Township, Marshall County, IL

Written by Nancy Piper

Evans Township is located in the Northeast Corner of Marshall County.  Sandy Creek is the main waterway.  The first settler in the future Evans Township was Thomas Brooks, who built a cabin at the east edge of Sandy timber in 1824 but did not stay. That same year, Benjamin Darnell built his cabin on ground which is now the Cumberland Cemetery.  A stockade was built on the Darnell property, during the Black Hawk war. It was 10 feet high and could hold 100 people. A well was dug in the enclosure and some 20 families gathered there at certain times. The stockade was removed after the war.  

Joshua Evans, for whom the township was named, arrived in the spring of 1830 and had a cabin built on the north side of Sandy Creek.  Among the first arrives were Reynolds, Dixons, Hents, Jones, Darnells, Judds, and Griffins.In 1831, Thomas Brooks and Thomas Dixon organized the first religious society with Rev. Dixon, a Methodist preacher.  Also in 1831, the first schoolhouse was built on land known as the Martin farm.  Ira Jones was the teacher.

In 1833, the area which later became Evans Township was organized as Sandy Precinct in LaSalle County. In 1834, Evans Township was the most populated areas in the future Marshall County. In 1843, the township voted to attach to Marshall County since the LaSalle county seat, Ottawa, was too far away for convenience. It was 1845 before anyone left the woods and settled in the prairie.  by 1848, some of the timberland had been cleared for growing crops.  Sawmills were begun and blacksmith shops were opened.

The first township meeting was held on April 2, 1850.  Joshua Evans was Moderator and Alfred Judd was clerk.  Three commissioners of highways were elected.  They were David F. Griffith, Samuel W. Jones and Alston Bowman.

In 1852, at the eastern edge of the township a route was marked for the Illinois Central Railroad which would run north and south from LaSalle, Illinois to Bloomington, Illinois.    The line was completed in 1853 and a station established at present Wenona.  The village of Wenona was established in 1855 and is the only settlement is Evans township.  In 1870, the Chicago and Alton Railroad was completed from Wenona to Lacon.  Below are the farmers of Evans Township in 1890.

1890 Historical Directory of Marshall and Putnam Counties - Evans Township
Name			Residence	Date/Place of  Birth	Year Came to County
Allen, S.G.		Sec. 14		1828, Illinois		1853
Algoe,George		Sec. 32		1858, Illinois		1858
Applaton, August	Sec. 14		1846, Sweden		1879
Axline, C.A.		Sec. 14		1862, Illinois		1862
Beckwith, P.		Sec. 8		1842, Illinois		1854
Beckwith, Albert	Sec. 31		1848, Illinois		1854
Bishop, A.J.		Sec. 27		1832, Pennsylvania	1853
Boyce, Daniel		Sec. 17		1834, Ireland		1858
Burrus, Richard		Sec. 33		1823, Ireland		1859
Branting, J.E.		Sec. 22		1861, Sweden		1871
Carrithers, A.B.	Sec. 33		1866, Illinois		1866
Chalfant, J.W.		Sec. 35		1846, Pennsylvania	1883
Clifford, S.D.		Sec. 11		1836, Ohio		1859
Connall, Barney		Sec. 23		1838, Louisiana	1856
Cusac, Chas. G.		Sec. 26		1864, Illinois		1872
Cusac, Sherman		Sec. 26		1866, Illinois		1873
Dean, John		Sec. 9		1838, Pennsylvania	1886
Defenbaugh, P.G.	Sec. 6		1821, Ohio		1851
Dunlap, Joseph		Sec. 32		1860, Illinois		1860
Dunlap, W.J.		Sec. 19		1866, Illinois		1866
Downey, Clark		Sec. 24		1833, Ohio		1858
Evans, Douglas		Sec. 2		1858, Illinois		1858
Evans, John		Sec. 2		1860, Illinois		1860
Everley, A.G.		Sec. 22		1837, W. Virginia	1868
Everley, S.E.		Sec. 23		1849, W. Virginia	1870
Foster, Benjamin	Sec. 29		1844, Illinois		1844
Foster, J.P.		Sec. 22		1850, Ohio		1856
Garvin, Austin		Sec. 2		1845, Indiana		1874
Groscup, W.C.		Sec. 35		1842, Germany		1857
Griffin, G.W.		Sec. 5		1845, Illinois		1845
Griffin, Charles	Sec. 7		1842, Illinois		1842
Grimes, R.S.		Sec. 14		1847, Indiana		1880
Guderjan, Herman	Sec. 31		1857, Germany		1865
Hall, D.M.		Sec. 2		1838, Pennsylvania	1865
Hall, J.M.		Sec. 8		1858, Pennsylvania	1882
Hamilton, Wm. J.	Sec. 3		1840, Ohio		1854
Hanson, A.P.		Sec. 12		1859. Denmark		1890
Hannah, James		Sec. 28		1846, Ireland		1889
Holton, J.W.		Sec. 21		1845, Ohio		1857
Horner, D.W.		Sec. 21		1859, Illinois		1882
Judd, A.		Sec. 6		1822, N. Carolina	1831
Judd, Thomas		Sec. 20		1827, N. Carolina	1831
Judd, John T.		Sec. 18		1862, Illinois		1862
Kemp, Wm.		Sec. 2		1836, Pennsylvania	1865
Kemp, Jacob		Sec. 15		1821, Pennsylvania	1856
Kirpatrick, J.M.	Sec. 10		1862, Illinois		1862
Lawless, P.W.		Sec. 24		1850, Ireland		1855
Mann, Robt.		Sec. 7		1848, Scotland		1865
Martin, Michael		Sec. 27		1827, Ireland		1848
McAdams, G.G.		Sec. 21		1843, Ohio		1857
McAllister, John	Sec. 16		1830, Ireland		1860
McAllister, Charles	Sec. 16		1838, Ireland		1860
Merritt, H.P.		Sec. 12		1818, Pennsylvania	1884
Miller, Joseph		Sec. 17		1851, Ohio		1865
Moore, David		Sec. 10		1813, New Jersey	1857
Parkinson, W.H.		Sec. 20		1842, Ohio		1856
Quaintance, J.C.	Sec. 9		1852, Ohio		1880
Riggs, Chas. F.		Sec. 15		1858, Ohio		1877
Schwanke, J.G.		Sec. 15		1840, Germany		1868
Shipley, W.H.		Sec. 13		1856, Illinois		1856
Shipley, Abe		Sec. 13		1860, Illinois		1860
Swartz, Wm.		Sec. 4		1814, Kentucky		1835
Thiery, A.L.		Wenona		1846, Ohio		1865
Turner, A.L.		Sec. 22		1856, Illinois		1857
Turner, C.M>		Sec. 21		1860, Illinois		1860
Wells, D.B.		Sec. 15		1847, Ohio		1869
Winter, H.A.		Sec. 17		1856, Illinois		1877
Wright, Frank		Sec. 16		1861, Illinois		1861
Wright, Edwin		Wenona		1861, Illinois		1861

Grange Hall To Be Sold At Auction

May 31, 1928
Taken From the Henry News Republican

The affairs of Evens Grange, an organization sponsored by farmers of the community and which flourished west of Wenona for many years are being wound up for apparently all time. The hall, a two story framed building is to be sold at public auction on Tuesday June 5. The ground where on the building already stands and the adjacent there to has already been disposed of. R.N. Barns of Lacon, whose farm adjoins being the purchaser. The Evens Grange Hall was built in the mid 80’s. For many years it was quite a community center and the seat of many notable gatherings. During the period when the organization was at its peak, a fair was put on each fall. But it, not unlike many others went by default many years ago. Its sale and removal will constitute the passing of one of the long time institutes in Evans Township.


Transcribed by Nancy Piper

Wenona was established as a shipping point for the Illinois Central Railroad.  Before the railroad was built in 1852, the area was uninhabited.  The first house was a shack for the track men on the Illinois Central Railroad that was put on on the site in 1852 along the eastern edge of the township.

In 1853, after the railroad was completed to LaSalle, the passenger station and freight house were built on the site. The home of G.W. Goodell, the station agent and first postmaster was also built in 1853. The post office was also established the same year.  In June of 1854, the first church in the future Wenona, the Presbyterian church was organized.  The winter of 1854, William Brown opend the first store.

Wenona was laid off on the 15th of May 1855, by the Illinois Central Railroad company, on one of the altenate sections granted by congress for the construction of the road.  The site was on low, wet ground. When the town was laid out in May 1855 it had nine houses and a population of 50.   The land was drained and trees were planted and the town began to grow.

By 1856, there were twelve hundred people, three hundred homes, two churches, three schools, a hotel and a sawmill.  The town was incorporated in 1859 by a vote of 28 to 3.  The first trustees were Solomon Wise, George Brockway, John B. Newburn, F.H. Bond and Emanuel Weltz.  

Coal was discovered in 1865 and for many years a valuable community product. The mine employed an average of 200 men and a nearby zinc smelter employed 50 more.

In 1870, the Chicago and Alton Railroad was completed from Wenona to Lacon.  Wenona now had four grain elevators, a stockyard, a brickyard, flour mill, wagon manufacturing store, drygoods store, drug store, grocery store, hardware store, furniture store and implement store.  One of Wenona’s early showpieces was the Union Township Fair, organized in 1871, which for a decade rivaled the State Fair.

On May 18, 1870, the center block of the business district was destroyed by fire and 45 business establishments were lost. By 1873, new brick buildings were built to take their place.  The Wenona Fire Department was organized in 1884.  In 1890, the entire south block of Wenona's business district burned.  It was rebuilt with brick buildings and a fire wall was placed between every 2nd building.

1890 Historical Directory of Marshall and Putnam Counties - Wenona
Name			Business				Date/Place of  Birth	Year Came to County
Allen, O.G.		Coal Dealer				1854, Illinois		1854
Anthony, Charles	Retired Farmer				1825, Pennsylvania	1876
Barrett, Frank		Hardware Merchant			1863, Illinois 		1873
Bayne, M.  		Bridge Builder and Contractor		1831, Ohio	
Bayne, W.M.		Bridge Builder and Contractor		1860, Illinois
Bayne, L.M.							1869, Illinois
Beecher, E.G.		Lumber Dealer and Milling		1840 Wales		1870
Beecher, R.F.		Grocer and Postmaster			1845 France		1875
Burke, John		Saloon					1860 England		1864
Burgess, Robert E.	Importers and Breeders of Shire Horses	1853, England		1874
Burgess, Charles	Importers and Breeders of Shire Horses	1855, England		1874
Bridge, J.H.		Railroad Agent				1848, New York		1889
Brown, Alonzo		Carpenter				1854, Indiana		1879
Cahoon, Geo. W.		Lumber Dealer and Milling		1858 New York		1862
Case, J.W.		Grain Dealer				1847 Massachusetts	1861
Chewning, J.		Physician				1837, Illinois		1888
Decker, Wm.C.		Furniture  Dealer			1848 New York		1873
Dunham, J.B.		Physician				1854 Illinois		1882
Dunne, Jas. J.		Grocer					1857 Illinois		1881
Dunne, Mr. Margaret						1840 Ireland		1886
Downey, Dr. W.L.	Druggist				1837, Ohio		1858
Erwin, C.E.		Jewelier				1862 Illinois		1862
Ervin, R.E.		Liveryman				1841 Ohio		1849
Farnsworth, J.		Jewelier				1850 Massachusetts	1879
Fosbender		Horse Dealer and Breeder		1840 Germany		1854
Fulks, S.		Merchant				1850 Germany		1870
Gallaher, Milo A.	Insurance				1846 Ohio		1865
Gants, Edwin		Grain Merchant				1850 Illinois		1850
Gould, E.L.		Contractor and Builder			1834 New York		1865
Grable, H.		Proprietor of Meat Market		1845 Illinois		1865
Hagen, Peter		Saloon					1845 Germany		1879
Helfin, A.A.		Merchant				1853 Illinois		1882
Hinman, Burt		Dealer in Wagons and Carriages		1865 Illinois		1865
Hoge, T.J.		Hardware Merchant			1840 Pennsylvania	1889
Hoge, C.F.		Grocer					1853 Illinois		1883
Howe, Jerome		Banker					1848 Illinois		1859
Howe, Charles		Commission Business			1852 Illinois		1859
Hudson, Dr.		Physician and Druggist			1837 Ohio		1863
Jackson, J.H.		Attorney				1835 New York		1850
Judd, John		Grocer					1825 N. Carolina	1831
Kane, J.D.		Liquor Dealer				1860 Missouri		1860
Kendall, J.G.		Merchant				1866 Pensylvania	1870
Kohler, A.J.		Breeder of Fast Horses and Roadsters	1847 Ohio		1855
Lanigan, O.J.		Veterinary Surgeon and Dentist		1862 Illinois		1888
Lauf, William		Proprietor of Windsor House		1834 Germany		1888
Lauf, Frank		Liquor Dealer				1867 Illinois		1888
Martin, Dr. F.K.	Physician				Ohio			1884
McCall, James		Real Estate and Loan Agent		1836 Ohio		1856
McKenney, S.S.		Editor and Publisher of Gazette		1847 Iowa		1890
Monser, E.L.		Supt. of Wenona Coal Co.		1842 England		1849
Morgan, Prof. J.E.W..	Principal of Public Schools		1858 Ohio		1878
Morris, James		Liquor Dealer				1859 Illinois		1859
Moulton, N.T.		Merchant				1820 New York		1882
Moulton, F.M.		Merchant				1847 New York		1873
Munson, E.		Jeweler				1860 New York		1889
Ong, C.H.		Dealer in Horses			1850 Illinois		1879
Parker, Charles		Machinery Agent				1812 Massachusetts	1836
Parrett, Jas. B.	Photographer				1857 Illinois		1866
Payne, B.H.		Restaurant Proprietor			1860 Illinois		1889
Rich, Dr. K.E.		Physician				1824 Massachusetts	1845
Riedt, C.		Merchant				1836 Germany		1864
Smith, Rev. J.J.	Pastor of St. Mary's Catholic Church	1857 Ireland		1882
Southwell, Thomas	Merchant				1839 Ireland		1873
Southwell, Henry	Merchant				1850 Ireland		1873
Stateler, A.H.		Merchant				1838 Illinois		1838
Sullivan, M.J.		Liquor Dealer				1853 Ireland		1888
Sullivan, J.B.		Assessor				1858 Illinois		1887
Taylor, H.L.		Editor and Publisher of Index		1852 Illinois		1856
Tisdale, C.H.		Grain Buyer				1829 New York		1864
Tisdale, M.N.		Ice Dealer				1866 Illinois		1866
Vaughn, Isaac		Druggist				1831 Ohio		1857
Weller, S.H.		Grocer					1819 New York		1880
Weston, P.B.		Blacksmith				1847 Pennsylvania	1885
Whitaker, I.H.		Proprietor of Whitaker's Hotel		1823 Pennsylvania	1885
Woolf, Charles		Merchant				1863 Illinois		1863
Zimmerman, Peter P.	Prop'r. of Meat Market and Stock Buyer	1852 Germany		1878

In 1895, the Wenona Light and Power Company was formed and the first city water well was dug.  The Union Telephone Company built its first line in Wenona in 1896.  The coal mine closed in 1925 and people moved away. By 1933, the population was about one half of what it had been at its peak.

Evans Station

Transcribed by Nancy Piper

Evans Station was a shipping point of the Chicago and Alton Railroad sometime prior to 1890.  In 1890 the following people had an Evans Station Post Office

Name			Residence	Business		Birth	Nativity	Year Moved to County
Beckwith, Albert	Section 31	Farmer			1848	Illinois	1854
Burrus, Richard		Section 33	Farmer			1823	Ireland		1859
Connall, Barney		Section 23	Farmer			1838	LA		1856
Foster, Benjamin	Section 29	Farmer			1844	Illinois	1844
Groscup, W.C.		Section 35	Farmer			1842	Germany		1857
Hannah, James		Section 28	Farmer			1846	Ireland		1889
Holton, J.W.		Section 21	Farmer			1845	Ohio		1857
Johnson,G.W.		Section 30	Farmer and Prop. of 	1861	Sweden		1886
					Thresher & Sheller
Martin, Michael		Section 27	Farmer				Ohio		1884
Packingham, F.A.	Evans Station	Postmaster and Rail-	1842	Pennsylvania	1875
					road Station


Transcribed by Nancy Piper

Custer was a train station that was located 4 miles east of Varna in Evans Township at the point where the Toluca and Eastern (later Toluca, Marquette and Northern (TM&N)) railroad crossed the Chicago and Alton (C&A) railroad.  A side track and depot was completed on March 14, 1901.   In 1901 an elevator used to hold grain was constructed at Custer and named "The Ball and Twist" elevator.  The elevator could hold 85,000 bushels of grain.  Will Stratton was the first elevator manager.  There was also a general store and post office.  

Custer Train Station
(courtesy John Focci and Ken Miller)

Charles Delvin, the owner of the TM&N railroad died in 1905.  The railroad tried to carry on but was sold to the C&A railroad in 1910 and eventually to John Cox in 1927.  The railroad finally was abandoned in 1937.  By July of 1937, all that was left of Custer was the Ball and Twist elevator.  This was purchased and torn down to use as lumber by Leno Capponi of Toluca.  

From Evans Station

Transcribed by Nancy Piper

November 6, 1873
Taken From the Henry Republican

Local news,

Frances H. Holeton has been appointed post master at Evans, the station between Wenona and Varna. The post office to be established about January 1st.

June 26, 1879
Taken From the Henry Republican - Evans

N. J. Bishop took a migratory wandering Henrywards not long since and brought home a new carriage. We presume Ken. McNeal made it as he does for most of us here. Barbed wire of clothes lines without any stickers on, that’s the rub.

A 60 year old boy without any painter’s pretentions, went over his house 32x40, in four days. How is that for painting for a little boy.

The commissioner is making road work lively, and it may be hoped that we are to have better roads.

Wenona is to celebate the fourth. Will she allow the grangers to manage and a “fizzle” of it as they did last year on Sandy?

Any one who reads The Republican, knows it is a newsy, spicy paper, and not so little either.

We resume a grand time was had by the correspondents last Saturday week, and am sorry we could not be there.


Pioneers of Evans Township
Transcribed by Nancy Piper

Taken From The Henry Republican
January 15, 1880

Mr. Thomas Judd, who is writing a series of articles for the Index of "Ye Olden Time in Evans." Gives the pioneers of that township. He writes:

"In 1829 - just a half century ago - we find the inhabitants of Evans township to consist of the following persons: Patrick Cunningham, G. B. Hollenbach, Thomas Brooks, Benjamin Darnell and family, (consisting of himself, his wife, and James, Larkin , and sons Enoch and Benjamin and Lucy, his daughter. The latter sickened and died that year, and was buried in what is now known as Cumberland cemetery. And here the pioneer's "ax," was again called into requisition. Her coffin was made by cutting down a walnut tree, splitting out slabs and hewing and fitting them together. It is said by those present that the coffin made in this rude manner looked very respectable. Joseph Smith, Horace Gaylord, Alva Humphrey, Abel Estabrook, William Hart, and Samuel Hawkins. Few of these names are familiar to the present generation.

Of the inhabitants of 1829, we believe that Patrick Cunningham claimed and built a cabin on the Edward Clifford farm, at the head of Sandy. The old man Darnell and his sons built their first cabin within the present enclosure of Cumberland cemetery, and claimed and improved the farm now owned by Robert Mann, and the Wilson estate. Thomas Dixon, on the Adams farm, Richard Hunt (now a well-known citizen of Whitefield township in this county,) purchased this claim, and afterwards sold it to Samuel Cox.

The twenty-niners were very few in numbers, and were followed in 1830 by James Reynolds, Joshua Evans, Thomas Dixon, George Martin, John S. Hunt, John Darnell, Lemuel Gaylord, John Griffith, Stewart Ward, Mr. Kimly, and Jeremy Hartenbower. Those who came in 1831 were Justus Jones, Ira Jones, Barton Jones, Abram Jones, Thomas Judd, Mr. Rosenbarger, Mr. Simpson, and Abram Darnell."

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