Limestone TownshipThe first settlers in this township were Abner Eads, who first settled at Fort Clark, in April, 1819, and the Moffatts: Joseph Moffatt and three sons, Alva, Aquila and Benjamin F. The Moffatts came in June, 1822. Alva Moffatt settled on Sec. 13, and still occupies a home on that section.
In 1824, Aquila Moffatt made a claim on the northeast quarter of Sec. 13, and enclosed and broke five acres of ground, which, with the exception of about six years, he has continued to occupy.
Benjamin Moffatt now lives near Hollis. The rest of the family removed to Jo Daviess County.
The settlement of this township was not rapid. The Harker family came to the county in 1829. Daniel Harker, now a resident of this township, was then a boy of fifteen.
Henry W. Jones came very early, and built the first hewed log-house in the township.
James Crow and family came about the same time as Jones, but the Black Hawk Indian scare of 1832, frightened them back to Ohio, where they remained until after the close of the troubles. They returned in 1834.
James Heaton and Joshua Aikin came in 1834. Aikin settled on the Kickapoo creek and built a grist-mill. Pleasant Hughes came in 1837, and settled on Sec. 29, where his widow still resides. In 1837, Daniel Harker, who was married on the 10th of July of that year, occupied a house he had previously built on the southeast quarter of Sec. 31, and still lives on the same place. In 1838, his father moved over from Logan township, and settled on the southwest quarter of the same section, where he died June 16, 1849, at the age of seventy-five years.
There is a large German element in this township. The earliest settler of this nationality was Conrad Bontz, who came in 1844. Christian Straesser and the Hallers in 1847. The Beatly Johnson family in 1848; George Ojeman in 1849, and the Roelfs in 1851. The Straessers and Hallers were natives of Wurtemberg. The remainder were nearly all from the Kingdom of Hanover. Many of these people are largely engaged in grape culture, and some of them in the manufacture of wine. Ed. Roelfs, deceased in 1872, is believed to have planted the first vineyard, and to have also made the first wine. Before his vineyard matured he made wine from the wild grape.With the rarest exceptions, these people are among the very best people in the community. They are industrious, energetic and honest, and rank high as successful farmers. When the township organization system was adopted by the people of Peoria County in 1850, the township was named Limestone, because of the almost inexhaustible quarries of that stone that exist in the north part of the township.
Nearly the whole township is underlaid with coal, and the mines now worked extend four miles along the eastern tier of sections, and there are several hundred miners employed in the different mines.
Peoria is largely supplied with coal from the Limestone mines.
The first coal mining in the township was done by a man named Warner. He opened a bank at a point on the south-east corner of section 24.
The Moffatts mined coal at the same place soon after, and shipped it to St. Louis by keel boats.
At Secord's limekilns and stone quarry, on the south-east quarter of section, some rare petrified curiosities have been found. These curiosities consist of petrified timber, shells, etc., and are found all through the quarry, at a depth of from three to seventeen feet. Among those most worthy of note was an elk's head, with the horns attached, which was in a perfect state of preservation. It was found at a depth of seven feet from the surface, while quarrying rock for the County Infirmary. Every part of it was thoroughly petrified, and as solid as the stone from which it was taken.
A petrified turtle, with its form preserved intact, was found in the quarry from which stone is taken for lime, or what Mr. Secord calls the "North Quarry." Mr. S. and others who saw it say it looked as ''natural as life." It was found in a crevice between the layers of rock.
Mr. Barton remembers that about 1836 he attended a school which was taught in a log house that stood on the ground just in the rear of his house. It was a subscription school, and the teacher was Simeon Ward. This was the first in the township. Limestone Township is divided into ten school districts, nine of which have either a neat and comfortable frame or brick house, supplied with furniture and apparatus well adapted for modern school use. Schools are kept up from six to nine months during each year, and the best material obtainable is employed as teachers. The schools compare favorably with the public schools of the country.
Source: The History of Peoria County, Illinois, Johnson & Company, Chicago, 1880.