History of Grant Township, Vermilion County, Il
From: History of Vermilion County, Illinois
By: Lottie E. Jones
Pioneer Publishing Company
Chicago 1911


Until 1862, Grant township was a portion of Ross township. At that time Ross was found to be so large as to be unweildy and so was divided, forming the new township. The name chosen tells the sentiment of the people who had come to that section of Vermilion County. Loyalty to their country was expressed in choosing the name of the hero who was conspicuous in saving that country. The naming of this township was about the first honor to be accorded him. This township has never had a changed boundary. Its northern limit is the same as the northern limit of Vermilion County, the eastern limit that of the Indiana state line, the southern limit, Ross township and the western boundary, Butler township. The shape of the township is rectangular; twelve and a half miles long by seven and one-half miles wide. It contains 58,880 acres and is the largest township in Vermilion County. It is almost entirely prairie land and only had a small portion of timber which was known as Bicknell's Point, in about the center of the dividing line between Grant and Ross townships. This formed the treeless divide between the head waters of the Vermilion and those of the Iroquois. It was late in attracting settlement, being as late as 1860, without cultivation. The direct road between Chicago and the south ran directly through the center of this township, yet it was avoided as locations for homes. Indeed, when in 1872, the railroad was surveyed through this township, there were but few farms intersected. This stretch of open prairie, north of Bicknell's Point, was a dread to the benighted traveller. The first settlements in Grant township were made along the road stretching north from Rossville.

As early as 1835, George and William Bicknell took up land at Bicknell's Point which was the last piece of timber on the route to Chicago until the valley of the Iroquois was reached. Mr. Lockhart, who came from Kentucky with William Newell, was the man who first entered land north of Bicknell's Point. Asel Gilbert entered a section of land south of Bicknell's Point in 1838. Albert Cumstock, B. C. Green, and James R. Stewart, early settled near this. Col. Abel Wolverton settled on sextion 18, in 1840, two miles northeast of the Point. He was probably the first settler in that neighborhood. He came from Perrysville, Indiana. He had been in the Blackhawk war and was as brave in fighting the hardships of the new home in the prairie as was he in fighting the Indians. Col. Woolverton was a competent surveyor and his new home provided much work of this kind. William Allen was the pioneer in the northern part of the township. He came to Ohio in 1844. Thos. Hoopes, from whom Hoopeston was named, came in 1855 and bought Mr. Allen's farm.

Conditions in this part of the county at this time is pictured by Mrs. Cunningham, then a child, whose playmates were "sky and prairie flowers in the summer time, with the bleak cold in the winter." A description of her experience on a night in late autumn in this lonely place, reads: "The shadows of declining day were creeping over the prairie landscape, when this child, young in years but older in experience, as were the pioneers, stood listening for a familiar sound. The cold wind came sweeping from far over tractless wilds, and with almost resistless force nearly drove her to the protection of the house, yet she stood and listened for a familiar sound, straining her ear to catch the rumble of a wagon which told of the return of her foster parents, who had the day before, gone to an inland town for provisions to last them through the coming days of winter. They had gone on this errand some days before and were due to come back every hour. This young girl had learned to love even this solitude, and while she listened for the sound of human life she noted the lull of the fierce wind, the whirring of a flock of prairie chickens, frightened from their accustomed haunts, fleeing by instinct to the protection of man. Suddenly a wolf gave a sharp bark on a distant hillside, then another, and another and yet another answering each other from the echoing vastness. With a shudder, not so much from fear as from the utter lonesomeness of the time and place, she turned and entered the house, but she could not leave these sounds outside, she heard the mournful wail. It is impossible to describe those sounds. So weird, so lonely were they that the early settler remembered them always. The lack of courage of these animals was made up in the increased numbers they called together, whether it was to attack the timid prairie hen or the larger game of the open. Surely these wolves were fit companions for the Indians.

The interior of this little house was much better furnished than were those of the early settlers of Vermilion County who came into other portions twenty-five years before this time. It was easier to transport furniture and the homes of this period were less primitive in every way. When the girl went into the house she found the "hired man" had milked and was ready for his supper. He seated himself at the kitchen stove and remarked that he did not think that "the folks" would come that night, as it would be very dark and every prospect of a snowstorm, they surely would not leave the protection of the nearest settlement to venture on the prairie that night. The little girl busied herself with the supper with grave misgivings about her people, whom she earnestly hoped would venture to come home, but whom she feared would be injured. She could not eat and going to the window she pressed her face to the glass and took up her silent watch. Soon taking his candle, the hired man went to his bed, leaving the girl to keep her watch alone. After a little, she imagined she heard a faint sound; she ran to the door and threw it open. As the door was dung open their faithful shepherd dog bounded in. He was closely followed by a number of wolves who were chasing him and almost had caught him. They stopped when the light from the open door fell upon them. The girl hastily closed the door and shutting them out shut the dog within. Then all was silent on the prairie, except the howling of the wind while the wolves silently slunk away in the darkness. The girl turned to the dog and eased his mind by a bountiful supper, when she took up her watch once more. She hoped almost against hope as she pressed the window pane, scanning the horizon. As the night wore on the storm increased in violence, the wind drove the snow in sheets of blinding swiftness, piling it high on the window ledge, and obstructing the view across the expanse. The wolves were silenced by the terrible storm, but the faithful dog yet scented them in the near neighborhood. The old clock slowly ticked the hours away while the girl sat by the wooden table in the center of the room with drooping head and strained ears, until she dropped to sleep from sheer exhaustion. Uneasy were her dreams as her slumber was broken through discomfort and the ever recurring growls of the dog at her feet who growled at the scent of his pursuers. As the hours passed the girl aroused herself and went to the window. The storm clouds had partially cleared, and the young moon had peeped out with a faint light. Casting her eyes down she looked into the piercing orbs of two wolves who were standing in the glare of the lamplight. The girl turned to the dog and dropping beside him buried her face in his woolly coat and bursting into tears called out, "Taylor, what shall we do?" With a growl and a glance toward the opening, which said as plain as words, "I'll do all I can to protect you," he lay with his nose to the crack in the door. The hours wore away and the girl and the dog watched alone on the prairie for the coming of the human beings who might be out on the prairie. Toward dawn the dog sprang to her side with a low bark of delight. He had heard and recognized the voices of his friends, and was telling his companion that those for whom they were keeping vigil were very near. Soon they were housed in safety. A new day was theirs while all the terrors of the night had been vanquished. The sun came up, the deer were dashing from one snow bank to another, the wolves had slunk away, the agony of the night was passed away. Such were frequent occurrences in the section of the country in and about Hoopeston.

Mr. Dale Wallace, in a talk before a Hoopeston audience, some years ago, describes that village when he first saw it. He went to this new village on the Illinois prairie a young man full of hope and promise. He entered the town on the freight train of the C. D. & V. R. R. (commonly called the "Dolly Barden") which consisted of six gravel cars and a caboose. The conductor stopped his

[The rest of this township history is missing from the copy of the book used.]

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