A Sort of Combination
This township may be said to be mostly included in the city of Clinton, for its history is pretty nearly all included in the settlement of the county seat, its growth and its prosperity. Originally this township was a part of Grand River and Springfield Townships, range line 26 dividing them and also passing through the center of what is now Clinton Township. In 1860 the boundary line of Grand River was changed and Clinton was then all in Grand River Township, and there it remained until the final upheaval of township affairs by the new township organization law of 1872-3 brought it into existence. At the same time it blotted from the map of Henry County the name of Grand River Township, which had existed since the county was organized, a period of thirty-eight years. Clinton Township lies in the second tier of townships from its southern border, and is the central township and known as Congressional Township No. 41, of range 26, besides a small portion of township 40 of ranges 26 and 25, and also of township 42 of range 25, having in these additions nearly three and a half sections of land added to her domain. This was caused by the sinuous course of Grand River on her eastern border and Deepwater on the southeast.
Composed of Congressional Township No. 41 of range No. 26 and the west half of the southeast quarter of section No. 31 and the west half of section No. 31 in township No. 41, of range 25; also commencing at the southwest corner of the west half of lot No. 2 of the southwest quarter of section No. 6, township No. 40 of range No. 26, and running thence east to the southeast corner of the east half of lot No. 2 of the northeast quarter of section No. 5; thence south to the southeast corner of the east half of lot No. 1 of the northeast quarter of section No. 5; from thence east to the center of section No. 1; from thence south to the center of section No. 12; thence east to the southeast corner of the northeast quarter of section No. 12; in township No. 40 of range No. 26, and from thence east on the center section line running east and west through sections 7 and 8 of township No. 40 of range 25 to right bank of Grand River.
Area and Population
This gives Clinton Township an area of a trifle over 39 3/8 sections of land, or an acreage of 25,084 acres. It is one of the best townships in the county. Grand River comes in from the northwest and flows diagonally through the township, and on the east running nearly due south, being its eastern boundary for nearly three miles. In the northwest is Fields Creek, in the center Town Creek, and on the east side Deer Creek, all emptying into Grand River, and on its southern boundary Deepwater is found passing clear across the township from west to east, emptying into Grand River just south of the southeast corner of the township. Timber is abundant all along the banks of these streams, and the rest, or about three-fourths of the township is prairie land. So far as the fertility of the soil is concerned, it is fully up to the average of the county, but for some reason, the agricultural population has not kept pace with the surrounding townships. In 1870 the population was not given separately as it had not been organized, and the township of Grand River had been given including other territory besides Clinton.
Clinton City had a population of 640, as given by the census of that year. The population of the city and township in 1880 was 3,849, of which the city of Clinton had 2,862, and the township 987 outside of the city. The growth of the city for the decade was very great, but the township grew but very little, being hardly a natural increase.
Among those who made this township their home was James B. Sears, who settled on section 5, and his son Frank Sears, now living in Oregon; John Nave, on section 4; William R. Owens, on section 12; P.J. Byser, from North Carolina, in section 33, in 1839, and all the former in 1831. In fact, except the Arbuckles, Kimseys and a few others, these were among the first settlers of the county. The Wallaces came in 1836, A.W. Bates in 1837, and many others whose further history will be found in that of the city of Clinton and pioneer history.
The first school was kept as early as 1833 by old man Johnson and he went from house to house when he first commenced.
Addison Young, Presbyterian, was the first preacher. He preached as early as 1831, at the cabins of the settlers but was never a permanent resident of the county. Both Abraham Millice, a German, and a Methodist and Thomas Keeney, a Baptist, also held services in the settlement in 1832. There was not, until 1835, either a school house or church in the township.
The Huntley Mill, on Grand River, on section 23, some three miles southeast of Clinton, was put up in 1845, and for a long time was the only mill in all this section of country, and Huntley Mill became quite a noted place.
There was no store in the township until the location of the county seat, but in 1836 Thomas B. and Benjamin F. Wallace started a store in Fields Creek Township, about one mile north of Clinton, on section 35, and kept it about twelve months, when early, in 1837, when town lots were ready to be sold, removed to Clinton and opened the first store in the township. The location of the county seat gave Clinton Township a start, and with the county seat has double the population of any township in the county, Windsor coming next with 1,900, a little less than half of Clinton.
The first child born in the township was Ermie, a daughter of John Nave, born 1837.
The first physician in the township who resided within its limits was Dr. Hobb.
The first election in the township after the county seat was located was in 1837.
The first election in Grand River Township, of which Clinton was a part, was in 1836.
Progress and Transportation
From 1840 to the present time Clinton City has outgrown the township, and for a number of years there was nothing to break the monotony of farm life or prevent the county seat from growing. Then came war's alarm, when brother was to meet brother in mortal combat, and a once free and happy republic was to become, for a time, the seat of a military despotism, and the demon of hate was to hold high carnival for four long and gloomy years.
But even these dread years passed away, and the sunlight of peace once more shed its glowing rays over the land. Then Clinton Township and city woke up to the future, and the dead past was left to bury its dead. Its transportation facilities are at this time composed of the Missouri, Kansas & Texas Railroad, which passes from the north to the southwest portion of the township, giving about six miles of road to the township, with Clinton as the station. Another road is now being built from Clinton to Osceola, which will have a mileage within the township of about three and a half miles, but will have no station except Clinton within the township. The local history of these roads will be found in separate chapters under railroad history, a history which is likely to arouse intense interest among the people of Henry and St. Clair Counties.
The schools of Clinton Township number four, beside the graded school of Clinton City, and they are all in a flourishing condition. In fact, if there is any one thing that has shown good judgment and an enlightened policy, it is the interest taken in advancing the cause of education. Education is an enduring monument, the foundation upon which the superstructure of a free republic is built. Let Christianity and education go hand in hand, and tyranny will find no foothold on American soil.
Under the provisions of the new township law township officers were elected, but Henry County repealed the law, which was unfortunate, as by township assessment the assessed valuation of each township was separate, and its cereal and stock production was taken. With the same rate of valuation this law showed the growth of each township in the county, and its progress or decay was shown from year to year. In the county assessment the gross sum is given, but whether that increase has been in the north, south, east or west part of the county can only be known by days of toil and comparison. Two sets of officers, which were elected under that law, are here given:
1873 - New Organization Law
Justices of the peace - George S. Ellis, Charles S. Robinson, Ansby Fike, J. B. Browning
Supervisor - John Curtis
Clerk - W. L. Windsor
Assessor - John H. Doane
Collector - David P. Daum
Constable - Solomon Blatt
Trustee - S. D. Garth
Assessor - George Hopgood
Clerk - W. B. Calvird
Collector - William L. Windsor
Road overseer - Egbert King
Constable - John N. Barlow
Justice of the peace - Theodore W. Collins