History of Amity Township, Illinois 1833-1878

In the winter of 1833, Thomas N. Reynolds, Samuel K. Reynolds and E. Breckinridge found their way to this then desolate place. Selecting spots on which to build, erecting small cabins in which to live. These were the first pioneers to come to what became Amity Township.

The farm on which the Reynolds’ built is the same now known as the J. P. Houston farm. His wife was the first white person to be buried in the township. In 1878, only Samuel K. Reynolds remained. All others have either moved on or died. Breckenridge stayed for about 10 years, then moved further west beyond the Mississippi. These three, with nearly all who came to this part of the county, for a number of years, came from the State of Ohio.

In 1834, Thomas Prindle came out from Ohio and located in the southeastern part. Prindle was a blacksmith, as well as a farmer. He erected a shop and aided his neighbors until his death in 1845.

In the latter part of 1834 and early 1835, a large number of families followed the ones already mentioned from the Buckeye region of Ohio, at least six of which came to this township. They were John W., Joseph, Stephen and Cornelius W. Reynolds – brothers and cousins of the two who came in 1833, William Springer and Thomas Campbell.

John W. Reynolds was one of the first Justices of the Peace of Bayou Precinct and performed the ceremony of marrying the first couple in the township in 1840. The happy couple was Isaac Painter and Nancy Springer.

The first mill built in the county was constructed by John W. Reynolds, soon after his arrival. It was as primitive an affair as any of its time, being nothing more than a corn cracker, the motive power of which was furnished by a horse. Even as crude as it was it was a very convenient one for this neighborhood and well patronized. Its proprietor “ground the last grist,” dying about 1845.

Joseph Reynolds was a young, unmarried man, and lived with his brothers Thomas and Samuel K. He was the first Sheriff of Livingston County, being elected May 8, 1837, at a county election held at the house of Andrew McMillan. His opponent was Simeon S. Mead. He was probably a popular man, as he received out of eighty-five votes cast, more than eight-ninths.

At the same election, another brother, Cornelius W. Reynolds, was a candidate for a county office, that of Surveyor; but no doubt the people thought one county office in a family was enough, for he was beaten by Isaac Whicher, who received a small majority. C. W. Reynolds was a physician, and, after election, went to Pontiac and practiced medicine a little, acted as Deputy Sheriff for his brother, was Postmaster of Pontiac and was afterward elected Clerk of the Court. He finally removed to Ottawa, at which time he is still engaged in the practice of his profession.

Stephen Reynolds resided in the township until his death, which occurred about 17 years since.

William Springer was the forerunner of a large family, who came to the county two years afterward. He lived only a year or two after his relatives came out.

Thomas Campbell settled on Section 5, arriving at the place on the 5th of July of the year named. He continued his residence here until November 1865, which is the date of his death. His son, Thomas M., still occupies the old homestead.

In 1836, H.M.D. Morris, Thomas Armon, William Reynolds and Samuel Boyer made their advent into the neighborhood. The first three came from Indiana and the last from Pennsylvania.

Morris settled on Section 17, on Short Point. He was the first preacher in the township. He was not an itinerant, but a local Methodist Exhorter, who farmed all week and preached on Sunday at the cabins in the neighborhood or in the grove. Mr. Morris died here in 1843. His son Chester Morris, still occupies the old place.

William Reynolds was not a relative of the others of that name, who had settled here previously, but was a brother-in-law of Morris and Armon, they having married sisters of his. He was a bachelor and remained here but a few years, when he removed to Oregon, where he lived until about fifteen years ago (1863), when he returned on a visit, and then locating permanently in Iowa.

Samuel Boyer’s name was one of the most familiar in the early days. He was a man of means, education and piety, very industrious and economical. He brought all necessary wagons and farming implements needed to farm with him, by boat. He was one of the first School Commissioners. His son, Isaiah Boyer, resides in the village of Cornell.

1837 brought several new families, two of which were Thomas Louderback and Uriah Springer, both from Ohio, coming to the township within a few days of each other. They both had large families and, as they all were of the most estimable character, their coming was a valuable asset, not only to the neighborhood but to the county. The word Louderback passed for currency wherever mentioned. The Louderbacks had lived a few years in Vermilion County, before coming to Amity Township. The sons, Liberty, Mills and Levi, are still here, and Thomas Jr., is in Iowa. The elder Thomas Louderback died in 1854, his wife having preceded him twelve years. The old homestead was on Scattering Point. Uriah Springer and sons, Levi and Joseph, and son-in-law, D. M. Prindle, arrived about ten days after the Louderbacks, and settled on South Point.

Springer was elected to the office of Associate Justice of the county, as he had held the office of Magistrate for twenty years in his former state.

Uriah Springer, Thomas Barton and A. J. Gilmore erected the first real flour mill in the county, in 1838. The latter two were from McLean County, coming here to build a mill. The mill was only partially successful, as the builders were not architects or millers. D. M. Prindle was a cousin to Thomas Barton. Prindle had a great singing voice, but died in late 1850’s.

Walter Cornell came from Maine, has been a great leader, held several county offices, among them Treasurer, School Commissioner and County Assessor and other positions of minor importance in the county. He was the first Postmaster of Cornell.

Amos Edwards, formerly from New York, but directly from Ohio, was a school teacher in those States. He was the first resident teacher in this part of the county. The first school taught in this area was in a cabin used as a dwelling by E. Breckenridge. The school was kept by Martha Rutherford. But “Uncle Johnny” Foster, of Pontiac, and he took an interest in the young lady and persuaded her to leave the school and marry him. The community was none too happy with said “Uncle Johnny”. His wife had died and he being sadly in need of someone to look after his domestic affairs, married her. The school consisted of only a dozen children, tuition being paid for by subscription at the rate of $1.50 per term.

The same year, 1840, the first school house was erected. The first in the county and one of only three in the county. The house was located on Section 16, near the northwest corner, being near the center, designed to accommodate the whole community. The first term was taught by Elizabeth Miller, afterward wife of William Eaton. It was “Scattering Point Institute”. By 1849 it had outlived its day, its size and location being no longer adequate to the increased population. It was abandoned and two new institutes were built.

The year 1840 brought to the neighborhood Philip Nigh and Charles Earp, two reliable and solid men. They were both from Ohio. They still reside in the township.

Philip Dean was a contractor on the Illinois & Michigan Canal, which was being constructed at this time. He resided in the township for a few years. He went to Chicago, of which city he has been Mayor.

Moses and Hiram Allen removed to this part of the county, from Ohio, in 1837, the year the county was organized. Hiram held several offices of trust and honor, such as Supervisor of the town.

The Mormon troubles at Nauvoo 1840-45 were the means of bringing to this area James Bradley and his family. Mr. Bradley and other of the Mormon faith held allegiance to Joseph Smith who established a headquarters at Plano, Ill. They did not profess polygamy.

Church Organizations of Amity Illinois

As early as 1840, H. G. Gorbet, a Methodist preacher known as the Prairie Breaker, organized a society of this denomination, not the Prairie Breakers, but Methodist at the Scattering Point Institute. It only lasted a few years.

In 1848, the United Brethren occupied the land. They organized a society under the leadership of Isaac Messer, of McLean County, which flourished for six years, when it disbanded.

In 1849, another branch of the Methodist Church, the Protestant, was organized by Jacob Fowler, under whose pastorate and his successor has flourished. Rev. Mr. Darby and D. H. Snyder served this house of worship.

In 1860, the M.E. Society, in the vicinity of Mud Creek, having, some years previously, organized a church, built the house of worship, now at Cornell. The membership is about 120. The present Pastor (1878) is Rev. Mr. Smith. The Sunday School is flourishing under the direction of A. Newberry.

Amity Illinois Township Officials 1858-1878

Amity was one of the first twenty townships organized in 1858. On the 6th of April, 1858, Liberty Louderback was elected as Moderator, and Walter Cornell as Clerk pro tem. Reason McDouglass, Supervisor; Charles Hallam, Clerk; James Bradley and Liberty Louderback, Justices of the Peace; Walter Cornell, Assessor; Moses Allen, James Gourley and E. W. Breckinridge, Commissioners of Highways. 1859-1863, Moses Allen, Supervisor, C.H. Hallam as Clerk; 1864 Walter Cornell, Supervisor, C.H. Hallem, Clerk; 1865 Liberty Louderback, Superviser, C.H. Hallem, Clerk; 1866 Liberty Louderback, Supervisor, J.C. Antrim, Clerk; 1867 Benjamin Bedes, Supervisor, Amos Edwards; 1868 W.D. Blake, Supervisor, Amos Edwards, Clerk; 1869 D.H. Snyder, Supervisor, James Bradley, Clerk; 1870 J.P. Houston, Supervisor, W. A. Tyree, Clerk; 1871 J. P. Houston, Supervisor, Uriah Springer, Clerk; 1872 Liberty Louderback, Supervisor, James Bradley, Clerk; 1873-1875 Eben Norton, Supervisor, James Bradley; 1876 Eben Norton, Supervisor, J.J. Reeder, Clerk; 1877 Eben Norton, Supervisor, William Miner; 1878 Eben Norton, Supervisor, J.J. Reeder, Clerk.

The balance of the complete list of township officers elected is as follows:

David Heckmann, Assessor; George Louderback, Collector; E. Norton, School treasurer; Simon Jemmison, Alfred Gourley and John Calder, Highway Commissioners; Liberty Louderback and A. L. Trim, Justice of Peace; George Louderback and John P. Guernsey, constables.

Copyright 2016 by ILGenWeb