Roderick hauled it over the snow in nearly a straight line to Arcola. Uncle Daniel still lives on his farm in Section 1, Township 15,
Range 7. He entered his land in March, 1838. Though rather inclined to taciturnity, Dan's good heart and candid view of things have endeared him to all who get into his confidence and good will.
Samuel Sharp took Rust's store to Arcola in a similar manner.
EARLY MERCHANTS AND OTHERS.
L.C. Rust, Dr. J.D. Gardiner, Joseph Foster, William Chandler, Benjamin Ellars, G.W. Flinn and others, were the merchants here at the time of the new county business.
Mr. Isaac Gruelle had instituted the first store in or near the place, in which for some years Malden Jones was a partner. Luther C. Rust was a leading merchant in the old times of Bourbon, and notable for great financial ability. He removed from Bourbon to Arcola, and, after conducting a merchandising business for some years, went into the elevator and grain trade. He was much liked by his fellows as a business man. He died rather suddenly in Arcola, February 14, 1873. Dr. Gardiner, a former practicing physician, and for awhile in merchandising, also removed from Bourbon, and has finally located in Farmer City, De Witt County, where, as a physician, he has a large practice. William Chandler removed to Tuscola, also Flinn; Benjamin Ellars also kept store in Tuscola, but having large farming interests in Garrett Township, he devoted his attention to them. he removed to Texas, retaining, however, his interests here. He returned to Douglas County, and died here.
H.C. Niles and DeC. W. Niles were clerks for Rust at Bourbon; Abram Cosler, a brother of Isaac Cosler, of Arcola Township, was in the same capacity for Foster in merchandising. DeC. Niles succeeded Flinn in the grocery business in the village, and removed to Bement about 1860, when he has conducted a large grocery store ever since. H.C. Niles was elected first County Surveyor in the new county, and removed to Tuscola. Curtis and Campbell McComb, and John McDougal, Jasper Jones, Herman Russell, Abe Cosler and William Ellars were the other "wicked" young men of the place in those days, and congenial spirits. They all got "elated" when they heard Mal Jones had been elected Sheriff of Coles County. The fact is, that the boys from the East, who were still wearing "plug" hats and "store" clothes, had the impression that up to that time they were not quite understood by the country boys, and this notable "drunk" was arranged with the express purpose of making the Eastern boys "solid" with the country fellows; that it succeeded "goes without saying," and the new-comers accordingly got solid with "the masses."
Coon-hunting was one of the approved relaxations from the stern business pursuits of the day (that is, sitting round on goods boxes until a county customer loaded in), and young and old saw attractions in it. Saturday night was generally chosen, because of the usual leisure of the next morning. The outfit for such expeditions was simple, and consisted of Matthew West and his dog Drum, and Ras Dennis. With these first secured as leaders, all "other" dogs and men were welcome. They loafed along while Mat sent Drum out to reconnoiter. His peculiar yelp when on a trail, whether hot or cold, was well known to Mat and others, and when Mat said "Treed, boys!" (he generally added something else), he meant that he recognized by the voice of Drum that the game had "treed." Then all hands made a "bee line" for the direction of the dog, and found him reared up against a tree in a perfect ecstasy of excitement. When a fellow could not be found to climb the tree by reason of its size, it was felled; sometimes it took an hour by expert axmen, and, when it fell, the dogs rushed in, and the coon fought bravely till overpowered by men and dogs. Much of the timber was then owned by so-called speculators, i.e., non-residents, and cutting the trees was not considered as worth a remark, except as to its size and toughness. And, by the way, this timber belonging to non-residents was "kind o' considered" Government land, free to all, and many a good farm was fenced from the supposed public lands. After several coons had been secured, a fire was built, and the nearest neighbor being waked up, cheerfully contributed pork and bread for a midnight picnic. On one of these occasions, Niles lost a good silver watch, which was never found, though expert hunters went with him and claimed to have followed the exact trail of the crowd, which it had made by moonlight.
Shooting matches with rifle guns were frequent and well attended. The distance was decided upon, as also the mode-whether "off hand" or at rest. The target was made by blackening in the fire a shingle, a thin piece of split timber, on which was affixed a white mark about two inches in diameter, and the best string took the first choice, the prize being generally beef, which was slaughtered either before or after the match. The first choice consisted of a quarter of beef, at the option of the successful competitor. Other prizes were shot for, and the scheme often partook of the nature of a raffle, even money being put up. The bullets were often made on the ground. They had a fire and would pick up a chip and place a live coal on it, covering a piece of bar lead and blow upon it until the lead would run (out of a groove previously made in the chip) over the edge and into a mold held ready. Shooting with both eyes open was, if not common, at least frequent, and the practice of this mode showed considerable philosophy as to optics. Joe and Dan Taylor, Isaac Jordan, the Garretts, the Standefers, et al., were conspicious prize winners. The rifle was a prominent article of merchandise in the stores of Bourbon, and a good many sales were made, generally at $12 to $15 each; they cost about $5 or $6, but were sold on Christmas credit, whether bought in January or December, and by the way, it was the custom to trust everybody till Christmas; the account then became due, and a note was taken for the debt, bearing ten per cent interest till paid, and some of these fellows had an idea that if the account was not paid off at that Christmas, it was to run to the next, as a fellow who had failed to pay on a certain Christmas remarked, when he tried to borrow the money to pay at another Christmas "the note had been due now once, and in a month it will be due again, and I want to pay it off." But to return. These fellows made game of a scatter gun, and said that when you wanted to shoot a prairie chicken, all you had to do was to point the gun in the general direction and give it a whirl as you pulled the trigger. This was a very nice theory, but when they found that the fellows from the East did not wait for a prairie chicken to alight, but knocked him over on the wing, the respect for scatter guns was increased. David Rust, of Philadelphia, a brother of L. C. Rust, of Bourbon, made frequent annual visits to the neighborhood, and showed us all how to do it. He had a custom of allowing his companion to take the first shot on the wing, after which he pulled, being satisfied to kill all the other fellow missed. Niles, who brought a fine gun out with him, gained some little reputation as a shooter, and on more than one occasion, without a dog, shot more than he could carry.
In 1859 to 1865, these birds were often so thick in the air as to almost darken it, and when half grown, in about July and August, walking across almost any field would insure a good bag to an indifferent marksman. In after years, as the birds became used to being killed, a good dog, a good gun, and a good shot were absolutely required to give any sport. Al Woody, John Russell and Isaac Jewell, of Tuscola, became sure shots. In a very few years longer, the prairie chicken in this region will only be seen in the mind's eye; he is nearly gone.
Malden Jones and Lemuel Chandler, in the 1860 days of old, were leading stump speakers and authorities of the day, and being on opposite sides of the important political questions, made the old brick school-house fairly ring with the eloquent pros and cons of political debate, the condiments of which were not a little of personal feeling, which to the knowing ones lent an added zest to their enjoyment. But happy to say, Old Time fixed them with his glittering eye at last, and the foolishness of political animosity gracefully gave way to the sober philosophy of increasing years. Old Doc Johnson was full of wise saws and modern instances, and could a tale unfold that would freeze the young blood and make each particular hair stand on end like quills on the fretful porcupine. It was so blank long, but generally good. It was fun to hear him and Niles talk Latin to the admiration of the bystanders. Their dead language consisted of the names of medicines, and directions for using them. Doc removed to the east end of the county, married a widow there, and finally went West along about 1879. There is yet many a warm heart corner in Bourbon Township for old Doc.
Sam Sharp yet remains an habitue of the old village, and looking and acting just about as he always did, is still able to furnish a rare treat to any former old resident who may happen along. Our list of old-timers is annually shortening up, and after a few more
"wiggles," if we desire any more fun with the boys, we'll have to look for it in the sweet by and by.
Bourbon has yet the two-story brick schoolhouse which was built in 1857, and it is probably the very first brick built in the county. There is a neat Baptist Church which was erected in the year 1871, under the care of Rev. Griffing, at a cost of about $1,200. The place, compared to twentyfour years ago, when it was at its best, has almost lost the character of a village, those remaining being generally farmers in the neighborhood; a railroad is still looked for, several preliminary lines of projected roads having been made to hit in it, by it, and all around it. Bourbon is in the line of promotion, and lies in the center of the belt of land extending from Danville to St. Louis, which is about twenty miles wide in average, and where, some day, a railroad must be established; the most visionary never propose a road anywhere else in Douglas County; a large amount of money has been expended in trying the Bourbon route.
Chesterville is a hamlet on the Illinois, Midland Railway, at about the center of Section 35, Township 15 north, Range 7 east, about three miles south of Bourbon. Chesterville has not been regularly laid out, has a few dwellings and a store, and is the headquarters for the business of the township.
The village of Fillmore was laid out by H. Russell, at north line of Section 35, Township 15, Range 7, in 1848, and the firm of Bales & Trowbridge, afterward Bales, Osborne & Co., controlled the trade of a large area; the business of this house was transferred to Arcola about 1860, the old store building, or at least a piece of it, is yet standing, but the village, as a village, has taken its place among the things that were. Caleb Bales was Associate Judge of the county in 1861, and Supervisor of the township in 1872.
Bagdad is a point on the Okaw River in the northeast corner of Section 11, Township 14, Range 7, three miles west of Arcola on the Springfield road at the river, and contains a few dwellings and a brick yard. Lewis Grant, a former Supervisor of the township, is the principal proprietor and an old resident.
The village of Arthur was laid out by the Paris & Decatur Railroad, on the lands of M. Warren in Moultrie County, and the Murphys, of Douglas. The county line divides the village north and south. The Douglas County surveying was done by the railroad engineers, and certified by H.C. Niles, the Douglas County Surveyor. This was July 8, 1873. Murphy's Addition was made January 30, 1875, and Reeves' Addition December 30, 1874, both surveyed by same surveyor.
The first business house was put up by Jacob Sears. The population in 1875 was 300, increased to about 400 in 1880. William H. Ward brought the first stock of goods here, and in the spring of 1873 J.W. Barrum started the first drug store, which is now flourishing.
The Arthur brass band of twenty-three pieces was established as early as 1876, and under the leadership of George Von Lanken, is flourishing.
A petition for the village incorporation of Arthur was filed with the County Court of Moultrie County, at the April term, A.D. 1877, which was signed by J.W. Sears, H. Dehart, B.G. Hoover, M.H. Warren, M. Hunsaker, William Ellars, C.G. McComb, David Crockett and forty others. This was to comprise the east half of the southwest quarter of Section 25, Township 15 north, Range 6 east. The record says Douglas County;
also the west half of Section 30, Township 15 north, Range 7 east. The court found that there were 350 inhabitants residing in the territory. The petition for the election was granted, and election ordered for May 7, 1877, under the act approved April 9, 1872. M.H. Warren and James Ellars were appointed Judges of the election, the returns to be made to Moultrie County. There were, for village organization, thirty-three votes; against village organization, thirty votes. June 12, 1877, the first election was held for the choice of six Trustees and a Clerk, in which the persons chosen were C.G. McComb, W.H.H. Reeder, H.C. Jones, J.W. Sears, N. Thompson and M. Hunsaker, and J.W. Barrum was duly elected Clerk.
The Arthur House, Sam De Hart's hotel, has long been the favorite resort of traveling men, who find here that internal fortification in the shape of a square meal which was naturally suggested to Sam and his hospitable wife when they left keeping their own house as pioneer farmer folks in the west end of the county, in the days of old.
Arthur controls the greater part of the business for several miles around, which trade is gradually increasing, making it a notable rival of shipping points in the vicinage. Its development, like all our towns, depends upon railroads, which no sooner start a town than they start another near by, giving all a little and none much, so it follows that the limit of possible business is soon reached, and legitimate trade settles down to the necessities of the location, which not very often offers wealth to the average worker.
The present and former citizens of this township who have been called to public office, either for the county or township, are numerous. John Chandler, a former resident of Bourbon Village, was first County Clerk, elected in 1859, and again in 1861. Caleb Bales, now of Arcola, was Associate Justice for a term beginning November, 1861, and was also Supervisor in 1872. Samuel B. Logan was the first Sheriff of the county, and Newton I. Cooper was placed in the same office in 1870. Lemuel Chandler served as Supervisor in 1868-69-70-71, four consecutive years, and had charge of many matters of public interest. He placed the county railroad bonds in 1871, and attended to the interests of the county in realizing the amount due from some swamp lands. M.D. Bartholomew was Supervisor in 1873, at the time when the $35,000 stock was voted by the people for the use of the Midland Railway. He was succeeded in 1874 by Andrew Ray, who was re-elected in 1875. Mr. J.F. Bouck was elected in 1876, and is an Ohio man who arrived here in 1866. Mr. B. served with a Captain's commission in the war of 1861. W. Nelson Shaw was put into the office of Supervisor in 1877, and served continuously till 1882, when he died. He was succeeded by W.T. Moore for the unexpired term, and Lewis Grant followed, and, being elected in 1883, is the present officer. H.C. Niles, then a resident, was the first County Surveyor, which made him a resident of Tuscola, which he is still.
POPULATION AND TAXES.
The population of the township in 1870 was 1,457, increased in 1880, the tenth census, to 1,480, showing an increase of only twenty-three in the decade, notwithstanding that the village of Arthur had come in meanwhile, the population of which, however, as pertains to the Douglas County part of it, was largely made up of former residents of the township. The personal tax-payers of Bourbon in 1883 numbered 304, which, multiplied by five, equals 1,520, the probable number of inhabitants in that year. The tenth census, 1880, was taken by Henry A. Compton. He found 60 persons bearing the name of Moore, 32 Joneses, 31 Yoders, 27 Campbells, 25 Davises and 21 Chandlers. Like another enumerator in an adjoining county, he found no "collared parsons."
The Assessor's valuation of personal property in Bourbon Township for 1883, is $111,982; valuation of lands, $265,861.
THE POLITICAL COMPLEXION.
The political complexion of the township is controlled by the "unterrified Democracy," with an average majority of eighty votes, which always appears at general elections, when, if the weather if fine, every man, woman
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and child turns out and votes early and often.
A TILE FACTORY.
A tile factory, under the charge of William Chandler, was established September 1, 1883, in connection with a saw mill. It is situated about one mile south of Bourbon Village, and has an average capacity of about 6,000 per day. The entire plant is worth about $4,500. Tile drainage is obtaining in the township to a very great extent, its superiority over open ditching having been long demonstrated-the protection of the soil from the waste of washing off the rich loam of the prairie being not the least of the advantages.
On Thursday afternoon, November 4, 1875, Mr. R.P. McWilliams, a well-known and highly respected citizen of the township, was instantly killed at the highway crossing of the Illinois Midland Railway, west of Arcola City, and near the residence of Jacob R. Moore. He was driving a team of mules attached to a wagon. He approached the crossing, and, as he thought, allowed the train to pass, and, resuming his way, probably naturally looking at the train, was unfortunately caught by a hinder part of the train which had been detached. The team escaped. The highway and railroad cross here at an angle of about fifteen degrees, making the two roads nearly parallel for quite a distance.
Newton I. Cooper, of this township, was elected Sheriff of the county in November, 1870, up to which time he had for a period been also Township Collector of Bourbon. In the following March, he disappeared suddenly, leaving $5,000 or $6,000 of township funds unaccounted for. Prior to 1879, official bonds were not required to be acknowledged by the bondsmen before an officer, but were simply signed, and upon approval by the proper officer were passed to record. Cooper's bond, $21,000, was signed by several good men. When the default was known, the bondsmen held that one good name had been removed without their knowledge after their own names had been appended, thus vitiating the obligation; another whose name appeared as bondsman claimed that he never signed. Upon suit in the Circuit Court, the bondsmen were released, and the township lost the money. It is conceded that "C," had the bond in his possession for awhile, and it was by him presented for record. He was a recent comer, a man of peculiarly pleasing appearance and address, to which were added notable business qualifications. He had also married into a family here of standing and wealth, all of which inspired a confidence which was, we are bound to say, abused in more than the one direction. On the farm of Mr. Blaase, some mounds have been found from which human remains, apparently ancient, have been exhumed in excavating for a building. The idea that several slight elevations near here were the work of human hands is sustained to an extent by the fact that ancient marks upon trees all facing to one point are noticed. On the same farm, what was supposed to be a large flat rock, some twelve feet square, was found and supposed to cover interesting matter. A relative of Mr. Blaase dug around it on all sides to a depth of about eight feet, but he came to the conclusion that the bottom was in China, and the work was abandoned.
May 14, 1858, a hurricane visited this part of the county from the northwest, on its way to Arcola, where it had an engagement, doing considerable damage in and near Burbon Village, the effects of which, however, were more seriously felt at Arcola, where several houses were considerably damaged, and others altogether overthrown. It was a busy day at Bourbon at the time, and it was fun to the perfectly cool fellows who were not at all alarmed to see cursing, swearing, fighting men "hunt their holes." We don't remember just now who the cool fellows were.
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