Illinois Genealogy Trails

Dundee Township



©Transcribed by Kimberly Torp

View Plat map from 1920


Dundee Township, No. 42, Range 8, is the northeast township of Kane County, and in making a "set off" to correct errors in the original government surveys, it is projected eastward of the other townships of the county about a mile and a quarter. The river passes from north to south through the second and third tier of sections west of its east line. Thompson's Creek, which skirts a valley of singular loveliness and remarkable fertility, emptying into the river near the southeast corner of Section 27, is the principal flowing brook, while from its romantic hillsides, many springs supply brooklets of pure water delightfully cool in summer, and in the coldest weather free from ice for quite a distance from their source - a condition peculiarly attractive in the early days. The current of Thompson's Creek had formed at its mouth a gravel bar reaching quite across the river, which the pioneers though the best ford in the county at times of high water. The river valley is very narrow and extremely fertile, bordered by higher and more precipitate bluffs than in the lower townships, while the small prairie lands in many places extended to the river side. The table lads are high and quite hilly, presenting at many points extensive views of great beauty.


The Government sale of lands in Dundee Township opened on September 2, 1840. JESSE H. NEWMAN and JOSEPH RUSSELL, from Virginia, whose families had intermarried in their native state, came westward from the "Old Dominion" and located in La Porte County, Ind. From there the two men, in a covered wagon, prospected westward in the summer of 1834, and early in October camped for the night on the high bluff upon the west bank of Fox River near the present beautiful cemetery at Dundee. Whoever has viewed the charming landscape that environed them will not be surprised that they resolved to seek no farther. NEWMAN staked a claim including their camp ground, and RUSSELL selected a location on the east bank of the stream near CHIEF NICKOWA's village in "Granny Russell's Hollow". They returned at once to Indiana, and in April 1835, came back with their families and first put up a cabin on NEWMAN's claim, where all lived while they built RUSSELL's log house, which stood for many years just south of the brick year. These were the first white men's habitations in the county. MR. A.R. DEMPSTER came to the new land in May of that same year, and during that season JOHN JACKSON, the HAWLEYS, MR. BURBANK, BENJAMIN IRICK, MR. MOORE, MR. VAN ARSDELL, GEORGE TYLER, GEN. GEORGE MCCLURE, MR. PARKER and possibly one or two others settled in the neighborhood. Mr. and Mrs. JOHN OATMAN, with their nine sons - JOSEPH, HARDIN, CLEMENT, JESSE, IRA, WILLIAM, JAMES, JOHN JR. and PLEASANT and their two sons-in-law, THOMAS DEWEESE and THOMAS L. SHIELDS, together with another daughter - all of whom came in the fall of 1835 or spring of 1836- constituted the strongest addition this settlement ever received, or probably ever came to the county in one family. The names of eight of them appear among the subscribers for building the first river bridge, already referred to, and they furnished over one-third of the money for that important improvement. All of the OATMANS except JESSE and his family moved south in 1849, there, as here, becoming leaders in the communities where they settled. JOHN OATMAN, DEWEESE and SHIELDS had MARK W. FLETCHER survey and plat for them the village of Dundee on the west bank of the river on March 29, 1837. THOMAS H. THOMPSON located his claim in 1835, upon the south half of Section 27, and built the beautiful home which became the residence of the late E.G. KETCHUM, and with his sons at once became a strong factor in the development of Lake Precinct, Dundee Township and Kane County.


The year 1836 saw many strong accessions to this settlement, among the arrivals of that year being the WELCH family, HENRY SMITH, JOHN ALLISON, MR. FREEMAN, WILLIAM WILBURN, the HALLS, BUCKLINS, PERRYS, D.W. BANGS, the MANNINGS, ASHBAUGHS, CALVIN TYLER, BENJAMIN MOORE, and the first physician, DR. GOODNOW. The names Dundee and Elgin, given beyond doubt in loving remembrance for the old hymns then so familiar, found in Burns' couplet from the "Cotter's Saturday Night,": "Perhaps Dundee's wild warbling accents rise, Or noble Elgin beats the heavenward flame," proved very attractive to the sons and daughters of Auld Scotia, and A.R. DEMPSTER was soon joined by a number of strong families from his beloved isle. We find near him and ALLISON the BINNIES, COCHRANES, ALSTONS, TODDS, HILLS, MCCULLUCKS, MCNEILS, CRICHTONS, EGGLESTONS, HOWIES, ARCHIBALDS, DUFFS, FRAZIERS, GRIFFITHS, CAMPBELLS, MORRISONS, MCALLISTERS, ROBERT and ALLAN PINKERTON and others, and there was never a more desirable class of settlers. The last named, while prosecuting his trade as a cooper, was appointed a Deputy Sheriff, and skillfully detected and arrested "Old Craig," one of the shrewdest counterfeiters of that time, well loaded with spurious bills of the famous Scotch financier, GEORGE SMITH'S "Wisconsin Fire and Marine Insurance Company's" Bank. He quit coopering and became the founder of the great Pinkerton Detective Agency.


Probably the first persons drowned in the Fox River were two boys about thirteen or fourteen years old, sons of JAMES HOWIE and JAMES SHERRAR, who in "teetering" their boat, overturned it and were both drowned. CATHARINE DEMPSTER, daughter of A.R. DEMPSTER and, in womanhood, the wife of MALCOLM M. MCNEILL, who was born June 25, 1835, was doubtless the first white child born in the township. THOMAS DEWEESE'S father died in October, 1836 - the first death - and the first marriage was that of CAPTAIN JAMISON, U.S.A., to a daughter of GEN. GEORGE MCCLURE, in 1837. The first school was taught in 1837 by AMANDA COCHRANE, who became the wife of MOSES WANZER. The first preaching was undoubtedly by "Father Clark" at GENERAL MCCLURE'S settlement in 1836, which was very near the southeast corner of Section 26, then called McClure's Grove.


"Elder" MARSHALL SHERMAN - the first of the enterprising SHERMAN family - MOSES WANZER, DAVID and JOHN MASON, E.W. AUSTIN, DAVID CORLISS, the HEWITTS and many other excellent men settled upon the farms west of the river in the last half of the 'thirties, and the SMITHS, HAWLEYS, BULLARDS, and others made equally desirable claims on the east side. The DEWEESE picturesque overshot mill, driven by water form the abundant springs flowing from the high bluff upon the east side of the river, began grinding in the fall on 1837, to the immense relief and delight of the settlers for many miles around. The OATMANS brought a small stock of goods with them, and at once opened a little store on the west side. HARDIN OATMAN opened the first tavern also in 1838; DAVID HAMMER kept the first grocery and the first tavern on the east side. the BOSWORTHS, EDWARDSES and CARPENTERS came between 1837 and 1840 - each composing unusually enterprising families; DANIEL G. and CHARLES V. CARPENTER located on Sections 14 and 15 in 1837, and the OATMANS and SHIELDS built a dam and saw-mill here about this time, which they finally sold to GEORGE J. and S.H. PECK.


The village of Carpentersville was platted in 1851, and incorporated in 1857. The Hon. JULIUS A. CARPENTER was for many years the remarkably able leader in this community, and under his wise direction it developed some of the finest manufacturing industries of the county. Dundee was quite exclusively a grain growing township, until the failure of the wheat crop compelled a change; and it now claims to be the best dairy township in the county.


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. 708-710

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