1876 History - Bourbon Township

“Animo et Fide”
Bourbon Township consists of forty-two sections of land in the southwest part of the county, equal to about the same number of square miles, and 27,175 acres. Amongst the first settlers were Geo. Dehart and his sons, Samuel and Lucas. He was road-master in Coles county and his district extended from Sadorus' Grove, on the north county line, to a point six miles south of the Springfield road. Allen and William Campbell were also of the first. Mr. Allen Campbell was, at the time of his death in 1875, with one exception, the largest land owner in the county. Isaac Gruelle, Maiden Jones, Israel Chandler and his sons, were amongst the earliest comers. Of these, Dr. Apperson is living in the township, a large land owner and has an extensive medical practice. He is a nephew of Dr. John Apperson, who was the first physician in Coles county. Maiden Jones, who came in 1840, was Sheriff of Coles county when Douglas county was parted from it. He was elected in 1858, and was elected to the State Legislature in 1864 and again in 1866. Lemuel Chandler was the first Supervisor of the township and served four consecutive terms. The Dehart sons are yet well known active business men. Curtis G. and Campbell McComb, at present citizens of the county, were old residents of Coles at the institution of the new county. Thomas Moore entered w est half northeast quarter section 23, 15, 7, in 1831.
John Campbell, called "Uncle Jack," was a brother of Allen and William Campbell, and was probably the last representative or type of the genuine old-fashioned pioneer, scout and hunter, and wonderful stories were told of his endurance and his ability to follow a trail. He was widely known in the early days, passing the greater part of his time in hunting. He was found dead in the woods. His son Hiram, who died in 1864, had the reputation of being one of the best hunters of the time.
Jacob Moore, sr., was one of the earliest settlers in the township and became an extensive cattle dealer and large land holder. He was also a noted hunter of great endurance. His first land was entered in section 1, 14, 7, in April, 1835. He died July 15, 1860, leaving a large estate to numerous descendants.
Isaac Gruelle, of this township, was County Commissioner of Coles county, being elected in 1843, with H. J. Ashmore. The Constitution of 1848 provided for a County Judge and two associates, and John M. Logan was one of the first two Associate Justices. Gruelle and Logan have long since passed away, both leaving large estates.
German speaking people occupy a large area of the north part of the township, the locality being widely known as the "German Settlement." Their farms, compared with western farms generally, are small but exceedingly well cultivated, and the proverbial industry and thrift of this class of citizens is here fully exemplified. The greater part of them having arrived with little or no means, and now with hardly an exception have acquired good and well improved farms. The pioneer of this community is Wessel Blaase, who arrived in 1852. There are several ancient artificial mounds on his place in one of which human bones were found in excavating for a building.
In the southwest part settled the Amish of some twenty-five families, who were preceded here by M. Yoter, Miller and others in 1864. They much resemble the society of Friends in plainness of attire, integrity and almost total exemption from pauperism. The name is derived from that of the founder of the society who, in the German States of Europe, saw fit to secede from the Menonites, of whom much has been heard lately, with regard to the emigration of large numbers of them from Russia to the West. The proposed marriages are publicly announced, and a marriage outside of the Society is "tolerable and not to be endured." They dress plainly, partly to avoid the frivolities of fashion, and partly that there may be no notable distinction between the rich and the poor. They have no churches or meeting houses but meet at each others dwellings, as the spirit moves them. The clothing of the men is often confined with hooks and eyes, but the notion that they wear no buttons is erroneous. The heads of the women are always covered with a neat white cap and over the neck and shoulders decorously spread a plain white handkerchief; this in observance of the hint from the Apostle Paul.
Adults only are baptized and that by pouring. Infants are not entitled to this sacrament, they preferring to teach first, for every descendent has a birth-right in the church. Of German extraction and long settled in western Pennsylvania, their speech amongst themselves is an odd mixture of German and English, the "American" part of which can be readily detected by an intelligent observer, and the language is popularly known as "Pennsylvania Dutch." They all speak "American" as well as their neighbors, so that, trusting to the hearing alone, few would suspect the presence of a German speaking person. Almost painfully neat in their housekeeping, forehanded in everything pertaining to the comfort of the inner man, with great hospitality, all educated with industry, integrity and economy, they are a valuable addition to the population and wealth of Douglas county.
The original village of Bourbon, section 14, 15, 7, was laid out by Malden Jones, in October, 1853, and is the third town in priority, having been preceded by both Camargo and Fillmore. An addition was made in the following January by Benjamin Ellars. At the institution of the county this was a thriving village of some dozen business houses and the most important trading point in the county. L. C. Rust, Dr. J. D. Gardiner, Jos. Foster, Wm. Chandler, Benjamin Ellars, G. W. Flynn and others flourished here at the time. The location of the Illinois Central Railroad some four miles to the east, giving rise to Tuscola and Arcola, interfered with the future prospects of the place to the extent that the merchants, for the most part, not only removed to the new towns on the railroad but took their buildings with them. One of these, a two-story frame, was put upon runners made of large sticks of timber, and with some fifteen yoke of steers, under the conduct of Uncle Daniel Roderick, was hauled in nearly a straight line over the snow to Arcola. "Uncle Daniel" still lives on his farm in section 1, 15, 7. He entered this land on March 13, 1838. Samuel Sharp, of Bourbon, took Rust's store to Arcola in a similar manner.
Bourbon has a two-story brick school house, which was built about 1857, and is therefore, probably, the first brick built in the county. There is also a neat Baptist Church lately erected by the influence and means of citizens yet remaining. The place, however, has about lost the character of a village, there being at present neither a store or post office, the nearest being at Chesterville on the I. M. Railway, which is a small station about one-half mile south of the ancient site of Fillmore. Fillmore had been laid out by H. Russel in 1848, on section 35, 15, 7, and the firm of Bales & Trowbridge, afterwards Bales, Osborn & Co., controlled the trade of a large area; but the business of this house was removed to Arcola, and Fillmore is among the things that were. Mr. Bales was Associate Justice of the county in 1861, and Supervisor of the township in 1872. Bagdad is a point on the Okaw three miles west of Arcola.
The town of Arthur, one of the most recent enterprises of the kind, is in section 30, 15, 7, and was laid off by the Paris & Decatur Railroad, on the lands of Warren in Moultrie county, and the Murphy's of Douglas. It is a thriving place with several stores and elevators, and having in it some of the best business talent of the country. Its importance as a shipping and trading point is being reluctantly acknowledged by neighboring towns. The first business house was put up by Jacob Sears. The population in 1875 was about 300.
Newton I. Cooper, of this township, was elected Sheriff of the county in the fall of 1870, up to which time for a period, he had been Township Collector. In the following March he disappeared suddenly, leaving between five and six thousand dollars of township funds unaccounted for. Cooper, a recent comer in the neighborhood, was a man of pleasing address and appearance, and that, together with his rather notable business qualifications, inspired confidence in all who had dealings with him.
On Thursday afternoon, November 4, 1875, Mr. R. P. McWilliams, a well known and highly respected citizen of Bourbon township, was instantly killed at the highway crossing of the Illinois Midland Railway, west of Arcola city and near the residence of Jacob Moore. He was driving a mule team attached to a wagon. He approached the crossing and, as he thought, allowed the train to pass and began to resume his way, probably, naturally looking at the train, but he was unfortunately caught by the latter part of the train, which had become uncoupled. The team escaped.
The name of this township is derived from that of Bourbon county, Kentucky, which was represented by several of the first settlers. The people voted bonds in aid of the I. M. Railway to the amount of $35,000; and it ranked the fifth in the county in point of population, by the Census of 1870, the number of inhabitants being put at 1,457.
The township has contributed liberally of her citizens to the public service. John Chandler, the first Clerk of the county, was elected in 1859 and again in 1861. Caleb Bales was Associate Justice for a term beginning November, 1861, and was also Supervisor in 1872. Samuel B. Logan was the first Sheriff of the county, 1859. Newton I. Cooper was made Sheriff in 1870. Lemuel Chandler served as Supervisor in 1868-69-70-71, and had also charge of the interests of the county in realizing from the State the amount due from swamp lands. M. D. Bartholomew was Supervisor in 1873, and was succeeded by Andrew Ray in 1874, who was returned in 1875. The present Supervisor is J. F. Bouck, who came from Ohio in 1866. He served with a Captain's commission in the 154th Regiment of that State in the war of 1861.
Acres in the township cultivated - 34,291
Acres in the township not cultivated - 2,884
Total acres in township - 27,175
To which may be added town lots in Arthur and Bourbon for total area.

Extracted 11 Dec 2016 by Norma Hass from History of Douglas County, Illinois, Compiled by Order of the Board of Supervisors for the Centennial Anniversary of American Independence, July 4, 1876, pages 63-67.

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