Tazewell’s unincorporated communities: Winkel

By Jared Olar
Library assistant

Having reviewed the history of Boynton Township last week, and spotlighted that township’s only community, the village of Boynton, this week we’ll move to another sparsely populated rural township in southern Tazewell County – Malone Township.

While Boynton Township has no incorporated communities and only one unincorporated community, Malone Township today no longer has any real, living communities at all, but continues to be dotted with farms. Current township plat maps continue to mark the site of Malone’s one unincorporated community, the hamlet of Winkel in Section 23, but Winkel – which was never very large – is now hardly more than a name on the map. Winkel is – or was – about a half-mile east of Illinois Route 29, but all that is left of the hamlet now are a few barns, two or three nearby farmsteads, and the name of the road it was on: Winkel Road.

This aerial view of Winkel was published in John Drury’s 1954 “This is Tazewell County.”

Things were very different some six or seven decades ago. This is how John Drury in his 1954 “This is Tazewell County,” page 227, described Winkel:

“A small hamlet in Malone Township is Winkel, located in the southern part of the county. It is on the Gulf, Mobile & Ohio Railroad and near the hamlet is State 29. Winkel is served by the post office at Delavan. It is the only community in Malone Township, which has a population of 383. The township was first settled in 1850. One of its earliest residents was Dr. Hubbard S. Latham, who served as the township’s first justice of the peace.”

The 1864, 1873, and 1891 plat atlases of the county show no trace of Winkel. The hamlet first appears in old Tazewell County plat atlases in 1910, but the late local historian Fred Soady, in his 1979 “Preliminary Master List of Settlements in Tazewell County,” claimed the site was first settled about 1840, and noted that it became a station on the St. Louis, Peoria & Northern Railroad in 1879. (However, the date of 1840 is too early, as we shall see further on.) Winkel got its name because it was established on farmland owned by German settler Christopher Winkel (1833-1908), who is buried in St. Mary’s Catholic Cemetery in rural Delavan.

The plat of the village of Winkel was published in the 1910 Tazewell County atlas. At the time, Winkel had a general store and post office, grain elevators, a railroad depot, and a few homes.

By the time Winkel first shows up in the 1910 plat atlas, the St. Louis, Peoria & Northern had become the Chicago & Alton. In 1910 the little hamlet had one north-south street, Ehret Street, and three east-west streets, Winkel Road, First Street, and Second Street. In the past Winkel had two grain elevators, a train depot, a general store, a grade school, and a few homes. According to Soady, from 1898 to 1913 Winkel had its own post office.

Eventually the days of passenger train service came to an end, and the Chicago & Alton Railroad became the Gulf, Mobile & Ohio Railroad. With the loss of its train station, Winkel slowly withered away. By the early 1980s, however, the G M & O at Winkel had become the Illinois Central. Old plat books show that the tracks were pulled up between 1982 and 1987. Over time, Winkel’s country schoolhouse, general store, and grain elevators all closed down and have long since vanished, along with the homes of those who once lived there. The faint track of the old rail bed is still visible on Google Map’s satellite image, but nothing remains of Winkel’s streets.

The village of Winkel and the Malone Township hall are both shown in this detail of the plat map of Malone Township from the 1910 Tazewell County atlas.

As mentioned above, Malone Township was not settled until 1850, at which time the township’s land was still a part of Delavan Township. Charles. C. Chapman’s 1879 “History of Tazewell County,” page 526, explained that this part of the county took so long to be settled because most of the area was a marsh that had to be drained so pioneers could farm the land and build homes. But four years after receiving its first settler, in Nov. 1854, Malone was organized as a separate township.

Although Winkel was Malone Township’s only community, the township’s seat of government was never in Winkel. Rather, the township hall has been located at 3000 Shay Road, at the corner of Shay and Hamann roads, at least since 1910, the same year Winkel is first shown on the map in the old county atlases. The hall is still at that location today, and it serves as the polling place for the voters of Malone Township. The 2010 U.S. Census shows the township’s population has fallen to just 220 people in 95 households.

The Malone Township hall is located at 3000 Shay Road, at the corner of Shay and Hamann roads, a few miles northwest of the site of the former village of Winkel.

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Tazewell’s unincorporated communities: Boynton

By Jared Olar
Library assistant

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.

The Boynton town hall, in the village of Boynton, as it appeared in 1954.

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. . . .”

The seeds of the village of Boynton — a grocery store and four residences — are shown in this detail of an 1864 Tazewell County wall plat map.

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.

At the time that the 1891 Tazewell County atlas was published, the village of Boynton boasted a grocery store, a post office, a blacksmith shop, a Methodist church, a school, the township hall, and three or four residences.

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Tazewell’s unincorporated communities: Stoehrs

By Jared Olar
Library assistant

As we continue our series on Tazewell County’s unincorporated communities, this week we return to Cincinnati Township to visit a location that is now little more than a name on the map: the former rural village of Stoehrs.

Stoehrs is only a ghost of its former self today, but it still appears on recent maps, such as this 2017 Cincinnati Township plat map.

Stoehrs today is the location of the grain elevators of Tremont Cooperative Grain. At one time Stoehrs was the location of a post office and a school.

Stoehrs, sometimes called Stoehrs Station, is straight west of Midway, being situated adjacent to the intersection of Wagonseller and Garman roads in northwestern Cincinnati Township. John Drury’s 1954 “This is Tazewell County,” page 61, offers this brief comment on Stoehrs:

“Another community in Cincinnati Township is Stoehrs. It is a small village on the Chicago & Illinois Midland Railroad and lies just northwest of the Pekin Airport. The village is served by the post office at Pekin.”

In his 1979 “Preliminary Master List of Settlements in Tazewell County, Illinois,” the late Fred Soady tersely described Stoehrs as “station J. – S. E. next south of CRESCENT – P.O. 1882-1887 (north of Hainesville).” This means Stoehrs had its own post office from 1882 to 1887. Stoehrs originated as a depot on the old Peoria, Pekin & Jacksonville Rail Road (which became the Chicago, Peoria & St. Louis before it became the Chicago & Illinois Midland).

By 1874 the railroad already crossed George Stoehr’s property in Section 20 as shown in this detail of a Tazewell County wall plat map from that year. Note that the map misspells his name “Steohr.”

This detail of an 1873 plat map of Cincinnati Township shows a railroad switch on the northern boundary of George Stoehr’s land. That switch later became a railroad depot.

Stoehrs got its name because it was established on the farm of George Stoehr (1852-1911), whose homestead was about a quarter of a mile south of the Wagonseller-Garman Road intersection. The site of George Stoehr’s homestead is still the location of the home place of a farm, on land owned by Robert Cupi.

In the past a country schoolhouse (Cincinnati Township’s School House No. 1) was a quarter mile east of the intersection on Garman Road. The children of farming families in the vicinity of Stoehrs would attend that school. Today there are a few farm homes just to the east of Stoehrs on Garman Road, near where the school used to be, while a very short jog west of Stoehrs on Garman is the Marine Corps League.

By 1891 the farm of George Stoehr had passed to the Bailey family. Note that the map does not indicate that there was a railroad station near the Stoehrs intersection.

Stoehrs Station first appears in the 1910 Tazewell County atlas.

This detail from a 1929 plat map of Cincinnati Township shows Stoehrs Station, a former rural village that grew up near a train depot, a post office, and a country school near the intersection of Garman and Wagonseller roads.

That about does it in the way of residences near the Stoehrs Station intersection. The railroad still runs through, but the train station, the post office, and the school are long gone. The spot today is chiefly an area for agriculture and industry. Tremont Cooperative Grain’s elevators on Wagonseller Road are on the north side of the Stoehrs railroad crossing. Just a bit further north up Wagonseller are Superior Industries Inc. and Excel Foundry & Machine.

Two pioneer cemeteries are located close to Stoehrs. Southwest of Stoehrs, at the northeast corner of Fuelberth and Bluebird Hill roads, is King Cemetery, a burying ground where members of the King, Clark, and Shaw families were interred from 1843 to 1881.

Off to Stoehrs’ northwest is Bequeath Cemetery (also called Bequaith or Bequeaith Cemetery) on the meandering country road that more recently has been known as Excel Way (because it connects with Wagonseller where Excel Foundry & Machine is located). Bequeath Cemetery was established on the land of a pioneer farmer named John Bequeath (1820-1893), and he and many of his kin are buried there.

Incidentally, the reason that Excel Way meanders is because the road originally tracked the bends and curves of the Mackinaw River. The winding creek to the west of the road formerly was the channel by which the waters of the Mackinaw River found their way to the Illinois River from the mid-1800s to the mid-1900s, until the Mackinaw changed its course and made itself a new river mouth (as it has done in the past).

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Tazewell’s unincorporated communities: Talbott

By Jared Olar
Library assistant

Continuing our series on the unincorporated communities in Tazewell County, this week we’ll look at another of the communities of Spring Lake Township. As we noted last time, Spring Lake Township is a large, sparsely populated area – it’s long been known for farming, fishing, and hunting – with no incorporated municipalities. However, there are several unincorporated communities (subdivisions, rather) in the township.

While Parkland is the oldest surviving community in Spring Lake Township, it’s also the smallest. The largest community in Spring Lake Township is Talbott, a subdivision on both sides of the Manito Blacktop in Section 21 in the northern part of the township. Bordering Talbott Subdivision on the east is Winfield Estates (25 homes on the Winfield Drive cul-de-sac), while not quite a mile to the northeast on the north side of Manito Road is the Country View Estates subdivision.

The lots in the subdivisions of Talbott, Winfield Estates, and Country View Estates are shown in this detail of a 2017 plat map of Spring Lake Township.

The subdivisions of Talbott, Winfield Estates, and Country View Estates are shown in this detail of a 1993 plat map of Spring Lake Township.

Taken together, the subdivisions and homes in Sections 21, 22, and 15 along this stretch of the Manito Blacktop virtually make up an unincorporated village, and might even have enough population to officially incorporate if a majority of their residents voted to do so. Talbott Subdivision is the home of Spring Lake Elementary School (Spring Lake Central Consolidated School District 606), located at 13650 N. Manito Road.

Talbott’s southern border is Sky Ranch Road, which runs east-west. The other east-west streets in Talbott are Spruce and Myrtle streets, while Walnut, Laurel, and Cedar streets, and of course Manito Road, all run north-south. Most of Talbott’s streets have “tree” names, and those names can serve as a clue to the reason the subdivision is named Talbott. The origin of those street names might be guessed by any family in the area who has ever taken a drive down Illinois Route 29 a little way past South Pekin to 14143 Christmas Tree Road, to select a Christmas tree at Talbott’s Christmas Tree Farm.

One of the members of the Talbott family, which has operated their Christmas Tree Farm since 1947, was the owner of the land on which Talbott Subdivision was platted and laid out. According to the Talbott Christmas Tree Farm’s official website, the tree farm was established by Earl Talbott, who planted pine trees on a stretch of barren, sandy soil on land owned by his father Glen Talbott. “When Earl’s brother, Bob, returned from the Navy, the brothers began to cultivate the trees into Christmas trees with help from their cousin, Lacey Talbott,” the website says.

The future site of Talbott Subdivision is indicated as the land of “R. V. Talbot” on the west side of the Manito Blacktop in this detail from a 1955 plat of Spring Lake Township. The site of the grade school at Talbott is also shown.

Talbott Subdivision is marked off on both sides of the Manito Blacktop in this detail of a 1967 plat of Spring Lake Township.

An old 1955 Tazewell County plat book in the Pekin Public Library’s Local History Room collection shows “R. V. Talbott” – i.e. Ray Verne Talbott (1890-1987) – as the owner of the Talbott Subdivision land, along with the farmland on the south side of Sky Ranch Road. Ray was one of Glen Talbott’s brothers. It wasn’t too long after 1955 that the subdivision of Talbott was established. The next plat book in our collection, from 1967, shows the subdivision in existence with just two streets, and a sliver of land on the north side of Sky Ranch Road still in Ray’s name. By the 1990s, however, after Ray’s death, that land too had been subdivided to allow for more homes to be built.

As Spring Lake Township’s largest community and the location of a grade school, one might expect Talbott to be the home of the township’s offices. To find the Spring Lake Township town hall, however, one must drive another two miles south down the Blacktop, then turn right on Townline Road. The town hall and other township facilities are a group of whitewashed buildings on the south side of the road, and a just little further up the road is Spring Lake Missionary Church – the Spring Lake Township Cemetery is located right behind the church.

Even though Spring Garden was gone by 1910, the Tazewell County atlas that year included this plat of the former town. Lot 1 is the location of Spring Lake Township Cemetery, and Oak Street is today’s Spring Garden Road.

Old county plat atlases show that the Spring Lake town hall has been at the same spot since about 1870, back when the church and cemetery were in the (now defunct) unincorporated town of Spring Garden. The cemetery, the church, and the town hall are almost the only trace today of Spring Garden – except for the name of the north-south road that meets Townline Road at the church: Spring Garden Road. Lacking a railroad depot in those days, Spring Garden never really took off as a town, and was completely bypassed with the construction of the Manito Blacktop, a new road that enabled Talbott to take root and grow after Spring Garden had dried up and withered.

This detail from an 1864 wall plat map of Tazewell County shows the vanished town of Spring Garden in Section 5. Talbott Subdivision would later be established in Section 21.

This detail of a 1910 plat of Spring Lake Township shows the area where Talbott Subdivision later would be established in Section 21, as well as the former site of Spring Garden in Section 5. A church, the cemetery, and the Spring Lake Township hall are still at the same site today.

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Tazewell’s unincorporated communities: Parkland

By Jared Olar
Library assistant

Tazewell County’s westernmost township, Spring Lake Township, is the largest township in the county – but is also among the most sparsely populated. In fact, Spring Lake Township is one of the few townships in the county to have no incorporated communities – no incorporated cities, towns, or even villages.

Spring Lake Township today has a number of unincorporated communities or subdivisions, including Parkland, Talbott, Lakewood Terrace, and Smith-Rakestraw. The oldest of them, Parkland, has the smallest population of the four, having dwindled to a farm and a few homes.

Hainesville, later renamed Parkland, is shown in this detail of an 1864 wall plat map of Tazewell County. The village was established as a railroad station on land owned by Benjamin S. Prettyman, and therefore was originally known as “Prettyman.”

The plat of Hainesville, showing a store, school, and nine homes, was published in the 1891 atlas of Tazewell County.

John Drury’s “This is Tazewell County, Illinois” (1954), page 297, offers this description of Parkland:

“Only community of Spring Lake Township is Parkland, which in 1950 had a population of 20. It is located southwest of Pekin on the Chicago & Illinois Midland Railroad and is served by the post office in nearby Manito (Mason County). Among the first settlers of Spring Lake Township were the McLeashes, Hibbards and Claytons. Another early settler was Joseph Offut, who built a log cabin on the border of Spring Lake in the southwest corner of the township.”

In this detail of an 1873 plat map of Spring Lake Township, Hainesville is shown to be the location of Spring Lake School House No. 6.

By 1891 the former land of Benjamin S. Prettyman had passed to the ownership of A. Bateson, as shown in this detail of an 1891 plat map of Spring Lake Township.

Parkland started out in the 1800s as the small pioneer farming settlement of Prettyman, named for Benjamin S. Prettyman on whose farmland the settlement had been established. However, on Sept. 7, 1860, the settlement, which by then was designed as a railroad depot, was formally platted as “Hainesville.” Both the Prettyman and Haines families were early pioneer settlers of Pekin, and Benjamin S. Prettyman, who held great swaths of land in Tazewell County, served Pekin as city attorney and was later elected mayor of Pekin.

Even though the community’s name was Hainesville, the settlement’s Post Office address throughout the latter 1800s continued to be designated as “Prettyman.” In 1899, however, Hainesville was renamed “Parkland” – and this time the U.S. Postal Service went along with the name change. Parkland had its own post office until 1918.

Hainesville was renamed Parkland in 1899. This plat of Parkland from the 1910 atlas of Tazewell County two grain elevators, a train depot, a post office and general store, and the old Hainesville school house.

Parkland, formerly Hainesville, and its environs are shown in this detail of a 1910 plat map of Spring Lake Township.

The official plat of Hainesville (Parkland) resembles a checkerboard, with four streets going northwest to southeast (Prairie, Main, Highland, and South) and four intersecting streets going southwest to northeast (First, Second, Third, and Fourth, with the numbers starting at the street along the railroad). There is no trace of most of those streets today. Third Street is today called Parkland Road, while Prairie Street is Spring Lake Road. Aerial photographs today show evidence of a faint trail along what was, or would have been, Fourth Street, and an unpaved footpath exists today along the track of South Street.

The railroad on Parkland’s southeast border still operates today, but it has been long since Parkland has had a depot.

Parkland and its environs, from a 1929 Spring Lake Township plat map.

Parkland, shown here in this 1954 aerial photograph, is the oldest unincorporated community in Spring Lake Township. Originally named Prettyman, it was formally platted as a railroad depot in 1860 and named Hainesville, then renamed Parkland in 1899.

Parkland today, shown in this Google Maps satellite view, has only two streets, a farm, and a few homes.

#benjamin-prettyman, #hainesville, #parkland, #prettyman, #spring-lake-township, #tazewell-county-unincorporated-communities

Tazewell’s unincorporated communities: Lilly

By Jared Olar
Library assistant

Among Tazewell County’s older unincorporated communities is the tiny and quiet farming hamlet of Lilly, located about two miles from Mackinaw’s village limits and less than two miles from the eastern border of Tazewell County.

John Drury’s “This is Tazewell County, Illinois” (1954), page 210, offers this brief description of Lilly: “Near the eastern border of the county lies Lilly, still another community in Mackinaw Township. It has a population of 90. Lily (sic) is on the New York Central System and is served by the post office at nearby Mackinaw.”

The land of William Lilly, from whom the village of Lilly got its name, is shown just west of town in this detail of an 1873 Tazewell County plat map of Mackinaw Township.

Today the railroad is no more, and Lilly’s population is even lower than it was in 1954. Lilly chiefly owes its existence to the railroad, having started out as a stop along the old Indianapolis, Bloomington & Western Railway, whose tracks connecting Pekin with Indianapolis were laid down in 1869.

That the construction of the railroad is what brought Lilly into being is reflected on old plat maps of the county. There’s no trace of Lilly on an 1864 wall plat map of Tazewell County, the spot then being designated as undifferentiated “Lots.” But Lilly was there by the time the 1873 “Atlas Map of Tazewell County” was published. The railroad was built between those dates.

Lilly and environs in 1891.

The hamlet apparently was named after William Lilly (1822-1894), a Maryland-born settler of Welsh descent whose farm is shown about a half-mile west of Lilly on the 1873 plat of Mackinaw Township. No one with the name of Lilly owned any farms in Mackinaw Township in 1864, but that year “W. Lilly” (i.e., Lilly’s namesake) and a “J. Lilly” are shown owning adjoining farms about six miles south of Lilly in Little Mackinaw Township. A short biographical sketch of William Lilly may be found on page 518 of Charles C. Chapman’s 1879 “History of Tazewell County, Illinois.” A longer sketch is on page 1039 of the “Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois and History of Tazewell County.” William Lilly is buried with his wife Elizabeth and sons Joseph and William in Lilly Cemetery, located at the southeast corner of the intersection of Fast Ave. and Lilly Road (in the southeastern extremity of Lilly).

This 1891 plat shows the small hamlet of Lilly, named for Tazewell County pioneer William Lilly (1822-1894) and established circa 1870 as a train depot near William Lilly’s farm. The spot first attracted travelers — such as Abraham Lincoln — in the 1830s, who would overnight at an inn there on the Old Peoria Road.

Pioneer farmers lived in and near the future site of Lilly well before the arrival of the railroad. Until a tragic fire in May 2014, Lilly’s most famous landmark was the old Lilly Inn, first erected in the 1830s to serve travelers on the Old Peoria Road that linked Peoria, Mackinaw, Danvers, and Bloomington. Lawyers and judges in the Eighth Judicial Circuit – including Abraham Lincoln – would sometimes stop overnight at that inn, some two or three decades before Lilly was founded and named.

Lilly and environs as of 1910.

An enlarged plat of Lilly in an 1891 atlas of the county shows the hamlet with only two east-west streets (William and Broadway – today, roughly, Killion and Winkler) and two north-south streets (Lindsey and Hay – today, roughly, Killion and Lilly). The plat also shows the Cleveland, Cincinnati, Chicago & St. Louis Railroad (formerly the I. B. & W) slicing east-west through the heart of Lilly, with the depot on the north side of the track and a mill and grain elevator on the south side. A 1910 plat of Lilly looks much the same as the 1891 plat, the only differences being the addition of a second railroad track – that of the Illinois Traction System – and the Zorn Grain Co. on the sound end of the hamlet. By 1929, however, the Zorn Grain Co.’s property had become the location of the Lilly Christian Church.

This 1929 plat of Lilly shows further changes in the village.

Lilly had always benefited from the traffic and commerce that moved between Mackinaw and Bloomington, and the coming of the railroad was an even greater boon. With the advent of the automobile in the early 20th century, however, as well as the shift of traffic from Old Peoria Road (Fast Ave. and Runyon Road) to Illinois Route 9, traffic and trade bypassed Lilly, which consequently has remained small and out of the way. No churches or businesses are currently located in Lilly, but the Mackinaw Valley Vineyard on Route 9 is just a mile from Lilly to the south.

Lilly and environs in 1929.

#abraham-lincoln, #lilly-inn, #tazewell-county-unincorporated-communities, #william-lilly, #zorn-grain-co

Tazewell’s unincorporated communities: Groveland

By Jared Olar
Library assistant

One of the oldest unincorporated communities in Tazewell County is the village of Groveland, located between Pekin and Morton in Groveland Township. Groveland’s beginnings are coeval with the founding of Tazewell County in 1827, but the village proper, in Sections 26 and 27 of Groveland Township, was first laid out by Isaac Roberts on May 30, 1836.

Notable persons in American history with a connection to Groveland include the abolitionist and feminist writer Eliza Farnham (1815-1864), whose biography “Life in Prairie Land” is available in the Pekin Public Library’s main collection. Another early feminist with a link to Groveland was Catherine Amanda Coburn (1839-1913), an activist in the women’s suffrage movement and a pioneer settler of the Oregon Territory.

The village of Groveland is shown in this detail from an 1864 wall plat map of Tazewell County.

The early history of Groveland, and of the township that is named after it, is told in Charles C. Chapman’s 1879 “History of Tazewell County,” pages 475-486. (Other details of Groveland’s early history are scattered throughout Chapman’s book.) Chapman’s account is replete with colorful anecdotes of the township’s pioneers. Following are several excerpts from Chapman’s history of Groveland Township:

“This township received its name from the village of Groveland, and it from the beautiful groves in the neighborhood. A visit to the township at this late day shows it to have been very appropriately christened. The first settler to locate here was James Scott. He built his cabin in the timber on section 35, as early as 1827. Others who came in shortly afterwards were Milton Shurtleff, John O’Brien, Daniel and John Mooberry, John Anderson, Joseph Landes, Benjamin Dobsone, Alexander Caldwell and George Dupree. The only ones of these pioneers now living are John Mooberry, Joseph Landes and John O’Brien. The first school in the township was taught by John McGinnis, in a little log cabin built for that purpose on the southwest quarter of sec. 11, in the winter of 1834-35. Some claim that Mathew Kingman was the first ‘master.’

“Mrs. James Scott, wife of the first settler, gave each new comer into the settlement a hen with her chickens. This was her mode of welcoming them to their new homes. Austin Harding, when a lad of ten, remembers well the circumstances attending the gift of his hen and chickens. With a light heart he carried them home from Mrs. Scott’s, but the hen managed to get out of her place of confinement, the chickens scattered, and his present, which was so highly prized, was lost to him. The good motherly Mrs. Scott, however, replaced it by another hen and her brood. James Scott moved to El Paso in 1859, where, in 1860, he died. George, son of Joseph Landes, bought the original Scott farm, being the southeast corner of section 35 (not 33, as has been recorded) in 1858, of Mr. Elijah Brown, Mr. Scott’s son-in-law, who accompanied Mr. S. to El Paso. . . .

Groveland’s size noticeably increased in the nine years since the 1864 wall plat map, as seen in this detail of the Groveland Township map from the 1873 “Atlas Map of Tazewell County.”

“Alexander McKnight had a horse mill here, where the settlers could get all kinds of grain ground, but the bolting had to be done by hand. This mill was located on section 1, Elm Grove township, three-quarters of a mile from the south line of Groveland. There was another mill in Elm Grove, driven by tread-wheel power, using horses or oxen. Bolting was also done by hand here. Both mills did good work. The latter, Mr. Shipman’s mill, was running in 1830, how long previous, not known. A negro by the name of Mose was the miller. . . .

“The streams of the township are the South, Middle and North forks of Lick creek, named from the Deer licks of salt springs. At the lick on the Middle Fork, Mr. B. J. Montgomery found the skeleton of two large bucks, that had locked their horns together, and unable to separate themselves died. He kept these horns for many years. . . .

“The oldest house in Groveland is owned by Thomas Hancock, section 27. Some twenty years ago it was moved from the bottoms near Wesley City, and is said to be over fifty years old. It is made of logs and looks quite pioneer-like, as also the present owner, who believes in old-time ways and customs, and has never been on a railway car. Although he does not believe in sewing machines and many other modern improvements, yet we see he has a modern mowing machine. Still he is of that liberal turn of mind which leaves every one, without let or hindrance, to enjoy his own chosen ways.

“The first sermon, it is said, was preached in 1834, by Rev. Neele Johnson, but Joseph Landes tells us he heard Rev. Wm. Brown preach a sermon in 1831, on a farm on section 25, near where the cemetery now is. The first church organization was by Mormons, in 1831 or ’32. There are five churches now in the township. . . .”

Springfield Road runs north-south through the middle of Groveland, dividing the village into two equal halves in this 1910 plat map.

Those other four churches, as Chapman recorded, were the Methodist Episcopal Church, the Presbyterian Church, Zion’s Church of the Evangelical Association of North America, and the Mennonite Church. The village of Groveland today is the home of Groveland Missionary Church, at 5043 E. Queenwood Road, a congregation established in 1898 at a site a block west of its present location. In 1911 the congregation bought the former Groveland Methodist Church building and relocated there, where it has been ever since. Eastward out at 5324 E. Queenwood Road is Groveland Bible Church, a congregation of the Fellowship of Evangelical Churches. Heartland Christian Fellowship is at 18603 Springfield Road. The Old Towne Grove Chapel at 18856 Springfield Road is also available for services and weddings.

Groveland’s businesses include Woody’s Family Restaurant at 18706 Springfield Road, Kuchie’s Corner at 4980 Edgewater Drive, The Treasure Barn at 17963 Springfield Road, Moyer Electronics at 5058 Edgewater Drive, Casey’s General Store at 19416 Springfield Road, and Tri-County Cleaning Systems at 18881 Springfield Road.

Groveland as it appeared on the Groveland Township plat map from 1891.

With a population of about 1,400 people, Groveland has the legal right to become an incorporated village if the residents so choose – by state law, a community must have at least 600 persons to incorporate as a village governed by its own elected village board. However, Groveland has always been unincorporated, and therefore is served by the county and township governments. The Groveland Township Office is located in Groveland at 173 Washington St., which is also the location of the Groveland Community Library. Groveland has its own U.S. Post Office at 18769 Springfield Road.

In this 1929 plat map, Groveland is little changed from 1910.

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