Madison County

WALNUT TOWNSHIP

History

           This township is bounded on the north by Scott township, on the south by Clarke county, on the east by Ohio township, and on the west by Monroe.

            The township is thoroughly well drained by the two branches of Clanton creek which unite within its limits. Along these streams there is plenty of timber and a large supply of limestone. The surface is rough and uneven in places, but the first and second bottoms of Clanton creek furnish unsurpassed farming land. The soil is a rich dark loam, and yields luxuriantly.

The first white settlers in Walnut Township in 1849 were John Mars and Tom Carr, who, it is said, furnished to settlers who came later on, meat from hogs running wild here at the time. It was claimed the hogs got away from the Mormon emigrants passing through Union County on their way to Salt Lake and strayed to this locality. Among the next, and we might say permanent settlers, were Samuel Peters, A. J. Stark, George W. Teague, Aaron and Jesse Hiatt, Ben and Jacob Brown, who built the first water mill across Clanton; James Emerson, the John Marshalls, Rhynos, William J. Guthrie, John Guiberson, McClures, Drakes, Burdicks, the five brothers, Elijah, Job, Thomas, John and William Smith, and their venerable parents.

Of the old settlers, a few of them are still living in Walnut Township (1908) in the enjoyment of well earned fortunes they founded in the early times but the greater part of them have passed away, and others, in the nature of things, will not long survive. Several are in the South and West, where they are all playing the part of pioneers. But wherever they may be, and whatever fate may betide them, it is but truth to say that they were excellent men and women as a class, and have left deep and enduring impression on Walnut Township and Madison County. 

They built better than they knew; they were men and women of energy and activity, invariably poor, but brave-hearted, and few long  remained poor, doubtless owing to the fact they lived within their means, however limited, and the result was prosperity and contentment. With always a cordial welcome to their fireside and table for the stranger, yet for several years these pioneers lived under great privations and discouragement. In years gone it was noticeable with what affection the pioneers spoke of their log cabins, and it may be doubted whether palaces ever sheltered happier hearts than those lonely cabins. They were made of logs, notched together at the corners, ribbed with poles and covered with clapboards. A puncheon floor was then laid down, a hole cut in the end of the structure and a stick chimney run up. A clapboard door was built, and a window was made by cutting a hole in the side or end, about sixteen or eighteen inches square and finished without glass. Logs were then chinked with mud made of top soil.

Grandfather and Grandmother Walker, as they were familiarly called, with their three sons, S. M., William and James Vance Walker, Ben Roberts, Alex Lorimor, who built the first steam sawmill in the township; the Hiltons, Fivecoats, Flanigans, McGuires, Paul Jones, Levi Mease, Tiltons, Fowlers, Isaac Reager, Dan Baker, were also among the early settlers.

The first county bridge in Walnut Township, across Clanton, was built in 1863 or 1864, near where Austin Reed now lives. There had been a number of so-called bridges of logs constructed across this stream. They were covered with poles and had puncheon floors. When the freshets came they were certain to be washed away. But at that time the streams were much narrower than now and we had no difficulty in securing trees along the banks to reach across them.  And that calls to mind the majestic trees which at that time graced each side or bank of our water courses, black and white walnut, three kinds of elms, hard and soft maple, hackberry, hickory, ash and the stately white and yellow cottonwood; linn, commonly called basswood, and also the buckeyes, which caused the early settler any amount of grief, both in early spring and fall, as the cattle while browsing in the fall would eat the buckeyes and founder on them, and not infrequently the result would prove fatal.

            The township is now well settled and has good churches and schools. The village of Peru is located in this township.

           There is situated on Clanton creek, about a mile and a half east of Peru, a peculiar shaped hill or high piece of ground, which is known as Hog's Back, and is quite a curiosity; in shape and form not widely different from "Devil's Back Bone." spoken of elsewhere in this history. It is a steep bluff about one hundred and twenty-five feet high, and about three-quarters of a mile in length. On the top of the ridge, for a distance of about half a mile, there is barely room sufficient for a wagon track. Clanton creek courses along on one side of the ridge, and a small stream on the other. This high ridge is composed mostly of limestone rock, and a peculiar greasy, reddish clay. The clay is supposed to be what is known in many places as "paint clay."

           The present officers of the township are: Justices - Fred. Beeler, Z. F. Burt; Trustees - J. W. Smith, S. R. Young, William Jahn; Constables - W. M. Travis, Phillip J. Rose; Assessor - T. Y. McKee; Clerk - J. D. Hillman.

Map

Shown below is Walnut Township as it appeared in 1875.  The township population consisted of about 160 families at the time the map was made. Clantons Creek, Deer Creek, and South Clantons Creek join together in Section 15 and form the watershed for the township. Both cemeteries shown were on the original 1875 map.

Walnut Township - 1875

Maintained by the County Coordinator

This page was created on July 23, 2004.
This page was last updated Thursday, 13-Apr-2017 17:03:53 EDT .