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McLean County, Illinois
History and Genealogy

Bloomington Township History

The township of Bloomington as distinguished from the city of Bloomington, comprises territory lying south and west of the city. It originally included the city, but in 1911 the city was organized as a township with coextensive boundaries.

In Bloomington township as now comprised is the site of the first settlement of the county, at Blooming Grove. The township of Bloomington has its own township government, with school trustees and road commissioners. The population of the township in 1930 is 2,200 and the number of farms reported in the census is 262."Official souvenir program, McLean County Centennial, Aug. 27, 28, 30, 1930" by: McLean County Illinois Centennial Souvenir Program Committee, Harold Lang and Eugene Funk (Transcribed by: Teri Moncelle Colglazier)

Founding of Bloomington

Hon. James Allin
"Founder of Bloomington, Illinois."
Born 1788; Died 1869
From Portrait by Elisha Hunt, c. 1850

The Original Town of Bloomington, Illinois, And Its First Proprietors.
James Allin entered the east half of the southwest quarter of Section Four, Township 23 North, Range 2 East of the Third Principal Meridian, (eighty acres.) Oct; 27, 1829. The approximate boundaries of this tract are, using present street names etc. by way of designation, as follows, viz. The northeast corner being located at the southeast corner of the Second Presbyterian Church; the northwest corner about 100 feet south of the south line of Monroe Street and about 60 feet west of the west line of Roosevelt; the southwest corner about 100 feet east of the intersection of Lee Street and Oakland Avenue; and the southeast corner at the intersection of East Street and Oakland. The eighty acre tract adjoining on the north was entered by Robert H. Peebles, Aug. 11, 1830. This tract along with considerable other local real estate, was conveyed by a deed dated April 20, 1832, from Robert H. Peebles and wife, Augusta, of Fayette County, 111. to James Allin. It may be that Mr. Allin and Dr. Peebles had an unrecorded contract antedating this deed, or it may have been a case of "after acquired title" as subsequent events would tend to indicate.

An act of the Seventh General Assembly in force Dec. 25 1830, providing for the organization of McLean County, stipulated that the county seat should be located on land to be donated for the purpose, not less than twenty acres to be accepted. Provision was also made in this act that a sufficient quantity of this land should be reserved as a site for the public buildings, the remainder to be subdivided into lots, the lots to be sold and the proceeds used for county purposes. By the same legislative enactment it was also provided that the name of the new county seat should be Bloomington.

The first County Commissioners of the new county, Jonathan Cheney, Jesse Havens, and Timothy B. Hoblit, held their first meeting May 16, 1831. At this session they received the following report from Lemuel Lee and Isaac C. Pugh , special Commissioners appointed to locate the new county seat, viz. " We, the Commissioners appointed by the Legislature to Locate a County Seat in the County of McLean on the second Monday of February or within five days thereafter, owing to the severity of the weather and depth of snow* it was impossible for us to proceed to locate the same at the time specified by law, but so soon thereafter as practicable we proceeded to examine the situation of the County and have located the same on the Land of James Allen on the North end of the Blooming grove, for which we have his obligation for a donation of twenty-two acres and a half of land." [*This was the famous "winter of the deep snow."]

On the same date, Dr. Isaac Baker, our first County Clerk and first County Surveyor, was appointed to advertise the sale of lots which was to be held on the following Fourth of July, and at the next meeting held June 7, 1831, he was also appointed to make a survey of the donated land according to an approved plat thereof, also to make a copy of this plat and have the same recorded. This plat and the County Commissioners' certificate accompanying it occupy Page 1 in Book A of our Deed Records.

July 2, 1831, James Allin and wife Catharine, conveyed by warranty deed to the County Commissioners of McLean County, and their successors in office, a tract of twenty-five acres bounded by the present Monroe, Roosevelt, Front, and East Streets. The greater part of this tract lay within Mr. Allin's entry of 1829, but a strip wide enough to make one row of lots along the north side, was taken off his purchase from Dr. Peebles. This was subdivided into twelve blocks of six lots each, the lots fronting north and south, with an alley running east and west through each block. The streets were named, the lots were numbered consecutively from 1 to 72, commencing at the northeast corner and ending at the southwest. The alleys were also numbered, but no designation of any kind was attached to the blocks.

Lot 38 the middle lot in the north half, and Lots 40, 41 and 42, comprising the south half of the present court house square were reserved for public purposes, the others were sold at auction as previously arranged, and thus was Bloomington, Illinois, officially born on the fifty-fifth anniversary of American Independence, July 4, 1831. The following minute of the sale appears in the records of the County Commissioners, viz. July 4, 1831. The Court proceeded according to previous notice given and made sale of all the lots in the Town of Bloomington except those noted on the Plat of said Town as a public square and Lot No. 38, which by the Court is reserved. The Amount for which the lots were sold and to whom, recorded in Book Z, reference thereto being had." No such book or record is known to exist. It was with a view to supplying this deficiency that the author made much painstaking research among the early local deed records in an effort to learn the purchasers names and the prices they paid for the lots.

Fifty years later, July 4, 1881, a celebration of the first half century of its existence was held in Bloomington. At this time Amasa C. Washburn, who had attended and bought a lot there, wrote a letter to Judge John E. McClun giving a detailed account of our first lot sale. This letter was published in the Daily Pantagraph supplement, July 4, 1881. This letter is as follows:

"Carbondale, Jackson Co. Ill. June 15," [1881.]
J. E. McClun, Esq. - Dear Brother; Your letter of in-quiry is before me. I was present at the sale of lots, July 4th, 1831. I am sorry I cannot answer your questions with more certainty. I have no record of events that occurred on that day, therefore have to rely upon my memory. I take up your questions in the order you present them. The sale commencd about 12 o'clock. Samuel [sic] B. Hoblit, being one of the commissioners, acted as auctioneer. Dr. Isaac Baker acted as clerk and made out the papers to the purchasers. The auctioneer went with the crowd (not a very large one) from lot to lot, commencing if my memory is correct, at the corner of East and Grove streets, thence west to Main, thence north and east around that square. I do not remember exactly what these lots sold for, but think they ranged from six to fifteen or eighteen dollars."

I know I bought the middle lot lying between the National Bank and the old M. E. church for ten dollars and fifty cents. ($10.50.) After this block was disposed of there was a call for lots fronting the public square. They went to the corner of Washington, west of Main street. That lot was knocked off at twenty-five dollars, [sic] Going- west the middle lot was sold for eighteen, and the corner on Center for twenty-two dollars; crossing-over to the corner where the People's Bank now stands, was sold for eighteen dollars. They continued west to West street, selling the lots for low prices, but I cannot now specify them; thence they returned to the corner of Main and Front streets, the old McLean County Bank corner. Up to this time the sale had been a very tame affair, but a very spirited contest sprang up over this lot until the figures reached (as I remember them,) were $69, some say $59. Then we moved west on Front, and prices soon dropped to $5. I think after crossing Center street, and before we came to Madison, the sale was closed, because no one would take lots in that locality at $5, the limited price.
The ground at that time was wet, as you may remember. If my recollection is correct, no lots were sold that day north of Washington street. It was thought to be too far in the prairie. As to who attended the sale and bought lots I cannot say, as I was a resident of only two weeks, and knew but few of the people. My impression is that the old settlers about the grove were generally present, and that those who bought lots did so more from a curiosity to own a town lot than from any expectation of occupying them. Mr. Allin, as you are aware, owning the ground south of Front street, used his influence to get actual settlers to locate on his ground. This accounts I think, in part at least, for the dullness of the public sale. As to the weather, I think the fore part of the day was pleasant. In the afternoon clouds arose, and perhaps a little rain about the time the sale closed. Mr. David Simmons, who, I suppose still lives in Bloomington, was, I presume, present at the sale; he certainly was in the grove at that time.
Had I expected at that time to live to see Bloomington what she now is, I should have treasured up items with great carefulness, but I was so stupid I did not expect to see even a respectable village grow up there in the wilderness, and it was nothing more at that time, Why, the only way I could get from Fort Clark, (Peoria,) was to foot it, not having even a track to follow, a part of the way. No roads, no people, what was to make a town, unless it was composed of wolves and rattlesnakes, I could not imagine. There was more of the latter, if counted as citizens, to form quite a village to start with. But fifty years have wrought wonders, such changes as few have witnessed in a lifetime." **************
Very Truly Yours,
A C. Washburn."
P. S. - I remark that the price paid for lots seemed small at this day, but considering the fact that at that time, an eighty acre tract joining these lots on the north, was then Congress land and entered some six or eight months after wards at $1.25 per acre, five dollars was not a small price for a small lot." A. C. W.

[Source: "The original town of Bloomington, Illinois : and its first proprietors" by Milo Custer, Bloomington, Ill.: M. Custer, 1923; Tr. by K. Torp]

Another small settlement in Bloomington Township is Burns, located just south of Hendrix. Near it passes the Illinois Central and the Illinois Terminal railroads as well as US 51.

[This is McLean County, Illinois by: John Drury, The Loree Co., Chicago, Illinois (1955)]

Just south of Bloomington city lies the small hamlet of Hendrix, consisting of a few houses near the Illinois Central and the Illinois Terminal railroads. It is served by the postoffice at Bloomington.
The hamlet was named after John Hendrix, one of the earliest settlers of McLean County, who arrived in 1822. Hendrix is located in Bloomington Township, which has a total population of 2,582.
This township originally contained Bloomington city. Some years ago, however, Bloomington city was made into a separate township. In the northeast corner of Bloomington Township is located the Bloomington Municipal Airport.
[This is McLean County, Illinois by: John Drury, The Loree Co., Chicago, Illinois (1955) -- Transcribed by: Teri Moncelle Colglazier]


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