The Early Pioneers
When the first white people came to this section, it was then a part of Sangamon County. A few years later, it became a part of Menard, and, later still, was embraced in Mason. Mrs. Blakely and Dr. Field, now among the oldest settlers left, say that they lived in three counties without moving from their original places of residence. The first settlement made by a white man, in Kilbourne Township, was by Absalom Mounts. He was from that portion of Sangamon County now embraced in Menard, where he had built a little mill on Clary's Creek. He came here about 1831-32, and settled in the southeast part of the present town of Kilbourne, and there built a mill on Crane Creek, which is graphically described elsewhere. The next settlement was made by Gibson Garrett. He settled here, it is supposed, in 1835-36; was from either Virginia or Tennessee, and had first settled in the Sugar Grove neighborhood. He has long ago paid nature's last great debt. Jesse Baker came in 1836, and was from Tennessee. He came to Illinois in 1816, and located in Morgan County, where he resided until he came to this neighborhood; he is still living in the east part of the township. John Close and Charles Sidwell came in a year or two after Garrett. Close was from the South, probably from Kentucky, was an old man when he came to the country, and died many years ago. Some of his descendants are still living in Crane Creek Township. Sidwell was from New York; he had but one child, a daughter, who married and went to Texas, accompanied by her father, where he died some fourteen years ago. The fields and Blakelys were the next settlers and came in the fall of 1836. The former are mentioned in the history of Bath Township, as their settlement was made in the portion of Bath included in this township at its formation at a recent date. As stated there, Dr. Drury S. Field entered a large amount of land here in an early day. His son, Dr. A. E. Field, lives at present in the village of Kilbourne. He pointed out to us the old house of his father, the third frame house built in Mason County, and the first in this township. It begins to show the "foot-prints of time." Another son of Dr. Field, Albert J., lives now in Cass County, Mo. James Blakely was a native of New Jersey, and first settled in Sangamon County, seven miles from Springfield, and, after remaining there a year or two, crossed the Rubicon, otherwise the Sangamon, where he stopped for nearly a year, and until he had built a cabin on land which he haad entered in the present town of Kilbourne. In this cabin he lived for nine years, when he moved over the line into Havana Township, where he died in September, 1870. He married a daughter of Aaron Scott, also an early settler of Mason County, and who settled in what is now Sherman Township, where he is mentioned among the pioneers. Mrs. Blakely is still living on the place where her husband died, and active old lady of seventy years, possessing an excellent memory, and to her we are indebted for many facts embraced in this chapter.|
Thomas Martin and Joel Garrett came in 1837; the latter is still living in the township. Martin was from Kentucky, and settled about three miles from the village of Kilbourne, where he died many years ago. He had but one child, who lived at last accounts of her, in Sullivan County, Mo. Henry Norris came from Kentucky and settled in the north part of the township. He is said to have erected the third cabin in that immediate vicinity. He has been dead many years. Jacob Cross may be noted among the early settlers, but belonged to the "floating population," and did not remain long. He borrowed a span of horses and wagon, which he neglected to return, and for which little delinquency he was followed by Dr. Field and some others, several hundred miles. The horses were recovered, but Cross and the wagon eluded capture. John Young was from Kentucky, but a native of North Carolina, and came here about 1837-38. He had a large family. Anderson, John, William and Mitchell were his sons, of whom only Mitchell is living, and at present resides in Missouri. There is one daughter, also living. The old gentleman died in 1847. The Danielses came in 1837, and were from Tennessee. They consisted of G. W. Daniels and his sons, Isely, Calloway, George and Martin. The old gentleman is long since dead, but the sons names are all living, and are among the substantial citizens of Kilbourne Township. Another son lives in Lynchburg Township. The Craggs were early settlers, but lived in that portion of the town taken from Bath, and, like the Fields, were mentioned in the history of Bath. Rev. Elisha Stevens, one of the early divines of this section, came from York State, as he always called it, in 1839. He was a Methodist preacher, and is referred to again. He died in the spring of 1855. John Pratt was also from New York, and located in the settlement in 1838. He died in 1878, having lived here for a period of just forty years. David Pratt, his father, came a few months after him. They had been living some time across the river, in what in now Cass County. The old gentleman, after living here a number of years, returned to Cass County, where he died about eighteen years ago. Moses Ray and his son, Aaron, settled on the present site of Kilbourne Village, in the fall of 1838. They came from Indiana here, but whether that was their native place could not be learned. James and Hiram Ray, sons of Mosses Ray, came about two years later. All of them are now dead. Moses Ray, the elder, "died on the 10th of December, 1845," says Dr. Field, "for I was married the same day and ought to remember the event." Burgess Ray, a grandson of "Old Moses," came a few years later, remained here a number of years and then moved to Missouri. "Old Becka," a negress, with a face like the mouth of a coal-pit, came with the Rays, and was the first of Ethiopia's fated race to tread the sacred soil of Kilbourne.
John Cookson and John Lamb were from Indiana, Posey County, the land of hoop-poles and pumpkins. Cookson came in the fall of 1839, and several years later moved to Missouri, where he lived at last accounts of him. Lamb was a Pennsylvania Dutchman, born and reared in Indiana; or, to be more explicit, his parents were from Pennsylvania, and of the good old Dutch stock. Of eleven children born to John Lamb, all are now dead except Christine, the youngest daughter. They were a heavy family, ranging in avoirdupois from one hundred and sixty to three hundred pounds. It is said that the old gentleman weighed three hundred pounds, and his wife two hundred pounds, and, with the exception of one daughter who weighed one hundred and sixty, not one but tilted the beam at two hundred and upward. Dr. Mastick was among the early settlers, but just what year he located could not be ascertained. He was originally from Ohio, and is elsewhere mentioned as the first medical practitioner of the township; he died a few years ago. William McDaniels came to the neighborhood in 1838, and remained a citizen until his death in 1854. James Ross came in 1840, and was a Southron, though what State he came from is not now remembered. He moved to Peoria, and there, in that great city, all trace of him is lost. Abraham Williamson came from Kentucky in 1843. He first settled in Morgan County, where he remained a few years before coming to this section. He died here some three or four years ago. William Turner also came from Morgan County to this settlement in 1843; he died here many years ago. Michael Ott, another Pennsylvania Dutchman, settled in 1841; was a very old man when he died-about five years ago. James and John Tolley, two brothers, came from Kentucky in 1842. John is still living, and at present a resident of Menard County; but James died some years ago in Kansas.
This comprises the settlement of the township, so far as names can be ascertained, up to 1845, when emigrants began to pour in with such rapidity as to render it impossible for the chronicler to keep track of them. Among the arrivals in 1845, we may notice those of J. M. Hardin, John Ranson, Edward Gore, Joseph Groves, John Micklam, Edmund McCormick, A. H. Neal, James Angelo, Samuel Cannon and a host of others, comprising much of the "bone and sinew" of the town. Dr. Oneal, now a resident of Kilbourne Township, was an early settler of Bath, where he is more particularly noticed. John B. Gum, one of the prominent citizens of Kilbourne, and one of the largest land-owners in the county, was a very early settler of Petersburg Precinct, Menard County, where he is further alluded to. If any of the early settlers of Bath, Crane Creek and this township should find themselves a little mixed as to their place of residence, it results from the fact already mentioned, viz.; that Kilbourne was a part of the two former towns until a few years ago, and drew on them about equally for its territory. We have endeavored to keep "things straight," but may, in some cases, have lost our bearings and drifted "across the line" into one or the other of those towns. If so, we console ourselves with the reflection that it is "all in the family, anyway."