The first settler in Lynchburg Township was Nelson Abbey, in 1833. He came from the Green Mountains of Vermont, and built the first cabin in the territory now embraced in this township, on Section 4. He sold out at an early day and removed to Missouri (near St. Jo), where, at the last account of him he was still living. As in other portions of Mason and Menard Counties, many of the early settlers in this section were from Kentucky. From that State we have William and John Rogers, the Phelpses, Isaac Bright, Jerry Northern, William P. Finch, Amos S. West, William Davis and perhaps others. Davis came to the town and made a small improvement in 1838. He settled some distance south of where the old village of Moscow stood. At the first breaking-out of the California gold fever, he went to that land of enchantment. Further, we know nothing of him. Amos S. West came to Illinois and settled first in Morgan County, and came to Mason County in 1844. He located in this township, but finally moved to Kansas.|
The Phelpses came to the neighborhood in 1838 or 1839. George W. first settled in Cass County, and afterward removed to Bath Township, whence he came to this place, as mentioned above. He finally sold out, returned to Kentucky, and from there removed to Missouri, where, as the novel-writers say, we at present leave him. R. J. Phelps was a son-in-law of John Camp, and settled about three-quarters of a mile east of Snicarte. He lived here some time, and then removed about a mile further east. His first wife died between 1844 and 1846, and he married a second time, a sister to Mark A. Smith, an old settler and a prominent citizen of Lynchburg Township. Mr. Phelps was one of the early Justices of the Peace of this section. He accumulated considerable property, and, after the death of his second wife, he married again, and then removed to the southwest part of Nebraska, where he now lives.
Bright settled in the southwest part of the town in 1840 or 1841, but died about 1844. He was also an early Justice of the Peace in this quarter of the county. His widow married one of the Phelpses, and finally removed to Texas. Jerry Northern came to the settlement about 1839 or 1840. He settled in Cass County upon his arrival in Illinois, where he remained for a time, and then came here, as above stated. He had a large family, and was also a man of some means and owned quite a farm. He at length sold out and moved away. His sons were Edmund A., John, Wellington and Frank, of whom none, we believe, now live in the town.
The Rogerses came in 1838 or 1839. William settled one mile west of Snicarte, and John three miles southwest of the same spot. They were brothers, and the first mentioned was a doctor, while John was a blacksmith. Each was the first of his profession in this section of the country. William Rogers was a brother-in-law of Nelson Abbey. John Rogers died about 1868 or 1869.
William P. Finch came in 1842 or 1843, and was one of the early pedagogues, also a Justice of the Peace. A daughter of his married J. A. Phelps. His two youngest sons are still living in the township.
Amos Smith came from Vermont, and settled in this township in the winter of 1839, about a mile from Snicarte. Amos Smith, Jr., and Benjamin F. Smith, his sons, came with teams to Whitehall, N. Y., and by canal and Lake Erie from Buffalo to Cleveland, and by way of the Ohio, Mississippi and Illinois Rivers to Beardstown, where they arrived in 1837. Amos Smith, J., Was elected Justice of the Peace at the organization of the county, an office he held until his death, in 1850. He was also one of the first County Commissioners. Amos Smith, Sr., the father, died in 1841. Benjamin F. Smith was a carpenter. He accumulated considerable property, and died in 1867. Mark A. Smith, another son of Amos Smith, Sr., came to the town in 1839, and is still living, one of the enterprising men of the county. He arrived with his family at Moscow, in Mason County, on the 15th of October, with a fortune consisting of 37 cents in ready money. He tells the following story of his early experience here: When he landed, the family and goods were left on the bank of the river, while he went to explore the town and to procure a team. The town consisted of two log cabins, deserted at the time. He traveled six miles to Abbey's, procured a team and returned about 3 o'clock for his family. He took them to Abbey's, where three families were domiciled in one cabin until others could be built. In 1853, he built a warehouse, and engaged in the grain trade, and, in connection with merchandising, still follows the business to some extent.
Simon Ward came from North Carolina in 1838. He used to follow selling wood to steamboats, at that time quite an extensive business. He removed to Texas, but, after some years, came back, and finally died here. He set out the first orchard in the present township of Lynchburg, in 1835, on Section 35, of the Congressional Town 20, Range 10 west. James Ward, a son, still lives on the Burr Oak Ridge.
George W. Carpenter was from Tennessee, and came to the settlement early. He raised a large family, and lived there many years, but at last moved to Kansas. James D. Reeves came about 1838-39, but his native State is not remembered. He settled one and one-half miles south of Moscow, where he had a cabin and a small improvement when the Smiths came to the settlement. He moved away several years ago.
Rev. John Camp was from Pennsylvania, and came about 1838. He was a local preacher of the M. E. Church, and hesitated not, it seems, to mingle in the politics of the day, as we learn he was the first Probate Judge of Mason County, being learned in the profane as well as the divine law, and is mentioned as a man of "moderate learning and moderate ability." He built a horse-mill at an early day, where the pioneers used to get their hominy. He died in the township.
John Steward, mentioned as one of the first settlers in Bath Township, is also an early settler in this, and is still living. He settled originally on Snicarte Island, on that portion now included in Bath, and which he sold to Amos Richardson, and by him was sold to John Knight. He then settled in what is now Lynchburg. Caleb Brown and family came from New York, and first settled in Adams County, whence they came to Lynchburg in 1843-44. His family consisted of two sons and several daughters. John Healey was also an early settler, but of him little information was obtained. Jonathan Sackman came in 1840-41; remained in the settlement but a year or two. He was elected a Justice of the Peace, and, after receiving this high honor, moved away. He came from Schuyler County to this township, but his native place is not known. John J. Fletcher, an Englishman, came to the town in 1848, and is still living, an enterprising citizen, and we acknowledge our indebtedness for many points in the history of this township.
The Marshalls came from Overton County, Tenn., about 1839-40. There were four brothers of them, viz.: George, John, David and Elisha. John died here, years ago. George and Elisha removed to Adams County, and David to Missouri, many years ago.
Thomas Bowles came here in 1838-39, but was one of those characters often found in a new country, that do not add much credit to its population. It is said that he strove hard to make money otherwise than by the seat of his brow. In other words, he was somewhat addicted to "shoving the queer" whenever an opportunity offered. Two men, named Ashley Hickey and Aaron Ray, became interested with him. Hickey furnished means to purchase material and tools for their new enterprise, and Bowles went to St. Louis to make the investment, but, instead of doing so, spent the shekels in "riotous living." Perhaps, and returned home with the story that he had bought the tools and ordered them shipped to the place; but, as they came not, he was accused, first of falsehood, and then of swindling, and, finally, kicked out of the neighborhood.
James M. Ingram came from the Hoosier State in 1840, and settled in this section. He was drowned, some two years later, in Snicarte Slough. Zeph Keith was from Tennessee, originally, but settled in Cass County, whence he removed to this place about 1842-43. He is mentioned as a genial, jolly good fellow, and, after remaining here some years, removed to Kansas. The Lanes came from Pennsylvania about 1842. Jacob Lane, the father, died here in 1873, but his sons are still living in the town. The Mays, Pleasant May and his son William, were from Kentucky or Virginia, and came in 1837. William died here in 1850, and the old gentleman moved to Missouri. George May was a brother to Pleasant May, and laid out the village of Lynchburg, as noticed in another page. William Bailey came from Kentucky in 1839, and moved to Kansas several years ago. Thomas, Richard and William Ainsworth are natives of England, and came to America in 1842, and located in this township. Thomas, the eldest, had $800; the other two had $50 apiece. They borrowed some money from Thomas to enter land, and all agreed to work together until they had forty acres of land in cultivation. They are now comparatively wealthy men. Thomas and William live in Lynchburg Township, and Richard in Mason City. The Laymans are from, Ohio, and came here about 1845-46. The father, David Layman, was a native Virginian. He died here in 1854. Several sons are still living in the township. William Howarth came to Lynchburg with the Ainsworths in 1842, and is still living in the town. This includes a list of the early settlers, as far as we have been able to obtain them. Owing to the very sandy nature of this portion of the county, it is not so thickly settled as other and more favored localities. Neither has the town much history of particular interest, beyond its actual settlement.