The first settlers in Salem township were Jonathan and Alexander Liggett, who came about the year 1837, and were from Tennessee. Jonathan Liggett staked out his claim on section twenty and Alexander located on section eighteen, township sixty-one, range twenty-eight. Soon after there came to the township Aurelius Richardson, A. G. Dergin, and Matthew Harboard, who settled in the vicinity of where the village of Salem now stands. Old John Severe settled on section twenty in 1841, and built a water-mill at the -Rocky Ford on Cypress Creek. This was the first mill in the township and in this section of country, and was resorted to by the settlers for miles around. The mill stood until 1845 when it was washed away by a flood, and never rebuilt. There are no mills in the township at present, but there are plenty within a reasonable distance.
The first marriage in the township was that of Harvey Ellis and Hannah J. Liggett. The ceremony was performed by Rev. J. Y. Porter, a Methodist minister.
The first white male child born in this township was William O. Dergin, who was born in 1839; his father was A. G. Dergin. The first female child was Eunice Jarrett, who was born in 1840; her parents were Andrew and Susan Jarrett.
The first death was that of Joseph W. M. Graham, who died August 22, 1842; he was a son of James J. Graham. He was buried in Bethel cemetery, in section thirty, and his was the first interment in that cemetery, which was also the first burial ground in the township,
The first resident physician was Dr. Watts, not the eminent divine, but a Maine Yankee, who lived in the vicinity of where the town of Salem is, and whose subsequent history, after leaving the township, is unknown.
The first minister in the township was Rev. Abraham Millice, a Methodist, who came in 1839 and organized a church at Jonathan Liggett’s residence, on section twenty, near where the Bethel Church building now stands. Rev. Mr. Millice was from the Grand Pass country, in Saline county. It is claimed that Rev. George W. Flint was the first minister and organized the first church.
The first school was taught at the residence of Matthew Harboard, by the Yankee doctor, Watts, mentioned as the first physician in the township. The first school-house is said to have been the Barr school-house, which was built on section twelve, township sixty-one, range twenty-eight, in 1851.
In 1837, during the Mormon War, the Mormons drove all the families living in the southern part of this township away from their homes.
During the Civil War there was no bushwhacking in Salem township; neither was any one killed on account of his opinion.
In about the year 1845, Tolbert Higgins was engaged in cutting a raccoon out of a hollow tree about twenty feet from the ground. A limb was cut off which fell on Mr. Higgins, catching him between it and the tree and fatally injuring him.
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