Historical Articles - Meacham Twp., Marion Co., Illinois

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“Brinkerhoff’s History of Marion County, Illinois - 1909” - by Prof. J.H.G. Brinkerhoff;  "Meacham Township"

“Brinkerhoff’s History of Marion County, Illinois - 1909”  by Prof. J.H.G. Brinkerhoff

  MEACHAM TOWNSHIP (pages 208-210)           

            4-4 in the Government survey, the northeast township in the county is Meacham.  A little more than half of this township is beautiful level prairie land, slightly undulating in a very small part.  The prairie is all cultivated and a good part of the timber land is cleared and in good farms.  A small part of the timber, like that of Omega, is somewhat broken and hilly. The Chicago branch of the Central Illinois crosses the northwest corner, but has no station in the township.  Kinmundy and Farina in Fayette county are its markets for the larger part, although some produce is taken to Clay county station on the Springfield branch of the Baltimore & Ohio Southwestern.

            The first settler was Cornelius DUNHAM.  He came with his family from New York in 1823, and located on section 13, but in 1836 he went to Iowa, leaving his family behind.  The family afterwards went to Wisconsin.

            The prairie was first occupied by a man by the name of INGRAM.  He located near a point of timber since known as INGRAM Point.  This was about 1824.  John CHESSER located a farm in what is now known as Schrutchfield’s Prairie.  It was then called Chesser’s Prairie, but he only lived there one year, and in 1833 sold to Terry SCHRUTCHFIELD, and the name changed to that of the new settler.  One WRIGHT also located in the same prairie about this time.  SCHRUTCHFIELD lived in Xenia about ten years, having came from Indiana in 1823.  His son, John SCHRUTCHFIELD, inherited the same farm occupied it many years.

            Felix G. COCKRELL, of Morgan county, Kentucky, came to Meacham with his wife in 1837.  They had two children at this time and had six more born to them here, seven of whom reached maturity.  Mr. COCKRELL lived on the farm where he first settled until his death about eighteen years ago, near ninety years of age.  Two of his sons are still living.  Hon. James COCKRELL and Clayburn COCKRELL, both of this county.  Mrs. COCKRELL died in 1865.  Mr. COCKRELL married again in 1868, and three children were born to them.

            William ORENDER settled a claim in 1837, but sold it to John DEREMIAH, who with his brother, Thomas, entered in section 3, in 1837.  John ORENDER located on what is known as the SWITZER place, but sold his claim to SWITZER in 1838.  All the ORENDERs moved to Fayette county, where all the family died.  George NEAL and his father-in-law, William CHAFFIN, came to Meacham the same year, 1837, as did also John MEACHAM and his wife, Nancy, and her son-in-law, and her single daughter, Henrietta Lilly.  They came from Tennessee in 1837.  Henrietta married William DEREMIAH soon after their arrival.  Meacham’s house was the voting place for the precinct and thus his name attached to the township.

            John W. NICHOLS was in early life something of a wanderer.  He was born in Tennessee and came to Kinmundy in 1823.  At that time his nearest neighbor was five miles away.  After four years he went to Wisconsin, where he married, and the next year returned to Marion county and lived just north of the city of Kinmundy.  This was in 1828.  The next year he moved to Fayette county, and after a short stay moved to Salem, and in 1837 he entered land in Meacham, where he made himself a home and where he lived many years, and where he died at a ripe old age.

            In 1839 a Mormon, who had been driven out of Missouri, came to Meacham.  His name was George W. ORMAN, and he preached at his home to such of his neighbors as would come.  John SCHRUTCHFIELD was converted to that faith and joined the Mormon Church, but the doctrine was not acceptable to the people and there were no more converts.

            A post-office was established in 1840 on the Salem and Ewington road and called Mount Liberty, but when an office was established at Kinmundy, it was discontinued.  The township is now served by rural routes.

            Felix COCKRELL built a horse mill in 1844.  Andrew SHIELDS a blacksmith shop about 1835.  The Elder graveyard was the first burial place.  It is still used occasionally as a place of interment.  The first sermon preached in the township was at the house of Nancy MITCHELL in 1837, by William CHAFFIN, a Christian preacher.  The Methodists built the first church in 1840.  It was of logs hewn by Wesley OLIVER.  William BLUNDLE was the first preacher.  During the Civil War politics divided the church, and it went down and for a time there was no church in the township, but schoolhouses were used.  Now churches have been built and the spiritual needs of the people are cared for by visiting ministers.

            The first school was taught by Hiram K. FARRIS at the Farris schoolhouse.  William DEREMIAH was the second teacher, at the Elder schoolhouse.  These schools were taught early in the thirties.  In 1839 the Cockrell schoolhouse was built and the first teacher was Miss Susan JONES, afterward Mrs. “Buck” PACE of Salem.  Meacham now has good schoolhouses conveniently located to meet the needs of an increasing population.  The township is purely agricultural and ranks with the best in the county.  


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