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Champaign County, Illinois

History of Raymond Township

This township constitutes what is known as town 17, range 10 and is bounded on the north by Sidney, on the east by South Homer, on the south by Douglas county, and on the west by Crittenden township. An extensive marsh caused by the Embarras Slough, extends from east to west through the entire township. The surface south of this marsh is generally level; but to the north it is somewhat rolling. The excellent system of graded roads here has done much to carry off the surplus water, and what was once a marsh is now capable of being cultivated almost any season.

The soil is rich, deep, inexhaustible, and entirely destitute of timber; but what nature has failed to do the enterprising citizens of that township are rapidly supplying, in the shape of artificial groves, which, in time to come, will be a living monument of their industry and forethought.

The only stream in the township is the Embarras, referred to above. This stream enters about the middle of the eastern line, and flows westerly and north-west entirely across the township, uniting with the west fork of the same stream in Crittenden township. With the exception of unusually wet seasons this stream is dry a part of the year.

THE FIRST SETTLEMENT

Within the limits of the present township of Raymond was made during the summer of 1853, by a man from Indiana, by the name of John Starkey, who settled upon the Shawhan farm, in the western part of the township. Mr. Starkey was only a "squatter," however, and selling his improvement to William Shawhan, in 1855, he removed to other parts. The man who made the second attempt to form a settlement was well suited to the task. William Shawhan was a man of irreproachable character, fearless and industrious. He was respected by all who knew him. He died a few years since, mourned as one whose place no other could fill.

The first permanent settler was soon followed by others, among whom were J. R. Southworth, Joseph Bougard, Simeon Minor, Samuel Brown, Stewart Wishard, William and David Mortiner, J. W. Churchill, B. Shackleford, A. J. Paine, John Dundon, N. Raymond, B. Dillworth, Caleb Taylor, William Wilson, Martin Plymire, David Danforth, Thos Chaplin, John Warner, and many others who might be named as having added very materially to the development of this township.

The eastern half was formerly a part of the celebrated Alexander estate, which was first settled by a man named Sullivant. For many years this section went by the name of the "Red-root" district, but was changed by Sullivant to "Broad-land," which name it still retains. The township at one time formed a part of Sidney township, but was separated from that and received the name it bears in honor of N. Raymond, the first supervisor. The first public meeting of any kind in the township was held in Mr. Shawhan's cabin, on the 13th day of April, 1857, for the purpose of electing school officers. 'Twas a glorious meeting, each man in attendance receiving an office! The following were their names, and the offices to which they were elected: viz., J. R. Southworth, S. Minor, and S. Wishard were elected trustees, and William Shawhan had the office of town treasurer assigned to him.

The first birth is supposed to be a child of Mrs. Starkey.

The first marriage took place between Robert Myers and Miss Helen Shawhan, daughter of William Shawhan, on the 29th day of October, 1857.

The first death in Raymond was that of Mrs. Myers, about two years after her marriage.

THE SCHOOLS

Of this township are in a flourishing condition. In 1857 Addie Kuble was employed to teach a school in an old log cabin which stood near where William Martinie lives. By reference to the treasurer's book we learn that she received upon schedule No. One the sum of twenty dollars. The second money was paid to Miss Addie Southworth, on schedule No. Two.

THE FIRST SCHOOL-HOUSE

Was erected in 1859, by J. R. Southworth. The building was one of peculiar shape, being an exact octagon, containing a door and three windows. The roof terminated in a point in the center, where was placed the chimney. Miss Sarah Mulligan had the honor of being the first teacher of this school.

RELIGION

Received at least a share of the attention of the earlier settlers. In 1856 or 1857 William Shawhan succeeded in inducing Elder McKinney to come and hold services in his house. The meetings were afterwards transferred to the "Round Top" school-house. Rev. Barthlow and Shawhan were among the pioneer preachers. The first church organization in the township was effected in the "Round Top" school-house, by Rev. McCorkle, of the Christian Church. This organization was short-lived. An organization was also effected by the same minister in 1874, which, under the eloquent preaching of different ministers, has gradually continued to decline.

THE METHODIST EPISCOPAL CHURCH

Organized a class at North Raymond school-house in 1870, with Rev. Morey as the pastor. Among the first members were the Wilsons, the Dundons, the Deans, the Tremains, and others. This class is still in a flourishing condition.

THE LUTHERANS

Organized in Fair View school-house in 1876. They at once erected a very neat house of worship, which is the only one in the township.

TIIE FIRST STORE

Was opened by Charles Seltzer, in the interests of the Grange fraternity, but having since discontinued, David Martinie is the only merchant doing business in the township at present.

In 1870 a post-office was established at the residence of J. R. Southworth, his son Frank being the post-master. Discontinued in 1874.

At the first election, after the township was separated from Sidney, the following officers were elected: Supervisor, N. Raymond; Clerk, J. W. Churchill; Assessor, S. D. Porterfield, and N. Raymond as Collector. At the above meeting the following resolution was adopted.

Resolved, That the legal voters of Raymond township are opposed to the annexation of the eastern half of the J. T. Alexander farm to the said township.

The population of Raymond consists largely of thrifty Germans and no less enterprising native Americans. Although the Alexander farm was but recently subdivided into small farms, so rapidly has the stream of immigration poured into its boundaries, that but few farms are left unsold.

A railroad grade passes the township, which, if ever completed, will be an outlet for the immense crops annually produced in this section.

Great interest is being taken in improvements, such as the erection of good, substantial residences and barns, and there may be already seen several large and elegant dwellings within the township.

Efforts have been made to establish a post-office at Martinie's store, with the intention of building up a village. It already contains a store, by Mr. Martinie, a blacksmith shop, by Mr. Gibson, a carpenter shop by Mr. Lanan, a good school-house, which is also used as a church, and also a physician; the last of these, Dr. Ratts, though a young man, is building up a good practice.

For the above facts we are indebted to S. Brown, J. Bougard, J. Dundon and wife, J. R. Southworth, Mrs. Wilson, and others.


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