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


South Palmyra township occupies the congressional town 11 north, range 8 west, and is bounded on the north by North Palmyra, on the east by South Otter, on the south by Bird and on the west by Barr township.

The first settlers in this township were Seth Hodges and John Love, who came about the year 1816. Hodges' creek was named in honor of Seth Hodges.

Levi Day and family came about 1824. He erected a small cabin and began to improve a farm. George Mathews and family arrived in 1827. About 1823 David T. Taylor came here from Tennessee and settled on the creek near Seth Hodges. He afterward moved to near the town of Palmyra and became one of the first constables of the county. Felix Hoover settled here in 1829, and in the same year came William Hodges, a local preacher. Rev. John Howerton, a Baptist minister, came here from Tennessee in 1830. James Cave also came about the same time. Isaac Massey came from Tennessee in 1829. Ezekiel Ross settled here in 1833. His brother, Robert Ross, and family settled here about 1829, but after a few years moved to South Palmyra and located on section 8. Judge Samuel Lair arrived here about 1833. Elijah Wills and family came from Kentucky and after spending a short time in North Palmyra township located here in 1832. Andrew Russell and John G. Chiles were also early settlers, the latter coming in 1833. Oakes Shaw came here in 1836.

Felix Hoover is supposed to have raised the first wheat about 183o, as he broke the first prairie land in the township.

Other early settlers were W. B. and James Gardiner, who came in 1836, and Joseph B. Steidley came about the same time and bought the improvements of James Solomon, who with his brother Henry had come in 1834.

Seth Hodges made the first entry of land on section 28, December 23, 1823. He had lived here some years previously as a "squatter." The next entry was made by Felix Hoover, April 10, 1829.

W. G. Ross came here from Tennessee in 1829 and located on section 18. Baxter M. Skeen came in 1832. B. F. Bivin in 1834 and Henry Etter, came from Tennessee in 1836. M. C. Elongate came in 1837, as did also C. P. and Achilles Tongate.

The land in this township is well drained on the west side by Solomon's creek, through the central portion by Massey creek, and in the southeastern portion by Otter creek. The oldest cultivated farms in this section were near the creeks and were covered with timber when the settlers arrived. Later they branched out on the prairie, which has also proved good land for farming.

The first school was held in a log building, located in the southern part of the township. James Howard taught the first school in 1831.

The first church was erected one mile south of the present town of Palmyra, It was constructed of hewed logs and covered with split boards. The first regular minister was John Howerton, of the Baptist faith.

The first child born in the township was in the family of John Love, in 1824. The first marriage occurred in August, 1828, the contracting parties being Theodorus Davis and Jane Burlson.

The first mill was built by Andrew Russell. The second mill was erected in 1835 by James Cave. near the present town of Palmyra.


The village of Palmyra is located on the township line between North and South Palmyra. The portion in South Palmyra lies on the northwest quarter of section 4. The portion lying in North Palmyra township is on the southwest quarter of section 33. It was laid out in 1855 by D. N. Solomon, J. F. Nifong and H. Berry. The old town of Newburg was situated on section 4 and was laid out in 185s by James Cave.

The first house in the town was built in 1835 by William Owens.

The first hotel was conducted by W. B. Gardiner. Scott & Bosworth established the first store in the town. The first postoffice was opened in 1841 with Oakes Shaw as postmaster. The first blacksmith shop was opened by James L. Barfield.

The first church was erected by the Cumberland Presbyterian denomination in the year 1857. The first preacher who delivered a sermon here was Rev. L. S. Williams, a Presbyterian, in 1838, at the home of Oakes Shaw.

The first school was taught in the fall of 1836 by Miss Eliza Hersey.

Dr. Thornton claimed the distinction of being the first physician in the township, coming here in 1840. He was followed by Dr. H. J. Vanwinkle.

About 1842 the name of the town was changed from Newburg to Cummington, and the latter was continued for thirteen years, when new buildings were erected a little west of the old town, where the land lay higher. Business was then changed to the new part of the town, and the name was once more changed to Palmyra. After it was surveyed in 1855 the town took on new life.

In 1855 a hotel was built on the north side by R. F. Bracken.

The first mill in the town was built in 1856 by A. C. Farmer, F. E. Shaw and J. F. Nifong. A little later ifong & Solomon built a sawmill.

In 1867 the Christian denomination built a house of worship, and the first pastor of the new church was G. M. Goode.

Palmyra has not grown to any appreciable extent in the past twenty years. In 1890 there were 1,527 inhabitants; today the number is but little greater, being only 1,536.

The Bank of Palmyra, a private institution, was established in 1881. Its president is L. P. Smith; cashier C. E. Mahan.

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