On the first division of the county into townships after the election in November of 1849, the committee appointed by the County Court gave this township the name of Martinsville , in honor of the Martins, who were among its first settlers.
This election having been found to be invalid, another election was held and township organization was legally authorized in November, 1853. The new commission appointed to name the townships called this one Union , but when tie Board of Supervisors met it was found that there already was a township in the state with that name, so this one was changed to Sumner.
Sumner township is in the northwest corner of the county. It is well watered by Middle Henderson and Cedar creeks, with their tributaries, and along the streams there is considerable of fine timber. The land is generally undulating, but quite broken in the southeast and southwest, along the Cedar. The soil is rich, and farming is both easy and remunerative. There is much wealth among the farmers and most of them have fine farm houses and surroundings.
The Iowa Central Railroad enters the township at the northwest corner, runs almost due south a couple of miles, then crosses in a southeasterly direction, passing out into Hale Township from Section 35. There are two stations, Little York and Eleanor.
The township was organized at an election held at Little York April 4, 1854 . Thomas Graham was moderator and George Black clerk of the meeting, and the following officers were chosen:
Supervisor, J. P. McGaw; assessor, John E. MeCrery: collector, Thomas Graham: highway commissioners, John Porter, John Martin. John Nealy; justices of the peace, A. A. Allen, T. J. Caldwell; constables, George Gibson, Hugh Brownlee: overseers of roads, William Preston, Samuel Graham. The vote for town clerk was a tie, and the justices of the peace selected Thomas Brownlee to take the place.
The present officers are: Supervisor, John C. Gabby; town clerk, H. F. Armstrong; assessor, D. R. Acheson; collector, J. C. McCrery; highway commissioners , William Bond I. L. Munson, J. W. Brownlee; Justice of the Peace, W. H. Brown; constable, William R. Walters.
Those who have held the office of supervisor in the township to the present time are: John P. McGaw, 1854; John Porter, 1855; Frank Brownlee, 1856-57; H. C. Maley, 1858-60; John Atchison, 1861-64;. H. C. Maley, 1865-67; A. H. Rockwell, 1868-69; R. C. Stewart, 1870-71; R. W. Porter, 1872-77; Thomas Brownlee, 1878; R. W. Porter, 1879-81; J. J. Ivey, 1882-83; J. E. Paine, 1884-89; N. C. Ranney, 1890-93; J. E. Paine, 1894-95; N. C. Ranney, 1896-99; John C. Gabby, 1900-03.
The assessment roll for 1901 shows that at that time there were 1,069 horses, 2,487 cattle, 38 mules and asses, 729 sheep and 3,264 hogs. The total valuation of personal property was- $358,475, and the assessed valuation was $72,- 035. The assessed valuation of lands was $228,990 and of lots $17,845.
The population of the township in 1900 was 1,029, including the 334 in Little York village. The population in 1890 was 891.
Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois
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