History of Woodford County, Illinois

The first settlers of Woodford County settled at first along the Illinois river at Spring Bay, then among the groves of Walnut Creek and in Metamora.  Early settlers of Spring Bay were:  Wm. Baylock in 1819, William Blanchard in 1822, William Phillips and George Kingston in 1823, and John Stephenson and Auston Crocker in 1824.  The first cabin built in Woodford County was built in the fall of 1822 by a man named Darby on a part of what was known as the old Crocker farm in Spring Bay Township.  

Other early settlers were Joseph Dillion, who settled three miles south of the present Eureka Court House near Walnut Creek in 1824 and Charles Moore, Jonathon Baker and Daniel Meek who settled at Walnut Grove at Walnut creek in 1827

Next came the settlers to Panther and Crow creek.  Some of the earliest settlers of Woodford County were Amasa Stout and wife who were the first settlers at Panther Grove at Panther Creek in 1828.   The McCords, Patricks and Bilbreys settled there before 1831.

In 1832, William Maxwell settled in the eastern part of what now is the village of Washburn  near Crow creek and built an inn and entertainment house for travelers on the State Road.  He also kept fresh horses for the stage coach.   

In 1836, a school district was formed which included an area from Morsetown to Lowpoint and west to Bricktown.  It may have been the first free school in the state of Illinois and was paid for out of the public fund in northern Illinois.  The school house was built in 1838 near the home of James Owen.  Miss Love K. Morse was the first teacher.

James Boys established the first post office three miles north of Hanover (Metamora) in 1836 in a settlement called Black Partridge.

By 1840, the groves along Panther and Crow creeks were fairly settled.  Woodford County, Illinois was organized in 1841.  It was named after birthplace of an early pioneer, Thomas Bullock - Woodford County, Kentucky.  The first county seat  was versailles, Illinois.  The county seat was moved to Hanover (now Metamora) in 1843.  Eureka, Illinois became the county seat in 1894.  Abraham Lincoln was one of the early lawyers who practiced in Versailes and later at Hanover (Metamora), Illinois.

County affairs were conducted by a board of three commissioners until 1850.  In 1850, the present township organization plan was adopted and the townships were organized in 1852.  The county was divided into 16 townships.  Each township was represented by a supervisor who was elected annually.  This continued until 1890.   In 1890, the supervisors were divided into two classes and a two-year election term was adopted.  This continued until 1930 when the present four-year term was established by a state law that was approved on June 10, 1929.

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Cazenovia Township

Cazenovia Township was named after Cazenovia Lake in New York.  The first supervisor was John W. Acres.  James G. Bayne was the first township clerk and Morgan Buckingham, Sr., was the first justice of the Peace.

In first school district was formed in 1836.  It included an area from Morsetown to Lowpoint and west to Bricktown.  School was first held in the home of James Owen until the first schoolhouse was built in 1838 near the Owen home.  Miss Love K. Morse was the first teacher.  This was the  first free school in Woodford county and was paid out of public funds in northern Illinois.  

The first post office in Cazenovia Township was established in the Lowpoint settlement on December 10, 1849.  It was located in the home of the first postmaster, William E. Dodds.  This house was in the extreme northwest corner of Section 27 and was also the first house built in Cazenovia Township.

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On September 26, 1870, W.O. Hammers had the plot that was to be the town of Cazenovia surveyed and laid out in blocks and lots.  It occupied 20 acres of the southeast corner of Section 18, 19 acres of the northeast corner of Section 33 and about 8 acres of the western division of the Chicago and Alton Railroad.  John Hamilton was the first railroad station agent.  The first postmaster was W.O. Hammers.  He also built a grain elevator in 1871.  Wikoff and Bowen opened the first grocery store in 1871.  Nick Portman of Metamora started the first dry goods store and the first blacksmith shop was owned by I.J. Kise.

The first school was built in 1858, long before the town was established.  This structure burned and another was built in 1907.  It continued as the school for Cazenovia until the schools consolidated in 1952 and the building was sold.

The first church was a Baptist church that was built in 1873.  Rev. W.E. James was the first pastor.  The last pastor, Rev. Musser of Metamora left in 1893.  The church burned and was never rebuilt.

1870 Surveyors Map

The first house built after the town was laid out was located on Lot 5 of Block 12 on State Street. It was made of stone and was owned by W.O. Hammers until November 1, 1874.  It was then sold to George Clingman.

1873 Cazenovia Patrons of Woodford County (Taken from the 1873 Atlas)



Place of Nativity

Located Here
G. Arrowsmith Farmer England 1852
Mary Farmsworth Farmer New York 1844
W.O. Hammers Merchant Woodford Co. IL 1842
Jesse Hammers Farmer Fayette, PA 1835
E. Hall Farmer Orange Co. VT 1855
I.J. Kice Blacksmith Virginia 1870
J.T. Martin Farmer & Carpenter Perry Co. OH 1853
A.T. Norris Farmer Baltimore Co. MD 1857
C.B. Pickerill Farmer Brown Co. OH 1851
Richard Tanton Farmer England 1842
M. Truckenmueller Carpenter Wirtemberg, Germany 1870
T.O. Tanton Farmer Woodford Co. IL 1850
In 1878 Samuel Amsler had the general store, G.W. Clingman had a wagon and blacksmith shop, Jesse Hammers owned the harness shop and G.W. Baden had a shoe shop.  The Bachman Brothers owned the Hardware and implement business.


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Lowpoint was surveyed and laid out in 1871 for James G. Bayne, who owned the land.    The post office had been established in 1849 and the school was built in 1848.  William E. Dodds was the first post master and Orson Cheedle was the first school teacher.  The oldest house in Lowpoint, located at 301 E. Washington Street, was there before the town was laid out.  It was known as the old Dyar house.

The first store in Lowpoint was owned by John E. Dodds, who was the son of the first post master.  In the summer of 1873, Piper, Bayne and Company built a grain elevator that was 70 feet high and 24 x 40 feet in size.  It handled about 200,000 bushels of corn and oats annually.

1873 Lowpoint Patrons for Woodford Co. (Taken from the 1873 Atlas)

Name Occupation Place of Nativity Located Here
Thomas Arrowsmith Farmer England 1844
J.G. Bayne Farmer & merchant Brown Co. OH 1846
J.E. Dodds Merchant and Post Master Montgomery Co. OH 1836
T. Drennen Book Keeper & Tsp. Collector Allegheny Co. PA 1855
D.V. Frazer Farmer & Merchant Wathington Co. PA 1856
A.J. Kirby Farmer Greene Co. PA 1848
J.R. Kirby Farmer Greene Co. PA 1847
O.W. Kirby Farmer Greene Co. PA 1847
John H. Kirby Farmer Greene Co. PA 1847
J.M. McCulloch Farmer Cumberland Co. PA 1853
J. Piper Farmer & Merchant Cumberland Co. PA 1847
Wm. Stevenson Farmer Knox Co. OH 1854
J. Safford Farmer New York 1840
J.B. Tool Farmer Augusta Co. VA 1833
S.J. Waggoner Farmer Carroll Co., OH 1867

John Pinkerton had built a tile factory that was operated by his son, Oscar in 1878.  In 1878 there was also another store, owned by Hornish Brothers and a blacksmith and wagon shop owned by Lucius H. Ellsworth.

In 1889, A. Lincoln  and Frank Banta purchased the general store.  A. Lincoln became the postmaster in 1889.  Frank became the postmaster in 1895.  They expanded the business until they had, what they claimed was the largest store in Woodford County by the early 1900's.  It  controlled the lumber, grain, stock, implement, merchandise, grocery and baking interests of Lowpoint.    The store burned in 1921 and was never rebuilt.  The business was moved to an older building near the grain elevator.

The Chicago and Alton railroad ran through the village.  There was a hotel in Lowpoint when passenger trains stopped in the village.  Rural mail delivery service was instituted in 1903.  In 1917, the business people in Lowpoint were H.A. Allen, veterinarian; Banta Bros. & Arnold, livestock; Banta Bros. & Co., banking, general merchandise, grain, lumber, implements; Banta & Kenyon & Co., livestock; Banta & Whitmer, livestock; Dr. S.M. Burdon, physician; Dan Keif, contractor; Wm. Kunkel, blacksmith;  Mundell & Owen, garage; Carles Rosebery, barber; National Express; Self Closing Gate Company.

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Bricktown was established in 1853.  It started as a brick factory and was composed of brick kilns and tile sheds.  Later there was a blacksmith shop, store and post office and school. The Church of the Brethren was moved to Bricktown in 1883. Once the brickmaking was discontinued the Bricktown community moved elsewhere.


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