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Champaign County, Illinois
History of Colfax Township
Colfax township occupies the congressional town 18, range 7, and is bounded on the north by Scott, on the east by Tolono, on the south hy Sadorus, and on the west by Piatt county. This township was formerly attached to Tolono, but was separated in 1868, and held the first separate election in 1869, electing E. P. Langley the first supervisor.
With the exception of the south-eastern corner, Colfax consists of rich prairie soil; the above exception comprises the head of Sadorus Grove. The surface of the western part is generally level, but near and in the timber is more rolling.
The only streams in the township are the head waters of the Kaskaskia, and a few smaller tributaries which flow to the southwest.
The first settler within the limits of what is now Colfax township, was Henry Sadorus, who halted at the head of the grove, between John Rogerson's and James Miller's, in the spring of 1824. Mr. Sadorus was on his way to Missouri at the time, and his oxen giving out, he stopped at the above place, but moved farther down the grove the following autumn.
The first permanent settler was a man by the name of John Cook, who came from Indiana in 1841, and settled where Jesse Cook resides. Mr. Cook made the first permanent improvement in the township; among other things, planting an orchard.
Some five or six years after the above gentleman, came John Hamilton, also from Indiana.
Benjamin F. Miller removed to the township about this time, and James Miller came in the spring of 1849, and located where he still lives. The Miller boys were also from Indiana.
Then followed Elisha Centers, John and William Allen, George Morehouse, George Parsons, *** Rochelle, George and Samuel Craw, John Harber, Wesley Dines, and others.
For a long time the settlements were confined to the timber, but after a while it was discovered that the prairie contained a treasure beneath its green surface, and new-comers began to settle farther out, until the land has all been taken up; principally within the last decade. In fact, we learn from reliable authority that as late as 1865 there were but 150 persons in the township, while the present population is more than 1,000.
The first public meeting was probably held for the purpose of arranging in reference to a school; at least a school-house was built of logs as early as 1848, but the larger part of the patrons lived in Tolono and Sadorus townships. Religious meetings were held in this building at a very early day.
The first school was taught in the above building in the summer of 1848, Jane Lyons, of Sidney, being the teacher. Her salary was paid by subscription, at the rate of twelve dollars per month. The school was attended by the Millers, Hamiltons, Sadorus's, and Cooks.
The citizens of Colfax have manifested considerable interest in the schools, and the township is being well supplied with suitable buildings, generally well furnished with modern conveniences.
Several of the citizens of the township are men of good education, and are making an effort to bring up their children in the sunshine of intellectual culture.
There is no high school in the township, but as a portion of Sadorus village extends in the south east corner, a portion, at least, have the benefit of the excellent graded school of that place.
Christianity has not been altogether neglected, though there is no Church building within the limits.
Revs. Riley and Branch did the first preaching in that section; the former preaching in the old log school-house as early as 1848 or 1849. Mr. Riley was a minister of the Baptist Church.
After the county was pretty well settled, Rev. Baily, of the United Brethren Church, came into the township, and organized a class, which holds its meetings at the Antioch school-house.
About the same time there was also a Christian (Disciple) preacher, who came and located, on a farm, in the township, and began expounding the word of God. A congregation was formed at the Union school-house, by Elder Fenton.
The Patrons of Husbandry organized a lodge at "Hazel Green" school-house, in 1874, under the labors of Clinton Meyers, of Tolono.
Among the first officers may be named Isaac Miller, Worthy Master; A. H. Gage, Secretary; Charles W. Craw, Treasurer; Samuel Craw, Worthy Overseer; Thomas Beard, Lecturer; and George Craw, Chaplain.
The organization seemed to prosper for some time, but finally submitted to the fate of most of the lodges of that excellent society, and has since been discontinued.
A farmers, club had been organized in Sadorus village prior to the Grange, and gave place to that institution. A large portion of the members were the enterprising farmers of Colfax township.
These organizations have been the means of promoting the agricultural interest of the township, and it is to be regretted that they were not kept up longer.
The first births in the township were those of William and Fanny, children of John Cook.
The first marriage took place between Allen Sadorus and Maggie Hamilton, on the __ day of ____. The ceremony was performed by ___.
The first death was that of a little daughter of James Miller, in 1850.
Benjamin F. Miller died in 1854.
These were buried outside of the township.
The first burial ground was not laid out till 1874, when Edmund Craw was buried in the grove east of James Miller's. George and Samuel Craw laid out the burial ground during the same season.
In 1857, George Craw erected a horse-power saw and grist mill on his farm. This served the purpose very well at that time, but has long since disappeared.
John Rogerson brought a steam saw-mill to the grove, in 1872, for the purpose of making lumber of a body of timber he had purchased. This mill has also been removed to another place.
Substantial bridges are erected, or are being erected, across the streams, while particular attention is being paid to the roads, and although still of an inferior character, we anticipate the time when Colfax will be equal to the older townships in the condition of her roads.
This township contains quite a curiosity in the shape of a mound of earth rising abruptly from the level surface of the prairie to the height of something near one hundred and fifty feet, with a surface at the top of some eighty acres, upon which have been planted an orchard, and other improvements.
This mound and the surrounding prairie were formerly great haunts for wolves, and many are the stories told of the encounters the pioneers had with these fierce beasts.
We are indebted for the above facts to James Miller, John Rogerson,
A H. Gage, George and Samuel Craw, and others.
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