Illinois Genealogy Trails

Burlington Township


©2001 Transcribed by Kimberly Torp

View Plat map from 1920

Township 41, Range 6, is another purely agricultural township. Its lands came into market January 30, 1843. No stream flows across the township; but Coon Creek and two other creeks which empty in the Kishwaukee, have their rise within its borders. As the woodland and the prairie intermingle, the farm lines follow very nearly the Government surveys, and the farms have a more uniform acreage than exists in most of the townships. Its lands are peculiarly adapted to grazing, and it is a fine dairying section.


STEPHEN VAN VELZER appears to have made the first location in the township and, unfortunately, made the preposterous claim to an area of about twelve miles square. This must have retarded settlement, as many quarrels resulted in consequence, while a number of settlers paid him something for his pretended claim to avoid contention. He came in 1835, as also did ALLISON BANKER. In 1836, SOLOMON WRIGHT and his three sons, BALDWIN, ELISHA and D.C., and a daughter who soon married BANKER, arrived from New York; also P.R. JOSLYN from Indiana, who with his son RILEY, settled upon a portion of Van Velzer's claim in defiance of his objection. T.C. and O.H. ELLITHORP also came this year from Vermont, and ASA W. LAWRENCE of New York, who soon sold his claim and settled on Section 9 in Elgin Township, upon the beautiful farm on which he died, and which is now occupied by his son, OSCAR F. LAWRENCE. JOHN HOLDEN, of Pennsylvania, and C.M. ANDREWS, from Massachusetts, came and entered claims in 1837. STEPHEN GODFREY, the father of CHARLES B., came from Vermont in the fall of 1839, and bought a claim of VAN VELZER, arranged to have a portion plowed, and went back for his family, with whom he returned the next spring. This family has ever been one of the most useful and highly respected in the community. B.T. CHAPMAN came from Canada and STEPHEN R. ELLITHORP from Vermont in 1842. The next year DAVID SHOLES, whose home had been in Genesee County, N.Y., arrived and made very extensive purchases of land, including the site of VAN VELZER'S first settlement. He died in October, 1881, owning some 1,900 acres of very excellent land. JAMES ROSEBOROUGH came from the North of Ireland, and became a permanent resident in 1843. JAMES MANN came in the fall of the same year form Wyoming County, N.Y., bought a 1,000-acre claim, plowed a part of it, set out a few apple trees, and went back home for his family. EBEN NORTON, ELDER ISAAC NEWTON, JOEL ROOT and J.W. HAPGOOD, SIMON YOUNG, SR., and his sons - WILLIAM, DANIEL, JOHN, SIMON, JR. (who perhaps came a little before the others), STEPHEN and DAVID - made a strong addition to the settlement in 1841. HARVEY A. MATTESON, an old and public-spirited resident, came with his parents to St. Charles this same year. The MANNS and HAPGOODS intermarried, and have been active factors in building up the community.


Soon after the land sale, Mr. MCCLENATHAN entered a tract of land claimed by MR. MASON - in retaliation, it is said, of Mason's attempt to avoid payment for a yoke of cattle. The quarrel came near ending fatally. MASON and a number of his friends seized the alleged "claim jumper", dragged him to a nearby pond, cut the ice, and nearly drowned him in the freezing water. He managed, however, to escape, and fled to the village, whose few settlers protected him from further violence, although a pitched battle with his pursuers seemed imminent. This pond is on Section 12, near the WALLACE BROTHERS' barn, and MCCLENATHAN'S old log cabin is now their chicken house.


The first death in the settlement was that of VAN VELZER'S wife, in 1837. She was a Southern woman and brought with her a Negro slave who served her mistress faithfully but soon after her death, the slave returned to her old home in the the sunny South land. The first school in the township was taught by MRS. CATHERINE ELLITHORP in her own log house in 1839, and her husband, JOHN W. ELLITHORP, was the first postmaster. The next year (1840) MRS. GODFREY also taught a few pupils in her home. MISS FANNIE PUTNAM kept a school in 1842 in VAN VELZER'S barn. About this date a log schoolhouse was built on the old stage road about a mile southeast of the present village, and MISS LARRABEE and MISS NANCY HILL taught there in the early days.


The marriage of JOHN HOLDEN and HANNAH VAN VELZER in 1840, was the first wedding. EZRA HANSON put out the first tavern sign at his log-house on the State road southeast of the village. JAMES MANN erected, in 1844-45, the first frame barn and house in the township. While on a visit to "York State," where he drove with a team of horses in 1845, his house and all his household goods were burned; but on his return he erected the quite commodious brick tavern which, for many years, entertained very many travelers, and was the happy scene of numerous dancing parties and other social festivities. The first store was opened by SYLVESTER S. MANN, who, for a number of years, represented the district in the State Legislature, and after his removal to Elgin it was conducted very successfully by his brother A.J. MANN, and by the firm of MANN, HAPGOOD & CO. until A.J. MANN also moved to Elgin. FRANKLIN MANN and GIDEON SHERMAN erected the first sawmill in 1850.


The first clergyman in the town was "ELDER EATON," who came in 1840 and soon after organized a Free-Will Baptist society. The first church building appears to have been commenced in 1853 by the Congregationalists, but it was four or five years in process of construction, and was also used by the Methodists and Free-Will Baptists, finally passing to the ownership of the latter.


In the late 'forties appearances were very favorable for the village of Burlington becoming an important place in the county. The State road was crowded with teams hauling out the produce of the country. The daily stages were filled with passengers, and the horses were stabled and changed at MANN'S brick tavern. Plank roads were being built from St. Charles and Elgin, converging at Burlington, and prospects were very bright. But the route of the steam railways changed all this, and the village is now a thriving station on the Chicago Great Western Railway, which passes nearly due east and west across the township through the second tier of sections from the north line.


Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois (Edited by Newton Bateman, LL.D. and Paul Selby, A.M.) and History of Kane County Edited by Gen. John S. Wilcox. Chicago; Munsell Publishing Company, 1904, pp. 705-707


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