SOUTH MACON TOWNSHIP Go To List of Patrons
South Macon Township is in the center of the tier of townships lying in the extreme southern part of the county. It is bounded on the north by South Wheatland, on the east by Mt. Zion and Milam, on the south by Shelby county, and on the west by Pleasant View and Blue Mound townships. It is drained by Dry Branch, Willow Branch and Long Grove Branch. There is considerable timber to be found along the margins of these streams, particularly along Long Grove Branch. The soil is rich and productive, and in this township may be found many of the best improved farms in the county. The township comprises half of each of the two congressional townships 14 and 15 N., Range 2 E., making a full township with thirty-six sections. The Illinois Central Railroad enters the township on the north of section 21, and runs in nearly a wouth-west direction through the township, passing out on the south-west corner of section 17 of T. 14 N. R. 2 E. The town of Macon, situated near the centre of the township is the second in population in the county, and where most of the trading of the farmers in the township is done.
Early Settlements--In 1835, William Morris, with his family, came from Indiana and built a cabin on section 12 of T. 14 N., R. 2 E., just north of what is now known as the Long Grove. This is a long strip of timber, probably three-fourths of a mile in width, running along the southern edge of the township. Mr. Morris was the first settler in the township but he did not live long after he came. He died in 1836, one year after his arrival in the county. This was the first death. He was buried near the east end of Long Frove, in what afterward became the neighborhood burying-ground, and was the first place of the kind established in South Macon township.
Isaac Vise came from Kentucky in 1837 or '38 and located further south in the township than where Mr. Morris had settled. In 1840 Thomas Atterberry, familiarly known as "Big Tom" Atterberry, now living near the centre of the township, was traveling through the country and lost his way at night, and in the morning discovered he was only a short way from a house, which proved to be the one occupied by William Morris and his family.
Thomas Atterberry, commonly called "Black Tom", built a house on section 8, T. 14 N., R. 2 E., and moved his family of eight persons from Breckinridge county, Kentucky, in the year 1845. About the same time Richard Atterberry moved from Grayson county, Kentucky, and settled on section 12, T. 14 N., R. 2 E. About 1837, two brothers James and Hargus Stewart, also came from Kentucky, settled in the south-east part of the township, and in 1849 William Portwood, at present living just across the line in Shelby county, came and settled in South Macon, on section 12, T., 14 N., R. 2 E. Here it would, perhaps, not be out of place to mention that in early times there prevailed a strange superstition among the settlers of this locality. Some time between 1840 and '45, a Mrs. Stewart, residing east of Long Grove, died and was buried in the south-eastern part of the grove. The people living in that neighborhood, or a great many of them at least, for a number of years, believed and insisted that Mrs. Stewart's ghost haunted that locality, and for a long time they could not be induced to pass that portion of the grove after nightfall for any consideration.
Isaac Davis, one of the representative men who now resides in the north part of the township came here and settled near where he lives in 1853. There was quite a settlement at an early date in the south-west corner of the township, composed chiefly of the Armstrongs and their relatives and the McHenrys, many of whom afterwards removed and still live in various parts of Shelby county. About the year 1838, Mr. and Mrs. Stewart, who are previously mentioned as having come from Kentucky about 1837, had a child born to them, which was the first birth in the township.
The settlement in the south-west part of the township is credited with having had the first school-house. This was built on section 12, of T. 14 N. R. 2 E., about two miles south of Macon.
The first entries of Government land was on Nov. 5th, 1835, James Stewart entered 40 acres on section 13; William Norris entered 80 acres in the same section Nov. 5th 1835, and same day he entered 40 acres, also 80 acres in same section, all in T. 14 N., R. 2 East of the 3rd P.M.
The following are the supervisors from this township:
W.D. Hamilton, elected in 1860
L.M. Clement, elected in 1861
A.H. Martin, elected in 1862
W.W. Dean, elected in 1863
Frank Babcock, elected in 1864, and re-elected in 1865
N. Failing, elected 1866, re-elected 1867
Joel T. Walker, elected 1867, and re-elected each succeeding year up to 1872
N. Failing re-elected 1873
W.S. Gage, elected 1874, re-elected 1875
R.H. Woodcock, elected 1876, re-elected each succeeding year, and is the present incumbent
The Town of Macon--This thriving little place is situated on section thirty-two of Tp. 15 N. R. 2 E., and on the line of the Illinois Central railroad, about ten miles from the city of Decatur. It is in the heart of a thickly populated country, and commands the trade for many miles around. It was laid out by the Illinois Railroad Company, immediately after the completion of the road in 1854. The first building erected, was by the railroad company. It was used as a freight and passenger depot. C.H. Ruby was the first person to settle in the town. He lived in this depot from 1854 to 1860. In 1857 the company appointed J.S. Ruby, their agent at Macon, who was the first regular agent of the company at this place. Here for a number of years, the company had their land office for the sale of lands in this portion of the county. A.G. Harris built the first residence in this town. This was in the year 1858.
Jas. Searneus, who came from Ohio, in the year 1858, was the first person to open a store in the town, for the purpose of general mercantile business. James Wells taught the first school in the town. The first school-house was erected in 1858, and was used for years for that purpose, but is now used as a dwelling. The Rev. Mr. Wallace preached the first sermon, that was delivered by any minister in the town of Macon. This was in the freight depot of the Illinois Central Railroad, in the year 1860. It was the custom for the preacher going through on the railroad to stop at Macon, and deliver a sermon in the freight house. This practice was continued until the erection of a church. The Methodist being the prevailing creed in this locality, in the early days of Macon city, grew in members and wealth until in 1865, they became able, and built a church, which was the first church of any denomination in Macon. The Rev. Mr. Wallace was the first preacher regularly located in the town.
The year 1860 was marked by the opening of a hotel, by C.H. Ruby, who is still engaged in the hotel business. In 1857 a post-office was established, and the present name given it. J.S. Ruby was the first person appointed to the office of post-master. The first death was that of James Gahretty, who was employed in the construction of the freight depot, and while at work on that building, fell from the roof and received fatal injuries, from which he died. This sad event occurred in the year 1855.
The wedding of Joseph and Mrs. Louisa De Vere, was the earliest in the history of Macon. The ceremony was performed by a Reverand Father of the Catholic church, who happened to stop over at this station. The event took place in the year 1857, at the home of Mr. C.H. Ruby, who was then living in the passenger depot.
Charles Crow was the first person to establish a general blacksmithing business in the town, in the year 1857. Dr. Geo. S. Gray, a physician still practising in this place, was the first physician, who came to locate permanently in Macon. He came in 1860. The town does a prosperous business, and is the third city in the county in point of population. The present business houses are:
Dry Goods and Groceries--Roscoe & Hemphill, J. Frick, M. Cazalett, S.G. Washburn, W.R. Whittaker.
Boots and Shoes--B.F. Weeks, J.J. Swatz
Drugs and Groceries--J. Allinson, T.C. Drinkall
Banks--Hight Bros., 1878, M. Failing, 1880
HotelRuby House, by C.H. Ruby
Restaurants--Roush & Young, J.A. Cook
Blacksmiths--Joseph Amock, Anton Beschel, G.W. Cook
Barber Shop--Jean Young
Meat Markets--E.E. Pennypacker, Hudson & Co.
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