History of Arrowsmith Township, McLean County, Illinois
From: History of McLean County Illinois
By: Jacob L. Hasbrouck
Historical Publishing Company
Topeka-Indianoplis 1924

Arrowsmith Township. - This township has one of the most romantic histories in the county so far as the times before the white settlers came is concerned. It was here that one of the chief Indian settlements in the county is said to have existed, and here too, are evidences of an Indian fort and scenes of battles, either between hostile tribes of Indians or between white men and Indians. The township was first called Pleasant, but afterward named Arrowsmith in honor of Ezekiel Arrowsmith, who was supervisor of the township in 1858, when the change of name was made. Jonathan Cheney entered the first land in the township, having laid claim to a tract near the grove in the southwest part, which was in fact part of the Old Town timber. Here was located, according to evidence of early settlers, quite an Indian town, and also an Indian burying ground belonging to the Kickapoos. John Wells Dawson, the first settler, had personal knowledge of these two Indian habitations. The Indian burying ground was just over the line from West township in Arrowsmith, while the Indian town was a few miles northwest of this, near the home of John Dawson. But the most notable Indian relics were those found near a grove in the eastern part of the township, first owned by Jacob Smith, on section 24. At the headwaters of the Sangamon river in this vicinity is a hill or mound some 20 feet in height and an acre in extent at the top. Early settlers found there many excavations or pits, which later became overgrown with grass and underbrush until they were almost lost to sight. Some distance away, about the distance which may be calculated as a gunshot, are located zigzag pits or ditches. Here have been found from time to time many leaden bullets. From all these evidences the local historians have concluded that a battle occurred here between an attacking party in the ditches and the defenders of the hill with its pits. The course of the Sangamon, the location of the hill and the "rifle pits," and the finding of bullets in the vicinity, all point to a battle. The McLean County Historical Society, under the direction of the late Capt. John H. Burnham, made many attempts to excavate these pits and mounds for historic evidences, and they were in part successful. The society obtained some two pounds of leaden bullets by their several explorations. Those who do not credit the theory of a battle between the Kickapoos and some hostile tribe, say the battle might have been between the Kickapoos and a band of French soldiers from Fort Chartres, who were once said to have been sent out to "chastise" the Kickapoos, known as the "Indians of the prairie." A half breed Indian of the Pottawatomie tribe, is quoted by one authority as having heard traditions among his people of a battle between the Kickapoos and Foxes on one side and the Ottawas and Chippewas on the other, which occurred in a fortification near the Sangamon river. This seems to identify the Arrowsmith "battle ground" as the site of an ancient struggle of hostile tribes. The late Hiram Beckwith of Danville, a noted Illinois historian, held to the theory that the McLean County Indian battle ground was the scene of a fight between Indians and French garrisons from Fort Chartres.

The village of Arrowsmith was founded when the railroad, afterward known as the Lake Erie, was built through the township, for which Arrowsmith township voted the sum of $25,000 in bonds to aid in its building. Trains began running through the village in 1872, and at once it became an important grain and stock shipping point. The only stone quarry in McLean County was located near Arrowsmith for many years, but was later abandoned, since the stone was of poor quality. The land upon which this village is located belonged to Anderson Young, Jonas Fry, James Crosson and M. Ullmer, ten acres each. When it was decided in 1871 that the railroad would run through this place, the town was platted. S. E. Cline put in a scales the same year and he and James Larimer began buying and cribbing corn. The railroad switch was put in and a depot built in 1872. Larimer & Jones built the first store north of the railroad, and W. H. Thompson moved his store from Cross Roads in 1873. The postoffice was also moved to Arrowsmith from that place. R. S. Crum built the first residence. The village of Arrowsmith was organized in 1890 and since has had a good growth. The population is 400 and it is well supplied with religious and educational facilities.


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