Clayton Township

Linn, Clayton, and Minonk Townships were the last to be occupied. With the help of the Illinois Central Railroad, these townships began to grow. Some settles came to Linn in 1840, with many of them coming before the organization of Linn and Clayton Townships in 1855. Spring of 1854, John Linn came from Kentucky and built a home in Section 19. Others settles soon followed (James Livingston from New Hampshire, Milton Hicks and Jefferson Shepler).

March 28, 1854, Adolphus W. Forney came to Illinois from Hanover, York County, Pennsylvania. He settle on 240 acres in Section 35. The Forney family raised six sons.They sold their land to Edwin Tallyn in 1888, moving to Nebraska. One son, Alfred E. returned to Clayton Township later on.

In 1855, John W. Davison and his family settled here. Four brothers came to Illinois, three of them settling in Woodford County: J. M. Davison was elected school trustee at the first election in this township; P. H. Davison served as county treasurer; D. W. Davison as coroner; D. H. Davison served 30 years as surveyor.

By 1855, Jacob McChesney and Henry Lohnes came from Rensselaer County New York. Also settling in the area were Jacob Robinson, Samuel Knowles, and William Worthington. By 1857, Wait Uphoff, from Germany to Peoria, settled here. The Uphoff sons, Adam W., Bart W., John W., and Bernard W. farmed near Benson. In 1856, Henry Memmen, (also from Germany), settled in Clayton Township.

1856, Anthony Tallyn and his wife purchased 200 acres in Section 29. They came from Devonshire, England in 1848 to Kickapoo, Illinois. Joseph Tallyn (Anthony's brother) soon followed.

Others settling in Clayton Township were: F. D. Learned (New Hampshire), John G. Hindert and family (Germany), Adam Eckhart (Ohio), Peter Gommels.

Clayton Township, 28N, Range 1 east of the Third Principal Meridian, is bounded on the north by Marshall County, Minonk Township on the east and Greene Township on the south with Linn Township on the west. The township has 36 full sections and is six square miles.


Benson is the only village in Clayton Township. The original town consists of 38 acres on the west side of the railroad with 27 acre's being added April 3, 1874. The town was named after S. H. Benson of Streator, who was the railroad's general freight agent at that time. Jourgen Harms and George Kirtchner opened the first store in 1873 with F. D. Learned opening a drug store shortly after. The first mail received March 1873 by postmaster F. D. Learned. Joseph Benkler opened a harness shop in 1874 and Samuel Peterson's elevator opened as well. Other business were opened by Benjamin Mauer, E. Duden, Barbara Weast, Uphoff Bros., and A. H. Ahrens, and Henry Forney.

By 1878 the following business's were up and running: Dry goods & groceries - Sauer & Holland, Peter Petri, and Harms & Woltzen; Lumber - Cavan Bros. and Decker & Harms; Hardward - Abrahams & Zinser; Millinery - Barbara Weast and Decker & Harms; Jewelry - Charles Laurenstein; Flour Mill - Schmidt Bros.; Agricultural Implements - G. Fritz & co.; Hotel - A. A. Cavan; Wagon Maker - Thomas Backer.

The first doctor in Benson was Dr. D. M. Slemmons who came here on August 9, 1873. By 1874, Dr. Louis A. Austman, from Peru, Illinois, practiced here.

Clayton Baptist Church was the first religious organization in Clayton Township. It was organized on February 14, 1859 with 20 members. After meeting in their homes or in the school house, the church was build in December 1865. The church was located two miles east and one mile south of Benson, in Clayton Township, with the cemetery across the road in Greene Township. The parsonage was built in 1872.

St. John's Catholic Church was built in 1873 by Rev. Father Steinberg. The first baptisms recorded were of Sebastian Vogel and William D. Ryan on July 11, 1878. The first marriage was of Henry Weast and Catharina Voelker. Other priests: Rev. Father Francis Xavier, Rev. Father Angelin, Rev. Father Peter Paul Gunderman, Rev. Father Cahpins, Rev. Father Bettrand, Rev. Father Peter Kluck.

The first school (winter 1856-57) in Clayton Township was taught in an upper room of the house of John M. Davidson with P. H. Davidson being the educator. The school was built in 1857 on the southwest corner of Section 5. James McChesney taught the first term. School trustees were: J. M. Davison, Samuel Shepler, and Jacob P. Robinson, Robert Hester/treasurer. By 1900, there were nine schools in operation in Clayton Township with 392 children attending. In 1875, there as also a private German school located within the limits of Benson.

The Benson Bank opened in 1880 by B. F. Zinser. The name changed in 1900 to The First State Bank. Officers were: S. L. Peterson - president; Joseph Pickard - vice president; F. N. Tallyn - cashier and F. C. Tucker - assistant cashier. F. N. Tallyn later became president of the bank. On December 31, 1931, the bank closed.

Farmer's State Bank of Benson opened in 1904 by A. H. Brubaker & Co. In 1910 the officers were: A. H. Brubaker - president; R. C. Ricken - assistant cashier. It was changed to a state bank in 1913.