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

Gridley Township. - This, the northwestern township of the county, is the largest in extent, being nine miles by six. Its southern border is along the Mackinaw River and there are 3,180 acres of timberland in the township. The first settlers came in 1833 and 1835, being James Bigger, Reuben and Taylor Loving, locating in the Mackinaw timber. John Sloan and John B. Messer arrived in 1833 and 1834. Messer had previously lived at Lexington and was a great hunter. He had given names to Turkey Creek and Buck Creek from the kind of game he had found along the streams. Loving Creek, in south Gridley Township was named for one of the Loving Brothers. After the first settlers came, Gridley did not get many new inhabitants until along in the '50's, most of the settlements being along the edge of the Mackinaw timber. The Mackinaw River runs for five miles through the township.

The village of Gridley was laid out by Thomas Carlyle and George W. Kent on land they had bought from General Gridley, and they consequently named the place in his honor. It was platted in 1856, and the new railroad, the Toledo, Peoria & Western, ran its first train through the town on Feb. 28, 1857. The village grew slowly for some years owing to the backwardness of the farming country around it. A great storm swept over the country May 13, 1858, causing much, damage to timber and property of all kinds. The villages of Gridley and Chenoa were both great sufferers. The first school house was built in the village in 1859. The town was incorporated in 1869, the first trustees being H. E. Stevens, president; W. H. Boies, George Juett, D. E. Sloan and S. L. Martin. A great windmill was built in Gridley in 1874 which for many years successfully competed with water and steam mills of the county in the way of making flour and grinding the grain of the farmers for feed and other uses. It was one of the notable institutions of the county during its existence, but finally went out of business. Gridley has prosperous churches of the Methodist, Congregationalist and Mennonite denominations. Among the notable characters of Gridley for many years were the Drum brothers who were great hunters, and made annual excursions to Arkansas, to the Rocky Mountains and elsewhere to hunt big game. Gridley has many good stores and is a point for much trading from northern McLean and southern Livingston counties.


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