About Us

The Village of Payson, Illinois, is a community located in Adams County. Its purpose is to provide essential services and infrastructure to its residents. The village government works to ensure the well-being and quality of life for its residents by managing public resources, promoting economic development, and maintaining a sense of community.

The Village board meets the 2nd Tuesday of every month at the Town Hall at 6pm.

Meetings are open to the public and all are welcome and encouraged to attend!


History of Community

As seen on the Historical Society of Quincy and Adams County website featuring "Payson Township: Two Towns, Many Schools and Fruit Trees" by Riggs Mayfield.


Payson Township lies on the southern boundary of Adams County and contains only two incorporated communities: Payson and Plainville. State Route 96 bisects the township diagonally, going through both towns. The township is drained by several large creeks.

Although Payson became and remains the larger of the two, Plainville was settled first. Samuel Stone and his family probably arrived in 1825, followed in 1826 by Jacob Waggle, the Spencer Collins family, and Benjamin Allen Collins. Henry Wagy, Wyman Whitcomb and A. B. Vining followed in the early 1830s, and later Solomon Shinn and John Delaplain. Stone served as the first preacher for the community. The area became known as Stone’s Prairie, and the first post office, on the southeast corner of today’s intersection at the center of Plainville, had that name; but the locals referred to the community as “Shakerag.”

Growth slowed for a few years, but increased again, and churches, businesses and schools followed. Methodists dedicated the Shiloh Church in 1854 and the Plainville Church in 1876.

John Delaplain founded the first store in Stone’s Prairie in what Wilcox referred to as “the little old building in which he displayed his small stock of goods.” In the 1880s, Delaplain built a new store (the old building was moved and used elsewhere) and a “handsome residence.” The town boasted a number of businesses around the square, including F. Harris’s that advertised “drugs, medicines, paints, oils and varnishes, dye stuffs, perfumery pure wines and liquors for medical use & groceries & patent medicines,” written as text in the 1872 Atlas. A devastating fire later destroyed Delaplain’s store, house, and several other buildings.

Perhaps Stone’s Prairie’s greatest claim to fame was a riot in 1860. Nationally, young supporters of the new Republican Party, which nominated Abraham Lincoln, had formed an organization called the Wide Awakes. In mission statements local chapters often included the aim of acting as “political police.” A rally was planned for August 25, in a field south of town. Approximately 7,000 people attended. Major miscommunications about the schedule and the participants resulted in rioting between the Wide Awakes and supporters of Democrat candidate Stephen A. Douglas.

Business partners Chubbick and Coughlan founded the Observer newspaper in Stone’s Prairie and became involved in civic affairs. They thought the village should be named after Delaplain, the first merchant, instead of Stone, the first settler, and they successfully petitioned the U.S. Postal service for the change. Stone’s Prairie became Plainville. The community was incorporated on May 1, 1896, with Lawrence Hoskins as the first president of the board of trustees and A. J. Crim as clerk.

By 1915, a second newspaper was in print--The News, edited by Crimm, and the State Bank had been established. The Independent Order Odd Fellows' Lodge was organized in 1887 as Stone's Prairie Lodge, No. 759. The Masons and Modern Woodmen of America were also active.

A few miles northwest, in October, 1833, Albigence Scarborough of Connecticut became the first settler in the carefully planned town he named Payson. He purchased about 1,500 acres from 10 different landowners, including 113 acres from John Wood, Quincy’s founder, for $2 an acre. Scarborough platted his community like New England towns, with a church, businesses, and houses facing a town square. He held Sunday services in his cabin and read sermons of Dr. Edward Payson of the Second Congregational Church of Portland, Maine. He named his town after the pastor. The Congregational Church constructed on the town square in 1836 was the first in Payson Township. Payson was incorporated as a community in 1839, as a town in 1869, then as a village in 1903.

The first known school session in Payson Township was taught by Mr. Woodford Lawrence during the winter of 1831. The 1874 Atlas shows Sodom School due south of Payson about two miles on what is now E. 1400th St., south of the intersection with N. 200th Ave., which runs east into Plainville. Sodom School would have been a little more than two miles from each town.

In the 1800s children commonly traveled and even boarded to attend school. Payson became known as an educational center. Subscription (tuition) schools were taught by Emily Scarborough, Ann Prince, a Miss Trimble, and Hugh Morrow. The Hawley Boarding School educated the children of prominent Quincy families such as the Bushnells and the Bulls. A private school building constructed in 1846 was rented to become the first public school. It was eventually sold and moved, but a brick public school was built on the same lot, due to the initiative of Joel K. Scarborough. For a detailed history of Payson, see “Scarborough’s Payson: ‘Yankees’ and ‘Suckers."

Other schools in Payson Township included California (east of Adams, north of Richfield, NW of the intersection of E. 2000th St. and N. 700th Ave.) , Cooke (mid-way between Payson and Richfield on N. 400th Ave.), Greencastle (southeast of Plainville on east side of E. 1800th St.), Oakwood (northeast of Plainville on E. 1960th Pl.), Oregon (east of Adams on N. 703rd La.), Rice (northwest of Richfield on N. 550th Ave.), Schroth (northwest of Payson on south side of N. 550th Ave.), Tandy (almost due north of Payson, west of Adams, NW corner of N. 700th Ave. and E. 1450th St.), Union (several miles southeast of Plainville, then west on N. 3rd La.), Wagy (east and slightly south of Plainville, west of E. 1960th Pl.), and Whitcomb (Hwy. 96 northwest of Plainville, south of N. 300th Ave.).

Although the Chatten orchards in neighboring Fall Creek Township were eventually the largest in the state, Payson Township gained fame for fruit much earlier. Albigence Scarborough planted 200 peach trees in 1830. In 1839 William Stewart started the largest orchards in the county at the time with about 300 varieties of apple trees and became widely known for horticulture and landscaping. Payson Township’s two towns and farms had become well-established homes for generations to come.


Adams County IL Historical Schools https://illinois.hometownlocator.com/features/historical ,class,school,scfips,17001,startrow,76.cfm

IL Home Town Locator. https://illinois.hometownlocator.com/maps/feature-map,ftc,3,fid, 418692 ,n,sodom%20school.cfm

Business Block Main St. Plainville, IL. Quincy Area Historic Photo Collection. Illinois Digital Archives. http://www.idaillinois.org/cdm/ref/collection/qpl/id/4818 Scanned from 1872 Atlas Map of Adams County, IL.

Lane, Beth, (2012). Lies Told Under Oath: The Puzzling Story of the Pfanschmidt Murders and of the Surviving Son—Victim or Villain? iUniverse.

Nelson, Iris and Walter S. Waggoner, The Stone's Prairie Riot of 1860, Journal of Illinois History, Vol. 5, p. 19 (Spring 2002) in https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wide_Awakes

Payson Township. Adams County 1872, Illinois (1872). Andreas Lyter and Company.

Wilcox, D. F. (ed). History of Payson and Plainville, IL, Quincy and Adams County History and Representative Men. Lewis Publishing Company, Chicago, 1919.

Payson Old Settlers Picnic

The 2020 Old Settlers Picnic has been cancelled due to COVID-19, but will return in 2021!
Payson Old Settlers was started in 1893 with just 3 families meeting at the park for a picnic. Over the years it has grown to much more. We now have a two day event followed by Sunday church service in the park for everyone to attend. It is now held the first full weekend in August. We have a carnival, venders, games, entertainment, pageants, parade, and much more. It is held at the North and South Park in Payson. Come and enjoy the fun weekend!