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Champaign County, Illinois
History of Mahomet Township
Mahomet township is situated north-west of the geographical centre of Champaign county, and is one of the most fertile and productive in the county. The surface is rolling prairie, and the soil is a rich prairie loam. Very little, if any land in the township is unfit for cultivation. The Sangamon River enters the township near the north-east corner, and runs through it in a south-westerly course, and is a stream of considerable size, with here and there along its banks good facilities for water-power, which have been utilized at the village of Mahomet, where is located a flouring mill of good size and capacity.
The first settlement was made about 1830, since which time its improvement has been both rapid and substantial. The character of the people, who came principally from the Middle, and some from the Eastern States, is excellent, and the entire township bears evidence of their thrift and energy.
The principal products are corn, oats, wheat, rye and barley, and considerable attention is given to the raising of fine stock.
Among the early setters were Henry, Jonathan and James Osborne, Jesse Tompkins, Jonathan Maxwell, John Mead and John Bryant, all of whom had families.
Jesse Tompkins was the first person who died in the township, and is buried on what is now the farm of Thomas A. Davidson, in section 22.
Charles Parker was the first preacher, and belonged to the Methodist Episcopal denomination. George Cooper taught the first school. Dr. N. H. Adams was the first resident practitioner of medicine.
The first house was built by Henry Osborne, and the first school-house was built in 1837, on section 14, and was called District No. 1.
The first church was built by the Baptist denomination about 1840. Amasa built the first saw and grist mill in the same year. In 1835 was opened the State road from Urbana to Bloomington---the first in the township---and the first county bridge was built across the Sangamon about the year 1850.
The first school district was formed by Jonathan Maxwell, T. S. Scott and John G. Robertson. Daniel T. Porter was the first postmaster, and also kept the first store; John Bryant the first tavern, and Jonathan Maxwell the first blacksmith shop.
In 1836 Mr. J. V. Williams brought the first improved stock to the township---Short-horn, or Durham cattle---since which time large editions have been made, until now almost every farmer has his blooded horses cattle, sheep and hogs.
The township is one of the most desirable in the county, if not in all the State, for the farmer and stock-raiser. The moral standing of the people is good. All of the orthodox denominations are represented---Methodist, Baptist, Presbyterian and Christian; all have communicants, and most of them houses of worship. The schools are in a flourishing condition, and have few, if any, opponents, the people generally recognizing in them one of the chief bulwarks of the Republic.
Mahomet, a thriving village situated on the west bank of the Sangamon, and about twelve miles from the county-seat, is the principal one in the township. It was originally called Middletown, and was laid out in 1832, by Daniel Porter. It has about 800 inhabitants, two flouring mills, one grain elevator, and eight stores, whose annual sales aggregate $50,000; one graded school, three churches---Presbyterian, Methodist and Baptist; two wagon shops, and one plow works. The Masonic and Odd Fellows' Orders both have lodges, with a good lodge-room. The business portion of the village was entirely destroyed by fire, but has since been rebuilt in a more substantial manner than before. About 1875 the drug store of A. Lewellen, Jr., was burned, together with a man named Henry S. Wilson, who was sleeping in it at the time. The accident gave rise to much speculation, and some mystery surrounds it, but no satisfactory or definite reasons have ever been assigned for the catastrophe.
A most distressing and fatal accident occurred February 27th, 1866, which resulted in the death of a most estimable young lady, the daughter of John W. Park, Esq. On the evening mentioned, a party of folks, some eight or ten in number, from the village and neighborhood, started in a two-horse wagon to go to a spelling match at Adams' school-house. Upon crossing the bridge over the Sangamon River, just east of the village of Mahomet, they encountered another team coming from the opposite direction. In endeavoring to pass each other, the wheels of the wagons, owing to the narrowness of the bridge, became locked, and in endeavoring to extricate themselves, the coupling-pole of the wagon which the party of young folks were in broke, and the hind wheels, together with the wagon-bed and all in it, fell into the river some distance below, and which was full of running ice. Joseph Stacker, one of the party, managed to reach a sycamore tree, and as the girls' heads appeared above the water, he caught them and pulled them to him. They clung to him, when it was discovered that one of their number was missing. He shouted for help, in order to rescue her, but it did not arrive in time. Upon getting to shore they discovered the missing one of their young companions was Elizabeth Ann Park.
MAHOMET LODGE NO. 220, A. F. AND A. M.
On the 23d day of January, 1856, a dispensation was granted by W. B. Herrick, then Grand Master of Illinois, to the following named master Masons, to open a lodge of Masons at Middletown, Champaign county, Ill., to be known as Mahomet Lodge U. D. Wiley Davis, F. L. Scott, I. N. Phillips, R. P. Carson, P. M. Parks, D.C.Hill and D. A. Brentor. The first W. M. was P. M. Parks; the first S. W., Wim. Stewart; first J. W., F. M. Owens.
The first meeting of the lodge was held at Union Hall, Middletown, on May 5th,1856. At this meeting the following officers were appointed: R. P. Carson, treasurer; Daniel C. Hill, secretary; Isaac N. Phillips, S. D.; Wiley Davis, J. D.; and Fielding L. Scott, Tyler.
In 1876 their hall was burned, and all lodge furniture and archives were destroyed, except the record books, which were in the safe of J. W. Starling. When this brother's store burned in 1875 the books were in his safe, and came out but slightly damaged.
The membership of Mahomet Lodge comprises some of the oldest and most respected citizens of the community. It is very zealous of the honor of Masonry, and guards the entrance of the lodge with zealous care.
The present officers are: Julius D. Brown, W. M.; Carlos C. Curtis, S. W.; Joshua Smith, J. W.; Stuart F. Gleason, treasurer; T. Benson Hubbard, secretary; Jeremiah Dwyer, S. D.; David Baily, J. D.; John H. West, John P. Grindley, stewards; Samuel Steen, Tyler. The present number of members is 52.
PACIFIC ENCAMPMENT NO. 126, I. O. O. F.
This encampment dates its existence back to 1871. The charter members were James R. Robertson, H. S. Ore, Wash. Neberker, Samuel Steed, Lafayette Savage, E. B. Smith, and John N. Beers.
The first officers elected were James R. Robertson, C. P.; H. S. Orr, L. W.; Wash. Neberker, H. P.; John N. Beers, scribe; E. B. Smith, treasurer; Samuel Steen, J. W.
The encampment suffered greatly by the same fire which destroyed the regalia of the subordinate lodge. This was in May, 1876. The present officers are Porter A. Savage, C. P.; Augustus Pfiesterer, S. W.; David Fisher, H. P.; James Davis, scribe; Samuel Steen, treasurer; Fred Geiger, J. W.; David Fisher, G. R. to G. E.
The encampment is in good working order, with a membership of 19.
PACIFIC LODGE NO. 152, I. O. O. F., MAHOMET, ILLINOIS
This lodge was organized in 1852, By Mr. Smith, of Decatur, G. M. The charter members were H. O. Hill, P. M. Parks, Jacob and Peter Schule, James L. Crane, and F. M. Owens.
The first officers were as follows: H. O. Hill, N. G.; James L. Crane, V. G.; R. P. Carson, P. R. S.; P. M. Park, treasurer; ____ Dugan D. D. G. M.
In 1861 almost the entire organization volunteered in defence of their imperiled country. In 1870 the lodge was reorganized, by H. S. Orr, Samuel Steen, Wash. Neberker, James Davis, E. B. Smith, and Adam Karr. In 1876 the lodge building was destroyed by fire, together with all the regalia, books, &c.
The present officers are (1878) Wm. M. Horney, N. G.; S. C. Johnson, V. G.; James Carr, R. L.; James Davis, P. S.; Samuel Steen, treasurer; W. P. Dick, R. to G. L.
The lodge is in good working order, with a membership of 34.
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