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


At the February meeting, 1861, of the Board of Supervisors. Town 38, Range 1, was formed into a township by the name of Stockton, having theretofore been a part of Brooklyn Township. This name was selected in recognition of the large amount of stock then being raised in the town. The name was changed to Viola, some time during the following spring or early summer, because of the fact that there was already at least one town by the name of Stockton in the State.

The first officers of the town were chosen at the April town meeting, 1861. Fifty two ballots were cast, resulting in the election of Samuel L. Butler for Supervisor; Simeon Cole, Assessor; Samuel Vosburg, Town Clerk; John Melugin. Constable: Ford and Moses B. Van Campen. Highway Commissioners. The meeting and election were held at Van Campen's house.

Little Melugin Grove, in the southeast part of the town, was the focus of early settlement. William Guthrie, the first settler in the township. settled here in 1834 or 1836 and gave his name to the grove. It was also sometimes known as Lawton's Grove, from William Lawton, one of the early comers. Guthrie's buildings were placed at the extreme south end of the timber. Melugin Grove, lying southwest of Little Melugin, spreads itself into the two towns of Viola and Brooklyn. It took its name from Zachariah Melugin. who located in the grove but on the Brooklyn side of the timber. in 1834. Later came Evins Adrian. but prior to 1840. Walter Little came to the township about the year 1837.

It is claimed that the first marriage in the township was that of Evins Adrian to Manila Goodale, October, 1840: that Walter Little was the first adult to die in the township, and that the first birth was that of a child of 'William Lawton, who died in infancy.

The first school in the township was kept at the house of M. Van Campen for three terms. and the first school house was built at Little Melugin Grove.

The town being purely agricultural without a village center, little is to be gleaned of historical character regarding it. Its history is to be traced in the development and increasing value of its farm lands, which is difficult of reduction to details. Its land owners have been large participants in the drainage of Inlet Swamp, elsewhere noticed, and have received great benefits therefrom.

The population of the township was 598 in 1890. and 694 in 1900, as shown by the Government census.

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