Long Creek Township
[The City Of Decatur and Macon County, Illinois: A Record of Settlement, Organization, Progress and Achievement. Chicago: Pioneer Pub. Co, 1910 Page 400-405]
This township so named, Long Creek, is situated southeast of Decatur and is bounded on the north by Oakley and Decatur Townships, on the east by Piatt County and Mt. Zion Township and on the west by Decatur and South Wheatland Townships. It covers as area of 38 ½ square miles and has an acreage of 24,640. The township took its name from the creek which drains the greater portion of its territory. The Sangamon River barely enters the northwest corner of this township. Long Creek enters the township at the northeast corner of section 7 and wends its way in a southwesterly direction through the township to section 36, when it takes a westerly course for about four miles. At section 31 its direction is northerly and entering South Wheatland Township, it empties into the Sangamon River.
Long Creek Township was found to be by the early settlers well supplied with timber, which made good building material and fuel in plenty for the settlers and in the township there are still areas of timber land among which are beautiful groves, consisting of oak, elm, sycamore, sugar, soft maple, hickory, walnut, ash and other various trees. These are to be found near the Sangamon and the several streams which run through the township, adding beauty to the landscape.
William B. Baker and his brother-in-law, David Davis, with their families, came to this township in the fall of 1828 and in the following spring built cabins on section 20, and to them belongs the honor of being the first permanent settlers. They were natives of Lincoln County, North Carolina, removed from there to Rutherford County Tennessee, and thence by means of pack horses conveyed their families and household goods to this county and to Long Creek Township. Their nearest neighbor at that time was four miles distant.
At the age of twenty-three David Davis had the misfortune to become paralyzed in his lower extremities, which made locomotion with him a great difficulty throughout his life. However, he was very energetic and was enabled to provide liberally not only for his family but for any worthy cause demanding of him a benefaction. He was one of the early county treasurers of Macon and one of the judges of the first election held in the county. He married Mary Martin of Rutherford County Tennessee, September 18, 1825. She was born November 15, 1806. Mr. Davis died in August, 1875. To Mr. and Mrs. Davis came a large family of children, most of whom were born in Macon County. Isabella C. was born in 1826 and married Michael Rozzell. William M. was born January 14, 1831, and was the first white child born in Long Creek Township. He married S. J. Nicholson. Sylvester C. was born June 8, 1834, and married Mary C. Barker. Milton Z. was born August 29, 1835 and married Emma Eichenger. Mary P., born January 11, 1838, married Hiram G. Wheeler. Elizabeth E., born September 6, 1841 was married to John Rucker and died in 1862. John L., born December 22, 1842, died in 1865. Traughber L. was born in 1845 and married Mendosia Houseman. Marilla C., who was born in 1847, married Thomas J. Odor.
William B. Baker, who was born in Lincoln County, North Carolina, on the 1st of September 1800, and has been mentioned in the above paragraph, came to Macon County in the fall of 1828. He was a member of the first grand jury of the county. He married Marilla Martin in Tennessee, and to them were born Matilda L., who married Andrew Ellis; James T. Baker, Rev. William P. Baker, Mrs. Elizabeth Smith and Rev. N. M. Baker, the latter of whom has furnished the writer with important data for this work.
Deer, wolves, foxes, coons, pheasants, wild turkeys, geese, ducks, grouse and other game abounded in this locality in these early days. The steams were literally alive with fish. "Bee trees" were often found and hardly a table in a settler's cabin was found unprovided with a plentiful supply of the products of the hunter.
Among the few scattered settlements the "latch string" of every cabin hung on the outside, which meant welcome to the early traveler and to the best the larder afforded. At that early day the settler and his family lived the simple life, were content with their condition, and if the soil did not yield him enough to supply his wants, his gun and fishing rod were brought into requisition to add to his necessities.
Taxes and "boughten" goods procured at the stores were paid for in the products of the traps and guns, such as the skins of fox, wolf, coon and other wild animals. These were "legal tender."
A band of the Kickapoo Indians were in camp for several weeks on Long Creek in the year Baker and Davis settled there and were engaged in trapping, hunting and fishing. After a time they began to wander to other portions of the county where there were settlements and made depredations upon the hogs and poultry they came across. It was then that a party of men from the "ward" settlement ordered them away from their camp. They left soon after without doing any further damage. It was but a couple of years after the first settlement that others began to come into this township quite rapidly.
In 1830 John Flory, a Virginian by birth, located with his family on section 26, where he erected a cabin and made other improvements.
Newton M. Baker in that year settled on Section 29. He was born in Lincoln County, North Carolina in 1803, moved to Rutherford County, Tennessee, when eleven years old and then to Macon County in 1830. He married Tabitha J. Hodge in 1835 and died May 27, 1872. His wife was born in Orange County, North Carolina in 1814. She came to Illinois in 1829 and settled in Sangamon County, remaining there one year and then removed to Macon County. She survived her husband for some years. They were the parents of Amzi H., who was born in the county in 1836 and married Anna White. Mary C. was born in 1839 and married S. C. Davis. Joseph N. and James W. were both born in the county. Many of the Bakers are still residents of this vicinity.
John Rucker settled on a tract of land on section 15, where he built a cabin and began improvements in 1830. He was a native of South Carolina, born in the year 1800, and when quite young removed with his parents to McMinn County, Tennessee. He was one of the county commissioners of Macon County for fourteen years, which attests the high appreciation in which he was held by his neighbors. His sagacity, judgment and integrity fitted him for the office which he so ably filled and to him is due many of the benefits early obtained in the county during his administration. In his private as well as public affairs he was successful. He died in 1872.
John W. Smith in his history of Macon County speaks of the Travis family being among the early arrivals in Macon County and settlers in Long Creek Township.
John Travis was a native of South Carolina, where he married Rebecca Travis. He died in Wayne county, Illinois in 1824, and Mrs. Travis died in Macon County in 1850. Their children were Allen, Thomas, Finis and Harvey. Allen was born May 18, 1789 in York District, South Carolina. His father removed with the family to Livingston County, Kentucky, where Allen was married to Margaret Campbell. They removed to Wayne County, Illinois in 1821, and to Macon County in the spring of 1829, in company with his brothers Finis and Thomas, James D. Campbell, Andrew and John Davidson. Mrs. Travis died in the early '70's. Of their children who came with them, John B. was born January 9, 1823; James D. C. was born March 7, 1825; Presley A. was born April 24, 1827; Rebecca was born February 24, 1829; William H. was born March 30, 1831; Elizabeth J. was born May 23, 1834; Samuel H. was born September 14, 1836; Ulysses D. was born March 5, 1839; Margaret Z. was born February 3, 1841; Thomas C. was born March 23, 1844.
Thomas Travis was born in South Carolina and before removing to Illinois was married to Sarah Davidson. They settled a mile and a half northwest of Mt. Zion.
Finis Travis was born in Kentucky in 1810 and married Nancy J. Foster, the widow of William Foster, whose maiden name was Bell. She died, and for his second wife he chose Nancy Mahollen. Both are now dead.
Harvey T. was born in Wayne County Illinois in 1823 and came to Macon County in 1830. He married Mary Elizabeth Cox in 1851 and after her death, which occurred in 1862, he married Harriet M. F. Campbell.
Another settler in Long Creek in 1830 was James Wheeler, who set up his stakes on section 16. He was a South Carolinian by birth. From that state he removed to Tennessee with his parents when a boy and then came to this county.
Early in the year 1831 Joe Davis, a Kentuckian, settled on section 27, and in 1832 Andrew Haddick, a native of Rutherford County, Tennessee, located on section 28. Z. R. Prather was born in Macon County in 1836 and was an early settler in the township, living on section 30.
Peter Casner was born in Cumberland County, Pennsylvania in 1801. He removed to Ohio with his father in 1811 and remained there until 1831, when he removed to Mercer County, Illinois and from there to Macon County in 1835, settling in Long Creek Township, where he entered three hundred and twenty acres of land in section 31. He was a resident of the township up to the time of his death, which occurred October 25, 1851.
Michael Eichenger came to Decatur in 1854 from Ohio. He remained in the city four years, working at the carpenter's trade and in 1858 traded his Decatur property for eighty acres of land in section 20, Long Creek Township. He was long a resident of the township. He accumulated several hundred acres of land and became very prosperous.
In 1832 heavy frosts were prevalent which greatly injured the corn, potatoes and other crops. The corn was practically ruined for seed and was so soft that when ground into meal it came from the hopper in rolls. That year the farmers largely subsisted on parched corn and rye hominy and during that winter there was almost as much suffering as had been experienced during the period of the "deep snow" two year before.
Jacob Myers entered the first land in this township, September 26, 1828. The tract consisted of eighty acres on section 36. He was ahead of David Davis, one of the first settlers, in this regard. Mr. Davis waited until October 20, 1829, when he entered eighty acres in section 20. Jacob Myers also entered eighty acres on section 31, in 1836 and Asbury Smalley entered forty acres in the same section in 1843.
Among other of the early settlers locating in this township may be mentioned John Stickel, Michael Myers, Daniel Krone, John Kizer, Thomas Higgs, Joseph Davis, Randall Davis, James Davis, Caldwell Davis, John W. Tyler, N. M. Baker, J. M. Baker, Caleb Warfield, John Davison, Sr., Charles Emmerson, Mr. Oxley, James Nesbit, Joseph Spangler, Sr., William Fields, George Hawks, Sr., James Wheeler, Charles Wheeler, Mr. Ehrhart and Eleakim Fowler. All these men were heads of families except Fowler, who was a bachelor. N. M. Baker says that William D. Baker and David Davis camped the first night by a spring on section 20 and that the tradition is handed down through these families that the wolves howled about them all night long. Their cabins were the first built in the township.
Hon. Charles Emmerson was born in North Haverhill, Grafton County, New Hampshire, April 15, 1811. He came to this state in the year 1832 and located at Jacksonville, where he spent one term in Illinois College. He moved thence to Springfield and studied law under the direction of Judge Keys. On being admitted to the bar he came to Decatur and entered upon the practice of his profession in the spring of 1834. He remained in Decatur until 1847, when he removed to Paris, Edgar County. He subsequently returned to Macon County and for a long time sat on the bench as circuit judge.
Joseph Spangles came to Macon County from Pennsylvania in the fall of 1835, with his wife Barbara. They had nine children, all of whom came with them to this county with the exception of the eldest daughter, who married in Pennsylvania. Barbara died in March, 1847 Joseph Spangler died February 7, 1862. Felix, a son, moved to California in 1852 and died there. Jacob, Joseph, John, Susan and Eliza Spangler all remained in the county and all raised families. Daniel moved to California in 1852. Susan Spangler married James D. Tait in 1842. Tait came to Decatur from Pennsylvania in 1839. He established the first saddler shop in Decatur. He walked across the country from Naples, carrying his tools upon his back, frequently wading water up to his chin. He bought his stock of goods in Springfield and hauled them to Decatur by team, following his trade here for several years, until he was obliged to discontinue on account of his health.
Mr. and Mrs. Tait were the parents of five sons: Joseph S., who was born in 1843 and married Martha E. Dillahunt; Felix B., who was born November 29, 1850; Daniel T., who was born February 25, 1853, and died in 1873; Robert M., who was born December 10, 1856 and died in 1873. Joseph S. became one of the largest farmers in the county. Felix B. was for some time principal of the Woodstock Seminary in McHenry County and in the summer of 1876 was licensed to practice law.
The first marriage to occur in Long Creek township took place between Bailey Myers and Jane Black.
William M. Davis was the first white child born in the county. His birth occurred January 14, 1831.
Mrs. Birch was the first white person to die in the township.
A schoolhouse was built on section 16 in 1834. It was constructed of rough unhewn logs, stick and mud chimney, puncheon floor and benches. Light was secured by means of one small window and a wide fireplace. It was in this building that Daniel Stickel taught the first school, which was the only one in the township for many years. The building served not only for school purposes but for religious meetings.
Rev. Mr. Lapham preached the first sermon in the township at the home of one of the settlers. Other early preachers were Revs. Knox, Lewis and Bird of the Methodist Episcopal Church; and David Foster and James Wilson of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church. David Bunn of the Universalist Church also held services at about this time in the township.
The Methodists organized the first church in Long Creek Township in 1835, meetings a first being held in the homes of the members. No church building was erected until 1842. At the present time there are four churches in Long Creek; the Long Creek Methodist Church; North Fork Presbyterian Churcn and Antioch Christian Church. The beginning of all these organizations were in the early days. Much later a Church of God was established at Sangamon.
Joseph McGinnis put up the first mill, which was known as a horse or band mill, the power for which was supplier by horses. About this time Joseph Davis had a horse mill and a little later Joseph Spangler, Sr., built a water mill.
N. M. Baker says that a Mr. Ehrhart set up the first blacksmith shop and that George Hawks, Sr., universally known as "Cashier" Hawks, ran a small distillery.
In a former history of the county John Bell, an old settler, is mentioned as having established a blacksmith shop on section 28 in the latter part of 1830, where he also kept his farm implements and those of his neighbors in repair.
A post office named Hopewell was established at the home of Allen Travis in 1852. This same Allen Travis was a fancier of blooded cattle and was the first to bring the Durham breed into the township.
Horses noted for beauty and endurance, also speed and high breed, were imported by Thomas B. Warfield in 1845.
The first justice of the peace in Long Creek Township was Joseph Davis, and John Rucker was a close second.
The first physician to locate in the township was Dr. Cooper, who came in 1840, and was followed by Dr. George Young in 1851.
The first supervisor was John Rucker, who was elected in 1860, when the county established township organization.
The Cincinnati, Hamilton & Dayton Railway crosses the township, entering it at section 33, thence running in a northwesterly direction and crossing the Sangamon at section 19, where it leaves the township.
There are nine school districts in the township, with good buildings and a high grade of instruction. For further particulars in regard to these schools see article on another page, written by the county superintendent, Miss Leona Bowman.