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Oakley township is bounded on the north by Whitmore, east by Piatt county, south by Long Creek, west by Decatur and Whitmore townships. It is composed of fractional portions of the Congressional township of 16, Range 3-4 and Tp. 17, Range 3-4 East. The township is well drained by the Sangamon river, and its tributaries, Badger branch, Morris branch and Jeff branch. The Sangamon enters the township on the north-east corner, and traverses the northern and western borders, leaving it on the corner of section 9, Tp. 16-3. There is considerable timber skirting the banks of the stream. The lands are very fertile and produce large quantities of corn, wheat, oats, rye, flax, barley, hay, fruit and vegetables.
Early Settlements--The first settler, as a land-owner, was James Howell, who was a native of Galiia county, Ohio, he located with his family on section 30, Tp. Range 4, in the spring of 1825. Soon after his son William Howell and family settled on the same section.
John Rea, a Virginia by birth, came to Macon county with his family in 1830, and settled on section 35, Tp. 17-3. Guy Helm and family located in the same township on section 26, in 1830. He is a native of the "Old Dominion," and when quite young moved with his parents to Gallia county, Ohio, where his youth and early manhood were passed. Mr. Helm is an old style Virginia gentleman, hospitable and generous. In 1835 came three brothers, with their families from Virginia, viz., William, David and Achilles Morris; each improved a farm. Other settlers were Garland Wheeler and Arch. Walton, who came in 1836.
Another old settler is W.T. Howell, a grand son of James Howell, the pioneer of Oakley. The first marriage was that of Caleb Warfield and Nancy Rea, in 1835. Elizabeth Helm, the daughter of Guy and Anna Helm, was the first child born in the present limits of Oakley. First death was that of Mrs. Morris, mother of William, David, and Achilles Morris.
A log school-house, 16 X 18 feet, was erected in the fall of 1830, on section 26, Tp. 17, R. 3 E. It was built of rough unhewen logs, with puncheon floor, benches, and mud chimney. The house was lighted by means of oiled paper windows. Alexander Patton taught the first school in this building in the winter of 1830-31. The first sermon was preached at the house of one of the old settlers in 1835, by Mr. Lapham, a minister of the Methodist Episcopal Church. Other early preachers were Rev. Bird, of the M.E. Church, Rev. James Wilson, Cumberland Presbyterian Church, Rev. Carpenter, Baptist, and Rev. David Bunn, Universalist. The first blacksmith shop was established by John Hawkins. The first saw- mill was built by Rhodes and Wheeler in 1840. Guy Helm erected the first grist-mill in 1844. Early justices of the peace were William Howell, and Andrew Froman. First physicians who practiced here were G.H. Young, and Dr. J.G.H. Smith. The first post-office was at the house of John Rickett, on section 35, Tp. 17-3, with Mr. R. as post-master.
The first thorough-bred Durham bull was brought into the township by Joseph Howell. And the first blooded horse was introduced by Guy Helm. It was the celebrated race horse, Back John.
Sangamon Station--is located on section 3, Tp. 16 R. 3, on the line of the Wabash, St. Louis and Pacific railway. In 1857, a general store was opened here by William Harmon, and Benjamin Wheeler. Silas Chappel was the first post-master. He also established and carried on a cooper shop here in 1857. A blacksmith shop was erected in 1867 by J.B. Spangler. At the present, J.B. Lichtenberger is post-master, and also engaged in general merchandizing and grain buying. He has also a grain warehouse with a capacity of 5,000 bushels.
Village of Oakley--is pleasantly situated and is the principal shipping and trading point in the township, situated on section 1, Tp. 16-3, on the line of the Wabash, St. Louis, and Pacific railway. It is surrounded by a rich agricultural district and bids fair to become a prosperous village; it was laid out by William Rea, in 1856. The same year Mr. R. erected the first house. A post-office was established here in 1856, and D.B. Landis was the first post-master. He was also the first justice of the peace. G.M. Everline opened and carried on a general store here the same year. The first hotel was kept by John Nickey, and E. Rhodes was the first blacksmith. The first physician was Dr. Samuel Cooper. In 1860 a substantial school edifice was erected.
Present Business--Holcomb & Turner, general merchants and stock dealers. There are also two grain warehouses, with storing capacity of 45,000 bushels, the business interests of the village are growing, and it is quite a shipping and trading point for the inhabitants of the township, and is the most important station in Macon county, on the line of the Wabash R.R., east of Decatur.
Game of various kinds, such as deer, wolves, wild turkeys, and prairie chickens were plentiful, at the first settlement of this part of the county, and wild-honey and the skins of wild animals were used by the early settlers, for purpose of trade and barter.
Railroads--The Wabash, St. Louis and Pacific railroad enters this township on section nine, Tp. 16-3, and the line of the road is on a north-easterly direction. It leaves the boundaries of Oakley on section 33, Tp. 17-4. This road furnishes excellent transportation and shipping facilities for the residents of the township.
First Land Entries--The following are the first land entries from the general government. William Howell entered March 19th, 1830, 80 acres, in section 25, Tp. 17 N., R. 3 East. G. Helm, entered November 14th, 1832, 80 acres in section 30, Tp. 17 N. R.4 east. James Howell entered November 13, 1832, north 1/2 of lot 2, of the south-west 1/4 of section 30, Tp. 17 N., R. 4 East, containing 46.68 acres.
On the adoption of township organization, by the legal voters of Macon county, the territory now comprised within the boundaries of Oakley, was erected into a voting precinct, and the following are a list of supervisors.
G.W. Forest, elected in 1860, re-elected in 1861
L. Chambers, elected in 1862
H. McCoy, elected in 1863, re-elected in 1864
O.J. Doyle, elected in 1865, re-elected in 1866
E. Rhodes, elected in 1867, re-elected in 1868
R. Spencer, elected in 1869, re-elected in 1870
E. Rhodes, re-elected in 1871
R. Spencer, re-elected in 1872
Dr. S. Cooper, elected in 1873, re-elected in 1874
Wm. Grason, elected in 1875, re-elected in 1876 and in 1877
H.J. Manecke, elected in 1878, re-elected in 1879 and in 1880.
Partial List of Patrons
NAME RES'D OCCUPATION NAT. SET'D BERRY, T.W. Sec 35 Farmer & Stock Raiser VA 1864 Sarah STANLEY Sec 35 Wife of T.W. Berry IL 1864 BURLEY, James Sec 31 Farmer & Stock Raiser OH 1865 Mary Ann CROWELL Sec 31 Wife of James Burley OH 1840 BUCKER*, William Sec 10 Farmer & Stock Raiser SC 1853 Nancy WITT Dec'd First wife of Wm. Bucker*, died 1861 TN 1853 Mary HOUSEWORTH Sec 10 Present Wife of Wm. Bucker* PA 1857 DECK, M.L. C. Gordo Farmer & Stock Raiser PA 1872 Elnor CASNER C. Gordo Wife of M.L. Deck IN 1872 Lula Jane DECK C. Gordo Dau. of M.L. & Elnor Deck IL 1878 CROSS< E.E. Sec 26 Farmer NY 1849 Harriet A. BRADFORD Dec'd First wife of E.E. Cross, Died 1865 CT 1849 Nancy HOOTS Sec 26 Pres. wife of E.E. Cross Scott Co 1874 COULTER, W.F. Sec 23 Miller & Farmer St Clair Co 1874 E.J. STONE Sec 23 Wife of W.F. Coulter TN 1874 CHAMBERS, T. Sec 21 Farmer & Stock Raiser KY ? Mary GATES Sec 21 Wife of T. Chambers Scott Co ? DOYLE, J.R. Sec 32 Farmer Macon Co 1859 GRASON, William Sec 9 Farmer & Stock Raiser Ire. 1855 Helen E. BURROWS Sec 9 Wife of Wm. Grason Scott Co. 1855 HOWELL, W.T. Sec 31 Farmer & Stock Raiser Sang'n Co 1834 Sarah Jane TROTTER Sec 31 Wife of W.T. Howell OH ? HAWKINS, R.C. Sec 10 Farmer Rut. Co VT 1856 Julia A. WEAVER Dec'd 1878 Late wife of R.C. Hawkins NY 1865 HAWKINS< B.C. Sec 3 Farmer VT 1856 Almeda WEAVER Sec 3 Wife of B.C. Hawkins NY 1869 Ruth E. FOWLER Sec 3 Aunt of R.C. & B.C. CT 1856 HOLCOMB, T.O. O'kly Gen. Store & Grain Dealer, & P.M. IL 1879 Clarinda J. SMITH O'kly Wife of T.O. Holcomb IL 1879 HISER, John Sec 27 Farmer & Wheat Grower PA 1849 Sarah HESS Sec 27 Wife of John Hiser PA 1850 LICHTENBERGER, J.B. Sang'n Merchant & Post Master PA 1855 Susanna Fry Sang'n Wife of J.B. Lichtenberger PA 1853 NICKEY, S.P. Sec 5 Farmer & Stock Raiser PA 1855 Mary K. McCOY Sec 5 Wife of S.P. Nickey VA 1860 NICKEY, William Sec 36 Farmer & Stock Raiser PA 1850 Catharine STINE Sec 36 Wife of Wm. Nickey PA 1851 NICKEY, David Sec 36 Farmer & Stock Raiser PA 1850 REED, Robert Sec 25 Farmer & Saw Mill Operator Macon Co 1846 Louisa B. Fulk Sec 25 Wife of Robert Reed Green Co IN 1857 SEITZ, Jacob Sec 26 Farmer PA 1857 Barbary NICKEY Dec'd Late wife of Jacob Seitz, Died Sep 1875 PA 1857 Mary Ann BAKER Sec 26 Pres. wife of Jacob Seitz OH 1873
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