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


Vance township is on the extreme western border of Vermilion County. It has Oakwood as its northern boundary, Catlin as its eastern boundary and Side11 as its southern boundary. The Salt Fork of the Vermilion river runs through its northern part nearly its whole length. This stream was skirted with timber, but it is all gone at this time. The township was one of the first established and it was with one section less than a congressional township. The state road from Danville to Decatur runs through Vance township keeping as nearly as possible one half mile from the banks of Salt Fork. The Wabash railway runs through the center of this township. The village of Fairmount is situated on this railroad about one mile from its eastern border. There is an abundance of building stones along this stream, and ledges of valvaree silicious crop out on the prairie near the center of the town from which the best known material for making roads and an excellent quality of lime for building purposes and dressing for wheat lands. This stone is so hard it will withstand the destructive elements of nature and yet soft enough to be crushed under the wheels of the passing wagon or even buggy.

The ridge or divide between the Salt Fork and Little Vermilion runs along the southern border of Vance township, and the prairie land all sheds toward the north, being freely supplied with small streams and branches which water the farms and afford fine drainage. The surface is neither flat nor hilly, having sufficient undulation to make it capable of tillage all seasons, with here and there small mounds or easily rising hills which add variegated beauty to the scene no less than real value to its worth. Originally about twelve square miles of its territory was timber land, that being about one third of its present surface.

This township includes the finest farm lands in this or any other state. The small farm is the rule and in most instances of these small farms they have been in the possession of the original owners and their descendants since they were first entered or bought. The earlier settlements of Vance township were made along the state road, or, as more nearly the facts in the matter, these houses were built along the border of the timber and the state road followed the settlements. Before the road was straightened and made a state road through the efforts and influence of Col. Vance, then in the state legislature, it wound in and out where clearings were made. The railroad was graded through the township in 1836. This grading was done through the influence of Dr. Fithian. He foresaw the impossibility of the network of international improvements being carried out and secured work on the proposed railroad through Vermilion county while there yet was money to attain this object. John W. Vance was at the time, also, a member of the legislature, and he opposed the railroad scheme from start to finish. This opposition destroyed whatever chance he might have had for political promotion, but his reasons for this stand was that the project for the railroad was so much in advance of the needs of the times as to prove impracticable. It is well that he was honored by the name of the township, for no more noble name was ever held in Vermilion County than that of John W. Vance, the statesman. Vance township contained a part of what is now Oakwood township at the time it was organized and named for this man whose residence was in that part of the township.

As soon as the railroad was located Ellsworth & Co. entered all the land along the line from Danville to Decatur, that had not previously been taken, and held it for speculation. Owing to the revulsion in trade during the next year this speculation did not result in the vast wealth anticipated.

The first settler in Vance township was Thomas Osborne who made a cabin in section 32, a mile or two northwest of Fairmount, in 1825. He was not a farmer but made his wealth in hunting and fishing. Mr. Osborne staid only long enough to have the trade in fur grow less. Mr. Rowell and Mr. Gazad were "squatters" for a time. These were followed by James Elliott, James French, and Samuel Beaver. These two went further west and William Davis bought their claims. The list of early settlers grows longer and longer, including the names of James Smith, William O'Neal, W. Feidler, W. H. Butte and Francis Daugherty.

The latter came to this section in 1832 and it was he who gave the name to the village of Fairmount. This village was established and named Salina. This name was all right until the matter of a post office at the place was agitated. Then it was, the fact became known that there was a post office by that name in Illinois and the name of Fairmount was given to the village. This was not the first time a place in Vance township was called by that name. Some time previous to this the Dougherty farm was the place where the mail for the people of this part of the county was carried. This farm was so located on a pleasing rise of ground that it was called Fairmount, and this elevation was well named, for a fairer place could not be found. When the name of Salinas was found impossible, this old name was chosen and the village of Fairmount became one of the towns of Vermilion county.

Fairmount began its career with the determination to have no liquor sold within its limits. A struggle just at first resulted in the decisive defeat of all opposition to this plan.

There was a drain tile factory located in Fairmount in 1880, and operated for twenty years. This was patronized by the farmers of Vermilion county and large quantities of it shipped south. The location of this plant in Fairmount saved the farmers of the county thousands of dollars in popularizing draining which added to the value of the land in increased productiveness. When the large Fairmount dredge ditch is completed which is now being dug, Vance township will have all the land reclaimed. Large portions of Vance township are underlaid with a good strata of coal which is being worked at Bennett station two miles northeast of Fairmount. Another and a valuable industry of Vance township is the Fairmount quarries located two miles south of the village. These quarries produce an almost chemically pure limestone which is used in the manufacture of steel also cement in large quantities is being produced from this stone. This stone field is of several miles in extent. Of this several hundred acres have been proven and purchased. The company which are operating these quarries now (1910) take four thousand tons out daily of this material and have four hundred seventy five to five hundred employees on the pay roll.

Vance township is one of the smallest of Vermilion County but has no less than sixteen miles of hard roads and in the near future will have all wagon roads as fine as any city pavement.

Fairmount is the only village in the township and has a thousand inhabitants. It has a graded high school employing six teachers. It has four churches, two elevators, several good stores, lumber yard and the ever indispensable blacksmith shop. Fairmount is one of the best lighted villages in the country; residences and streets lighted with Presto light or acetelyne gas.

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