The history of this township and the one immediately south of it is so interwoven that
it is hard to separate them, and we shall therefore incorporate them in one chapter.
The history of Moore's Prairie is really the history of both townships, and outside of
Mount Vernon is the most historical spot of the county. It dates back almost three-
quarters of a century, to the period of the first actual white settlement.
Pendleton Township lies in the east tier of townships, and Moore's Prairie Township
forms the southeast corner of the county. They have for their boundries Hamilton
County on the east. Franklin County on the south, Spring Garden and Dodds Townships
on the west, and Webber Township north of Pendleton. The latter is Township 3 south,
Range 4 east, and Moore's Prairie is Township 4 south and Range 4 east, under the
Congressional survey. The fine scope of country known as Moore's Prairie, which
forms the larger part of one of these townships, and extending far into the other, is
probably the finest body of farming land in all the surrounding country. Beautiful
rolling prairies, sufficiently undulating to drain well, it is specially adapted for grain
and is a wheat-growing region almost unsurpassed. Some of the finest and most valuable
farms in Jefferson County are to be found in this extensive prairie. The timbered portions of
the townships produce oak, hickory and a few other kinds common in this section. There
are no water-courses, except a few small and nameless streams that go dry in the summer
The first settlement in the county was made in Moore's Prairie by one Andrew Moore, for
whom the prairie was named. He settled here in 1810. and the event and his unknown,
but supposed tragic, death by the Indians is detailed in a preceding chapter, and need
not be repeated. He was the pioneer of all the pioneers of Jefferson County.
After Moore's untimely death, no further effort was made at a settlement here until
in the spring of 1816. when Carter Wilkey and Daniel Crenshaw came. The latter
moved into Moore's cabin and cultivated his patch of ground, while Wilkey raised a crop
in the prairie. Robert Cook came soon after Wilkey and Crenshaw, and settled in the
lower end of the prairie. In the fall of the same year, Barton Atchison came. He
bought Wilkey's crop and settled near Cook. Mrs. Wilkey, Carter Wilkey's mother, and
Maxey Wilkey, an older brother of Carter's, and his family came in October, and daring
the winter the two last-mentioned families occupied one room of Crenshaw's cabin.
But, like the settlement of Moore, these settlements are written up in another chapter,
and nothing additional can be said here.
The next settler, perhaps, was Dernpsey Hood, who carne in 1817, with four stalwart
sons, one of whom was a carpenter, and together with Carter Wilkey, also a carpenter,
built many of the first houses in the country. In the following winter Theophilus
Cook, the widow Hicks, mother of Col. Stephen G. Hicks, and several other families
came in and settled in Moore's Prairie. Uncle "Ophy" Cook, as everybody called him,
settled near Sloo's Point. He was a most excellent man, and all who knew him were
his friends. He was a pure and upright Christian man in his character, was without
blemish so far as man may judge, and as friend and neighbor he lived above reproach.
The Cooks. Wilkeys. Mrs. Hicks, Atchisons and Hoods were originally from Georgia. Mrs.
Hood and Mrs. Atchison were sisters, and their maiden name Hill. Mrs. Hicks was the
widow of John Hicks, who, as stated in a previous chapter, was killed in the battle of
New Orleans. Soon after the settlement thus mentioned, a man. Hodge, came in. and
a little later Mrs. Kobinson came; also about the same time a man named Fipps, Bales,
Fannin and Mrs. Moore, widow of Andrew Moore, moved in and made settlements,
which have been noticed elsewhere. Crenshaw, whose settlement has already been
mentioned, sold oat in 1822 to Tunstall, and moved to St. Clair County. In 1824,
Daniel Wilbanks bought out Tunstall and settled in Moore's Prairie, and since that
date the name of Wilbanks has been a prominent one in Jefferson County and closely
connected with its history. Daniel Wilbanks was originally from North Carolina, but
emigrated to South Carolina, and from the latter State came to Illinois about the year
1820. He settled in St. Clair County "in a place called Turkey-foot Hill and was en-
gaged in the survey of the lands in that county. But the malaria fastened on him.
and to escape its effects he came here in 1824, and. as we have stated, purchased the
Crenshaw place in Moore's Prairie. His sons were Joseph. Robert A. D.. "William.
Daniel, Davis, and several daughters. One of his sons, Robert A. D. Wilbanks, once
carried the mail when Uncle Sam traveled mostly on horseback from Belleville to Metropolis,
a fact, perhaps, that many of the old citizens still remember. He was a prominent man of
his time, and held many offices and positions of trust, and had also represented his district
in the State Senate. The family is still a numerous one, and the male members are to
be found among the leading business men of the county, of whom sketches will be found
in the biographical department of this work. Robert Wilbanks, the accomplished and
accommodating Clerk of the Appellate Court, is a grandson and an able representative of the
old pioneer. Daniel Wilbanks.
Other early settlers embraced the following families: The Hineses, William Jourdan,
Isaac Fortenberry, Aaron Jourdan, Samuel Atchison, Lewis Watkins, etc., etc. Hines
came very early and left early. There were bad stories concerning him; he kept a
tavern on the Goshen road, and there were dark deeds hinted at travelers stopping
at this tavern who were never seen to leave. How true were these stories, we do not
pretend to know. The time has been so long ago they are becoming dim traditions.
William Jourdan settled here in 1818. He was the father of a large family, and a
number of grandchildren are living in this and adjoining counties. The old house
he built is now used by George Walters as a barn. Isaac Fortenberry came soon
after Jourdan and settled on Section 18. but afterward sold out and moved to
Missouri. C. and Aaron Jourdan settled in 1825. on Sections 9 and 10.
Descendants are still living. Samuel Atchison came in early. Watkins had a store
and sold the tirst goods in the precinct. Samuel Bradford settled near where Belle Rive
now stands, but some years later moved to Wayne County. James Vance settled south
of Bradford about 1820. He was from Tennessee. Others came in, including James
Bellow, Willis Harderick. Isaac Smith and John Lowrey, and Moore's Prairie was rapidly
settled up, as well as the timbered land adjacent to it.
There has been so much said in previous chapters of this work upon the early
settlement of Moore's Prairie, that really but little additional can be said here without
repetition. Moore's Prairie is a historic section, and deserves considerable space, and
we deem no excuse necessary for the prominent place we have accorded to it.
The townships of Pendleton and Moore's Prairie are devoted principally to grain, and
as we have before stated, is the finest wheat growing section of the county. It is too
exclusively devoted to wheat for the good of the farmers. If they would divide their
attention between grain, stock and fruit, they would soon find a great improvement
financially in the results of their farms. Then when wheat or fruit failed they would have
the other, together with their surplus stock, to fall back on.
The early churches and schools of these townships were on a par with other portions
of the county. The schoolhouses were of the primitive log-cabin style, often described
in this work, and the first religions meetings were held in the cabins of the people, or
in summer beneath the spreading trees. The first schoolhouse of which we can learn
anything was a log cabin on Section 7 of Pendleton Township, and the first teacher
was a man named Gibbs. The township of Pendleton now has nine schoolhouses,
and Moore's Prairie has six. These are all comfortable buildings—palaces, when
compared to those the first settlers built and in which their children obtained their meager
learning. The first church was organized in the northwest part of Pendleton Township,
and the Estes family were among the original members. Of this organization, however,
we obtained very little information.
Pendleton aod Moore's Prairie Townships are closely connected historically, as previously
stated, and not easy to separate the sketch of them. Originally they comprised
Moore's Prairie Precinct. Upon the adoption of township organization by the county
in 1869, they were divided and the south end retained the old name of Moore's Prairie,
while the north half was called Pendleton, as we have been informed, for George H.
Pendleton, the able Democratic statesman of Ohio, who was tho Vice Presidential
candidate on the ticket with Gen. MeClellan in 1864. Since the adoption of township
organization, the township officials of Pendleton have been as follows:
Supervisors—W. A. .Tones, 1870: Solomon Patterson, 1871; R. Brown, 1872-78; T. J.
Holland. 1874; A. Kniffen. 1875; John Gibson, 1876; T. J. Holland, 1877; R. Brown,
1878-79; W. S. Alexander. 1880-81; J. A. Wilbanks, 1882; L. E. Jones, 1883.
Township Clerks. -H. Patterson, 1872; L. W. Cremens, 1878; W. W. Walters. 1874 to
1876; J. S. Brooks. 1877; R. W. Shelton. 1878; J. W. Gilpin. 1879; C. M. Jackson.
1880-81; S. C. Gilbert. 1882-83.
Assessors.—J. Guthrie. 1872 to 1874; H. Patterson, 1875-76: O. P. Nesmith, 1877;
J. Guthrie, 1878; E. Price. 1879-80; D. D. Smith, 1881: W. H. Estes, 1882-83.
Collectors. —J. A. Creel, 1872; T. Cornelius. 1873; J. Maulding, 1874-75;
A. Kniffen, 1876 to 1878; O. M. D. Ham, 1879; L. E. Jones, 1880; R. G. Wall. 1881;
J. Guthrie, 1882; O. M. D. Ham, 1883.
Highway "Commissioners.—W. B. Goodner, W. C. Henry, J. N. Miller, E. Jones.
G. A. Creel, E.. Moore. J. W. Miller, E. Jones, AVilliam Barbee, J. Smith. P. Williamson,
J. B. Jones and R. G. Wall.
Justices of the Peace.—William Carpenter and G. W. Bliss. 1870;.Alfred Moore and
G. W. Bliss.. 1871-72: O. M. Tennison. 1873 to 1870; G. D. Jones and E. Price, 1877-80:
J. R. Williams and A. C. Jones, the present incumbents.
Constables.—S. Tennison, W. H. Estes, S. L. Holder, J. E. Miller. J. Boswell, G. H.
Edwards, S. L. Holder, L. McCann, W. Carpenter, E. B. Jacobson and William Price.
The following are the township officers of Moore's Prairie since the date of township
Supervisors.—Q. A. Wilbanks, 1870; W. Oram. 1871-72; R. W. Burshead, 1873-74;
C. H. Judd, 1875; W. G. Casey. 1876; C. H. Judd. 1877-78; J. BL Smith, 1879; A. J.
Lionberger, 1880; J. D. Kniffen, 1881; A. J. Lionberger, 1882; G W. Clark, 1883.
Town Clerks —C. C. Allen, 1872 to 1874; J. McPherson, 1875-70; J. H. Zahn,
1877-78; W. H Cofield, 1879; T. N. Woodruff. 1880 to 1882; J. W. Nooner. 1888.
Assessors —W. G. Casey. 1872 to 1874; J. H. Smith, 1875; R. F. Heck. 1876;
W. H. Hunter, 1877-78: A. Kniffen, 1879; R. S. Compton. 1880; J. H. Price. 1881;
W.H. Cofield, 1882; O. H. Birkhead, 1883.
Collectors. —J. A. Irvin, 1872: J. D. Kniffen, 1878-74; H. C. Alien. 1875;
E. F. Burchead. 1876; A. Kniffen, 1877; W. H. Cofieid. 1878; J. D. Kniffen, 1879-80;
George Shipley, 1881; G. N. Allen. 1832-83.
School Treasurers.—H. C. Alien, 1875; C. H. Judd, 1876; W. G. Clark, 1877-78;
D. S. Hunter. 1879; C. H. Judd, 1880; J. T. Waiters, 1881; C. H. Birkhead, 1882;
E.N. Karn, 1883.
Highway Commissioners.—J. Lionberger, Henry Bonnett. J. T. Watters,
W. F. Wiley. J. S. Brooks. J. Hopkins. W. J. Finley. Joseph Shirley, William Cofield,
J. H. Zahn and J. A. Smith.
Justices of the Peace.—Edward Price, D. Boyles, R. S. Compton and H. L. N. Mills.
Constables.—J. J. Fannin. F. Hicks, J. S. Cook. T. G. Barnett, T. Shipley.
William Pearson, T. Shipley. G. Keons and J. W. Heck, Jr.
These townships, particularly Pendleton, are well supplied with villages. Lynchburg
was laid out in 1852-53, by W. H. Lynch, who immortalized himself by giving it his
name. It is located in Sections 5 and 8 of Pendleton Township, and originally
comprised four blocks of eight lots each. Mr. Johnson gives the following introduction to
the history of Lynchburg:
At the time Lynchburg was laid out, Jonathan Belieu lived at Mount Vernon, making
himself conspicuous as an exhorter, in a protracted meeting. Lynch moved a small
log house to the southwest corner of his town, and into this moved Belieu. The
latter built a frame addition to the end of the house, for goods, but by this time he
had no means left. To replenish his treasury, he resorted to measures not becoming
a good Christian and an exhorter. He took one horse from Mr. Smith in Mount Vernon
and one from a negro near town. These he took to Fairfield, sold Smith's horse and
was returning home on the other, intending to turn him loose on Black oak Ridge and
walk home. But he missed his calculations by about half a mile. Just before he came
to his place to change cars, he was met by Capt Newby, who at once recognized
him and the horse, and marched him on to town. Into jail he went. He was visited
by his poor, afflicted wife, who brought him an auger, with which he bored the door
in twain and made his escape. Dr. Gray found him, brought him back to town, and
again he was incarcerated, this time in the dungeon. Then he tore his blanket into
strips, and by its aid got through the scuttle hole up stairs, and when Mr. Thorn
went to pass his breakfast down to him, he slipped out in his sock feet and
again made his escape. This was the last heard of him and his family soon followed.
This was quite a blow to the town, but Barnet Lynch moved into the deserted house
and built a small shop east of it. Then W. H. Lynch and Stephen G. Hicks built a
storehouse and opened out a stock of goods. Lynch bought out Hicks, and in 1854
sold to Russell Brown. D. E. Lynch came about this time and built a blacksmith shop
east of Barnet's shop. Soon after selling out to Brown, Lynch died and Brown undertook to
make an addition to the town, when the fact was developed that there was no town on
record to add to. So he waited till the Legislature assembled, when he got Gen.
Anderson, then in the Legislature, to put a bill through, by which the original survey
of Lynchburg was legalized and the title of purchasers established. This act is dated
February 17, 1857. but Brown's Addition bears date July 31, 1854. A little later a
post office was established. T. O. Brown joined his brother, Russell, in the store, but
a year or two afterward they sold out to Dr. Short. He (Short) was a leading and active
spirit until his death, which occurred in 1859. He built a house just north of town, and
also a mill, and practiced his profession. Charles Rahm traded his farm for Anderson
& Mills' stock of goods at Mount Vernon, and moved it to this place, where he flourished
for a brief season.
At one time Lynchburg had a fair, even flattering, prospect for a railroad, and it
appeared accordingly. Houses were built, stores opened and business flourished.
Benjamin Brewer built a house; Davenport also improved; Richard Lyon, from Mount
Vernon, opened a stock of goods and built one or two houses, thus making times pretty
lively. Frank Parker built a two-story house and Dr. Stonemets came to where
Major Estes lives. Brown made a second addition to the town and Romine also made
an addition. Dr. Gray for several years had a business house. About the year 1862, a
schoolhouse was built, with a hall above. But the poet of Bonny Doon tells us that the
likes of "men and mice gang aft aglee," so it was with Lynchburg. When the St. Louis
& Southeastern Railroad was built it passed Lynchburg "by on the other side." With
the railroad came Opdyke and Belle Rive, and Lynchburg went. Montgomery and
Stonemets went to Opdyke; Davenport went to Belle Rive, and so the town scattered.
There is but little left of it now but a store and a shop or two, with a few dwelling houses.
" A place for idle eyes and ears,
A cobwebbed nook of dreams;
Left by the stream whose waves are years
The stranded village seems."
Belle Rive was laid out April 1, 1871. on Section 27 of Pendleton Township. It was
surveyed by Mr Williams for Moses Waters, William Cantield and Jesse Laird, the
owners of the land upon which it is located. The original plat was sixty-seven blocks;
Waters afterward four blocks and Laird eight blocks, and like all new railroad towns,
it improved rapidly. It drew inhabitants from the other hamlets in the county until
they were left almost depopulated. Lynchburg and Spring Garden particularly
suffered in this respect A number of men came from the latter place; Barbee moved
in from the prairie and put up a mill. Drs. Hughey and Eaton, from Harris Grove,
moved in, and Mr. Wall came from Farrington; Boudinot came from St. Louis and
opened a store, and Howard opened a lumber yard; other mills were built A
schoolhouse was built, and soon every branch of business is represented in the
live little town. At present the business of the place is about as follows:
R. J. Eaton, W. S. Chaney, J. W. Wright, S. T. Grimes, general stores; S. C. Guthrie,
drugs; J Guthrie & Son. dry goods and post office; R M. Seeley, M. D. Guthrie,
J. Parks, J. Griffin, grocery stores; T. L. Boswell, hardware; G. P. Yeakley, tinware;
Hunter & Davenport, lumber and farming implements; John Garner, harness
and saddlery; J. W. Miller, furniture; J. H. Gilpen, restaurant and family grocery;
Belle Rive Hotel, by Jesse Laird; Miller Hotel, by John Miller; Buchanan & Co.,
lumber yard; physicians, W. R. Ross, W. A. Hughey, E. M. Miller and R J. Eaton; J.
W. Piper, Police Magistrate: Rudd & Maulding, blacksmiths; E. E. Fancher and
Smith, wagon and blacksmith shops; L. D. Davenport, blacksmith; L. C. Waters,
attorney; F. M. Goodwin, tailor, and Miss Leake, millinery.
A Christian Church was organized about 1873-74; a good frame edifice has been
built. Elder B. R. Gilbert is present pastor.
A Masonic lodge was organized in 1871, with C S Todd Worshipful Master. They
meet in a hall over Dr. R. J. Eaton's store. The membership is about forty-five, with
C. S. Todd, Master; Edward Miller, Senior Warden; E. N. Kara. Junior Warden; R.
M. Seeley, Secretary. In 1878, this lodge was consolidated with the lodge of
Middleton, Wayne County.
Belle Rive was incorporated under the general law in 1872, and the present are the
Board of Trustees: B. R. Gilbert, Jesse Laird. Scott Cook, C. A. Baker. H. A.
Shields and W. A. Hunter. Of this board, B. R. Gilbert is President and J. W. Piper.
Opdkye was laid out April 14, 1871, and like Belle Rive, its neighbor, was the result
of building the railroad. It is located in Section 17 of Pendleton Township, and had
almost as many proprietors as blocks in its plat. Among them were George D. Edgar.
James K., Jonathan, Jefferson H. and Alonzo Jones and D. T. Philips. It covered
originally about 160 acres of ground and embraced some sixty-four blocks. The
first residences in the new town were built by Dr. Stonemets and another by Dr. Montgomery.
Dr Stonemets built a house which was for some time used as a store room. Joshua
Allen then put up a store house; W. S. Alexander also built a house; also Carpenter:
James K. Jones and John Keller put up a mill. The town, like Belle Rive, improved
rapidly, and became quite a lively place. Its business still continues, and is even
growing constantly, as the country increases in wealth.
There are now two mills in the town Barbee & Co.. who own the one built by Jones
& Keller, and the Atlas Mills, by Montgomery & Co. William Poole, Rentchler &
Smith. William A. Jones, Jesse D. Jones, general stores; Henry Philips, drugs; A. C.
Jones, harness; Estes Brothers, hardware: John Adams and G. Hale, blacksmiths; W.
W. Teltz, cooper shop; physicians, Drs. Stonemets and Montgomery.
A Methodist Episcopal Church was organized in 1872. At present it has about fifty
members, under the pastorate of Rev. Mr. Franklin. A good Sunday school is
The school is an excellent one. with two departments, and an average attendance of
about sixty children.
A Masonic lodge, which was originally organized at Lynchburg, was moved to this
place about 1876. They meet in the room with the Odd Fellows. The officers are M.
V. B. Montgomery, Master; John Adams. Senior Warden; W. W. Feltz, Junior Warden:
and William Young, Secretary.
The Odd Fellows lodge was also organized in Lynchburg and removed to Opdyke.
The present officers are George C. Huston, N. G.; J. J. Jones, V. G.; Alonzo Gibson.
Recording Secretary; and J. W. Estes, Permanent Secretary.
A post office was 'established in 1872, and W. S. Alexander was the first Postmaster.
The present Postmaster is J. C. Tucker. The village contains about 200 inhabitants, and
is an enterprising, stirring little town. The railroad has been of great benefit to
Pendleton Township, and has increased the value of property greatly since it was built.
So far, Moore's Prairie Township is without railroads; but as there are several projected
roads, and which when built may give it railroad facilities, so the people live in hope.
There are no villages in Moore's Prairie Township, nor manufacturing industries. It
is an agricultural region entirely, and as such is not surpassed in the county.
Source: The History of Jefferson County, Illinois
by William Henry Perrin
Published by Globe Pub. Co. in 1883)
Submitted By: Cindy Ford