Doyle Township History

Source:Historic Hopeville and Vicinity: 1850-1982, p. 9-11.

1909 Speech by Former Sentinel Editor

Miss Mary Osmond, one-time Editor of The Sentinel, is recalled as an energetic, eccentric lady who feared no man or woman, was witty and caustic in her remarks and writings. She was the daughter of William and Mary Osmond, early settlers to Doyle Township. The following was written by Miss Mary Osmond for Old Settlers Day in 1909. Miss Osmond was eight years old at the time her parents moved to Clarke County from Farminton, Iowa.


by Miss Mary Osmund

I have been solicited to go back into the memories of my childhood and write what I know of the beginning of Doyle. It will necessarily be a mixture of what I was told and what I saw.

Everyone knows Doyle was settled by a colony in 1850. The colony was gathered up and inspired by Charles Cheney, a merchant in Farmington, Van Buren County, Iowa. He was a disciple of Fourier, a believer in theories as harmless as milk but regarded as much askance as socialism is now.


Cheyney succeeded in inducing them to throw their property together or a certain amount of it, $100 constituting a share, and giving a membership. Few owned more than a share, they were poor men. The wealthiest man was David Newton. He may have owned a $1,000 worth of property and it made him as popular as Rockefeller is. He had a wife and stepson, Alonzo Ketcham (who now lives in Oberlin, Kansas, a wealthy man) and two sons of his own, both living, Jasper in California, David in Kansas.

Mr. Newton kept a store in Hopeville after it became a town and was its earliest postmaster, an office he held more than twenty years.

Hopeville was a name chosen in Farmington before the colony started for its town, by Evelyn Millard, a popular teacher who had a sentimental turn of mind. She was President Millard Fillmore's cousin. She never came to the town, but married and went to California.

The name Doyle was selected by my own father, William R. Osmond, for the township. He did not move from Farmington the first year, although he joined among the first. The townships were formed after he moved and his choice of the name came from his birthplace, Doylestown, Bucks County,Pennsylvania.

Vincent Davis was president of the organization, Hope Colony. There were articles of agreement but what they were or whether any copy now exists I know not, and don't believe anyone does. After my father came he was secretary-- must have been so when the colony "broke up" as a big sunken-topped, faded wooden inkstand remained with us for many years.

Mr. Davis was a Virginian. He was quite pompous, fluent, loved to command, and he had a large family. Only one member of the family remained long in the county, Elizabeth Davis was his oldest daughter. Sam McCutchan was the only eligible young man, and the colony was excited by their courtship to an unbelievable degree. It was not very prolonged, and the wedding in the depth of one of the artic winters of the early times here was a tremendous event.[Ed. note- early marriage records state the marriage between Samuel F. McCutcheon and Hannah E. Davis took place December 2, 1852]

Nobody had any horses. Oxen were all. Through the deep drifts of an almost roadless country, a two-yoke team floundered with an enormous sled from door to door conveying all the colony to that hospitable Davis home for the first wedding. This couple settled on a fine farm "in the Grand river bottom land," prospered, had many children and their descendants are numerous there, but Samuel and Elizabth have gone to their reward.

"Bill" McCutchan was married and older than Sam. He and his wife had several children, and they and theirs also remain, in the region south of Hopeville, prosperous, honorable people.

Jacob Keplinger and wife, Eliza, and their one son, John, were part of the colony and stayed a good while. Their farm was just northwest of Hopeville and was sold to Joe Daniels when they left it. The Keplingers' fate and the fate of the Charles Cheney family was tragically mixed.

Charles Cheney died of consumption within five years of starting the colony. His wife and four sons were left poor. Mrs. Cheney died also of consumption in a few years. Julius, the oldest son, went into the army when that time came and died. But when Mrs. Cheney died, before that time she implored Mr. and Mrs. Keplinger to take care of her youngest boys, Ed, probably 10, and Paul, a delicate boy of 7. Jack, older than these two, fared I know not how.

But whether truly or not, the boys at the Keplinger home complained of bad treatment. Ed ran off, Paul had to stay some years. Jack was a bold, swarthy fellow. He heard the tale, vowed revenge and perhaps he got it. Keplingers moved to Missouri. Somebody shot him through a door. Jack was arrested, tried, verdict not proven or words to that effect. Mrs. Keplinger, poor and blind, lived much longer, dying near or in Corydon with her son. None of either of these famiies remain in Doyle.

There was a large family in the colony of Bennetts but all are gone. The colony itself lived less than three years. The stock was sold out according to shares, every man getting cheated according to his view. There were many other company families but I don't know their names. It runs in my mind that about 15 men belonged at one time. They owned a farm, the one later owned by the Burham family one-half mile northeast of Hopeville.

As far as my knowledge goes, none of the original colony is living. Nor are any of their descendants living in Doyle, excepting the Bill McCutchan and the McCutchan-Davis descendants and my sister, Mrs. M. T. Ashley, and her family.

These pioneers saw hardships, endured them quite bravely, and I dare to say the children were as happy as others. At one time, before wheat ripened or corn was hard enough to grind, the second summer, probably 1852, they all lived ten days without bread. Nobody had money to buy anything, there was no town anywhere to go to, no place where stores or supplies of any kind were. They lived that time on beans, new potatoes, etc.

When the clothing wore out, it was patched. The women and girls wore dresses made of "domestic". That was unbleached heavy muslin gotten from the month-apart peddler wagons, run up by Charles Cheney, from Farmington. It was dyed with sumac, walnut bark, etc. To be good, it had to be washed before dying, so was worn a week or two white, then colored. Those who were too poor to buy domestic cut up extra bedticks they had brought. Living in cabins of one room required few ticks.

But by the time the colony broke up, by or before the end of 1853, "settlers" were coming all around. In the southeast corner of Doyle, a settlement came from the south and was locally known as "Tennessee"...perhaps is yet. I recall the names of Warrick, Howell, Shipp, Ramsey, Louthan, Leatherman, in this settlement.

Skipping over some time, and coming to the latter half of the 1860's, some incidents that probably now can never be explained occurred. During the war it was claimed certain residents of the region were Copperheads (an utterly senseless name) and it was said that after that some treasonable society, perhaps the Golden Circle was organized. Louthan undertook to be a spy and joined it. He alleged that he did and in midnight visits to his employers' homes revealed things he claimed to have found out. One man named Ramsey, a well-to-do farmer, was arrested, charged with something in connection with revelations, but while conveying him away for some trial, his captors and himself fell through or off a bridge and for years Ramsey prosecuted them for a severe personal injury.

Thomas Gregg and family...eight children in all...settled just southeast of colony territory and lived long there. They came the same time as the colony. His now remaining descendants in the county are quite numerous, none in Doyle. Jimmy Johnson and a large family settled near. Only a man named Cone in Doyle now remains of his descendants. Southwest in the edge of the county, some over in Ringgold and Union, but one or two in the extreme edge of Doyle, some people named Lamb settled. Hiram Lamb was a son and some years after lived in Hopeville.

There were no doctors. If one was as ill as the people we sent to hospitals or get a doctor from Des Moines for, somebody went to Leon break-neck speed and got Dr. Thompson. So the coming in among the new people of the Illinois veterinarian, Dr. Jesse Emery, was a boon and he fell inevitably into a practice that has never been excelled for success in the county. He was a kindly, gentle man, with a wonderful common sense. His family descendants remain mostly in Troy. H. Lamb is postmaster in Murray... his son-in-law.

The family of Wyatt Adkins with their near relatives, the Joe Daniels family came in and these are too well known to need any history. The Anderson family arrived too, and is yet a prominent one.

A man named Garrison with his sons-in-law, Booth and Clark, and several unmarried children who were married soon, settled near Hopeville and their descendants are still there and in Osceola. Another family came early and has numerous branches now in Doyle was the sturdy Bill Rilea and Joe Rilea, brothers, with large families that made homes for themselves in the near future. Our present county superintendent is descended from the Bill Rilea one. His wife is from the "old man Garrison" stock. Johnny Shields and his sons came and stayed.

Horse stealing...oh, yes! It went on and there were vigilance committees and watching, etc. One great tragedy connected itself, I know not how, with it. One Jacobs, who may have known more about it than any honest man did, shot Dr. Lucas dead as he saw him approaching his home one brilliant moonlight night. Lucas was said to have been hunting Jacobs, pistol in hand, to shoot him before he would tell the vigilance committee what he knew and involve him. Heaven alone knows. Jacobs went to the peniteniary for it but was pardoned.

At an earlier day than this occurred a murder in the southeast part of Doyle, Rude shooting a harmless young Irishman in a quarrel over cattle. A mob chased Rude into Decatur County, shot and buried him. The Rude anarchist lived in that part of the township where the Landis and Carlton and Tillotson families settled. So many of those families remain that they also need no description. Really such numbers of names occur to me I must stop. I have named the older ones as far as I know.

Religion was prevalent. Methodism had the first inning. Its circuit riders came and held meetings in the homes. There were drawbacks to this. With only one room, domestic arrangements were interferred with greatly. Once a big cat plumped down on the preacher right out of the loft (Cabins often had a loft with loose riven boards for its floor. A ladder, or some pegs in the log wall, that was chinked and daubbed with mud, led up to the loft.)

Well, among those I've not previously mentioned were the Dufur and Day inter-married families, all ardent Methodists, who came like the Gregg family, contemporaneously with the colony but not of it.

There were no schools, but "the children" were nearing a time when something must be done. My father, than whom no more active and willing and hard working, brave a pioneer never lived by his own hard licks, acquired an extra set of logs which were hauled up to add a room to the one room log cabin already in use. This coming abundance.. redundance, of house room had led to a plan that a school should be taught in it, in the day times for sturdy youngsters in the vicinity, principally by Mr. Gray, an uncle of Mrs. Cheney's. My mother, educated for a teacher in Pennsylvania, would help too.

Upon this extra set of logs around which so many hopes hung, the old man Dufur cast a wise and cautious eye. Early one morning he arrived relating a wondrous dream of his the night before, wherein he saw Brother Osmond as the savior in Hopeville of the M.E. Church and himself as its instrument by persuading him to yield up those logs to take to Hopeville and make a church of it.

I choke up yet when I remember my mother's unavailing protest and grief. The logs went, made the first M.E. Church in Hopeville, but were only so used for a year or two and long the building remained as Jake Davis' blacksmith shop. Its use as a school discontinued when a log school house was built. Among the earliest teachers was Almina Lamson, who was afterwards Mrs. Baer, dying in Osceola where she lived many years. She was the sister of Moses Lamson. Mary Gregg was another.

Marriage was early...few girls reached 20 or young men 21 unmarried. Many were married and mothers at 16 and a family of seven to twelve was the rule. Divorce, alienation of affection, separation...dear no! They quarreled it out, grew friends again, died true to each other, those pioneers.

One of the greatest events was an Indian war which really was a ludicrous thing but a big scare. The Indians were few and peaceful. It began in Union or Ringgold where the people were not so good, and it is alleged a man who killed his brother for the same reason King David had Uriah slain, covered the deed by laying it on the Indians. Great time then with families fleeing eastward among friends, and warriors enlisting, but no fighting.

All the meat at first was of deer, wild turkey or 'possum. Later, the colony possessed a few hogs. It butchered the last winter and divided the meat, a man, his wife and three children becoming the happy possessor of a half a hog for the winter supply. Attempting to raise wheat was one of the failures but they did get some ground in the insufficient mill at Pisgah left by the Mormons when they wintered there. It was as much darker than graham bread as that to the whitiest flour and tasted mouldy. Corn bread was the stuff. Sugar and coffee was not used. Children never saw candy.

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