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

Bloomington Township. - The settlement of Bloomington township grew out of the original settlement of the county, at Blooming Grove. As stated elsewhere, the grove was first called Keg Grove, owing to the tradition that Kickapoos had found a keg of rum there soon after the white men arrived. Before the whitens came here there had been an Indian village at the timber farther east, known to early settlers as Old Town timber, after the old Indian town. The nearest white settlements prior to that of Blooming Grove were at Peoria, 40 miles distant, and at Starved Rock, old Fort St. Louis, 60 miles north. John Hendrix and John Dawson came to Blooming Grove in April, 1822, and next year Dawson's family followed. Dawson in 1826 moved to Old Town timber, later named Dawson township in his honor. Other settlers followed the first two, until by the year 1831 there were 50 families living in and around Blooming Grove. Burnham's history of Bloomington gives the names of these families as follows: John Hendrix, Rev. E. Rhodes, Jeremiah Rhodes, William and Thomas Orendorff, Rev. James Latta, Henry Little, John H. S. Rhodes, William Goodhearted, William H. Hodge, William Lindley, Mrs. Benjamin Cox, David Simmons, John Benson, James Benson, George Hinshaw, William Chatham, Moses Dunlap, William Waldron, Anthony Alberry, William Thomas, John Canady, James Canady, Oman Olney, Joseph Walker, Sr., William Michaels, John Lindley, Joseph Bailey, Harbord, Achilles Deatherage, William Walker, Timothy M. Gates, William Lucas, John Cox, Dr. Isaac Baker, Maj. Seth Baker, H. M. Harbord, Parr Rathbone, John Mullins, Michael Allington, Nathan Low, John Benson, Jr,. and Benjamin Depew. There were also a number of single men living in the grove at the time. Just north of the grove and within the territory afterward inside the city limits lived Henry Miller, James Tolliver, James Allin, John Greenman, William Evans, John Maxwell, John Kimler and James Mason. The young single men in the city limits when first laid out were William Dimmitt, William Evans, jr., Frank Evans, William Durley, Merritt L. Covell, W. H. Alin, William Greenman, Esek Greenman, Samuel Durley, John Durley and Samuel Evans.

James Allin seems to have been the first man to see in this flourishing young settlement the chance to secure the county seat of a new county and to build up here a little city. He therefore platted the town, and on July 4, 1831, the first auction sale of lots was held. There were probably between 250 and 300 people in the settlement at that time. A postoffice had been established at Blooming Grove in 1829, and it was moved to the town in 1832, being named Bloomington, probably as a natural adaptation of the original name of Blooming Grove. This was the third place in the United States to be called Bloomington.

From Milo Custer's investigations it appears that James Allin entered the east half of the southwest quarters of section 4, township 23 north range 2 east of the third principal meridian, eighty acres, on Oct. 27, 1829. This roughly comprised the land now in the city of Bloomington between East, Monroe, Roosevelt avenue and Oakland avenue. Alin later bought from Robert H. Peebles another 80 acres lying north of his entry. A commission of the legislature in the winter of 1831 had been appointed to investigate a site for the county seat of a new county to be organized under act of the legislature of Dec. 25, 1830, and named McLean County. This commission reported to the county commissioners at their session on May 16, 1831, that James Allin had obligated himself to donate 22 acres at the north end of Blooming Grove settlement. Dr. Baker was employed to plat this tract into town lots and advertise their sale on July 4. The sale was held accordingly at the date advertised. Timothy B. Hoblit, one of the county commissioners, acted as auctioneer, and Dr. Baker as clerk. The people in attendance followed the auctioneer around from lot to lot until all were sold. There were six lots to a block, three fronting each street running east and west, with an alley between. The record of the county commissioners of date Feb. 10, 1833, shows that deeds were executed to buyers of the lots in the original town plat as follows: James Latta, Martin Scott, A. Gridley, Nathan Low, William R. Robertson, John Maxwell, Ebenezer Rhodes, Cheney Thomas, Solomon Dodge, Caleb Kimler, Jesse Frankeberger, Jesse Havens, Fredrick Trimmer, M. L. Covell, John W. Dawson, David Wheeler, Alvin Barnett, Jonathan Cheney, Joseph B. Harbert, Eli Frankeberger, Hezekiah M. Harbert, Richard Gross, William Harbert, Samuel Durley, Orman Robertson, Bailey Kimler, Bailey H. Coffey, Lewis Sowards, John W. Harbert, Isaac Baker, Absolom Funk. Several of the lots offered at auction on July 4 were not disposed at that time but were sold at later dates, as shown by deeds of record.

The block which had been set aside for the site of the court house, bounded by Main, Jefferson, Center and Washington streets, was not all held out from the sale, but two lots fronting on Jefferson street were sold, that at Jefferson and Center to James Latta for $16, and that at Jefferson and Main to M. L. Covell, who paid $80 for this and four other lots. The buyers of these two lots afterward disposed of them to other parties, and finally the county commissioners purchased the lots for the county, the Latta lot for $100 in 1847, the Covell lots for $210 in 1849. Thus the entire square became county property.

The young county seat had a steady growth at first, and by 1836 had a population of 450 people. It was the center of trade for all the settlements in McLean County. The country around was farmed after a crude fashion, wooden plows being more common than iron, and wheat was cut with a sickle. Markets were distant and not of easy access. Stock, mostly hogs, were allowed to run almost wild, and driven long distance to market. The town had a comparatively slow growth until the advent of railroads in the '50's gave it a new impetus.

The history of Bloomington township and the city of Bloomington were so closely interwoven as to be inseparable for many years. More of the details of the growth of the city is given under its proper heading. The territory of the original town or village was approximately one mile square. It was incorporated as a village in 1843 and elected trustees until 1850, when it was organized as a city with mayor and aldermen. The city council thereafter made many additions to the city.

The city was finally divorced from Bloomington township, when in 1911 the voters of the city voted favorably on the proposed organization of the township of the city of Bloomington, whose boundaries should be co-extensive with the city limits. This left a strip of land lying on three sides of the city which is now known as Bloomington township. The cutting off from this outlying township of much of its revenue by transferring all the taxable property of the city to the township of the city of Bloomington, left Bloomington township much handicapped from a financial standpoint. Normal Township also lost by the change, for part of the Normal township lay inside the city limits of Bloomington. Since the date of this reorganization, the city and township have been governed jointly, very little difference being made in the procedure except as to the collection of taxes.

The part of the former Bloomington township which was left after the organization of the township of the city of Bloomington maintains its township government, with school trustees, highway commissioners and other necessary officers. Its business relates mostly to roads and school affairs. It is handicapped in many ways by smallness of its revenues due to the exclusion of a large portion of its taxable property from the present township by the formation of the city township. The present supervisor of Bloomington township is George W. Knight.

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