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Champaign County, Illinois

History of Hensley Township

This township was formerly part of the township called West Urbana. In 1867 it was organized and called Hensley, in honor of A. P. Hensley, its first supervisor. Mr. Hensley was a native of Kentucky. He emigrated to this State, from Ohio, in 1855. He improved a fine farm, of three hundred acres, on Section 15, where he died August 1st, 1876. Mr. Hensley was highly esteemed by those who had the pleasure of his acquaintance, and by them his loss was sincerely mourned and regretted.

(Photo submitted by Greg Nelson)

This township is bounded on the north by Condit; on the east by Somers; on the south by Champaign; and on the west by Mahomet. It occupies Town 20, range 8, east. It was surveyed into sections, by Richard T. Holiday, for Elias Rector, deputy surveyor, in 1822.

The first entry of land was made by Fielding Loyd in February, 1836, who entered the west half of the northwest quarter of Section 6, Town 20, range 8, east.

The entire township is a beautiful rolling prairie, with the exception of about eighty acres in the extreme northwest corner.


The first settler in this township was Robert Childreth, who settled on Section 6 in the northwest corner of the township, but did not remain long; where he removed to is not known.

The next settlers were John and Isaac Hammer. They came from Indiana, and made a settlement also in the northwest part of the township, in 1836.

At an early day Fountain Busey commenced an improvement on Section 6. He sold out to Hezekiah Phillipe, in 1842, who, in 1837, had settled with his father in the southwest part of what is now Condit. He improved there one of the best farms in the county by adding tract after tract until it had reached nearly two thousand acres. He built a fine residence, capacious barns, and planted an extensive orchard. He died, in 1876, at his home. As a man, the various duties of life, enjoined by the laws of association, upon each member of a community, were performed by Mr. Phillipe, with a full sense of his responsibility in those essentials and with laudable heartiness. A lover of nature, and a farmer by choice, he sought, by all means to improve and adorn his rural surroundings, and he cherished an ambition to excel in agriculture. His wife is still in possession of the firm and resides on the old homestead.

The next settler was Archie Campbell. He settled in the south part of the township. The Deans bought out Campbell, in 1851, and settled where he started an improvement. Campbell then removed to Urbana, afterwards built and ran the Doan House, in Champaign, for several years; and subsequently removed to a place near Chicago.

Samuel Hyde settled in this township, in the spring of 1849, on Section 19, where he still lives.

Charles Miner laid a land-warrant the same fall, improved his land some little, and, in the following spring, he, with his family, settled permanently on Section 19, where he still resides. He has a fine farm, upwards of three hundred acres, well improved, and in a fine state of cultivation.

William C. Fisher came in the same year.

The early settlers that followed in the years 1850 and 1851 were Willis Scott, John Cummings, Samuel Shaw, Theodore Waterman, John Lindsey, R. Waugh, Henry Dickerson, Wm. Morain and Wm. Pierce.

Between the years 1851 and the completion of the Central Railroad, in 1855, the population increased, but slowly. Upon the completion of the railroad, however, the emigration came rapidly pouring in. And the old order of hauling lumber, salt, flour and other provisions, by wagon, with horse or oxen, from points on the Wabash river, Chicago or Pekin, was changed. Most of the early settlers used ox-teams in breaking the soil, generally using four yokes to the plow. After the soil was turned, corn was planted, generally getting a moderate crop without further cultivation, also wheat succeeded well on newly broken land.

The first school-house was built, on Section 7, in the winter of 1853. The first school was taught by John Thrasher, at twelve dollars per month. The second school was taught, in 1854, by Dicy Ann Newel, afterward Mrs. Ragin. The town is now divided into six school districts, maintaining school about eight months each in the year.

The first preaching in the township was held at the residence of H. Phillipe, in the year 1844: Joseph Lane was the preacher officiating, and belonged to the Methodist Episcopal denomination.

Meetings were held quite regularly, at the house of Samuel Hyde, in 1850 and 1851. The only Church in the township is located on Section 9, southeast corner of Wiley Buckle's farm, and near his residence, and is called Mount Vernon Church. This was built, in 1874, by the Methodist Episcopal denomination.

The first wedding was the marriage of Robert Maxwell and Miss Mary S. Hyde, daughter of Samuel Hyde, Jan. 27th, 1850.

The first death was Nancy E. Phillipe, daughter of H. and Elizabeth Phillipe, August 7th, 1850.

On Section 19 now live three pioneer farmers, aged seventy to seventy-six, who bought land from the government and settled on that section in the years 1849 and 1850. They have lived neighbors, and helped each other through harvest, near thirty years. Their names are Samuel Hyde, Samuel Shaw and Charles Miner.

James R. Scott, from Kentucky, settled in this town in 1857. His farm, of something over one thousand acres of fine land, is one of the best improved farms in the county, and is devoted to the raising of fine breeds of stock. He brought the first fine stock into the township. He is also engaged in the banking business, in Champaign.

The other more finely improved farms in this township are the farms of M. E. Stamey, Wiley Buckle, Henry T. Aspern, J. Babb, Mrs. Frankeberger, G. W. Johnston and Phillipe.


The murder of Robert May occurred in 1871. May kept a disorderly house, which got to be a nuisance in the neighborhood. Some reckless young men concluded to "clean it out." They went to the house and asked for admittance. May got up, and opening the door, was shot. Some say he fired into the crowd first; others, that he was killed by a shot through the door. Persons were arrested, who were committed for murder. They were admitted to bail by Judge Gallagher. When the Grand Jury took the matter in hand, it was found that the accused parties and the witnesses had disappeared. So no indictment was possible.

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