Illinois Genealogy Trails

Geneva Township

Kane County, Illinois

©Transcribed by Kimberly Torp

View Plat map from 1920

This twin sister of Batavia embraces the north half of Township 39, and takes its name also, as has been stated, from one of the most beautiful cities of the Empire State. Its fertile farms also lie on both banks of the river, the prairie in pioneer days extending in places to the river on the west bank. They are absolutely unsurpassed in cultivation and fine improvements. There is little or no doubt that a distinct and well-worn Indian trail branched westward from the old army trail, and crossed the river at the head of Herrington's Island and along this trail Daniel S. Haight prospected in 1833, and built his cabin beside the then noble spring on the west bank of the river. In summer the stream could be easily forded; in winter it was solidly ice-bridged, and, in time of freshet, one had to avoid the necessity of crossing it at all.

Like PAYNE, who at the same time settled a couple of miles below, HAIGHT is said to have been a sober, intelligent, honest man; rough, kind and generous, but a born scout and pioneer. He soon sold out to JAMES HERRINGTON and disappeared, as has been already told. When CAPTAIN DODSON first came here in 1834, he found near HAIGHT'S place a man named COREY, another named CROW, and an ANDREW MILES (or MILLS), whose claim and wretched shanty, on the east side of the river, he bought. DODSON was then busy with his store and sawmill at Claiborneville. EDWARD TRIMBLE, who married PAYNE'S daughter, also had a claim near the edge of the timber on the east side (the SAMUEL STERLING farm) and their daughter was the first while child born in this township. MILES died in 1836 - the first death of an adult in the township - and CROW and COREY soon disappeared. One FREDERICK BIRD'S claim covered the EBEN DANFORD farm, just north of the village on the west side. Mr. and Mrs. SAMUEL STERLING first settled on this place in 1834 or '35. They were superior people, each being very energetic, well-educated and refined, and they richly merit far more extended notice than is permitted by the limited scope of this work - but, so, also, may be said of many others. Mr. STERLING built the first dam and bridge across the river, and the first saw-mill; and he and his wife opened the first regular public tavern.

COMING OF THE HERRINGTONS: In May, 1833, the man and wife who were to be among the leading builders of Geneva brought their family of six children to Chicago. These were JAMES CLAYTON and CHARITY HERRINGTON, who had come to Illinois from Meadville, Penn. Their children were AUGUSTUS M., NATHAN, JAMES, FANNIE, RICHARD and THAD. MARY, another daughter, was born in Chicago and became the wife of J. TUTTLE. The next daughter, MARGARET, was born at Geneva, November 3, 1836 and is said to have been the first white girl baby born in the place. The year that his family lived in Chicago was beyond doubt spent by MR. HERRINGTON in carefully prospecting the surrounding country, and his selection of HAIGHT'S claim, in the fall or winter of 1834-35 is strong proof of its desirability. HERRINGTON at once used HAIGHT'S "shack" as a store, and built the best double house of hewed logs to be found in the county for a number of years. L.M. CHURCH served him as his first clerk, and then DAVID DUNHAM, who was elected Recorder in 1836. CRAWFORD HERRINGTON came in 1835; also ARTHUR AKEN, who built a cabin near "McWayne's Spring". Here again, "Father" CLARK preached the first sermon in the place at JAMES HERRINGTON'S and, in 1836, LOGAN ROSS opened the first blacksmith shop. NOAH B. SPAULDING took out the first marriage license and married Miss ANGELINA ATWATER in the fall of this year.

THE BOSTON COLONY: In 1837 came the first families of that colony of educated Bostonians who, for so many years, gave the society of Geneva an atmosphere of culture and refinement that was distinctly felt throughout the county. Among them were SCOTTO and SAMUEL CLARK, CHARLES PATTEN, PETER SEARS and C.A. BUCKINGHAM - the latter the first lawyer and a young man of very brilliant promise. The accomplished daughters of MR. SCOTTO CLARK became the wives of CHARLES PATTEN, JUDGE ISAAC G. WILSON and MAJOR DAVIS of Ausable. CHARLES PATTEN opened a store in 1837, and was a leading merchant of the place until his death in 1887. Then there were MARSHALL and "AUNT MARIA" CLARK, GEORGE PATTEN, DR. HENRY MADDEN, JULIUS ALEXANDER, ABRAM CLARK, SAMUEL NYE CLARK and others, including MISS SUSAN SOPHIA CARR.

There was an elegant graciousness and quiet energy in the lives of these ladies of the early days at Geneva, that lingers like a halo of living righteousness about their memories, exalting and ennobling all who came within its benign influence. CHARITY HERRINGTON and MRS. JULIUS ALEXANDER were the very best types of helpful, brave pioneer women. When some ten years later the cholera broke out in the first Swede colony here, and many people fled in terror, "AUNT POLLY" CLARK ministered like a mother to the stricken ones; and it is reverently told of one poor woman dying, clasping her beloved bible in one hand and with the other clinging to the ministering hand of Mrs. CLARK. The large number of Swedish people at Geneva still gratefully cherish in love her memory. In those early days came also ISAAC CLAYPOOL, MARK DANIELS, HENDRICK MILLER and, following close after, many other most excellent people like the REV. AUGUSTUS CONANT, DR. WILLIAM LEBARON, for some time State Entomologist, LUTHER DEARBORN and a host of others whom we would gladly mention.

MANUFACTURES: The first mowers and reapers, invented about 1850 by EBEN DANFORD, surpassed in excellence the MCCORMICK and other machines displayed at the fairs in this and other counties, and almost invariably bore the blue ribbon superiority. Many people familiar with the development of the county believe that, if this excellent man of fine inventive genius had been given a little more financial encouragement, Geneva would have become one of the great manufacturing centers of the country.

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. 702-703

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