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Chapter 27 - Bethel Township

This township lies in the southern tier, being 4 north, and range 3 west. It is bounded on the north, by Chalmers and Colchester townships, on the east, by Industry, with Schuyler county on the south, and Lamoine township on the west. The southern portion is principally timber land, containing some of the finest in the county, and is, also, the depository of immense beds of coal and a great amount of stone for building purposes. Copper, zinc, and iron, have been found, though but little effort has been made to test the matter as to whether it can be found in paying quantities. The northern part of the township is mostly prairie land, and here is found some of the finest farms of the county. The township is one of the best watered of any in the county, the two forks of Crooked creek, Camp and Grindstone creeks, passing through its entire length, the latter coming in at the southeast corner of section 24, while the former enters the township at the southeast corner of the northeast quarter of section 1. These two streams form a junction on the northeast quarter of section 31, and leaves the township at the extreme southwest corner.

A curious feature is seen on section 30, being a group of so-called Indian mounds, which were evidently used for burial purposes by the aboriginal possessors of this section. They consist of an irregular row of hillocks, from three to six feet in height, from 15 to 25 feet across at their base. They will number probably, about 20, and are located in the east portion of the section. They are so ancient that many of them are covered with large timber of such slow growing varieties as oak and hickory. From several of the depositaries of the dead, there has been, at different times, exhumed different implements of defence, in the shape of stone hatchets, spear and arrow heads. Sometimes the spade will turn up the bones of the dead brave, and occasionally some trifling ornament. They are a curious people who are fast fading into oblivion. For the above facts we are indebted to Charles E. Holton. A large amount of fine lime stone is found on the place of Charles Holton, on section 30, extending over the entire section.


The first to make a settlement in this township was John Gibson, a native of the state of North Carolina, who came to this locality in 1829, and settled upon section two. He built the first house within the limits of the present township near the present village of Middletown.

Prominent among the pioneers of McDonough county, was Benjamin Matthews, who settled in Bethel township, in 1829, where he reared a family of 12 children. He was born in the state of Tennessee, in 1792. In 1813, he removed to Cass county, Illinois, where he remained until he came to this township. He was united in marriage, in Tennessee, in 1811, to Polly Shoopman. Mr. Matthews served the war of 1812, and also the Black Hawk war. His death occurred in 1878.

Among the first settlers of Bethel township, was James H. Dunsworth, who settled on section 8, in 1830, where he lived until his death, which occurred August 5, 1860. He was born in Tennessee, June 20, 1808, where he was married to Jane Baker, also a native of that state. He remained in Tennessee until he came to this county. The death of Mrs. Dunsworth occurred February 13, 1860. Both bodies are interred in the Archer cemetery. Mr. and Mrs. Dunsworth were the parents of the following children—Mary A., William M., John A., Andrew J., James N., Abbie J., Jefferson W., and Dimmon B.

James Edmonston, who was prominently identified with the early history of the county was also a settler of this same year, probably, although there seems some doubt whether he came in 1829 or 1830.

John Venard, in 1830, came to this township, and located upon the southeast quarter of section 14 which he fully improved. Here he lived until his death. William Venard, his only son by his last marriage, bought out the interests of the other heirs, at his death and resided here until his death when it was purchased by George G. Venard the present owner. John Venard was a native of Harrison county, Kentucky, and came to Illinois in 1829, making a temporary stop in Morgan county, and came here as above stated.

William Venard came to the county in 1831, selecting Bethel township for his future home. His son, George, still resides in the township, of whom a sketch is appended.

George Venard has always been a resident of Bethel township. His parents, William and Sarah Jane (McClure) Venard were natives of Kentucky, who removed to Illinois in 1830 and located in Morgan county. One year later they came to McDonough county and settled in Bethel township. George Venard was born here, March 19, 1841. October 13, 1864 he was married to M. A. Morton. By this union there were nine children, seven of whom are now living—Edward E., Alberta L., Alice B., Myrtle M., Leona, Margaret J., and William L. Stewart and Adda A., are deceased. Mr. Venard resides on section 14, where he owns 200 acres of land, which consists mostly of prairie and is nearly all under cultivation. This is the homestead farm formerly owned by his father. Mr. Venard is an enterprising and prosperous farmer. As a citizen he is held in much esteem. He has held different offices in the township, having been school treasurer nine years, supervisor five years, and chairman for the last year. He enlisted early in the late war, in the 16th Illinois Infantry, and continued in the service about a year. He was then discharged on account of an accident, which occurred while cleaning a revolver. He afterwards re-enlisted in company H, of the 2d Illinois Cavalry and participated in three battles and several skirmishes. For many years he voted with the republican party, but at present, votes the independent ticket.

Charles Dunsworth came in the fall of 1832, living with his son James until the following spring, when he settled upon the northeast quarter of section 17, where he resided until his death, in 1842. He was a native of East Tennessee.

In the fall of 1832, Malachi Monk came to McDonough county, settling in Bethel township, where he entered the west half of the southwest quarter of section 7. He lived here until his death, which occurred in April, 1840. His remains are interred on the old homestead. Mr. Monk was born in the south, and traveled through Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, and lived some time in the state of Kentucky. In 1812, he went to Indiana, where he engaged in farming until he came to this county. His wife, Jemima (Jones) Monk, died in February, 1859, and is buried in the Scott cemetery.

John Monk came with his parents to this township in the fall of 1832, entering the east half of the southwest quarter of section 7, adjoining that of his father, Malachi. He has resided here ever since, with the exception of a residence of nine years in Plymouth, Hancock county. He was born in Hardin county, Kentucky, January 6, 1808, and four years later went with his parents to Indiana, where he remained until coming to this county. He was married January 28, 1829, to Mahala Stroud, daughter of Thomas and Jane (Moore) Stroud. They were parents of the following children—Hester A., Thomas W., Samuel, Emily J., William, Simon and Mary, twins, and Henry F.

Martin Fugate came to McDonough county in 1832, settling in Bethel township, where he engaged in farming. He raised a large family of children. He was a native of Virginia, but spent two years in Indiana, previous to his settlement here. Isaac, a son who was also born in Virginia, is still a resident of the township, owning a farm on section 21. He was married to Elizabeth Matthews, January 10, 1849. Another son of Martin's, John W., also resides in this township, on section 29.

John W. Fugate, a well-known and prosperous farmer of Bethel township, came here with his parents in 1832. The latter were Martin and Nancy B. (Hobbs) Fugate, natives of Virginia. They removed to Monroe county, Indiana, in 1832, thence to McDonough county, where they purchased 160 acres of land on section 30, Bethel township. John W. obtained a limited education, and remained with his parents until 22 years of age. He was born in Russell county, Virginia, April 13, 1817. September 19, 1839, he was united in marriage with Ophelia C. Monk Three children bless this union—Samuel N., Martin V. and Mary R. The two sons enlisted August 22, 1862, in company A, of the 78th Illinois infantry, and both died in battle. Mrs. Fugate died March 4, 1847. Mr. Fugate remained a widower, until December 28, 1865, when he was married to Nancy A. Toland, a native of Ohio. Mr. Fugate's first purchase of land was in 1840, consisting of 40 acres. He owns at present 200 acres, located on section 29, a highly improved and valuable farm. Mr. Fugate is a member of the Baptist church, and politically favors the democratic party. He is one of the leading citizens of Bethel township.

James C. Archer came in 1832. He was a native of Cass county, Kentucky, and was born there December 25, 1812.

Thomas F. Shoopman settled in Bethel township, in the spring of 1833, entering 200 acres of government land on section 29, where he still resides. Thomas F. Shoopman was a native of East Tennessee, born January 15, 1811. His parents, Jacob and Polly (Owens) Shoopman, natives of Virginia. His parents came to Hopkinsville, Kentucky, in 1829. His father died there December 30, 1829. The rest of the family came to Morgan county, Illinois, and lived there until 1833. Then came to McDonough county, where his mother died in 1840. Thomas left home at the age of 21. He was married to Patience Smedly, a native of Tennessee, and by this union had ten children—Elizabeth, Nancy J., Jacob, John S., Mary, Susan, Sarah, Catherine, Martha and Hannah. Mrs. Shoopman died in 1864, leaving a large family to mourn her death. In 1865, Mr. Shoopman was married to Mrs. Jerusha Ann Burress, who was born in Illinois. By this marriage there are two children—Nettie D. and Albert T. Mr. Shoopman casts his vote with the democratic party. The present Mrs. Shoopman had by her former marriage, five children—Edna J., Elmira A., William F., Toliver D. and Joseph T. Joseph died on his birthday, March 19, 1885, at the age of 23 years. Thomas F., has lived at this place 52 years, and while in McDonough county, has had but two deaths in his family.

William I. Pace came to Bethel township from Cumberland county, Kentucky, in 1833. He resided there until 1835, when he removed to Scotland township. He died in Macomb, in May, 1855.

Bowen Webb came to McDonough county, in 1833. His first settlement was in Scotland township, five miles south of Macomb. He took up a claim there, but sold his relinquishment before entering it. He then came to Bethel, where he lived about three years. He was born in North Carolina, and prior to the year 1818, located in Tennessee. He never remained long in a place, but was constantly on the move. He was a resident of Franklin county, Illinois, before coming to this county, and afterward lived in Iowa and Kansas. His death occurred in the latter state, in 1871. Mr. Webb was in the war of 1812. He was married in 1808, to Susan O'Neil, a native of Virginia, who also died in Kansas.

Jesse C. Webb came to Bethel township with his parents in 1833. He lived here a number of years, and after considerable moving about, returned to McDonough county, and later, settled in Lamoine township, where he still resides. He was born in Tennessee, June 26, 1818, and in 1826, went with his parents to Franklin county, Illinois, where be remained until he came to McDonough county. He was postmaster at Middletown, from 1857 to 1860, and also conducted a grocery store at that place for a number of years. Mr. Webb responded to the governor's call for volunteers for the Mormon war, and was commissioned captain of his company.

John Matthews came in 1833, from Cass county, Illinois. He was a native of Tennessee, born July 1, 1802, and was a brother of Benjamin, who settled here in 1829. He was twice married, the first time to Priscilla Handy, and again to Polly Davis, of Cass county, Illinois. Mr. Matthews died December 18, 1852, in Beardstown, Illinois, at which place he was buried. His last wife is still living, and has since been married to Peter Hudson.

Samuel T. Matthews, now a resident of Lamoine township, came with his parents to Bethel township, in 1833.

M. C. Foster came to the county from Pennsylvania, in 1834, and settled just south of Middletown, now known as Fandon.

Among the early settlers at Bethel, was William Holton, who came from the state of Vermont to this township in the fall of 1835, purchasing 80 acres of land on section 30. He lived here for a while when he removed to Lamoine township, where he died November 12, 1877.

Charles E. Holton, an early settler in the county was born September 7, 1830, in the town of Westminster, Vermont. His parents were William and Betsey (Mason) Holton, the former a native of the same town, born in 1801; the latter, also a native of Vermont, was born in 1800. The family removed to this county from Vermont in 1835, and located there upon section 30, Bethel township. Chas. E., the subject of this sketch, was married November 12, 1867, to Ettie McKinley, a teacher of Schuyler county, who came with her parents to Macomb, from the city of Pomeroy, Meigs county, Ohio, in 1857. Her father was formerly a merchant, and afterwards followed farming. She was born January 3, 1848. In the spring of 1853, Mr. Holton crossed the plains to California, where he remained 11 years in the pursuit of wealth, in which he was fairly successful. He returned to this state in 1864, and purchased of his father the homestead farm, for which he paid the sum of $5,000. In 1868, his father moved to Plymouth. Mr. Holton now owns 168 acres of valuable land in addition to the homestead farm, which contains 228 acres. He has followed stock raising, and has been prosperous in that business. Mr. and Mrs. Holton have two children—Ida Blanche, born September 28, 1868, and Ada Ford, born August 5, 1872. Mr. Holton is a man of fair education and a worthy citizen.

George W. Provine came to this county from Clark county, Indiana, in the fall of 1835, and located on section 1, Bethel township. He is now a resident of Scotland township.

In 1835, James L. Horrell made a settlement in the township. He was a native of Kentucky, where he was married to Lee Cason, also a native of that state. In 1827, he removed to Illinois, settling in Morgan county, after which he came to this county, as above. Mr. Horrell died in 1841, and his wife in 1850. J. N. N. Horrell, a son of James, deceased, came with his parents to Bethel when about five years of age, and still resides here, owning a farm on section 3. He was born in Scott county, this state, October 27, 1830, and was married on the 18th day of February, 1856, to Clarissa Kinkade. Five children were born to them—Julia A., Mary R., Ida M., Eliza L. and Martha J.

In 1835, John McCormack effected a settlement in the township. He was born in Maryland, on the 21st day of August, 1789.

John Patrick, who was born in Fayette county, Kentucky, January 1, 1810, emigrated to McDonough county in 1835, settling in this township. He laid out the town of Fandon, formerly known as Middletown, and afterward removed to the city of Macomb.

John E. Riggs, a native of North Carolina, came in March, 1836, entering land on the southeast quarter of section 2. He was born in 1814, and when one year of age his parents removed to Kentucky, and at the age of 14 they removed to Sangamon county, Illinois. John remained with his parents until he was 23 years of age, when he was married in Morgan county to Ailsey Cox, December 31, 1835, and the next spring came to this township.

Samuel Riggs came about the same time. His son Russell still lives in the township.

Russell Riggs is a son of Samuel and Nancy Riggs. Samuel Riggs was a native of Maryland, and his wife of South Carolina. Russell was born in Greenup county, Kentucky, June 7, 1821. The family moved in 1828, to Sangamon county, Illinois. Seven years later they removed to McDonough county, and located on section 1, Bethel township, where they purchased 240 acres of land. Russell Riggs resided with his parents till 24 years old. He received a limited education, and in his youth worked at farming. In 1845, he was married to Jane Venard, who died in 1870. Nine children were born to them, seven of whom are now living—Mary E., James L., John T., Samuel B., William D., Andrew N. and Anna B. Mr. Riggs was again married February 2, 1871, to Eliza Jane Lucas. By this union there is one child--George M. Mr. Riggs resides upon a part of the homestead farm purchased by his father in 1835. He is politically a democrat.


Following may be found sketches of other well-known citizens of Bethel township, which are necessary, as showing the part they have taken in building up the township:

George W. Twaddle is a native of McDonough county, and was born on the farm upon which he now resides. He was born on the 28th of August, 1845, and is the son of William and Hannah (Hooton) Twaddle. William was born in Ohio, and was one of a family of 15 children, five of whom were born blind, and Hannah in Ohio. William was a farmer through life, and in 1844 came to McDonough county, Illinois, and located on the farm now occupied by his son George. He lived here until 1879, when he died and passed beyond the river. He was much respected, and from 1847 until the day of his death, was justice of the peace. Mrs. Twaddle, who was formerly Hannah Hooton, died August, 1864, and was buried in the Scott cemetery. They had 11 children, five of whom are now dead—John W., living in Hancock county; William H., living in Macomb; Marsena A., now living in Bethel township; one girl died in infancy, in Ohio; James, dead; Mary Ann, wife of W. W. Huff, of Hancock county; Mahlon, dead; George, now living in this township; Minerva E., wife of William Lawyer, of Tennessee township; David and Jacob, dead. George lived at home with his father, and assisted him in his work until 1879, and after his father's death he made some improvements on the farm, and now pays attention to stock raising as well as general farming. He owns 226 acres of land, 166 acres adapted to his use, and the remainder divided into pastures and timberland. Mr. Twaddle was married on July 19, 1868, to Cynthia Hatch, a daughter of Alonzo and Minerva Hatch. She died on the 1st of January, 1869. Mr. T. was again married, on the 28th of September, 1872, to Miss Philena D. Stookey. They have had four children—Maber, Perry, Ottie P. and Otto B. Mr. Twaddle has been justice of the peace of Bethel township for five years, and is director in the Union school district No. 7.

Jacob S. Baymiller has been a resident of McDonough county since 1857, when he settled in Industry township. In 1864, he purchased a farm of 126 acres in that township, upon which he lived 10 years, and then sold. In 1878 he bought a farm in Bethel township on which he now lives. It is located in section 12 and 13, and contains 120 acres. Mr. Baymiller was born August 8, 1826, in York county, Pennsylvania, and is a son of John and Mary (Smith) Baymiller, also natives of Pennsylvania. He received a common school education, and lived at home until 19 years of age. He then served a three years apprenticeship to learn the carpenter trade, after which he followed car building for 20 years. When 27 years old he was married to Ann Tuttle, a native of Ohio, who died two years later, leaving one child--Arabell. In 1859 he was again married to Kate Rodges, a native of Illinois. Five children have been born to them—Edgar L., Harry S., Alonzo J., Mary J. and Nellie. Mr. Baymiller is a republican, and takes an active interest in political affairs. He and his wife are members of the Methodist Episcopal church. He has held various township offices, and is a popular citizen.

Sterling C. Simpson resides on section 7, Bethel township, where he owns 160 acres of cultivated land. He has paid particular attention to the raising of live stock, and has some fine graded horses—Clydesdales and English drafts. Mr. Simpson is a native of East Tennessee, and was born on the 26th of May, 1811. He is the son of James and Letitia (Willett) Simpson. James was born in Tennessee, and Letitia in Maryland. Sterling was engaged in farming with his father until September, 1834, when he went to clerking for his brother, in Kingsport, Tennessee. He there remained one year, when he came to McDonough county, Illinois, and located in Macomb, where he established a general store. He was so engaged until 1839, when he went to LaGrange, Illinois, and there was engaged in his former occupation for some time, when he erected a pork-packing establishment, and was so engaged one year. In 1840 he returned to Macomb, and in the spring of that year went to Knox county, where he was engaged in farming two miles and one-half from Knoxville, and there remained until 1859, when he moved to the said town and set up in the grocery business. In the spring of 1867 he came back to Macomb, and established his former business in which he was engaged until 1868, when he moved to a farm one mile east of that city. In the spring of 1876 he removed to his present residence, which is known as one of the finest in the township. Mr. Simpson was married on the 28th of June, 1838, to Catherine Johnson, of Pennsylvania. She is the daughter of George Johnson of the same state. Mrs. Simpson died in Knoxville, in February, 1863, leaving four children—John J., John (both died in infancy); George W., living in White City, Kansas; and Francis W., living in Chalmers township. Mr. Simpson was again married on the 4th of October, 1864, to Sarah A. Smith, a daughter of John and Harriet (Gibbons) Smith. They have had two children—Sterling S. and John G. Mr. Simpson is a member of the Presbyterian church, and an earnest worker in that cause. He has been assessor for Macomb township; also assessor for Knox township, in Knox county.

G. F. Raymond located in 1869 on section 21, Bethel township, and has, since that time been a resident of this county. He was born in Orange county, New York; August 11, 1834, and is a son of Uriah and Margaret (Decker) Raymond. The subject of this sketch received a common school education, and resided with his parents till 22 years of age. He was married February 19, 1858, to Sarah A. McMurtry, a native of New York state. They have had five children, of whom four are living—Sarah A., Margaret A., John U., Gabriel J. and Mary C. Mr. Raymond has always followed farming. He came to Illinois in 1858, and settled in Birmingham township, Schuyler county, where he owned forty acres of land and lived eleven years. This land he sold on coming to Bethel, and purchased 80 acres in the latter township which he still owns. In politics Mr. Raymond is an independent. At present he holds the office of justice of the peace. He is a member of the United Brethren church, and a christian gentleman.

Marvin Miller settled where he now resides on section 20, Bethel township, in 1860. He still owns forty acres of land which he purchased at that time. He was born in Summit county, Ohio, September 16, 1834, and is a son of Charles and Sarah (Bryant) Miller, of whom the former was a native of Connecticut, and the latter of Ohio. Marvin received his education in the common schools of his native county. He left the parental roof at the age of fifteen years, and has followed farming from that time until the present. To his original purchase of forty acres in this township, Mr. Miller has since added 160 acres, making altogether a large and valuable farm, in the management of which he has displayed much energy and good judgment, and as a result has been successful financially. He is a republican in politics, and takes a deep interest in state and national affairs. As a citizen he is highly respected, and is one of the leading men of Bethel township. Mr. Miller was married May 21, 1863, to Sarah Shoopman. By this union there are four children—Patience, John F., Thomas H., and Jesse M..

Burrow Mason, one of the early settlers of McDonough county, was born in Cook county, East Tennessee, May 6, 1814. His parents were Adin and Mary (Warmact) Mason, natives of Virginia. The subject of this sketch received a limited education. He resided with his parents till 21 year old, and after leaving home, continued to contribute to their support until their death. He came to Bethel township, McDonough county, in 1836, and purchased there forty acres to which he has since added, and now has 120 acres. He has always followed farming. December 8, 1846, he was married to Eveline Hendrickson, a native of Ohio. They are the parents of eleven children, of whom eight are now living—Adin P., Jesse H., Eliza J., George W., William E., Benjamin B., Samuel P., and Etta R. Mr. Mason is politically a democrat, but his six sons are republicans.

Ishmael Hills, a farmer of Bethel township, and an old settler of Illinois, was born in North Carolina—in 1808, and is a son of Ephraim and Nancy (Owensby) Hills, also natives of that state. Soon after the birth of Ishmael his parents removed to Tennessee, thence to Indiana, where he lived with them until eighteen years old. He then was married to Elizabeth Wright and started west, coming to Rushville Illinois, in 1828. There he bought a farm of 80 acres and made his home until 1878, then came to this county and located on the southwest quarter of section 1, Bethel township, where he now owns a good farm. His first wife died in December, 1874, and the following August he was married to Telitha E. Venard. He is the father of 14 children by his first wife, eight of whom are now living, one boy and seven girls, all of whom are now married. Mr. and Mrs. Hills are members of the Old School Baptist church. Politically he is a democrat.

Barnett Carnahan, a resident of Bethel township, was born in Marion township, Clinton county, Ohio, in March, 1842. He is a son of David C. and Deborah (Thornhill) Carnahan, the former a native of Kentucky, born in 1812, and the latter a native of Ohio, born in 1814. Barnett lived with his parents until 20 years old. He then enlisted in the army, 79th Ohio regiment, Company C., and participated in many engagements. He was mustered out at Camp Denison, June 10, 1865. He was married to Margaret A. Sullivan, December 22, 1869. They have had seven children, all of whom are now living but one—William E., J. M. deceased, Rosker E., Martin H., George E., Mary Debrah, Annie, Luella. Mr. Carnahan has 120 acres of good land on section 11. He is what may be termed a Universalist, and politically a democrat.

Mrs. Lorrin Thompson was born at Shelbyville, Kentucky, in 1825. Her parents were Greenup and Mary (Macumpsey) McClure, who moved from Kentucky, to this county, and here died. Her husband died in January, 1872. Mrs. Thompson has a farm in Bethel township, consisting of 160 acres, 40 acres of it timber, the balance under a good state of cultivation, and well improved, on section 10. She is the mother of 11 children, four of whom are deceased—Mary E., John T., Charles, George, Samuel G., Rozella, Sarah J., Franklin L., Alice and William. Mrs. Thompson is a member of the M. E. church.

Thomas H. Wrigley is a farmer of Bethel township, having his residence on section 12. He was born in Miami county, Ohio, in 1840. His parents were John and Rebecca (Homes) Wrigley, both natives of Kentucky; the former is now deceased, and the latter still living. Thomas spent his youth on the farm, and remained at his father's home, until married to Virginia Jones, of Scotland township, in 1861. She died February 20, 1882. They had seven children, four boys and three girls—James H., Grant, Rosetta, Nora, Thomas L., Wilber and Myrtle.

John C. Robinson was born in the state of Maryland, in 1806, and is a son of James R. and Martha (McMullen) Robinson. John C., remained at home with his parents until 1827, when he was married to Rebecca Ellit. In 1855, they moved to this county, and he now owns here 160 acres of land, on section 9. His wife died in 1880, leaving the following children—Martha, Becka, Mary, Thos., John, Samuel, Robert, Benjamin and Nancy.

Joshua Scott is the son of John S. Scott, a native of Ireland, who was born in 1805, and when in his 20th year, left his native land for America, sailing from Londonderry, and was 11 weeks in crossing the ocean. He located in Ohio, where he was married to Mary Hendrickson. The subject of this sketch was born in Bethel township, McDonough county, Illinois, March 1, 1848, and has always been a citizen of this county. Mr. Scott has a fair education which he acquired in the district school. He is the owner of a fine farm of 120 acres located on section 30, Bethel township, which is a portion of the homestead farm formerly owned by his father. Joshua Scott was married January 6, 1879, to Mahala Wear. Seven children have blessed this union, six of whom are now living—Mary E., Philena C., Amos N., Joseph D., and twin sons whose birth occurred February 28, 1885.

James Purdum is a native of this county, born December 29, 1839 in Bethel township. His parents, Samuel and Rebecca (Dull) Purdum, came here in an early day. The former was a native of Maryland, and came to McDonough county in 1837, and the latter of Virginia. In 1850, they removed to Schuyler county and James resided with them until about the year 1847, when he came back to this county and went to work by the month. February 19, 1860, he was married to Sarah B. Foster, who was born in Schuyler county, April 30, 1841. They have ever since resided in this county. Mr. Purdum now has 80 acres of valuable land located on section 30, Bethel township. They are the happy parents of the following children—Will R., James W., Luella M., Charles E., Thomas O., Olive B., Samuel M., Frederick W., Clara M. and Jessie L. Mr. and Mrs. Purdum are members of the M. E. church. Mr. Purdum is a republican politically, and a much respected citizen. He served his country during the late war, being mustered into the service August 6, 1862, into company C, 84th Illinois infantry, and after a service of three years returned to this place, and is now living within four miles of the place where he was born. He is a carpenter and joiner by occupation, and lives on the east half of the northwest quarter of section 30, Bethel township. His postoffice is Fandon.

William Toland, son of William and Jane (Hendrickson) Toland, is a native of Bethel township, McDonough county, born October 30, 1842. William Toland, senior, was born in Pennsylvania, and his wife in Ohio. They were united in marriage in the state of Ohio, and emigrated to this county in 1840. Both are now deceased. The subject of this sketch was married June 25, 1868, to Sarah R. Welborn, who was born January 1, 1843, in this state. They have one child—Nellie, born February 25, 1880. In August, 1862, Mr. Toland enlisted in company A, of the 78th Illinois infantry, and served until February, 1863, when he was mustered out of the service. In February, 1864, he re-enlisted in company E, of the 148th Illinois infantry, and continued in the service until September, 1865, when he was discharged with the regiment. He owns a well improved farm containing 184 acres, also a large amount of fine stock. Politically, Mr. Toland is a republican.

Solomon Mullen, formerly a resident of Bethel township was a native of the state of Illinois. He was married about the year 1856, in the state of Arkansas, to Alpha Baggett, who was a native of Tennessee; In 1860, they moved to McDonough county, and lived in Macomb until his death, which occurred in 1868. Fifteen years later, the widow was married to James A. Logan, of Schuyler county, Illinois. A daughter, Mary, was married, January 8, 1884, to Martin Mullen, also of Schuyler county, where they own 92 acres of good land. Politically, Martin Mullen affiliates with the republican party.

John Kerr was born in the state of Pennsylvania, August 28, 1834, and was a son of John and Jane (Black) Kerr, also natives of Pennsylvania. John Kerr, Jr., resided with his parents until he attained his majority. He then came to Illinois, and spent three years, after which he returned to his home in Pennsylvania, and was there married to Martha Thompson, of Butler county, July 4, 1859. They remained in that state eight years, then removed to McDonough county, Illinois, locating then in Bethel township, where Mrs. Kerr still lives. He purchased 40 acres of land, about one half of which is still in timber. They had seven children, six of whom are still living—William C., Nancy J., Francis E., Merry A., John R., and George T. Their eldest son died April 8, 1883, aged 21 years, seven months, and 15 days. One of the sons is now living in Kansas.

Rev. Uriah Stoneking, is a son of George and Levina (Piles) Stoneking, natives of Greene county, Pennsylvania. George Stoneking was born December 29, 1831, and his wife, June 15, of the same year. They were married in Bethel township, McDonough county, in March, 1851. By this union there were 12 children—David, Uriah, Andrew, George, Solomon, Lucinda, Francis P., Mary Bell, Thomas S., Eliza Agnes, Amanda Jane, and Hiram. The third son, George, was accidentally burned to death at the age of four years. Uriah the second son, was married January 1, 1871, to Mary C. Cary. Eight children have been born to them—Edith Lillian, Phebe Bell, Theda Evalina, Georgetta, Minnie Frances, Ollie May, Winnie Myrtle, and Dollie. Uriah Stoneking is the owner of 80 acres of land, located in section 33, Bethel township, and which is admirably adapted to the growing of small grains, and stock-raising. Uriah Stoneking, the subject of this sketch, was born in Bethel township, McDonough county, August 8, 1853. In 1879, he was licensed as a preacher of the gospel by the Protestant Methodist church. He has since that time been engaged in preaching, three years as a local preacher, and three years upon the circuit. He has assisted at several noted revivals, at one of which, at Industry, 120 persons were converted. He has held the office of commissioner of highways three years, and was reelected in 1885, and holds the office of justice of the peace. Mr. Stoneking is a public spirited citizen, and enjoys the confidence and respect of the entire community in which he resides.

Charles Willey, a farmer of Bethel township, is a native of Ohio, born in 1820, in Muskingum county. He is a son of Ablisum and Rachel (Lemby) Willey, both natives of Pennsylvania. Charles may properly be classed among the early settlers of this county, as he came here with his parents in 1834 and settled on section 35, Bethel township, where he owns 120 acres of land and has always since lived upon the same. He was married in 1841 to Sarah Frakes. They have had 13 children—Liddie, Isaac, David, Andy, Stephen, Boyd, Leonard, Noah, Morris, Caroline, Mahala, Amanda, and Laurinda. Four of these children are now deceased. Mr. Willey politically, is a republican.

James M. Legg resides upon section 25, Bethel township, where he occupies a fine farm containing 200 acres, owned by his wife's father, Darius Runkle, of Industry township, who purchased the place in 1876. It is well improved and highly cultivated. Mr. Legg is a son of Thomas and Mary (Greenwood) Legg, both natives of Kentucky. In 1832 they removed to Illinois, and settled in Schuyler county. James M. Legg was married October 3, 1867, to Mary A. Runkle, of McDonough county. Their union has been blessed by eight children, six of whom are now living--Charles I., Lewis L., Clara Y., Nellie C., Anna M. and Gracie L.; Mary F. and an infant son are deceased. Mr. Legg is a republican politically. Mrs. Legg is at the present time one of the board of school directors of district number 6, of Bethel township, and is well fitted for her position, being a lady of much natural ability and energy.

John A. Mills is a son of Ladsin and Sarah M. (Hill) Mills, natives of North Carolina, who, in 1850, emigrated to Illinois, and settled in Lamoine township, McDonough county. They remained in that township three months, then removed to Chalmers, where they resided seven years, at the end of which time they removed to the west half of the northwest quarter of section 2, in Bethel township, where they are yet living. John A. Mills was born in Henderson county, North Carolina, in 1845. He came west with his parents, with whom he lived until 16 years old. He enlisted then, in company K, of the 25th Wisconsin infantry. At Louisville, Kentucky he was transferred to company C, of the 12th Wisconsin regiment. He served throughout Sherman's campaign, and was mustered out of service at Louisville, Kentucky, and discharged at Madison, Wisconsin. After his return from the army he learned the carpenter's trade in Wisconsin, where he remained four years, then returned to Bethel township, this county; he now resides on the east half of the northeast quarter of section 1. He was married December 4, 1869, to Mary F. Daniels. Their union has been blessed with four children--Luna L., Walter S., Ada A. and Silas A. Mr. and Mrs. Mills are, in their religious views, in sympathy with the Christian church. He is a republican, politically.


Bethel township assumed official organization in 1856, at the time of the division of the county into townships. It was originally known as Eagle township, but was changed to its present cognomen at the first meeting of the board of supervisors in May, 1857. The first township election was held April 7, 1857, at which time William Twaddle and John Taylor were elected justices of the peace, and John Brundage, constable.

The present officers of the township are as follows: Supervisor, G. G. Venard; clerk, W. H. Jackson; assessor, W. F. Berrse; collector, James Purdum; highway commissioner, Uriah Stoneking; justices of the peace, Uriah Stoneking and George Twaddle; constables, Charles Fawcett and James Mathews; school trustee, Benjamin Robinson.


The following, relative to the educational matters of Bethel, is taken from the last annual report of the county superintendent, for the school year ending June 30, 1884: The estimated value of school property is $5,150, the amount of tax levy for the support of schools being $1,375, with no bonded indebtedness in the district township. The highest wages paid any male teacher is $47.50, and the lowest, $25; while the highest salary for lady teachers is $30, and the lowest $18 per month. There are seven school houses in the township, six of which are frame structures, the other brick. In these schools an average of seven and one-seventh months of school is taught annually. There are 290 pupils enrolled in the several schools, and 486 children of school age in the township.

One of the pioneer schools of this township was taught by William Holton, Jr., in 1836, in a log building, 12x15, erected on section 30, for church and school purposes.

School district No. 3 was organized in 1845, and a log school house, 18x18 feet in sire, was erected on section 29. The first term of school consisted of three months, with an attendance of 15 scholars, and was taught by William Shannon. The building used by the district at present was erected in 1879, at a cost of $700, and is located upon the southwest quarter of section 21. West English is the present teacher of the school.

In 1840 the first school house was built in district No. 4. It was constructed of logs, and located on section 22. It was removed to section 14 in 1859, and ten years later a new frame school house was erected on the same site. It is 24x36 feet in size, and cost $1,400. Lenora Foster is the present teacher of this school, and receives $40 per month. She is one of the best teachers in the county.

Mount Zion school house, in district No. 5, is located on section 33, to which place it was removed from section 34 during the year 1874. The building is 22x30 feet in size and stands on a lot which contains one-half an acre. The first teacher in this building was Clemmie White, of Schuyler county. This is a union district, part of which lies in Schuyler county. Present teacher, Anna DeGornio.

The house in district No. 6, is situated on section 25, and is known as Victor school house. It was built in 1875, at a cost of $800. The first teacher in the house was Elizabeth Rigg. George Calvin, William Gunning and David H. Sterling were the first directors of the district. Mary Smith, of Macomb is the teacher at present

West Bethel school house is located on the southeast corner of section 8, the ground, which consists of one acre, being purchased of John A. Dunsworth, at a consideration of $50. The first building for educational purposes, was erected on this site in the fall of 1862, at a cost of $200, and was 20x26 feet in size. The first teacher in this building was Emma McGibney. In 1873, the present building was erected in place of the old one, and at a cost of $1,200. It is 26x36 feet in size and was built by William Ewing. L. Barker taught the first term of school in this house. The first directors of the district were J. M. Dusworth, and Daniel Hayes. George W. McDaniels is the present teacher of the district.

The present directors of school district No. 9, are Charles Keesecker, George Thompson and J. E. Sullivan. Samuel Wilson is the present teacher of the school.


A postoffice was established on section 5, in 1832, and was known for a number of years as Middletown, but has since been changed to Fandon.


Scott's cemetery is located on the southwest quarter of section 30, and contains about three acres, including the grounds of the Scott's church, which is also located here. The ground was donated for church and cemetery purposes in 1836, by John Scott and William Holton, Jr. The first burial was Olive, wife of William Holton, Sr., whose body was interred October 14, 1836.

A cemetery on section 8, known as the Archer burying ground, contains two acres.

There is a cemetery on section 22, which has been in use for about 50 years, and contains about one acre of ground.


A church was erected on section 7, on the present farm of S. C. Simpson, in 1845. Rev. Applebee was the first to preach in this house. The building was used for all religious services, regardless of creeds, and school was also held therein. In 1863, it was destroyed by fire and was never rebuilt.

In 1835, the first sermon was delivered at the house of Benjamin Matthews, and a Baptist congregation organized there by Revs. Bradley and Owens. A building was afterwards erected on section 10, for church and school purposes, in which the above named gentlemen preached the gospel. The house was 18x20, and constructed of logs. For a more extended digest of the religious matters of Bethel township, the reader is referred to the Ecclesiastical chapter, of this volume.


The first term of school in the township was taught by John Claybaugh, on section 6, in 1831.

The first marriage was William Venard and Sarah J. McClure. The ceremony was performed by James Edmundson, March 29, 1836, at the home of the bride.

The first birth was Joseph, son of John Gibson, in the year 1832.

Father Bradley and Thomas Owens, two Baptist divines, were the first to preach in the township, at the house of Benjamin Matthews, during the year 1835. A congregation was also organized there during that year.

The first justice of the peace was Cavil Archer, and J. H. Dunsworth was the first supervisor.

An early marriage, which was probably the second in the township, occurred November 16, 1836, joining together the hearts and destinies of Thomas Driskell and Sarah Gibson. Jesse Neece, a justice of the peace, performed the marriage ceremony.

The first death occurred in the year 1830. During that year four small children were buried on the farm of J. H. Dunsworth, on the northeast quarter of section 7, who belonged to a family of emigrants passing through the country.

John M. Dunsworth built the first brick residence in the township. It is a line, large, two-story structure, erected in 1860.

Source: The History of McDonough County, together with sketches of the towns, villages and townships, educational, civil, military and political history; portraits of prominent individuals, and biographies of the representative citizens, 1885, pages 695-711. Transcribed by Karl A. Petersen

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