Spring Garden Township is situated in the south tier of townships in the county,
and takes in quite a little corner of Moore's Prairie, as fine a body of land as
lies out of doors. Many excellent farms are seen in this section, and corn, oats
and wheat are the principal crops. Some fruit is raised and if more attention was
paid to it than there is.it would be much better for the farming community. It has
been very satisfactorily demonstrated in late years that wheat in Southern Illinois
is an uncertain crop, and the farmers sooner or later must see the advantage of
stock-raising and fruitgrowing in this region. Spring Garden is bounded on the north
by Dodds Township, on the east by Moore's Prairie Township, on the south by Franklin
County, on the west by Elk Prairie Township, and is designated in the Government survey
as Township 4 south, Range 3 east, of the Third Principal Meridian. In the woodland
portion the timber is that similar to other portions of the county. The streams are
Casey's Fork of Big Muddy, Atchison's Creek, Gun Creek, Poplar Branch, etc. Casey's Fork
runs south and touches the west side of the township; Atchison's Creek flows west through
the west part and empties into Casey's Fork, while Gun Creek and Poplar Branch have their
source in the northeast and east portions of the township and pass out through Section 33
on the south line.
The settlement of Spring Garden Township dates back sixty-five years or more. Among the
early settlers we may mention the Smiths, some of the Atchisons. James Pritchett,
Thomas Hopper, John D. Vaughn, Wiley Prigmore, Uriah Compton, John Hull. Nathaniel Wyatt,
E. Crane. James McCann, Nathaniel Morgan, Thomas Softly,--- Armstrong, Matthew Kirk,
William Harmon, Richard and Reuben Sweeton, Daniel Parrett. etc., etc.
The Smiths and Hopper are supposed to have settled here as early as 1816, but they
were probably not here quite so early as that. Of the Smiths there was Isaac Smith and
one or two sons, one of whom was named Abram. Hopper was the father of Abram Smith's wife,
and they were all from Tennessee. He settled on Section 1 and died there. Abram Smith had
a large family of children, some of whom are still living. His father, Isaac Smith, was
an Old-School Baptist preacher. He organized a church of that faith very early in a log
cabin on Benjamin Smith's farm. Solomon Goddard and Noble Anderson were also preachers.
The latter was quite an eccentric character.
Uriah Cornpton settled at the old springs called the Cornpton Springs, and from which
the township finally received its name. He was a very early settler and improved the
springs,making them quite a resort. Wiley Prigmore was an early hatter, when hats were
manufactured at home instead of being bought at the stores. Pritchett settled on Section 1
and was from Tennessee. He was a carpenter, and has a son, George Pritchett, still living
here. Two of Barton Atchison's sons were among tho early settlers. Wyatt settled near the
Compton Springs, and is represented as a very excellent man. Morgan was a good farmer and
died in the township. Hull settled near Crane's mill and acted in the capacity of miller
for Crane, who owned a horse mill. Hull was a large man and an Irishman, and. like the
majority of his race, was extremely foud of a " dhrap of the craythur." and when a little
"tight" was quite as fond of a fight. McCann was from Tennessee, and came first to Montgomery
County, and from there went to Madison County: then came here and settled in this township.
Softly came early. He was a plain but successful farmer; was a candidate once for the
Legislature, but an unsuccessful one. He was as strong as Sampson, somewhat addicted to drink,
and when under the influence of liquor was quarrelsome and always ready for a fight. Alexander
was a very early settler; he was a cripple and went on crutches. Finally he moved into
Franklin County. Kirk had a large family, and many of them are still living.
The Sweetons and Harmon were early settlers, but of them we know little beyond
the fact of their settlement. Parrett settled about one mile from Spring Garden. He was
a strict, close, but honest man. and a member of the old "Hardshell"" Baptist Church.
William Davis and William Braden were early ministers of the Baptist Church, as well as
early settlers of the township.
Of a little later date came a number of settlers, among whom we may mention John D. Vaughn,
who came about 1830 or 1832. He came from Madison County here, but was originally from
Tennessee, and settled on Section 22. He died eventually in Dodds Township, and is buried
at the Arnold Graveyard in that township. He had twelve children, and ten of them grew up and
raised families of their own. Many descendants are still living here. Mr.Vaughn was a a liberal-
spirited man. full of energy and enterprise, and did much to better the condition of the
neighborhood in which he lived.
He engaged in a general mercantile business, and would exchange goods for pelts and
venison hams. These he would haul to St. Louis by wagon, bringing back goods in return.
He was also a carpenter, and built many houses in the township. But finally he was unfortunate
in becoming surety for friends, through which means he lost heavily and died a comparatively
poor man. He was ever ready to take hold of anything to make money. On one occasion he and his
son Christopher G. hired to some cattle dealers to drive cattle from this section up into Michigan,
a distance of about 600 miles, for which he received 75 cents per day and his son 50 cents per day.
Returning home, they walked the entire distance, often walking forty miles a day.
The struggles, the hard times and dangers to which the pioneers were exposed in the
early history of this division of the county is but the same as noticed in other chapters of
this volume. One of the most trying difficulties was the procuring of bread, which sometimes
could not be obtained at all. The mortar and pestle was the usual resort until horse mills made
their appearance. One of the first horse mills in this section was Crane's, which was liberally
patronized by the people. But. as the country settled up, other and better mills were built, and
this trouble passed away, as did all the difficulties of the early settlers.
Who taught the first school in what is now Spring Garden Township we cannot say, nor
can we give the exact location of the first schoolhouse in the township. The early
schools and schoolhouses were of the usual primitive kind. The township now has six
comfortable schoolhouses. situated in Sections 11, 16, 21, 29, 31, and at Spring Garden Village,
in which good schools are taught each year.
The church history of the township is somewhat limited, at least so far as church edifices go.
But religious meetings were held early, and a number of the early settlers were ministers of
the Old-School Baptist Church. Among these were William Davis. William Bradon, Solomon Goddard.
Isaac Smith and Noble Anderson. Of these, the latter, perhaps, was the leader. He preached the
gospel to the simple pioneers pure and unadulterated as he understood it, not for pelf, but
solely for the good of mankind, and because, as some of his neighbors used to say. he was too
lazy to do anything else.There was within him the smoldering tires of a rough eloquence, that,
when once in his pulpit and warmed to his work, were soon fanned into fierce flames. as he drew
frightful pictures of an angry God or the horrors of a literal hell of tire and brimstone. A
favorite expression of his was, "my brethering and sistering, the world is as round as a
horse's head and ten times rounder." What meaning he intended to convey by the phrase no one
seems to know—or care. Such was Elder Anderson, and such as he was, he never seemed to tire
of proclaiming to the world that he was not " ashamed to own his Lord and Master."
Whether this compliment was returned or not is wholly immatetial to this narrative.
Elder Anderson was no band box preacher. He was not a Beecher, a Talmage, a monkey, nor a
fool. He was a humble, sincere, great pioneer preacher, with lists like a maul and a voice
like the roar of a Numidian lion, and thus arrayed and equipped with the two-edged sword of
faith, he went forth upon his mission and waked the echoes of the primeval forests as he
proclaimed in his rude, wild eloquence the promises of the Gospel.
Elder Smith organized a church of the Hardshell Baptist persuasion in the neighborhood, and among
its early members were many of the pioneer families of Spring Garden Township. Church buildings are
scarce in the township, but religious meetings are held in many of the schoolhouses and the morals of
the community are looked after by the ministers of the neighboring churches.
Spring Garden Township is untouched by railroads, but its citizens live in hope that some of
the projected roads will strike them. The wagon roads of the township are equalin quality and
quantity to other portions of the county, and bridges span the streams where many of the more
important roads cross them.
Originally this township was included in Elk Prairie and Moore's Prairie Election Precincts,
but when the county adopted township organization, some fifteen years ago, this became
Spring Garden Township.Since then the following is a complete list of township officers:
Supervisors.—W. S. Bunessus, 1870; C. M. Brown, 1871-72; J. F. Carroll, 1873 to 1875;
T. Anglen, 1876-77; Benjamin Smith. 1878; J. F. Carroll, 1879-80; C. M. Brown. 1881;
J.W. Peavler, 1882; C. M. Brown, 1883, the present incumbent.
Town Clerks.—T. S. Vaughn. 1872; T. S. Vaughn, 1873; G. M. Kirk. 1874; G. M. Kirk, 1875;
R. J. Prince, 1870; R. J. Prince. 1877: R. J. Prince. 1878; W. P. Davis, 1879; W. P. Davis. 1880;
W. P. Davis, 1881; E. P. Bevis, 1882; E. P. Bevis, 1883, the present incumbent.
Assessors.—T. Anglen, 1872 to 1875; W. A. Clark, 1876; T. V. Davis, 1877; A. Pasley, 1878 to
1880; T. Anglen, 1881; A. Pasley, 1883; W. A. Clark. 1883. now in office.
Collectors.—J. W Peavler, 1872; J. W. Peavler. 1873; F. M. Carroll, 1874; J. W. Marshall, 1875;
F. M. Carroll, 1876; T. J. Bevis, 1877; F. M. Carroll, 1878; J. W. Peavler, 1879; R. N. Prigmore,
1880; J. W. Peavler, 1881; L. E. Lloyd. 1882; F. M. Carroll, 1883, now in office.
School Treasurers.—Anderson Clark. 1874; Anderson Clark. 1875; J. W. Marshall 1876;
J. W. Marshall, 1877; T. H. Bernard. 1878; Joseph Jones, 1879; Joseph Jones. 1880 to 1882;
T. H Bernard, 1883, present incumbent.
Highway Commissioners.—G. Peavler, J. M. Duncan, S. L. Dunbar, Benjamin Smith. T. A. Stringer.
C. H. Howard, J. E. Hopper. T. A. Stringer, C. H. Howard, S. L. Dunbar. Benjamin Smith, G. W. Page,
Justices of the Peace.—J. W. Marshall, R. G. Cook. J. M. McKinney, Charles Howard, J. M. McKinney,
J. Johnson, J. M. McKinney, J. Johnson and A. P. Clark.
Constables.—Silas J. Arlow, W. A. Clark, J. W. Clinton, E. N. Prigmore, C. A. McCullough, L. Harmon,
C. A. McCullough and L. Harmon.
The village of Spring Garden is one of the old towns of Jefferson County. It was
surveyed and laid out by L. F. Casey for James F. Duncan and John S. Lucas,
October 24, 1848, and is situated about twelve miles nearly south of Mount Vernon,
on Section 22 of this township. W. W. Creek put up a house on the site of the town
and commenced business the year before the place was laid out. Creek was a
brother-in-law to Michael Fitzgerrell and bought land from him. In the winter of 1850-51.
James E. Cox put up a house in which he kept groceries and furniture. About this time Duncan
sold out and left, and John H. "Wyatt went in with Lucas in the mercantile business. He
remained with him a while; was then with Hawkins, then with Prigmore, and then died. The
first hotel was built by James M. Williams. He owned a farm in the neighborhood, which
he traded to Creek for his interest in the village, put up a house and succeeded well.
He built the brick hotel in 1859-60. Joseph Williams built a house in 1853, and the next
year his brother Henry went into business with him.
In 1854, W. B. Anderson laid out an addition to the town, comprising six blocks of
two lots each, and two of four lots each. The first mill in the place was built by
Driver & Pollock, and was a steam mill. This was a great curiosity here in those early
days to the people, who had been used mostly to horse mills. Many came miles to see this
modern wonder. The following incident is related of this mill: One night soon after its
completion, when quite a number of people had corne in to see it, the proprietors,
somewhat elated at their success in the mill business, and to celebrate their growing
properity. drank deeply, and the miller, who was a green hand, crowded on steam until
the speed was so great that the mill stones burst into fragments, scaring the proprietors,
spectators and employes half to death and making a grand "scatterment" of all present.
James R. Combs came to the town in 1854. and finally got an interest in the mill. He was
an enterprising man; married Mrs. Cornpton, engaged in merchandising and finally died.
Wiley Prigmore moved into the town in 1856. One Joshua Kilabrew opened a store, and some
time later was succeeded by Thomas Williams, and he by John Clinton. Driver & Pollock's
mill finally went down and Harvey Williams built one some distance from town. Among the
physicians of the place are Drs. Bernard, Reed, Cox and Hughey. The two latter lefft in
a few years. Drs. Bernard and Reed ware both from Tennessee. An excellent schoolhouse
was built in 1857. which is still doing duty. Carroll and Scott have carried on
blacksmithing here for many years, sometimes in partnership and sometimes each for himself.
Upon the building of the St. Louis & Southeastern Railroad (now the Louisville & Nashville
Railroad), and the springing up of the towns of Opdyke and Belle Rive, they have drawn
heavily on Spring Garden. Several of the stanch citizens and business men of Spring Garden
moving to those places on account of the railroad facilities. Spring Garden, perhaps, has
passed the zenith of its glory and prosperity, and is now on the down grade to desolation
and obscurity, unless some of the railroads now in contemplation pass it. Then its properous
days may return.
Source: The History of Jefferson County, Illinois
by William Henry Perrin
Published by Globe Pub. Co. in 1883)
Submitted By: Cindy Ford