by Muriel Martens Hoffman and Dennis J. Hieronymus (Ed.) Copyright 2002 by Muriel Martens Hoffman Permission is hereby granted, in advance, for the reproduction or transmission in any form, by any means (electronic, photocopying, recording, or otherwise) of this work. No prior written permission of the author(s) is required. Privately Printed & Published in U.S.A. Table of Contents Chapter Page I Township 25 North, Range 6 East of the Third Principal Meridian 1 2 Settlement on the Prairie, 1854- 1860 3 3 Part 1: The War Years 8 Part 2: The War Years - At Home 14 Part3: After the War 16 4 The Village of Potosi 22 5 Life in and around Potosi 32 6 Fairview Church 37 7 Fairview Cemetery 41 Appendix I Belle Prairie Township Map, Hand-drawn, circa 1877 50 2 Cropsey Township Map of northern 1~ sections, 1874 53 3 Patrons of Potosi Post Office 55 4 The "Butternut War" at Potosi - article from the Fairbury Blade 56 5 "New Railroads," D. B. Stewart's Letter to the Editor, Bloomington Pantagraph, January 27, 1877 57 6 Biographies and Obituaries: Dr. Abraham W. & Milton Green, Philip J. Decker, John C. Austin, Benj. Walton and David S. Crum 58 7 50th, 65th and 75th Anniversary Celebrations of Fairview Church - articles from the Fairbury Blade 63 8 History of the 129th Illinois Volunteer Infantry 68 9 129th Illinois Volunteer Infantry, Company E 69 10 69th Illinois Volunteer Infantry, Company G 72 11 Census extract of Belle Prairie Township - 1870 73 12 Census extract of Belle Prairie Township - 188O 86 13 Census extract of Cropsey Township - 1870 101 14 Census extract of Cropsey Township-I880 119 Sources Consulted 130 Index 134 Preface The story of the village of Potosi and the community of Fairview finally comes to fruition. Muriel Martens Hoffman started the collection and research process for this book some four decades ago. Much of that material is now presented for the reader. Her efforts were motivated by her own curiosity of historical things, which reaches back to her early years as a youth. More importantly, her own roots course through this time and place. Her great- grandparents, John and Justina (Meiners) Saathoff were in this community - 1870 to 1876. Other relatives lived for many years in the Anchor, Cropsey, Fairbury and Colfax areas - some are buried in Fairview Cemetery and many other relatives in neighboring cemeteries. Muriel, who is in her eighty-eighth year, has often wished that this work had been completed years ago. An older generation of readers, now gone, would have enjoyed it. Now, this work must speak to a younger, inquisitive generation, who might be learning for the first time about a ghost town in the area. On behalf of Muriel, we want to express our gratitude to the countless people who contributed, in part - large and small - to this history of Potosi and the Fairview community. Dennis J. Hieronymus, Editor Preface & Acknowledgments It was more than fifty years ago that I was a substitute teacher at the Potosi school. Some of those students that I met years ago are now grown, and today remain in the area. By being there - at the school and in the area of Cropsey Township - it helped me as I began my search for the story of Potosi. I learned that my grandmother was a small child when her parents located in McLean County near the Fairview Church in 1870. The family later moved to Ellenswood, Kansas where her father claimed a homestead acreage. She and her older sister didn't like Kansas, and they returned to Illinois. After their marriages both couples, at separate times, lived on the home place where they had lived when they were young children. Over the many years of research, I've been successful in the collection of much interesting data. By putting together information recorded in the old county "subscription" histories, from records in the Livingston and McLean County Recorder of Deeds offices, news items and obituaries of people in the Potosi and Fairview communities, and the U.S. census, I was able to construct the foundation for an account of those communities. The microfilmed copies of the Fair/wry Independent and the Fairbury Blade - read at the Dominy Library in Fairbury - were the source of information about the people and their activities at Potosi. It was my sister, LaMoyne Tilden, now deceased, who initially typed all the research found there. Those many pages were placed in a booklet to he given to the library. At a chance meeting, about 1993, at the Lexington Genealogical & Historical Society, Dennis Hieronymus and I discovered we both were doing research about Belle Prairie Township and Potosi. His maternal great-grandmother Lawrence was buried in Fairview Cemetery and his paternal ancestors (Darnall and Hieronymus) settled along Indian Creek in the grove at a very early date, years before the legal townships were given their names. Dennis has edited and re-typed my manuscript, added more complete census extractions, revamped the Fairview Cemetery pages, and created the index. His efforts made the final copy of our book ready for publication. Without his work the manuscript I had written would have never been completed and ready for publication. William Helmers shared the copy of the early hand-drawn map of Belle Prairie Township and, as sexton, his Fairview Cemetery records. The cemetery records, those that have been saved by the trustees, and the markers in the cemetery have added information that will be of great interest to the descendants of those buried there. Thank you, Darlene and Bill, for your assistance and hospitality. Many records pertaining to Fairview Church were lost in a fire that destroyed the home containing the church records. That void was partially filled by Edna (Decker) Miller who, circa 1928, wrote about the church and her ancestors, the Austin and Taylor families. Originally the plans were to add more stories and biographical information about the residents of the communities. Because of my relocation from central Illinois, that work was not finished. It is my hope that many people who have wondered about Potosi, will discover the answers to their questions. However, there still exist many unanswered questions. In which building did the Grange and the Masonic Lodge hold their meetings? Who besides A. H. Cooper lived east of the village? Theses are a few of the more perplexing questions yet to be found. Not to be forgotten are my children, Lowell and Janet, and my late husband, Howard. Howard and I spent many hours traveling together in pursuit of my research. Through the many years, they have exercised much patience and tolerance while I endeavored with my research, writing, and publication of this work. Muriel Martens Hoffman Township 25 North, Range 6 East Of the Third Principal Meridian Congressional Township 25 N., Range 6 E., was a six-mile square tract of thirty-six sections of land. It was mostly grassland, but in the northwestern corner there was a large grove of timber through which flowed a stream called Indian Creek. This stream wound northward and eventually flowed into the Vermillion River, and it into the Illinois River. A ridge of land from the adjoining township to the west crossed the center of the township. South of this ridge was a swampy area called a slough. The waterway that went through this slough was Henline Creek, named for the Henline brothers who had settled in the timber where that creek joined the Mackinaw River. Township 25 became politically divided. The south half became part of McLean County when it was created in December 1830. The north half was included in Livingston County when it was organized in 1837. Valentine Martin Darnall, a native of Virginia, then later a resident of Boonesborough, Boone County, Kentucky, emigrated to Pleasant Hill along the Mackinaw River. On October 27, 1830, he moved his family about ten miles northeast to a spot in the timber along Indian Creek. He cut timber into logs and boards, and on November 1, raised his first cabin. He had three brother-in-laws from the settlement on the Mackinaw who probably came to help raise the cabin. The family survived the winter of the "Big Snow". The story of his experiences has been recorded in the Livingston County history books. William Spence, a Kentucky native, came from Indiana to the "Grove" in 1831. Claims were made by Hugh Steers of Kentucky, and Jeremiah Travis and James Cooper, of Tennessee in 1834. Spencer Cates joined these settlers in 1835-36, and Benjamin Hieronymus in 1839, followed by Decatur Veatch. All of these settlers were from Kentucky. Charles and Thomas Jones and Orin Phelps from New Jersey first located to the east, then joined the others at the "Grove" by then called Indian Grove. It would be much later, in 1854, that the first settlers claimed the grassland along the ridge. John Darnall was appointed Postmaster at Indian Grove on February 10, 1846. He remained in charge until the post office was discontinued on February 20, 1859. When Livingston County adopted township organization in 1857, the county commissioners appointed John Darnall, Robert Thompson and Absalom Hallam, as commissioners to lay out this county into townships. In 1858 they gave the inhabitants of each township notice that they would meet with them and give them the opportunity to name the towns in which they resided. Township 25, Range 6 & 7 met at Walton's schoolhouse on February 6, 1858 and selected the name Belle Prairie for their township. The southern eighteen sections of Township 25 N. plus all of Township 24 N., Range 6. F. (McLean County) became one political unit in April 1858. They elected officials and chose the name of Cropsey for their township.