Illinois Genealogy Trails

Kaneville Township

©Transcribed by Kimberly Torp

View Plat map from 1920

Kaneville Township, in the western tier of townships, is the second from the south line of the county. It embraces Town 39, Range 6, in the government surveys, and today is one of the richest, most productive and handsomest townships in the county. But it was not so considered in the earliest days of he country's settlement, for the pioneers were fond of woods and hills, and this portion of the new country seemed a low prairie, save a little woodland in the northeast, and a grove near the center, so isolated that they called it Lone Grove. The two branches of the Big Rock Creek head respectively in the eastern and the western potions of Kaneville, in wide low bottom lands, that before settlement, grew rank high grass, and were too wet to be attractive. Each of the first two land claimants were drawn to Lone Grove by the view they had of this body of timber across the prairie from Blackberry. JOB ISBELL, an unmarried man, noticed this grove in passing to a claim his brother JAMES had made in Blackberry and in the fall of 1835 went across the prairie to it, staked out a claim and built a little log shack. Returning to Ohio, however, he died there, and the claim was abandoned until renewed by his brother JAMES, who in 1837, came from his settlement in Sugar Grove and took possession of it. In October, 1836, AMOS MINER drove an ox-team that M. SPERRY, of Blackberry, had purchased of LEVI LEACH, an emigrant with whom MINER had made his way into the new country as far as Naperville. After delivering the oxen, MINER walked to this grove and staked out a claim on its south side before returning to his family. He must have gone six or eight miles at least across the wild country from any sign of human habitation. The next spring he brought his wife and daughter ROSALINE, in some way, to the "claim" and put up a shack in which they managed to live. He had no team, and worked for his distant neighbors, splitting rails in winter and harvesting in summer, sometimes as far distant as Naperville, to pay for a little breaking, a cow, seed, tools, and a team - living as best they could, sometimes the wife and child utterly alone during the whole week. He would buy on time and pay in work, until he succeeded in establishing a home and getting a team. It is said that he split 2,500 rails to pay for breaking his first five acres of land, and that he raised upon the sod, corn, beans, buckwheat and vegetables enough to subsist his family until the next crop. Thirty years later he had a splendid farm of over 600 acres, including a third of the beautiful grove and the broad rich prairie land south of it, with a habitation and home of abundant comfort and delight. The first birth in the township was that of his daughter MARY, who married ROBERT ALEXANDER, of Campton. She was born November 27, 1837. ISBELL and MINER'S family were the only residents of the township until ALFRED CHURCHILL cam in the fall of 1837. JOHN B. MOORE had just arrived and made a claim which he sold to MR. CHURCHILL. His daughter SARAH MOORE and JAMES ISBELL were married February 24, 1848 - the first wedding in the township.

The first school in the township was taught in 1839 by Miss FAYETTA R. CHURCHILL, in her father's house, and she also taught the opening school in the first log school house of the township, which was built near the center of Section 22. Her father procured the establishment of the first post office at Avon, and was its Postmaster. He was an unusually capable man of whom mention is made in the general history of the county. This daughter became the wife of DAVID HANCHETT, another of the very best of the early settlers of the township. Indeed the trinity of Davids - DAVID HANCHETT, DAVID W. ANNIS and DAVID SNYDER - who's fine farms covered these rich bottom lands in the southern part of the township, is one very rarely equaled. MR. ANNIS and his young wife came to the county in 1836 or '37 from Stratford, Vt., the place of their nativity, and soon after settled for life in Kaneville Township. Integrity, intelligence, energy and economy constituted the invincible equipment which they brought to the new frontier home with very little else save youth and health. But these are forces that invariably win in the battles of life. None did more than they in advancing all the interests of the community, and none were held in higher honor and esteem. Forty years later they left their descendants, who are among the county's best citizens, a patrimony of 1,800 acres of the choicest lands in the Garden State. The MCNAIRS, INMANS and DAVID WENTWORTH came in 1838. The government sale of the land in this township opened January 30, 1843, and owing to the distrust of prairie land, considerable of it remained unclaimed as late as 1845. But again the last proves to be the best. There is little doubt that, for purely agricultural purposes, that is the choicest township in the county. Beside its heavy dairying interest, stock-raising and feeding are still a prominent branch of business. Kaneville has the least railway of any township in the county; yet is well supplied with shipping facilities with convenient stations in the southern, eastern, and northern portions.

Kaneville, the only village and post office in the township, early became quite a business and social center. It is very pleasantly located at the crossing of the two main highways leading from the river towns and roads, the one northwesterly and the other southwesterly, each of which is a much frequented thoroughfare; and whoever even passes through this delightful county hamlet, retains an impression and memory of neat and orderly thrift, of abundance and comfort, and quiet elegance that it is very pleasant to recall. The REV. THOMAS RAVLIN purchased the claim to the prairie land upon which the village is located of WILLARD INMANN in 1845, and then procured his title from the government. JOHN BUNKER was the first magistrate, elected in 1845 under the old precinct organization. NEEDHAM N. RAVLIN was the first postmaster. The application for the establishment of the post office suggested the name "Royalton", and was sent to "LONG JOHN" WENTWORTH, the member of Congress. Upon examination it appeared that an office with that name already existed in the state, and without further consultation, WENTWORTH changed the name to Kaneville, which proved so satisfactory that it was adopted for the township name also. R.W. ACRES was the first Supervisor of the township in 1850. N.N. RAVLIN was elected tothis office in 1857, and with two intermission sof only one year each, he was reelected to that most important town office until 1887, serving nearly thirty years; and for over twenty years the Board of Supervisors chose him as its chairman. GOVERNOR OGLESBY appointed him a member of the State Board of Equalization in 1867-8 and he was a member of the twenty-eighth General Assembly.

In 1852, a hotel was opened here by WILLIAM HALL, and a store by MR. GOODWIN. Convenient shops, neat churches, school house and town hall, and pleasant homes soon clustered around this central location. The village plat was made in August, 1861, by THADDEUS HOYT. MR. F.L. YOUNG, an old settler in Blackberry and Kaneville Townships, has for many years been a resident of this pleasant village. His neighbors have kept him busy with public affairs, as Highway Commissioner, Town Clerk, Assessor, School Director, Justice of the Peace and the like, and the people of the county hold him in such confidence that for seven successive years, from 1879 to 1886, they elected him County Treasurer.

The first death in the township was that of JOHN B. MOORE, and the second that of REV. THOMAS RAVLIN, on September 6, 1846, who was the first to be buried in the Kaneville Cemetery.

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. 713-715

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