Mahomet, Ill. (WCIA)
Historian Gregory James Pasley has spent years unraveling the history of the Village of Mahomet.
He’s authored four books on the subject– an accomplishment that began with a simple curiosity about his ancestry.
“The family links led to stories about what had happened here,” says Pasley.
The story of Our Town Mahomet is more or less a tale of ancestry. Pasley’s research reveals that even the village’s name goes back to a family legend passed down from one generation to another.
“The more it trickled in the more fascinating it became,” says Pasley.
In the beginning, settlers came to the area in the 1830s to collect timber near the Sangamon River. Of those settlers was Daniel T. Porter, whose ancestors came from Middletown, Connecticut.
In 1836 Porter worked with surveyor Garrett More to lay out the plot of a new village near the river. Porter named the village Middletown after his family’s place of origin.
“Our village was Middletown at the time, but the post office was named Mahomet,” says Pasley. “And the why behind that is totally a mind blower.”
According to Porter family history, Daniel’s ancestors in Connecticut had befriended a Mohegan chief. The chief’s son, Mahomet, was an ally and negotiator to the colonists.
When it came time to name the post office in Middletown, Illinois, Porter went with Mahomet in honor of his family’s connection to the Native American.
In 1871, the railroad arrived in the Middletown area, but there was a problem. There happened to be another Middletown in Logan County Illinois and the railroad wouldn’t allow duplicate depot names within the same state.
As a result, the village changed its name to Mahomet after a unanimous vote.