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History of Olive Township, Madison County, Illinois

Madison County ILGenWeb Coordinator - Beverly Bauser


Olive Township (Township 6, Range 6) was named in honor of the Olive family, who were early settlers. The township is bounded on the north by Macoupin County, on the east by New Douglas, on the south by Alhambra, and on the west by Omphghent Townships. Silver Creek flows through the eastern and central part of the township.

The first settlers of the township were Abram Carlock, John Herrington, James Street, James Keown, Thomas Kimmett, Samuel Voyles, David Hendershott, and Samuel McKittrick. They settled there between 1817 - 1819. Abram Carlock was the first. Carlock settled on section 34 in 1817, where he lived a few years and then moved. His cabin stood near a spring on the north and west sides of Silver Creek. He made a small clearing east of the cabin. An old settler stated that in 1833, saplings as large as a man’s arm had grown on Carlock’s homestead.

The next settler was John Herrington Jr. He built a large cabin in section 7, in 1817. It had no opening for light except the door. The door was made of heavy puncheons, and swung like double barn doors. When securely closed, the cabin was inaccessible. In 1819, he sold out to Samuel McKittrick, who entered one of the first tracts in the township on August 18, 1819 – 45 acres in section 6. That same day, James Street entered 80 acres in section 36. Mr. McKittrick planted an orchard in 1819 or 1820, and in 1882, one of his trees had a circumference of 8 feet, 8 inches. In 1827, Ephraim Best, a native of North Carolina, bought the McKittrick place, where he lived until his death in 1876. Best and his wife raised ten children. He was Constable for several years, and for a period of time, the Methodists held their meetings at his home.

James Street settled on section 36 as early as 1818. He was one of the first land holders in the township. Street made powder and combs – two articles that were needed by the pioneers. After a while, he sold out and left.

The first settlements in the northeast part of the township were made by Samuel Voyles and David Hendershott, in 1818. They built cabins near each other on section 13, on the west side of Silver Creek. Voyles was from South Carolina, and raised a large family. Hendershott lived there only a short time, then moved to Iowa.

Thomas Kimmett, an eastern man, settled in section 12 in 1819, where he lived a few years and then returned to the east.

James Keown Sr., a half-brother to John Keown, settled on 80 acres in section 35, as early as 1819. He later moved to Smart’s Prairie, where he died in 1861. He was a soldier in the War of 1812, and fought in the battle of New Orleans.

Wiley Smart located south of the Vincent place, a short distance, in 1819 or 1820.

Isham Vincent moved from North Carolina to Kentucky, and from there to Madison County in 1817. He first stopped in Troy, where he taught one of the early schools. After 3 years, he came to Olive Township, and settled on section 36. He erected a cabin on the north bank of a stream. His house stood due north of where the graveyard now is. His home was on the Hillsboro and St. Louis wagon road, and for years this was a general stopping place. He kept a barrel of whiskey in his cabin, and was always ready to supply travelers with a drink. He had a horse mill for a number of years, and made a good quantity of flour. He was a “Hard-Shell Baptist,” and for many years meeting were conducted at his home. Vincent was a Justice of the Peace, and died on February 26, 1846, at the age of 77. His wife survived him only 11 days, leaving a family of 8 children – Elizabeth (married Peter Long), Mary (married John Keown), Barbara (married William W. Pearce), and Martha (married Isaac W. Pearce and then William Eves). The cemetery south of the Vincent homestead was established by this family. A son, Edwin, was the first buried there in about 1824.

James S. Breath settled in section 36. He lived there for some time, than moved to the Marine settlement.

John W. Keown came with his brother, Andrew, in 1825. He married Polly N. Vincent, daughter of Isham Vincent, and settled in section 25, where he lived until his death. He raised a family of 4 children – Larkin C., Isham, Margaret (married Matthias Pearce), and John.

Thomas Porter Keown settled east of his brother, John, on section 25, where he lived until his death in 1867. Previous to this time he lived in Alhambra Township. His children were: William H., Margaret (married Jesse Olive), Alfred, Sinai (married Joseph Ricks), and Mary (married Thomas Tabor).

Robert Keown settled in the edge of the timber, southwest of Lewis Ricks place, in 1829, where he resided until he died in 1856. He had two children – Hester (married S. H. Farris), and Robert.

The Keowns all came to the township on pack horses. Robert and his wife came in the dead of winter. They were a young married couple. After Robert’s death, she married Lewis Ricks. Her death occurred July 1, 1875.

Tobias Reaves, a native of North Carolina, came to the township in 1828, a bought a small farm from a man named Ringo, in section 36. Reaves lived there many years, and died at his son’s home in New Douglas, October 1876. He and his wife had raised 19 children.

Peter Long farmed in section 25. He was a Baptist minister, and was married four times. To later moved to Old Ripley in Bond County.

Elisha Sacket was an early settler of Olive Township. He never owned land, but lived in the township until about 1850. Joe Ricks and his wife, Ellen, came to the township in 1829 and settled on section 34, where they lived until 1845. He then joined the Mormons and moved to Utah. Lewis Ricks was born in North Carolina in October 1800. His father, Jonathan Ricks, moved to Kentucky in 1802, where he lived and died. Lewis married Mary Anderson in Tennessee, and in 1833 came to Madison County. The following year he built a cabin on section 26 of Olive Township. He was twice married, and raised 10 children by his first wife. For many years he was Deputy County Surveyor. He taught school at an early day, and was a Representative in the State Legislature in 1857.

Abel Olive married Elizabeth, a sister of Joe Ricks, and the brothers-in-law came to Olive Township together. Olive located northeast of Ricks, where he resided until his death. His children were: Jesse, Joel H., Jonathan, Frank, William, and Charity (married Henry Tabor). Abel Olive was a Justice of the Peace. John Olive, his brother, was also an early settler, but lived there only a short time. James Olive came to Alton in 1833 at the age of 16. The following Spring, he moved to Olive Township, and married the widow of James Tabor. After the marriage, he farmed on his wife’s place in section22, where he lived until 1845 or 1846. They moved to Hancock County, Illinois. When the Mormon trouble began, he returned to Madison and lived in Olive Township. He lost his wife in April 1864, then remarried Mrs. Mary Shumate, widow of Michael Shumate. He served as Justice of the Peace and Supervisor of the township.

John A. Wall, settled in the township in 1830 or 1831. He then sold to James Keown, who lived there until his death.

Other early settlers in Olive Township include John Hoxsey, Mr. Sackett, Jarrett Cudd, and John Coleson.

The first cemetery on the north side of section 34, on the William Olive place, was established in 1834. The first grave there belonged to George W. Olive, son of Abel Olive.

The Early Schools
A schoolhouse was constructed on section 26. John W. Reynolds was the first to teach, and later Lewis Ricks taught in the school. The first school on the west side of Silver Creek was taught in an abandoned cabin on section 34, by Matilda Thompson.

The Early Churches
The Methodists held their meetings at the homes of Ephraim Best and Tobias Reaves. Among the early preachers were Ballard, Renfro, and Collins.

The Baptist held their meetings in the home of Isham Vincent. William Jones, Thomas Ray, and James Street were the early preachers.

The Christian Church was erected in 1862 on section 34. The Lutheran Church was built in 1870 on section 18.


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