Chapter 34 - Blandinsville Township
This is a full congressional township, comprising the territory known as township 7 north, range 4 west, and contains 36 sections of land. It is located in the extreme northwestern part of the county. It is bounded on the north by Warren and Hancock counties, on the east by Sciota township, with Hire on the south, and Hancock county on the west. It is mostly prairie, there being now but about 4,000 acres of timberland within its borders. At an early day, along the streams, there was a considerable amount of timber which has to a great extent been cut away, and the land put under cultivation. There are four small streams having their source in this township, from which water is derived for stock and culinary purposes. One in the southern part has its beginning in section 26 and, flowing in a southwesterly direction, passes through sections 27, 33 and 32, making its exit on section 31. The next one north has its source in various springs, one of which is situated in Sciota township, and pursuing a similar direction, passes through section 13, 14, 23, 22 and 21, and thence along and near the dividing lines between sections 20 and 29, then through section 30, leaving the township from the latter section. The third stream has a source near the northeastern portion of the township, in different portions of sections 12, 1, and 2, and then pursuing a southwesterly course, passes through section 11, a portion of 10 and 15, thence through 16 and 17, making its exit from section 18. The fourth stream passes only through the northwest corner of the township. Along all these small creeks there is considerable timber, mostly of a young growth, as there is very little heavy timber in the township. The soil along the streams, and adjacent to the wooded lands is of fair quality, consisting of decayed vegetable mould, and a mixture of clay, sand and gravel in places. It is generally well adapted for the growth of various cereals, although less productive than the prairies. The surface of the township is gently undulating, except in places along these streams, where it is a little broken. The more level or flat portions in most cases have natural drainage, so the township may be considered a good body of land. The early settlers, as will be seen, were mostly from the Southern states, and the population of the township, is generally made up of Americans. The lands are owned, to a great extent, by retired men who lease them to other parties. The improvements on the latter lands are generally poor compared with the excellent buildings, etc., upon most of the farms where the owners make their homes. There is one village in this township called Blandinsville, a history of which appears elsewhere. General farming and stock raising are the chief pursuits followed, and some of these interests are noticed under their proper heads. The Wabash and St. Louis railroad traverses the township from east to west in the southern part, affording convenient access and transportation.
Many interesting features cluster around this branch of history--recollections of by-gone days, of joys and sorrows, of prosperity and adversity. All such early experiences will be more fully described in the general chapter on this subject. The early settlers of this township came at a time when it tried men's souls, just previous to the winter of the great snow, and at a time when a start was a difficult matter. Consequently it will be found that the majority of the first settlers, thinking that they had ventured too far north, sold out or abandoned their claims, and went southward--some of them to again return and find eventually a land full of promise. During the winter of 1830-31, many were discouraged. The immense quantity of snow interfered with the construction of the log house, and they were obliged to live together in such habitations as had been rudely and hastily constructed, many families in one small cabin. That winter seemed to try the grit and spirit of many, and in the spring quite a number left for Missouri, hoping to there find a more congenial clime. After that winter, which was an unusually severe one, there was less abandonment of claims, and selling out for the season. Those who remained through those times have witnessed the development of a fine country, and as a rule have received the reward of industry and patient endurance.
The first person to make a settlement within the borders of what is now Blandinsville township, was William Job, who came from Morgan county, this state, in company with several other men, to look for land and a home, in the fall of 1825. After spending some time in looking over the county he returned to Morgan to spend the winter, and the following spring brought his family to the county, stopping some three weeks with a man by the name of Richard Dunn, just across the line in Hire township, while Mr. Job constructed a cabin of split logs on the land he had previously selected, on the southeast quarter of section 33. The rudely constructed habitation, erected by Mr. Job, was their home but a short time, when it was replaced by a hewn log cabin, which was well built for the kind at that time. The same building is still in existence, and is now occupied by J. C. Phillips as a residence in the village of Blandinsville, and is, consequently, the oldest building now standing in the township. More modern improvements have been made to it, but the same old logs are there as were placed by the Job family almost sixty years ago. Previous to the time of Mr. Job coming to McDonough county, he settled in Hancock county, on the Mississippi river, but at that time the Indians were so troublesome that they only remained one season and then removed to Morgan county, three miles from Jacksonville. It was only after great solicitation and urging on the part of Mr. Job, after he returned from this county for his family, that they were induced to again come to the frontier, as Mrs. Job was deathly afraid of the Indians. Even after they came to Blandinsville, in the spring of 1826, the Indians would frequently flourish their tomahawks over the heads of the children and women and display to them how a scalp was taken. This pioneer was, in his way, a determined man, and resolved to here make a home, notwithstanding the apparent difficulties and set about opening up a farm, but the cold hand of the grim destroyer, death, came upon him ere his hopes were realized, although a goodly start toward the goal of his ambition had been obtained, and he passed away, on the identical spot where the first settlement was made, in the fall of 1835. One daughter, Parmelia Davis, is the only survivor of that pioneer family, who resides on the old Job homestead, at an advanced age.
With Mr. Job came his two brothers-in-law, Ephraim Perkins and William Southward. The latter selected a farm on section 9, where he lived for some years. He was the first sheriff of McDonough county. After the expiration of his term of office, he followed the tide of emigration westward into Missouri. The place is now owned by William Woodside.
In the spring of 1826, John Vance made a home in the same vicinity, which was called Job's settlement, a name which adhered to that locality many years after those who first participated in active life had passed away. He put in a crop, returning for his family in the fall, who arrived at the settlement December 24, 1826. Mr. Vance removed to Iowa in 1854, where he died December 1, 1866. Mrs. Vance was a native of Virginia, removing with her parents to Kentucky at an early day, thence to Sangamon county and then to McDonough county, as above. She died May 19, 1881, at the residence of J. T. Haggerty, in Macomb.
The next settler was Frank Redden, who was a native of Kentucky. He built a cabin and opened up a farm on section 34. He is daid to have been a man to whom frontier life had no terrors, and adapted himself quite naturally to the situation, but soon became dissatisfied and removed to Iowa.
During the years 1828, 1829 and 1830 quite a number were added to this township, among whom was Elijah Bristow, who settled on section 21, a place now owned by Nathaniel Grigsby. Bristow afterward sold out and accompanied by the entire family, except one son, who now resides in Warsaw, Illinois, removed to Oregon.
John Woodsides was also among the pioneers of this township. He came from his native state, Virginia, settling on section 16, where he resided about 10 years, when he left the county and state. The place is now owned by the Nathan Mustain estate.
John Bagby, a Virginian, came about the same time as Woodsides and settled on the same section, but soon afterward sold the place. He improved another farm southwest of his first location, but afterward disposed of this also, and removed to Hancock county. Not admiring the county as well as he had anticipated, he returned to this township, where he suddenly dropped dead one day, while carrying in an armful of wood at his home.
On the 14th day of March, 1830, John Huston arrived from Morgan county, Illinois, and took up a farm on the northeast quarter of section 3. His family, upon their arrival, consisted of himself and wife and one child, now a practicing physician of Blandinsville. Their possessions in life were few, but they were determined and successful, accumulated considerable property and left a good record. Mr. Huston died July 8, 1854, leaving seven children. Four sons are now living in the county, two are dead, while the daughter is married and living at Abingdon, Knox county, Illinois. A full and detailed sketch of this eminent gentleman appears under the head of members of the general assembly in the chapter entitled "National, State and County Representation," he having been elected to that office in 1850.
Rigdon Huston, the third son of John Huston, whose biographical sketch appears elsewhere, is among the most enterprising of McDonough county farmers. He is properly and thoroughly a McDonough man, having been born here in the township of Blandinsville, October 26, 1833. He has witnessed the development of this county, and contributed no small share of brains and muscle in effecting the transformation, from a state of natural wildness, to one of cultivated farms and desirable homes. Mr. Huston has been interested particularly in fine cattle, and has one of the best herds of thoroughbred short horns in the United States, a history of which appears elsewhere. He was brought up on a farm and continued on the old homestead till December 17, 1857. His education was received in the common schools, subsequently supplemented by a six months course of instruction at Abingdon academy. His father had but a limited education, and designed giving Rigdon an opportunity to obtain a good one, but after six months at the academy, where he expected to remain three years, he was suddenly called home by the death of his father, and having a good knowledge of the business and condition of his affairs, he and Colonel Berry were made executors of the estate. He was thus appointed by his father's will, but being under age, Colonel Berry was made legal executor, under whose direction Rigdon and he transacted all the business and was thus practically executor of the estate. He then remained at the old place, managing its affairs, and closing up the business of his father from March, 1854, to March, 1857. He was married to Lucy C. Charter, December 17, 1857, and located on a portion of the old homestead. He there remained until March 4, 1868, when he removed to section 11, where three years previously he had purchased 160 acres of unimproved land. He improved the place and in 1867, built a large, commodious residence. He now owns a farm there of 740 acres of beautiful land, and the improvements are among the best in the county. In addition to this place he owns 510 acres, detached and under cultivation, except 50 acres of timber. Mr. and Mrs. Huston have had five children, four of whom are now living--Theodore, now living on the home farm and married to Anna B. Burhans; J. Allen, who died February 15, 1876; Charles R., married to Alice Blackhurst, and living in Blandinsville; John H., living at home and Luella. Mr. Huston is among those men of this county who have been successful. In the selection of lands and of stock he has had good judgement, and no man in the county is better qualified to pass judgement upon fine grades of cattle. Everything about his place indicates the thrift and enterprise of its owner and he is ever ready to give hearty welcome to all.
Russell Duncan also came in 1830. He occupied a part of Mr. Huston's house until he had erected one for himself and family on section 3, which, however, he intended to build on section 4, but by mistake it was put up on the wrong side of the line. He came from Tennessee, and after his cabin was completed, he immediately moved into it. He lived there until the time of his death, which occurred very suddenly in the spring of 1840. The old homestead is now owned and occupied by Charles Huston.
Charles Duncan came about the same time. As he was a single man, he took up a claim with his brother, Russell, with whom he lived until his father came to the township. He afterward removed to Hancock county, but did not remain there a great while, returning to this township. He subsequently removed to California, where he now resides.
Section 32 also received a settler that season in the person of John Scroggins. He here built a cabin, made a few improvements, and after a short time sold out and left the state.
During the early spring of 1830, John Hardesty came, accompanied by his family, consisting of his wife and eight children, and settled on section 9. He there remained, with the exception of four years spent in Missouri, until the time of his death, which occurred in August, 1875. His son, J. V. M. Hardesty, was a resident of the township, living near the village of Blandinsville, until April, 1885, when he sold out, and together with the family, emigrated to Kansas.
William Dickens, also came in the spring of 1830. The winter following drove him away, and he hastened to Iowa, where he has since died. The place is now owned by Mr. McGee, who resides thereon.
The spring of 1830 also brought Enoch Cyrus to the township, who came from his native state, Tennessee. He was a man of considerable education, and taught the first term of school in the township. After a few years he sold out and removed to Missouri. He afterward went to California, where his death occurred. Philip George now resides on the place.
Noble Owsley came about the same time, and settled near Cyrus. The "big snow" discouraged him also, and selling out to John Parent, he removed to Iowa.
In the fall of 1830, Joel Duncan came from Tennessee, and moved into the cabin with his son Russell, on section 4. He immediately commenced operations for the erection of a cabin for himself and family, but being overtaken in the work before its completion by the great snow storm of 1830-31, he was unable to finish it that fall. As a consequence 13 lived in a cabin 18 feet square, with one door, no windows, and but a loft for the accommodation of the many sleepers. He afterward settled on another place, south of there, where he died.
Jacob Coffman came in 1830, and erected a cabin on section 8. After a few years residence here he sold out and removed to Missouri. John Mustain, Jr., is the present owner of this place. Mr. Coffman subsequently returned to the county where he died.
During the fall of 1830, the Grigsby's came, where the father died in 1874. A number of children are still residents of the county.
The settlement after this date was very slow for a few years, and then the county filled up rapidly. In the fall of 1831, John Duncan came to the township, and here died.
Thomas B. Duncan is one early settler of this county, having come here with his parents, November 2, 1831, and settled on section 18, of Blandinsville township. He is a native of Tennessee, and was born in White county, June 18, 1828. He is a son of John and Margaret (Wright) Duncan. He continued to make his home on the old farm until the time of his marriage, March 1, 1849, to Martha Ann Woodside, daughter of Samuel and Eleanor (Robinson) Woodside. Soon after that important event he moved to the northwest quarter of section 14, and there lived until 1855. He then moved to the southwest quarter of section 8, and there lived in a small frame house until March, 1858. In 1858 he returned to the old homestead, and there remained until 1862, then moved to Blandinsville village and engaged in blacksmithing until 1864. He then changed his business and went into the drug trade with Dr. J. H. Emery, and continued 18 months, when he sold out to Davis Aldrich. His next move was in the fall of 1865, when he went to section 8 and built a store house, and engaged for a few months in the grocery business, then sold out to C. M. Duncan. He then returned to the village of Blandinsville, and there worked at his trade until the fall of 1869, then moved to his present location on section 8. Meanwhile, desirous of viewing some other country, he took a trip with a mule team across the plains to Colorado, and to the present site of Leadville. Thus it appears that Mr. Duncan has had a somewhat varied experience. He has also been interested in public affairs, having twice been elected justice of the peace. Mr. and Mrs. Duncan are the parents of three children, Alice, born May 22, 1856, and the wife of J. W. Crenshaw, of Henderson county, Illinois; Franklin W., born May 2, 1860, now living in Iowa; and Louis H., born July 15, 1872. Mr. D. is now engaged mostly in working at his trade. Politically he is a democrat.
Thomas A. Mustain, deceased, third son of John and Elizabeth (Glen) Mustain, was born in Pittsylvania county, Virginia, January 13, 1819. He came here with his family, in 1832. He resided on section 16, Blandinsville township for many years, but subsequently removed to section 9, of the same township, where he died November 9, 1880. He was married March 15, 1865, to Martha E. Charter, daughter of Jonathan and Nancy (Ward) Charter. Six children were born to them, four of whom are living--Hattie G., born June 5, 1868; Harry Hardin, born November 29, 1871; Ruby C., born February 5, 1873, and Thomas A., born July 6, 1877. Mr. Mustain owned a large and finely improved farm, containing 720 acres, and a large brick residence, erected in 1873, at a cost of $11,000. His widow now resides upon, and manages the farm. She is a lady of much energy and good judgment. Thomas A. Mustain, participated in the Mormon war in 1844, serving as lieutenant, under Geo. W. Blandin. He was a member of the I. O. O. F., and politically, a democrat. He was a man of fine personal appearance, being six feet in height, and weighing more than 200 pounds. He was strictly honest in all his dealings, and in disposition, genial, kindly, and generous. He was much beloved, and died deeply mourned by a large circle of relatives and friends.
William D. Mustain, one of the pioneers of McDonough county, and an old and highly esteemed citizen, came here in the fall of 1832, accompanying his parents, John and Elizabeth (Glen) Mustain. They settled on section 16, Blandinsville township. William D., remained with his parents until his marriage, August 11, 1835, to Jane Woodside, a daughter of John and Sarah (Bagby) Woodside, who was born February 24, 1817. In the spring of 1837, he moved to Louisa county, Iowa, where he remained until the fall of 1839. At that date he returned to Blandinsville township, and lived for a few months on section 16, then moved to the northeast quarter of section 32, which was his residence until 1849. In that year he removed to his present home on the northwest quarter of the same section. Upon this place stood a small log cabin, containing two rooms, in which the family lived until 1876, when he erected a large and convenient frame house, costing $3,000. Mr. Mustain is a native of Virginia, born in Pittsylvania county, June 21, 1813, and the eldest of a family of nine children. Of his brothers and sisters, Daniel C., was born in 1815; Thomas A., in 1817; Nathan G., in 1819; Jane M., in 1821; Elizabeth A., in 1827; James A., in 1829; George W., in 1832; and Gilley G., in 1834. Mr. and Mrs. William D. Mustain had a family of ten children--Nancy Elizabeth, born August 28, 1836, married to William T. Moss and died May 1, 1863; Sarah Jane, born May 8, 1838, married to John P. Welsh, and died December 25, 1862; Martha Ann, born March 3, 1840, married to J. L. Welsh; John David, born January 21, 1843; Mary A., wife of John Nelson, born August 21, 1845; Gilley L., born April 11, 1848, wife of W. H. Pugh; Margaret V., born July 24, 1850, married to I. P. Ray, and died June 25, 1879, aged 28 years, 11 months and one day; Wilmuth M., born November 9, 1852, died December 28, 1871, aged 19 years and 19 days; Frances A., born September 26, 1855, wife of J. M. Hughes; and Addie D., born October 23, 1858, and married to J. A. Brakey. Mrs. Mustain died January 26, 1862, at the age of 44 years, 11 months and two days. She was for 30 years, a consistent member of the Christian church, and a very estimable woman. Since the death of his wife, Mr. Mustain has resided with his daughter upon the homestead farm. He is a member of the Christian church, and politically, a democrat. Mr. Mustain was justice of the peace one term, assessor twice, collector twice and school director of Blandinsville district about 40 years. The family were all educated in McDonough county, with the exception of the father and mother, the former receiving five years' schooling in Pittsylvania county, Virginia, and one term in Illinois; the latter was educated in the western country.
John F. Mustain is a son of John and Elizabeth (Glen) Mustain, both natives of Virginia. John F. was born in Pittsylvania county, of that state, November 15, 1824, and came with the family to McDonough county, in November, 1832. They settled on section 16, Blandinsville township. The subject of this sketch lived at home until his marriage, on the 22d day of December, 1846, to Elizabeth M. Charter, a daughter of Jonathan and Nancy (Ward) Charter. She was born November 22, 1829. He then moved to the northeast quarter of section 16, where they resided about 1 year, when they removed to the northwest quarter of section 21, which is his present home. At that time the improvements upon the place were slight, consisting of a log cabin, and 20 acres broken. They lived in the cabin until the fall of 1853; he then built a small frame house, to which, in 1852, he built a large addition, at a cost of $1,500. Mr. Mustain has been financially prosperous, and is in possession of a competency. This is wholly due to his own industry and perseverance. He owns 240 acres on section 21, 80 acres on section 20, and 240 acres on section 10, Blandinsville township; also 200 acres in Sciota township. He is engaged in general farming and stock raising. Mr. and Mrs. Mustain had eight children--Nathan D., born August 2, 1848; Nancy J., born February 14, 1851; George D., born October 20, 1852; Thomas C., born August 3, 1854; Elizabeth L., born November 30, 1856; John A., born July 20, 1859; and Carrie I., born January 3, 1861. Mrs. Mustain died July 4, 1871. Mr. Mustain was again married, on the 17th of October, 1872, to Sarah A. Darrah, daughter of Absalom and Minerva A. (Mealy) Darrah, of Ohio. She was born February 25, 1852. By this union there is one child--Ola I., born July 10, 1879. Two of Mr. Mustain's daughters are deceased, Nancy J., who was the wife of William T. Hardesty, died February 20, 1873; and Elizabeth, who died in August, 1869. Mr. and Mrs. Mustain are members of the Baptist church. He is politically a democrat.
Harrison Hungate came to this county September 27, 1833, and is, therefore, one of the earliest settlers. He was born in Washington county, Kentucky, February 28, 1810, and is a son of John and Mary (Coffman) Hungate. Harrison, in his youth, learned the miller's trade, which he followed a number of years, after which he engaged in farming in his native state. Soon after coming to this county he bought a farm in Blandinsville township and lived upon the same eight years, then removed to the village of Blandinsville where he still resides. He engaged in mercantile business with Silas J. Hopper with whom he continued about six years, after which he was, for a time, in the grocery trade, in partnership with Victor M. Hardin. Since then he has been living a retired life. He was married March 29, 1832, to Susannah Ward.
In 1833, Hugh Connor settled in Blandinsville township. He came here from Jefferson county, Tennessee, where he was born in 1809. He afterward died here. His wife still survives him, and is still an occupant of the old homestead on section 2.
In 1834 Joseph Duncan entered land on section 4, where he afterward suddenly died. The place is now owned by his widow.
After this the township was settled up rapidly and it would be impossible to trace the settlers with any degree of regularity. But we here append a number of the representative citizens of today, which will impress the reader with the character of Blandinsville's present inhabitants:
Sewell Leavitt came to this county in 1865, from LaHarpe, Hancock county, Illinois. He settled then on section 14, Blandinsville township, which is still his home. He purchased 160 acres upon which there was some improvement. He now has a desirable farm of 210 acres, with good improvements. Mr. Leavitt was originally from the state of Maine, and was born February 22, 1831. He left his native state when eight years old, removing in 1839, with his parents, to Hancock county, Illinois, where he was brought up on a farm. He received a limited education in the common school, and remained at home until 1850, when he took a trip to California, and engaged in mining about five months. He then returned to his home in LaHarpe, where he lived till 1865, coming then, as before stated, to this county. Mr. Leavitt was married, in 1853, to Jane Blackhurst, a native of England, who died in 1858, leaving him two children, William and Ida. The latter is deceased. In 1862 he was married to Dorothy Blackhurst, a sister of his former wife. By this union there are two children, Owen and Charles, both living with their parents. Mr. and Mrs. Leavitt are members of the Christian church. He is, in politics, a republican.
John Gilfrey, deceased, came to McDonough county during the winter of 1835-36, and settled on the northeast quarter of section 20, Blandinsville township. He was a native of Pennsylvania, having been born in the city of Philadelphia, July 1, 1793. He remained there until October, 1828, then removed to Baltimore, Maryland, from whence, in October, 1835, he came to Illinois, and settled near Canton, Fulton county. By trade he was a brush manufacturer, and worked at that trade up to the time of his coming to this state. On the 2d of February, 1814, he was united in marriage with Elizabeth B. McHam, who was born September 9, 1793, in the city of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. They had a family of seven children, four of whom are now living--Henry F.; John T., a resident of Oregon since 1852; Thomas M., of Morris county, Kansas; and Mary A., the wife of Samuel Henderson, of Canton, Missouri. The deceased children were: Margaret F., who died in Philadelphia on the 9th of August, 1823; Sarah E., who married John Gill, and died in Delaware, May 3, 1872; and George L., who died in Baltimore, June 30, 1835. Mr. Gilfrey was a soldier in the war of 1812.
Henry F. Gilfrey, the eldest of the above named children, was born November 6, 1815, in the city of Philadelphia, within a quarter of a mile of the old Independence Hall. He remained with his parents in his native city until his 13th year, when they removed to Baltimore, Maryland. Here he remained until the spring of 1836, then coming to McDonough county, Illinois, and settling on the same farm on which he now resides. Upon coming here he built the house in which he now resides. He was united in marriage August 16, 1849, with Mary C. Thompson, a native of Scotland. They have been the parents of seven children, all of whom are still living--Sarah E., born June 28, 1850, now the wife of Emory Runkle, of Macomb; Margaret E., born September 26, 1852, now the wife of Thomas Lusk, of Macomb; Louis F., born August 24, 1857, married Sarah Haw, and now residing at Washington, Nebraska; Henry H., born January 11, 1864, a resident of same place; William R., born January 10, 1867; and Mary E., born August 23, 1871, both living with parents. Mr. Gilfrey's principal occupation through life has been that of a farmer, although for some time working at his trade, that of a carpenter and joiner.
Charles Conwell came to McDonough county in 1874, and settled on section 18, of Blandinsville township. He purchased 160 acres (the northwest quarter) of N. Hunt, upon which were very slight improvements. In 1881 Conwell erected a commodious residence. His barn and other improvements are also new and first class, and his farm a well cultivated and desirable one. He is engaged in stock-raising. Mr. Conwell was born in Janesville, Washington county, Ohio, March 17, 1843. His father was, by trade, a millwright. When Charles was 12 years old his father moved to a farm in Perry county, Ohio, where he remained until the fall of 1864, then moved to Hancock county, Illinois; lived there until 1874 when he came to McDonough county. He obtained his education in the common schools of that county, and there followed farming until he came here. His parents are yet living in Hancock county. He was married September 25, 1872, to Emma Grigsby, daughter of R. Grigsby. They are the parents of three children--Cora, Arthur and Clifton. Mr. Conwell is a thorough-going and prosperous farmer.
Nathan D. Mustain has always been a resident of this county, and of Blandinsville township. He has heeded the old adage, that "a rolling stone gathers no moss" and as a consequence, he now owns 126 acres of land, and is comfortably situated. He was born in the township, in August, 1848, and is a son of John T. and Elizabeth (Charter) Mustain. His youth was spent on the old homestead with his parents, attending the district school, and assisting his father in the management of the farm. He was married August 29, 1869, to Almeda Foster, a daughter of George H. and Mary (Chandler) Foster. Soon after this important event, he occupied a farm belonging to his father on section 22, and there remained one year. In the spring of 1871, he moved to the northeast quarter of section 17, and there lived in a small frame house. In 1874, a more commodious structure was erected for him by his father. Mr and Mrs. Mustain have had seven children, four girls and three boys--Mary E., born February 22, 1871; Mattie I., born November 19, 1872; Ethel M., born October 1, 1875; Jesse T., born January 5, 1878, and died on the 28th of December, 1879; Orrin D., born February 19, 1880; Alta E., born May 25, 1882, and Bernard F., born September 17, 1884. Mr. and Mrs. Mustain are members of the Baptist church. Politically, he is a democrat.
George W. Mustain, a farmer in Blandinsville township, may properly be considered an old settler, having come here in the fall of 1832, when but six months old. He has witnessed the development of this county, grown up within its borders, and here accumulated a competency. He is a native of Virginia, and was born in Pittsylvania county, March 2, 1832, and is a son of John and Elizabeth (Glenn) Mustain. He lived with his parents on the farm, on section 16, until October, 1859, when he was married to Rebecca Roberts, daughter of M. B. Roberts, of this county. The next year after this important event he moved to Sciota township. In the fall of 1864 he returned to the old homestead, where he has since made his home. Mr. and Mrs. Mustain have had 11 children, 7 of whom are now living: Arrilla F., now the wife of Samuel Brockway, of Hancock county; Emma F., deceased; Ella J., at home; Owen G., Amanda E.; Sarah E., deceased; Henry W., Willis E.; Minnie, deceased; Winnie I.; and George B., deceased. Mr. Mustain owns a good farm of 320 acres of land.
Charles P. Mustain, a resident of Blandinsville township, was born upon the place where he now resides, May 23, 1852. He is a son of Nathan and Hannah Mustain. His early life was spent in attending school and working upon the farm. When 21 years of age he settled on a farm which he had purchased in Sciota township. It consisted of 80 acres located on section 17. September 30, 1874, he was married to Laura Clugston, daughter of John B. Clugston, of Macomb. For two years after marriage he continued to reside upon the farm, then moved to Macomb, where, January 17, 1877, he engaged as clerk in the dry goods store of L. Johnson. He subsequently bought the grocery store of John B. Simpson, and for two and a half years, carried on a grocery and meat market. In December, 1881, he sold that business to Frost and Maury. The following February, he formed a partnership with A. B. Gilfrey and opened a restaurant. In May, 1883, the partnership was disolved and Mr. Mustain established the art gallery on the east side of the square, now owned by Patterson & Co. A few months later he bought the restaurant of G. S. Gumbart, and again engaged in that business, which he continued until February 1, 1884. Soon after he engaged as traveling salesman with Kendall, Bailey & Co., cracker manufacturers, of St. Louis, and Dodge& Steward's candy house. June followed he discontinued that business and went to Quincy where he started Wishard & Mustain's ice cream factory. August 15, of the same year he returned to Macomb and worked in the restaurant of Twyman & Johnson, with whom he remained a short time after which he removed to his farm on section 16, Blandinsville township. Mr. and Mrs. Mustain have had four children, three of whom are living--Arthur Rowen, born September 4, 1877; Glenn Ira, born June 11, 1879; and Fannie Alice, born November 14, 1881. Mr. Mustain is a staunch supporter of the democratic party and a member of the A. O. U. W., also of the A. O. M. A. and the I. R. Mr. Mustain and wife are members of the Christian church.
George D. Mustain, son of John F. and Elizabeth (Charter) Mustain was born October 20, 1852, in Blandinsville township. He resided in this vicinity until April, 1882, when he moved to Spink county, Dakota. He remained in that state only one year and returned to Blandinsville. He was married in 1871, to Winnie Heusley, daughter of Nathan Heusley. She died in 1872. Mr. Mustain was again married March 4, 1877, to Katie Derk, daughter of Peter Derk, of Sciota township, and by this union has one child--Terry Glen, born August 5, 1884. Mr. Mustain owns 80 acres of land on section 16, Blandinsville township, also 320 acres in Dakota. He is a member of the Baptist church and his wife of the M. E. church. Politically, he is a democrat.
Martin Spiker, farmer and stock raiser in Blandinsville township, is a native of Ohio, and was born in Morgan county, January 24, 1819. He is a son of Henry and Elizabeth (Miller) Spiker, and came to this county in 1842. He was not among the earliest settlers, but came at an early day, and has witnessed the development of a fine section of country. He has seen many farms, which, from nature's wildness, have been transformed, and made to yield their crops of abundance and plenty. In 1851 the important event occurred of his marriage to Mary Jane Duncan. They have had seven children--William, born January 19, 1847; Charles S., December 9, 1850; Albert R., June 23, 1853; Francis E., Thomas F., James D., and Louisa J. He is the owner of a good farm, consisting of 130 acres. Mr. Spiker is a man who takes an interest in public affairs, and has been school director a number of years. He is a member of the Methodist Episcopal church, and has a good reputation for honesty and integrity. Politically, he votes with the republican party.
William Martin Miller is a native of Indiana, and was born in Monroe county, December 18, 1846. He is a son of Isaac and Martha Jane (Berry) Miller. In 1848, the family left Monroe county, and went to Adams county, Illinois, from thence, in 1854, to this county and Blandinsville township, where the father bought the farm now owned by Preston Huston. He sold this place in 1858, and then bought the farm now owned by William Robinson. He there continued to live with his father for four years, then took up his abode on section 9, and continued until 1868, then moved to Nodaway county, Missouri, and there remained until 1872, then returned to Blandinsville township, and on October 31, of that year was married to Ellen Mustain, daughter of Nathan and Hannah Mustain. In the spring of 1873, he moved to Sciota township, and occupied a place belonging to his wife, on section 17. That was his home until 1878, when he removed to the southwest quarter of section 9, and he now owns a farm of 130 acres. This place was formerly the property of Dr. John Hardesty, and has been in cultivation for 53 years. Mr. and Mrs. Miller have had four children, three of whom are now living--Luna, born November 22, 1873; Frank O., born April 12, 1876, and who died June 3, 1877; Bessie, born June 2, 1878, and Edward, born July 9th, 1881. Mr. Miller, politically, is a member of the democratic party. He is, religiously, a member of the church of Christ, commonly known as Disciples.
Philip W. George, a prosperous farmer and prominent citizen of Blandinsville township, was born in Germany February 23, 1835. His parents, Henry and Dora E. (Schaffer) George, came to America in 1848, bringing with them their family of seven children--Henry, John G., Jacob, Catharine, wife of John Ulrich, of Hancock county, Illinois, Philip W., Elizabeth, wife of Henry Smith, of Hancock county, and Andrew. In 1855, Philip W. George came to McDonough county, and worked upon a farm in Tennessee township, for William Allison, one summer, then one month for John Kirk, Sr., after which he was employed upon the farm of Solomon Kious until the fall of 1856. He then rented land one season of James Welch. December 21, 1856, he was married to Harriet Jane Welch, daughter of James and Mary (Sweasy) Welch, of Kentucky. After marriage he removed to section 29, Hire township, where he built a log house, in which they lived until 1863, when he built a frame house. In the spring of 1864, he moved to the southeast quarter of section 30, of the same township, where he resided till the fall of 1875. At that date he purchased of Alfred Coffman, a finely improved farm of 200 acres, located in section 18, Blandinsville township, his present residence. He has since purchased 105 acres more. His dwelling is commodious and comfortable, and his barn and other buildings are of the best class. His farm is well stocked and highly cultivated. Mr. and Mrs. George have had eight children, five of whom are living and three dead--Amanda E., deceased wife of J. H. Fowler; Maggie, wife of George W. Henry, of Stark county, Illinois; Albert, Mahala A., Hattie B., Charles C., Luther B., who died September 2, 1877; Henry, who died July 24, 1874. Mrs. Fowler's death occurred on the 26th of September, 1880. Mr. George owes his present prosperity entirely to his own perseverance and industry. At the age of 17 years he left home, for which privilege he paid his father the sum of $36. He then, without means or material assistance from any source, commenced the battle of life on his own responsibility. He is one example of what pluck, energy, and perseverance can accomplish, for thus early thrown upon his own resources, he has been successful, and may properly be considered a self-made man. He has held the office of road commissioner two years, and school director seven years. He has always taken an active part in educating his children. The three eldest daughters, Amanda, Maggie, and Mahala have been engaged in school teaching. Mahala is still in that praiseworthy calling.
John T. James first came to this county, with his parents, in 1854, and settled upon section 20, Blandinsville township, where they lived upon rented land till March, 1856. At that date they removed to Sciota township, and located on a farm of 80 acres, which they purchased. He resided in that township till 1879, when he went to Kansas and took up a claim on the Kaw Indian reservation. He remained in that state till 1882, then returned to McDonough county and purchased of A. Hungate, a farm located on section 17, Blandinsville township, which is his present residence. He owns 255 acres of valuable land, 35 acres in section 7, 80 acres in section 19, and 140 acres in section 17. Mr. James was born May 20, 1840, in Perry county, Ohio, and is a son of Aaron and Eliza (Brown) James. He was married July 16, 1865, to Samantha Hopper, daughter of A. P. Hopper, a native of New York state. Eight children blessed their union--Marvin H., Eliza A., Lucius, Anselm P., Mary L., Aaron T., Roy Harlin and Lena B. Mr. James is politically a republican, and one of the substantial men of the township.
Joseph Smith Dodds, son of Joseph and Mary (Smith) Dodds, was born in Yorkshire, England, April 25, 1839. He came to this county in 1864, and for one year was engaged in mining at Colchester. He then purchased land in section 18, Blandinsville township, upon which he opened a coal bank. He has resided here since that time, and is still engaged in mining coal. He employs eight men the entire year, and takes out from 25,000 to 30,000 bushels of coal annually. His coal is of excellent quality. He has still 30 acres of coal land undeveloped. He was married in 1861 to Isabel Campbell, daughter of John and Jane Campbell, natives of England. Mr. and Mrs. Dodds have had 10 children born to them--Mary, born in England; John, Jane, Ann, P. Talmas, William, Robert, Joseph, Isabel and Flora. Mr. Dodds casts his vote with the democratic party. He is a member of the A. O. U. W., and a man of intelligence and enterprise.
William B. Kirkpatrick, a farmer of Blandinsville township, is a native of Iowa, and was born in Lee county, that state, March 18, 1839. He is a son of Joseph and Maria (Pratt) Kirkpatrick. He came to this county with his parents in 1855, and settled on section 25, Blandinsville township. William B. remained at home engaged in the multifarious duties incident to farm life, until the sound of war was heard through the land. Moved with feelings of patriotism, he could not sit by idly and witness the attempted disruption of the union, consequently in the fall of 1861, he enlisted in the army in the 11th regiment of Illinois cavalry, and remained in the service three years. He participated in many engagements, among them, the battle of Pittsburg landing, Corinth and Jackson, Mississippi. In the month of December, 1864, he returned and again engaged in farming. He was first married in 1868, to Ruby Bailey, daughter of Harrison and Harriet Bailey. By that union were three children--Caroline S., Mary and Fred S., all of whom are now living. His first wife died in August, 1879. He was married the second time to Viola Hewett, January 6, 1881, and they have had one child, named Clara. He is now engaged in general farming and raising fine stock. His mother, who was born in 1799, lives with him on the old homestead. He is a member of the Methodist Episcopal church, and of the Grand Army of the Republic. His place is a desirable farm of 160 acres, well improved and in good condition.
William L. Woodside may be properly classed among the earliest settlers of this county, having come here with his parents November 16, 1833. They settled on the northwest quarter of section 9, Blandinsville township, where Mr. Woodside now resides. He was born February 2, 1833, in Washington county, Virginia. He obtained his education in the public schools, and has always lived in Blandinsville township. He was married April 10, 1859, to Mary I. Fritz, a daughter of Captain James Fritz, a native of Virginia. Her mother, Julia A. Fritz, was a native of Indiana. Mr. and Mrs. Woodside have six children, T. Frank, born April 1, 1860; Emma J., born January 1, 1862; Sarah L., born July 23, 1864; Mary Ella, born January 11, 1868; Jennie M., born May 14, 1870, and Mina A., born October 18, 1874. Mr. Woodside and his entire family, except Mina, are members of the Christian church. He is a prosperous farmer and an influential citizen. His farm contains 240 acres of land in section 9, 60 acres of pasture land in section 5, and 20 acres of timber in section 6, all well improved and highly desirable land. His dwelling is a handsome and commodious structure, erected in 1872, at a cost of $3,000. His barn and other farm buildings are of a good class. T. Frank Woodside teaches school a portion of the time, the remainder he is engaged in farming. One daughter, Emma, is also engaged in teaching, for which occupation she is well qualified.
T. Franklin Woodside is a native of McDonough county, born April 1, 1860, and is the son of William and Mary I. (Fritz) Woodside. He attended the district school of his native township and completed his education at Abingdon college. Since then he has engaged in teaching school. Mr. Woodside is well fitted both by nature and education, for his important duties, and as a teacher is well liked. He possesses in a marked degree, that necessary requisite of a good instructor, the faculty of imparting knowledge to others, which combined with his other qualifications insure his success. He is an active working member of the Christian church, also a member of LaHarpe lodge, No. 195, A. F. & A. M.
Charles A. Blandin, a son of Joseph L. Blandin, the founder of the village of Blandinsville, is a native of Vermont, being born in Windom county on the 30th of December, 1829. With his parents he came to Illinois, in June, 1837, settled on land which now forms a part of Blandinsville. He resided with his parents on a farm until reaching his 18th year, and attended school as the opportunity offered. At the age of 18, he engaged as a clerk in a store in the town, and one year later, in company with an elder brother, he bought out his employer and engaged in business for himself, the firm name being J. C. Blandin & Bro. Two years later, Charles bought his brother's interest, and one year later he sold to George W. and C. R. Blandin, who continued the business. In the spring of 1855, Charles went to Wisconsin, on the Black river, where a brother had some lumber interests. He became a partner in the business, and engaged in cutting logs and rafting them down to Oquawka, where they built a saw mill. He continued in that business two years, then sold out to Brooks & Co. He then bought a half interest in another mill and lumber yard at the same point, and soon afterward sold at a profit. Then in company with his brother, he built a large saw mill at East Burlington, which continued to run for two years. In connection with their mill, the brothers bought a steamboat, which they used for transporting lumber. Charles was captain of the boat, and continued running it on the river for some time, carrying passengers and freight. He then sold the boat and returned to Blandinsville in October, 1860, and engaged in farming. He was one of the four heirs to the family estate, and he purchased the interests of the other heirs, thus leaving him a nice farm of 210 acres. On this he continued to live for two years, then sold part of it, and traded, in 1863, for the Keithley farm, in Hire township, on which he resided for three years. In the meantime, he had bought of C. Chandler two quarters adjoining this land, and in 1866, sold all that was left of that farm and bought the Boughman farm of 140 acres, on which he resided one season. This he sold in 1877, and removed to the village of Sciota, built a mill and elevator, which he operated one year and then traded for a farm of 120 acres in Sciota township, selling the same in 1884. In 1879, Mr. Blandin returned to Blandinsville and occupied and managed the Edel house for a short time. He also engaged in the grain and stock business. On giving up the hotel he moved into his present residence, which is situated on part of the old homestead where his father settled upon coming to the county. His father departed this life on the 21st of December, 1854, and his mother on the 19th of February, 1865. They left a family of four children, all of whom are living--Charles A., the third child was united in marriage, March 16, 1858, with Lydia A. Wadleigh, of Oquawka, Illinois. Their union has been blessed with seven children, all living--Samuel, Alice J., the wife of Ed. G. Mustain, of Beebe, Arkansas; Ada M., the wife of Marion Huston, of Blandinsville; Phoebe, Nellie, Grace and Charles L. Mrs. Blandin and three of her daughters are members of the Christian church. Politically, Mr. Blandin is a consistent republican, and is a member of the I. O. O. F.
Mathias Fisher is a native of Illinois, having been born in Hancock county, on the 24th of September, 1840. He remained on a farm in that county until eight years of age, his parents then removing to McDonough county and making a settling in Blandinsville township, on section 29, near the present site of the village of Blandinsville. His father rented at first, and remained there until 1856, when he removed to Henderson county, and seven years later to Hancock county, where he remained a number of years, following, as he did in each of the other county's, agricultural pursuits. He again came to McDonough county, and settled near Blandinsville, where he died in 1874. Up to the time of his father's death, Mathias resided in Hire township, he having been married on the 17th of October, 1876, to Eliza A. Cotton, a native of the state of Kentucky. They removed from Hire township, in 1877, to their present quarters, which constitutes 76 acres of well improved land. Mr. and Mrs. Fisher are now the parents of one child--Francis M., who resides at home. Mrs. Fisher's mother, at present, lives in Hire township, at an advanced age. As a citizen, Mr. Fisher is highly respected for his many good qualities.
William Campbell, a successful farmer of Blandinsville township, is a native of North Carolina, and was born in Rowan county, October 13, 1823. He was brought up on a farm, and received a limited education in the old log school houses with puncheon floors, and various similar accessories, common at that period in his native state. Subsequently about the year 1834, the family moved to Indiana, and in that state William attended school, as he had opportunity. He continued farming until the time of the war with Mexico, when he enlisted in the army and served until its close. He had various experiences during these years, and among them an occurance on his trip home, is worthy of mention. He was coming up the river, and with feelings of pleasure comtemplating a meeting at home with relatives and friends, when the boat sunk in 72 feet of water, and it was sink or swim, for all on board. Twenty-six of the passengers were drowned, but fortunately Mr. Campbell could swim, and thus saved his life. He boarded the next boat that came along and subsequently landed near Bloomington, Indiana. The following spring he went to Missouri, and secured some government land to which he was entitled by a land warrant, received for service in the army. He spent one summer in that state, near Gentryville, and then returned home. The following fall he drove a team to Adams county, Illinois, for William Berry, to whose daughter, Amanda, he was married, January 28, 1848. He remained in that county engaged in farming for three years, and in 1851, came to this county. He here engaged in farming. Two years afterward he purchased the farm upon which he now lives. He has been successful, and now owns considerable property, consisting of real estate in various localities, and town property in the village of Blandinsville. Although Mr. Campbell was not an early settler, yet at the time he came, this section of the country was in a state of natural wildness. The virgin sod was yet unvexed by the plow, and the wolves held high carnival on all sides, but he was an industrious, energetic man, and went to work with a will to make himself a home. He mowed down the hazel brush where his house and barn now stand, and now has a desirable home, with fine improvements. He has had two sons, the first was born in 1851, and called John T.; he died in 1881. The other was born 1856, named George F., who is now living at home with his father. His wife, Amanda, died December 23, 1884. The family are all members of the Christian church.
Lawson G. Carter came to this county October 22, 1854, and settled on the northeast quarter of section 8, Blandinsville township, where two years later he made permanent improvements, building a two story house at a cost of $1,800, a good barn and other smaller buildings. He is a native of Ohio, and was born [married] in Muskingum county, January 31, 1841, to Sarah Lovit. By that union were two children--Mary Jane, born in 1841, and Franklin G., born in 1856. Two years after the birth of the last child, his wife without just cause or provocation, left his bed and board, in consequence of which he subsequently obtained a divorce, and in April, 1884, he was married to Josephine Panyburn, of Lyons county, Iowa. Mr. Carter was elected justice of the peace in 1856, and served for more than three years. He is by trade, a carpenter, and to a considerable extent, is at present engaged in that business. His daughter, Mary Jane, died January 30, 1884, and was buried at Hillsborough cemetery. Mr. Carter is a christian gentleman, and a member of the Masonic fraternity. Politically, he is a democrat.
William T. Hardesty, a resident of Blandinsville township, was born in McDonough county, Illinois, December 21, 1848, and is a son of William and Susan (Hainline) Hardesty. William T. Hardesty was married in January, 1871, to N. J. Mustain, a daughter of John T. Mustain. By this union there was one child. Mrs. Hardesty died in January, 1874. Mr. Hardesty was again married in 1876, to Mary E. Wilkins, of Kentucky. Two children have been born to them--Nora J. and William H. Mr. Hardesty is an enterprising and public spirited citizen. He is politically, a democrat, and in 1878, was elected to the office of constable, which he resigned before the expiration of his term. He is engaged in farming.
Reuben R. Harris was born in this county in 1846. His parents, Reuben and Allie (Wolf) Harris were among the earliest settlers here and were from Tennessee. Reuben Harris, Sr. died August 15, 1870. He was a resident of this county at the time of the Mormon war, in which he participated. His widow, Allie (Wolf) Harris, is still living at the advanced age of 80 years. The subject of this sketch was married January 12, 1865, to Jane Severns, a daughter of James Severns, of Ohio. Eleven children have blest their union--Lizzie, Ida, Allie, Nettie, Alta, Alva, Jennie, Nellie, Dellie, Laura and Charlie. Mr. Harris owns a highly desirable farm, containing 130 acres, located in section 31, Blandinsville township. He is engaged in general farming and stock raising, and is a successful farmer and a good citizen. His politics are democratic.
H. H. Duncan, of Blandinsville township, is a son of John and Mary (White) Duncan, natives of Tennessee. H. H. Duncan was born in this township December 11, 1844, and here grew to manhood. October 22, 1875, he was united in marriage with Mahala Hamilton, a daughter of James Hamilton, of Kentucky, and by this union has four children--Albert, Alfred, John Riley and Clarence E. Mr. Duncan is the owner of real estate in this township, and is a worthy and respected citizen. He is politically, a democrat.
Arehart Hickman came to McDonough county in 1857, and for six years following, worked upon the farm of Lewis Eblesizer, in Blandinsville township. He was then married to Mary Ann Langford, and shortly after, purchased 80 acres of land in the same township. This farm is located in section 36, and at the time of his purchase was well improved. He has continued to reside upon the same place until the present time, and is engaged in raising grain and stock. Mr. Hickman was born in Floyd county, Indiana, January 12, 1829, and is a son of James and Elizabeth (Sisloff) Hickman. At the age of 21 he went to California, where he remained three years, returning to Indiana in June, 1853. He left that state in 1857, coming then, as before stated, to this county. Mr. and Mrs. Hickman have 10 children--James W., Fannie O., Preston A., Olive J., Fulton, Willard L., Gussie, Jessie, Noah P. and Columbus L. Mr. Hickman is a democrat, politically, an honest, upright man and an esteemed citizen.
Thomas Bartlow is a native of Indiana, and was born in 1820. His settlement in Blandinsville township dates from 1850. In December, 1840, he was married to Catherine Westfall. They have had six children--John H., Nancy Ann, now the wife of Christopher Spiker; Cynthia E., now the wife of Robert Stapleton, of Blandinsville; Basil, Frank and Jessie. Mr. Bartlow owns a small farm, is an honest, upright citizen, and respected by the community in which he lives.
Robert T. Bodkin, of Blandinsville township, is a son of William and Lucinda (Snodgrass) Bodkin, and was born January 12, 1846, in the state of Kentucky. In 1849, William Bodkin died, and soon after his death, Robert accompanied his mother to Ohio, where he remained five years. When he was eight years old he went to Missouri, and continued to reside in that state until the fall of 1868. At that date he came to Illinois, and located in Blandinsville township, where he is now among the leading farmers. He owns a fine farm of 173 acres, with good and substantial improvements. His house and barn together, cost $3,200. Mr. Bodkin was married October 26, 1871, to Margaret M. Wright, daughter of Isaac Wright, of Blandinsville. They have had seven children born to them, as follows--Myrtie P., Hardin L., Evert G., Ira B., Elpha O., Sarah L., and Emma E. One daughter died January 24, 1884. Mr. Bodkin is a member of the Masonic fraternity, and with his wife, a member of the Methodist Episcopal church. He is, politically, a democrat.
A. J. Hankins is a native of Indiana, and was born March 10, 1828. His father was a native of Tennessee, born in 1787, and came to this county in 1834, from Coles county, this state. He died in Hire township in 1881, and was interred at Vermont, in Fulton county. His wife was accidentally killed by a runaway team in this county. A. J. Hankins was married, August 28, 1845, to Lydia Pennington, a daughter of Joel Pennington, one of the early settlers of this section. He is now a resident of Blandinsville, where he is engaged in the harness business. His wife died January 23, 1885, and was buried in Good Hope cemetery.
Robert W. Davis was born on the 5th day of October, 1825, in Columbia county, Indiana. He came to this county in October, 1853, and settled on section 24, which was then new land, with no improvements. He built a small house, which was however a good one for the time, and lived in it until 1866, when he erected his present pretentious residence, and has beside, large commodious barns and other farm buildings. He was married, April 10, 1851, to Eliza Warner, by which marriage five children have been born. Mr. Davis owns 300 acres of fine land, all of which he has earned by his own exertions and good business management. He is a democrat in politics.
John M. Davis was born February 23, 1852, in Ashland county, Ohio, and is a son of R. W. Davis, who was a native of New York. He came to the county in 1853, and in 1877 removed to Kansas, where he remained two years and engaged in buying stock. He returned to Illinois in 1880, and has, since his return, actively engaged in the stock and grain business. He was married, September 6, 1873. He is a member of the Masonic order, and in politics may be found in the democratic ranks. He owns a nice residence and several building lots in the city, and is also engaged in the implement business.
It has been truthfully promulgated that the character of a people may be judged to a great extent by the attention given to schools, and the opportunities afforded for securing a good education. The people of Blandinsville township have not been unmindful of the necessity and advantage of having a good system of public schools; and although much improvement might be made in many districts, yet this township compares favorably with others in her facilities for imparting instruction to the youth. Even at an early day, before there was much settlement and but few scholars, arrangements were made with enoch Cyrus, an early settler from Tennessee, to teach a school. Accordingly, a small log cabin was constructed--not by the skilled artisan--but by the muscle and axe of the pioneer, on section 18. This building with inverted slabs resting on wooden legs set in auger holes for seats, was the first institution for learning in the township, and among the first in the county. The style and teacher were decidedly primitive, yet it truly demonstrated a commendable appreciation of desire for an educated generation to subsequently take their places in the active duties of life. Instead of stove or furnace was the fire-place, with its roaring fire of logs, which, with all its objections, furnished a more perfect ventilation than any school building in the township to-day. The chimney was constructed of sticks and mud, and if not beautiful or artistic, afforded the necessary exit for the smoke. Although the systems or methods of the present time were unknown, yet from "a-b-c to the rule of three," a commendable progress was made under the tutorship of this pioneer. The building has long since been torn down, and the place is now owned by Nathan Mustain, Jr. Some other pioneer schools were taught in this township at a very early day, among them two terms by James--or, as he was familiarly called--"Jimmy" Cyrus, a brother of Enoch. Some of the scholars of this school are yet living in the county, among them Silas Grigsby.
John G. Woodside was among the early teachers of the township, and the following is a copy of the agreement between him and the patrons:
Articles of agreement made and entered into this 1st day of April, 1835, by and between John G. Woodside, of the one part, and the undersigned, of the second part, both of McDonough county, and state of Illinois:
I, the above named Woodside, do hereby agree to teach a school in the school house near Levi Parent's for the term of six months, five days in each week, or time to that amount. I do agree to teach spelling, reading, writing and arithmetic to the best of my skill and judgment. I also bind myself to keep good order, and pay strict attention to my school. And we, the undersigned, do promise to pay the said Woodside for his services one dollar per scholar in money and three dollars in good, merchantable wheat, pork, wool, linsey, flax, or work at the market price in this neighborhood, to be delivered at said Woodside's house; in pork to be paid at the usual time of killing, the money part or other articles to be paid at the expiration of the school. And we, the subscribers, do bind ourselves to fix the school house in a comfortable manner; school to commence the first of May, or sooner, if the subscribers want it. I, said Woodside, will commence with 20 scholars, and any large scholar or scholars, that will not submit themselves to the rules of the school, shall be expelled from said school. And is is understood that the said Woodside is to have the liberty of teaching his own children. If either of the parties should become dissatisfied, the school can be discontinued by the teacher or a majority of the subscribers, either party giving two weeks notice.
It is learned from an examination of the county superintendent's annual report for the school year ending June 30, 1884, that Blandinsville township has 527 children of school age, 492 of whom are enrolled in the nine schools of the township, one of which is a graded institution of learning. In the schools of Blandinsville there is an average of eight and one-ninth months of school taught per annum. Eight frame buildings and one brick structure grace the several districts. The highest wages paid any male teacher is $65, and the lowest, $30 per month; while the highest monthly wages received by female teachers is $40, and the lowest, $22. The estimated value of school property is $15,175, and the tax levy for the support of schools is $4,625. Blandinsville has a bonded school debt of $300.
The school house in district No. 3 was erected in 1855 or 1856, on section 18, and is 18x24 feet in dimensions. This is known as the Mount Pleasant district.
In 1837 a log school house was built in district No. 4, William Hall teaching the first term of school in the building. In 1858 a frame building 18x24 was erected on section 21, at a cost of $600. Among the early teachers in this building were E. Dice, Martha Charter, John Hungate and Rebecca Mear. The first directors of the district were Colonel Bery, Nathan Mustain and Nathaniel Grigsby, while the present are William Campbell, George Mustain and Preston Huston. The teacher at present is Emma Woodside.
In 1858 or 1859 the first school house was erected in district No. 5. It was 20x30 feet in size, constructed of brick. The present house was built in 1876 or 1877, and is a large structure, 24x40 feet in dimensions. Wesley Bugg is the present teacher, with A. R. Hickman and P. Baughman, directors. There are 61 scholars enrolled in the school.
School district No. 11 has a school house, 19x22, on the southeast corner of section 4, which was erected in 1882, at a cost of about $1,200. In 1864 a building, 18x24, was removed to this site and used until the new house was built. The first term of school in this building was taught by Thomas Goodnight; Isaac Miller and William Hardesty being the first directors of the district. The present teacher is Dora Hall, and William Miller and W. L. Woodside are the present directors of the district.
At an early day, Frank Redden built the first grist mill in the township, on the quarter section of 34 where he had previously settled. It was a rudely constructed concer, unlike the modern mill of to-day, operated by horse power, and by its slow process the corn for the surrounding neighborhood was cracked. Although a seemingly useless enterprise in the eyes of the present generation, it served very profitably its purpose in the pioneer days of the county. The land upon which the mill was formerly located is now owned by Peter Reiser. Wheat was also ground at this mill, and bolted by hand, at an early day.
A place for the interment of the dead was located on the southwest quarter of section 21 at an early day, probably the year 1833, and was called Liberty cemetery. It was the first graveyard in the township, but was never platted.
North cemetery is located on the northwest quarter of section 33, the ground title being in the old Blandin estate. It was originally intended for private purposes, but was afterward made public. Louisa Blandin was the first burial, which occurred August 2, 1840. Her father, J. L. Blandin, was the second body interred, and William Davis was the third, by request, after which it was made public. The cemetery contains two acres of fenced land.
The character of the early settlers of this township was such that they could not long remain satisfied without some opportunity whereby they might assemble for the purpose of worship. Although not the first in the county to make a move in this direction, yet they were early found establishing the preaching of the gospel, and when the pioneer preacher came among them, he found hearts warm to appreciate, willing ears to hear the "gospel's joyful sound," and willing hands to materially assist in the good work of church building in their midst. In the warm-hearted zeal they cast aside all sectarian spirit, denominational lines were forgotten, and under the lead of Christian and Baptist organizations, they built the first church in the township, which was located where Elijah Bristow first settled. The well known John Logan, now deceased, preached the first sermon here. Some meetings had been previously held in cabins and barns, where others officiated, but Rev. John Logan was the moving person among the pioneers of that day, so far as their spiritual welfare was concerned. For a more complete digest of the religious affairs of this township, the reader is referred to the Ecclesiastical chapter of this volume.
HILLDALE STOCK FARM
Prominent among the enterprises of this township is this fine stock farm, owned by Rigdon Huston & Son. The place consists of 1,250 acres, located in the northeast part of the township, and with its many improvements and natural advantages, is admirably adapted to this branch of business. The proprietors are men of live-long experience in the fine cattle trade, which, combined with good judgment, has enabled them to occupy the first rank among shorthorn breeders. Rigdon Huston has made Shorthorn Durhams a study, and no man in this section of country is better versed in "cattle lore," or more thoroughly understands the necessary strains of blood to constitute a good and valuable animal. A visit to this farm and an inspection of the stock, is necessary to form an adequate idea of the superiority of this herd. They now have on hand 127 registered cattle, representing a large amount of money, the value of the same running from $200 to $15,000 each. Among them are Airdrie Duchesses, Kirk Livington, Wild Eyes, Barrington's Hilpas, Renick, Rose of Sharons, Constances, Young Phyllises, Josephines, etc., the pure duke bull, 22d duke of Airdrie 16695, the 2d duke of Hilldale, and others. We clip the following from "Allen's History of Shorthorn Cattle," and there is no bette authority in such matters:
"The largest private sale ever made in the United States was to Rigdon Huston & Son, of Blandinsville, Illinois, in 1881, by Colonel LeG. Cannon, of Vermont, consisting of 32 head, in which were four (Bates) Duchesses and one bull, 22d duke of Airdrie, together with others of high pedigree, for $50,000."
This would seem a large amount to pay for 32 head of cattle, but to the thoroughly informed, the sale is regarded as much in favor of Huston & Son. The lowest estimate upon these cattle by men of judgment in such matters was $65,000. The wisdom of this purchase is already apparent, and the outcome more than justifies the investment, and is another evidence of the rare good judgment of the purchasers. Cattle of better pedigree are not to be found in the United States. Ready customers for such cattle are found among representatives from Kentucky, Canada, New York, and other states, at remunerative prices.
Blandinsville township was officially organized at the general election held in 1856. It is comprised of 36 sections of land, and known as a full congressional township. William W. Moss was the first supervisor from the sub-division, to represent the same on the board at the seat of justice--Macomb.
At the first township election, April 7, 1857, the following officers were elected: W. W. Gillihan and L. G. Carter, justices of the peace. The first police magistrate and ex-officio justice of the peace of Blandinsville was A. R. Champlin, who was elected to that office February 27, 1858. The present officers of the township are as follows: supervisor, J. M. Davis; town clerk, Fred Williams; assessor, Isaac Argenbright; collector, Vincent Hardesty; highway commissioner, William Campbell; justices of the peace, W. W. Gillham and C. G. Hungate; constables, E. Randall and David Hall; school trustees, P. W. George and R. W. Davis.
The first child born in Blandinsville township was James, a son of John Vance, who resided on section 29. He was born in the spring of 1830.
The first school building was constructed of logs, about the year 1831, on section 18. Enoch Cyrus was the first teacher.
Frank Redden and Jacob Coffman were the first constables from the third magistrate's district, of which Blandinsville township, formed a part, and of which these gentlemen were residents.
The first sermon was preached at the barn of John Hardesty, by that pioneer Baptist minister, John Logan, in the year 1830.
The Baptist and Christian organizations erected a union church on section 21, in 1832, which was the first in the township.
William Job was the first settler and erected the first house, during the spring of 1826. He also plowed the first ground and raised the first crop.
The first justice of the peace was Nathan Ward, and the first supervisor was William Moss.
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 856-879. Transcribed by Karl A. Petersen