History of Oakwood, Jamaica & Love Townships, Vermilion County, Il
From: History of Vermilion County, Illinois
By: Lottie E. Jones
Pioneer Publishing Company
Chicago 1911

OAKWOOD TOWNSHIP.

Oakwood township lies on the western border of Vermilion County. Its greatest length is from east to west and is twelve miles. Its width north and south is six miles. It includes a part of six congressional towns and the whole territory consists of sixty five and three fourth square miles. The township has a diversified surface and soil. There is little of the soil that cannot be said to be deep, rich and very productive. The eastern part of the township used to be covered with a heavy growth of timber, but this has been cut until now there can hardly be said to be much timber left. Within the past ten or more years there has been much draining of the land in this township; indeed a note of warning has been sounded lest this draining into the streams becomes a menace to those who own land along the banks and suffer from the overflow of the same.

Stony creek flows one half way across the township from the south. There is plenty of water for the township. On the eastern border is the Middle Fork of the Vermilion river; on the south side is the Salt Fork; through the center is Stony creek, which rises in the northwest corner of the township and flowing southeasterly empties into the Salt Fork.

Oakwood township is crossed by the Peoria division of the New York Central Railroad. Like the greater part of Vermilion County, Oakwood township is an agricultural section. It is traversed from east to west by the trolley of the Illinois Traction system, which follows the railroad within a few feet all the way across the township. Oakwood township is truly historic ground, it being where the salt springs were located, and where the first settlement of the county was made. The coal industry of Oakwood township has been of importance. This is foully considered in the chapter on coal and coal mining. Oakwood finds her early history in that of Pilot, Vance and Catlin or more explicitly: On the 2d day of October, George A. Fox, supervisor from Vance township, offered a resolution creating a new township from the territory of Vance, Catlin and Pilot, in accordance with the prayer of certain petitioners from said townships. At this time Mr. West was supervisor from Pilot and Mr. Church was supervisor from Catlin townships. The supervisors concluded to delay action until the March session of the next year in order that all persons connected with the proposed change could have opportunity to approve or disapprove of the measure. Accordingly on the 9th of March, 1868, the petition presented at the meeting of the previous fall was again taken up, and Mr. Fox urged the passage of the resolution to create a new township. A great effort was made to have the matter again delayed, but it was without success. The prayer of the petitioners was granted and an election was ordered for the purpose of selecting township officers.

In considering the villages in Oakwood township the first named is to be Newtown.

This village was laid out by Benjamin Coddington, and the plat of it was filed June 15, 1838. The first man to locate in this township was Stephen Griffith. The plat of Newtown was simple. It was located on a cross road and the streets were but two, called Main street and High street. These streets were the roads which crossed at this point. Newtown at present does not in the least suggest the possibility of being an abandoned town. It is a bright, well painted little village which presents the appearance of having attained its desire and in no way disappointed that other more favored villages have because of railroads and other advantages made long strides in its advance. Newtown had a future at one time but that is so far in the past that it would never be guessed at present.

Conkeytown is another old village which had outlived its usefulness. The old mill which was a landmark for so long a time is gone and likewise many other well known buildings. Mr. Conkey came to this section in 1851 and operated a general country store. He came from Eugene, Indiana. Mr. Denman set up a blacksmith shop and Mr. Conkey had a post office. Conkeytown was a village of promise but its glory is gone, the village has long since been merged into a farm and every year less and less of the old town remains. Muncie is a village on the railroad fourteen miles west of Danville. This village was surveyed by Mr. Alexander Bowman and its plat recorded in September, 1875. The station at Muncie was first opened in 1876. William Lynch was the first agent. Since Dr. Fithian owned much land through Oakwood township when the railroad first went through a station was made on his farm and given his name. So it was Dr. Fithian had Mr. Guy, the county surveyor, lay out a village and plat the same which was filed in 1870. This plat was a perfect square, containing eight full and eight fractional blocks, lying on both sides of the railroad. This village was either more favorably located or was more extensively advertised than the other stations on the road, for it has been more prosperous. It has been a great point for buying and shipping of stock and grain.

Oakwood station was laid out in 187o, but has never been the active village that Fithian has proved to be. This place has been a good shipping point for the coal interests on the Salt Fork, but this interest has been so very uncertain during recent years that no village can grow on the many strikes.

Sidell township occupies the southwestern corner of Vermilion County having Edgar and Champaign counties respectively for the western and southern boundaries and Vance to the north and Catlin to the east. Until 1867 Sidell formed a portion of Carroll township, for political purposes. The name of Slidell was given to the township in honor of John Sidell who owned much property in the township. The valley of the Little Vermilion river runs nearly through the center of the township having the ridges or strips of high land which bounds this valley on the northern and southern boundaries of Sidell township. This beautiful valley has more the appearance of a basin here and encloses some of the richest farming land in Illinois. The prairie flies which infested these prairies were a dreadful pest. In August a man was obliged to do all his traveling with a team in the night.

There were a few scattering settlers in this section before 1850, but there was nothing like general cultivation of this portion of Vermilion County until 1855 or '6o. It was in 1853 that Michael Sullivant entered forty seven thousand acres lying in a body in Sidell township and Champaign County. The portion lying in Sidell township went into the hands of his son Joseph, and he kept it as a stock farm so long as he was able. This tract afterward became the famous Allerton farm. One of the farms of Sidell township is the one yet known as the Allen farm. This farm was a sheep farm while yet Mr Sullivant was running his estate, and the way the sheep were managed together with the other arrangements of the affairs of this farm makes it even yet pointed out as a famous place.

JAMAICA TOWNSHIP.

These fifteen divisions of Vermilion County remained all there were until 1890 when Jamaica township was formed. This new township was made from Catlin, Sidell and Vance townships. The division came long after any important history of the section was enacted, and all that has transpired since has been of but passing interest.

LOVE TOWNSHIP.

Love township was created at a more recent time yet than any other. It was March 4, 1902, that J. W. Payne made statement that the citizens of the eastern part of Elwood township desired to be set apart in a precinct of their own, claiming that they could not have satisfactory political privileges under the old division. The result of this was the creation of a new township that was at first called Vermilion and later, Love township. This name was given the township last formed which occupies the extreme southeast corner of the county, in honor of Judge Love, who at that time was judge of Vermilion County.


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