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Yorktown Township, Henry County, IL
Transcribed from Portrait and Biographical Album of Henry County, Illinois. Originally published 1885, Biographical Pub Co., Chicago, IL

This is the northeast township of the county, its boundary lines on the east and north, being also the county lines. No part of it is traversed by a railroad, and hence, to some extent, its settlement was mostly the overflow from the adjoining townships that were filling so rapidly by the excitement of the first railroad building in the county in 1853-54.

Four brothers, Jacob, Barnhart, John and Judah Wolf and Benj. Goble and J. Luther, were the first settlers. Of these, we suppose from the best obtainable authority, Benj. Goble and John Luther were here first of all as permanent setters. J.J. Wolf still resides in the township, the only one remaining of the first settlers. Phillip Ott, now a prominent and wealthy citizen of Geneseo, came in 1854 and to this fortunate fact is due mostly the coming of the large settlement of Germans that are now thrifty farmers in this part of the country. He was accompanied in his immigration here by his brother, Jacob Ott. The two brothers came to this State and settled in Cook County in 1836. They were the fine type of the Pennsylvania Germans, whose great brick and stone barns are the chief characteristics of the German and American farmers of Pennsylvania. Phillip Ott visited his old home and wrote to friends and influenced Germans fresh from the fatherland to come and look at the cheap, rich lands of this part of Illinois. The first of the natives to come to the township made their improvements, and after a few years sold out to some new German arrival and went West. Some of the Gobles went to Oregon.

The rush of immigration was in the high tide in 1855. Among these were George Seyller, fromDuPage County, George Clemens and John Gross.

A school-house was built in 1854 on section 30 , in the grove just west of the lake, and in this building was taught the first school by Delia Wilmot, who came from Cook County. The building was a rough log house, and it had been put up by the nieghbors interested gathering and doing the work without money  and without price.

Captain Charles Jack was an Englishman who had worn his spurs in the British army, where he had served long and faithfully. When he came to this country, he brought large wealth with him and invested much of it in Illinois lands and improved a very extensive farm near Shabbona Grove. A gentleman now living in Geneseo informs us that when a boy he saw Captain Jack's teams breaking the fresh prairie land where it was five miles each round of the furrow, and the Captain, with an old drawn-down chip hat, dropping corn in the fresh-turned sod. This was a common way of plainting the first corn crop at one time. The corn would be dropped every third or fourth furrow and it would sprout and come between the edges of the sod, and was never touched while growing with plow or hoe, and sometimes it would produce by this simple culture a fair crop.

Captain Jack was a man of remarkable enterprise, liberality and great force of character. His will was iron, and in defense of any of his rights, small or great, he would go to the courts and pour out his money with a lavish hand. He seemingly cared nothing for money, but would wreck a world if he could in defense of a principle. He was charitable and liberal and would give without stint where he imagined the favor asked was honest and deserving, but woe betide him who attempted by force or fraud to wrong him of a cent.

A short time before the late war he went South on one of his annual winter visits and invested largely in sugar plantations and slaves, and then expended large amounts of money in improving his Southern property. When the war came, all this investment was swept away in the fortunes of war.

Captain Jack died in St. Louis. His death was sudden and very sad. He left surviving only a daughter, who is married and a resident of Rock Island, and is one of the wealthest women in this part of Illinois.

The Evangelical Association was organized in 1851, at the house of Peter Luther, with 17 members. It soon increased to over 200. A church building was erected n 1867 on section 27, at a cost of $3,000. The first pastor was secured in 1854, Rev. J.C. Spielman, John Dengel, R. Rothermund, A. Heilman, Joseph Schnee, M. Heyl, A. Gockly, P. Himmel, E. Freeden, M. Hegl, V. Forkel, A. Goetschel, A. Waeher, C. Gagstetter.

Related Links: 
History of the village of Yorktown, Fairfield Township, Bureau County


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