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Subject: [IL-Traces-L] [IL-Traces]-Iroquois County-Beaverville
Date: Wed, 28 Apr 1999 02:10:27 EDT


Taken from Iroquois County History- 1818-1968-Pages 34 and 35

BEAVERVILLE TOWNSHIP

Beaverville Township, the youngest township in Iroquois County, was organized
in 1921. The area to create this new township came from Papineau and Beaver
Townships and consisted of thirty-nine sections in the Northeast corner of
Iroquois County.

The majority of the pioneer people who came to this area were French. Many
families came from Canada, their families having come earlier from France.

The town of Beaverville was first called St. Mary's. When the railroads were
built and mail service became commonplace across the state, it was discovered
there was a town in Jasper County by the same name, so the name St. Mary's
was changed to Beaverville. The post office, however, has always carried the
name Beaverville. About five and one-half miles east of Beaverville there was
another post office by the name of Rose. This building was located where the
Nick Rheude home stands today. Every work day a man would carry the mail in a
locked pouch on horseback from Beaverville to this little country post
office. Across the road from Rose and about forty rods west was a blacksmith
shop. This business was operated by a family by the name of Denton. This
crossroads village was short-lived as people became willing to go further for
more services. After a few years, about 1890, Rose was closed.

In 1921, Beaverville Township was organized and a new government was set up
to accommodate this new unit. It is interesting to note the way in which this
was done. The Nourie schoolhouse had been used for elections and township
meetings. This school was located one mile south and one and one-half miles
east of Beaverville in Section 5, which was a central location before Beaver
Township was divided. About the only inventory recorded, [besides money], was
road equipment. At the time the boundaries were changed, there were eight
road commissioners and the equipment consisted of eight road drags, eight
slip scrapers, and two wheel scrapers which were listed as good. The slip
scrapers were listed as fair and the road drags as poor. On a give-and-take
basis this equipment was divided to the satisfaction of all concerned and
Beaverville Township started their new township with four road commissioners.

There was one grain elevator in Beaverville and one at North Hooper, located
on the Walsh Railroad in Section 4. In addition to a blacksmith shop and
other businesses necessary to a farming community, Beaverville had a tile
factory. This enterprise was started by H. L. Lambert, however, the exact
time is unknown. The pit where the clay was mined is still in evidence in the
Northeast part of town. At one time the factory had six kilns where the clay
products were dried and baked. Some of the field tile produced here were used
locally. Bricks were also manufactured and some buildings on the West side of
the main street were built with the bricks from this factory. Also produced
was terra cotta, a light building block used for wall partions. It found a
favorable market in Chicago. As time passed and more modern equipment became
available, however, this factory was abandoned and the operation moved to St.
Anne. This business in its most productive years furnished employment for
about twenty-five men.

Since the time the first settlers came to the Beaverville area, the church
has been the center of society. In 1856 a plot of ground was cleared on which
was to be erected the first St. Mary's Roman Catholic Church of Beaverville.
Two men cut down trees and joined them together so that they could be used
for uprights and sills for the new church which was made of wood and stood
just south and east of the present church. The parish was organized in 1856,
and mass was offered in different homes and a country store until 1857. The
present church was completed in 1911 at which time the old building was moved
to a farm northwest of town. This church is one of five buildings of this
particular architectural design in the United States. The roof is
self-supporting and the dome is ninety-five feet above the floor and 63 feet
in diameter. The original organ, which is still part of the church, was
donated by the Rockefeller family and was valued at $12,000. The total cost
of this most unusual church building, including equipment, was in excess of
$100,000. The Bedford stone, of which the building is made, came from Indiana
and was shipped over the Big Four Railroad. The huge blocks were loaded onto
heavy wagons by hand-operated winches and lifted into place at the church
with a horse power arrangement. Much of the labor was donated by men of the
parish.

The Holy Family Academy of Beaverville was for many years a co-educational
elementary school and girls' high school. The school opened in 1895 and
continued until 1966 when the elementary school was discontinued and the
pupils were transferred to classes in Community Unit No. 3. The high school
is still in operation with students from the township and surrounding area
enrolled, and also students from distant places, even outside the United
States. The Provincialate and the Novitiate of the Servants of the Holy Heart
of Mary were for many years located at Beaverville but have been transferred
in recent years to Kankakee and Batavia respectively. Beaverville Township
had seven one-room public schools which were discontinued at the time of
consolidation.

The Northeast part of the township was thinly populated. The soil is sandy
and in the early days was used mostly for pasture. The higher ground was
covered with trees, and the old timers referred to this area as the big
woods. In the late 1850s, in Section 23, The Francis Besse family operated a
general store. Groceries and other supplies were hauled by wagon from
Kankakee. Cord wood provided a pay load on the return trip, and the Illinois
Central Railroad bought the wood for fuel. As time passed and farmers learned
new methods of drainage and good soil management this sandy soil is today
most productive. Three sections of the area are owned by the State and used
for hunting and recreation.

Elaine Frigone in Allyn, WA

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