Squaw Grove was probably the first township settled in De Kalb County. In the summer of 1834 one Hollenbeck, who lived near Ottawa, made a journey into this terra incognita as far as the present town of Sycamore, and on his return made a claim to the fine grove in this town. This he called Squaw Grove, because he found here, alone, a large number of squaws, whose dusky partners had gone on a hunting expedition. He made his claim at the north side of the grove where Mr. Oscar Tanner now resides, and this was probably the first land claimed in the County.
He did not remain on his new claim, but, returning to Newark, in La Salle County, told such a flattering tale of the charms of this newly discovered country, that William Sebree, an old Virginian with a large family, who was looking for a place to settle, started at once to possess it.
In September, 1834, he reached the spot, and, camping down in the midst of the Indians, he built a temporary shelter of crotches and poles, which he covered with bark taken from their forsaken wigwams; and there housed his family until he could construct a small log house for the winter, which was now rapidly approaching.
It was a very cold winter. When he went on Christmas day to cut the slough grass for his famishing cattle, he had his ears and nose frozen. The family lived principally upon deer and prairie fowl for the first six months. The latter game were not so numerous as they were in after years, when grain fields were more plenty; but wolves abounded, and were very troublesome, snatching up everything eatable that chanced to be left out of doors.
A man name! Robson lived this fall in a log cabin at the crossing of Somonauk Creek, a few miles south, but abandoned the place at the approach of winter, and left Sebree the only white inhabitant of this section of country.
In the following spring a hoosier, named Leggett, claimed and settled upon the farm long afterward occupied by the Wards; and in October, 1835, Mr. Samuel Miller, a Kentuckian, moved to the grove, and commenced a farm. Jacob Lee and John Easterbrooks came in January, 1833, and William Ward in the autumn following.
The new comers lived in the most primitive manner. Most of them had cattle, horses, sheep, and swine, and Sebree rejoiced in the possession of a pair of hand mill-stones, with which the settlement all ground the corn that they raised. They made clothing from the wool of their sheep. For three years the only plow in the place was one owned by Sebree, and made with a wooden mould board. They broke up the prairie, sowed oats, and planted sod corn; and in the fall of 1830, Miller went with four yoke of cattle carrying thirty bushels of oats to Chicago. These he sold for fifty cents a bushel, returning with salt and boots for the settlement.
Their nearest neighbors at the north were upon the banks of the Kishwaukee, twenty miles distant, and in 1835 they went, as a neighborly act, to raise the first log house in that country, on William A. Miller's claim in Kingston.
Many of the first settlers still remain upon their land, and have grown rich with the rise in the value of lands, and from the results of their industry.
Mr. Miller, who paid his first tax in 1837, to B. F. Fridley, and paid sixty-two and-a-half cents, now has the doubtful pleasure of paying yearly over $200 in taxes; and his property, then worth $000 or $800, would now sell for $20,000. The Sebrees, Wards, Lees, and other families, have been equally fortunate. They have lived through times of great destitution, but have been rewarded with the possession of abundance.
The first child born in the town was John Miller. The first death was that of the energetic and industrious old Mrs. Sebree.
The first school was taught in Mr. Lee's house, by a lady ; and in the winter Mr. Cleveland, a farmer of the town, taught in the same place. In 1838, a log school house was built in the grove, in which Mr. James H. Furrnan kept an excellent school. There are now nine school districts, in each of which are handsome and convenient school houses. There is no church edifice in the town. A store, a tavern, a black- smith's and a shoemaker's shop, constitute the little village.
The town is now all settled, mostly by farmers of wealth, whose handsome farm houses and barns indicate the possession of taste, as well as wealth, and excite the admiration of the traveler. The assessed valuation of the property of the town in 1868 was $242,290, which is a larger amount, in propor- tion to its population, than any other town in the County.
The population in 1865 was 515; in 1860, 795; in 1865, 679. Ninety-three men were furnished by this town for the war of the great rebellion.
The Supervisors of the town have been:
For 1850-51-52, A. L. Heminway;
for 1853-54-55-56, W. C. Tappan ;
for 1857-58, Fhilo Slater;
for 1859, W. U. Tappan ;
for 1860-61, Philo Slater;
for 1862-63, W. C. Tappan;
for 1864, D. C. Winslow;
for 1865-66-67-68, C. H. Taylor.
Source: History of DeKalb County, Illinois by Boies, Henry L. (Henry Lamson), 1830-1887
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