Illinois Genealogy Trails
Kane County, IL
©2002 Transcribed by Kimberly Torp
The Name, Occupation and Address, of every resident within the cities of Aurora, Geneva, Elgin and St. Charles, and the towns and villages of Batavia, Dundee, Montgomery, Lodi, Kanesville, Clintonville, Jericho, and other Residents in the several townships of the county.
COMPILED AND PUBLISHED BY
JOHN C.W. BAILEY, OF CHICAGO,
Publisher of La Salle, Bureau, Will and McLean County Directories, People's Guide to Chicago, etc.
Press and Tribune Steam Book and Job Print,
51 Clark Street
Pg. 9 - ADVERTISER'S INDEX
AURORA INSTITUTE AND CLARK SEMINARY
ATTORNEYS AT LAW
Day & Grow
Richardson & Brown
Hall & Brothers
CARRIAGE & WAGON MAKERS
E. & J. Woodworth
DRUG STORES, ETC.
Manual R. Llibre
ENGRAVERS & WATCHMAKERS
Underwood & Bryant
HOTEL (Aurora House)
JEWELERS, WATCH MAKERS, &c
Gates & Trask
Ira A. Buck
C. Furman & Son
James E. Roe
Aurora Weekly Beacon
PHOTOGRAPH ARTIST, ETC.
M.M. Miles, M.D.
Dr. J.A. Prieto
REAL ESTATE BROKER
Ira A. W. Buck
WOOD TURNING, ETC.
SASH, DOORS AND BLINDS
Palmer & Brother
D.W. Gray (Montgomery Mills)
DRY GOODS, GROCERIES, ETC.
SADDLE AND HARESS (sic) MAKER
HORSE RAKES, (Patent Spring tooth Revolving) M. Bradley
Harness Maker, etc.
REAPING & MOWING MACHINES
CHAIR MAKER, FURNITURE, &c
COMMISSION MERCHANTS (BUTTER, ETC.)
John C.W. Bailey
CONFECTIONERY MANUFACTURER, &c
John C.W. Bailey
DRY GOODS, &c (WHOLESALE)
Davis, Sawyer * Co.
ENGRAVERS (WOOD, etc.)
FAIRBANK'S SCALES, &c
Fairbanks & Greenleaf
GIFT BOOK STORE
J.A. Colby & Co
LIBERAL CHRISTIAN BOOKS
Albert D. Guild
LAMP AND OIL EMPORIUM
Charles L. Noble
MILL FURNISHING ESTABLISHMENT
Isaac B. Hymer
Northwestern Christian Advocate
Chicago Press & Tribune
The New Covenant
PICTURE FRAME MAKER, ETC
TIN PLATES, COPPER, ETC.
Thomas S. Dickerson
WESTERN MACHINERY DEPOT
A Brief Sketch of Kane County
This County may be said to be one of the most, if not the most beautiful county in the State of Illinois; the
Fox River passing through it, on the banks of which the chief cities and towns are located, and all along the gentle
slopes on each side of the river are residences, groves of trees, and plantations of all kinds of grain, together
with many flouring and other mills, availing themselves of the immense water power, and rendering the scenery the
most pleasing and picturesque imaginable. This County is bounded by McHenry County on the North, Cook County on
the East, Kendall County on the South, and by De Kalb County on the West. It measures thirty miles from North to
South and eighteen miles from East to West, and was organized into a County in the Spring of 1836. It contains
345,000 acres, about 2,500 of which are timber, the remainder, rich, rolling prairie, interspersed with beautiful
groves of trees, so conveniently located as to furnish a supply of timber for each farm in the County.
There is also a beautiful Lake in this County, about four miles south-east of Geneva, called Nelson's Lake, after Mr. john Nelson, the first settler in a place also called Nelson's Grove.
The first store opened in Kane County was kept by Messrs. Clayburn and Dodson, at a place called Clayburnville, two miles below Batavia. There is always more or less interest in the early history of a County, but as the matter has been gone over before by others, the compiler can but glance at the facts, and prefers to dwell upon the actual progress in the settlement, and development of the resources of the County. The unmistakable progress is beheld by every visitor and tourist. The well cultivated farms,t eh mills, factories, dams across the Fox River for power, the bridges, residences, and in many instances beautiful and substantial stone residences, together with the well laid out grounds, are evidences of wealth and success the most gratifying to the beholder, and better than all high-flown panegyric could display. And last but not least, the magnificent County Court House at Geneva, exceeding, for beauty, almost every similar structure in the State, attests the public spirit of the inhabitants of the county.
There are many large and well conducted public schools, which are an honor to any county, besides the numerous, and in many instances substantial churches, of all denominations; and besides all these, we cannot forbear pointing, with great satisfaction, and indeed pride, to the very beautiful, large and admirably appointed Institute recently erected and opened at Aurora as a College of learning, called CLARK'S SEMINARY - a drawing of which we are enabled to give, by favor of the Principal, and particulars of which may be found on another page. We had the pleasure of visiting this substantial structure a short time since, and found it excellently appointed, and well adapted to afford not only an education of high class scholarship to the pupils, but also domestic comfort of no ordinary kind, in its well-warmed and ventilated rooms, its kitchen and dining hall, its chapel, library and lecture rooms, its chemical, geological and philosophical apparatus, etc. etc., and cannot but hope and believe it will be well sustained by parents in this and adjoining counties, who will anxiously avail themselves of so valuable and institution on behalf of their children, so soon as they arrive at a suitable age to comprehend the scholastic advantages of this Seminary.
Page 23. COUNTY OFFICERS
ISAAC G. WILSON.......JUDGE OF THE CIRCUIT COURT
PAUL R. WRIGHT.....CLERK OF THE CIRCUIT COURT
CHARLES STEPHENS...... DEPUTY CLERK OF THE CIRCUIT COURT
PINDAR F. WARD.......DEPUTY CLERK OF THE CIRCUIT COURT
THOMAS WILSON.....DEPUTY CLERK OF THE CIRCUIT COURT
ELTHAN J. ALLEN..........SHERIFF
A.J. LEWIS.........DEPUTY SHERIFF
JONATHAN KIMBALL......DEPUTY SHERIFF
DANIEL EASTMAN........JUDGE OF COUNTY COURT
JOHN GREEN......CLERK OF COUNTY COURT
WILLIAM P. WEST......TREASURER
DAVID HIGGINS...........SCHOOL COMMISSIONER
||..... George S. Bangs
..... L.A. Winslow
|..... N.W. Young|
|..... Isaac Hatch|
|..... Henry White|
|..... U. M. Smith|
|..... J.P. Bartlett|
|..... E.W. Vining|
|..... Henry Sherman|
|..... James Harrington|
|..... Lucien Baldwin|
|..... N.N. Ravlin|
|..... John S. Lee|
|..... Andrew Pengree|
|..... O.M. Butler|
|..... Wm. Thornton|
|..... Wm. Brown|
COUNTY POST OFFICES.
|Russell C. Mix
|Big Rock||Big Rock||Robert Sommers|
|Fred'k M. Morrell
George H. Taber
|Burlington||Burlington||John W. Ellithorp|
|Campton||Kings Mills||Ansel R. Gilman|
|Dundee||Dundee||Allen S. Hollister|
|Geo. W. Renwick
Henry W. Eastman
|Geneva||Geneva||Thomas A. Scott|
|Kanesville||Kanesville||John A. Scott|
|Cary W. Campbell
Leander C. Collins
|St. Charles||St. Charles||Albert Hayden|
Eldad m. Calkins
|Virgil||New Virgil||Wm. H. Robinson|
City of Aurora
In presenting an outline of the origin and progress of this city, the compiler availed himself of the facts contained in the "History of Aurora," recently published in "Brigham's Aurora Directory," which, upon inquiry, he learns are in the main correct; preferring, however, to condense the matter therein recorded, omitting all the anecdotes, which are somewhat irrelevant to history, and which it is unnecessary to repeat, retaining only such facts as are of more permanent interest, and worthy of detail.
The general aspect of the city indicates its gradual growth, agreeable to the wants of the inhabitants, and from time to time as the population increased in numbers and in wealth, rather than any design or plan when first settled. It is however a location of great natural beauty, and the improvements, business blocks, private residences, mills and warehouses are well situated, and it may be truly said, that it equals in natural and artificial advantages any city of its size in the State. Buildings and improvements are still progressing, and especially may we mention the magnificent stone building, CLARK'S SEMINARY, on the East side, just completed, and erected on high ground, affording a fine prospect for many miles; and also a new structure now in course of erection, (the foundation has just been laid,) as a court house, for the use of the city, placed on the island between East and West Aurora, for the equal accommodation of the city on both sides of the river.
In the autumn of 1833, a young man by the name of Joseph McCarty, a mill-wright by trade, about 24 year of age, left his native town, Elmira, N.Y., to carve out a fortune for himself in the Great West.
He descended the Ohio River, and spent a part, at least, of the winter in the South. In the Spring he ascended the Illinois river on a tour of "prospecting." He found the points he had thought of already occupied, and moved on up the valley of the Fox river, and in April 1834 arrived at the Indian village of Wau-bon-sie and his tribe, on the west bank of Fox river, just north of where Aurora is now situated, and on what is called the McNamara farm. Here he found a swift river and an Island facillitating the building of a dam, and with Robert Faracre, a man he had hired in Ottawa and John Barsley, a youth whom he had brought with him as an apprentice, he "drove stakes," by erecting a log cabin 14 by 16 feet. This was built near where the saw-mill is now situated, on the east side, where he claimed about 360 acres. He subsequently built one of the west side, where Dunning's block now stands, to hold his claim on that side, which was about 100 acres.
They occupied the cabin on the east side, did their own cooking, of course, with the aid of a pot, a kettle, a pan and a few other utensils. Their bread was baked by the wife of a Mr. Peiree who lived some three miles down the river, and they carried it home in a sack on their backs. They entertained very little fear of dyspepsia.
About the same time a squatter had made a claim of some four hundred acres south of and adjoining McCarty's claim. He bought out this claim for his brother Samuel, a junior by two years, whom he expected soon, paying the squatter sixty dollars for it. It is now worth something more.
Having secured lands and tenements, the next thing in order was a dam. This was quite an undertaking, when we consider the means employed. He went to Chicago, forty miles distant, and procured provisions and men; and the work on the dam over the east channel, and on the saw-mill, was commenced.
In these labors were the summer and autumn of 1834 consumed; and when the timber for the saw-mill was ready, the entire male population of two or three counties, from Naperville, Plainfield, Oswego and the "rural districts," were invited to aid in the raising. After several days' effort, something like a dozen men were got together, and in about three days the saw-mill was reared.
Samuel McCarty, the younger brother, mentioned above, also a mill-wright, arrived on the 6th of November, of the same year, after a rather rapid journey of three weeks, (now performed in two days,) Elmire, N.Y., and joined his brother in prosecuting the work. The first sawing done in this mill, (the first on Fox River,) was done for Mr. Wormley, who made a claim near Oswego, in 1834, on which he still resides.
In December of the same year, Stephen A. Aldrich came with his family, to board the McCartys, and their hands. Mrs. A. was the first white woman living in Aurora. They subsequently moved to Sangamon Co., Ill. R.C. Horr also came that year, and was elected justice of the peace, the following year, being the first justice ever created in the place.
In 1835, there was quite an emigration to McCarty's Mill, as this was then familiarly called. Among the arrivals may be mentioned R. Eastman -- now Judge Eastman -- and wife, Joseph Huntoon and family, Winslow Higgins and family, R.M. Watkins and wife, from Canada, Seth Read and Theodore Lake from Ohio, Charles Bates, B.F. Phillips, Elgin Squires, J.M. Levnary (?), Wm. F. Wlliott, Peter Mills, and E.D. Terry, (whose brothers, Richard followed next spring, and Enoch in '37,) all acquaintances with the McCartys, with Holbrook, Livingston, and a number of others -- making in all quite a community.
The McCartys and the Higginses built the two first frame houses - the McCartys' now stands on Broadway, near where Mr. Brady's old buildings have been moved to; the Higginses' on the ground now occupied by Allen's warehouse. Geo. (now Dr.) Higgins hauled logs for it with two oxen and a horse. It was 14 by 20 feet story-and-a-half. Dr. Eastman resided on the spot where O.D. Day has now built a new block, on Broadway. Mr. Livingston was the first merchant. He bought out Zaphna Lake's store just built on River street.
Death and love began to show their operations in the new settlement in 1835. A Miss Elmira Graves, a young lady brought by her friends, consumptive from her home by the side of Lake Champlain, died late in the fall, and was buried in the ground fixed upon for such purposes, which was where Mr. Henning and others' residences now stand. It was thought to be rather "too far out of town," but soon proved the contrary.
The original plat of Aurora, (east side of the river,) was laid out in 1835 by Samuel McCarty, the proprietor. It extended from Flag street on the north, to Benton street on the south, and ran back to Root's addition, (some five or six blocks).
The dam across Fox River was completed in that year, and Zaphna Lake, (who never lived here with his family), bought the water-power, with McCarthy's claim on the west side, for $500. He built two saw-mills before the close of 1837, the last of which was removed to make room for the Black Hawk Mills, which were erected in 1842 -- R.C. Mix, builder.
In the fall of 1835, and during the whole summer of 1836, the emigration to this point was very considerable. Village property rose rapidly in value, and everybody, of course, was on the qui vive. (?) But, though some gained rapid wealth, there was, as yet, no aristocracy. All were equal, and all had to go nearly forty miles down the river to get their grist. The want of a grist mill was sorely felt, and in 1836, the brothers McCarty undertook to build one. In September, they formed a partnership with Robert Miller, and on the 8th of February, 1837, it was completed, and commenced running.
In 1836 there were two school houses built - one on each side. The one on the east side was a temporary structure, built of rough boards, or slabs, around a tree, north of the public square, near where Mr. Brady's residence now stands. A Miss Julia Brown, a daughter of a Col. Brown, taught in it.
In 1836 a road was staked out, primitive bridges built, etc., between Naperville and Aurora, by Samuel McCarty and some of his men. Previous to that year, the people in Aurora had been compelled to go to Naperville for their mails, though Samuel McCarty had acted somewhat in the character of a sub postmaster, receiving the McCarty Mills mail from the Postmaster in Naperville, previous to that time. The original state Line Road, from Chicago to Galena, crossed the river at Gray's (now Montgomery), three miles below this place, and consequently it was not on the stage route at all. Mr. McCarty conferred with the mail contractor, and offered to keep his drivers and team, free of charge, for the first month, if he would travel the new road just laid out, between Naperville and McCarty's Mills, instead of the old one mentioned above. The contractor accepted the proposal, and thus the advantage of a stage route was secured to this village.
Now they must have a post office; -- and what to call it? A great many names were suggested, some after persons, and some old Indian titles (the Indians had just been removed). At last, E.D. Terry suggested the beautiful and classic name which our city now bears, and which was adopted. It is said that "there's nothing in a name;" but it would be well for her citizens to consider the beautiful signification of the name of the city, (a rising light), and labor to make it really worthy of the title.
A petition, naming Burr Winton as postmaster, was circulated by Joseph McCarty, and signed by about thirty citizens. It was then sent to Naperville to receive the signature of the postmaster there, it being the custom of the department to require the signature of the nearest postmaster, as an evidence of the petition being bona fide. On the afternoon of the same day, however, a rival petition was gotten up by some of the rest of the citizens, which received many more signatures. The cause of this was, probably, that Mr. McCarty, being a Whig, it was thought Burr Winton must be a Whig also; and as Martin Van Buren was then President, a Whig was not likely to get a post office when a Democrat stood in the way. However, Mr. Winton was a Democrat, and as the first petition was shown to be the bona fide, he got the appointment, which he held ten years. He resigned when Zachariah Taylor was elected, and Mr. M.V. Hall had it during his administration. When Pierce came into power, the post office passed into the hands of E.R. Allen, who kept it until he became obnoxious to those in power, and it was then given to R.C. Mix, who built a house for it on Stolp's Island last fall, where he now keeps it. Those are all the changes there have been in the post office.
But to return to 1836. In the fall of that year, Elias D. and Richard Terry built the first tavern. It was where the Aurora House now stands. It was a frame structure, 16 by 31 feet. They could get no lime, so they made a fire of logs and burned some lime-stone, of which there is an abundance; and when it came to plastering, there was no such mechanic, nor could they find a trowel. At that time Mr. King (father of Sidney King) kept a blacksmith shop on the west side of the river, between where Wilder Hotel now stands and the river. He was the first son of Vulcan in Aurora. They found an old saw, and went over to Mr. King, and got him to put a handle on it; and therewith did Richard Terry plaster the tavern. This is a type of the people of Aurora: self reliance. The city has been built almost wholly by capital developed within itself: labor, industry, enterprise and perseverance.
We now pass on to 1837. Aurora had now, mills, post office, tavern, stores, shops, stage route, a community and a name. All will recollect the terrible financial revulsion of that year, more especially while we yet feel the effects of that of '57. This part of the State was flooded with Michigan money, and as the banks of the State were engulfed in the general ruin, the people here suffered serious consequences. The times were as hard as the heart of a miser, and emigration was not so rapid as before. But the commercial crisis seemed to have similar effects on people's minds to that produced last fall and winter. Accordingly, we find that the first temperance society was organized early in the winter of that year. Previously, and indeed, long after that, spiritous liquor was as common an article of trade as flour or beef. Everybody sold it that kept store; yet the community seems to have been quite a temperate one. E.D. Terry was the President of that organization, and Persus Brown, known as "Doctor Brown," also as "Cooper Brown," -- following these occupations -- was Secretary. this society was not a total abstinance organization, but simply inculcated temperance. Persus Brown was however, a warm temperance man, rather "fanatical," was regarded as one of the best citizens. He was drowned in the river, accidentally, some years after.
O.D. (now Dr.) Howell, was a school teacher here, about that time, and delivered the first temperance lecture in Aurora. subsequently, some 15 or 16 years ago, a Col. Churchival came here in the character of a Temperance Lecturer, and inaugurated the Washingtonian movement. It flourished for a time and did some good.
The financial crisis seems not, however, to have stagnated everything here. The people kept to work, some accessions were made to their number, and property rose in value. Isaac Marlett came in that year, and bought the farm now owned by Clark Wilder, from Dr. - somebody - containing 280 acres, paying therefor $450, and sold it a few months afterwards, in the fall of the same year, for $2,400. He then moved to town and kept public house in the tavern built by the Terry brothers. Previous to that, all who had a place left on their cabin floor 6x2, kept tavern. Mr. Marlett built an addition soon after to his establishment, which yet forms the first story of the wing to the Aurora House.
In June of that year, E.D. Huntoon arrived from the state of Maine, and purchased a claim containing 240 acres, of one Jackson Gordon, for which he paid $400. Roswell Wilder, who built the first school house on the west side, bought what is now the Wilder Hotel, partly finished, from a Mr. Leonard, finished it, and commenced keeping tavern the year following.
As early as 1836 a bridge had been built over Fox River; but it was swept away in the spring of 1837, re-built in 1838, at a cost of $2,000, swept away again in 1840, when a ferry was used until 1845, when it was again re-built.
We cannot well treat of each separate year any longer, as the arrivals and improvements become "too numerous to mention." There was no house for school or religious purposes, up to 1837. The few itinerate ministers that came along gathered the people in some private house for worship. The first Universalist sermon was preached in 1838, by one Wm. Rounsville, in a little house on Broadway, between Fox and Benton streets, then occupied by a school taught by Peter Wagner. In 1834, the people on the east side of the river clubbed together and built the first substantial public school house. It was built in the public square, by one Col. Brown, who played quite an important role for some years during the earlier part of the history of Aurora. It cost some three or four hundred dollars, and did good service up to about 1850, when it was sold for $63 (? hard to read) to give place to the present structure.
This house was used for all sorts of public meetings, preaching, lectures, school, etc. The Presbyterian Church was early organized here, and the Methodist came next.
There were no effective laws in relation to schools, in Illinois, in those days and the public schools were consequently few. There were numerous little private select schools, and once in a while the citizens would institute a free school, for a time. At an early period, the settlers in Aurora elected three school trustees, not in pursuance of any statute, however, who were to superintend the interests of education. These trustees sometimes had to pay for the honor conferred upon them by their fellow citizens. Burr Winton, who was one of the first board, mentions that he had to pay the bill for one quarter, amounting to nearly 30 dollars, out of his private pocket, and nev-- (?) collected five dollars in return.
Men were generally employed as teachers in the winter, and women in the summer. The first teacher in the school house in the park, on the east side was a Mr. Moffat. Several gentlemen followed him, among whom were Mr. Farnsworth, now residing on a farm in the north-eastern part of the city, and H.F. Kingsbury, also farming it, a few miles north on the west side. This gentleman was, for many years, the main-stay of education in this district. He taught up to the time the new school house was finished, when he went into the mercantile business. On the west side there were also many teachers, among whom was J.W. Marshall; but Miss Henrietta Robinson, did, perhaps, more for the education of the youth in that district than any other person.
O.D. Day came in 1839, with a large number of others. Wyatt Carr, (?).C. Mix, and other, came in 1841.
In 1843, P.A. Hall, now superintendent of the Galena and Chicago Union Railroad, arrived in Aurora. He clerked it about three years, when he built the store on River street, known familiarly as "Hall's Old Stand." B.F. And M.V. Hall, his two brothers, arrived the year it was built, and commenced the publication of THE AURORA WEEKLY BEACON, a neutral paper of six columns, on the 1st of June, 1847. The Hall Brothers commenced doing a little in the line of Exchange, in a little office, in the back part of their store, as early as 1848, and moved into their present establishment in 1852, when "the Brick Block on River street" was completed, and commenced regular operations as brokers. Their business rapidly increased, and in 1856, they organized the Bank of Aurora, with a nominal capital of one million dollars, becoming exclusive owners of the institution. They have since started two Banks in Wisconsin: The Eau Claire and Arctic. As showing how men have become wealthy in Aurora, may be cited the purchase of Gale's addition by the Hall Brothers, in 1851, containing 60 acres, for $5,000, which they have sold at a round profit of $25,000.
Sometimes poor men have made other men rich. It has happened so in this city, perhaps more than once, but I must relate one incident in this connection:
Benj. Hackney lived formerly in Chemunch Co, New York. He had adopted an orphan boy, one O.B. Taylor, who came out west previous to 1844. Ralph Horr, our first Justice of the Peace, mentioned in the beginning of this history, then owned and occupied the farm on one corner of which the German Lutheran Church now stands. Taylor bought this farm of Horr, in Hackney's name, and drew on his adopted father for $2,500 to pay for it. Mr. Hackney did pay for it and took the farm, and it laid him in the round sum of fifty thousand dollars, in its sale in town lots.
The soil seems to have been exceedingly productive in those days. There was more snow on the ground during the winters, and winter wheat yielded abundantly. Mr. Hackney used to raise ten bushels to the acre, in Chemung county, and was envied by his neighbors; but when he came here, he raised, the first year on his farm, (which was then the eleventh crop), forty two bushels of winter wheat to the acre, weighing about 62 pounds to the bushel.
In the year 1848, a movement took place to obtain a railroad from Aurora to the junction with the Chicago and Galena Road, which was happily effected and opened in 1851, affording great facilities of transit from this district, and adding much to its prosperity.
The Geologist finds rather a poor field for his study here; but there is no telling what may be beneath the limestone which underlies this city. I am not aware that a shaft of any kind has ever been sunk through it. Of this stone there are two kinds: one is quarried for building purposes, and the other familiarly known as "horse-bone lime," containing unmirable fossils, is burned in two kilns. There is a bed of excellent brick clay on the east side, where the Pierce Brothers have a brick yard, and sand is found in many places. There are many remains of the great flood, which is known as "the drift period," in the shape of boulders of various sizes, none of them that I have seen worn smooth, called "hard-heads". They are sometimes pure granite, at others, conglomerate, and sometimes of quite curious composition. Another trophy of the great drift period, (so the State Geologist thinks), is an enormous tusk of a mastodon, or some such antideluvian monster, which was found by the laborers on the railroad, in making excavation for the track near the bluff, about a quarter of a mile above the depot, in the fall of 1850.
The workmen first found another tusk, which, being taken for a stick of timber, was cut in two and lost, though a piece of it has been preserved. They afterwards found some enormous teeth, which led them to dig around a little, when they found the tusk alluded to. It measure nine feet in length, and some five or six inches in diameter at the root. It is in the form of a semi-circle - was perhaps, much longer when its mammoth owner wielded it. Of the eight teeth found, six are now remaining, but the largest one is gone. It weighed 7 ¼ pounds. The teeth were molars, made for grinding, as the tops show plainly enough. The have excited much curiosity and considerable speculation. They have been on a journey east, and are now in the possession of Benj. Hackney, who purposes placing them in the cabinet of Clark Seminary as soon as it is prepared to receive them.
By an act to amend the charter of the Aurora Branch Railroad Company, approved June 22d, 1832, the Company was empowered to extend its road "in a south-westerly direction, on the most practicable route, to a point at least fifteen miles north of La Salle, and where such extension may intersect any road built or to be built northward from the town of La Salle, in La Salle County, and there to form a connection with any such railroad." It is needless to pursue the history of this road further. The name was changed to "The Chicago and Aurora Railroad Company," and by a conjunction of the three roads, the Chicago and Aurora, Military Tract, and Peoria and Oquawka, direct railroad communication was opened for Aurora with the Mississippi, in 1855.
Theodore Lake laid out the village of West Aurora, in 1842. The original plat was bounded on the north by Galena street, on the west by Lake street, and on the south by Holbrook's addition. The addition made to the two villages, Aurora and West Aurora, were many, some of them large. The first was made in 1848. In 1851, the year the railroad was completed to Aurora, there were four additions made to the two villages, which shows that speculation was active, lots in demand, and as a consequence, rising in value. From that time until 1856, a steady progress was experienced; but in that year our enterprising citizens succeeded in securing for our city the car and engine shops which now occupy so prominent a place in the manufactories. That year, men seem to have gone crazy with speculation. Everybody was coming to Aurora, everybody wanted lots, everybody had lots for sale, everybody built houses, everybody was in a fever, everybody was getting rich. Surveyors and lawyers, and land agents and speculators, were as busy as bees.
The subjoining is a list of the additions made to the two divisions, showing only the year in which they were respectively made:
The Assessor's sub division was made by the Assessors, as it had been made by no one else, in order more correctly
to describe the property.
E. Woodworth, now of the firm of E. & A. Woodworth, came to Aurora in 1840. He brought or bought a team, and worked with that the three succeeding years, until his brother Alvin, the other member of the firm, arrived in 1843. Alvin was a blacksmith, and they commenced blacksmithing and wagon-making in the fall, with a complement of seven workmen. the Woodworths were shrewd businessmen, and traded, "dickered," and labored in everything and at everything that could fetch the "ready." Their business increased fast; their wagons became known far and wide; - when a farmer wanted anything, he knew he could get it from Woodworth, and pay in anything, no matter what -- but pay he must. They built each a splendid private residence for himself, and at last, in June 1855, projected and commenced the mammoth Carriage and Wagon Factory, now adorning the city, near the west end of the bridge. It was completed on the 24th of September, 1857, and a grand ball on the second floor, attended by all the elite, for 50 miles around, inaugurated it. It is 100 by 75 feet, four stories high, has 23 forges, 33 (?) benches, and can accommodate about two hundred men.
The first attempt to suppress or meddle with the sale of ardent spirits, by legal means, was made in Aurora in the year 1845; it was prohibitory. About the same time a prohibitory movement was commenced in East Aurora. There has never been a license granted for the sale of ardent spirits in either of the corporations by which this city was organized. in 1849 a very strong and successful effort was made to suppress the traffic entirely. A.A. Dexter was then Corporation Constable, and by his prying zeal did much towards ferreting out the offenders and collecting fines. One of the liquor dealers, who afterwards joined the Sons of Temperance, used to say that if they were always prosecuted as they were then, there would be an end to the traffic. In 1848, the first Division of the Sons of Temperance, the Fox River Division was instituted, many of the leading men, among whom were B.F. Hall, B. Hackney, Rev. O. Barr, Rev. L. Jenks, Wm.H. Hawkins, and others, were the charter-members. It flourished some two or three years and then went down. The Red Jacket Division, now in active operation, was instituted February 25th, 1850; came very near going down several times, but was saved by a few zealous men, among whom may be mentioned Peter Innes. I have heard some hints about the existence, several years ago, of a secret organization called the Council of Ten, whose object it was chiefly to destroy liquor by stealth -- of the "auger-susasion" type; but their operations do not seem to have been at all extensive.
The good Templars flourished a year or two, but went down in 1854.
The activity of 1849, however, seems to have been followed by something like a corresponding apathy. The railroad changed the character of the population somewhat, and this change became still more apparent when the car shops were located here; and in the last election the prohibitionists were beaten by a majority of over fifty, (the majority being in the first, or railroad ward, showing that to be the strength of the license party) in the choice of city officers, although the council was prohibitory by a majority of twa__
Simultaneously, almost, with the attempt to suppress the traffic in liquors, was an attempt of the friends of education, headed by Mr. Brewster, familiarly known as "Father Brewster," then School Commissioner, to inaugurate a new era in the common schools of the city. It resulted in the building of the main building of the present school house on the east side, at a cost of $2,500, in 1851, and a couple of years later, in the erection of the comfortable and commodious stone school edifice on the west side. The district on the east side contained 346 scholars as early as 1847; now it contains about 2,000 eligible to public schools.
Joseph McCarty, the original founder of Aurora, did not live to see the ripe fruits of his labors. He was in feeble health, being troubled with a disease of the lungs. In the year 1839, he went south on a journey for the good of his health, from which he never returned. He was taken with bleeding from the lungs in the State of Alabama, in the spring of 1840. It turned into quick consumption, which terminated his life in a short time, at the age of about thirty.
The latter part of the winter of 1847 was remarkable for the great thaw that produced such mighty floods, sweeping down the ice through the swollen streams, destroying dams, mills and whatever property was in the way. Fox river experienced a remarkable rise in February of that winter. It swept entirely over Stolp's island, leaving enormous cakes of ice, two feet thick, strewn all over it. It almost entirely destroyed the saw mill, came very near taking of the Eagle Mills, riddled Moore & Hoough's wagon factory, of the building of which the ruins yet remain on the east side, between Main and Fox streets, demolishing a planing mill, owned by Mr. Mickels, immediately north of the bridge, endangered the sash factory of Reader & Merrill, took away all the bridges, three in number, two of which have since been re-built, and also the railroad bridge, below town. In all, it destroyed about $100,000 worth of property, and came very near destroying the lives of some -- particularly two young men who were in the Eagle mills, and made an almost miraculous escape over the floating cakes of ice, the rise being very sudden and unexpected. For several weeks afterwards, everybody that owned a skiff reaped a rich harvest at ten cents a head for ferrying.
About the same time, and agreeable to the expressed wish of two corporations, Hon. Wm. R. Parker, then Representative in the Legislature, procured the passage of an act incorporating them as a city, by the name of the "City of Aurora." The first municipal election was held on the first Tuesday of March following, and resulted in the election of B.F. Hall as Mayor, and Messrs. Mix, Miller, Clark, Cotterell, Plum, Jackson, Gardner and Stolp, as Aldermen. Since the incorporation, Aurora has carried on, steadily, a system of internal improvements, in the laying down of side walks, etc., highly beneficial to the citizens.
The City of Aurora is beautifully situated on both sides of Fox River, which has a substantial dam across it, affording excellent water power for manufacturing purposes. The land on both sides rises gradually, to a height of from 60 to 70 feet. It is spread over an area of five and five-eights square miles, affording the greatest abundance of building sites, being, though rolling and uneven, yet not broken, and very little low and marshy. The south east corner and northern part on both sides, is somewhat timbered, and large numbers of the original forest oaks still grace the east side, making it look like a garden, especially from the cupola of Clark Seminary, which everybody ought to visit. On the west side, South River street is one of the most sylvan looking streets in the West. Water of the purest kind is found by digging from twelve to twenty feet, and in the bluffs, on both sides of the river, a thousand springs of soft water, clear a as a crystal and delicious to drink, gush forth, enough to supply the largest city in the world, I think. By the aid of hydraulic rams, they are made to supply, through leaden pipes, the round house and almost the entire business portion of the east side, and a reservoir to supply the railroad on the west side. Aurora contains two good-sized parks, one on each side of the river, wisely reserved by the original founders on the east side, and purchased by the corporation on the west side, when the city Charter was applied for. Both are well enclosed. The one on the east side has been planted with ornamental trees' the one on the west side has some native trees left.
Aurora contains nine church edifices -- the congregational (an ornament to the city, built of stone, in a half Gothic style, and frescoes inside,) two Methodist Churches -- one on each side of the river; two Baptist Churches -- also one on each side of the river; one Universalist Church; one German Lutheran church; one Episcopal Church, and a roman Catholic edifice, which has been erected some years, and is about being finished. It also contains two good school houses - one on each side of the river, and Clark Seminary, which is now finished, and is a first-class Educational Institution.
There is more life and business in Aurora than in any other city of its size in the West. In contains, at present a population of 8,000. Improvements are being prosecuted with unflagging energy and zeal by our enterprising citizens, spite of the hard times, and cannot doubt but this city will continue to increase and prosper, with the advancement and development of the great West.
AURORA POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT
Office on the Island, between East and West Aurora
AURORA CITY GOVERNMENT
HON. WM. V. PLUM, MAYOR
J.G. Barr, City Clerk
|COURT COMMON PLEAS.
Hon. Benj. F. Parks, Judge
|J.G. Barr, Clerk|
|A.A. Dexter...............City Marshal
A.J. Jenks................City Treasurer
H.F. Kingsbury..........City Assessor
George Wilder...........Collector and Surveyor
Levi Morgan..............Street Com'r, East Division
J.H. Lathrop..............Street Com'r, West Division
C.J. Metzner.............City Attorney
J.H. Fitch, L. Baldwin, H.A. Searles
Wm. H. Miller
George S. Bangs...........................Supervisor
L.A. Winslow...............................Ass't do.
L.R. Wagner................................Town Clerk
|JUSTICES OF THE PEACE
Wm. V. Plum
COMMISSIONERS OF HIGHWAYS
C.H. Goodwin, Ralph Gray, C.S. Sedgwick
Corlis Hinds..................................Overseer of the Poor
TRINITY EPISCOPAL CHURCH
Lake Street corner of Spruce.
Society organized 1850; hour of service 10 ½ A.M.; Rev V. Spaulding, Rector; J.W. Ray, Superintendent of Sabbath School.
INDEPENDENT ORDER OF ODD FELLOWS
AURORA ENCAMPMENT NO. 22
Meets the 1st and 3d Thursdays of each month, in Odd Fellows' Hall.
D.C. Chapman, C.P.
O.A. Long, S.W.
L.C. Lee, Treas.
B. Winton, S.
A. Spalding, H.P.
Waubonsie Lodge No. 45 meets every Wednesday at Odd Fellows' Hall, Main Street.
D.B. Chapman, H.G.
O.E. Miles, V.G.
B. Winton, Secretary
J.H. Thompson, Treasurer.
THE WEEKLY BEACON
Published every Thursday morning; Temperance Hall block. Bangs & Knickerbocker, Proprietors.
Published monthly. Augustus and Ellen Beard Harman, Editors and Proprietors.
Number of Scholars, 63. Miss Lucy Curtis, Teacher