History of Nilwood Township, Macoupin County, Il
From: History of Macoupin County Illinois
Hon. Charles A. Walker, Supervising Editor
The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company
Chicago 1911


Nilwood township is a rich agricultural region and is bounded on the north by Girard, on the west by South Otter, on the south by Shaw's Point township, and on the east by Montgomery county, and lies in the northeastern part of the county in the eastern tier of townships. It is well drained by Macoupin creek and its tributaries.

The first man to settle in the township was General John Harris, who came in 1829 and located in the northeast part of the township near the point of timber which is now known as Harris' point. He was a colonel in the Black Hawk war and later served as brigadier general of militia. He also represented the county in the state legislature. At his death he was buried in the woods a short distance north of Sulphur Springs. In the year 1829 other settlers who came were David Steele, John, Samuel and Edley McVey, all of whom settled on what is known as Sherrill's branch, a tributary of Macoupin creek.

Judge Yowell and his son, James H. Yowell, also came in 1829. William S. Street came here in 1831 from Kentucky and after farming for some time, engaged in merchandising in Nilvood. D. B. Boston, a native of Indiana, became a settler here in 1833.

The first birth in the county was that of John Harris, a son of General John Harris, who met his death at the age of twelve years by drowning.

The first death was that of John L. Harris, a nephew of General Harris, who was accidentally killed while assisting in the erection of a log house.

In 1829 the first couple was married in the township, the contracting parties being Nathan McVey and Susan Akins.

A Methodist and Baptist society were organized in 1829, the latter by David Gimlin. The following year, 1830, Thomas Chasteen organized a Christian society. In 1830 a church was erected at Sulphur Springs and was used as a union church. In 1846 the Methodists erected a church of their own.

The first school was conducted in the union church and was taught by a Mr. Harris. This was used for school purposes until 1838, when a log schoolhouse was built near Macoupin creek. Enoch Hall was one of the pioneer teachers.

The first mill was built by Lewis Pitman. In 1838 he built a grist mill which was run by horse power. He also put up the first blacksmith shop.

A tannery was built by John McVey in 1837.

The first settlers to enter land were as follows: John Harris, January 2, 1829, eighty acres on section 12; Robert Palmer, January 20, 1829, eighty acres on section 2; Samuel M. Harris, October 31, 1829. eighty acres on section 33. The first furrow was turned by Andrew Bigham.


The town of Nilwood is located on section 18, on the line of the Chicago & Alton railroad and is about eight miles northeast of Carlinville, the county seat. It was laid out by Samuel Mayo and Philander Bayly and surveyed in 1855 by F. H. Chapman.

The first buildings in the town were erected by J. Benneyworth and H. Cooper, the latter building a dwelling house, which was completed July 9, 1852.

The first child born in the town was Charles Cooper, son of H. Cooper, October 10, 1853.

Rev. Bardrick and Jane Benneyworth were the first couple married in the town.

A store was established in 1857 by a Mr. Bristow.

The first school was taught by a Mr. McKee.

In 1857 five dwellings and two stores were erected and from that time on the village began to grow.

In 1862 the Methodist denomination built a church and Rev. McDougal was the first minister. The Baptist people put up a church in 1869.

In 1857 J. Benneyworth built the first grist mill and in 1873 he opened and operated a coal mine.

Most of Nilwood lies within Nilwood township. In 1908 there were 420 inhabitants. The population now numbers but 399. The chief industry of the village is from the contiguous mines. There are but one or two business houses, a church and schoolhouse. The Illinois Traction System's interurban electric road runs through the town and parallels the Chicago" & Alton.


This bank is a comparatively new concern, being incorporated August 12, 1908. The organizers of the institution were F. W. Cooper, Ferdinand Winter, Charles Klaus, and B. F. Darneille. Its first officers were as follows: President, W. C. Ledferd; vice president, Ferdinand Winter; secretary and cashier, F. W. Cooper. These gentlemen with the following names constituted the first board of directors: Charles Klaus, R. C. Adams, C. R. Welton and S. M. Welton.

The present officials are: President, Ferdinand Winter; vice president, John C. Anderson; secretary, F. W. Cooper; cashier, F. D. Huber; assistant cashier, Otto L. Klaus. The directors are: Ferdinand Winter F. W. Cooper, John C. Anderson, Charles Klaus, R. C. Adams, C. R. Welton and S. M. Welton. The institution is capitalized at $25,000.

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