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Champaign County, Illinois

History of Harwood Township

The settlements in Harwood township are of comparatively recent date. The township is all prairie, with no groves to invite the early pioneers, who invariably sought locations in the timber and along the streams, and in consequence while settlements were made in other parts of the county, the prairies of this township lay undisturbed in their native wildness till the construction of the Illinois Central road.

The first settler in the township appears to have been Jeremiah Delay, who, in the year 1852, or soon afterward, settled where Judge William M. Phillips now lives. He set out the big hedges growing south of Judge Phillips' house. Jacob Huffman and Michael Huffman were also early settlers in the township. They came from Vermillion county. Jacob came in 1852, and began making an improvement on section 1. Michael came the following year, and settled on section 3. Michael Huffman was the first justice of the peace elected in Harwood township. The Huffmans were from Harrison county, Kentucky. South of Delay, a man named Bullock was an early settler. On the north side of the township William Le Neve made a settlement near where he now lives, in 1855, on land which his father, John Le Neve, had purchased in 1852. A. N. Le Neve, a brother to William, came soon afterward and settled on an adjoining farm. The Le Neves were from Kentucky, and were among the first settlers of Vermillion county. John Le Neve, the father of William and A. N. Le Neve, is said to have split the first rails ever split north of the Vermillion river. James W. Carter settled on section 1 in 1854. He was from Kentucky. O. P. Soper and Holcombe Soper were the first settlers in the south-east part of the township. John Crawford and William Crawford, who were natives of the state of New York, settled in the south-eastern part of the township, and were among the earliest residents there.

In the north-west part of the township James D. Ludlow was the first settler. In the year 1855 he settled on section 7, directly adjoining the range line which separates the township from Ludlow, and built the house which he now occupies, in 1856. Mr. Ludlow was born in the year 1822, near Cincinnati, Ohio, and came to Illinois in 1853 as the agent of Michael L. Sullivant, for whom he purchased most of the great farm on the southwest corner of the county, known as " Broadlands." He also acted as agent in the purchase at the Danville land office of most of the tract of forty thousand acres in Ford and Livingston counties, which formed Mr. Sullivant's famous farm. After making this settlement in Harwood township, Mr. Ludlow began making improvements, and wisely set out a number of varieties of fruit and forest trees, which give the grounds adjoining his residence a beautiful appearance and demonstrate what can be done in the way of furnishing shade and shelter to these open prairies. The town and township of Ludlow were so named in his honor.

Adam Smith bought considerable quantities of land in this township (as he did at other places on the line of the Illinois Central railroad at Rantoul and Tolono) and put up small houses on the tracts for the purpose of selling them the easier. One of these improvements on the west side of the township was sold to Dr. J. C. Maxwell of Lebanon, Kentucky, `whose brother, a young married man, moved there in 1856. Into another of these houses of Smith, situated on section 8, moved a man by the name of James Marlatt, from Indiana. The first improvement on section 9 was made by Richard Claypole, and on section 7 by his brother, Abraham Claypole, both in the year 1856. On the sale of the school land, section 16, forty acres were sold to a man named Potter, who made the first improvement in that section. It was the farm which is now occupied by Joseph Watson.

Harwood township was so named in honor of Abel Harwood, of Champaign, who had represented the county in the legislature, and filled positions of public trust and honor.

The first school taught in this township was on section 11, where John S. Webber now resides. The teacher was Augustus Crawford, and the school was held about the year 1860. The building in which the school was kept, a log structure about ten by twelve feet in dimensions, still stands on Mr. Webber's place in the near vicinity of his residence. It appears that the log building was first erected for a house on Solomon Kuder's place, in Kerr township, and was afterward moved by Jacob Huffman to the place where he settled on coming to the township, on section 1. Subsequently William Hughes again changed the location of the building, this time moving it over to section 11, where John S. Webber now lives, in order to pre-empt that land; after it had done service in this respect it remained there, and afterwards was used as a school-house.

Harwood Chapel, a Methodist Church on section 2, is the only church building in the township. It was erected in 1870, at a cost of about $2,000, and is a neat and comfortable frame building. There is no town or post office in the township, and no railroad station except "Harwood," on the narrow gauge, in the northern part of the township. The township is entirely prairie except a few acres of timber where the Middle Fork of the Vermillion intersects the northeast corner. This township, with Ludlow to the west, comprises the highest land in the county. These two townships are drained by tributaries of the Salt Fork and Middle Fork of the Vermillion, whose waters flow into the Wabash and thence to the Ohio river, and the tributaries of the Sangamon, whose waters flow into the Mississippi. Natural advantages conspire to make this some day one of the finest portions of the county.

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