Grassy Township

Grassy Township, the congressional township numbered ten south and range one east, was the last to be settled in the county. The majority of its residents came from the surrounding counties, after their fathers had established homes in Illinois. Early pioneers, such as the first Solomon Snider, built cabins, lived a while, then moved on to more frequented neighborhoods.

Jesse Mann, the first permanent settler, gave the township its name when he named the streams of clear spring water, bordered with a grass that seemed richer than even the blue grass he had seen in Kentucky coming west. Grassy creek waters the center of the township, with Little Grassy to the west, and Sugar creek to the east. They flow north to join Crab Orchard, then west to the Mississippi. Jesse Mann marked out an estate of 1200 acres between Grassy and Little Grassy, built his log house, returned to Virginia for his bride, and together they made a home. Their descendants live in the neighborhood of Mann School.

Robert White was appointed supervisor of Grassy creek road district to succeed Eli Hutson when the Franklin County commissioner’s court met at Frankfort in June 1939. The district was bounded “beginning at the mouth of Grassy Creek to the Crab Orchard Creek, Thence down said Creek with in one mile of Harrison’s (mill) road district. Thence to the Cash pond on Crab Orchard, thence to Ben Chitty’s old Bridge, thence with the old Jonesboro road to the old mill near Oliver H. Wiley’s on Grassy, thence down said creek to the beginning.”

The post road on its way from Frankfort to Jonesboro cut through this township from northeast to southwest corner. It crossed Grassy Creek near Oliver Harper Wiley’s homestead in section 2, which entered at the United States land office in the thirties. Mr. Wiley was sergeant of Captain Amstead Holman’s company of mounted volunteers who left old Franklin County in the summer of 1832 to defend northern Illinois from Black Hawk and his warriors. When the Williamson County commissioner’s court selected its first grand jury panel, March 3, 1840, Oliver H. Wiley was one of them. This same court fixed election precincts, five in all, the southwest part of the county to be known as Grassy precinct, with elections at Mr. Wiley’s house. Road districts were changed to correspond with congressional townships, and Joel Huffstutler was named supervisor. Mr. Huffstutler served three terms as sheriff, elected first in 1846.

The Illinois Central Railroad received more than nine thousand acres of Grassy Township in the land grant to assist in building their main line. Amzi F. White of Marion was named agent to convey these lands to individual purchasers. Two post offices were established as further inducement to settlers, Wolf Creek and Cottage Home.

The mill near Oliver H. Wiley’s farm, “old” in 1839, stood where the post road crossed Grassy Creek. George Phelps built a newer type of mill at the same point, for manufacture of both flour and lumber. John and Henry Ogden, father and son, bought the mill and one thousand acres of land in 1863. A fire next year destroyed the Phelps mill, and the Odgens rebuilt only the saw mill. This they operated until 1875. Ogden School retains their name in the neighborhood.

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(Extracted from Pioneer Folks and Places, Barbara Barr Hubbs, 1939, on sale at the Williamson County Museum)