This was the first settled portion of country in Moultrie county, and contains some of the best facilities for agriculture in the state. The prairie is second to none, and the timber is abundantly sufficient to supply all the wants of the people. The township is situated in the extreme south-eastern part of the county, and except six sections on the south, includes all of town 12, range 6, besides six sections off the north-east corner of 12-5. It contains 23,022 acres of land, and at the last assessment was valued at $229,870. It originally was about one-fourth timber, but at present writing a sufficient amount is left for fuel, fencing, etc. It will thus be seen that it contains all the advantages of both, prairie and timber. Numerous creeks and brooks abound, flowing mainly in a westerly direction, and finally empty their waters into the Okaw. The most important stream is Whitley Creek, that enters the township on section 12, and passes out in the north-west part of section 6. The main body of the land is high and rolling, and with the neatly improved farms scattered throughout its borders, it is a landscape pleasant to look upon. Two railroads pass through it, the I. & St. L. on the south, and the Wabash, St. Louis & Pacific on the west.
Little more than a century ago, there was nothing to disturb this wild waste but the Indian in pursuit of game; but the hardy pioneer came and paved the way for civilization. The first to grapple with these hardships, were John Whitley and family, and his son-in-law, Samuel Lindley. They came in the fall of 1826, and settled at the head of Whitley creek timber, now Whitley's Point, on section 12, where J.M. Edmond's farm now lies. Mr. Whitley was a native of Maryland, and when he moved here, brought with him his wife and a large family of children viz: John, Sharp, Mills, Randall, William, Josiah and two or three daughters. All the sons except Josiah, were married, and had families when they came. They, with their families and Samuel Lindley all settled in the same neighborhood with the old gentleman. Here they built their cabins, and broke the first ground in the county. A rude horse mill was constructed by the elder Whitley, which of course was the first mill of any kind built in the township. He as well as his boys were very fond of the sports of the day, such as wrestling, horse-racing, etc. They remained here only a year or two, when they scattered in various directions; some went to Texas, and others to Missouri. The old gentleman moved up the Okaw, into Coles county about 1838, where he died a few years afterward. The township was named in honor of its oldest settler, John Whitley. William Price, also a pioneer, but a single man, came a year or two after the Whitleys and squatted near them, and married one of the old man's daughters, but soon afterward left the country. Hal McDaniel, a Tennesseean, also came with the Whitleys, and located on section 11, about a mile west of the elder Whitley. He had a wife and family of four or five children, but remained here but a short time, when he left for parts unknown. The next settlers were Samuel and Jonathan Anderson, two brothers, who came from Tennessee, and located on the farm, where Caleb Evans now lives, sec. 1-12-5. Their advent here was some time after the Whitleys, but just in what year we are unable to ascertain; they left about 1834.
The above mentioned parties were what might be properly called squatters or pioneers, but we now come to a point in the history of the township of a different class of people, who did not come as mere transient, but permanent settlers, and whose names still exist among the first families in this and Shelby county. Grandfather Isaac Waggoner was a native of South Carolina, and for three years served as a soldier in the Revolution. In the fall of 1827, he, in company with his wife and four sons, George, Amos, Elisha and Gilbert, and two daughters, Emsey and Mary, left their home in Rutherford county, North Carolina, and emigrated to Illinois; arriving in what is now Moultrie county in the latter part of March, 1828, and settled on Section 7 of this township, on the place now owned by T. Leggett, near the Whitfield Church. George was married and had four children. Amos, Elisha and Gilbert were also married, but had no children when they came. Mary, whose husband's name was Webb, had one child. In the fall of the same year, John and Isaac, eldest sons of grandfather Waggoner, came with their families and settled on Section 12, the farm where David Pierce now lives. John Waggoner died in 1844, and from a large family of children, but two are now living in the township, to wit: Sally, widow of David Harrison, and Nancy, wife of A.H. Edwards. Isaac, Jr., died in this township in the fall of 1853. Joel, another son, came in 1830, but afterwards moved to Arkansas. George, third son of Isaac, Sen., raised a large family, all except one of whom are still living in the county. Alvin, the eldest, is living on Section 11, at the age of 60 years. Elizabeth, wife of John Dougherty, is living in East Nelson township, and Hannah, wife of Thomas Dougherty, living in the northern part of the county. Sally, Celia and Narcissa, maiden ladies, are residing at the old homestead on Section 11. Elisha, another member of the old family, died here in 1858. His widow and family moved to Missouri. Gilbert is the only survivor of the old stock. He, with his aged wife Patsy, are passing their old age at their farm on Section 6. They have a large and respectable family of children grown up about them, who also have families. The widow Sott, J.H., and Francis Marion of Sullivan and vicinity, Dr. E.E. Waggoner of Shelbyville, and Mary Ann, wife of Charles Carter of Decatur, are the representatives of Amos. He died in 1854, but at this writing his aged widow is still living.
Harrison Smith, a native of North Carolina, came with John and Isaac Waggoner in the fall of 1828, and settled on Section 11. He had a large family, some of whom are still living here. In 1829, Wright Little settled with his family near the Waggoners, where he lived until his death. His only survivors live in Shelby county. William Walker, a son-in-law of Isaac Waggoner, Sen., came in 1830, and located on the J.H. McCormic place, Section 11. He raised a large family, none of whom are living.
Gideon Edwards, a native of Kentucky, came to this township in 1830; he was a single man, and in the following year married Emsey, daughter of Grandfather Waggoner. She died after raising a large family. He afterward married a second and third wife, each of whom bore him children. Subsequently he moved to Coles county, where he died in 1864; but three of his children are now living in the county: John W., (a brother of Gideon) also Isham and Jeduthun Hardy, all natives of Kentucky, came in the spring of 1830, and located in the Waggoner neighborhood. John W. had a large family of children, three of whom are now living in the county. He moved to Nelson township in 1848, where he resided until his death, 1851; his widow, Grandma Edwards, still survives him. The Hardys remained here but a short time when they moved from the county. The advent of Samuel Hughes was in 1830; he was a blacksmith by trade, and a genius withal, and manufactured rifles as well as doing the smithing of his neighbors. He moved with his family to Missouri at an early day.
John Hannon, also a blacksmith, came in the same year and did the first blacksmithing in the county; his shop was in Gilbert Waggoner's atable; he remained here but a short time.
The second tract of government land entered in the township was on sec. 1-12-5, by Isaac Renfro; he came here early in 1830, and located the above tract of land, which is now owned by Mr. Luttrill. In the same year, Joseph Hendricks, a native of Kentucky, came and settled on sec. 10, just opposite the Christian Church. None of the family are living.
Samuel Smyser, a native of Kentucky, moved to this township late in the fall of 1831, and purchased the claim of Mills Whitley, on sec. 10. His wife's maiden name was Rebecca Frazier, and to them were born six children: Alfred N., William, Martha, Elizabeth, John J. and Hugh F. Mr. Smyser was an enterprising and business man; he did much toward improving and building up this part of the county: he died about 1866, and left a handsome property to his family. Mrs. Smyser survived him only a few years.
In the fall of the same year came Phillip Armantrout, a native of Virginia, and settled with his family on sec. 9, in the edge of the timber, where his son Jesse now lives. He raised a family of twelve children, most of whom are still living in the township and among the best citixens in the county. The old gentleman died in 1869; his widow is still living among her children.
Europe, William and John Hendricks, natives of Kentucky and brothers of Joseph Hendricks, came with their families in the same year, and located on Whitley creek. Europe is the only one now living, and resides on sec. 3, at the age of seventy-three years.
Andrew Gammell and family, natives of Tennessee; the widow Hannah Cox and family, Peter Algood, and Daniel Brown, all settled in 1831. The latter is still living on his farm across the road from the Whitfield school-house.
In 1832, Andrew Drain settled on section 9. In the same year came George Munson, Robert Duncan, Caleb Shaw and families. None of the representatives of the latter two are living in the township. The old stock of the Munsons have passed away, but some of the grandchildren still live here.
1833 chronicled the advent of Arthur Scott and family, natives of Kentucky. He purchased the Anderson improvement on sec. 1, 12-5, now owned by Caleb Evans. In the same year came Adam Hostetter and family, and about the same time William Haydon. Several of the representatives of the former are still living in the township.
Among other early settlers are the Ellingtons, Davises, John Chamberlain, Ebenezer Noyes, A.H. Edwards, William Martin, William K. Baker, the Apples, the Reeds, the Cennedys, and others.
There being such a close connection between the Pioneer, and a portion of the Township histories, it is almost impossible to avoid some repetition; for a more complete narration of facts, relating to early settlers see Pioneer chapter.
The first land entry in the township was by Caleb Shaw, on the 13th of January, 1830, and described as follows: the S.E. 1/4 of sec. 8, T. 12, R. 6 East. Jan. 19th, 1830, Isaac Renfro entered the W. 1/2 of the S.E. 1/4 of sec. 1, T. 12, R. 5. Feb 25th, 1830, John Whitley, sen. entered the E. 1/2 of the N.E. 1/4 of sec. 12, T. 12, R. 6. March 11th, 1830, Robert Duncan entered the E. 1/2 of the N.W. 1/4 of sec. 10, T. 12, R. 6 E. March 27th, 1830, Wright Little entered the E. 1/2 of the N.W. 1/4 of sec. 7, T. 12, R. 6. August 20th, 1830, Henry S. Apple entered the E. 1/2 of the N.W. 1/4 of sec 2, T. 12, R. 6 E. Nov. 27th, 1830, Arthur Scott entered the S.W. 1/4 of sec. 1. The first road surveyed through the township was in about 1833, and was known as the Shelbyville and Danville road, and extended in a north-easterly and south-westerly direction. The township is now well supplied with good roads and bridges.
The first marriage in the township was William Whitley to Celia Duncan in the fall of 1828; the ceremony was performed by Esquire Baker. The name of the first child born it is impossible to give, but it was in the Whitley family prior to 1829. The following are the names of some who were born in 1829. George and Bethany Waggoner, Dr. E.E., son of Amos and Narcissa Waggoner, and Robert, son of Wright Little. John, jr., a young son of John Waggoner, was the first death as near as can be ascertained; this was in a very early day. The first place of interment was the private property of Isaac Waggoner, on the farm now owned by T. Leggett. The old man Waggoner and several of the family are buried there. At present there are three church cemeteries, to wit: Smyser, Lynn Creek, and Whitfield.
The first school taught here was in a small log-cabin, erected for the purpose by the settlers, near Geo. Waggoner's cabin on sec. 11. The school was taught by Samuel Anderson in the fall of 1828. Among other early teachers were J. Hardey, Gideon Edwards, J. Edwards, a Mr. Ellis, and Wm. Hayden. The first sermon preached in Whitley was at the cabin of Samuel Linley in 1828. Rev. Miles Hart, a Methodist, was the preacher; he officiated here for several years, and is yet living, though in another part of the county. Wm. Martin, a Baptist, preached here as early as 1829, and organized a society in the same year. Elders T. Grider, B.W. Henry, John Storm, Revs. Willis, Whitfield and others were among the pioneer preachers. In 1835, the first church was built by the Baptist denomination on section 8. It was a hewed log structure with puncheon seats and floor. The Christians built their house soon afterward, locating it on sec. 10. Its size and style was about the same as the above. The first justice of the peace was John Whitley, sen.; this was when this part of Moultrie belonged to Shelby county. J.W. Edwards, Wm. Hayden and Amos Waggoner were also early justices.The present are, Thos. Smith and J.N. Martin. Dr. Slater was the first physician, and practiced as early as 1834. Dr. Montague was the next on the tapis, and practiced in an early day. The first post-office was established in a very early day at Whitley's Point, on sec. 12, in Daniel Ellington's store. He was the first post-master, and mails were received only once a week, on Saturdays. The office was removed to what is now the village of Summit in 1855, but still retains its former name. As has already been stated, the first mill was a rude concern, constructed by John Whitley. The next was a single-gear horse mill built by Wm. Wiffer in 1833, on sec. 1-12-5. It was afterwards bought and operated, for a year or two, by Arthur Scott and sons, when they built a small water mill on the Okaw, a little above the mouth of Whitley creek. It was a rude affair with only one set of burrs, manufactured from the rocks, which abounded along the creek. Steam-powerwas not introduced until 1853. Two mills were built about the same time; one by Whetstone and Brown, the other by two gentlemen from Kentucky, Fleshner and partner. These were both saw and grist-mills. John Hendricks introduced the first blooded stock in the township as early as 1836. It was the Henry Clay breed, and imported from Kentucky. O.A. Sargent, Z.T. Frost, Wm. K. Baker, Z.B. Whitfield, Caleb Evans, and Robert Waggoner are among the prominent raisers of improved stock today. As early as 1836, E. Noyes, platted for a town 80 acres on the E. 1/2 of N.E. 1/4, and named it Essex. A store was kept here for a time by Henson & Linn, and a blacksmith shop by John Baldwin, but they have long since passed out of existence.
Supervisors--The following are the supervisors who have represented the township since township organization: Alvin Waggoner was elected in 1867, and re-elected in 1868; William Armantrout elected in 1869; Isaac Fleming elected 1870; H.P. Phillips elected 1871, and served two years; J.N. Walker elected in 1873, and served until 1875; G.M. Edwards elected in 1875, and served three terms; J.K.P. Rose elected 1878; Z.B. Whitfield elected in 1879, and is the present incumbent.
The town was laid out by Simeon Ryder and P.C. Huggins, original proprietors, and plat filed April 4th, 1860. It was named Summit, by the railroad officials, it being the highest point on the I. & St. L. R.R., between St. Louis and Terre Haute. It began its growth with the advent of the railroad in the fall of 1854. The first building was a dwelling erected by L. Waters, in the summer of 1855. He also built a small store-room and put in a meager stock of goods; it stood on the ground where S.F. Gammill's store now is, and was the first business house in the town. The residence is owned by Mr. Gammill, and stands one door east of his store. Wm. Petty erected the next building--a residence--in 1858, which occupies the ground one block north-east of the above store, and is owned by J.M. Montgomery. James Place and Christopher Booze each built residences soon afterwards. No other business houses were built until 1862, when a Mr. Young erected a one story frame building, and put in a stock of general merchandise. It has since been transformed into a dwelling. Other business houses have been constructed since, prominent among which is the two story brick by S.F. Gammill. This was built in 1872, and would grace a larger town.
General Stores--S.F. Gammill, Place & Son, Wilson Bros.
Physicians--D.D. Grier, F.M. Beals.
Blacksmith and Wagon Makers--J.A. Hart, John Hensley, J.W. Murphy.
Shoe Shop--C.F. Foss
Millinery--Mrs. O.P. Spillman, Mrs. Jane Carr.
Mill and Elevator--A fine mill and elevator, built by Wm. Champion in 1875, and now owned and operated by Voris & Treat, is one of the largest institutions of the town. The elevator is constructed for handling all kinds of grain, and has the capacity of storing 5,000 bushels of grain.
Grain Dealers--Voris & Treat, Frost & Adran.
School--The present school-house was built in 1867, and cost $800. It is a neat frame building, and well furnished for school purposes.
Churches--There are two neat church buildings in the town, both built in 1871. The Methodist was built by a combination of the M.E. and C.P. denominations at a cost of $2,400. It is a frame, 36 x 44 feet, with a spire and other fixtures peculiar to a well constructed church. The Christian is a frame 34 x 44 feet in size, with spire, well seated and arranged for church use, and cost $2,300.
Summit Lodge, No. 604, I.O.O.F. was organized February 16th, 1876, and chartered October 11th, 1876. The following were the first officers: J.B. Daniels, N.G.; H.M. Aldridge, V.G.; R.B. Winings, Secretary; Adam Decker, Treasurer. The present officers are, Wm. Avnathy, N.G.; Wm. Kinkaid, V.G.; F.M. Beals, Secretary; S.F. Gammill, Treasurer. The lodge started with five members, and now has thirty-one.
Summit Lodge, No. 1034 Knights of Honor, was organized April 16th, 1878, and chartered September 5th, 1878, with nine members. First officers: S.G. Frost, D.; R.N. Curry, V.D.; S.P. Bristow, A.D.; D.D. Grier, P.D.; John McClain, R; J.W. Endicott, F.R.; S.F. Gammill, Treasurer; Philip Bowman, S.; D.E. McQuown, G. The present officers are, D.E. McQuown, D.; Thomas Livers, V.D.; S.P. Bristow, A.D.; D.D. Grier, P.D.; John McClain, R.; S.G. Frost, F.R.; S.F. Gammill, Treasurer; J.W. Endicott, S.; Philip Bowman, G. The present membership is twenty-three.
This is a railroad station, situated on section 1-12-5, and had its infancy with the advent of the W. St. L. & P. R.R. It received its name in honor of John Bruce, of Windsor, who was one of the first directors of the road. It has one store and a post-office kept by G.W. Dolby, and a blacksmith-shop conducted by John Hughes.
The population of Whitley township at the last census, 1880, was 1299. In conclusion, we can say, that it is one of the best improved, in every respect, in the county. Many fine farms and farm buildings dot its territory, while thrift and prosperity appear upon every hand.