Germantown Township

(Clinton County)


Source: "1881 History of Marion & Clinton Counties, Illinois"


This township was named Germantown in consequence of the large German population within its borders.

It is situated in the southern part of the county, and is bounded by Breese township on the north, Looking Glass on the west, Santa Fe on the east, and Washington county on the south. It is drained by the Kaskaskia river, which flows along its southern boundary, and Shoal creek, that flows through the township in a south-westerly direction, entering section two, and passing out on section 32.

The territory is about equally divided between timber and prairie. The Shoal creek prairie, in the north-west part, and the Santa Fe bottom prairie, in the south-east, comprise some very excellent land. In the early settlement a greater part of this prairie was very low, wet land, but by drainage and proper cultivation it has become good dry farming land.

The First Settlement was made about 1814, by James BANKSON, Jonathan HILL, and James HOOPER. They located on the east side of Shoal creek. BANKSON built his cabin near the Kaskaskia river. HILL settled on or near section 15, and HOOPER on section23. Old man COOPER, who had three grown sons, viz., Harmon, Albert and John, settled on section 15, where he built a horse mill as early as 1818; about five years later the entire family moved away. Wm. STEELE entered the west half of the south-west quarter section 22, Feb 14, 1817, which he improved the same year. His brother, Fielding STEELE, entered land here at the same time, and began an improvement. Charles and Wm. WAKEFIELD settled on section 15 in the early part of 1817. They lived here only a short time, then moved to Shelby county.

In the fall of 1817 Henry NEELEY came in and bought the improvements of James BANKSON, on section 27, and entered the land the same fall, where he resided until his death. He raised a large family of children.

Robert CHESNEY and Caydon USHER improved places on section 13, in the fall of 1817. CHESNEY lived here the remainder of his life, and USHER afterward moved to Missouri. Other early settlers who located here about 1817, were Absalom YARBROUGH, who was a justice of the peace for a number of years; John CREEL, William and John ORRENDORFF. The two former lived and died here, and the two latter moved north some years later.

Godfrey AMMONS, from Tennessee, became a resident in the east part of the township as early as 1821. About six years later his two brothers, Jackson and Jefferson, came and located in the same neighborhood, where they all improved farms. They dealt considerably in stock, and were worthy citizens, and left good estates.

The First School-house was a log building, and stood on section 13. It was erected in 1827, and the first teacher was a Mr. STINNETT. N. DOCEY taught here in 1828, and J. J. JUSTICE in 1830.

The first preacher was Elder Joseph CHANCE, of the Baptist denomination. Reynolds says of him: "Mr. CHANCE was not a man of great talents, but he was faithful in the improvement of the gifts bestowed upon him - devoted much time in preaching and visiting destitute settlements - raised a large family, and while on a preaching tour, died in Washington county, Illinois, April 20th, 1840, aged 75 years." ROUNTREE and SIMPSON were also among the early preachers here.

The first Germans who settled in Clinton county, located in this township. The first Germans to arrive were Ferdinand BOCHNE and Frederick HEMANN. They left Germany in 1833, embarking for Baltimore. From Baltimore they went to Bedford, Pennsylvania, where they found employment. Their scanty wages were saved with diligence, so that in the spring of 1834 they had the necessary funds to defray the expenses of a journey to the west. Thomas JOHNSON, an Englishman from Liverpool, came with them. He was in possession of funds which were used to purchase some improvements, five in number, ten acres each, of "squatters" in the vicinity of where Germantown now is. In the autumn of 1834 another German family, that of Frederick HEDEMANN, arrived in the settlement. This family, being Protestants, did not remain long. Theodore VORNHOLT and Franz HAUKAP arrived in 1835, each of them purchasing 80 acres. Lebanon was the nearest post-office. The first letters mailed here by the settlers induced Joseph HAUCAP and Henry SEIDENBURGEN to come to the settlement. They arrived in 1836.

Conrad VORNHOLT, Nicholas FRERKER and brother, Henry OTKE, a brother and four sisters came over in the same ship, landed in New Orleans late in 1835, thence up the river to St. Louis, arriving in the settlement in 1836. The same year Gerhard HAHNEWINKEL and Herman KOELKER.

Other Germans, who followed, were Frank H. SCHROEDE, Sr., Henry J. HOECHEHLER, J. H. HILMES, H. Bernhardt WOBBE, Sr., J. Bernhardt WOBBE, Joseph F. BECKMANN, W. H. BECKMANN, Sr., G. Henry HORCHELER. The above all settled north and west of Shoal creek, and all improved farms. Casper E. EVES settled south of the creek; he came to the county in the fall of 1835. John NORDMANN came in 1839; he lives on section thirteen. C. MEYERS, Frank ALBERS, H. KNITMANN, were also early settlers.

The first religious services were held on the third Friday after Easter, by Father MEYER, in the house of BOEHNE and HEMANN. He baptized two children born in the settlement, Maria E. SCHROEDER and Maria A. ALBERS. Rev. MEYER remained three days and solemnized two marriages, viz.: Ferdinand BOEHNE and Margaret HAHNEWINKEL and Franz HAUKAP and Elizabeth HEMANN. From this time Rev. MEYER visited the settlement every third month.

The settlers purchased in the summer of 1837 one hundred twenty acres of church land, as they called it, for seven hundred dollars, from Lawson and Milton WHITE. This purchase gave origin to the town of Germantown. The name Hanover was selected, because a majority of the settlers had come from the kingdom of Hanover. In order to raise money to pay for this land, they laid out on forty-acre tract in building lots of one acre each, reserving eight acres in the center for church and parsonage. The lots were all sold, and, with the exception of two only, paid for. Frederick HEMANN,

Theodore VORNHOLT, and Frederick OTTEN, were the first trustees.

The first building in the town was erected by a peddler named SCHANTON, in which he put a small stock of goods.

Lambert FRERKER built the second house, a grocery ten by fourteen feet.

The third, a boarding-house, was erected by Franz HAUKAP. The first boarders were Rev. FORTMANN, Anton HONKOMP and wife, C. GUETHNES (who was afterwards county clerk), and Heinrich LAMPEN and his wife. Mr. LAMPEN held the office of justice of the peace here from 1845 to 1861, when he removed to Carlyle, where he now lives.

An old log-house was now turned into a church, and served as such until 1841, when the settlers undertook to build a more commodious house of worship. A building, thirty-six by forty feet, was erected, all assisting, it is said, even they worthy priest, Father FORTMANN, could be seen, axe in hand, for weeks working as diligently as any mechanic. In furthering the erection of the church, there was also connected a public school, with Christopher GUETHNES as teacher. The church and school building had been erected at an expense of about thirteen thousand dollars.

In about ten years it became apparent that a larger building was needed, and a new one was begun, to cost twenty-four thousand dollars. It was built in 1854, constructed of stone taken from Shoal creek, or near its banks, some distance north of Breese, and is as yet the finest church building in the county, and one of the handsomest structures in Southern Illinois.

Hanover Star Flouring Mills, at Germantown, now owned by Henry SCHURMANN, has a capacity of two hundred and fifty barrels per day. It was originally built about the year 1848, by F. SCHROEDER, Chr. SCHWAKE, E. LEONARD, and Chr. GUETHNES, and was intended for a saw mill.

After running the mill about a year, the partners sold out to LEONARD. SCHROEDER lost one hundred dollars in this transaction, a large amount of money in those days. The property changed hands almost annually, and came in possession of John NIEMEYER, on the 5th day of March, 1855, who made various improvements.

In 1859 he took Henry LAMPEN and Dr. Henry KLEINEKORTE in as partners. They now added a grist mill in the same year, the farmers furnishing the necessary timbers gratuitously. The new building was forty by forty feet, and stood on the north side of the old saw mill, the machinery of which was also the motive power of the grist mill.

NIEMEYER sold out to his partners in 1860, who now traded the machinery of the saw-mill to Anton ALBERS, and B. DUMSTORFF, erected a granary and engine house, and purchased a new and larger engine. LAMPEN sold out to Dr. KLEINEKORTE in 1866, who had his brother-in-law, G. OTKE, to manage the business till May 1st, 1869, when KLEINEKORTE died. Henry USSELMANN, Franz SPREHE, and Mrs. KLEINEKORTE rented the mill from the administrator of KLEINEKORTE's estate, and took in Henry SCHURMANN to superintend, until November 10th, 1869, when USSELMANN, SPREHE, and SCHURMANN became the purchasers. This company made extensive repairs and improvements in the years 1871 and 1872. USSELMANN died Sept. 28th, 1878. The mill was put up for sale, and bought by SPREHE and SCHURMANN, January 19th, 1879, who had many changes and improvements made, particularly to the main building, and run the mill very successfully until the twenty-third of December, 1880, when SPREHE died.

It became necessary again to offer the mill for sale, and on the 23rd of April, 1881, the same was sold by special administrator to the present owner, who is now (July, 1881) undertaking the largest change ever made in the same, by changing it to a gradual reduction on the Jonathan Mill system.

The mill building now is fifty-two by sixty feet, is five stories high, with a flat iron roof, and has ninety-horse power engine, 7 Jonathan Mills machines, 1 Mills bran machine, 4 rolls, 4 run of burrs, 27 reels, 6 purifiers, and 2 bran dusters.

The saw mill here is operated by Henry ALBERS. There are six General Stores, Dry Goods, Groceries and Notions, by W. WESTERMANN, L. HUNDMANN & Co., Joseph HALLERMANN, Bernard WALLER, Henry SCHLAUTMANN and John WELLING.

Post-master. - John NIEMEYER.

Furniture. - Herman KOCH, John WELLING.

Tailor and Clothing. - Henry BREUNMER, Henry BECKERCORD.

Physicians. - Charles GISSY, Druiding and J. MURDICK.

Blacksmith shops. - Franz HEMAN, George SUDFIELD, Henry SCHMITZ, and Henry ROBKE.

Wagon Makers. - Henry HAGAN, Anton, MENKE, Franz SMITH.

Saddles and Harness. - Joseph SCHROEDER.

Shoemakers. - Theo. TIMPE, Henry HOFF.

Millinery. - Miss ROBBEN, Miss MILLER.

The village of Germantown is in a prosperous condition, and her business men are wide-awake and enterprising, and are doing much to develop her material growth.

Supervisors. - The following are the names of the gentlemen who have represented Germantown in the Board of Supervisors since township organization:

Henry USSELMANN, elected in 1874; Frederick BECKER, elected in 1875, re-elected in 1876; J. B. TOENIES, elected in 1877, re-elected in 1878, 1879, and 1880; B. WOBBE, elected in 1881, and is the present incumbent.



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