Early Scenes And Privations
When the pioneers whose names are recorded above came to this section, Bath Township was not the highly cultivated farming district it is now. Wild prairies, timber-land, marshes and sloughs then, are now finely-improved farms. The timber has been cleared off, prairies turned upside down and marshes drained. By ditching and artificial draining, much land once supposed to be worthless may now be reckoned among the best in the town. In place of the elegant country residences of the present day, a cabin of black-jack poles, daubed with mud, sheltered the settler and his family. Wolves were plenty, with now and then a panther to relieve the monotony. The present generation know little of what their parents had to undergo in opening up the country. |
In the early times, the people went to mill at Duncan's, on Spoon River, in Fulton County, until Simmonds built a mill on Quiver, which was more convenient, inasmuch as it was on the same side of the Illinois River that they were themselves. A few years after Simmons built his mill, McHarry erected one, also, on Quiver Creek. These supplied the people of this section until the erection of a mill in the village of Bath. There are no mills in the township outside of the village.
The first blacksmith in the township was Guy Spencer. He was an Eastern man and one of the early settlers of the county. He died twenty or twenty-five years ago. The first stores and post offices were in the villages, and are noticed in that connection.
The first school, it is believed, was taught by Miss Berry, who, some time after, married F. S. D. Marshall, noticed in this chapter as one of the pioneers. She was a stepdaughter of B. F. Turner, brother of Smith Turner.
The first death to occur in the settlement was Louis Van Court, an old hunter. He was a bachelor, and lived "around," staying first with one and then with another, and was very wealthy-owning a gun, a fiddle and an axe. He died in 1836, and, as an old settler informed us, was buried in the sand, near where the village of Moscow once stood. Since his day, many of the pioneers have followed him to the land of shadows.
Hiram Blunt, a son of Thomas Blunt, is supposed to have been the first birth in Bath. At any rate, he always claimed to have been the first born in the county-contesting that honor with Mr. Krebaum, who is elsewhere mentioned as the first in the county. The first marriage is lost in the mists of antiquity; but that there has been a first marriage, followed by many others, the present population bears indisputable evidence.
The first messenger to proclaim the glad tidings of salvation to the people of Bath Township was the Rev. Mr. Shunk, a Methodist minister. He established the first class and church of that denomination, and used to preach at Maj. Gatton's before there was any church edifice erected in the town. He came originally from Pennsylvania about 1841, and died some three years ago from the effects of sunstroke. Another of the early preachers was the Rev. Mr. Daniels, of the Baptist Church, who is still living in the Village of Bath, and occasionally preaches in the Christian Church of Bath. Rev. George A. Bonney was also an early preacher in this section, and of the Methodist denomination. There are two church edifices in the township outside of the village, viz.: Mt. Zion Baptist Church, on Sec. 35, some five or six miles southeast of Bath; it was erected twenty years or more ago, and is an ordinary frame building. The other is a German Lutheran Church, in the northeast part of the town. It is a neat frame edifice, built about 1864-65, and well attended by the German citizens, who comprise most of the population in this part of the town.