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

Downs Township. - When township organization was perfected in 1858, this township was named Savanna, but owing to there being another township of that name in the state, the name was changed to Downs in honor of Lawson Downs, who settled in 1829 at a tract of timber known as Diamond Grove, part of this township. There were 1,300 acres of timber land in the county originally. Downs served under Captain Covell in the Black Hawk war shortly after he settled here. Henry Jacoby became one of the first neighbors of Downs. Thomas Toverca, preacher, settled here in 1830 and John Price came in 1836. The village of Downs as first laid out was called Priceville, but afterward changed to Downs. Sylvester Peasley was an early settler who left his mark upon the community. He began farming in a crude way in 1837, breaking the ground with an iron plow drawn by oxen. He raised cattle and razorback hogs, which he drove to market in Chicago. He was elected supervisor for 15 years, and served as chairman of the board two years. John Cusey was another influential early settler who came here in 1836. He was employed by Jesse Funk in the cattle business. He was a republican, an anti slavery man and was elected state senator. Several saw mills were erected in Downs Township along the Kickapoo Creek, but they thrived awhile then died out. Sevier Stringfield built a grist mill in 1831, using stones picked up from the land. In 1840 John Rice built another mill. The village of Downs was laid out in 1870 by P. B. Price. It thrived from the first, and is one of the prosperous villages in the county. It was incorporated about ten years ago.


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