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April 20, 1895; Owen Clarence, born November
27, 1865, died October 26, 1879; Angeline, born
September 28, 1863, died October 22, 1888; Paris
Edgar and George Michael, born January 21,
1869; and Ethel M., born October 22, 1870. Mr.
Tennery came to Elba Township in 1853, and
located on Section 23, in 1863. His farm con-
tains two hundred and forty acres, and a fine
residence. Mr. Tennery is a member of the
Methodist Church. In politics, he is a demo-
crat, and has been Justice of the Peace, School
Director and Trustee for a number of years.

TRUITT, T. J.; Farmer; Elba Township;
born January 28, 1852, in Ross County, Ohio;
educated in common schools. His parents, Eli-
jah and Eliza Jane (Taylor) Truitt, were born
in Ross County, Ohio, in 1818, and 1822; his
grandparents were Giley Truitt of Virginia, and
Nancy (David) Truitt. T. J. Truitt came with
his father to Illinois in 1855. and located in
Elba Township, Section 28. He removed after
several years to Yates City, where his parents
lived till their death in 1898. The father was
School Director in Elba Township for a num-
ber of years, and was captain of a military
company. Mr. and Mrs. Truitt were members
of the Methodist Church, of which he was a
class leader for a number of years. They had
a family of eleven children: Mary Jane, who
was marrisd to I. O. Gibbs; J. D. Truitt, a law-
yer at Yates City; John. T. ; Margaret L., who
married Dunaham Drake; T. J. Truitt; William
F.; Harvey J.; Isaac M.; Laura E., who mar-
ried John G. Grey; Joseph H.; E. E. Truitt, a
physician in Maquon, and graduated at Keokuk
College, Iowa. Mr. T. J. Truitt is fifth in this
family and is unmarried. He is a republican
and has been School Director for nine years.

VANCE, S. L.; Parmer; Elba Township; born
February 3. 1861. at Highland County, Ohio.
Educated in the common schools. His father
was Andrew Vance, born in Fayette County,
Pennsylvania; his mother was Harriet Kibler

of Highland County, Ohio; his paternal grana
parents were David and Hannah Vance of Mary-
land. His great-grandfather, Thomas Vance,
and his maternal grandmother, Margaret Strain,
were from Ohio; his great-grandfather was John
Strain. Mr. Vance was married March 3, 1892,
in Galesburg to Letty Riner. She was born in
Toulon, Stark County, August 22, 1870, and is
the daughter of Mathew and Margaret Riner.
They have one child, Carmon R. R., born March
19, 1896. The grandparents of Mrs. Vance were
John and Elizabeth (Douglas) Wingader; the
great-grandfather came from Germany, and died
January 25, 1894; the great-grandmother came
from Scotland and was born September 4, 1809,
and died April 28, 1878. Her grandparents on the
father's side were Peter Riner of Virginia, born
March 8, 1803, and Margaret (Kelly) Riner, born
October 8, 1808, died January 1, 1873. Mr. Vance
came, in 1868, with his father to Section 36,
where they have a farm of two hundred and
eighty acres. He is a member of the Modern
Woodmen of America, Lodge No. 301, Yates
City. Mr. Vance is a democrat.

WHITING, EDWARD; Farmer: Elba Town-
ship; born October 5, 1856, at Kickapoo, Illi-
nois; educated in the Kickapoo schools. His
father and grandfather were called William
Whiting and came from Sussex County, Eng-
land; his mother, Jane (Cummings) Whiting,
came from Portage County, Ohio; his maternal
grandmother was Susan Cummings. He was
married January 1, 18S4, in Elba Township, to
Ettie Patterson, who was born in Elba Town-
ship, October 23, 1861, and is the daughter of
James and Elizabeth (Marshall) Patterson of
Preble County, Ohio. James Patterson was
married in 1847. and came to Elba Township in
1S49. Their children are: Etha Z., born No-
vember 13, 1884, and James Kirby, born No-
vember 14, 1885. Mr. Whiting has a fine resi-
dence and fine farm of one hundred and ten
acres on Section 25, three and one half miles
northeast of Yates City. In addition, he man-
ages his father-in-law's farm. In politics, he
is a republican.

WOOLSEY, WILLIAM; Farmer; Elba Town-
ship; b'orn in Haw Creek Township, August 11,
1861. His father, David Woolsey, was born in
Ulster County, New York; his mother, Mildred
(Logan) was born in Virginia. His paternal
grandparents were Hezekiah and Hannah (Cut-
ter) Woolsey. August 23, 1883, Mr. Woolsey
was married in Knoxville to Norah M. Taylor.
They have two children. Forest Taylor, born
June IS, 1884, and Harley H., born April 4,
1886. Mrs. Woolsey was born in 1S60. Her
parents were Abraham and Emeline (Cartright)
Taylor. The father is dead; the mother is liv-
ing in Caldwell County, Missouri. Mr. Wool-
sey is a republican in politics. He has been
Assessor of the town of Elba, and School Di-
rector a number of terms. He is a member of
the Odd Fellows. No. 256, Maquon: also of the
Modern Woodmen of America, in the lodge lo-
cated at Douglas. His farm of one hundred
and forty-three acres is on Section 6.



By Charles W. McKown.

In its natural features this is, perhaps, one
of the most attractive townships in Knox
County. About two-thirds of its area consists
of prairie, and the remainder of timber land.
The latter lies chiefly on the east and west.
where the surface is more hilly. The central
portion of the township, from north to south,
Is a rich fertile prairie, mainly flat, yet suffi-
ciently rolling to afford excellent natural drain-
age. The Spoon river is the principal stream,
into which flow numerous small tributaries on
either side, the most important of which is
Haw Creek, on the west. These streams aid in
drainage and also afford excellent watering fa-
cilities for stock. The Spoon enters the town-
ship at its northeast corner, and, after pursuing
a devious course, flows out in Section 35.

There is an underlying vein of bituminous
coal along the water courses, but as it is only
from twenty to twenty-eight inches thick, it
cannot be profitably worked for general com-
merce, although more or less is mined for lo-
cal consumption.

The chief industry of the people is agri-
culture, while some live stock is raised for ex-
terior markets. The principal crops are corn,
wheat, oats and rye; while a little buckwheat
and barley are also raised. The farms are well
Improved, and the farmers progressive, and al-
ways on the alert to test new ideas, adopting
such .IS they believe tend to their real better-

The population consists almost wholly of na-
tive born Americans, there being but few for-
eigners. Of colored people there are none. So-
briety and industry are well nigh universal,
and illiteracy is unknown.

The first white family to settle in the town-
ship was that of Mrs. Elizabeth Gilmore Owen,
a widow, who was accompanied by her son,
Parnach, and her two daughters, Thalia N. and
Althea, who came from Ohio in 1829, and en-
tered a claim in Section 18. Their neighbors
were few and remote, the two nearest being
Perry Morris, who lived on Section 33 of Knox
Township, and a family who operated a primi-
tive ferry across the Spoon river, at Maquon.
Parnach Owen was a land speculator, and the
conduct of his business necessarily involved
long absences from home, during which periods
the women of the household relied one upon
the other for mutual protection. But they

were of the strong fiber which ran through
the frames of those pioneer women of Illinois,
who became the mothers and grandmothers
of a hardy, stalwart race. They despised noth-
ing so much as cowardice and they were them-
selves no weaklings, being abundantly able to
wield a hunting knife alike in the slaughter
of a deer or in defense of their honor.

Two years after their arrival in Haw Creek
the Owen family removed to Knoxville. Par-
nach Owen was prominent in the organization
of the county and was made its first official sur-
veyor. He died at Prairie LaPorte, Iowa, about
1845, at the age of forty-seven. Mrs. Eliza-
beth G. Owen died at Knoxville. March 6, 1839,
in her seventy-fifth year. She and her children,
brave in the face of danger, and dauntless be-
fore obstacles, are among those who laid the
foundations of civilization in Knox County.
Thalia N. Owen married Dr. E. D. Rice, of
licwiston, Illinois, and died there in 1880, at
the age of seventy-seven years. Her sister
Althea became the wife of John G. Sanburn, of
Knoxville, on November 3, 1831. To him she
bore seven children. One of her sons — Francis
G.— was president of the Farmers' National
Bank of that place. She died there, having
reached the same age as her sister — seventy-

About a year after the Owen family, came
James Nevitt, Samuel Slocum, David Teel, and
David Enochs. They were followed by Wood-
ford Pearce, David Housh, Joshua Burnett, Ja-
cob Harshbarger, Linnaeus Richmond, William
W. Dickerson and others; so that by 1833 or
'34 there was a well grown settlement here.

Charles Nevitt, a son of James, was the first
white child born in Haw Creek (1832). The
first death was that of Eleanor Jarnigan, in 1834.
The first sermon was preached by the noted
pioneer. Rev, Peter Cartwright, in 1831. Revs.
Richard Haney and William Clark were also
early in the field as Methodist circuit riders.
The first school was taught in 1836, by Susan
Dempsey. She is now the aged widow of
Booker Pickrel, and lives in Gilson. The first
church was built in 1864, on Section 17, and
about one year afterward two others were erect-
ed in Gilson. From this statement, however,
it should not be inferred that the people had
no places of worship prior to 1864. Every
school house in the township was used for that
purpose, beside regular old fashioned camp
meetings in the groves.

James Nevitt built the first frame house ia



the township, In 1835, and Woodford Pearce
erected the first brick dwelling.

Enoch Godfrey, James Nevitt and George
Benson garnered the first grain crops, in 1832.
The first road laid out was the State road from
Knoxville to Farmington, in 1S36. This soon
became a regular stage route, and before long
a village sprang up along the line of travel in
Section IS, and became an occasional stopping
place for stage coaches, although not, in those
days, what was considered a regular station.
This was the nucleus of what became, later,
the village of Mechanicsburg.

In the early days of the township, the only
available markets for farm produce were along
the Illinois and Mississippi rivers and on Lake
Michigan. Loads of grain were hauled to Chi-
cago, nearly two hundred miles away; the sell-
ers bringing back salt, shingles and general
merchandise. Now, the Peoria and Galesburg
branch of the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy
road enters Haw Creek at the southwest cor-
ner of Section 6 and leaves it at the southeast
corner of Section 33, and Gilson is the only
station within the township limits.

Township organization was effected at a
meeting held at the Nevitt school house on
April 5, 1853, by the election of the following
officers: William M. Clark, Supervisor; Wood-
ford Pearce, Clerk; Isaac Lotts. Assessor; Jo-
seph Harshbarger, Collector; Jacob Wolf. Over-
seer of the Poor; John S. Linn and Enoch
Godfrey, Justices of the Peace; George Pickrel
and William Lewis, Constables: Milton Lotts,
Allen T. Rambo and Benoni Simpkins, Com-
missioners of Highways. A complete list of
town clerks from the first election down to the
present time is given below. A similar list of
supervisors may be found in the chapter relat-
ing to county government.

In 1853, Woodford Pearce; 1854, Joel Harsh-
barger; lS55-'57, William Swigart; 1858, Wil-
liam H. Eastman; 1859, Samuel Caulkins; 1860,
Peter Lacy; 1861, W. J. McCulloch; 1862, Wil-
liam H. Eastman; 1863-'65. William P. Kellar;
1866. E. K. Coe; 1867, Joseph Harshbarger: 1869,
C. W. McKown; 1870-'73. S. M. Ickes; 1874, A.
L. Barr; 1875-'76, B. A. Hill; 1877, Joseph Cra-
mer; 1878, B. A. Hill; 1879, J. M. Cravens; 1880-
'81, O. J. Aldrich; 1882-'84. B. A. Hill; 1885-'86,
O. J. Aldrich: 1887-'89, C. W. McKown; 1890-'96,
William M. Gardner; 1897-'99, James Moore.

There are three regularly organized churches
in Haw Creek, two in the village of Gilson and
one in Section 3. The Methodist Episcopal
Church at Gilson was organized in 1857. The
present edifice was erected in 1864. and is worth
about eight hundred and fifty dollars. Its first
pastor was Rev. G. M. Iriom, and the clergy-
man now in charge is Rev. S. E. Steele. There
are some ninety active members. The other
Gilson church is connected with the United
Brethren, and has about forty-eight members.
Wolf (or Union) Chapel falso United Brethren),
on Section 3, has a membership of nearly
In addition to these organized bodies, there

is a tract of land devoted to the holding of
annual camp meetings. The history of the al-
lotment of this ground for this purpose is of
interest in this connection.

Pursuant to a notice published in the Knox
County Republican, calling for the organization
of a camp ground association, the Knox County
Methodists met in Orange Chapel, September
19, 1868, and elected Peter Godfrey, J. C. Elwell,
and Joshua Burnett, Jr., trustees to purchase
and hold land tor a permanent camp ground.
They bought of N. G. Clark eleven and four-
fifths acres of ground for four hundred and
seventy-four dollars. On September 3, 1869, the
number of trustees was increased to nine, and
on October 5, 1872, another acre purchased
for fifty-five dollars. The camp ground is on
the line of the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy
Railway, a mile southeast of Gilson. It is well
adapted for picnics as well as camp meetings.
A good fence, horse corral, and buildings have
been put up, and wells dug. at a cost of about
fifteen hundred dollars. The camp meeting be-
gins the Tuesday before the fourth Sunday in
each August, and lasts one week. Since 1882
a gate fee has been charged all visitors. From
the proceeds thus obtained the improvements
have been made, and about eight hundred dol-
lars are in the treasury. • The present trustees
are: E. H. Arnold. President: E. J. Young,
Secretary and Treasurer; A. Dean, H. Shoop,
J. M. Vangilder, E. Cramer, G. G. Moore, J. W.
Davis and A. Bruner. Messrs. Arnold and
Young have been on the Board for over twenty

There are eight common schools, one of which
(that at Gilson) is a graded school. The build-
ings are frame, but well constructed, with a
view to adapting them to their use. The at-
tendance includes nearly all the children of the
township within the legal limits of the school
age. The teachers are selected with great care,
and the salaries are sufficient to ensure com-
petence. In fact, the Gilson school won two of
the premiums awarded at the State fair of

Gilson and Mechanicsburg are the two vil-
lages. The former is situated in the south-
east corner of Section 7. and has a population
of about one hundred and fifty souls. It is not
incorporated. Its business establishments com-
prise six stores, two blacksmith shops, two car-
penter shops, a harness shop, and a grain

The settlement of Mechanicsburg antedates
that of Gilson. The first store in the village
was kept by Edmund Smith, and the first in-
dustrial establishments were wagon and black-
smith shops. A postofflce was established May
7. 1852, and named — by the government — Haw
Creek. .Joseph Harshbarger was the first post-
master, and was succeeded, September 16. 1852,
bv Allen T. Rambo. Woodford Pearce followed
him on March 17. 1855, and on March 5. 1857,
the office was removed to Gilson. which was
then a railway station, and Mechanicsburg fell



Of the early settlers of the township, many
moved away, but the descendants of some of
those who remained are numerous. Some of the
most familiar family names are Housh, Pickrel,
Richmond, and Burnett.

There was a large grist mill built at an early
day in Section 34, on the Spoon River, which
did a flourishing business for many years, but
the flow of water in the river grew less and
less, until the miller could obtain power during
only about seven months in the year. As a re-
sult, the enterprise was abandoned; but the
building and machinery were removed to Ma-
quon, where they were utilized in the construc-
tion of a steam mill.

In 1849 a "cholera scare" was occasioned by
the arrival of three immigrant families — Stani-
ford, Richardson and Foster — who came by
water to Peoria and finally located in the
northeastern part of Haw Creek-Township. The
scourge appeared shortly after their arrival, and
the community was not a little perturbed. Mr.
Staniford, Mrs. Fred Foster, Mrs. Thomas Rich-
ardson and two of her children, and William
Richardson died, but fortunately the disease
spread no farther.

One of the most exciting episodes in the his-
toi-y of the township occurred in August, 1877,
and was of sufficient importance to ae worthy of
mentioning in some detail. On Sunday, the
fifth of that month, while the family of Mr.
Woodford Pearce, of Gilson. was at church, a
tramp entered their home, and, after ransacking
the premises, departed with a miscellaneous as-
sortment of personal property, including sev-
enty-five dollars in money. On the discovery
of the theft a hue and cry was raised, and a
posse was soon in hot pursuit. The culprit was
discovered eating his dinner in a grove near by.
He was armed, and, on seeing the approach of
his would-be captors, he retreated to a cornfield,
firing as he fied. His shots were returned, and
during the fusilade William Kellar was shot in
the ankle. Reinforcements were sent for, and
soon the field was surrounded by two hundred
men and boys. The tramp was discovered and
again took fiight, firing as he ran. A horse
ridden by James Pickrel was wounded and the
rider's knee bruised. Another horse, carrying
Charles Masten and Charles Cramer, was shot
through the neck and killed, and a bullet
through the heart killed Charles Belden. The
tramp also exchanged shots with Charles W.
McKown at short range (less than fifteen feet),
the former receiving a slight flesh wound in the
arm and side, the latter was shot through the
left lung, the bullet lodging in the muscles of
the back, where it still remains. Under cover
of the night the quarry made good his escape.
He had cast aside his shirt and vest, however,
and these were discovered. In one of the pock-
ets of the latter was found an express receipt
given to Frank Rande. This clew led to his
ultimate capture, in St. Louis, through the
skillfully directed efforts of Frank Hitchcock,
then Sheriff of Peoria County, but not until
after he had committed another robbery at the
house of John R. Scoles, near St. Elmo, Illi-

nois, killing Mr. Scoles and another man and
dangerously wounding a third, as he was mak-
ing his escape from an excited, infuriated troop
of pursuers.

Before being overpowered at St. Louis, he
also killed one of the policemen assisting in
making the arrest. A reward of one thousand
dollars was offered and paid for his apprehen-
sion. He was taken to Galesburg, where he was
tried, convicted and sentenced to life imprison-
ment in the Joliet penitentiary, where, seven
years later, he broke the Warden's skull with
an iron bar and was shot by a prison guard.

Recently a mineral spring has been discov-
ered on Section 34. The water is said to be very
potent in curing disease, and has been shipped
far and near for use of invalids, barrels of it
having gone as far as Oregon. The surround-
ing grounds are being beautified, and prepara-
tions are in progress for erecting a large hospi-
tal near the spring.


A brief reference has been already made to
the village of Gilson, but its relative promi-
nence in the township justifies a more extended

The village was laid out July 10. 1857, on the
southeast quarter of Section 7, by Linneus Rich-
mond and James Gilson, for whom it was
named. The location was good, — just on the
edge of the timber land along Haw Creek, eleven
miles from Galesburg, on the Peoria branch of
the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railway.
The engines first in use on this line burned
wood, and a large trade grew up in that species
of fuel. Indeed, Gilson now seems to have
been laid out on an open prairie, so thoroughly
has the timber been cleaned away.

The first school house was put up before Gil-
son came into existence, and was used until
about 1872, when the present structure was
erected. The school is graded. There are two
churches — Methodist Episcopal and United
Brethren in Christ. The present population is
about one hundred and fifty. The business is
mostly confined to trade with surrounding
farmers. There are two hotels, two barber
shops, and an apiary of one hundred colonies
of bees.

The postoffice was established March 6, 1857,
with David Richmond as postmaster. His suc-
cessors have been Woodford Pearce, May 21,
1857; J. S. Linn, March 4, 1859; John Love, June
23, 1860; James Moore, December 16, 1860;
Jonas Ickes, January 6, 1865; W. J. McCul-
loch. May 24, 1870; B. A. Hill, November 23,
1885; Morris Blanchard, June 4, 1886; Jennie
Utter, May 29, 1889; Morris Blanchard, Septem-


ber 27, 1S93; G. W. Bushong, August 7, 1897. It is
a money order office, and has a large patronage.
Gilson Camp of the Modern Woodmen was
organized August 31, 1895, with ten members.
First officers: J. E. Scott, V. C; J. F. Conner,
W. A.; J. N. Woolsey, B.; J. H. Baird, Clerk.
In November, 1898, there were flfty-two bene-
ficiary and five social members. There has
never been a death in the camp. Present offi-
cers: J. F. Conner, V. C; C. L. Dossett, W. A.;
A. R. Holloway, K. B. ; J. K. Newman, Clerk;

E. H. McElwain, E.; W. S. Steepleton, S.; C.
H. Upp, W.; J. B. Miller, Physician; C. H. Upp,
Robert Sumner and D. A. Hughes, Managers.


Samuel Burns Anderson was born in 1801 in
Greenbriar County, Virginia. His father, Archi-
bald Anderson, was a native of the same State.
In 1829, near Union, Ohio, he married Miss Irene

F. Watts. Six children were born to them:
Mrs. Elizabeth Huggins; Henry Clay (de-
ceased); Daniel W., of Oregon; Mrs. Malinda A,
Wright (deceased); Mrs. Mary E. Couse (de-
ceased); and Samuel C. (deceased).

Both Mr. and Mrs. Anderson were brought up
by the Shakers of Union Village. Ohio. Mr.
Anderson went to them when he was only seven
years old, and from them learned his trade, that
of a blacksmith, which he followed many years.
He was also a good machinist and turner, hav-
ing served an apprenticeship of seven years in
these trades. He was a giant in strength, one
of his feats being to lift two anvils by the
horns and strike them together.

After his marriage Mr. Anderson settled in
Monroe, Butler County, Ohio. In 1835 he
moved to Knox County, Illinois, and settled in
Haw Creek and Orange townships, opening a
shop and also farming one hundred and sixty
acres of land. He brought with him from
Ohio three short-horn cattle, among the first
in the county, and from them raised a valuable
herd. He was also for a long time the largest
buyer of hogs in the county, driving them to
Peoria and Galena.

Mr. Anderson was County Commissioner
when there were but three in the county, which
office he held for many years. At that time
there was but one pauper in the entire county,
and Mr. Anderson kept and cared for her. In
politics, he was a republican.

Mr. Anderson died at the age of seventy-two,
honored and respected by the community. His
wife died at the age of eightj'-six.


Charles Hubbard Huggins, son of David and
Cynthia (Bartlett) Huggins, was born in Or-
leans County, Vermont, November 27, 1826.
David Huggins was born in Cornish, New
Hampshire, May 14, 1787. In 1834 he came, with
his son Nathaniel, to Knoxville. Illinois, and
purchased land in Knox Township, and town
lots in Knoxville, and then returned to Ver-
mont. In the t all of the same year he removed
with his family to Knox County, via Burlington,
Vermont; Lake Champlain; Troy, New York;

Erie Canal to Buffalo, New York; by boat to
Cleveland, Ohio; by canal to Portsmouth, Ohio;
thence down the Ohio River, and up the Mis-
sissippi and Illinois rivers to Beardstown, Illi-
nois; thence by ox-team and horse-team to
Knox Township. The Huggins family was the
seventh that settled in Knoxville.

Mr. C. H. Huggins obtained his education in
Knoxville, and learned the carpenter's trade
with his half-brother, Edson. He followed that
occupation five years; and then, for four years,

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