History of Reynolds Township

Lee County IL


The Town of Brooklyn originally embraced all of Towns 37, 38 and 39, Range 1. Town 38, Range 1 (now Viola) was set off under the name of Stockton, by the Board of Supervisors at the February meeting, 1861. A year prior to this the northern township of these three was, in like manner, set apart by the name of Reynolds Township. The first election under the new organization was held April 5, 1859, at which Thomas Minier was elected Supervisor and Assessor; John C. Piper, Town Clerk and Constable; Dudley C. Whitehead, Collector and Constable; Daniel Brink, Jr., Overseer of the Poor; E. F. Gatten, Job Whitehead and David Douthett, Commissioners of Highways; Peter Mills and Robert M. Piel, Justices of the Peace. The election and town meeting was held in the residence of Horace Stearns, a cabin 13 by 16 feet and six feet high, located on Section 16. It was later used as a pigpen and corn crib.

The early settlers were Sewell Reynolds, Thomas Minier, Jonathan Whitehead, John Herrington, Dudley C. Whitehead, Daniel Brink, Jr., and Charles Gooch. Reynolds located at Brush Grove, and was the first settler in the township.

The society of the Methodist Episcopal church was organized in the fall of 1875, and soon afterwards a church building was erected on the “Flats.” The building committee consisted of F. F. Farmlow, C. W. Ament, C. F. Van Patten, John A. Edgar, Daniel C. Miller and B. F. Parker.

At the southeast corner of Section 19 stands the Emanuel church of the Evangelical Association (German). It was built at a cost of $4,000, and was dedicated October 13, 1872, free from debt. In 1881, $900 was expended in improvements and repairs. The building committee consisted of John Kersten, George Sandrock, George Bolei, Martin Wagner and Ernst Weiner.

The population of the township, according to census. was 674 in 1890, and 743 in 1900.

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.


Leaving the township of Alto, one enters to the immediate west, the township of Reynolds, a beautiful body of land peopled by a splendid class of farmers. Here one is in old Inlet still. By this time, the vastness of old Inlet shou1d be fully comprehended and the troubles of many of the people in traveling so far to vote must also be comprehended by this time, although in Reynolds nobody yet had settled when this territory was part of Inlet. Reynolds like Ashton and Alto, being off the thoroughfares, did not settle until along in the fifties. At first Reynolds was part of Brooklyn. At the Present time every inch of this township is under cultivation with the possible exception of the stone quarries of fine stone lying just a little to the east of the west line of the township. Here, in the early day, the builder was compensated for the lack of timber from which to build a cabin, by the presence of stone which he was permitted to quarry and carry away without thought of compensation. Later however, when its value became better known and stone became in demand 1arge quantities of it were sold and considerable quantities of it were shipped. After cement began to be used for building purposes and the demand for stone fell off, the stone became useless and once again this stone may be had for the asking almost. Thus does the staple become the refuse and thus does the good of one day fluctuate and decline into use1essness! Robert M. Peile, one of the old settlers, owned this stone quarry. At anotber time the Illinois Central railroad sent experts to it to test its qualities for building piers and abuttments, but after carefnl experimenting, its quality was found to lack the ingredients wanted for great durability.

The first history of Reynolds has been neglected sadly. We know who some of the first settlers were, but the dates of their settlement never have been recorded and so in a general way only the history of this township be given.

Sewell Reynolds, Thomas Minier, Jonathan Whitehead, Herrington, Dudley C. Whitehead, Daniel Brink, Jr., and C. Gooch were among the older settlers and most of them moved to other parts before their deaths. However, Sewell Reynolds who afterwards moved to Rochelle, was the first settler, locating on what was known as Brush Grove, about the only grove in the township and in his honor the township was named. Simeon Reynolds the first child born in the township and Nelson Morgan was the first death.

On April 5th, 1859, the voters of the township met at the ?? house in district No. 1, and organized by choosing PeterM. ? moderator and Robert M. Peile, clerk. At this meeting, T. Minier was elected supervisor, John C. Piper, town clerk; T.J. Minier, assessor; Dudley C. Whitehead, collector; Daniel J. ?? Jr., overseer of the poor, and E. F. Gatten, John Whitehead David Douthett, highway commissioners. The constables Dudley C. Whitehead and John C. Piper. The justices of the peace were Peter Mills and Robert I. Peile. At this same meeting the voters then appointed E. F. Gattell, John Herrington, John O. Piper a committee to divide the town into road districts. This meeting was held in a little cabin, 12x16, built and owned by by Horace Stearns for a rcsidence; it stood many years thereafter on section 10 and was used as a ??? and then as a pig pen. There were not many persons present at that meeting; the names known today are J.C. Piper, R.M. ??, C.N. Reynolds, Simeon Reynolds, Silas Shippee, W. M. ??.

A very strong church in Reynolds is the Emanuael church, German, situated about a mile east of the Bradfor dlien and four miles south of the Ogle county line. On Jan. 5, 1872, a meeting was held in the schoolhouse for district 4, for the purpose of organizing a church. C. Gagstetter was made chairman of the meeting and ernst Wiener, secretary. At the same place the committee appointed, met on Jan. 20, 1872 and reported favorabley. A building committee wsa appointed consisting of John Kersten, George Sandrock, George Boley, Martin Wagner and Ernst Wiener. At this meeting the trustees were elected; Ernst Wiener, George Kersten, John Neuman, George Sandrock and George Boley. Mr. Wiener was made treasurer, George Boley secretary of the building committee. The building built was 34 x 50, 18 ft to teh caves, with a steeple about 18 ft high and a bell. The seating capacity is 400. The cost about $4,000. Since erecting, the building has been remodeled and improvements made to the value of at least another $1,000. On Oct. 13, 1872 the church was dedicated, clear of debt, the sum of $1,100.82 being raised at the time. Unto this day, this church is a flourishing condition.

Mr. Peile of this township was one of the first, and probably the very first man to introduce the herding of cattle in Lee County. He commenced by herding something like 900. Subsequently he had 2,700 under his care at one time. At this time it is almost inconceivable how such vast herds could be cared for, yet they were cared for comfortably and Mr. Peile never sustained a loss outside of the June tornado of 1860 mentioned in Willow Creek and Lee Center histories. During that fearful hurrican, many cattle and other stok were killed outright.

Mr. Peile seemed to have incurred the enmity of windstorms because in the year 1880 and the month of June too, his large barn, 50 x 100 was blown down. Nowhere can I find the date of Mr. Peile's arrival in Reynolds, but by calculating from 1850 when he landed in this country, adding a stay in the easat; two years teaching near Mendota, he could have settled in Reynolds before 1853. At the time of his settlement,t he township was called Brooklyn township.

Martin Wagner, located first at Lee Center in 1854 where he entered business as a tailor. Seven years later he moved to Reynolds. John Trotter settled in 1860. While Ernst Wiener came to Lee Center, then Bradford as early as 1858, he did not reach Reynolds until 1864.

Thus it will be noticed that most of the first to settle in this beautiful township settled in nearby townships and Reynolds was almost the last township to attract permanent settlers in numbers. But at this moment, Reynolds contains farms as high priced as any in the county. It was not so very long ago that Michael Sullivan sold his farm for over $200 per acre and bought another for almost $300 per acre.

Reynolds is peopled today very largely by the descendants of those regged old pioneer Germans who settle din Bradford and China at first and then when the prices of their lands advanced, they crossed over into Reynolds and by remaining, they have been made rich to the last man. From the inquiries I have made concerning Reynolds I find that every person there is rich in worlds goods.

History of Lee 1914 - Frank Everett Stevens