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

Mt. Hope Township. - Another of the townships of the county which was settled mainly by a colonization scheme. Located in the southwest. ern part of the county, it contains 48 sections of land, of which 940 acres were originally timber. Among its earlier settlers was William Johnson, who located at a grove on Sugar Creek named in honor of him. He was justice of the peace and county commissioner 1837-40. Among the other early settlers of the region were Phillip Cline, James Murphy, Jacob Moore, John and Robert Longworth, Daniel Proctor, Ezra Kenyon and Nicholas Darnell.

The Mt. Hope colony was formed in Rhode Island in 1835 with $12,500 in capital and composed of many men of means and intelligence. It was proposed that each one's share in the new settlement would be 320 acres of land and four lots in the village of Mt. Hope. Twenty two sections, 14,000 acres, were entered, and the village of Mt. Hope laid out. There were 6,000 acres also held in trust for the general purposes of the colony. Fifteen families formed the advance guard of the colony in the spring of 1837, coming by way of New York, Pittsburgh, down the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers to St. Louis, then by wagon to this county. The settlers soon established their distinctive New England institutions, the school house, Thanksgiving day and the Congregational church. However, owing to the hard times of 'that period, the colony had rough sledding and lost many of its original members. In 1845 the trust lands were sold at S3 to $5 per acre. A proposed railroad from Pekin to Bloomington along in the '40's was never built, and the hopes of this colony for a railroad were deferred till the building of the Chicago & Alton road in 1853, which had a station at McLean. The township of Mt. Hope was organized in 1858 with Daniel Windsor as first supervisor. The village was laid out by Franklin Price, former mayor of Bloomington, in June, 1855. Among the first settlers in the village were G. L. and F. A. Wheelock, E. G. Clark, John Kellogg, H. W. Wood, and Dr. F. P. King. The Wheelocks and Wood opened stores. The first postmaster was John Goodhue. Early grain buyers were A. H. Dillon and Mark Marions, J. S. and G. P. Barber. The grain elevator erected in 1868 by C. C. Aldrich was conducted by him many years and now belongs to his son, Frank W. Aldrich. Many saw and grist mills were built in this township in the early days, but all of them eventually were abandoned, the latest survivor being Moore's grist mill on Sugar creek in Johnson's grove, built about 1840. Schools and churches were among the first institutions of the Mt. Hope colony, the first school being in the village of Mt. Hope. There are now four churches in McLean, Methodist, Presbyterian, Baptist and Christian. The town has one newspaper, the McLean Lens, published by Crihfield from Atlanta. Mt. Hope Township is the center of the chief dairying industry of McLean County, there being several farmers who keep large dairy herds. Snow & Palmer of Bloomington is the principal distributing means for the milk and cream. Barnes & Tudor and Leach & Sons are two others dairying firms.

The village of McLean has one of the best community high schools in the county, it having been completed in 1921 at a cost of $200,000. The grade schools are housed in good substantial buildings. Practically all lines of trade are represented in the stores of the village. A fine little park in the center of the town adds to its beauty and utility.

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