Decatur

2012-03-18T00:00:00Z Decatur Herald-Review.com
March 18, 2012 12:00 am

CITY: Decatur

COUNTY: Macon

POPULATION: 76,122

MAYOR: Mike McElroy

INDUSTRY: Archer Daniels Midland Co., Caterpillar Inc., Tate & Lyle, Mueller Inc., Air Caster Corp.

TOURIST ATTRACTIONS: Macon County Historical Museum, Hieronymus Mueller Museum, Millikin Homestead, Children’s Museum of Illinois, Lincoln Square Theatre, Scovill Zoo, Governor Oglesby Mansion.

MAJOR HIGHWAYS: Interstate 72, U.S. 51, U.S. 36, Illinois 48, Illinois 121 and Illinois 105.

EARLY HISTORY: Decatur was founded in 1829 and is the Macon County seat. The city is named after War of 1812 naval hero Stephen Decatur.

One of the busiest of the first settlers was Benjamin R. Austin, born in Virginia in 1802, who came to Macon County in 1825. He was a surveyor and laid out the original town plat of Decatur. He was the first county treasurer, served as justice of the peace and otherwise was active in the early years of the county. His brother, William A. Austin, helped him lay out Decatur. William Austin was a justice of the peace for many years.

Captain David L. Allen, born in Loudoun County, Va., in 1806, came to Macon County in 1828, and was a leading figure for many years, giving the city Central Park.

Philip D. Williams came in 1825 from Virginia. He served on the county board of com-missioners, was a justice of the peace and held other offices. He built the second house in Decatur at the corner of East Main and Water streets. Williams kept a place "for the entertainment of beasts."

Thomas Cowan came with the Leonard Stevens family in 1821 or 1822. In 1822 also came George W. Friend of Ohio, who settled in Friend’s Creek Township.

Several other settlers came in 1824. Abraham and Hubble Sprague came from New York. Charles Nelson and Nathan Burrill, Kentuckians, arrived that year and located in Friend’s Creek Township.

Among the arrivals in 1825 were John Draper, who came from Virginia; James Howell, native of Ohio, who settled in Oakley and was followed a little later by his son, William Howell; David Florey, native of Virginia; William W. McDaniel; William Warnick, the first sheriff, who came from Tennessee; and Joseph Strickland, who settled in Niantic Township.

The year 1826 saw the arrival of a number of newcomers. Edmund McDaniel came from Vandalia that year; John McMennamy came from Tennessee; Emanuel Widick came from Tennessee; William King ar-rived that year; Elisha Freeman and Hiram Robinson came and settled in South Wheatland Township.

Quite a few additions were made the following year, in 1827. Among them were James Edwards, born near Raleigh, N.C., who was a member of the party that drove the Indians out of the county; Jones Edwards, native of North Carolina, but who came here from Tennes-see; Eldridge H. McDaniel; Thomas Nelms, who came from Logan County, Ky., and was killed by a falling tree, after coming here; Dempsey Pope of North Carolina, who came from Tennessee; Benjamin Wilson of Tennessee, who assisted in the organization of the county; James Finley, a Kentuckian; Michael Myers came either in 1827 or 1828.

In 1828 the population was increased by the addition of William A. Austin of Virginia; William Hanks of Kentucky, who settled in Harristown Township; Samuel Braden, native of Ireland, who came to Macon County from Tennessee; William D. Baker, who settled in Long Creek township; David Davis, born in North Carolina, but who came here from Tennessee and settled in Long Creek; Robert Smith, Sr., native of North Carolina, who came from Sangamon county; William C. Smith from Sangamon county; Andre Smith, his brother, also from Sangamon county; William Wheeler, Sr., native of Virginia; James Myers, Ken-tuckian, who settled in Long Creek township; William Dickey, who settled in Friend’s Creek township; Valentine Claywell, native of Kentucky, who came to Pleasant View Township; and Ephraim Cox, who came in 1828 or 1829.

ON THE WEB: www.ci.decatur.il.us

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