jr. Le Baron and Company Wm..

The past and present of Kane County, Illinois : containing a history of the county ... a directory ... war record of its volunteers in the late rebellion ... statistics ... history of the Northwest ... etc., etc online

. (page 40 of 114)
Online Libraryjr. Le Baron and Company Wm.The past and present of Kane County, Illinois : containing a history of the county ... a directory ... war record of its volunteers in the late rebellion ... statistics ... history of the Northwest ... etc., etc → online text (page 40 of 114)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

William G. Conklin (Second Lieutenant in the Sixth Illinois during the Mexi-
can war) went as Captain, was promoted to the office of Major and resigned.
The Colonel of the regiment (Farnsworth) served from 1861 to 1863, was in all
the battles in front of Richmond, in 1862 ; at Antietam, Fredericksburg, South
Mountain, and many of the smaller cavalry skirmishes, but in 1863 resigned to
take his place in Congress, where he had been a Representative for four years
before the outbreak of the rebellion, and where he remained for ten years after
leaving the army. Previous to the great struggle, he had figured in the organ-
ization of the Republican party, was a strong Abolitionist and contributed in
no small measure toward the Anti-slavery movement. He still resides in St.
Charles. It should here be mentioned that Capt. Conklin did gallant service
in the Mexican Avar, as did Lieut. Lewis Norton, now in California. Thirty-
four men of the ninety-four who enlisted for that struggle in the company
formed in St. Charles, were killed or died of diseases contracted during their
absence. In the Seventh Regiment (war of rebellion) we notice the names of
George Sill and D. B. Chamberlin, still residents of the place. The Seven-
teenth Illinois Cavalry also rendezvoused at St. Charles in the Fall of 1863,
where they were organized by Gen. Farnsworth. In the Thirty -sixth A..H'
Barry, well known at the Kane County bar and at present a resident of Elgin,
was Major, and John Elliott, one of the first Board of Aldermen in St. Charles,
was First Lieutenant. The latter was captured by the rebels and had many
thrilling adventures and hair-breadth escapes. The laws of the South were at
that time the "Laws of Draco," and on one occasion Mr. Elliott was delivered
to the civil authorities for some trivial offense and sentenced to be hanged. He
escaped by breaking through a box-car, in which he was confined, and still pre-
serves an unbroken spinal column in the city where he enlisted.

In the Fifty-second, Capt. F. H. Bowman, now in the hardware business,
H. N. Wheeler, editor of the St. Charles Leader, and Frank McMaster, now in
Colorado, may be mentioned.

Dr. H. M. Crawford went as Surgeon in the Fifty-eighth, and found abun-
dant scope for his high talents at Fort Donelson and Shiloh, where he earned an
enviable record. At the battle field, the the regiment was broken up and deci-
mated, and the doctor was assigned to the post of Chief Operator and to the
charge of general hospitals, until its re-organization, in 1864. At the hospitals
of Monterey and Corinth, he exerted himself so arduously in the care of the sick
and wounded, that his health became seriously impaired. By a leave of absence,
however, after the second battle of Bull Run, it was recruited, and he returned
to the appointment of Chief Surgeon in Hospital No. 4, in Jackson, Tenn., and
was subsequently promoted to Chief of Hospitals at La Grange, Tenn., where
he again injured his health by his unremitting labor for the comfort of his
patients. Light duties at Vicksburg were imposed in place of the laborious
ones at La Grange. He was next Brigade Surgeon on Sherman's raid to


Meridian, then Division Surgeon on Red River Expedition, and was Chief
Operator for A. J. Smith's corps after Pleasant Hill and Yellow Bayou. From
thence he again joined his regiment, and, after filling various other appointments
with credit to himself, was honorably discharged in the Spring of 1865.

N. T. Roach was Commissary in the same regiment.

Capt. Richmond, now of Chicago, was a favorite of the One Hundred and
Twenty-seventh, and well deserving of the good will of his regiment, while
Samuel W. Durant attained an honorable record in the same regiment a&


The cloud of desolation which at one time threatened to envelop all the
interests of the town has, as we have seen, passed by, and the streets, from the
crevices of whose sidewalks the grass was beginning to grow, are now thronged
daily with life and activity, while several important manufactories are in suc-
cessful operation. Prominent among these is the Hardware Company, repre-
sented and controlled by S. L. Bignall, which gives employment tofifty-five men,
and melts 1,000 tons of iron a year. The iron business was commenced about
1844, by Burdick & Clark, who built a small foundry, which subsequently
passed into the hands of John Lloyd, who remained sole proprietor or partner in
the business until his death, when, after some changes in ownership, it became
the property of S. L. Bignall & Co., who sold, in 1876, to the S. L. Bignall Hard-
ware Company, the stock company by which it is now owned. Pumps, wind-
mills, grind-stone fixtures, sad irons, corn shellers, and various articles for
which Mr. B. possesses letters patent are manufactured. The buildings have
recently enlarged to more than triple their original size, and the foundry and
machine shops, combined, rank as one of the great manufactories of Fox River.
Brownell & Miller's paper mill, which is the old Debit mill enlarged, is oper-
ated in the manufacture of straw wrapping paper, of which about a car load is
shipped weekly to Chicago. The quality is said to be as good as any in the
market, and the company employ eighteen hands. The present proprietors
purchased the building of 0. M. Butler in 1867, and Mr. Miller states that it
was the first manufactory of the kind west of the Ohio.

The St. Charles File Company J. P. Doig and J. T. Gallagher com-
menced operations in St. Charles in June, 1877, in the large stone shop back
of Haines' mill, having previously been in the same business, between six and
seven years, N in Chicago, and gained in the meantime a No. 1 reputation for
their files, which have, in a great measure, superseded the English ones, with
which the Western market was previously stocked. They employ twenty-two
skilled workmen.

Louis Klink's Wagon and Carriage Shop, commenced in 1866, was the
first establishment of the kind which has made that industry successful in St.
Charles. His sales during the past year amounted to $20,000. The Doyles



also have a similar manufactory, upon the east side of the river, and are consid-
ered excellent workmen.

St. Charles Mills, on the East Side, and already referred to, were purchased
from William G. Conklin, in September, 1877, by A. Fredenhague, who oper-
ates them for both custom and merchant work. The building contains three
run of stones, and four hands are employed.

R. J. Haines' mill, upon the West Side, has received mention upon another

One of the great interests of the city is the dairy business, and farmers for
a circuit of five miles send milk here to supply the cheese and butter factories.
The building of the St. Charles Dairymen's Association, upon the East Side,
one of the finest cheese factories in the United States, was erected in the Spring
of 1872, cost $11,500, and has since received additions and improvements to
the amount of $3,500. The association was chartered by the State, in April,
1877, and operates the factory for the patrons, making and selling the products,
and deducting from the market price two and one-half cents per pound for the
manufacture of cheese, and five cents for butter.

The following statistics will convey to the reader a clear understanding of
the extent of its patronage :


No. Pounds No. Pounds. No. Pounds
M'lk Cheese ' Butter ;
Received. ; Made. , Made.

|No. Pounds


No. Pounds

No. Pounds


192,000 ,

54,331 i

7.325 '
9,356 ,


...J 609,000





....! 548 000



1 465 000



. i 360 000


.. ' 310 000



1 300,000

Within the past Summer (1877), Martin Switzer has erected, upon the West
Side, on the bank of a never-failing spring-brook, a stone cheese factory of vast di-
mensions, which will doubtless eventually obtain much of the patronage of that
part of the township. As it has only been operated a part of the season, no
fair estimate of the amount of its yearly business can be presented.

Leaving now the manufactories for the mercantile interests of the town, we
find several large and elegant business blocks : W. F. Osgood's, L. C. Ward's
and the one built on the West Side by John Gloss, during the Summer of 1877 ;
also, on the East Side, the gigantic pile of stone which William Irwin, one of
the early settlers, has been more than a score and a half of years in rear-
ing. " You'll never again see the man," observed its honest and industrious
builder, as he pointed to it, " who has piled up such a mass of material as that
with his own fingers ; " and we left him, convinced of the truth of his



Solitary wanderers, returning to New England firesides, from prospecting
tours to the Great West, in 1832-3, were regarded with a feeling akin to
superstition by the neighbors, who flocked to hear their reports. The inter-
est manifested by the dwellers beyond the sea, for the navigators from the New
World, in the early part of the sixteenth- century, could not have far exceeded
theirs, for they beheld in the voyagers, whom they quizzed with Yankee perti-
nacity, men who had reached the end of the world and had seen sights never
before beheld by any but the semi-barbarous trappers, Indians, a few explorers
and military expeditions. Even those who studied the primary geographies,
among those Eastern hills, at a more recent date, can remember when Indiana
was regarded as the last State within the confines of civilization, while Minne-
sota was the grand "jumping off place" "that undiscovered country from
whose bourne no traveler returned." No reports from the West could be too
exaggerated to find ready believers ; and despite his proverbial shrewdness, many
a credulous Yankee was firmly convinced that herds of wild buffalo thundered
through the streets of Chicago by day, and 'prairie wolves howled under the
windows of Peoria by night. Stories of the climate and soil were equally ex-
aggerated and one of these, portraying Michigan as the long lost Garden of
Eden, at length reached, in 1833, a little village in New Hampshire, where there
lived, in rather straitened circumstances, a young man by the name of Isaac
Stone. With a friend, E. K. Mann, he took his carpet bag and bid farewell to
the Green Mountains, the White Mountains and the purling brooks of those
mountains, and went forth in quest of the fortunes that were to be obtained in
Michigan, "without money and without price."

In process of time, the young men reached a place called White Pigeon
Prairie, and there they halted, and, having hired as laborers to the farmers of
that country, remained until the following year, when they were attacked with
intermittent and bilious fevers, and, if Mr. Stone is not mistaken in this part
of his narrative, "shook down two or three log shanties," and thus rendered
themselves unpopular. " I liked the country," said he, " and I liked the peo-
ple, but I never did like ague," and therefore they left the State; Mann,
wlio.se condition had become dangerous, returning to his Eastern home, and Mr.
Stone proceeding to Chicago.

Finding nothing in that place to induce him to remain, he continued West-
ward, and after much wandering up and down the country, found himself, early
in the Spring of 1835, upon the bank of Fox River, at Elgin, where he says
that he found a pioneer named Ransom Olds,* residing in the northern part of

* Further investigation has convinced us that Mr. Stone's statement concerning this man is correct ; and Ran-
som Olds' cabin was the first one erected by a white man within the present limits of Elgin city or Township.
He arrived there early in 1835, and left the town years ago.


the present city limits, in a finished 'log house, upon a claim afterward owned
by Reuben Jenne. Proceeding southward, he came to the claims taken by the
Giffords, who will be further mentioned in the chapter upon the city. These men
were building their first log cabin. Mr. Stone further states that Olds sold his orig-
inal claim about a year later, and took up the land now owned by Oscar Lawrence.

Journeying from the river to the west, Mr. Stone came to the tract where
he now resides, a mile and a half from the spot afterward occupied by the post
office of Udina, and being pleased with the situation and convinced that it was
far enough removed from the river to insure freedom from the prevailing dis-
eases of Michigan, he staked out a large claim and built his cabin.

A little later, Mr. Mann, who had recovered and learned of his comrade's
settlement, made his appearance and took up his abode in the same cabin, hav-
ing previously come to an agreement in regard to a division of the claim, when
either one should take unto himself a wife. Thus they lived several years, par-
ticipating in the hardships of their wilderness home ; and here for a time we will
leave them to follow the fortunes of other settlers in the township.

While Stone and Mann were in Michigan, an enterprising young man from a
section far removed from New Hampshire was preparing to settle in the same
Western State, which seems to have had peculiar attractions for pioneers from
every part of the country. This man was Joseph P. Corron, of Nicholas Co.,
Va. (now West Virginia), who left his home in 1834, and proceeded to the Wol-
verine State, remaining a year in Cass County, and then, with a brother-in-law,
Jacob Amick, and one John Donalds, betook himself to the Fox River, which he
reached at Batavia, April 28, ] 835. Donalds had been at this place in the
previous year, and taken a claim a little below the present site of the village.
Early in the history of the settlement, he left his land and traversed almost the
entire West, from Texas to Oregon, and never returned. Mr. Amick took up a
claim at Plato Corners, in the Spring of 1836.

From Batavia, Mr. Corron journeyed to the Garton settlement at Round
Grove, and thence to the land where he now resides, near South Elgin, and
took up the claim which joined one just taken by Mr. Laughlin, who now occu-
pies the old Garton farm.

At this time, George Tyler was living just north of Elgin, on land now
owned by McNeal and McAllister ; and later in the Summer of 1835, John
Spitzer located in St. Charles Township. Still later, in the Fall of the same
year, Mr. Corron was rejoiced at the arrival of neighbors, Anson Leonard, from
the State of Ohio, and a man named Duncan, from New York, who took up
adjoining claims.

In October, 1835, Mr. Corron married Miss Hannah A. Tucker, the
daughter of a family who had settled just the other side of the township line on
the south. The marriage ceremony was performed in Chicago.

In the meantime, other settlers were coming ; and prominent among them
was Dr. Joseph Tefft, still an honored resident of the city of Elgin. Leaving


Madison Co., N. Y., with a colony composed of himself and wife, his father and
family, Dr. Nathan Collins and family, and P. C. Gilbert, with their teams,
he had stopped for a time at a place known as. Yankee Settlement, upon the
Des Plaines River, and from thence the male members of the company went West,
prospecting crossed Fox River at Aurora, the'n visited the small settlement at
Blackberry, and afterward returning to the river, followed it to Herrington's
store on the present site of Geneva, where they were assigned a lodging in the
storeroom, and left there during the night. Dr. Tefft still expresses himself
astonished at the unsuspicious nature of a man who would trust entire strangers
alone with his valuable stock of goods. From this point they struck north, to
the settlement of Ira Minard, on the present Asylum farm, and finally settled
in the vicinity ; Dr. Collins taking a claim upon the west side of the river,
where South Elgin now stands. Dr. Tefft was upon the opposite side, and
Jonathan Tefft, his father, another about a mile east of Elgin, within the pres-
ent limits of Cook County. This was late in the Fall of 1835. The party
had passed the Kimball emigrants, when on their way to the Des Plaines, but
upon arriving in their cabins in December, they found them already located in

Great annoyance was experienced by the Teffts and Collinses, from the delay
of their goods, which had been shipped to Chicago. Many times they went to
that frog pond by the lake to inquire for them, but for a long time no tidings
were received, and they failed to arrive in port until the following June, when
the most of them were found to be spoiled from a bath taken during a gale in
Lake St. Clair. Such a loss at that period of the settlement was almost irre-
parable. Supplies of all kinds were obtained at the expense of long journeys
to some of the earlier established towns ; and some, flour for example, could
not be obtained at any reasonable price. But the peopling of Elgin progressed
steadily, the settlers contenting themselves with the coarsest kind of fare in the
absence of the comforts of their Eastern homes ; and the last months of the
year 1836 found cabins dotting the prairie from South Elgin to Dundee.
Early in that year, Asa Gifford, now a resident of Cook County, had located
on a claim south of and adjoining that of his brother, Hezekiah, who was the
first claimant in the Bluff City, although not the first to build there. During
the Spring of the same year, Truman Gilbert settled upon the farm which he
still occupies, at South Elgin.

Though far inferior, now, in population, the prospects of that village were
fully as good then as were those of Elgin. 'A number of settlers had clustered
around it, shops and mills arose nearly as early as in the place whicli was des-
tined to eclipse it, and for more than two years the only physician in the vicinity
was settled there. A school house also arose in the edge of the woods, just east
of the place, upon the Laughlin claim, in 1837 ; and there Miss Maria Tefft
gathered the little boys and girls from throughout the neighborhood and taught
them the three R's ("reading, 'riting and 'rithmetic"), until she herself entered


the matrimonial school as the wife of E. K. Mann, in the following year. The lit-
tle log school house was erected by Isaac Spest and Thomas Mitchell, who pur-
chased the Laughlin claim, in 1836 ; Joseph and James Corron, the latter
having settled near his brother's claim, in the same year; and the Teffts.
James Corron has been years in his grave, and the same may be said of Thomas
Mitchell. Mrs. E. K. Mann also died long ago, in Beloit, Wis., and her hus-
band, more recently, in extreme poverty, in Kane County.

In the Fall of 1836, a dam was commenced by Gilbert Tefft, about eighty
rods below the present one, at South Elgin, and the place which it was hoped
would arise was called Clintonville, from De Witt Clinton, the eminent New
Yorker. During the Winter, the dam was finished, but was carried away the
next Spring. It was well built, but a mistake was made in constructing it
upon the sand instead of placing it on the rocks above. In the following year,
therefore, a second one was commenced by Gilbert, Tefft & Collins, and this
time placed in the proper position. As a result it remained, and, in 1838, a
saw-mill was built upon the East Side, and was soon in operation removing the
forests in the neighborhood ; and three frame dwellings soon took the place of
log ones. And now a long period ensued, when Clintonville remained station-
ary. True, about 1838, the industries of the settlement were increased, as
well as the noise, by the arrival of Samuel Hunting, a blacksmith, but further
than this little worthy of note occurred until July 3 and 4, 1847, when the
village was laid out on the West Side for Dr. Tefft and B. W. Raymond, by
Adin Mann, County Surveyor. It was the design of Mr. Gilbert, who laid out,
the East Side somewhat later, to build up a temperance town, and he therefore
ascertained the intentions of purchasers previous to selling them lots. The first
one which he disposed of was bought by a young mau in whom he had perfect
confidence, but was immediately deeded to one Nathan Williams, from Elgin,
who put up a distillery near the line afterward taken by the railroad, and com-
menced the manufacture of liquors. Rather discouraging for temperance. It
was likewise discouraging for the village, and may be said to have partially
paralyzed it. ,Its history henceforth became one of distilleries for a number of
years. Williams was was in the center of the place, and the owner not making
the business successful, soon sold ; and others followed him, each successive
owner* leaving the buildings in a worse condition than the last, until hopes were
entertained by temperance people that the business would never be revived in
them. About this time, one Mason, from Chicago, appeared upon the scene,
purchased the decaying buildings for a trifle, and rebuilt them at an enormous
expense. Probably not less than $50,000 was devoted to the preparation for
the manufacture of alcohol. But he had scarcely commenced operations when
officials detected him in an attempt to defraud the Government, and his plans
were suddenly nipped in the bud. The buildings again went to waste, and
were at length burned down, having been supposed to have taken fire from a
passing locomotive.


But previous to these events, a man of great enterprise had become iden-
tified with the village, and did much to make it an important town. About
1848, G. M. Woodbury proposed to the owners of the place to take the water-
power and keep the dam in repair forever, and erect a flouring-mill upon either
side, upon condition that he should -be granted mill sites and water privileges.
The offer was accepted, and a stone mill, 40x60 feet, and three stories high,
arose upon the East Side, in accordance with the terms of the contract. The
privilege upon the opposite side was sold to H. Brown, and the agreement in
regard to it was likewise fulfilled. Woodbury attached a stone distillery to his
mill about 1850, and operated both for several years ; but subsequently left the
township, and the property was in litigation until a comparatively recent period.

In 1849, a store was built by Woodbury upon the East Side, and supplied
with a stock, such as is usually found in country establishments of the kind.
The building is now standing, and used as the office of the Steel Company.

While the foregoing events were taking place, a settlement was being estab-
lished at Udina, commenced in 1836 by one of the Merrills, from the Granite
State, and followed by his father, brothers and uncle, their names being Richard,
two Asas, Gilman and Jesse. Richard died after a short residence in the West.
As their settlement was upon the Chicago and Galena stage route, they had the
benefit of stages in 1837, and of a post office, which was named Udina, about a
year later. Asa Merrill was the first Postmaster, and his office was a log house,
standing where John and James Robinson now live. Not one representative of
the family can now be found in the vicinity of their old settlement. The post
office was the first in Elgin Township. The office at South Elgin, or Clinton-
ville as it was then called, was established about the time that the railroad was
laid. The first preacher was one of the itinerant representatives of the Metho-
dist Episcopal Church, who traveled through the county in 1835. The first
birth was that of a child of Sidney Kimball, born in November, 1837, in a house
situated on land now owned by C. H. Larkins. Returning to South Elgin, we
find a bridge constructed across the river at the point where Woodbury Mill
stands, about 1850. A portion of it was subsequently carried away by a
freshet, and repaired. Later, the entire structure was removed and the present
iron one erected. In 1852, a paper-mill was commenced in this village, by Dr.
Erastus Tefft, and operated for several years, first in the manufacture of
wrapping and later for roofing paper ; but at length it collapsed. During all
the early years of the history of this village, B. W. Raymond took a prominent

Online Libraryjr. Le Baron and Company Wm.The past and present of Kane County, Illinois : containing a history of the county ... a directory ... war record of its volunteers in the late rebellion ... statistics ... history of the Northwest ... etc., etc → online text (page 40 of 114)