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

Martin Township. - This township took its name from Dr. E. Martin, of Bloomington, who owned a tract of 1,700 acres in the township. The land is largely prairie, with originally about 1,040 acres of timber. The Mackinaw River runs west along the northern tier of sections, and here most of the timber is located. One grove was known many years as Funk's Bunch, being on a tract of 1,000 acres which Isaac Funk owned. It was later sold to Peter Harpole and the timber became known as Harpole's Grove. William and L. R. Wiley, brothers, bought land near the Mackinaw in 1835, partly located in Lawndale and some of it in Martin Township. Curtis Batterton came about 1837, both he and the Wileys being from Kentucky. Martin Batterton bought land on the north side of the Mackinaw in Lawndale Township. The Batterton and Wileys were hunters and spent much time in trying to exterminate the wolves which prayed on the stock. Deer were found in the vicinity as late as 1865. When the rush for prairie land was on from 1865 to 1870, most of the tracts in Martin Township were taken up. Martin long sought to secure a railroad when the new lines were being platted across this part of the state. It failed in the effort to get the extension of the Wabash south from Forrest, for the line was built through Gibson to Decatur. But the Clinton, Bloomington & Southwestern, now known as the Kankakee branch of the Illinois Central, was built from the northeast into the township and for two years had its terminus at the new town of Colfax. This town boomed at first, being platted on W. G. Anderson's land. A coal mine was soon started and continued in operation for many years, but finally discontinued. It was 200 feet deep and had a two foot vein.

The village of Colfax was incorporated in 1880, and from the start was growing and prosperous. There was a large amount of grain shipped through the three elevators located there. The business district was laid out on a wide street, and the residences were of substantial and modern character. It has always had schools of a high grade for the size of the town, and modern school facilities have been provided. There are several churches. For many years the question of "license" or "no license" formed the main question at the local elections, but finally saloons disappeared under the state local option plan of voting and then by the enactment of national prohibition.

The news of Colfax and vicinity is purveyed by the Colfax Press, edited by H. C. Van Aistyne, and this paper has a page devoted to news of Anchor and vicinity. The mercantile interests of Colfax are varied, and it has one bank and one modern moving picture theater.


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