LAFAYETTE TOWNSHIP HISTORY
At the session of the Commissioners Court held in December of 1839 it was ordered that the following described territory be set apart and known as La Fayette township. Beginning in the southeast corner of section 34 and thence north five miles, thence west six miles, thence south five miles and thence east six miles to the place of the beginning. It was further ordered that the boundaries of Jefferson, Morgan, and Franklin township be altered as to not include any part of said township of La Fayette.
The pioneers to this section of the county were not adventurers, but plain, matter of fact men who were lured to the new area by the offer of the cheap lands which could be obtained from the Government at that time for $2 an acre.
The earliest recorded settlements with the present limits of La Fayette township appeared to have been in the central part, not far from the village of Vandalia as early as 1828, and in the southern part of few years later.
Among the early settlers was John Crager who came here about 1828. About the same time a man named Conder arrived and located in the southern part of the township where he remained until about 1863 when he sold out to John Hulley and moved out of the county. James and John Fulk arrived about the year 1830 and settled in the southern part, as did Jacob Fiscus who settled in the southwest part about the same time, Jacob Hain settled in the eastern part around the same year. Other pioneers who came in 1830 were Thomas John, "Shack" and Mr Franklin, all of whom located about 3 miles southwest of Vandalia. A Baptist preacher named Bivens settled in the western part and remained until about 1850. Jacob Hicks arrived around 1834. John Nation, Aaron Branham, and John Mayer became residents about 1836.
By the year 1840 the following men had secured land in Lafayette township: Matthew Cummings, J.P. Doyle, Jacob Hauser, John S. Hauser, James & Reuben Stevens, William Mears, James Jones, Israel Mears, W.W. Wright, Samuel Philips, Nimrod Fender, Samuel Mears, Martin Phillips, Nathan Troth, Richmond Randleman, Daniel Elliott, Thomas Elliott, Zenos Walgamott, G.W.C. Jones, Joseph Gregory, Solomon Alley, Joseph Witham, John Ridgely, Jonathan Bivens, J.R. McKee, Isaac Brown, Jacob Abrell, Peter Clinger, G.W. Willard, John Sapp, Frederick Sapp, Enoch Sapp, Daniel Price, Eli Toliver, Samuel Bench, Jacob Humble, David Phipps, John F. Branham, Job Chambers, James Jeffries, P. Sullivan, Levi Tolliver, John Rawley, Andrew Fry, Jacob Griffin, Frederick Fiscus, Elijah Rawley.
There were others who secured land by 1840 but were considered non residents, they were: Jesse Maddox, T.C. Anthony, Joel Pierce, S. Sutton, John McIndoo, Joseph Cochran, William Randleman, Robert W. Wooden, Stephen Barnes, James Maners, Lawrence Adams, J. M. H. Allison, Amos Harris, Samuel H. Harris, Benjamin Swagerty, Lindsey Medaris, E. Medaris, Alexander Brown, P.B. Brown, Jonathan Bauman, J. T. Mason, Timothy Erasmus, Jacob Hauser, John Donham, Jesse Starr, William Huschner, John Fay, John Rawley and M. Westfall.
The first mill in the township was built prior to 1840 by Jacob Conder and stood about four miles southwest of the village of Vandalia. It was in operation about 15 years.
William King constructed a small mill in an early day a couple of miles from Vandalia. It was a horse mill also and was operated with fair success until the year 1843.
The first water mill was erected by William Mears in the year 1840 and was a short distance east of Vandalia on Fish Creek. It was later modified to be a flour mill, but was slow in its operation and not well patronized.
Henry Fulke erected a small water mill on the west prong of Fish Creek in the southern part of the township about the year 1846 and ran it sucessfully about 10 years.
John McKelvy built a good frame flouring mill on the east prong of Fish Creek around the year 1850. This ran for about ten years and then was allowed to fall into decay.
David Miller operated another small mill in the western part of the township as early as 1846, but it only ran about 2 years.
One of the earliest industries was a small distillery operated by Jacob Conder. He ran a good business exchanging beverage for corn at the rate of twenty and twenty five cents a gallon. Mr Conder ran this about 12 years and was known for a fine article of whiskey and brandy.
The earliest frame dwellings in the township were erected by Matthew Cummings, James Robinson, John Long and Israel Sells.
At the organization it was ordered that the place for holding elections was to be at the residence of George Elliott who lived in the eastern part. This was used until 1852 at which time the polls were moved to Vandalia and have been held there since.
Among early Justices of the Peace were: John Long, William Phillips, James Robinson, William Kerr, Jordan Doyle and Jacob Abrell. The names of past Trustees have been: Eli Tolliver, Nathan Troth, Tunis Everly, Britton Troth, William Troth, Jacob Wright, Emanuel Fulke, James Beatty, William Foreman, William McClery, O. Scott and John McAuley.
This village is situated in the northeastern part of the township and takes in the southwest quarter of Section 9. It was laid off in lots in the month of February 1839 by Joseph Cochran and Jacob Hicks and early received the reputation of a stirring business place. Among the first settlers in the town were John Hoagland and Washington Walgamott. The first store was kept by James Black who sold goods for about three years and did a large business. Other early merchants were: James Allender, Edward Maxey, William Davis, Jacob Everly, Lorenzo Coats, George Troth, Jacob Oberholser. An early hotel was kept by James Davis, who was also the first post master.
One of the first burial places in the township was laid out by Michael Mishler on his farm. The first burial in this cemetery was the wife of Michael Mishler, who death occurred in an early day and is not recorded.
Another early burial ground was laid out on Shadrack Franklin's place in the western part of the township about the year 1838. The first interments were members of the different Franklin families.
The principal burying place for many years was the graveyard in Section 19, southwest of Vandalia on land owned by William King. Among the first burials here were Mrs. William Randleman, Nicolas Criss, Sr. and Jr, and Mrs Criss.
The Vandalia burying ground was set apart for the purpose in 1851 and is the principal place of interment. Henry Newport was the first person laid to rest in this place of the dead. Mrs James Davis and James Martin were buried here soon after the ground was laid out.
A small graveyard in the central part of the township was laid out by George Ritter on land previously owned by William McCrary. The first burials were two sons of Mr. Ritter who had been dead a number of years and were taken up and brought here for interment when the family moved to the township.
It is not known who taught the first school in La Fayette township, nor where the first house was erected for school purposes stood. One of the first houses stood in the western part of the township on Jonas Fulke's farm and was used in an early day by James McKee, Emanuel Fulke, William Morris and Adam Cinder. A samll log cabin was built about the year 1839 or 1840 and stood three miles east of Vandalia. Among the first teachers in this house was William Phillips. A hewed log schoolhouse was built a short distance north of the last one mentioned, on land owned by James Grimes in 1847. Another early house stood north of Vandalia on the Jacob Hicks land. The old buildings had disappeared by 1855 when the township divided into districts and supplied frame houses.
By about the middle 1880's there were nine districts and many frame buildings. The teachers for the year 1882-1883 were: Maggie Wisely, ___ Hendershot, Jacob Travis, Samuel McCaren, D.S. Toliver, John H. Chilson, John H. Knox, Nathan McCrary and Peter Miller.