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


Ross township is one of the largest and wealthiest in the county. In the original division of the county Ross township embraced all of the northeast part of the county, more than five congressional towns in all. In 1862 it was divided by a line through the center of it. The North Fork of the Vermillion river runs nearly through its center, from north to south, cutting the northern line a little west of its center. running in a southeasterly direction and leaving it a little east of the middle of its southern border, with an eastern branch which is joined to another branch called the Jordon, running from its eastern borders. Bean creek runs through the northwestern portion of the township, in a. westerly direction. Numerous small streams and rivulets, fed by living springs, feed these springs, making Ross one of the best watered sections in the county. Along these streams a belt of timber grew, but it has largely been cut off.

The old "Hubbard Trace" ran through Ross township, and later became known as the state road. It was along this road that the first settlements were made. Ross has always been a farming section. The early settlers were the Gundys, Gilberts, Greens, Davisons, Chenoweths, Manns and Chaunceys.

The first man to enter land north of Bicknells Point was Joseph Lockhart, about 1844 Only one man lived between Bicknells Point and the "old red pump" near Milford at that time. Joseph Lockhart came from Harrison County, Kentucky, in 1828, with James Newell.

Ross township took its name from J acob T. Ross who owned a tract of land in section 9 from which the timbers for the old mill that was built by Clausson on section 5, about 1835, were cut and hewn. He seems to have had an interest in the mill, for he furnished the timbers and afterward became the owner. For a long time it was known as Ross mill and there the early elections and town meetings were held, and very naturally gave name to the town, although there was an effort to call it North Fork. The Davison family, and their relatives, the Gundys, were the first white people to find a home in Ross township, it is supposed, although Mr. Horr and Mr. Liggett may have been here a few months earlier.

All settlers hugged the timber line for the protection from the prairie. Wild game was plenty. Prairie chickens were shot from the roofs of the houses. Wild geese would be in abundance on the prairie in the spring and the fall. Deer were so plenty as to be taken as a matter of course and sheep could hardly be protected from the wolves. Farmers made the trip to Chicago to market their hogs and it took them about a week. Hogs would run in the timber until corn harvesting time and then be collected and fed until they were in light marching order (fat enough that they would not actually run away from the herd) when they were started toward Chicago. It would not do to have had the hogs as fat as they are now, they could never have made the trip. When the hogs were collected, after running in the timber, they were so wild they would not eat and every possible way was tried to make them. Corn was put into the pen when the swine were not there so that the stubborn fellows would not know they were expected to eat. It sometimes became necessary to start the dogs after them to get them out of the timber, and fetch them in one at at time.

When the division of Ross and Grant township was made the village of Rossville was on the dividing line between the two townships. This village was at the point where the state road from Danville to Chicago crossed the state road running from Attica, Indiana, to Bloomington, Illinois. The corporate limits of Rossville include what at one time was known as Liggett's Grove on the south and Bicknell's Point on the north. It is eighteen miles from Danville and six from Hoopeston. The North Fork runs about one mile west of it. The land upon which it is built is beautifully rolling, giving natural advantages of landscape, which have made the village unusually attractive. John Liggett gave his name to the locality but his early death made it possible for Alvan Gilbert to become the man to whom the credit of developing the section was given. This point was of unlimited promise until the LaFayette, Bloomington & Mumcie R. R. was built through the northern tier of townships, instead of following as seemed likely, the old traveled road. For a while this village was called Bicknell's Point and later it was known far and near as Henpeck. How it ever received this name is not known. Samuel Frazier of Danville, set up the first store in "Henpeck" in 1856 and continued to sell goods for four years. Others located there but it was not until the spring of 1862 that the man who was to develop the village of Rossville, Mr. Alvan Gilbert, arrived. Together with W. J. Henderson this man made the village. Alvan (the successor of Gilbert) and Henning are villages within the limits of Ross township, built on the H. R. & E. R. R. which have had a history differing little if any from that of hundreds of villages in Illinois. Alvan is the natural outgrowth of the village of Gilbert. In 1872, a station was established on the Chicago and Danville road a mile south of where Alvan is now located, and called Gilbert, in honor of Mr. Gilbert. A postoffice was established but it did not bear the name of the station. The village remained known by the name of Gilbert until the railroad passed through and a station was located one mile to the north, and the settlement was transferred to that location. A hard feeling naurally followed to reconcile which the station was named for the same man by giving the given name of Mr. Gilbert thereto. Now. Mr. Gilbert always persisted in the spelling of his given name with an "a" instead of an "i" and so it is there is a difference of opinion to this day between the people who live in the village and the P. 0. department as to how letters should be addressed to those living in this postoffice. That a natural independence of thought has been developed by this controversy is without doubt, yet that this very independence might be carried too far there is yet some fear, since there is but one correct way of spelling the word.

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