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Champaign County, Illinois

History of St. Joseph Township

The first white settler in St. Joseph township was one Nicholas Yount, who in the year 1828 built a log cabin in the timber on section 26, and began improving the farm where John M. Peters now lives. The next year Yount's son-in-law, Jonathan Cazard, settled farther north on the northeast quarter of the same section. Both Yount and Cazard were from Ohio and moved away from Champaign county in the spring of 1831.

Cazard built a house of peeled poles, covered with clap boards, on which a pole was laid to keep them from blowing off; and broke ten acres of ground. This improvement he sold to Joseph Stayton, the father of David B. Stayton, who came to the township in October, 1830, and was the first permanent settler in the township. Joseph Stayton was from Mason county, Kentucky; he lived on the farm he settled till his death in 1854; he was buried in the old grave-yard in the timber on part of the land which he formerly owned. David B. Stayton was in his thirteenth year when he came to this state, and has since been a resident of the township of which he has been one of its most respected citizens.

In the spring of 1831 Yount sold his improvement to William Peters, who settled in the township at that date. Peters was from Kentucky; for many years he acted as justice of the peace, and his descendants still live in the township, his son, John M. Peters, residing on the place formerly occupied by his father.

The third cabin erected was on section 11, on land now belonging to Sarah Hoyt, by a man named Clay. He came to the county on foot late in the fall of 1830, and the poles with which to build his house he cut in the timber and carried on his back. He remained only one year, and then moving farther west, sold his improvement to Robert Prather.

In the fall of 1831 other settlers began to arrive in the township. John Saulsbury, from Ohio, came at that date, and settled in the Hickory Grove (section 24) where the widow of Thomas Swearingen now resides. John W. Swearingen came the same fall, and settled on the north part of Hickory Grove where John M. Swearingen now lives. The Swearingens were from Kentucky, and have since been leading residents of the township. David Swearingen, who lives in the southeast part of the township, has taken a prominent part in its development and cultivation. He has lived in the township since the fall of 1831.

In the spring of 1832 came the Bartleys. They were from Pickaway county, Ohio, and previous to coming to St. Joseph township George Bartley had lived in the Big Grove northeast of Urbana, and Jacob in Vermilion county, to which he had come in the fall of 1830. Jacob Bartley was the father of James Bartley, who lives on the place where his father settled, and of the wife of David B. Stayton. George Bartley settled on the west side of the Salt Fork, on the land now owned by H. W. Drullinger, who married his daughter as his first wife.

John Zorns and Hirnm Johnson settled on section 36 in the fall of 1832. Both were from Ohio. Among the other settlers who came in afterward were Cyrus Strong from Ohio. He settled on section 23, east of the Salt Fork, at the old town of St. Joseph, and kept the first tavern stand ever in existence in the township. This was a house built of split logs, and containing about four rooms. It accommodated quite an amount of travel, standing as it did on the old state road, which in those days was largely traveled by emigrants seeking homes farther west. From Strong's hands it passed into the possession of Joseph Kelley. Alexander Argo, who came from Ohio, was an early settler on section 28. James Cowden, also from Ohio, settled on section 33. Jefferson Huss, from Shelby county, Kentucky, came to the township some time before the year 1835, and settled on section 33, on the banks of the Salt Fork, where James R. Huss, his son, now lives. He died here in the month of November, 1848. He was the father of James R. Huss of St. Joseph township, and William W. Huss of Sidney township. On the east side of Salt Fork Caleb Shreve settled at an early date. West of the creek improvements were also made at an early day by Moses Argo, a son of Alexander Argo; by Joseph Peters, son of William Peters; by John A. Bartley and Alexander Argo, Jr., on section 3; and by B. F. Argo and Henry Leigh on section 2, east of Spoon river.

On the Big Grove branch in section 7, J. Corray settled on land where his son, John Corray, now lives. East of Corray, on the Kirkpatrick land, Henry Gohen was an early settler. Orange Strong, the father of John H. Strong, made an early improvement in section 13. Matthew McCollum settled in section 23 near Cyrus Strong, whose daughter he married. On section 36 Solomon Stafford was an early settler. John Zorns, who has been mentioned as an early settler on section 36, sold his place to Levi Harmeson, who has been an old resident of that part of the county. The Rudisill place on section 36 was first improved by Lewis Jones, who sold to Jacob Rudisill.

It will be observed that these settlements were all made in the neighborhood of Salt Fork and its branches in the edge of the timber which lines the banks of that stream. When David B. Stayton moved to his present farm out on the prairie in section 16, in October, 1848, his was the farthest farm out on the prairie away from the timber, and to the west and south no persons were living. He has lived to see the wild and uncultivated prairie... ( missing)

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