History of Hamilton, Il.
From: Encyclopedia of Illinois
and the History of Lee County
Edited by: Mr. A. C. Bardwell.
Munsell Publishing Company
Chicago 1904.


HAMILTON TOWNSHIP.

This town originally included what are now the towns of Harmon, East Grove, May and the south half of Marion. By the organization of these towns, Hamilton has been shaved down until it is now limited to a government township. William B. Stuart was the first Supervisor of the original town. After serving two years he was succeeded by R. B. Viele, who continued in office three years, when Mr. Stuart was again elected for two years.

What is further said here will relate to the township as at present formed. The first dwelling house in the township was of logs and built by Charles and Roos Freeman, on the south half of Section 32, and was occupied by the former, but as their sojourn was of a temporary character, Jacob Pope, who came in 1854 and located on the south half of the southeast quarter of Section 26, is considered the first permanent settler. Doiph Freeman, a brother of Roos and Charles, built a small onestory house several years later on the southeast corner of Section 31, and he and his mother lived there two or three years, when, in the spring of 1865, the school directors bought the house for $163 and moved it to the southeast corner of Section 34, where it was fitted up for a school-house. The first teacher who taught in it was Electa J. Minnerley, who afterwards was a candidate before the Republican County Convention for Superintendent of Schools. In the spring of 1871 the house was moved to the present site near the northwest corner of the northwest quarter of Section 35. In the summer of 1872 a new house was built. A. T. Keigwin bought the old house and it again started on its last journey to the old homestead, where it now is.

A. T. Keigwin built on the northwest quarter of Section 27 in the spring of 1858, and a Mr. Carpenter built on the northeast quarter of Section 26 in the spring of 1859. Mr. Carpenter farmed that season and moved to La Moille in the winter or fall, and from there went to Mendota, where he embarked in the manufacture of organs under the firm name of Tewksbury & Carpenter, having been engaged in the same business in Vermont, nis old home. Anson Stone and his sons, R. P. and S. O., bought out Mr. Carpenter and occupied the place in 1860.

Morris Logue occupied the north half of the northeast quarter of Section 27, built a shanty and broke his land during the same year, and the next season brought his family. David and John Knight arrived the same year, purchased Section 35 and erected a house on his land the following year. In 1857 David Griggs located on the southeast quarter of Section 34, a house having been erected for him during the previous year. 3. F. McMurray also came the same year and settled on the southeast quarter of Section 33. J. Shields bought and occupied the north half of the northeast quarter of Section 24 and most of the southeast quarter of Section 13 in 1858. William Skully settled on the east half of the northwest quarter of Section 24 in that year. Michael Dunn came a year later and located on the southeast quarter and south half of the northwest quarter of Section 24. Bennett Havens, who served as Supervisor several years, pnrchased the south half of the northeast quarter of Section 36, and was one of the early comers. L. B. Moore, on the southwest quarter and west half of the northwest quarter of Section 24, and Michael Flemming, on the south half of the southwest quarter of the same section, were early settlers. J. L. Reed located on the west half of the southeast quarter of Section 23 in 1862.

It will be noted that all of these settlements were south of the swamp. That portion lying north of the swamp remained unsettled for many years, and served as a range for cattle. A. T. Anderson, of Polo, owned a large farm on the north part of Section 7. Perhaps the first to break any of the prairie on this side for cultivation was William Rink, on Section 5. John D. Shaffer built his cabin on Section 8, and herded cattle for several years. James Durr was on the northwest quarter of the northwest quarter of Section 19 in 1862.

Rev. N. G. Collins was a considerable factor in the early history of the town. A man of great energy, he was ambitious to own and farm large tracts of land. He became Chaplain of the Fifty-seventh Illinois Infantry in the War of the Rebellion. Though not a success as a farmer, his ambition was in part realized, for at the close of the war he had saved of his holdings Sections 8, 28, 29, 30 and the west half of 31. At the marriage of his daughter, his wedding gift was a deed to Section 8. Mr. Collins was pastor of a Baptist church at LaMoille for a number of years.

The first school in the town was taught in the residence of David Griggs. Mrs. Cornelia Maona, daughter of A. T. Keigwin, was the teacher. This was in 1861 or 1862. Miss Lizzie Larkins succeeded her the following summer, and later, Miss Lavina Swisher presided. Mr. McMurray moved into Bureau County and the house he left was made into a school house and Mrs. Maona taught there. All this was before school districts were organized. The teachers were paid by private subscription. in the fall of 1863 or '64 school district No. 1 was organized. The new school house was erected on the west side of the west half of the northwest quarter of Section 35 in 1874. District No. 2 was organized about the same time as District No. 1. The first school was opened in a portion of Thaddeus May's dwelling on Section 26 by Miss Lydia Havens. The first school house in this district was built in 1864 or '65, at the southeast corner of Section 25. It was moved afterwards to the southwest corner of the same Section.

The first preaching the settlers had was in a little school house known as the Dodge school house, on the prairie over the line in Bureau County. The abundance of game encouraged the gunning propensity on the Sabbath in the early days; and to reform this habit, David Griggs, William Griggs, Solomon Welsh, J. F. McMurray, Johnson Griggs and J. H. Knight contributed to pay for preaching and employed their neighbor, Rev. Ford, who lived at the east end of Red Oak Grove, paying him fifty cents for each Sunday. A Baptist church was early organized at Walnut in Bureau County, Amos T. Keigwin and wife, Ezekiel Sayers and wife, S. H. Sayers and Lydia Stone, of Hamilton, being among the organizers. For a number of years meetings were held in the township at the residences of the members. When the village of Walnut sprang into existence, the services were confined to that place where, in 1871, a fine church building was erected.

The population of the township in 1890 was 329, and in 1900, 493. as shown by the Government census.


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