1879 History of Menard & Mason Counties
Published by: O.L. Baskin & Co., Historical Publishers
186 Dearborn Street

Mason County

Early Settlements
Page 605

The first individual, of whom we have any very reliable information, to lay a claim in the township was a man by the name of Allen. The best information now obtainable indicates that he came to the grove which now bears his name as early as the spring or summer of 1830. That he was here thus early is established by the fact of his having in cultivation, in wheat, some forty of fifty acres east of the grove during the winter of the deep snow. The yield is said to have been fifty bushels per acre. What disposition was made of it is left to conjecture though it is probably that if found its way into the St. Louis market. It is asserted by some that a man by the name of Smith preceded Allen a short time, and that in his cabin (erected at the north end of the grove) Allen sojourned for a time after coming. Both were bachelors, and, since
"Birds of a feather flock together,"
It may be true that they together enjoyed the sweet seclusion of the bachelor home some years before permanent settlements began to be made. Of Smith nothing is known, either whence he came or whither he went. Allen is said to have come from Kentucky, and, after a sojourn of a year or two, to have gone to St. Louis. We are strongly inclined to the opinion that much of the account given of these two primitive squatters, for such they must have been, should be regarded as traditional rather than historical. David Taylor, from Tennessee, is said to have come in the fall of 1831 or spring of 1832, and to have purchased Allen's claim. He continued a resident to the date of his decease, which occurred a number of years ago. His remains lie entombed within the shady grove near the spot of his early struggles and triumphs. A number of his near relatives are yet citizens of the township. From a careful search of the records, we find that the first entry of land made in Allen's Grove was by Benjamin Kellogg, Jr., of Pekin. This was under a patent from the United States, bearing date September 29, 1832. No additional entries were made prior to 1836, when Messrs, Horace P. Johnson, Ebenezer Montague and Robert Goggin entered portions of Sections 4, 8 and 9 respectively. Samuel Larimore, a scion of the "Old Dominion," had settled near the Mackinaw in quite an early day, and thence came to Allen's Grove, near the close of the thirties, though the exact date of his removal to this point cannot be ascertained. He remained a citizen, making various removals, until about two years ago, when he took up his abode in Western Kansas, and, at last accounts, was still living. James Higgins and James Sherry are recorded as having come as early as 1844. They were, probably, from Kentucky, though it is by no means absolutely certain that that was the States of their nativity. Sherry was single at the time, but soon after coming was married to a daughter of David Taylor.

Settlements were made very slowly here for some years, and it was not until land was growing scarce in what were considered more favored localities that purchases began to be made here. Harvey B. Hawthorne settled east of the grove in 1848. He was originally from Kentucky, but had been a resident of what is now Crane Creek Township some years prior to coming to Allen's Grove. After a residence of several years, he returned to Crane Creek Township, where he at present resides, enjoying the competency gained by a life of hones toil and well-directed energies. About the same time, the settlement was augmented by the coming of Hiram Stanton, Alexander Woods, Levi Ingle and George Alkire. Stanton was from New Jersey, Woods and Alkire from the Buckeye State. Ingle was a Hoosier, and was the first to proclaim in the wilderness the "glad tidings of great joy" to the early settlers in and around the grove. These were all that were in the township, so far as we have been able to learn, prior to 1850. During the years 1850 and 1851, we find the names of the following settlers: Samuel Hungleford, George and Lewis Dowell, John McGhee, William Legg, Hank Watkins, Benjamin Davenport, Joseph Taylor, George Leoni and Jackson Houchin. These all settled not far from the grove, and it was not till some years later that those coming in had sufficient courage to venture out upon the prairie. Of those who located in the township as early as 1851, but a single one, Jackson Houchin, remains a citizen to-day. The others have either passed over the dark river to that bourne whence they come not again, or have sought out other fields of labor, Jackson Roundtree was a young man who came from Ohio in 1851, with McGhee and family. He had quite an amount of money for those days, and, as a means of sage-keeping (there being no bank of deposit at a convenient distance), he intrusted it to the bosom of Mother Earth. Some time after burying his treasure, he became desirous of making a draw, and, after much fruitless searching, gave it up for lost. Some days later, a hen, plying her daily vocation, that of scratching for food, gladdened the sad heart of young Roundtree by bringing the lost treasure to the surface. The Houchin family came from Kentucky to Pike County, Ind., in 1836. In the spring of 1850, Jackson, mention of whom has already been made, severing the ties that bound him to the paternal roof and the scenes of his early boyhood, set sail in an ox-team express for Mason County. He built a cabin, and spent the summer and winter of 1850 in what is now Salt Creek Township. In the spring of 1851, he came to Allen's Grove, where he entered a quarter-section, built a cabin, and began farming. Here he has since resided, and, through industry and good management, has possessed himself on a fine tract of land, on which he expects to spend the remnant of his days. At the date of his settlement, but three cabins had been erected on the route from the grove to Delavan, in Tazewell County, a distance of fourteen miles. On either hand, the broad, uninhabited expanse of prairie stretched away, a boundless and unbounded plain. The first year after Houchin came proved to be a very sickly one; to such an extent did bilious fever, flux and chills prevail that, at one time, there were but two well families in the entire settlement. The noble sons of Esculapius were not then, as now, to be found at every cross-roads and in every town and hamlet. Hiram Sikes, M. D., who, in this day, would be esteemed a home-made physician, lived at Sugar Grove, and to his hands the entire settlement committed itself in this hour of its direst calamity. With a feeling almost akin to desperation, he undertook the task of restoring the settlement to its wonted health. By strict personal attention to all personal attention to all patients, aided by the absence of many remedies that kill about as many as the cure, at the end of one month's faithful service, he had so far mastered the different diseases as to be permitted to visit his own home for the first time since coming to Allen's Grove. The following year, a difficulty having arisen between the Doctor and his eldest son, he mounted his horse, and, riding away, has since remained a stranger to his family and the borders of Mason County. The old settlers of Allen's Grove have ever held in grateful remembrance the labors of him who served them thus faithfully, and whatever may have been his faults, over all they are disposed to throw the broad mantle of charity. During the years 1852 and 1853, the names of Daniel Dillon, Jonathan Hyatt, Haythorn Tallman, the McKinneys, and perhaps others not now remembered, were added to the settlers in the township. From a pamphlet of some thirty pages, published by Mr. Dillon in 1873, which, though nameless, is strongly tinctured with modern spiritualism, we learn the following facts in regard to his early history: He is a native of North Carolina, and, when two years of age, removed with the family to Clinton County, Ohio. This was in 1804. Eight brothers of them came West and settled in what is now Tazewell County, on the north side of the Mackinaw, in 1824. They opened up their farms not far from the present town of Tremont, in what is now called Dillon Township. The red men of the forest were their only neighbors, and Mr. Dillon refers with just pride to his personal acquaintance with Delaware chiefs, Waupansa and Shabbona. Their early habitations gave rest and comfort to many a weary, wayworn traveler, without money and without price. At the time of settlement, they were included in the limits of Sangamon County. The jurisdiction of his brother, Nathan, who was an early Justice of the Peace, extended to Chicago, and frequently he issued summonses to Chicago, returnable to his office, the distance between the two points being 150 miles. Daniel Dillon took up his residence, in 1852, on Section 36, Allen's Grove Township, and has since permanently resided here. He was one of the original proprietors of the village of San Jose, and his name will again occur in the history of that town. Hyatt and the McKinneys were from Hoosierdom, some of whose descendants are still citizens of the township. Tallman was from the East, and had spent much of his early life upon the sea. He is represented as a jolly old tar, who was made the butt of many a joke by the youngsters of his neighborhood.

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