BARNETT TOWNSHIP (Pages 315-317)

Picture of George Griner Farm Residence.
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BARNETT is situated in the central western part of the county, and is bounded on the north by Waynesville township, on the east by Clintonia and Wapella, on the south by Tunbridge, and west by Logan county. It contains thirty-six sections of excellent prairie land, there being no timber except a few groves situated along Ten Mile creek in the south-east. The western part of the township is quite rolling, sufficient to afford very good natural drainage, although tiling is being used to a large extent, especially in the eastern portion that is more level, and consequently wetter land. Ten-Mile creek just cuts across the south-east corner of section thirty-six. There are also a few small rivulets in the east and south, mainly flowing in a westerly direction. The Illinois Midland railway enters from the north in section six, crosses the entire township from north to south, and passes out in the southern center of section thirty-one. This road claims an indebtedness from the township of $30,000. A good deal of feeling and litigation have been the result. From this fact it has now been three years since the supervisor-elect would qualify; hence, no process could be instituted against the citizens of the township. Some future historian must write the sequel. The Wabash Branch enters from the east on the section line between sections twenty-five and thirty-six, and takes a westerly course across the township and crosses into Logan county in the center of section thirty-one. A junction is formed with the Midland road in the center of said section. The township was named Barnett in honor of Franklin Barnett, he then being the oldest householder within its boundaries.


The first to take steps toward settling the township was Elisha Butler in the fall of 1829. He moved from Salt creek timber in Tunbridge township, and settled in section thirty-three. October 17th of the same year he entered the E. of the S. E. of the above section. For a record of his early history, etc., see the township history of Tunbridge He at once erected on his premises a pole cabin 14x16 feet, and moved into it. The following spring he proceeded to break a small patch of ground and planted it with corn. This was the first crop and the first farming done in Barnett. The same year he sold out his possessions to Mahlon Hall. The latter was a native of Virginia, but moved with his father's family to Kentucky when a mere boy. Here he married twice and lived until he was past the meridian of life. In the spring of 1830, he came to Illinois and entered the W. of the S. E. of section thirty-three, now Barnett township, At the same time, he bought out the property of Mr. Butler. He then returned to his family in Kentucky, and in the fall came to his new-found home bringing his family with him. The family consisted: of his wife, Hannah, and six children, Henry, Polly Ann, James, Mahlon R., Jonathan R., and Susannah. They moved into the pole cabin constructed by Mr. Butler. The next fall Mr. Hall built a comfortable log house, and was thus well fixed for pioneer life. Several of the older children were left in Kentucky. Darius and Ambrose came to the state prior to their father, but settled in another county. They subsequently moved to this county. None of the family are now residing in the township. Mr. Hall remained here until his death, which occurred in 1856.

Another pioneer, Mason Paine, was born in Alabama, and migrated to Illinois at an early day, and settled in section thirty-four, this township, in 1831. He had a wife and four children, two sons and two daughters. He lived but a few years after his coming, and was the first person buried in the old cemetery in section thirty-four, Clintonia township. None of the family reside here at this writing. Franklin Barnett, from whom the township received its name, came from Bourbon county, Kentucky, in the spring of 1831, and settled in the same section as Mr. Paine. He was then a single man, but afterwards married and reared a family. In 1856 he migrated to Kansas, where he died only a few years ago. Robert Barnett, a brother of the former, came the year afterward— 1832. He then had a wife and one child. He located in the same section as his brother. He died in 1864. His wife, Margaret, is yet living on the pioneer homestead. John Barnett, the father of the above, came here and entered land as early as 1831, for the use of his children, and afterward returned to his home in Kentucky. Here his wife died, and in 1845 he moved to the township to be with his children. He died in 1854. James Barnett, another son, moved to the township the same year as his father. He had a family of a wife and one daughter, Sarah. He is yet residing at the old homestead in section thirty-four, a substantial farmer and a respected citizen.

Among other old settlers are Isaac Ellington, Z. D. Cantrall, A. Jeffrey, John Pollock, Wiley Marvel, E. H. Robb and others. The former was a native of Ohio, and came with his father's family to the state in 1829. He is now residing, an old man in comfortable circumstances, in section sixteen. Mr. Cantrall is a native born, and lives in section ten. A Jeffrey was born in Indiana, and came to the county in 1836. He now resides in section fifteen. Mr. Pollock is a native of Ohio, and settled here in 1839. He owns a good farm, where he resides, in section twenty-three. Wiley Marvel is one of the descendants of Prettyman Marvel, the pioneer, and was born in the county in 1839. He is now living in section six, a good farmer and an enterprising citizen. Mr. Robb is residing in section nine, and is one of the representative citizens of the township.

Although Barnett is not one of the oldest settled in the county, it is among the foremost in farm improvements: and good farms, farm-houses, barns, etc., are to be seen on every hand. The soil is inexhaustible, and specially adapted to the raising of corn, which is the chief product. The people are an energetic, thrifty class, who by their efforts are determined to make it one of the wealthiest portions of DeWitt county. The increase of population has been of a steady and healthy growth. For the last three decades it has been as follows: 1860, the population was 804; 1870, 1078; 1880, 1122, an increase of over three hundred within said time.

The first land entries made are as follows: October 17, 1829, Elisha Butler entered the E. of the S. E. of section thirty-three. Mahlon Hall, March 6, 1830, entered the W. of the S. E. of the same section. November 6, of the same year, Mason Paine entered the E. of the S. E. of section thirty-four. Same year, December 2, Solomon D. Spain entered the E. of the S. W. of section thirty-four. The following are all the entries made in 1831: March 15, Joseph Bowles entered the N. E. of the N. W. of section thirty-six. April 6, William Kincaid entered the W. of the S. W. of section thirty-four. At the same date, Hiram Daniels entered the W. of the S. E. of the same section. William J. and George W. Butler entered the W. of the N. W. of section thirty-five, April 25. June 14, John Barnett entered the E. of the N. E. of section thirty-four. June 16, Franklin Barnett entered, in the same section, the W. of the N. W. . James Farris, October 28, entered the E. of the N. W. of section thirty-five.

The first marriage rite solemnized in the township was in the spring of 1832, by Hugh Bowles, a pioneer and Christian minister. The contracting parties were McCarty Hildredth and Eliza Hall. They were married in the log house of the bride's father, Mahlon Hall. The first born was Elisha Butler, junior, in the fall of 1830. He was the son of Elisha Butler, senior, the first settler. Elisha, the younger, is yet living and is in Leadville, Colorado. The first death occurred in 1830, the deceased being George Bruner one of the pioneers who was then living in section twenty-five. He had a family, one of whom, Jacob, now resides in the county. The oldest place of interment is situated in section thirty-three, and was reserved for a private place of burial by Mahlon Hall in 1833. It was at this time that triplets were born to the first married couple, McCarty Hildredth and his wife Eliza. The children were all born alive, but lived only a few hours. These were the first interred in this burial ground. There are several private places of burial in the township, but none that could be termed public cemeteries.

The first school was taught by William Lowrey in 1833. The house was a log cabin, and situated on the E. of the S. E. of section thirty-three. It was a small affair, 14x16 feet in size, just convenient in dimension for the teacher to stand in the middle of the floor, and with a hickory gad reach the refractory pupils in any part of the house. It must be remembered that in those days corporal punishment might be inflicted in the school-room for just cause, and there was no question raised but what the "master" had performed his duty. Not that parents were more thoughtless of their children than now, but a more perfect degree of confidence prevailed among the people. The teacher was usually one of the pioneers, known for miles around, and had the most complete confidence of his neighbors; in fact, he was a sort of patriarch among them, and his wisdom and authority no one presumed to question Hugh Bowles and James K. Scott were the first preachers. At this time the few settlers of this township attended church services over in Tunbridge at what was called the "Old Union". The first church building constructed in Barnett was by the M. E. Church denomination about 1855, and situated in section seventeen. It was a comfortable frame building of medium size, and is yet standing. Mason Paine was the first justice of the peace. Robert Barnett was also among one of the first. The first to practice medicine was Henry M. Gorin in the summer of 1832. He was originally from Missouri, and when he first came to the state he stopped at Decatur. From there he came to this township and practiced one season, when he returned to Missouri. Wm. Reddick and Thomas Laughlan were also early physicians. The latter lived in Tunbridge township.

The first post-office was established in 1833, at the residence of Mahlon Hall, he being the postmaster. At that time, for the transmission of a letter 400 miles it cost twenty-five cents. No such thing was then known as an envelope. The letter was merely folded and stuck together with a wafer. B. Brown was the first mail carrier. The first person who had a kit of tools and did blacksmithing, was James Cadel. He came from Tennessee, and located in section 35. His shop was a pole shanty, and his tools consisted of a wheezy old bellows, an anvil, a hammer, and a pair of tongs. This was in 1835. The first mill was constructed by Mason Paine in 1833, and situated in section 34, on the land now owned by James Barnett. It was a "one-horse" mill, with a capacity of grinding from ten to fifteen bushels of meal in twenty-four hours. To put it in the language of one of the pioneers: "It ground about as fast as a hound pup could eat it." The burrs were about two feet in diameter, and manufactured from the prairie boulders. John Brown, who came from New Hampshire, had the honor of selling the first goods in the township, in the year 1839. The store-house was a small frame building, situated in section 29, on the premises now owned by John W. Wasson. Mr. Brown remained here but a short time, when he moved to Waynesville. The first blooded stock was introduced by John Barnett in 1845. They were of the short-horn Durham breed of cattle, and imported from Bourbon county, Kentucky. The present leading stock raisers are James Barnett, William Gambrel, Robert Black, and Prettyman Barr.

The following are the names of the supervisors who have represented the township since its organization: A. A. Eads was elected in 1859, and served until 1862, and was Chairman of the Board during the year 1861. J. R. Hall elected in 1862, and served one term. William Marrow elected in 1863. Eli H. Robb in 1864. William Marrow re-elected in 1865, served one term. John Bartley was elected in 1866. J. M. Maddox elected in 1867. Thomas Maddox elected in 1868. William Gambrel elected in 1869. A. A. Eads was re-elected in 1870, and served until 1874 He was Chairman of the Board for the year 1870. Z. D. Cantrall elected in 1874, and served two terms. J. E. Bradley elected in 1876. N. M. Barnett was elected in 1877, and served two terms. Lyman Barnett was elected in 1879, and is the last representative from this township. Since which time the supervisors elected have refused to qualify for reasons already given in this chapter.

Midland City

MIDLAND CITY is situated at the junction of the Illinois Midland Railway and the branch of the Wabash, in the center of section 31. It was laid out and platted in the interest of Robert Black in 1875, and was first named Dunham, and subsequently changed to Midland City. The Midland Railway Company were in favor of the town retaining its original name, but Mr. Black succeeded in carrying the day; hence the old sign "Dunham," at the depot, was taken down and that of "Midland City" substituted.

The first house was constructed by G. W. Middlecoff in the spring of 1875. It was a frame building, one story high, and 40x50 feet on the ground, and situated on the south side of the now principal street. It contained two rooms, one being used for groceries and the other for hardware. Mr. Middlecoff, prior to this, bought corn, and sold coal and lumber at this point. The same year, E. Fawcett erected a frame building, and engaged in the grocery business besides handling corn, coal and lumber. The post-office was established the same season, and John A. Zambro was the postmaster. He was then a partner of Middlecoff, and the mail was distributed in the business house of this firm. One addition has since been made to the town, entitled the "Jones' addition," belonging to the Jones' heirs. The town at this writing has a population of 1230. The following is the present business: Heisserman & Hill's wagon and carriage factory. This industry was established by the above firm in the spring of 1881, and is situated on the corner of East Second street, fronting Spruce. The factory is a frame building, two stories high, and 24x44 feet in size, besides an addition 16x18 feet. It is run by a ten-horse power engine, and gives employment to five men. The annual value of manufactured product is estimated at $3,000.

Warehouse, owned and operated by Seth Turner. This building is a frame structure, two stories in height, and is situated on the switch of the Illinois Midland Railroad; it was constructed in 1876 at a cost of $1,200. It has five dumps, with convenient driveways, and a capacity of storing 9,000 bushels of grain, besides cribs detached capable of holding 30,000 bushels of corn.

Grain Buyers, Dealers in Coal, Lumber and Tile—  Seth Turner, Evans & Black.
General Stores.— Evans & Black, J. Curry & Co.
Druggists.— Pacard & Son.
Hardware and Tinware.— A. W. Groves.
Harness and Saddlery.— David E. Randolph, James Templeman.
Agricultural Implements.— J. W. Wasson.
Stock Dealers and Shippers.—Turner & Morris, Robert Black.
Insurance Agent.— V. P. Turner.
Blacksmith.— C. C. Colwell.
Millinery.— Mrs. A. W. Groves.
Meat Market.— Joseph Morris.
Physician.— W. E. McClelland.
Carpenter.— Charles Markeland.
Hotel.— John Lane, proprietor; J. H. Piatt, landlord.
Postmaster.— John A. Evans.

Besides the foregoing, the town contains a good schoolhouse, which was built in the spring of 1881. It is a frame building, two stories in height, and is adorned with a cupola and bell, at a cost $2,200. It contains two rooms, and is thus partially graded, and has an attendance of about 75 pupils. The rooms are supplied with the latest improved furniture, while the grounds are ample for the convenience of the scholars for a play-ground. There is also one neat little church building. It belongs to the Cumberland Presbyterian denomination, and is conveniently prepared for church services.


HALLSVILLE is situated on what was formerly the Champaign, Lincoln and Havana Railroad, now a branch of the Wabash road, and in the north-east corner of section 33. It was laid out by Jonathan Hall in 1871. The first house in town was moved from Tunbridge township by John O. Dee in the fall of 1871. It was little frame house used for a dwelling, and was located in block 10, lots 1, 2, and 3. At the same time Mr. Dee moved his blacksmith shop to this point, and it was, therefore, the first shop in the town. It was afterwards taken to Midland City, and is now used for the same purpose by C. C. Colwell at that place. The second dwelling was that of W. O. Rogers, about the same time. Mr. Rogers moved it here from his father-in-law's farm, John Bartley, and the December following improved it by building an addition. The first store-house was commenced in the fall 1871, and completed the following spring. It was a frame building, one story, and constructed by Hall & Deland, and situated in block 8, lot 1. Their merchandise consisted of a general store suitable for a country store. It was destroyed by fire in 1875. The post-office was established in 1871, with W. O. Rogers postmaster; he is the present incumbent. The first person to practice medicine was Dr. James Martin, in the fall of 1871. He remained about three years, when he moved to Kansas. The town at this writing contains about 60 inhabitants, with the following businesses:

Physicians.— W. F. Ward, C. T. McLane.
Blacksmith.— W. H. Jones.
Wood Workman.— E. T. Hunter.
Contractor and Builder.— W. T. Hunter.
Grain Dealers and Shippers.— Armstrong & Black.

The first and only hotel was built by W. T. Hunter in the summer of 1873. It is a two story frame building with a wing, and situated in block 5. It is now occupied for a dwelling by Dr. W. T. Ward.

The County Poor-farm is situated in this township, joining the town of Hallsville on the north-west. William Moore is the present efficient poor-master, and has served in this capacity for the last three years, and has been reappointed by the Board to fill the position for the ensuing year. At this writing, December, 1881, it contains 25 paupers and is said to be the best managed county-house in Central Illinois.

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