By Jared Olar
In highlighting Tazewell County’s unincorporated communities, recently we saw that, despite its size, Spring Lake Township has no incorporated communities but instead has several unincorporated communities and subdivisions. Boynton Township, in great contrast, not only has no incorporated communities but has only one unincorporated community: the tiny village of Boynton.
John Drury’s 1954 “This is Tazewell County,” page 27, had this to say about the village and township of Boynton:
“In the south portion of the county lies the small village of Boynton, only community in Boynton Township. It is served by the post office at nearby Delavan. Boynton Township has a population of 450. It was organized in 1854 and an old historical work says that it ‘derived its name from an individual in the East, a personal friend of one of the pioneer settlers.’ Recorded as the first settler of the township is Joseph Grout (sic), who came in 1839.”
In fact, the township’s first settler was Joseph “Grant,” not “Grout.” Charles C. Chapman’s 1879 “History of Tazewell County,” page 398, presents this overview of the early history of Boynton Township:
“This township is situated in the southern portion of Tazewell county. In point of acres under cultivation it is not surpassed by neighboring townships, and when we take into consideration the fact that Boynton, but a quarter of a century ago, contained but little tillable land, the result is marvellous. It was attained only through unflagging energy on the part of its enterprizing citizens and an admirable system of tile drainage. The first settlement was made by Joseph Grant on Section 9, in 1839; the first birth, in 1842, was Albert, son of Robert Houston, who settled here about the year 1840. Benjamin Roe also came during that year, G. W. Clamon located 6 years later. Among those who settled prior to 1852, we find Samuel Falor, John Blair, Andrew Kerr, and Wm. Benton. In 1850 Wm. Milner, Charles and Richard Holden and John T. Scates, Wm. and Peyton Alexander, John Jacobus and others. In 1854 the township was organized and the following persons, some of whom are now prominent in the affairs of the township, met at the residence of James Huston as a committee on organization: James Crawford, Wm. Wooters, Daniel Bennett, Ira Judy, Wm. Burton, John T. Scates, John Jacobus, Philip Wade and others were present. The majority of the citizens assembled on this occasion declared in favor of township organization. Many were the names suggested with which to christen their township, in consequence of which a ballot was taken. After the lapse of considerable time spent in discussion, it finally received the name of Boynton, in honor of an Eastern gentleman of that name.
“There is a post-office kept in the center of the township. Mail is received three times a week. The character of the schools and school-houses are good, and every improvement in the township adds its testimony to the enterprise, thrift and culture of the people. . . .”
Regarding the origin of the township’s name, the Illinois State Archives’ online “Tazewell County Fact Sheet” mentions that the township was organized in Nov. 1854 as “Boyington Township,” but at some unknown later date the name was shortened to “Boynton.”
Dotted with farms, this rural township’s population has fallen since 1954 – the 2010 U.S. Census found only 275 souls living in 94 households in Boynton Township. The population being low, the entire township has but one voting precinct. The township’s polling place is Boynton Township’s town hall – the seat of township government – located in the village of Boynton at 1979 Townhall Road, at the southwest corner of the intersection of Townhall and Boynton roads.
The village of Boynton did not yet not exist at the time that the 1864 and 1873 plat maps of Boynton Township were drawn. The 1864 wall plat map, however, does show a grocery store and four other structures at or very close to the Boynton-Townhall Road intersection.
That was the seed of the village of Boynton, which is shown on the 1891 Boynton Township plat map. By that time the village boasted not only the town hall but also a school, a post office, a grocery store, a black smith shop, a Methodist Episcopal church, and three or four residences.
These days, however, Rawlings Trailer Sales, Rawlings Arena, and H G & N Fertilizers are probably the most noticeable establishments for travelers through Boynton Township, on account of their location at the Route 122 interchange on Interstate 155.