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Champaign County, Illinois

History of Sidney Township

This township is bounded on the south by Raymond township, on the north by St. Joseph, on the east by Homer, and on the west by Philo.

The township of Sidney embraces within its borders some of the finest farms in the county. The face of the country is for the most part rolling prairie, and is well adapted to all kinds of agriculture. Within the town and bordering on the Salt Fork is a magnificent belt of timber embracing among the varieties the different kinds of oaks, ash, sugar maple, and walnut.

The Salt Fork is a small stream which enters the township from the north near the center of the town, and passes out near the north-east corner. The first person who entered land in this township was Jessie Williams, February 1827, upon the east half of north-east quarter of Sect. 12, Town 18, Range 10 E. The first settlers in the town from the best information obtained, were Larkin Deere, Thomas Deere, and Jefferson Huss, who came in 1829 and 1830 and entered land. A man by the name of Hedges also settled Lynn Grove about 1828. In 1834 Thomas S. Butler and Adam Thomas came from Ohio and settled in the township; both of these men made improvements. Mr. Thomas planted the first orchard in the township. G. W. Towner came to the county in 1837 and moved to the township in 1838. He was born in Pennsylvania in 1815. He is at present, and has been postmaster since 1861. In 1837 Dr. James M. Lyons and Joseph Davis entered the land on which the village of Sidney now stands. They laid out the town of Sidney and named it after Sydney Davis, a daughter of Joseph Davis, one of the founders of the town. The original founders of the town borrowed money from the bank in Springfield, Illinois, and mortgaged the land for its payment. They failed to meet the claim when it was due. The mortgage was foreclosed and the land sold. Larkin Deere and Joseph Thomas made additions to it and in the re-arranging the plat of the town the clerk of the county spelled the name Sidney with an "i" instead of as it was originally spelled with a "y," and since that time it has been so spelled. Lyons and Davis introduced the first fine stock into the township, and being natives of Kentucky and southern gentlemen also laid out a race track near the town.

The first Post-Office was established in the township in 1837. William Knox was the first postmaster. It was soon after discontinued, and all mail matter was received at Homer. In 1839 the post-office was re-established and Noah Knox appointed postmaster. Coleman Wright was the next, after which frequent changes were made until 1861, when B. H. Towner was appointed. He soon retired, and his brother the present postmaster has been in charge ever since.

The first grist-mill was erected by George Acres about 1834. It was afterwards changed to a grist and saw-mill, and from it was afterwards obtained most of the lumber for building purposes in this locality. In 1841, Fountain J. Busey removed from the western part of the county to this township. He still resides upon the section he first purchased.

Asahel Bruer, a man of over four-score years of age, and at present a resident of Urbana, was the first school teacher in the township. From the first settlement up until 1855, the growth of the township was slow, but at that time the Toledo, Wabash, and Western railroad was completed through the town, and immigration hewed in, settling its fertile lands with great rapidity. The timber land bordering the Salt Fork was the first to be settled. Gradually the settlements were extended out on the unbroken prairie, and after a while the people learned that upon the broad prairies and not in the timbered districts are the most fertile lands to be found. If space would permit we would be pleased to give a sketch of some of the fine prairie farms lying in the township of Sidney, but lack of space forbids.

The village of Sidney is located on the line of the Wabash railroad at the point of wood-land at the bend in the Salt Fork, and is a thriving little town. A small stream there empties into the Salt Fork, flows through the village, thus affording an abundance of water and rendering its location advantageous in various ways. The inhabitants are a live, active, and enterprising people. The town is well furnished with all kinds of stores, and marts of trade. Here William Park and son have erected the finest and largest flouring-mill in the county, and in connection with it have a grain elevator that is equal in capacity for handling all kinds of grain to any in central Illinois. The town owes much of its prosperity to the enterprise and liberality of William Park. Here also is a tile manufactory that is supplying the wants of the farmers in the new methods of underdraining and improving their farms. The different branches of business and trades as well as the professions are well represented. There are two fine churches, and a graded school that is an honor to the county, within its limits. The country lying around the village as before stated, is among the fairest and best in the county. It is especially well adapted to the raising of all kinds of grain in great abundance; consequently as a shipping point the village of Sidney has great advantages, and cannot be excelled by any other in the county.

The people of Sidney township are a patriotic and union-loving people. During the late war they entered heartily into the cause of putting down the rebellion and saving the Union. They cheerfully gave of their means and furnished more than their quota of men, and it is their proud boast to-day that a draft was never ordered in their township. The history of the 20th, 25th, 37th, 76th, and 125th, regiments of Illinois Infantry and 2d Illinois cavalry is written with the blood of her best citizens, and upon the battle fields all over the South lie the bleached bones of the hardy farmers' sons of Sidney township who went forth to do battle for human rights and the preservation of the Union. All honor to them.

The township was organized and the first supervisor elected in 1860. Prior to that time there was no township organization. At the regular March term 1860, of the county commissioners, the county was organized into townships. Sidney then embraced townships seventeen and eighteen North, Range Ten East.

The first officers elected under the township organization were: James S. Freeman, supervisor; T. J. Clark, town clerk; W. D. Clark, assessor; and O. W. Upp, collector. A complete list of the officers of the township from its organization up to the present time will be found in the chapter devoted to the civil history of the county.


On the 8th day of October, 1872, this lodge was organized and established. The charter members were L. B. Turner, James L. Walker, N. H. Porter, L. E. Foulke, and A. Butterfield.

It has a membership of 40. It meets every Saturday evening. Visiting brethren are cordially invited. For the above brief sketch of Sidney Lodge, we are indebted to Byron Burns.


The officers of Sidney Lodge under dispensation were W. A. Smith, W. M.; G. W. Hartman, S. W.; E. B. Johnson, J. W.; R. Johnson, Treas.; O. W. Upp, Secy.; B. H Johnson, S. D.; S. H. Willis, J. D.; Wm. Towner, Tyler.

The charter was granted on October 1st, 1863. The first officers after the lodge was chartered, were as follows: W. A. Smith, W. M.; B. H. Towner, S. W.; E. B. Johnson, J. W.; S. H. Willis, S. D.; G. W. Hartman, J. D.; Robt. Johnson, Treas.; O. W. Upp, Secy.; Richard Towner, Tyler. They constituted the charter members.

The lodge at present numbers 26 in good standing. The present officers are Wm. Freeman, W. M.; Edwin Hays, S. W.; Wm. D. Clark, J. W.; L. R. Griffin, S. D.; Charles Thompson, J. D.; John Dundon, Treas.; Wm. A. Robinson, Secy.; John Dittimore, Tyler.

The lodge is in a healthy condition and is thriving.

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