Sangamon Township is a township in Piatt County, in central Illinois between Champaign and Decatur on Interstate 72. The township has a total area of 47.25 square miles including the unincorporated towns of Centerville, Galesville, Lodge and White Heath. A historical circuit marker honors Abraham Lincoln who spent most of his career as a lawyer riding the Eighth Judicial Circuit . The Sangamon River flows through and is a principal tributary of the Illinois River. The Township has multiple parks and subdivisions within the Monticello CUSD #25 and access to state highways and Interstate 72.
The State of Illinois was accepted into the United States on December 3, 1818.
Piatt County was formed in January of 1841 carved out of parts of Macon and Dewitt counties. Piatt County comprises an area of 438 sections, 280,320 acres of land.
The county is divided into eight townships:
The land of Sangamon Township is well drained into the Sangamon River which flows southwest across the township, along with Camp Creek and Madden Run, both tributaries of the Sangamon.
In 1830 the father of William Cordell built the first house in Sangamon Township on what is now Madden Run. He afterward sold out to Mr. Stout and the stream was known for a time as Stout’s Branch. By the 1870’s the towns of Centerville, Galesville, Lodge and White Heath had sprung up.
Centerville is the oldest of these communities platted around 1850. The community consisted of a grist mill, blacksmith shop, school, United Brethren Church, Methodist Episcopal Church, a post office and a few home businesses. Centerville became known as Lickskillet reportedly because it was the practice of the local innkeeper to invite neighborhood dogs and cats to clean the plates of diners, a story said to have greatly amused Abraham Lincoln. Hence today the road that runs through Centerville is named “Lickskillet”. As other towns grew, Centerville declined but faith remains today at the Centerville church. Many stories about Centerville’s Sunday horse races and weekend getaway cabins are still around.
White Heath was laid out around 1872. Mr. Porter Heath purchased land from Mr. Frank White and thus the town became known as White Heath. White Heath at its founding was in a good location for railroad facilities. A depot still remains today behind the community building. Railroad tracks split at White Heath, west towards Lodge and east towards Seymour. The west tracks through Shady Rest are now used as a hiking trail. Today the Monticello Railroad Museum owns the tracks that lead from Monticello to White Heath. White Heath had many businesses, doctors, post office, a church and hotel over the years. Today White Heath still has a post office, a church, the township maintenance building, township office building, the White Heath Community building, and the White Heath Grade School.
Galesville was laid out on Mr. Rufus Calef’s land around 1876, and was first called Calef’s station. The name was later changed in honor of Mr. Calef’s mother, whose maiden name was Gale. In 1875 Galesville like the other villages had a post office and businesses and around 50 inhabitants. Today the village is centered around the Galesville elevator as its main business.
Lodge, like White Heath and Galesville, sprung up along the railroad. Lodge was originally called “Woods” in honor of the superintendent of the Chicago division of the Wabash railroad. When the post office was moved to Woods the postal department would not change its name from Lodge to Woods so thus we have Lodge today. Like the other villages Lodge had a school, businesses and churches. At one time the highway of Route 10 went over the tracks at Lodge. It was often said that Lodge was small enough when you went across the overpass you also went over the town. The overpass has long since gone but faith remains in the two church congregations of Lodge.
The first residents of Sangamon Township were hard working people looking for a better place to live. Agriculture was the mainstay of the economy and remains a vital part of our township today. Though our towns have not grown, people have moved into homes all along the Sangamon River like their predecessors looking for a better place to live.