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

West Township. - It was first attempted to name this township Pottawatomie in honor of the Indian tribe of that name; then Kickapoo for that tribe, but at last the board of supervisors gave it the name of West in honor of Henry West, one of the early settlers and largest landowners. The first entry of lands from the government in the southeast part of the county was by Jonathan Cheney, this land being located near the old Indian town. Absalom Funk entered a large tract in the same vicinity, on which was the site of the supposed Indian fort. Henry West entered a tract of 2,500 acres in 1850, while John Weedman took up a large tract in the southeast part of the township. These two men early developed a large cattle business. The tract of timber on section 5 was named Weedman's Grove. Henry West was elected first supervisor when the township was organized in 1858 and continued for 20 years. During the civil war he distinguished himself by his activity in providing means for caring for the families of soldiers. Mr. West also prevented the sale of the school lands owned by the township, so that the school tract grew to 720 acres which yielded an income of $2,000 to $3,000 annually, which income was applied to school maintenance for many years, thereby reducing the school taxes of the township. He served the people well in his day and generation.

West township is distinguished by having within its borders two of the most notable Indian relics of the county. These are the sites of an old Indian town and also that of an Indian fort. The late Capt. John H. Burnham was most active in seeking to trace to authentic records some of the facts concerning this town and fort. The town was deserted before the white settlers came, after the Kickapoos had suffered from a scourge of smallpox, and they moved to the grove further north, which became known as Old Town timber, and so remains to this day. According to researches of Captain Burnham and the late Hiram W. Beckwith of Danville, there were traditions that the Indians here had been attacked by white troops and driven away. By some it was said to have been a detachment sent by General Harrison from Indiana, but in other quarters it was said to have been a squad of state rangers who attacked the Indian camp and drove them off. A survey was made in 1880 of the site of the old Indian town and fort by the McLean County Historical Society. It was figured that the fort consisted of some kind of trenches and parapets surmounted by stakes driven into the ground, but which were afterward pulled up and used for fuel. In 1906, at the instigation of Hon. Simeon West, son of Henry West, the Historical Society took steps to erect a marker for the site of the old fort. Accordingly, on a plot of ground two rods square, donated by its owner, George W. Funk, a granite monument costing $100 was erected, on which was inscribed: "Site of Ancient Kickapoo Fort. Erected by the McLean County Historical Society." This was mostly paid for by Mr. West and George P. Davis, president of the society, in order to preserve from oblivion this most valuable historic relic.

West Township assisted by public subscription in building two lines of railroad. One was the I. B. & W., later called the Big Four and now the Nickel Plate, to which West Township gave $20,000 and which crossed the southwest corner of the township. It was built in 1870. The largest town on the road that is near to West Township is Farmer City, in DeWitt County. Another road to which West contributed in 1878 was a narrow gauge, which was afterward purchased by the Illinois Central and standardized. The station of Glenavon, in Bellflower Township, is nearest to West on this line. A branch of the Illinois Central was built across the southeast corner of the township in 1872, without aid from the public. Weedman is the station on this line in West Township. Sabine is near the center of the township on the former narrow gauge line.

Hon. Simeon H. West, son of the first settler of that name, was long a member of the supervisors, and in 1883-85 was a member of the Legislature. He owned hundreds of acres of land which he inherited from his father. In later years he moved to Leroy and built a fine home His act of most public interest was his donation of 20 acres of timber land to the county to be perpetually used for park purposes. This is in section 6 and was donated in 1906. It has been suitably marked and named West Park.


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