The rich lands are drained by the West Okaw river, Marrowbone creek and their tributaries, which flow south and south-easterly through the township. The name Marrowbone, originated from the following peculiar circumstances: — Jacob McCune and Jones Daniels, while hunting in this region, encamped for the night on section 8, town. 14-4, and after lighting their camp-fire, made preparations for supper, which consisted of venison roasted before the fire. After eating the meat they broke the bones and feasted on the marrow. The next morning when they had prepared to leave, Daniels asked, "What shall we call this camp?" McCune looking around at the scattered bones with a keen remembrance of the feast, replied, "We will call it Marrowbone." Hence the name.
When the first settlers arrived in this region, there was still remaining here a fragment of the Kickapoo tribe of Indians. They were very friendly to the whites, and often invited them to sit at their camp-tires. When the early settlements began to appear along the edge of the Marrowbone timber, the poor Kickapoos again took up their march westward. At one time there was probably an Indian conflict on the place now owned by J. A. Strain, as all over the slight elevation, upon which his residence stands, there have been large numbers of flint and iron arrow heads, stone and iron hatchets, old gun locks, musket barrels, and trinkets of various kinds, plowed up and collected by Mr., Strain. When his father settled here there were numerous slight depressions over the surface, and upon investigation they were found to contain the remains of Indians. Several strings of beads, charms, etc., were taken from their graves. Mr., S. has a number of these curiosities in his possession, and many have been carried away by relic hunters.
Andrew Bone and Elias Kennedy, who came here together from Tennessee, were the first settlers in what is now Marrowbone township. They both brought their families with them, each in a wagon drawn by horses, and landed here in November, 1828. Mr. Bone was a native uf North Carolina. He settled in the edge of the timber on section 24, town. 14-4, on the place now owned by W. F. Vaughan, and broke the first prairie in this part of the county. He died a few years after settling here, and left quite a large family, many of whose descendants are still living here. Elias Kennedy was born in Tennessee in the year 1800. Upon his arrival he settled in section 35, 14-4, where he built a cabin of rough, unhewn logs near the creek. He lived on this place about two years, and sold it to William Thomason, and moved farther north to section 27, and settled the place on which Robert Roney now lives. In about four years he sold this to a man by the name of Frederick, and moved across the West Okaw, about five miles, where he made some improvements, and again sold out to Reuben B. Ewing. He then re-crossed the West Okaw and settled near where the Marrowbone empties into it, where he constructed a small horse mill. He afterwards purchased of David Cochran, the place where M. M. Crowder now resides. He lived here for a time, and finally moved to Kansas, where he died in 1871. He had a family of eleven children, only four of whom are living, Finis E., in Kansas, and James G., Alexander and David F. are residing in this township. His daughter, Elizabeth W., born in February, 1829, was the first birth in the township.
After the two families there were no settlements made for nearly two years, or not until 1830, when there were several arrivals, but we are unable to give them in the order they came. James Fruit, a Kentuckian, who had first settled farther south in the Wakefield settlement, came into this country in the spring of 1830, and located on section 26, on the place where J. B. Hudson now resides. He afterwards settled the Peter Forsythe place. He died in 1845, and was at that time residing about a half mile west of Bethany. His widow was subsequently married to Major Poor, spoken of in East Nelson. She died in February, 1880. Several of the descendants of Mr. Fruit are perpetuating the name in the county. In the same year Thomas D. Lansden and George Baxter came together with their families.
Baxter remained here but a short time and moved into Shelby county. Mr. Lansden was a native of North Carolina, and brought with him a large family from Tennessee, where he was married and lived prior to his coming to this state. They reached this country November 19th, 1830, and settled the Emanuel Sickafus place on section 24. From here he moved to the Evans place, just west of Bethany, where he died October 1st, 1838, at the age of 71 years. His wife died three years earlier. Mr. Lansden built the first blacksmith shop in the township. He was a good and useful man among the early settlers, and several of his descendants are among the best citizens of today. John Warren, a native of Tennessee, and Daniel Pound, his brother in-law, came here together in October, 1830. He had a large family of boys and one daughter, Lucinda. Of this family, Daniel P. Warren is the only survivor living in this county. Jesse A. Walker, a North Carolinian, emigrated from Kentucky here in the fall of 1830, and settled the Frank Ward farm on Brush Creek. He had eight children, some of whom arc yet living here. William Thomason settled in section 35, in the same year. Jerry Provolt also stopped here for a short time, in the Welborn settlement. William Salsman arrived in the same year, first stopping in Welborn settlement, and afterwards opened the farm, at present owned by Frank Hagerman. John Cook, Sr., was a native of R.I., and moved here as early as 1830. He settled on section 3, 13—4, or near the Welborns. He became quite prominent in the organization of this county. At an early date he constructed an undershot water wheel grist mill on the West Okaw, and was a useful and enterprising man. He died some years ago, and his widow still survives. Larkin Beck from Kentucky, settled on section 28, 14—4, on the E. A. Walker place. Wm. C. Ward, and his son James 0. Ward, with their families, came in June of the same year. Mr. Ward brought a large family, and several are now living here and in Shelby County. Allen Ferryman, John and Edward Woolen, and Samuel and Simeon Robertson were also here in 1830. These families above mentioned were about all that settled here up to 1831. As taken from the county records, the first lands were entered as follows: April 21st, 1830, U. Kutch entered the E. 1/2 of the S. W. 1/4 of section 23, T. 14, R. 4 east, 80 acres. June 11th, 1839, Joshua Johnson entered the W. 1/2 of the S. W. 1/4, section 9, T. 13, R. 4 east, 80 acres. Same date Andrew M. Bone entered the W. 1/2 of the N. E. 1/4 of section 24, T. 14, R. 4 E. 80 acres. Oct. 14th, 1830, Wm. Thomason entered the W. 1/2 of the S. W. 1/4 of section 35, T. 14, R. 4 E. 80 acres. Nov. 18th, 1830, John S. Woolen entered the W. 1/2 of the S. E. 1/4, section 22, T. 14, R. 4 E. 80 acres. Dec. 8th, 1830, James Roney entered the E. 1/2 of the S. E. 1/4 of section 9, T. 13, R. 4 E. 80 acres. Same date John oney entered the W. 1/2 of the S. E. 1/4, same section, town and range containing 80 acres.
David Strain, another North Carolinian, landed here with his family October 12th, 1831, and settled on section 21, on the place where his son, John A., now resides. He had been here the year before and raised a crop in the Welborn settlement, and purchased of Allen Perryman the place on section 21, where he moved with his family, and where he resided until his death, September 9th, 1854. Mr. Strain was an early Justice of the Peace in this county, and one among the most intelligent and enterprising old settlers. He was twice married, and raised a large family, only two of whom are now living, viz : John A. Strain, who resides on the old homestead, and Lydia, the wife of Robert Livesay, residing in Oregon. Daniel Pea came here in 1831, and purchased Thomas D. Lansden's claim on section 24, and remained hereabout two years, then moved into what is now Lovington township. In 1832, James Roney, a native of Kentucky, located in the Melbourne settlement. He had a large family. Joshua and Robert, farmers in this township, Mary, widow of Joseph Sedgwick, and Louisa, the wife of W. Underwood, living in Kansas, are all of this family now living, that came to the county. George Mitchell, born in North Carolina, brought his family here in 1832, and settled on section 24. He had a family of ten children, seven still living, viz: David, Samuel, Martha, Jane, widow of Thos. A. Bone, John B., Rachel A., widow of G. T. West, Wm. B. and Susan E., the wife of David Crowder, who are among the oldest living settlers in the county. The old gentleman was one of the first county commissioners. He was a wagon-maker by trade, but followed farming principally. He died on the place where he first settled in 1854, upward of 74 years of age. U. Kutch settled on the south side of section 23, in the fall of 1832, where he still lives, a hale and hearty old man. He was a great hunter, and killed eighteen deer the first three weeks after his arrival in this region. He says that there were plenty of Bee trees here when he came. On his first trip he found as many as four a day in the Marrowbone and West Okaw timber. Susan Bone, the widow of Thomas Bone, a brother of Andrew Bone, came here in 1833, with a family of three sons and one daughter. Beverly Taylor and James and Samuel Howell were also early settlers. In 1834, W. P. Foster and Ezekiel Sharp settled in the Bone settlement. Sharp died soon afterwards. Three of his sons, Robert, Joseph and James, arc residents in this neighborhood.
Robert Morrison, from Tennessee, settled in 1834, and died the following year, when his family returned to Tennessee.
In 1833 or 1834 John Haberson came and settled the Crowder place. He was also from Tennessee, and after a short time returned there. Elisha Brison, a son-in-law of William Ward, was also here for a short time. The Freelands came in 1836; Enoch Walker and family and the Crowders in 1837; the Banksons in 1838. There are others, perhaps, that might he mentioned, but we feel that we have named most of the prominent early settlers, and for further information we will refer the reader to the Pioneer and other chapters in the front part of this work. The first death that we have any account of was that of a child of Edward Woolen, in 1830. The first burial-ground in the settlement was on Andrew Bone's place, now the property of W. F. Vaughan. The first marriage was James 0. Ward to Elizabeth Stark, in the summer of 1831. Esquire Thomason performed the ceremony. William Couch to Miriam Strain; Thomas Bone to Jane Mitchell; and Robert Law to Amanda Lausden, were also early marriages.
Addison Smith taught the first school in a log cabin, on section 27, in the summer of 1833. The early preachers were of the Cumberland Presbyterian denomination, and the meetings were held at the cabins of the settlers. See Church History.)
George Thomason, a very early settler, kept the first store in this part of the county. It was on section 35, and consisted of a small stock of general goods. This was in the year 1835. In 1832, Andrew Bone built a rude horse-mill, the first in this locality. In 1836, Robert Law built another of the same kind on the spot where the village of Bethany now stands. Beverly Taylor constructed a water-mill on the West Okaw in 1837. John Cook also built another of the same character farther down the stream.
The first steam saw and grist mill was built by John A. Strain in 1851. The engine and machinery were purchased at the Piasa shops at Alton, and carted on wagons to this point. Thomas D. Lansden also built a water mill for William Foster in 1837.
The following are the supervisors who have represented Marrowbone:—John A. Freeland, Junior, elected in 1867; William P. McGuire, elected in 1868, and served until 1873; A. R. Scott, elected in 1873, served until 1875; was Chairman of Board in 1874. T. H. Crowder, elected in 1875, served until 1877; A. R. Scott, re-elected in 1877, served until 1880; W. P. McGuire, reelected in 1880.
The township has at present 1595 population.
This is a growing little place, situated on the line of the P. D. and E. R. R., in section 22. The land upon which it is located was entered by Robert Law, who built the first house. This was a small log cabin erected in 1834. Mr. Law was a farmer, and, as above-mentioned, built an early mill at this point. In 1837, Law sold out to A. N. Ashmore; and he soon afterwards sold out to Rev. A. M. Wilson. Mr. Wilson built a large two-story log house, which was considered quite a fine structure in those days. This was all the building done here until 1854, when Dr. J. D. Livesay, who was the first physician, erected a frame dwelling and storehouse, and in partnership with Thomas Sowell, owned a general stock of goods for sale. This was the first frame building, and is now used as a wagon shop by Lantz and Mitchell. The next house was a frame dwelling put up by William P. McGuire in April, 1857, and now owned by H. A. Smith. Mr. McGuire also erected the next building, a frame storehouse, in 1863, and opened a stock of goods. He built another store in 1864. This was brick, two stories high, and is now the property of Thomas Noble. A. N. Ashmore built the next house in 1965. It was a residence, and is now occupied by W. P. McGuire. McGuire built still another storehouse, and when completed sold it to A. R. Scott, who is the present owner. The present A. H. Antrim's store was erected by J. T. Smutz. A. K. Bone, E. Ransford, Peter Forsyth, Widow Robinson, Samuel Mitchell, and James Moore also built early residences. There was no school taught in the village proper until about 1871, when a Miss Snyder taught in the private residence of Stephen McReynolds. Christopher Beck taught the next school, in the second story of Mr. Smutz's storehouse. The present school-house was built in 1874. It is frame, one story, with two rooms, and employs two teachers.
The old Bethany church that stood on the village site, and from which it received its name, was built of hewed logs in 1838. It was replaced by the present frame structure in 1855, at a cost of $2,200. This is the Cumberland Presbyterian church. The Methodist church was erected in the fall of 1872, and cost about $2,500. It is built of brick, 40 x 50 feet, with spire.
There was a post-office established at this point in 1856, at Marrowbone, and J. L. Livesay was made the first postmaster. W. P. McGuire was nest appointed, and through his efforts the name was changed to Bethany. O. P. Walker, A. B. Scott and J. G. Smutz have also had the office.
Bethany was incorporated as a village in the spring of 1877, and the following were the first trustees. J. F. Knight, President, B. F. McMennamy, D. F. Kennedy, Andrew Bankson, S. H. Sanner, G. T. Hill, clerk, J. G. Smutz, Treasurer. The present board are: J. H. McGuire, President, H. A. Smith, R. B. Wheeler, C. C. Creech, W. P. McGuire, T. Ray; G. W. Logan, clerk, and G. T. Hill, Treasurer.
In 1875 Hyland and son built a steam saw and grist-mill. It was a frame building about 18x24 feet, and is two stories high. It contained two sets of stones, one for wheat and one fur corn, and a circular saw. It is now owed by A. R Scott, and operated as a sawmill by T. J. Clark.
The Bethany Steam Flouring-Mill and Elevator, was erected in the summer of 1880 by A. R. Scott. It is frame, three stories high and 26x34 feet square, with engine-rooms l6x34 feet, and a belt crib 14x48. It cost about $12,000. There are four run of burrs. The elevator is constructed for handling all kinds of grain, and has a capacity of 5000 bushels storage, and can shell and load 3000 bushels of corn a day.
General Stores.—A.. R. Scott, A. H. Antrim.
Groceries and Restaurant.—R. Hampton.
Drugs.—B. F. McMennamy.
Hardware, etc.—A. B. Frazier. Harness.—Edward Stables & Son.
Millinery.—Miss Emma Hogg, Misses Dora and Ida Hampton.
Furniture.—J. G. Smutz.
Undertaker.—C. C. Creech.
Wagon Shop.—Lentz & Mitchell, T. Ray.
Lumber and Coal.—G. W. Logan.
Blacksmith Shops.—J. P. McCord, C. Strain, and J. Matherson.
Shoe Shop.—R. B. Utterback.
Barber Shop.—E. Norton.
Grain Dealer.—T. P. Logan.
Physicians.—E. A. Pyatt, B. F. McMennamy.
Stock Dealers.— Scott & Little, J. McGuire.
Livery Stable.— Robert Lanum.
Carpenter Shop.—Smith & Lansden.
Brick Yard.—Wm. Mitchell.