Stark County, Illinois and Its People: A Record of Settlement
Organization, Progress and Achievement, (1916)

Chapter VII 


Transcribed by Gaile Thomas.

     The Township of Osceola occupies the northeastern corner of the county, including Congressional township 14, range 7. It is bounded on the north and east by Bureau County; on the south by Penn Township, and on the west by the Township of Elmira. The East Fork of the Spoon River flows diagonally across the township from northeast to southwest, Silver Creek drains the northeastern portion and across the southern part Cooper’s Defeat Creek flows westwardly until it empties into the East Fork in section 31. More than 80 per cent of the 23,040 acres of land lying within this township is capable of being cultivated and yields abundant crops, owing to the great fertility of the soil. When the first white men came to this part of the county they found here a beautiful prairie, which may account in a great measure for the large number of soldiers’ land warrants being filed between the years 1817 and 1820. In those years lands were entered in this township by veterans of the War of 1812 as follows:

Section 1, Daniel Prestman and John Wingfield;
Section 2, John Cochran and Richard Marshall;
Section  3, Levi Spaulding and John Spencer;
Section  4, Isaac Irvine and George Rowland;
Section  5, H. J. Balch and Jacob Seeders;
Section  6, John Swisson;
Section  7, Timothy Carter and Daniel Whisker;
Section  8, Alanson Adams, Samuel Adams, John Pilsbury and Margaret Smith;
Section  9, James C. Angell, Alexander McConkey, John T. Swords and Stephen Whipple;
Section  10, Charles Avery, Nathan Brown, Samuel Shannon and William Weaver;
Section  11, Stephen Bridges, John Gowen, Rensselaer Lee and Shelton Lockwood;
Section  12, Joseph Cutler;
Section  13, David Flagg and Jonathan Pike;
Section  14, William Brower, Andrew Campbell, Frederick Devoe and Asahel Stanley;
Section  15, John Barker, Ephraim Pratt, Timothy Thompson and Gerard Tracy;
Section  17, John Carroll, John Langfitt, Jacob Sticker and James Wiley;
Section  18, Amos Bunnell and Asa Manning;
Section  19, William Kurnin;
Section  20, James Bush;
Section  21, Eli Brady and Andrew Groynne;
Section  22, William Crowson, William Graham and Jabez Graves;
Section  23, Samuel Allen, Philip Andrews, Isaac McCarter and James Taylor;
Section  24, Frederick Honn, Samuel Neal, Elijah Nickerson and George Stall;
Section  25, Job Haskell, Hudson Knight and F. K. Robinson;
Section  26, John Coon, Josiah Brantley, Orson Menard and J. C. Parker;
Section  27, E. F. Nichols, Richard Hardy, William F. Reed and Amos Small;
Section  28, William Eaton and George Stanton;
Section  31, Zachary Gray;
Section  32, Grandeson B. Cooper;
Section  33, Winship Gordon and Lawrence Hoots;
Section  34, Samuel K. Jenkins, John Lennon, Samuel Moulton and Arthur Sherrard;
Section  35, George Anway, Joseph Kenion, George Longmire and William Macling;
Section  36, Jacob Morton.

     The eighty-seven soldiers’ claims of 160 acres each absorbed 13,920 acres, or a little more than 60 per cent of the entire township. When actual settlers began to come in there were several disputes and law suits over title to the lands, which retarded to some extent the development of the township. The vexed question was finally settled, however, and since then Osceola has grown to be one of the wealthiest, most populous and prosperous townships of Stark County.
     When the first settlers came to the township in 1835 they found a beautiful grove in the northwestern part, extending into what is now Elmira Township, and it was here that they located. At that time the Seminole Indians in Florida were at war with the United States under the leadership of the half-breed chief, Osceola. This chief was the son of a white man named Willis Powell and a Creek squaw. He was born in Georgia, but while he was still in his youth his mother deserted her own tribe and joined the Seminoles. Some of the early settlers, admiring the skill and bravery of the adopted chief in resisting the removal of the Seminoles from their favorite hunting grounds in Florida, named the grove “Osceola Grove,” and this name was afterward conferred upon the civil township established in 1853.
     The first land entries made by actual settlers were in the grove above mentioned and along the East Fork of the Spoon River. Nicholas Sturm and Henry Seely located claims in section 28 in 1835. The following year Robert and William Hall entered land in section 6; James Buswell in section 7; Isaac Spencer, section 18; James Clark and Samuel Love, section 19; Mathias Sturm, section 21, and Joseph Newton, section 28. In 1837 Myrtle G. Brace located in section 6, John Watts in section 19, and W. H. Boardman in section 31.
Although Osceola is an agricultural community, considerable coal mining has been done in the township. As early as 1861 John McLaughlin was mining coal at a place known as Foster’s coal bank, about two and a half miles west of Bradford, and there were other mines along the Spoon River and about Lombardville. A more complete account of the mining interests of the county will be found in the chapter on Finance and Industry.
     The Buda & Rushville branch of the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy railway system runs through the eastern part of the township, with stations at Bradford and Lombardville, and furnishes transportation facilities to the people living east of the Spoon River.
     The first election of school trustees in Osceola Township was on June 3, 1846, when Liberty Stone, I. W. Searl and Zebulon Avery were elected. Immediately after their election the trustees divided the township into three school districts. In 1915 there were nine public school buildings, valued at $10,800, and during the preceding school year sixteen teachers were employed. The population of the township in 1910, including the incorporated Village of Bradford, was 1,577, and in 1914 the property was valued for tax purposes at $1,090,874.

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Updated June 6, 2007