Illinois Genealogy Trails

Campton Township

©Transcribed by Kimberly Torp

View Plat map from 1920

Township 40, Range 7, is the central township of the county. East of it lies St. Charles, at the north Plato and Rutland, on the west Virgil, and at the south Blackberry and Sugar Grove. There is no township in the county in which the pioneers found the indispensable wood and water more bountifully provided and conveniently distributed; while bordering the woodlands were the inviting tracts of open land, scarcely large enough to be called prairie, entirely free of rocks and bushes and ready for the plow, the wild grasses and flowers alone covering the rich black soil of seemingly exhaustless fertility. The southerly branch of Ferson's Creek had its rise in Lily Lake near the north line of Section 18 and, passing eastward across the entire township, in the early days was a stream of very respectable dimensions, in the spring being filled with pickerel and red-horse suckers, seeking the shoal waters in which to deposit their spawn. Very near the center of the township is the head of a branch of Mill Creek, which passes out of the township near the east line of Section 35. We can scarcely estimate, in these days of numerous wells and convenient pumping machinery, and of steam and electric power so easily available, the value of these natural features to the pioneer settlers. At first the water for all daily household use was obtained from the spring, creek or shallow well at the edge of the slough; and for fully twenty years, the farmers depended upon these for stock water. During the winter, ice was hauled from them and melted for family use, and to secure the luxury of soft water for washing. In the later 'thirties, Dr. KING, a preacher, a physician and an energetic, useful pioneer, built an up-and-down saw-mill on Lily Lake Creek on the northwest quarter of Section 14, and established the King's Mill post office on the old thoroughfare toward Rockford. Each was a great convenience in its time. It is said that there was a very distinct Indian trail near the line of the highway from the river northwestward, passing the south end of Lily Lake. This lake is now practically dry, and doubtless its former bed will soon by cultivated land. The effect of the drying up of the water reservoirs and shrinking of the stream is one of the problems future time must solve, we hope without serious detriment to posterity.

JOHN BEATTY, who arrived at HAIGHT'S early in the spring of 1835 and began prospecting westward, was doubtless the first person to stake out a claim in this township. He drove his first stakes in the prairie upon what is now the southeast quarter of Section 36; but with the advancing season he ventured a mile or two further west, and located permanently in the edge of the woodland on the northwest quarter of Section 35, convenient to a fine spring and near the running creek, where he erected the first settler's cabin in the township. He sold his first claim to a MR. ARCHIE, and the second passed to the BURR family. JOHN WHITNEY, CHARLES BABCOCK and JAMES HACKETT also came in 1835, and LUKE PIKE who entered the claim which became the home of the well-known and highly useful CHAFFEE family. In 1836 and '37, HARRY and SPALDING EDDY, JOHN ELLIOTT, ATWELL BURR, JAMES WARD, WILLIAM KENDALL, JOHN DURANT, E. REED, JAMES OUTHOUSE, JOHN HAGERMAN, T.E. DODGE, ANSEL LAKE, JOHN TUCKER, GEORGE THOMPSON, EBEN FOSS, FRANKLIN WATKINS and others arrived, and some of them, with their families, became important factors in the town and county. The venerable ROBERT COR?ON was also one of the earliest and best settlers in this township.

In 1837 HENRY WARNE and his wife, CHARITY WARNE, took up a large claim on Sections 32 and 31 and became, with their intelligent and enterprising descendants, among the most powerful and beneficent forces in upbuilding the township and county. Mr. WARNE built a large and good log house, which naturally became the halting place for incoming settlers, and as naturally and necessarily, a tavern, named by JUDGE FORD, "The Halfway House," between the county-seats, Geneva and Sycamore, and between Chicago and Oregon on Rock River. GOVERNOR MARCY, of New York, STEPHEN A. DOUGLAS, JOHN WENTWORTH and other noted men of that day, were among its sometime guests. JOHN WARNE, ELISHA WARNE and GIDEON D. WARNE, sons of MR. and Mrs. HENRY WARNE, have ever been noted for their energy, enterprise, integrity and business success, while their daughters - SUSAN, wife of the late L.N.B. BURR; LUCINDA, wife of the "barb-wire" king," J.F. GLIDDEN, of De Kalb; and ISABEL, wife of M.W. WILLIS - are women of whom any community may rightfully be proud.

At least four very popular taverns were kept in this township as early as 1840. "The Half-way House," The Fairfield Exchange" by D. B. MALLORY on the southeast quarter of Section 24, TIMOTHY GARFIELD'S tavern, and one near the south end of Chicken Grove, kept by ELIAS CRARY. The extent of the teaming from Chicago westward, in early days, may be inferred from the fact that there were, at this time, forty taverns by the roadside between Mallory's place and Chicago. It is said that, in order to mark and establish the route of travel, IRA MINARD and DANIEL MARVIN drove a number of yoke of oxen attached to a fallen tree, from St. Charles across Campton to Oregon, in Ogle County, in 1838.

During the winter of 1836-7 a MRS. MCCLURE taught school in a log house upon the claim of a MR. LAWSON, and the next winter MISS MARY LEE taught in the house of JAMES WARD. The next fall a log school-house was built on land occupied by MR. A. FISHER. In 1841, E. CHAFFEE, CHARLES FLETCHER, THOMAS E. DODGE, ANSEL LAKE and HYLAS T. CURRIER were elected School Trustees, NELSON WALKER chosen Clerk, and the town divided into five school districts, besides a sixth district including a portion of Virgil Township. The township has always been well supplied with schools, and it was one of the first townships to erect a neat and commodious town house. Avon, the first post office in the township, was established April 20, 1840, with HENRY WARNE as postmaster, was discontinued in 1845, but reestablished as Swinton, July 24, 1849 with the same postmaster. The first village settlement was at Canada Corners where, about 1844 or '45, ELDRIDGE WALKER opened a little store and soon the industries of a village gathered about it. He came from Canada, as did the WOLCOTTS and LINDLEYS who settled near, and thus it took the name Canada Corners. It came to have two blacksmith shops and a paint shop, a store, church, school house, a number of homes, and a well-kept cemetery.

In 1886-7 the Minneapolis & Northwestern - now the Chicago Great Western - Railroad was constructed across the township near its center, and the busy thriving station of Wasco was located on the north half of Section 28, and Lily Lake Station on the south half of 18, a short half-mile from Canada Corners. Lily Lake village was platted May 9, 1887, by RENALWIN OUTHOUSE. Dairying has, for years, been the principal industry, and fine herds of dairy cows are found on nearly every farm of that township. The Hon. JOHN STEWART'S magnificent farm of over 900 acres, is one of the finest breeding establishments in any county. His Clydesdale horses, Polled Angus cattle and Ayreshire cows are the very choicest that brains, experience and money can produce.

The lands of the township came into market January 30, 1843.

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. 707-708

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