History of Champaign Township, Il.
From: J. S. Lothrop's Champaign County Directory
With History of the same, and Each Township Therein
Published by: Rand, McNally & Co., Printers & Binders, Chicago 1871

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CHAMPAIGN TOWNSHIP

Is bounded on the east by Urbana, on the north by Hensley, on the west by Scott, and on the south by Tolono. It occupies Town 19, Range 8 east. It is wholly a prairie town, there being nowhere within its border any growth of forest trees of natureís planting. The name at its organization was West Urbana, and this included the town of Hensley on the north. This latter town was organized in 1867, and in 1870 the name of West Urbana gave place to that of Champaign.

The land upon the northern and eastern portions is remarkably high and rolling; while in the south-western part the surface, though undulating, is more on the level order, though by no means flat. The entire tract of land within the town is susceptible of cultivation, and excels in the advantages offered in the variety of its soils and productions. The Kaskaskia river rises in this township, giving excellent natural drainage to the country, west and south-west, and supplying an abundance of water to the stock-raising farmer.

The Ill. Central Railroad passes through the eastern portion of the town, and the I., B. & W. Railroad through the northeastern portion, while the Monticello road passes through the same from west to east, giving to the inhabitants the choice of a market at Chicago or the East for the sale of their productions.

The first settler in the township was a man by the name of John Philips, who built a house or rather moved a house in 1841, upon the site now occupied by a brick residence on Bloomington road north of Champaign City, owned by Mr. David Baily. This house was moved from a place in the grove north of Urbana, called Byron. Mr. Philips settled in the county in 1837, upon the land now owned and occupied by H. Phillips, in Hensley township, and shortly afterward moved to Byron, apd thence to this township as before stated. He was known as a M. E. preacher, though it does not appear that he was engaged in his profession. When be left this last place, and where he went to, we have not been able to learn. In his farming operations he did not seem to be very successful; the migratory habits which had fastened upon him during his ministerial life, had a rather damaging effect upon his efforts in a secular way. He was a native of Ohio.

Vinston Williams was the next to come. He also was from Ohio, and came here in 1842, locating upon the place where the residence of C. F. Columbia now stands. He remained there until about 1852, and then left the county and went west, and died a few years after. His improvements were not very extensive, but of a substantial character, which Mr. Columbia has greatly enlarged and improved upon.

One ____ Bobbet settled in the town in the year 1843, shortly after Mr. Williams, upon the land now owned by Mr. Pierce, at north end of Neil street, Champaign City. We have not been able to learn at what time he left or where he went. It is evident that be did not long reside here, as his improvements were of a temporary character.

The parties above named, at the time of which we write, w ere the only persons living within the limits of the township as it now exists, and settlements from this to 1852, were slow, the opinion obtaining to a very great extent among the earlier settlers, that the prairies could never become a place for manís habitation. The reason for this is found in the fact, that all of our pioneers were from a timbered country; and in Illinois it was believed that the winds that swept the prairie, would demolish improvements, and in the winter, the unlucky wight whose temerity had taken him to those inhospitable regions, must perish with the cold.

The first entry of land made in the township, was by L. W. Busey, in 1837, being the south-west quarter of the south-east quarter of Section 1, Town 19, Range 8 east.

After 1852, settlements became rapid, and the land improved by substantial and permanent settlers. Among the number came John H. Thomas, in 1852, who purchased a large tract just outside of the present limits of Champaign City, south. This farm contains one-half section of very fine land, beautifully situated. The house built by Mr. Thomas, by whom the farm was improved, is located upon a commanding site, and is a roomy, substantial farm building, giving vivid impressions of thrift and comfort. Mr. Thomas sold this farm to Charles Ells, who is now the proprietor, and in whose hands many valuable improvements have been added to the place. Mr. Thomas, the former owner, after parting with his interest, was engaged in banking in Champaign City, being connected with the First National Bank of that city. He was from Ohio, and died at his residence in Champaign, in 1869. Charles Ells came from Connecticut, and purchased the Thomas farm in 1864. It is enough to say that he is a successful farmer, devoting his energies mainly to stock raising, more especially to swine, in which he has acquired a wide reputation from his success in presenting fine specimens of the best breeds.

The farm and orchard of Hon. M. L. Dunlap is well worth going to see. Rural Home, as it is most appropriately named by Mr. Dunlap, is located on the north half of section 36 of this township. The contour of the ground is rolling, and admirably adopted to the purposes to which it has been applied, that of mixed husbandry, of which fruit culture is a leading feature. At an early day, Mr. Dunlap came to the conclusion that the prairie was the place for an orchard, if properly protected by shelter-belts of forest trees. Accordingly, in 1858, he moved to this new home, and commenced the experiment. His nursery, orchard and shelter-belts dating from that time, and the work has been pressed with such activity and energy, that it is now one of the best managed farms in the State. In proof of this, it is but necessary to say that the State Agricultural Society awarded him the grand gold medal for the best farm in the State in 1870.

This orchard is the first upon a large scale planted upon the prairies, and has fully met the anticipations of its owner. It has been the pattern for thousands of smaller, though similar farms, scattered over the whole Northwest. It is beautifully laid out, with drive-ways to all parts of the premises, and is a common resort for citizens of the city, while acquaintances and strangers ever meet a hearty welcome at the hands of its hospitable owner.

The apple orchard, in 1870, yielded about 6,000 bushels, while in this part of the State generally, the crop was a partial failure. Most of the apples are made into cider and vinegar, for which the demand is large and constantly increasing. For a long time, Mr. Dunlap was actively connected with the nuesery department of the farm, but this branch is now conducted by his two Sons, Merton and Albert Dunlap, who bring to the business the experience of a life-long practical training, under their father. Their nursery is very large, and full of every variety of fruits and ornamental trees and shrubs. They are active business men, such as must ever conquer success.

The farm of J. B. Phinney is another deserving of mention. It contains 800 acres of choice land, and is in an advanced state of cultivation, all improved; about 75 acres of which is in orchard, the most of which is yet too young to bear. Mr. Phinney is from Massachusetts, and gives evidence of superior intelligence in farm management In all its departments, and. in all the details there is the most perfect order; and one cannot pass over this farm without being impressed with the apt method of its owner.

John G. Clark is another owner of a model farm of about 1,000 acres, all improved, and supplied with commodious and substantial buildings. His farming, heretofore, has been of the mixed class, but he has now turned his attention to the culture of broom corn.

We would continue this, would space permit, for there are many who are bringing or have brought their farms to a high standard, and for their energetic endeavors are deserving of special mention. Among them are: J. T. Everett, 400 acres; John S. Beasley, 860 acres; E. 0. Chester, 200 acres; J. A. Shaffer, 1,280 acres; John Rising, 1,000 acres; M. Reed, 320 acres; E. E. Chester, 320 acres; S. Houston, 640 acres; J. A. Hossack, 260 acres; B. Kelley, 640 acres; and many others.

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