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

Mason County

Early Settlement
Page 671

The first improvement made in what is now Sherman Township was that of Thomas K. Falkner. The family, originally from the Empire State, had settled in Dearborn County, Ind., in 1815. In 1830, Thomas, then a married man, moved to Madison County, and settled on the bank of White River. Eight years later, he removed to Illinois, and entered lands in Section 7, Town 21 north Range 7 west of the Third Principal Meridian, then Tazewell, now Mason County. He built a log cabin, and, on the opening of spring, began to break prairie. After a residence of ten or twelve years, he sold out to Henry Cease and moved into Salt Creek, where, in 1865, he died. In the summer of 1839, Mahlon Hibbs and his sons, William and Eli, together with his son-in-law, John Hampton, came from Columbia County, Penn., and settled on the same section. Mahlon Hibbs settled on the southeast quarter, made an improvement, and died the fall after coming. William Hibbs entered land on the northwest quarter, improved it, and, after a residence of some six or eight years, traded it for mill property in Island Grove, Sangamon County. From there he removed to Missouri, and, a few years since, to Kansas, in which State he at present resides. John Opp is the owner, at present, of the land he entered. Eli Hibbs made his farm on the northeast quarter, lived there some years, and then moved to the farm entered by his father, where he still lives. John Hampton located west of his father-in-law, and lived on the farm he entered and improved till October, 1878, when he moved to Shelby County, Mo., where, at last accounts, he was still living. About two weeks subsequent to the arrival of the Hibbses and Hampton, Mrs. Catharine Dentler and family came from Northumberland County, Penn., and settled on Section 18, south of the settlements already mentioned. She moved to Nebraska seven or eight years ago, and died there in the winter of 1878. Solomon Dentler, a young man, nephew of Mrs. Dentler, came with the family. He entered eighty acres on Section 20, but did not improve it. In the fall of 1839, he returned East, and, having traded his land to Henry Cease, did not again come West. The settlers already mentioned comprised the entire citizenship of this section prior to 1844. West of their location, toward the town of Havana, there were seven or eight families along the border of the woods, to wit, Coder, McReynolds, Robert Falkner, Eli Fisk, Brown, Fessler, and a few other. These constituted the inhabitants in the first thirty miles or more east of Havana. Nearly the whole country was a vast, unbroken prairie, over which roamed at pleasure vast herds of deer and wolves. Mr. John R. Falkner relates that, in the spring of 1840, he, with two others, counted on Bull's Eye Prairie fifty-nine deer in one herd, and forty-two in another, all in sight at the same time. James H. Chase was the next in order in the township. He came from Pennsylvania to Hamilton County, Ill., in 1839, and from there to Mason in 1844. His improvement was made on the northwest quarter of Section 8, where he remained till the date of his decease, an event which occurred some years ago. Joseph Lehr settled in the northwest corner of the township in 1845. He purchased two acres of William Hibbs for a building-site, on which he erected a cabin. He laid a claim on Section 6, which he improved and owned to the date of his death. Lehr came from the Buckeye State, but was a native of Pennsylvania. He moved to Wabash County and lived one year, thence to Wisconsin and remained one year, finally returning to Havana, where, a few years ago, he died. Among the list of settlers as early as 1848-49, we find the names of Henry Cease, John Blakely, William and John Alexander and Charles Trotter. Cease was from the Keystone State, and was the fore-runner of a large number from the same section that settled, at an early date, in what is now Pennsylvania Township. He purchased the improvement of Thomas K. Falkner, and, a few years later, moved farther east into the township, on land now owned and occupied by J. H. Kellerman. He moved to Missouri a few years ago, and at present resides there. Blakely and the Alexanders were from Ohio, and settled east of those already mentioned. Blakely continued a citizen till the date of his decease. The Alexanders first settled in Havana Township, but came, as above stated, to Sherman. William located near the edge of Crane Creek timber, and, several years ago, went to Missouri. John sold out some three or four years after coming, and returned to Ohio. Charles Trotter was an Englishman by birth, and came to this section from the Bay State. Peter Morgenstern now owns and occupies the farm he improved. He remained in the township but a few years, then moved to Beardstown, Cass County, where, some years later, he died. About the time of the last mentioned date, Mrs. M. B. Devenport and family, consisting of her sons Henry, Lewis, William, Joseph and Marshall, settled in the southern part of the township, about one mile southeast of the present village of Easton. Her husband, Marshall B. Devenport, commonly known as Booker, came from Kentucky to Illinois in 1832, and died in what is now Salt Creek Township in 1840. Joseph died here a number of years ago. Henry is still a resident of this part, while Eli T. resides across the line, in Crane Creek. Marshall Devenport took up his residence in the Golden State some years since, and, when last heard from, was living. Passing down through the years 1849 and 1850, we find the names of Samuel Adkins, Granville Cheny, Vincent Singleton and Alexander Holler. These all settled in the southwest corner of the township, on what is known as Bull's Eye Prairie. Adkins and Holler were from Tennessee. Cheny from Tennessee or Kentucky, and Singleton probably from the State last mentioned. Adkins settled in the northwest corner of Bull's Eye, and, after three or four unsuccessful attempts at farming, sold out to Henry Cease, lived in different parts of the township until five or six years ago, when he went west to Kansas. Cheny located on the north edge of the prairie, but finally moved to De Witt County, where, quite recently, he lost his life by accident. Singleton remained a few years, moved to Salt Creek, thence to Mason City, of which he is at present a citizen. Alexander Holler lived in the township but a short time, moved into Havana Township, and died a number of years ago. William G. Stone, now a resident of Havana, was a citizen of Sherman as early as 1850. Stone was originally from New Jersey, but came from Pennsylvania to Mason County. John Spellman and Amos Heater came in 1851, and were both Pennsylvanians. Heater settled on Section 9, and resides on the farm originally entered and improved. Spellman lived only two weeks after completing his house and moving into it. His widow, since married, is still a citizen of the township. His sons, Henry and George, went west to Nebraska some years since. William entered the army in the early part of the war. He was, doubtless, an ardent admirer of the sentiment expressed in the couplet,
"He that fights, and runs away,
May live to fight another day,"

For, after the first engagement, he ingloriously deserted, and was seen among his comrades no more. He is supposed to have died some years since, though this fact is not definitely known. H. Elderbush settled in the edge of Crane Marsh timber about 1852 or 1853; the exact date of his coming cannot now be ascertained. James M. Samuels, one of Sherman's most prosperous citizens, located on the northwest corner of Section 36, where he still resides. The family, originally from the Old Dominion, had emigrated to Kentucky in 1815, and settled near Hopkinsville when that thriving city was a small village of not more than one hundred inhabitants. In the spring of 1835, his father, Andrew Samuels, came to Illinois, and first settled in Morgan County. Ten years afterward, he settled in what is now Bath Township, Mason County, on the farm now occupied by his youngest son. The remains of himself and wife lie entombed in the cemetery at Bath. When James M. settled here twenty-four years ago, there were none living east of him in the township, and, with the exception of Mrs. Devenport and family, none south before reaching the settlers in Crane Creek. To one visiting his pleasant home, occupying as it does, one of the most eligible sites in the entire township, the matter of wonder is, that a location so desirable should have been left unoccupied to so late a date, while others, far less so, had been occupied and improved fifteen or twenty years earlier. His connection with the village of Easton will be given in the history of that village. Jacob Kissler and family, consisting of Mark A., William, James, Thomas, Charles, John and three daughters, came from Washington County, Penn., and first stopped in Havana. In 1859, they came to the township, and, with the exception of Thomas, are enterprising citizens to-day. Thomas returned to Pennsylvania not long after coming. There are others, doubtless, whose names are worthy of mention as being among the early settlers of this section, but whose time of coming and date of settlement cannot be accurately given.

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