Butler Illinois First Settlers

The first white settler of Butler Grove Township was Jacob Cress, who came here during the spring of 1818, and settled what later became known as the old Cress farm, still later owned by Jacob Scherer, and now the property of the Jacob Cress heirs, on section 34. Jacob Cress was a native of North Carolina, who first sought new environments in Indiana, and then came still further west to Illinois. Although the journey had to be made along the buffalo trails from Indiana to Illinois, the hardy old pioneer brought with him horses, cattle and a drove of hogs, and in order to keep from losing the latter on the prairie, he had them belled, and this measure of precaution indicates his resource and capability. Nothing daunted by the hardships of his new home, he began to clear off his land, and became one of the leading men of his community. His descendants are still to be found in the county, and his name is held in the highest respect.

The second settler of the township was Israel Seward, who came here from Hamilton County, Ohio, in 1819, locating about one-half a mile south of what later became the village of Butler, his farm being known as Seward’s Hill, or Butler’s Grove. He was a man of commanding character and exerted an influence for good on this section that has never been lost. George C. Seward, a son of Israel Seward, who succeeded to the homestead, was the first white child born in Butler Grove Township, his birth occurring October 11, 1821. Israel Seward was a cousin of the distinguished statesman, William H. Seward, secretary of state under President Lincoln.

Among other early settlers of this township were the Wares. Obadiah Ware came to Montgomery County in 1823, locating on the west half of the northwest quarter of section 15. A native of New Hampshire, he married in his native state in 1821. when twenty-six years of age. He and his bride made their way to St. Louis, and for two years he was engaged in farming in the vicinity of that city. However, he was not entirely satisfied with conditions, and so made a prospecting trip into Montgomery County, where he found land that suited him and which he could enter from the government, so he and his wife again severed their home ties, and came to the new region, where both spent the remainder of their lives. Mr. Ware was very active in the work of the Lutheran church of his neighborhood. Benjamin Ware, a brother of Obadiah Ware, located on land adjoining his brother, and lived there until death claimed him. Both the Wares left children. Other early settlers are mentioned in the order of their arrival. With the early settlers came the necessity for schools, and these were invariably the first public work of the pioneers.

Taken from: Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois Volume 2 - Montgomery County by A. T. Strange

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Jeff Dunn

Vice President

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Montgomery County

Advisory Board

Illinois State

Historical Society