Potosi - A Ghost Town and the Fairview Community


                         Muriel Martens Hoffman


                        Dennis J. Hieronymus (Ed.)

                             Copyright 2002


                         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


	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


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 

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 

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

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.

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