Early Settlers of Money Creek, Illinois

“Old Louis Soward,” as he is universally known among the few who remember him, came to this country from Ohio. He was one of those jolly old frontiersmen who enjoy themselves best away from the haunts of civilization. One to whom the trials and vicissitudes of pioneer life were preferable to the restraints of more advanced society. He was a great hunter. In those days deer were plenty; they might be seen in droves at almost any time. Turkeys abounded in the woods of the Mackinaw and Money Creek. Wolves nightly indulged in their melancholy lamentations over the scarcity of prey. Bees, too, were plenty in the woods. “Uncle Louis” was a great hand at scenting bee-trees, and often brought home vast quantities of sweets for family use. He was a great story-teller. Many of his stories are repeated around the firesides on Money Creek, and many a hearty laugh is had at the ready wit of this early- pioneer. Mr. Soward had a family of four boys and three girls; but with all the family, he left the township at quite an early day, for the wilds of Wisconsin. The exact date of Mr. Soward’s arrival is not now known. It was prior to the settlement; farther up, by the Trimmer family, and as they came in 18’36, the towards must have come as early as 1825. It is thought by some that they came even earlier.

Jacob Harness, a brother-in-law of Louis Soward; came, also, from Ohio, and. it is thought, about the same time. He sold his claim to John Pennell, another Ohio man, and moved to Mackinaw Creek, in Lexington Township.

In 1826, Jacob Spawr, then a young man, took a claim on Money Creek. He worked for Mrs. Trimmer, who was then a widow, and, in the fall of the same year, married her daughter. His father, Valentine Spawr, came to the creek the next year.

The Spawrs were from Pennsylvania. Valentine Spawr had been a soldier under Gen. Wayne.

In 1829, John Steers and the Van Buskirk family came to Money Creek. Van Buskirk lived here until he died. Some of his descendants are still living on Money Creek. A daughter married Mr. Henry floats, and lives just west of the schoolhouse in District No. 3. In the spring of 1830, Mr. M. N. Barnard moved in and bought Mr. Steers’ claim.

In the spring of 1830, the Moats family came. Jacob Moats was born in Penn sylvania September 16, 1785. His father was a German, who came from Germany- and settled in the eastern part of Pennsylvania. When Jacob Moats was still a young man the family moved to Licking County, Ohio. They were all farmers. There Jacob married Sarah Hinthorn, who then resided in the same county of Ohio. Miss Hintborn was born in West Virginia, near Wheeling. When forty-four years old. Jacob Moats started West with his lame family of nine children. It took five weeks to reach the Big Grove. Here they stopped for a time. They rented a house of David Smith, who afterward moved to Smith’s Grove, in Towanda Township.

In coming West, there were several families in the train with which the Moats family came. From the Big Grove they were accompanied by Jesse Havens. They came to Hudson first, where Havens bought out Baily, Harbert and Moats, another of the Harberts. This was in the fall of 18’29. But spring found the Moats family on Money Creek. From here they never moved, and the family of children grew to manhood and womanhood in this neighborhood.

The old Mr. Spawr had sold his claim to Jacob Moats, and on this he lived until his death, in 18-14. Of his nine children, four died in the fall of 1840. They all died within a short time. -one of the doctors were able to understand the disease or arrest its fatality. Three girls and one boy, ranging in age from sixteen to twenty-six, were carried away within lbur weeks. Two others were taken with the same disease, but recovered. One other brother died afterward. The remaining four children married and settled on Money Creek.

Henry Moats, the oldest of the family, is now the oldest old settler living anywhere in this part of the country. The Moatses have always been an important element. in society, taking the lead in church matters, and giving liberally of their means to the support of whatever they considered beneficial to the neighborhood.

In 1830, Jesse Stretch and Benjamin Ogden came to the settlement, from Ohio. John Ogden came in 1831, and stopped down on the Mackinaw. Benjamin Ogden bought out Louis Soward.

Among the others that came, in a short time, may be mentioned Dr. Ethan McAferty, who came from Ohio and began in the forks of Money Creek and Mackinaw ; William Wilcox, from the same State, who went to the same neighborhood; John R. Wiley, William Young, and a number of others. In 1836, the Bishops came. William G. Bishop held the first post office.

The early settlers went for their mail to the town of ‘Mackinaw, now in Tazewell County. After they had gone such a long distance, they had to pay 25 cents for each letter. The post office was pretty soon established at Bloomington, and then they were somewhat relieved, for the post office was not more than fifteen miles away. Finally, there was a mail-route established from Ottawa to Springfield, by way of Bloomington, and Money Creek received an office, being on the route. The mail was carried on horse-back, the carrier making one round trip a week. When Mr. Bishop gave up the office, and Mr. Moore, of Towanda, was appointed, Money Creek lost the only post office she ever had, and she has never been able to get another. But she does not need it. Hudson, on the west, Lexington, on the northeast, and Towanda, on the south, furnish all the necessary facilities.


Le Baron, William., Jr. & Co. The History of McLean County, Illinois: portraits of early settlers and prominent men. Chicago. W. Le Baron, Jr., 1879.

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1 thought on “Early Settlers of Money Creek, Illinois”

  1. Not true. Money Creek had Fifer Post Office located at the Messer property. Mr Hansen delivered the mail for people between those towns. The Messer property sat on the old ghost town of Fifer, IL , Messer were first settlers, their family ran the post office. Blacksmith shop and store.

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