Welcome
To The
History of Marion Township
Lee County IL

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At the September session. 1854. of the Board of Supervisors, the north half of Town 20, Range 9, which had belonged to Amboy Township, the south half of Town 20, Range 9. and all of Town 20. Range S. which had belonged to Hamilton Township. were set off as a town called Marion. to take effect from the first Tuesday in April. 1S55. At the March meeting, 1867, the town of Harmon was created. leaving Marion a simple Government township, as it now exists. The first Supervisor of the new town was Alford Wolcot: Assessor. Sherman W. Caldwell; Justices of the Peace. Abram Morrison and A. S. Phillip: Town Clerk. Simon Dykman: Collector. David Morrison.

The first permanent settler in the town was David Welty. who came. as did many others. in pursuit of health. Starting from Buffalo, N. Y., in 1838, on a thorough-bred mare presented to him by a friend, he made the entire distance to Dixon’s Ferry on horseback. His wife and son. John M., with Mr. and Mrs. Scott, her father and mother, reached Chicago by way of the lakes, and thence by stage to Dixon the next year. In 1840 he preempted land on Sections 34 and 35, Town 20, Range 9. Mr. Welty soon built a double log-house on the stage road leading from Peoria to Dixon. The lumber for the doors, window sash, floors. shIngles. etc., was hauled from Chicago by team. He was considered wealthy, as riches were rated at that early date, while both he and his wife were educated and refined people who had been reared under the advantageous conditions afforded by the city of Buffalo, the home from which they emigrated. The floors of their log house were covered with velvet and Brussells carpets and costly rugs. The furniture was of mahogany and walnut, all brought from the East. The son, John M., writes: “The contrast between the log house and its belongings was so great, as to excite the wonder and admiration of strangers from the East who chanced to alight from the stages and enter our pioneer home. There were, for many years, only three houses between Dixon and Princeton. one at Dad Jo’s Grove. one on the south side of Palestine Grove and the other in which we lived.”

Near by was Green River. then known as Inlet Creek. which flowed through Mr. Welty’s land, and here was. for many years. the only bridge across that stream. This bridge and a turnpike through the swamps were constructed under an a.ct of the Legislature, approved February 19. 1839, granting authority to Henry W. Cleaveland to “erect a toll bridge across Green River and a causeway across the Winnebago Swamp, at or near the same.” An act. approved February 3. 1843, provides for the selection of three inspectors to examine the work, and refers to it as located in Lee County. and requires their report to be filed in the office of the Clerk of that county. One toll gate was near the Welty house. The log house soon became an inn, where the traveling public were both fed and lodged. Although there was no other house in the settlement, it acquired the name of Scottville, by which it was for some time known. It may be that this was adopted out of regard for Gen, Scott, or was simply the use of the name of the old people. Mrs. Welty’s father and mother,

With Mr. Welty came A. L, Porter, who settled in Dixon and was at one time Sheriff of the county. Contemporaneous with the coming of Mr. Welty to the township, was that of W. H. Blair, who located on Section 24. In 1841 J. C. Haley located on Section 13. In 1846 H. Scott settled on Section 15. George Keith arrived in 1861-62: Benjamin Brooks. long identified with the township, in 1856 bought the west half of the northwest quarter of Section 9. and soon became a resident, John R. Hawkins was an early settler, but in what year we are unable to ascertain. In 1856 Franklin H. Church settled on Section 2.

May 4, 1878, "Walton" or "Town of Walton" was platted on land of Price Jones. Marion Township had a population in 1890 of 750, and in 1900 of 741, as shown by Government census.

Transcribed by Rays Place
From: Encyclopedia of Illinois and the History of Lee County
Edited by: Mr. A. C. Bardwell. Munsell Publishing Company Chicago 1904.

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Six miles south of Dixon on Route 26, the Township of Marion begins. It was platted in 1854 on land that was part of Amboy and Hamilton townships. In 1878, the farm of Price Jones near the center of the area became Walton. Why this name wsa given is still the subject of debate.

At one time Walton had a post office and telephone exchange and was a recreational center. Today its mail is brought from Amboy and Dixon. Its telephone comes from Harmon, Amboy and Dixon. Walton is now a place in the memories of families from Marion township.

The first permanent settler in the area was David Welty who came from Buffalo NY by horseback. He arrived at Dixon's Ferry in 1838. His wife and son, John and his wife's parents, Mr. and Mrs. Scott, came to Chicago by way of the Great Lakes and came to Dixon by stage. In 1840 Mr. Welty bought land on sections 34 and 35 and built a double log house on the stage road leading from Peoria to Dixon. Early records say that there were only two other houses between Dixon and Princeton. One was a Dad Joe's Grove and the other on the south side of Palestine Grove. The Welty property is still in the family.

It would be impossible to trace all the property ownership, but a few of the farms that are still owned by descendants of the original owners are of interest.

The farm now owned by Carl Ackert was bought by his grandfather, Edward, from a land agency in 1854. The James Campbell farm was purchased at the same time and is now owned by the son of the original owner. The son, Peter, did not marry and now lives on the farm with his niece, Mary Hawkins. Mr. and Mrs. Patrick H. Dunphy Sr located in Walton in 1893. The farm is now owned by their son, Patrick H. and is operated by their grandson, John E. Dunphy. The Thomas Halligan family has always lived on the same farm. It was bought over 80 years ago and is now operated by James adn Thomas, sons of the first owner. The Paul McCaffrey farm of today was purchased by his grandparents who had come from Ireland in 1856. William McGuirk came to the US in 1845 and ot Dixon in 1865. The farm he bought is now owned and farmed by his grandson Joseph.

Another farm that is still in the family of the original owner is that of Thomas McKune. The farm is owned today by his daughter an dher husband, Mr. and Mrs. Will Fitzpatrick, and is operated by the McKune grandson, Wm. Fitzpatrick Jr. In 1844, James McCoy bought a farm from the government and it remains in the family today and is owned by his grandson, Leo McCoy. Since 1876 the farm now owned by Michael McCoy has been in the family. It was bought by his father, Patrick. ANother grandson who farms on land bought in the last century is Clarence Morrissey. His grandfather came from Ireland in 1852 at the age of 22 and after living in NY for a time came to IL.

Since most of the early settlers of Marion Twp. were Irish Catholics it is not surprising that they should want a church nearer than Dixon, Amboy and Harmon. At the turn of the century they bought land and built a frame church. Father J.S. Gallagher came from Amboy for Mass whenever possible and the people were saved from the long trip to the neighboring towns.

In 1910 Father Thomas Cullen took active charge of Walton's church, although he continued to live in Amboy. In August 1912, plans were started for the present church and parish house. Just a year later, Bishop Muldoon, the first bishop of the Rockford Diocese, dedicated the church and when the parish house wsa completed Father Charles Conley became the first resident pastor of the parish. Under the direction many substantial improvements were made and more land was bought so that a recreational playground and ball park might serve the people of the area.

The first record of a baptism is that of John Joseph O'Malley, the son of Edward J. and Emma (Durr). The first marriage was that of Anna Marie Lally of Wlaton and Robert McKenna of Storm Lake IA.

Today the little parish has but 60 families but of these nearly 20 have been married for more than 25 years. Three couples celebrated anniversaries in February. Mr. and Mrs. Charles McCoy were married 40 years on Feb. 22. Mr. and Mrs. Wm. Oester celebrated their 42nd wedding date on the 16th. Mr. and mrs. P.H. Dunphy were married 43 years on the 12th. The oldest couple in the parish will celebrate their 55th wedding anniversary on November 5. Theya re Mr. and Mrs. Jesse Lautzenheiser.

Two of the women in the parish have chosen a religious life. Eileen Fitzpatric, daughter of the late Mr. and Mrs. P.D. Fitzpatrick and sister of Will of the parish is a member of the Benedictine Order. Her name in religion is Sister Celestine. Regina Morrissey, only daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Clarence Morrisey, is a member of the Sisters of Loretto at the Foot of the Cross. Her name in religion is Sister Jean Mary.

During the first World War the first two men from Lee County who gave their lives were from Marion Twp. Private Claude Heldman and Private George Grohens headed the list of those who had died for their country. Again during the Secon War Marion Twp. gave two lives of its young men. Howard Zentz and Estell Fenwick were the heroes of this conflict.

Dixon Evening Telegraph May 1951 Centennial Edition / Written by Anna J. McCoy

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