Excerpt of Biographical History of Money Creek Township By Morris W. Jones This is a limited history of what is in the booklet titled "History and Biographical History of Money Creek Township" written by Morris W. Jones, (date of writing unknown although he was born in 1903 and did write this in later years.) For more information, you can contact the Historical Society. A copy of the booklet is located at the Towanda District Library in Local Histories under 929.2. PREFACE It has been a labor of love for me to assist in brightening the dimming trails of our pioneer ancestors. They crossed mountains, rivers, prairies and blazed trails through trackless forests. They made trails that would widen into broad highways. The east had become crowded and they wanted a chance to fulfill the great American dream. They wanted the cerial blessings of the new promised land of the Mississippi Valley. It took determination and courage to leave loved ones and friends to join the winding wagon trains into a rough and raw country of which they had no knowledge. Their camp fires gleamed on the prairies and glowed in the solitude of dark forests. They feared wild animals and cruel fierce Indians but they were determined people of iron will. Money Creek Township is located in McLean County and McLean County is one of the pearls and prides of the Mississippi Valley. If the Garden of Eden was ever pin pointed, it would be McLean County. It is like a Kingdom made by the Creator ... The pioneers saw lush prairies covered with lush grass and sprinkled with fragrant flowers. The forests contained hardwood, nut and fruit trees. There were berries and a river and streams filled with fish and lots of wild game. The pioneers built log cabins and barns and planted seeds until the field was full of seeds and the township was full of fields. They brought civilization, farms, families, schools and churches. They built roads where there had been only deer trails. It has been a pleasure to bring them rememberance and worthy praise. Morris W. (Casey) Jones) THE HISTORY OF MONEY CREEK TOWNSHIP Money Creek Township includes six miles of agricultural land. It is drained by the Mackinaw River, Money Creek, Buck Creek, Turkey Creek, and Lake Bloomington is located on the west side. It is rich in history, lore, and traditions with its ghost town, Clarksville and Fort Bartholomew.
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The first school taught in Money Creek in 1837 was held in a double log cabin of Isaac Messer with them living in one side and teaching in the other. Some of the family names noted are: Jesse Trimmer, M.N. Barnard, David Van Dola, A.A. Stewart, Tilden Patton, Jack Turner, Ira Gregory, Edward Kinsella, George W. Davis, John Kemp, Noah Franklin, James and Brigit Killian who were from Ireland. Major General Joseph Bartholomew built Fort Bartholomew at the start of the Black Hawk war, which was later burned down by J. B. Dawson after the war. HACKERS In communities where there were no saw mills, timbers and ties were made by hand. The men who did this work were called hackers. Much of this was done in the 19th century. Their tools were a broad ax, double but, ax, mau, various wedges and an adz for planning. The work of these men was the first sign of a true civilization. Timbers and ties were made by manual skill and sweat. HOUSES When saw mills came to Money Creek many of the old log cabins were replaced with frame houses. Some elaborate houses were built. There were no fine automobiles so people were able to build lavish houses. The families lived mostly in the kitchen and all homes had large kitchens. There was a dining room, parlor, and bedrooms. Kerosene lamps were used to light the area. Northern McLean County is in a tornado belt and all had a one room cellars or storm covers. They had no windows and had brick floors and walls. They were always damp and cool in summer. ... In the fall the cellars and storm covers were stacked with a barrel of kraut, barrels of apples, squash, potatoes, carrots, parsnips and other home grown vegetables. There was always a smoke house. Sides of bacon, hams and sausages hung from the rafters. They were smoked with hickory wood. The flavor of the hickory smoked meat can never be equaled. Sausage was also fried down in the grease and kept until spring if need be. Eggs were stored in stone jars of water glass. There was no plumbing and so out houses were built about a hundred feet from the house. Out houses were built close to the chicken house so the lady of the house could make her morning call and gather the eggs in one trip. All had at least two holes but the deluxe ones had three holes.
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SOCIAL LIFE The social life of Money Creek centered around the schools and churches. ... Each winter every one room school held a box social. All the young single ladies brought a double lunch put up in a fancy box. The boxes were auctioned and whoever bought the box had lunch with the young lady. The proceeds of the box auction went to the school library. If someone new moved to the Township, they were taken on a snipe hunt. The newcomer was told to hold a sack open and they would go down to the creek and drive the snipes into the open sack. Instead of driving snipes the men would go back to Bartholomew's saloon and leave the stranger holding the bag. It was an old game that was played back in the east. If the stranger was from Virginia, he would know that they had taken him for a chump and would beat them back to the saloon. The game was so old that old expression "left holding the bag" came from the game. The young folks had barn dances. Most barns had large driveways between the stalls and the feed bins. They danced square dances and drills. Lanterns were used for lighting and fiddlers furnished the music. The man who called the dances was a local auctioneer. OSAGE ORANGE HEDGE
This is a photo of an Osage Orange Hedge that was not kept trimmed. When kept trimmed it makes a beautiful tight fence but when not trimmed it will grow to a height of forty feet. In early day most fences in Money Creek Township were hedge or rail. The grain of the wood was orange and white. The wood was used for fence posts, tools or to inlay furniture. The wood was almost as hard as iron. The hedge had very sharp thorns.
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THE AUTHOR Morris W. (Casey) Jones was born in Lexington Township in 1903 and lived in Lexington and Money Creek Townships his entire life except living near Mexico, Missouri when a small child. He married Josephine M. Killian of Money Creek Township. He is interested in all history and especially that of Illinois and McLean County. He served the McLean County Historical Society as director and past president for a quarter of a century and is a member of the Lexington Historical Society. His hobbies are poetry and history. He enjoys finding and recording historical facts. SOURCES: Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois Old Lexington Units Verda Gerwick's "Ancestors - Yours and Mine" Frank Trimmer's Memoirs
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Illinois State University, Milner Library, Normal, IL, 61790 - for the Towanda Area Historical Society/Towanda District Library
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