History of Colfax 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



This Township is bounded on the east by Tolono, on the north by Scott, on the west by Piatt county, and on the south by Sadorus. It occupies the Congressional Town 18, Range 7 east, and was formerly incorporated with Tolono, bearing that name, but was separated, and the new town formed in 1869. What of history there is of the town, is of recent date.

John Cook was the first settler. He was a native of Ohio, and came here in March, 1841, and located at the north end of Sadorus Grove, in the south-eastern corner of Colfax. Here he. made improvements, building a house, and planting an orchard, the first house and the first orchard in the town. From this time to 1865, the improvement and advancement of the town was very slow. It was not until that period, that the real value of the country lying mainly within this town. ship was understood and appreciated. High lands, sharp rolling prairies and commanding locations, had hitherto presented attractions that could not be resisted by those in search of farm homes; while the exhaustless treasures, buried within the dark soil of the prairies of Colfax, werepassed by unheeded. Slowly, but surely, the truth appeared, that however early seed may be deposited in the ground, that of itself is no guarantee that the husbandman will secure the return for his labor and care be may hope for. The rays of a summer sun will scorch and burn, and without the attending blessing of frequent showers, must shrivel and blight, in spite of the efforts of the farmer. While on the more level plains, the rich dark foliage of rank-growing corn, tossing its head in the breezes and laughing in its strength, tells of a wealth in moisture and soil that cannot be found among the more broken or elevated lands.

After Cook came John Hamilton, from Indiana, in the Spring of 1846, and settled near the farm of Mr. Cook. He was born in Pennsylvania, in the year 1800, and died on his farm in 1864.

Benjamin F. James and John Miller were among those who settled soon after, and have done well their part in subduing the uncultivated wilds.

The first school house was built in 1846, near where Isaac J. Miller now lives. It was of logs, and the first school was taught by A. Nesbit.

The rapid improvement of the last five years in this town, will be better understood by comparisons. As late as 1865, there were but two school houses in the township, and not esceeding 150 persons, all told. In 1870 there were six school houses, and a population of 634.

The first entry of land was made by James McReynolds, April, 1835, being the south-east quarter of Section 25, Township 18, Range 7 east.

Most of the farms are new, and owned by men whose means are limited, but whose energy is unbounded, and the rapidity with which the improvements are being pushed forward, is truly astonishing. The houses are for the most part small and comfortless, presenting few attractions, but it needs no prophetic eye to see that in the not distant future, the men and women who can with such determined courage endure those self-imposed discomforts of the present, will make this place to blossom as the rose, to gladden the eye of the resident and the stranger, when wealth and luxuries shall take the place of privations and burdens, and. palatial residences occupy the sites of cabins.

The farms of George Craw, C. W. Craw and Samuel Craw, are among the best improved. The first two are arranged for stock principally; the latter is conducted. upon the mixed husbandry plan, raising the different varieties of cereals and grasses, with cattle, sheep, horses, hogs, etc.

Mr. A. H. Gage has the best orchard in the town. About his first improvement was the planting of an orchard, which he has cultivated assiduously, adding to it, until now his orchard contains fifteen acres, and over seven hundred trees, with nearly fifty varieties of apples, besides nearly every variety of other fruit. He is a thorough, practical farmer and agriculturist, working always upon the principle that "time is money," and that "what is once well done, is twice done."

Mr. John E. Hughes also has a farm of 320 acres, remarkably well improved for its age. It will be remembered. that farms are not made in a minute, nor in a year, but will always surely show, whether controlled by an intelligent, energetic mind, or otherwise.

There are many of whom we would like to speak, but must close with one more, that of A. J. Bowman, who owns Section seven, including Blue Mound. This mound is a curiosity. It rises abruptly from the prairie, to the height of over 160 feet above the surrounding level, and contains about 80 acres. Upon its top Mr. Bowman has placed his buildings, orchard, and other improvements. His farm is divided into forty acre lots by hedge fences, and though a new farm, is rapidly developing the intelligent plans of its owner.

Mr. D. P. Langley, also a thorough, practical farmer, has been the Supervisor of the town since its organization.

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