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Champaign County, Illinois
History of Brown Township
Brown township is in the extreme north-west part of the county. East Bend township lies to the east of it, Newcomb township to the south, and it is bounded on the north by Ford county and on the west by M'Lean. It corresponds with Congressional township 22, range 7, east, and was taken from East Bend township and organized in 1869.
The first settler in the township, was Henry B. King, who, about the year 1834, settled where William Vance now lives. According to the Devores of East Bend township, this was the oldest settled place in all the north-western part of the county. For several years, King was the only man living in this part of the county, and his settlement was a kind of way-mark by which travelers passing through were directed. For a long time the only means of crossing the Sangamon river in that vicinity, was by means of a floating bridge, constructed and kept in repair by Mr. King, near where the two branches of the Sangamon unite. King is said to have sold his improvement to a man named Williams, and to have removed to M'lean county. A man named Pitt, came shortly after King, and built a log cabin on the Sangamon, farther down the stream, but soon abandoned the location.
On what is known as the Stephens place, in section 1, on Drummer creek, now owned by Thomas Stephens, a man named Isaac Byers, was an old settler. On this place an apple orchard was set out at an early day, and the trees were of large size in 1856, when other settlers began to come into the township. The township received its name from William Brown, who was an early settler on section 3. He moved to Mahomet township and died there. On section 11, an early improvement was made by Montgomery Taylor; David Nicewunder afterward lived on the same place, and was an early settle there.
The oldest settler now on the prairie in the south-western part of the township, is William H. Grove. He came to the township in 1852, and with the exception of two years, has been living on the place of his first settlement ever since. When he located there, no one was living within three miles of him. Some people thought it was not the part of wisdom to make a location so far out on the prairies, but Mr. Grove has lived to see the first farms in the county opened up, where twenty-five years ago, no one could be induced to settle.
On land now owned by D. Harpster, I. Maroney was an early settler, but not till after 1850. On section 16, Carl Dobson was the first settler. Alfred Houston, in 1854, settled on section 13, and in 1860, moved to East Bend township, where he is now living. Anthony Schenck came to the township in 1857, and improved the farm where he now resides. He has been supervisor, and a leading citizen. On section 15, Tilghman Smith was a comparatively early settler; on section 13, David Cooter, Gardner Sweet and J. W. Tucker; on section 4, J. Strous; on section 10, John H. Myers; on section 11, Thomas Carpenter and Jackson Rounds; on section 34, John W. Douglas; on section 35, Jonas Lester; on section 36, C. C. Harris, all of whom were living in the township previous to the war. The finest entry of land in this township, was the south-west quarter of section 4, by Henry B. King, in 1875.
Brown township embraces a high and beautiful tract of land. Much of the prairie is enough rolling to furnish excellent drainage. The Sangamon river flows through the northern part of the township. Until some years ago, the township was devoid of railroad facilities, the nearest available market in any direction, being ten miles distant, and this circumstance interfered with the rapid development of its resources. This want, however, has now been completely remedied, and Brown now possesses railroad facilities equal to those of any other part of the county. The Gilman, Clinton and Springfield railroad touches the north-west corner of the township. The Chicago and Paducah road, runs diagonally through the western half of the township, intersecting the various railroads running east and west through the central part of the state, and affording direct communication with Chicago. Foosland is a station on this road. The Havana, Rantoul and Eastern (narrow gauge) has been already constructed to Fisher, in the north-east corner of the township, and at the date of the present writing, there is every prospect of the road being in a few months completed westward through the southern tier of sections to Leroy, so that the township in its miles of railroad,, will almost equal any other township in the county. The building of these roads has been an impetus to the growth and development of this part of the county, and within the next few years still more rapid strides in the path of prosperity, may be witnessed.
The town of Foosland on the line of the Chicago and Paducah railroad, was laid out in the spring of 1874, on land belonging to William Foos. Mr. Foos is a resident of Columbus, Ohio, and is the owner of about four thousand acres of land in that vicinity. The first building to be erected in the town, was a dwelling-house, built by J. J. Taylor. The second building, a hotel and dwelling-house, was erected by George Dawson. James Malloy and a Van Deventer, put up dwelling-houses about the same time, in the summer of 1874. The first store building was put up by N. B. Tyler, who opened the first store in the summer of 1874. From Tyler, this store passed successively into the hands of Warner & Snyder, Wilson Bros., and William Phillips, and was discontinued in January, 1878. The grain elevator, water tank and railroad station, were all built in the summer of 1874. C. Dyer built the store which he now occupies, the same summer, opened the store November 17, 1874, and has continued in the mercantile business from that time to the present. G. W. Dawson and William Ridge built a store in the summer of 1874, and continued business till the spring of 1875, when they disposed of their stock to Theodore F. Phillips. The following spring the store was discontinued. The first blacksmith shop was started by Benjamin Sprague.
A post-office was established in 1874. The first postmaster was G. W. Dawson, who was succeeded by Capt. E. Warner. Capt. Warner still retains the office, and also performs the functions of Justice of the Peace and notary public. The first physician to locate in the town, was Dr. Hill. Dr. Harvey L. Harris located here in February, 1875; has since had charge of a large and extensive practice, and is now the only physician in the place.
The present business houses comprise a general store, of which C. Dyer is proprietor, and a blacksmith shop, carried on by W. Holliday. C. Dyer and G. L. Koons and Sons, are dealers in grain. William Foos and Frederick Schoenberger have a large hay press. The American Express company have an office, as has also the Western Union Telegraph company. Over the Chicago and Paducah railroad, one passenger and one freight train is run each way daily. This road has its present southern terminus at Altamont on the Vandalia railroad, and its northern at Streator, where it connects with the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy road. It also connects at Gibson with the Illinois Central. The intention is, to extend it north in a direct line to Chicago.
The Methodist church at Foosland, was built at a cost of $1050. The school house, which was built in 1877, cost six hundred dollars. The United Brethren have a church a mile and a half north-east of Foosland, erected in the fall of 1876, at a cost of thirteen hundred dollars.
The town of Fisher, on the Havana, Rantoul and Eastern railroad, was laid out in December, 1875, by Robert Fisher, a leading resident of Newcomb township, a short distance from the site of the town, from whom the town received its name. Tandy Pritchard, in May, 1876, erected the first building as a dwelling house; and J. S. Burge built another soon afterward and also established the first blacksmith shop in the town. The store of which Charles and Thomas Wilson are the present proprietors, was the first ever opened in the town. It was started in June, 1876, by David Kimmel, who afterward disposed of the stock to John Thomas and Andrew Roberts. The second store was started in July, 1876, by Thomas Rome, and is now in the hands of John Nichols. The building in which are now the stores of E. G. Fish & Co., and W. J. Lateer & Co., was completed in August, 1876, and on the first of September of that year, E. G. Fisher & Co., began business, and have successfully carried on a large trade from that date to the present. The hardware and drug store next door to Fish's store was opened also in September, 1876, by John Thomas, who at that date moved from the Kimmel building, which he had previously been occupying. James H. Gossard opened a boot and shoe store in the fall of 1877, and William Omby started the second blacksmith shop in the month of August, 1877. A list of the business men of the town at present, is as follows:
General Stores.--E. G. Fish & Co., Chas. Wilson & Co., John Nicholas. Hardware and Drugs.--J. W. Lateer & Co.
Dealers in Grain.--A. D. Ricketts, E. A. Lyon. Blacksmiths.-J. S. Burge, William Omby.
Charles Wilson acts as postmaster. South-east of where the town now stands in Condit township, a store was started by John A. Fisher, and a postoffice called Newcomb, was established there, with Mr. Fisher as postmaster. Still previous, the office had been east of the Sangamon. The Methodist church in the town of Fisher, formerly stood in the north-east corner of Newcomb township, but was moved to its present situation in the year 1877.
Fisher has had a healthy and vigorous growth, and has enjoyed a large trade from the country surrounding. Robert Fisher, the original proprietor of the town, is a gentleman of intelligent enterprise and great energy, and has done everything possible toward the advancement of its prosperity. For some time the place has been the western terminus of the Havana, Rantoul and Eastern railroad, but the completion of the road to Leroy, farther west, is being rapidly pushed forward, and on the final construction of the whole line, the easy access which it will give to all the central part of the state, and the abundant facilities for making shipments, will doubtless advance the prosperous development of the north-western part of the county.
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