Illinois Genealogy Trails
Kane County, IL
©Transcribed by Kimberly Torp
View 1920 Plat Map of Aurora
The first white settler in Government Township 38 North, Range 8 East of the Third Principal meridian, undoubtedly was Thomas (or Jacob, as it is given in some histories) Carpenter, who built a log cabin on the east side of Fox River about half a mile east of Montgomery, late in the fall of 1833, and during Christmas week of that year moved his family into it from Naperville, then a hamlet containing perhaps a half-dozen pioneer families. His father-in-law, Elijah Pierce, arrived in April, 1834 and erected a one-room cabin nearer the river within the limits of the present village; and, as the stage lines from Chicago pushed westward past Colonel Naper's place, they found a crossing here, and Pierce's one-room cabin became the stage tavern. Mr. William Elliott, who during the same year made a claim on adjoining land, is said to have declared that as many as forty persons have slept during the night in that small room, which also served as kitchen and dining room. We may doubt if Mr. Elliott made just that statement for record as history; but, if he did, he should be regarded as good authority, since he was an exemplary man and, about this time, fell madly in love with Mr. Pierce's daughter, Rebecca, and was equally beloved by her. But the father strenuously opposed the desired marriage, probably needing her help in caring for his numerous guests, and he warned the young fellow to keep away from his place. Young Elliott walked forty miles to Ottawa for a marriage license, which the Clerk of LaSalle County refused to issue because of the young lady's minority, yet he told Elliott that if they would have the "bans" publicly announced for two weeks in open church service, the marriage would be lawful without a license. This was done at Naperville by "Father" N.C. Clark, and very soon, after, on August 3, 1835, during a visit of Mr. Pierce to Chicago to purchase supplies for his tavern, the young people quietly visited a neighbor residing a little further down the river, hastily summoned Esquire Morgan from the settlement that later became Oswego, and they were happily married. This was the first marriage in what is now the Township of Aurora and their daughter Emeline Elliott, born August 5, 1836, was the first white child born in the township.
In 1836, Daniel S. Gray came from Montgomery County, N.Y., joined this settlement and began improvements which resulted in the present thriving village of Montgomery. For a number of years, it was known as Graytown; but is is said that, at Mr. Gray's instance, it received its present name in honor of his former home. The village was platted in October, 1853, by Mr. Gray and was incorporated in February, 1858. At the first village election, held March 1, 1858, Ralph Gray, Edward Gillett, John Lilley, A.L. Davis and A.C. Palmer were elected trustees. Mr. Gray was the first President of the Village Board. The first school, it is said, was taught in 1839 by a young lady teacher, and the first substantial school house was erected soon after the act of incorporation.
AURORA CITY- The first settlement at the present city of Aurora by the McCartys in 1834, has already been briefly recorded. In the fall of the same year that the McCarty brothers began improvements at Aurora, John Peter Schneider and his brother, John Nicholas Schneider, settled at North Aurora, and at once began work upon the dam and mills which they completed and operated many years, to the great convenience and benefit of the surrounding country - the saw-mill being located upon the east, and the grist-mill upon the west bank of the river. It was widely known as Schneider's Mills until about 1868-69, when it became North Aurora.
The early histories treat so much more largely of the settlement and development of the villages and cities, that it is difficult to trace the individuals connected with the equally important, but more scattered work of bringing into cultivation the fertile soil of the country. But during the period intervening between the years 1834 and 1840, old account books and business records show among the land-owners trading at these points-although some of them resided on farms now within the city limits, some outside the township, and some even outside the present county -
Hiram Hopkins, John Barker, Frederick Stolp, Epaphras Clark (a brother of Father N.C. Clark), John Douglas, Charles McNamara, E. Squires, Ashbel Culver, John Lilley, William Hall, George Slater, John Stolp, Elihu Wright, John Warne, Levi Leach, Harrison Albee, Addison Allbee, Lyman Isbell, Joseph Means, Charles Stolp, Thomas Paxton, William J. Strong, Robert Hopkins, John Wormley, Chester P. Trask, Daniel Bloss, Charles Wagner and others. Among these will be found names historic in the annals of Kane County.
The first election in Fox River Precinct was held in 1835. Ralph C. Horr was elected Justice of the Peace and B.F. Fridley was chosen Constable. The first election under township organization, which was adopted in 1850, was held on April 2d of that year, and
R.C. Mix was elected as the first Supervisor; H.F. Kingsbury, Town Clerk; W.V. Plum, Assessor; I.T. Bevier, Poormaster; S. Richardson, I.M. Howell and John Douglas, Commissioners of Highways; John King and W.R. King, Justices; C. Pinney and W.D. King, Constables. W.D. King was also chosen Collector.
At the close of 1834, twelve persons appear to have been located at McCarty's Mill, viz.:
Joseph and Samuel McCarty, Jeffrey Beardsley, Robert Faracre, Stephen A. Aldrich and his wife and two children, Ralph C. Horr, Seth Reed, Zaphne Lake and Hiram Bowen. In 1835 the settlement was reinforced by the arrival of Dr. Daniel Eastman, D. Gorton and George Gorton, Theodore Lake, R. Matthews, John Barker, B.F. Phillips, Winslow Higgins, Elgin Squires, John Livingston, Charles Bates, L. Huntoon, John Holbrook, B.F. Fridley, E.D. Terry, M.D. Cone and probably a few others, a portion of whom had families.
Such as desired were permitted to "squat" upon Joseph McCarty's claim, and occupy lots which they selected with a view to purchasing when his land should be platted. McCarty prepared a plat of lots and blocks on the east side of the river in the fall of 1835, and Dr. Eastman purchased, at $5 each, the two lots first sold. This plat was first recorded at Ottawa - then the county seat - and later, on August 8, 1839 at Geneva, in volume I, page 160 and the Eastman purchase embraced Lots 5 and 6 in Block 11.
Burr Winton, an old friend of the McCarty's was persuaded by them to come from down on the Vermilion River, where he was prospecting, and board their hands. He arrived with his family October 9, 1836, after eight days journey, with his family in a prairie schooner drawn by a yoke of oxen and leading the indispensable cow. The first wheat ground at the McCarty mill was grown, it is said, about where the First Congregational church now stands, at the corner of Main Street and East Park Place. Elias D. Terry and his brother Richard built the first frame hotel at the north-east corner of Main and LaSalle Streets, which was opened January 1, 1837, with a grand New Year dancing party. This doubtless was the first plastered building in the city. The lime was burned from the stone taken out of McCarty's mill race and the trowel used was fashioned by John King, the first blacksmith and Justice of the Peace in 1850, out of an old broken hand-saw.
Joseph G. Stolp arrived in 1837, and immediately commenced the foundation of the manufacturing enterprises that have contributed so largely to the immense prosperity of the city. Noah B. Spalding, John Holbrook, W.D. King, Abram Odell, Anson Pease and William Gardner were among those who arrived in 1836 or earlier. William V. Plum, Nathaniel Deniston, Abel Downer, Clark and Roswell Wilder, William H. Hawkins and E.D. Huntoon were among those who came in 1837. Among the names of those who came in 1838-39 we find O.D. Day and William B. Plato, well remembered as able lawyers and influential men, besides Griffith Evans, father of the present State Senator H.H. Evans. The first death within the limits of the present city was that of Miss Elmira Graves, in the fall of 1835, and the first within the present township, but not within the city, was that of Mr. Jacob Carpenter, its first settler, which occurred September 20, 1836.
At an election held March 6, 1845, fifty-two votes were cast in favor of incorporating the village of East Aurora. Daniel Cushing presided, Myron Whipple was clerk, and no negative notes were cast. During the same year the following Village Board of officers was elected:
Daniel Eastman, President; Daniel McCarty, Perseus Brown, Luke Wheelock and P.J. Wagner, Trustees. The village of West Aurora was organized in 1854 with Myron V. Hall, President, D.B. Waterman, B. Street, George McCollom and Anor Richardson, Trustees.
The Legislature of 1857 granted a charter uniting the two villages, and at the first city election, held March 3, 1857, B.F. Hall was elected Mayor, J.D. Clark and W.V. Plum, Aldermen of the First Ward Holmes Miller and J.H. Stolp of the Second Ward; William Gardner and R.C. Mix of the Third Ward; and L. Cottrell and S.L. Jackson of the Fourth Ward. In 1887 the special charter was abrogated and the general charter for the incorporation of cities was adopted. The development of the united corporation, in all desirable lines, has been steady and rapid, and few cities in this great Middle West bear a more desirable reputation than does the beautiful city of Aurora.
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