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Champaign County, Illinois

History of Newcomb Township

The township of Newcomb, as known on the government survey, is Township 21, Range 7, east. It was divided into sections by David Anderson and Patrick Oscar Lee, Deputy Surveyors, in 1823.

It is bounded on the north by Brown, on the east by Condit, on the south by Mahomet, and on the west by the counties of McLean and Piatt.

It derives its name from Mr. Newcom, who settled at an early day in the northwest part of what is now Condit township, and opened a kind of a tavern. It was called Newcomb Ford, and was fourteen miles from Urbana.

The south-east part of the township is heavy timbered along the Sangamon river. The Sangamon enters the township in the north-east part, section 12, traverses the eastern portion of the township in a southerly direction, crossing the line into Mahomet township, at the southeast corner section 35. Its banks through Newcomb are in most places high and free from marsh. The township is further watered by a tributary, Pancake Creek, from the southwest, running in a north-easterly direction, and finally flowing into the Sangamon in the north-west quarter of section 23. Pure cold well water is procured by digging not usually to exceed thirty feet, and is generally found at a depth of about twenty feet.

The health of the township is generally excellent, owing to the invigorating atmosphere, pure water, and absence of malarial propagators in the way of marshes and decaying vegetable matter. But few marshes are found in the township, and they are small and insignificant.

The first settler was James S. Mitchell, who came from Lexington, Kentucky, in 1835, and settled on section 22, now known as Pancake Point; he only lived there two years, and then emigrated to Missouri, in 1837. The next settler was one Aruspiker; he came in about 1835 or 1836, but did not remain long, removing in 1837. The next settler was William Pancake; he settled near Pancake Point, February, 1837; he was from Madison county, Ohio, and lived on the place he improved until he died, December, 1855. J. W. Pancake also came to this township in the year 1837; he was from Ohio, and at that time was seventeen years of age. In 1845 he was united in marriage to Miss Hormal, daughter of Joel Hormal, an early settler in Mahomet township. Mr. Pancake lived in the township until 1868, and then removed to Mahomet, where he now resides. Joseph T. Everet settled in this township in the fall of 1841; he improved a farm on section 34. In 1859 Mr. Everet moved to Champaign, where he died, July, 1878.

Samuel Houston, from Rush county, Indiana, was the next to come, in 1849. He settled on section 21.

The next settler after Houston was J. S. Hannah; he came in the year 1851 from Logan county, Ohio, with his family, and settled on section 34, where he now resides.

Joseph J. Hannah settled in this township in the spring of 1851; he lived one year in Mahomet, then removed to Newcomb; he was also from Ohio.

The early settlers that followed up to about 1853 were William Lane, P. Hinton, Augustus Blacker, George Kimble, Samuel Rhodes, Samuel and Allen Hubbard, Jacob Tinbrook, Henry Wilson, Benjamin Lester, I. N. Phillipps, G. H. Banes, Josiah Banes, W. B. Brodrick, James Rector, and Richard Merrel.

First school was taught in Jesse Pancake's old log house; he had built a better house to live in. This was in the year 1851, and Miss Martha Newel, afterwards Mrs. Lyons, was the teacher. Only one term taught in this place.

The first school-house built was located on section 27, in the fall of 1852; it was a log structure, sixteen by eighteen feet. R. Banes was the first teacher, and he taught two terms.

First Birth.---Joseph Pancake was supposed to be the first birth, son of William and Catharine Pancake, January, 1841.

The first resident that was married was William Pancake. He married Miss Catharine Phillippe, daughter of John Phillippe, sen. They were married at Phillippe's residence in what is now Condit township, in 1840.

The first burial-ground was located on section 22, on J. W. Pancake's land. The first person buried in this ground was Mrs. Phebe Brodrick, wife of W. B. Brodrick, in 1853; but this was not the first death in the township. The probable first death in the township was a child of Aruspike, in the year 1836.

The first preaching in the township was at the residence of J. S. Hannah in the year 1852. Rev. Parker was the preacher, M. E. denomination. Parker held services at the residence of Mr. Hannah for one year; he had regular appointments every month. Sometimes he would preach in the forenoon and the same evening at "early candle-light." Those possessing candles were deemed fortunate at that time, and the light in common use was made by placing a piece of wicking in melted deer's tallow, and igniting the exposed extremity. The deer were plenty and wolves troublesome in this township until about 1855.

There are now two churches in this township. The M. E. Church at Pancake's Point was built in 1865. The United Brethren Church, on section 3, was built in the year 1874. In 1874 the Methodists built a church on section 1, near the residence of Robert Fisher. It was removed to the town of Fisher, in the south-east corner of Brown township the fall of 1877. The first Sunday- School was held in a little log school-house on section 14, in the year 1853. Samuel Rhodes was the superintendent.

Post office.---Shiloh Centre post-office was established October 16th, 1874, near Pancake's Point, Mrs. Elizabeth Compton being the postmistress, wife of E. Compton. They get the mail twice a week from Mahomet, Tuesdays and Saturdays. They keep a grocery store in connection with the post-office.

Blacksmith Shop.---Thomas Reneson opened a shop at Pancake's Point in the winter of 1875. He does all kinds of wood and iron work. Mr. Reneson is a native of England, and has been a resident of Champaign county for the last twenty years.

The voters of this township vote at the Lester School-house, on section 14, near the residence of J. B. Lester.

The early pioneers of this township mostly emigrated from Ohio, Indiana, and Kentucky, and were generally industrious and quiet citizens.

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