First Settlers of Lick Prairie


Lick Prairie is the smallest precinct in Wabash County but was one of the first settled, at least in its eastern part. The western parts, near Bonpas Creek were the last to be settled and cleared for farming. The precinct is named for the salt lick which attracted deer. The area is still prime deer hunting territory so the lick may still be present. I could not find anyone who was certain of its location, now or in the past. There was a lot of swampy ground around the Fordyce Creek (named for Jarius Fordyce) and that area is still known as the Fordyce bottoms. The base line runs through the precinct. The base line is a line set by surveyors, running east and west and it is a division between Township 1 North and Township 1 South. As one moves farther north of the base line the township numbers grow larger and as one moves south of the baseline the township numbers also increase in value. (Benjamin) Franklin Gard was the first to settle in Fordyce bottoms. Griffin Prairie is in sections 25 and 26 ad is named for the early settler Ichabod Griffin who came in 1818 and settled on the SE 1/4 of Section 24. Brush Prairie was small and located in Section 19 and got its name from the brush surrounding it.


Seth Gard was probably the most prominent settler. He came from Hamilton County, Ohio, the site of Cincinnati. His father's family were some of the earliest settlers of that county. Seth brought a family of seven children with him in 1814 and there are many descendants. His children were Susan who married Jairus/Jarius Fordyce, Ruth who married Ephraim Armstrong, Amelia who married Charles McNair, Benjamin Franklin who married Mary Bratton, Resin who married Sarah Mills, Justus who married first Anna Oman and then Elizabeth Campbell, Anna who married Mr. Eaton, Phebe who married Mr. Compton, Hiram and Joseph. These last 2 sons were likely born after Seth arrived in Wabash County. Justus and Resin were identical twins. Seth Gard was the second representative to the Illinois territory and one of the first judges/commissioners of Edwards County. He was a minister of the Christian or New Light Church and his family were charter members of the Barney Prairie Christian Church, the oldest existing Christian Church in Illinois. Seth Gard's land was in the SE 1/4 of Section 28. This is just south of Nye Chapel and he is buried in the Gard's Point or Nye Chapel Cemetery. (This church disbanded a few years ago and is now an artist studio.) In the early 1990s a house stood at the site of Seth's home, built after Seth's time, but was abandoned and torn down by the coal company. At the rear of the house was a small root cellar made of native sandstone which was most likely from the Gard homestead. Also a barn just to the north was from the 19th century. It is all gone now. The root cellar may have been built by Gard's nephew Aaron Waggoner who came with him to the territory. Warroner also had a large family of children.


James Claypool entered the first land in the precinct in the SW 1/4 of Section 4 on August 5, 1814. This land is between Wabash 12 and Wabash 13 roads and on the upper branch of Fordyce Creek.


December 30, 1814 S. M. Russell and C. Dana entered 480 acres in Section 33. This land is on the Bonpas Creek just north of Browns and most of it is in Edwards County. Phillip Hull entered land in the NE 1/4 of section 28 in 1815. This is on a fairly rolling section just north of Maud. Mr. Ocheltree settled in the SE 1/4 of Section 21 in 1815. This section is just north of Phillip Hull's land. James O. Chetrod entered land in the NE 1/4 of Section 28, also near Phillip Hull.


In 1818 James Black settled on the SW 1/4 of Section 25, northwest of present day Bellmont. Ephraim Armstrong came from Tennessee in 1819 and settled on the NW 1/4 of Section 30. This land is near present day St. Sebastian Church. He came to the vicinity of Timberville in 1816 or 17 before moving to Lick Prairie precinct. Armstrong had been in the army during the War of 1812 while still in Tennessee. Armstrong held the office of constable for many years. His son Thomas became a wealthy farmer in Lick Prairie precinct. On August 29, 1818 T. Ayeres and P. Mundy entered land in the SE 1/4 of Section 25.


Samuel Mundy, wife and sons Griffith and William came from New York State in 1819. They went as far as Cincinnati, OH by horse and wagon and then by boat to Illinois. They first settled on the NW 1/4 of Section 24 and a few years later moved to the S 1/2 of Section 19 where they stayed permanently. The permanent home was southwest of the current location of St. Sebastian Church. Mr. Mundy was a member of the legislature at the time the legislature was meeting in Vandalia. He was elected as Wabash County clerk for several terms. Lewis Armstrong, brother of Ephraim, settled on the SW 1/4 of Section 19 but did not remain long.


Edward Ulm and his son, William Ulm, a farmer and minister of the Methodist faith, came to Wabash County from Ross County, Ohio in 1820. William was a boy of only 6 at the time. Edward was born in Virginia but moved to Ohio before coming to Wabash County. He is said to have built the first mill in Mt. Carmel, which was a tread mill run by horses and he was also a shoemaker. His wife Kate Nation was the daughter of a Hessian soldier who voiced his desire to become an American citizen after the battle of Yorktown at the end of the Revolutionary war.


James Wiley came to Lick Prairie from New York in 1820 or 1821. He was a farmer and raised a family of 5 or 6 children. Several other early settlers came after 1820, but we will stay with the plan of only describing the settlers of Wabash County arriving before or during 1820.