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Ash Grove (Queen City) Area

Building at (Queen City) Ash Grove Area unknown date probably 1800s

No one knows why the site, known as Schwer, was called Queen City. Possibly it was one of the "paper towns" platted by land speculators. In the 1884  Iroquois County Atlas, it is Queen City. When a post office was established there in 1887, it is listed as Schwer.

Federal land sales began in the 1830's, following the treaties with the Potawatomi, who were driven west to reservations in Iowa.

In 1850, a bill was passed which gave the railroads each even numbered section of land for six miles either side of the lines. However, some land within the granted sections had been sold. To remedy this, they were allowed to choose equivalent land between six and fifteen miles either side of the right of way. The railroads began actively promoting the sale of the land grants, sending land agents to the eastern states and Europe. Speculators and settlers were attracted to the area.

In the early 1870's, many German settlers came to Ash Grove Township. Those who settled here, had almost all come to Illinois in the 1850s from East Friesland, the district of Aurich in Hanover. They brought with them their Lutheran faith, Low German language and customs, even the wooden shoe.

About 1872, a one room, district school was built at Queen City,. John Schwer, who came from Chicago in 1876, built a general store and the first dwelling in Queen City. Theodore Schuen, a wagon and carriage maker, came in 1877. He also did woodworking. Some still have furniture he made. Frank Krueger was the blacksmith. There was also a shoemaker.

The Lutherans erected a church in 1880, a parsonage and a school. The first burial in their cemetery was John Duis in 1876.

In the 1890s, Henry Schroeder purchased the Schwer general store. It was closed in 1902 and the building was moved to his farm, now owned by John J. Van Hoveln, where it still stands. Today all that remains at Schwer are a few houses, a church and parsonage that have replaced the old.

The wet prairies were converted to usable farm land through the work of drainage districts and tiling, which became extensive in the early 1880s. Telephones were installed. A concrete road was laid in 1929. Electricity come in 1937.

Although much has changed over the years, you will still find many descendants of the early settlers living in the neighborhood, tilling the same soil.

Some of the farms in the Schwer area that have been owned or farmed by the same family for over a hundred years are:

John Clifton - John Clifton, Robert Clifton

W. Clifton - Robert Gillfillan

R. Clifton - Gladys Geuss

Fr. Van Hoveln - Harm Van Hoveln, David Van Hoveln

John Wienrank - Margaret Buhr

Harbert Duis - John Duis

H.A. Smith - Evelyn Heeren, Leroy Rothfuss

J. Caveney - Logan LeSage, Eula Rogers

Edward Stimpson - Leslie Stimpson, Clyde Stimpson, Wayne Stimpson

H. Schmidt - Henry Schmidt

John Eilts - Hilda Johnson

H. Rehborg - Mary Rehborg, Norbert Lueke

F. Van Hoveln (96 years) - Harold Van Hoveln

C. Rapp (98 years) - Edmund Rapp

H. Janssen (98 years) - Marie Schaumburg

Note: A plat showing the location of the business in the village of Schwer circa late 1800s, drawn by Don L. Long of Milford, Ill. from information obtained through interviews with Mrs. Betty Renkin, Danforth and Mr. J.J. Lucht, Kankakee, Illinois.

(from the Milford and Vicinity Sesquicentennial Souvenir Book 1830-1980 page 163)

Schwer News January 6, 1915 in The Milford Herald

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