History of China Twp.


When township organization was adopted in 1850, this town was named "Fremont" Later the present name was substituted at the solicitation of Russell Linn, an early settler whose native town in Maine was of that name. The following were the first officers of the town of Fremont: George R. Linn, Supervisor; Josiah Wheat, Clerk; Christian Lahman, Assessor; Moses Curtis, Collector; Jesse Hale, W. C. Robinson, Nathan Whitney, Highway Commissioners; Robert B. Sproul, Justice of the Peace; Moses S. Curtis and W. C. Robinson, Constablea The highest number of votes cast for any one office at this election was 46.

According to the most reliable information, Cummings Noe built the first cabin in China Township, in 1835 or '36. It stood about eighty rods north of the W. H. Hausen place. James Holly and his father-in-law, Charles Harrison, built in 1836. The "Minor House" was one of the early buildings. It formed the western part of the old "Bishop Hughes Hotel." Nathan Whitney came in 1835, as did Cyrus Chamberlain and Lockwood Miner the same year. The latter's father, Cyrus R. arrived in 1836. Mr. Whitney seems to have returned to his New York home, and to have made trips back to Lee County in 1836 and 1837, his family arriving February 8, 1838. In 1850 he introduced one of the first, if not the first, threshing machines in the country. He built, probably in 1838, the house which afterwards became the "vinegar house" at the nursery. In 1838 Amos Hussey arrived with his family and located on the south side of the grove.

In 1845 Christian Lahman and family and his father-in-law, Mr. Emmett, from Pennsylvania, were added to the meager settlement. Edward Morgan and family came in 1836. His son, John Wesley, was born the next year, and his is believed to have been the first birth in the grove. Edward Morgan built a double log cabin north of the timber. Jeremiah Whipple and family located near the "cave" which bears his name, in 1837. Hugh Moore and his brother Rufus landed in 1836, and their brother James the year before. They settled near Grand Detour. Silas Tolman and family reached Inlet in 1837 and joined the Franklin Grove colony early the next spring. Henry and Harrison Hausen, with Philip Stahl, came in 1838. The father, Charles Hausen, Sr., followed in 1840, leaving his son Charles at their Maine home to bring the mother and younger children later. The family in charge of the young son Charles, reached Franklin in December, 1840.

As early as 1840 Whipple's mill, on Franklin Creek near "Whipple's Cave," was sawing logs cut from the near by woods, into lumber for building purposes.

E. C. Thomas and family arrived in 1839 and Nathaniel Yale and family came still earlier, in 1836. D. M. Bradstreet came in 1844. James Dysart arrived in 1846 and, by 1849, had secured land enough to provide each of his several children with a half section.

The northeast portion of the northwest quarter of Section 34 was known as Temperance Hill. Here, on the tract now owned by W. F. Wolcott, lived John Cross, a Presbyterian minister, who gave the "hill" the name "Theoka," but this early gave way to the more suggestive one connected with sobriety. Cross was an anti slavery fighter and a recognized and selfconfessed conductor on the Underground Railroad. Indeed, he once boasted to Chester Badger that, in one load, he had sent twelve slaves on their way towards freedom. His home was one of the stations on the underground road. In 1848 Mr. Cross moved to Wheaton and became Principal of Wheaton College. Next east of Cross, Sylvester Frisbee settled, and still east of him, Mr. Hannum and family were living in a sod house as early as 1842, when Martin Eastwood and wife came into the neighborhood. Eastwood made a business of breaking prairie, and built a small house which could be hauled from place to place wherever his work happened to be. Nathaniel Lewis and family took up their abode here in 1843. Frisbee and all the settlers in the vicinity were zealous temperance people, and this fact is supposed to have suggested the name for the locality now marked by a row of hardy venerable pines. The school house hard by perpetuates the name.

In 1871 the west half of the town of China was set off to form the town of Nachusa.

In the year when short horn cattle (Durham) were considered the best breed, China was made prominent by its successful breeders. As early as 1854-5 Christian Lahman introduced high grade short horns, anti in 1867 Samuel Dysart and Henry Hausen went a step further with thoroughbreds from Central Illinois. Mr. Dysart exhibited his stock at many fairs, at none of which he suffered defeat He was awarded thirty five first premiums and eighteen second premiums. Twice he was victorious in Iowa State Fairs. In 1870 he introduced the first pure bred Berkshire swine.

For a considerable time the Whitney nursery was one of the leading tree distributors in this part of the State. It was established by Nathan Whitney in 1843, and was for many years continued by his son, A. R. Whitney, under whose management it became a large and prosperous institution. Mr. Whitney's failing health necessitated its abandonment some years ago. To those who are disposed to question the fitness of our soil and climate for fruitgrowing, the fact may be recalled that, in 1871, W. H. Hausen sent from this town to the Iowa State Fair ninety seven varieties of apples and fifteen varieties of pears.

Franklin Grove.- This name is said to have been given to the grove after the youngest son of Father Dixon.

In 1853 Christian Lahman, who owned the tract south of the railroad, platted about ten acres, now constituting the extreme south west portion of the village, and christened it "Chaplin." What are now Main and Hughes Streets were its only thoroughfares, and the lots were numbered from 1 to 35. The plat was recorded in the Recorder's Office April 23, 1855. In 1851 George W. Pense started a blacksmith shop. In 1852 Charles Bill put up the first shoe shop. Charles Ambrose opened the first store in the fall of 1851 or spring of 1852. In 1854 H. I. Lincoln came with a stock of goods from Kendall County and continued in trade until a few years ago.

The first postoffice was opened about 1848, with Abram Brown as postmaster and A. R. Whitney mail carrier. Dr. Clark was the second postmaster and, during his term, the name of the office was changed to Chaplin. In May, 1854, Dr. George W. Hewitt located here, and in 1855 John C. Black came.

The town, as it at present exists exclusive of additions, was platted by Adrastus W. Tolman, Christian Lahman, P. D. Robertson and John Dement in 1853. In 1854 the railroad was completed and the regular train made its first trip December 3d of that year. A. B. Fitch was the first station agent of the road. The station being located in the new part of the town, drew business in that direction and changed the trade center. W. Leake started the first harness shop. The first elevator was built in 1854 by one Williams. S. J. Smith & Co. and L. M. Blaisdell opened lumber yards and Rufus Covill started a furniture store. Conrad Durkes, hailing from Oregon, Ogle County, was first to open a dry goods store in the new section of the town. Mix & Losey followed soon after in the same line. In 1855 Jonas Clisbee built the hotel building north of the truck, and Josiah Hughes put up the two story stone hotel in the old town, which was still known as Chaplin.

Village incorporation was effected in 1857. Josiah Hughes, Jonas Clisbee, L. M. Blaisdell, S. J. Smith and A. W. Tolman were the first Trustees, Blaisdell being President and Smith Clerk. The village was again incorporated under special charter in 1865, the first officers under this organization being C. Durkes, President; Josiah Hughes, J. J. Lichty, Joseph Williams, Jonas Clisbee, George W. Brayton and Geo. H. Taylor; Councilmen. Under the general law it was once more incorporated in 1872.

Churchs.- The first class of the Methodist Church was formed by Rev. Jas. McKean, a missionary, probably before 1840. Cyrus Minor was leader. The first Methodist church building was erected in 1863 during the pastorate of C. W. Wright. Prior to this the services had been held at the homes of the members and in school houses. Ministers having other charges officiated for a number of years. In 1853 and 1854 R. R Bibbins, of Light House Point, preached every fourth Sabbath evening, and in the fall of the latter year, Henry Martin reorganized the class with James Welsh as leader. In the fall of 1855 M. Decker, of Lee Center, supplied the pulpit. Following him came A. D. Field, H. Richardson and Penfield. In 1860 W. T. Harlow, principal of the Seminary at Mt. Morris, drove twenty miles to fill appointments here. Other pastors have been: C. Webster, L. M. Anderson, H. T. Giles, John Williamson, A. P. Hatch, S. T. Snow, Jas. Bush, A. J. Scott, J. Wardle, J. C. Cooper, A. H. Schoonmaker, Revs. Stire, Stuff, Satterfield, Bassett, Harris, O'Neal, Slaughter and Honeywell, the present incumbent In 1902 this society tore down the old church and built a new one on the same spot, at a cost of $8,100. It was dedicated October 6, 1902.

January 1, 1861, Franklin Grove Presbyterian Church was organized. The first Board of Trustees consisted of G. W. Brayton, G. W. Hewitt, G. W. Pitcher, G. H. Brewer and Jeremiah Ketchum. W. W. Harsha, the pastor at Dixon, also acted as first pastor of this society. W. L. Lyons was the second pastor. Following him have been: W. Hare, A. F. Morrison, Spencer Baker, S. N. Vail, W. C. Cort, F. C. Cochrane, H. S. Jordon (May, 1881, to December, 1882); A. L. Sarchet (March, 1883, to March, 1884); William E. Holyoke (April, 1884, to April, 1885); W. H. McKee (April, 1885, to April, 1886); C. W. Anthony (December, 1886, to December, 1897); R. F. Cressy (May, 1898, to June, 1901); W. J. Manifold, the present pastor, from September, 1902. In 1865 this society built a church conjointly, with the German Lutherans, which was used in common by the two denominations. In the fall of 1887 the Presbyterians built their present church, the lot and building costing $4,000 and the furnishings $995.

The German Lutheran Church was organized by Rev. William Uhl, of Dixon, but at what date we are unable to state. George Engel, George Fishback, George Kreitzer and John Genk were the first board of Trustee. A church was built but in what year we have not ascertained. The pastors have been: William Angelberger, Charles Young, C. A. Reuter, H. Stauffenberg, Rev. Stolle. The writer has beeh unable to learn the names of any other, or to fix the date when these served.

The German Baptist Brethren Church, fanilliarly known as "Brethren" or "Dunkards," are very strong, both financially and numerically, in this section. The first families of the faith to settle here were the Lahmans and Emmerts, who came in 1843. The following year came the Riddlesbargers. Father Emmert was the first preacher. Christian Labman was also a minister of the church. Their first, house of worship was a small grout house on the Dixon road in the present town of Nachusa. It has been remodeled and enlarged. The society's cemetery is in the same inclosure. They also built a meeting house in Ashton and, in 1879, erected their Central Church building a little northwest of Franklin Grove. This denomination has no officiating pastors, but the office devolves on bishops and elders.

A Society of the Universalist Church flourished in Franklin Grove at an early day, and built a church here in 1856. The Hausens, John Fish, Jonas Olisbee, John C. Black and Isaac Twombly were early members. T. J. Bartholomew was the first preacher, J. O. Barrett, C. F. Dodge, Chase and Cook were pastors.

Schools.- The first and only school house in Franklin Grove was built in part in 1856. In 1867 it was enlarged and, in 1894, a new brick building costing $9,000 took its place. The first principal was T. W. Scott assisted by his wife. The school was soon graded into four departments one primary, two intermediate and one high school. Five teachers are now exuployed.

In the early years school was kept during alternate weeks at Morgan's double log cabin and at Whipple's Cave.

About the year 1840 Lorenzo Whiting taught a school near "Tolman's Timber," a short distance from the present site of Franklin Grove. Miss Sarah Edmonds, who married James Nettleton, was also one of the early teachers, her service being in a school house east of the Amos Hussey homestead. Harry Godger is named among the very early instructors.

Cemetery.- In September, 1863, the Franklin Grove Cemetery Associatioa was formed with Isaac Twombly as President, Conrad Durkes, Secretary, Joseph Williams, Geo. H. Taylor and W. S. Thompson, trustees, its purpose being to take care of and improve the then existing cemetery. This has been admirably done. There is no record in the County Recorder's office showing the incorporation of the association. The burial of Mrs. Holly, in 1839, is said to have been the first in these grounds.

Factories.- The Cheese Factory Association of Franklin Grove was organized in February, 1881, with A. H. Schoonmaker as President; N. Hausen, Vice President, H. A. Black, Secretary and Treasurer, and A. R. Whitney, C. L. Anthony and Chas. Wertman. Directors.

The Wind Grist Mill was built in 1874 near the southeast limits of the village, by J. L. Strock, J. C., J. D. and D. F. Lahman, at a cost of $13,261. The wheel was 80 feet in diameter and, at its top, was 105 feet above ground. The enterprise did not prove to be profitable. The property changed hands several times, and was finally converted by J. L. Strock into a tile factory, which was successfully conducted for a number of years until his death in 1888, and afterwards by F. D. and C. W. Lahman and F. A. Dow. A succession of dry seasons reduced the demand for tile and, in 1900, the machinery was exchanged for western land and the buildings sold.

In 1875 the copartnership known as J. D. Lahman & Company was organized for the manufacture of the Great Western Seeder, with J. D. and J. C. Lahman and J. L. Strock partners. A year or two later J. C. Lahman retired from the firm and D. F. Lahman became a member. J. L. Strock was the business manager. In 1889 J. D. Lahman bought D. F. Lahman's in. terest. To simplify natural complications that arise on the death of a copartner in conducting an industry of this kind, J. D. Lahman bought the J. L. Strock estate's interest in the factory and unsold goods, and closed the business in the two years following. H. N. Bratton & Company manufactured and sold a few machines for several years succeeding. The business grew from a small beginning to a brisk little enterprise, as many as 2,400 seeders being manufactured in a single season.

Camp Meeting.- On July 12, 1881, the Dixon District Camp Meeting Asociation was organized with the following officers: Rev. Luke Hitchcock. President; Isaac Rive, Vice President; Rev. I. E. Springer, Secretary; Rev. A. H. Schoonmaker, Treasurer. Executive Committee Revs. Schoonmaker, F. P. Cleveland, R. M. Smith, G. W. Carr, F. G. Petrie and Messrs. R. B. Sproul and James Brown. Ten acres of ground in the timber just outside of the village was bought and suitably fitted up for camp meeting purposes. The first meeting opened August 31, 1881, and successful sessions have been held yearly since then. It soon became recognized as one of the established institutions of the county.

Banks.- For a number of years Conrad Durkes furnished banking facilities for the community as an adjunct to his mercantile business. At different times other merchants- Henry A. Black, P. C. Rooney and possibly others did the same. Having retired from trade Mr. Durkes, in 1889, organized the "Franklin Grove Bank" under the State law with a capital of $25,000, and with J. D. Lahman, President; C. Durkes, Vice President; W. C. Durkes, Cashier. The organization stands the same today except that, on the death of C. Durkes, his son Warren C. succeeded him as Vice President and another son, Stelzer A., was made Cashier. The deposits the first year averaged about $20,000. They now average about $150,000 yearly.

Newspapers.- The only newspaper now published in the village is the "Franklin Reporter," which was started by John Blocker August 14, 1869. Dr. D. H. Spickler succeeded him in the proprietorship, September 7, 1871. May 8, 1875, T. W. Scott became its owner and John Blocker acquired an interest with him September 4, 1875. They sold out to D. B. Senger, August 5, 1876. October 16, 1886, E. E. Manning became publisher. June, 1889, T. W. Scott again became proprietor. W. P. Tuttle iollowed him March 13, 1891, and September 1, 1894, G. W. Gayer, the present proprietor, took the helm.

Other papers have appeared from time to time, but soon went out. The "Franklin Grove Gazette," printed at Dixon, the "Enterprize" and "Electric Light" were of this class.

The population of China Township, including Franklin Grove, according to census, was 1,361 in 1890, and 1,315 in 1900. The population of Franklin Grove was 736 in 1890, and 681 in 1900.

Transcribed by Rays Place
From: Encyclopedia of Illinois and the History of Lee County
Edited by: Mr. A. C. Bardwell. Munsell Publishing Company Chicago 1904.


The tract of the Black Hawk country included in China township is unexcelled in healthfulness of climate, fertility of soil and picturequueness of scenery. From Timothy's bridge to Franklin creek, Black Bass, Hausen Pond, past Iron Springs, Lovers Leap, Whipple Cave, on to Steamboat Rock, the lover of nature is entranced as one beautiful view turns into another. And when to this is added the fields of grain, pastures of cattle, and commodious farm dwellings, a traveler cannot refrain from exclaiming. These gardens! Boundless and beautiful in prairies!

But the crowning glory of China township is the high social, intellectual and moral standards of their pioneers. These first families were descendants of the nation's forefathers, and many of them representatives of the noblese of Europe. The pioneers had executive abilities, dauntless courage, and strick piety as their heritage.

The first cabin was built on the banks of Franklin creek, and as the record of the fruitful era unfolds, the reader will marvel at the progress made, the marked absence of crime, and the sincere and noble goodness of, it seems, all the people in all the homes for all those memorable years.

Who but the pioneers themselves, for the history of China township, 1834-1854 is entirely the history of about 20 pioneer families, their kinspeople, the happenings in each cabin, the short school sessions, and the occassional church service.

For two years after the Black Hawk War the prairies and timberlands along Franklin creek lay in primeval beauty. Then in 1834, Jeptha Noe built the first cabin in the grove.

In June 1835 Colonel Nathan Whitney of Unionville Ohio, travelled along the north side of the grove, searching for a stream of running water, as far as the present site of Franklin Grove. As Colonel Whitney became a settler soon afterward, he is regarded as the John Dixon of China Township.

The Whitney, Hussey and Helmershausen families spent their first days in China township in the Noe house and have remained permanent settlers.

The veteran pioneer, Charles Harrison, and his son-in-law, James Holly made the first two claims in 1835. Later in the same year, David Holly made a claim of the southwest quarter of Section 35.

James Holly built the second log cabin which stood nearly opposite the German Baptist church and was a landmark for many years.

The third family living at the grove in 1835 consisted of James Holly, his son David Holly who had a wife and two children and Samuel Ayerhart. Jesse Holly died Feb. 29, 1869 aged 95 years.

Strange to relate, none of the settlers of 1835 founded families which have remained a half century or longer keeping their names in memory. But while the names of Noe, Harrison and Holly are partially forgotten, the three settlers .... (lost) Yale and Minor, left large families and well honored names.

Also in the spring of 1836, Cyrus R. Minor purchased a claim from Mr. Brown of 80 acres east of the grove.

In May 1836 Edward Morgan, his wife Nancy, daughter Willa, a small child and baby Rachel, with a nephew Nicholas Kinman, came from Ohio and settled on the south half of Section 27. John Wesley Morgan born in 1837 was the first child born in the grove.

The next log cabin in China township was that of Edward Morgan.

In June 1836, Timothy Lockwood Minor broke 20 acres of land for Colonel Nathan Whitney.

About the 1st of September 1836 Nathaniel C. Yale, his wife Mary and their family permanently located in the grove. Milo Yale was born December 15, 1831 in NY; moved to Illinois in 1836. He was an honored and respected pioneer. He moved to Iowa and founded the town of Yale.

Dec. 2, 1836 Cyrus R. Minor, wife Louise Norton, and children, Sarah. Albert, Daniel and David came from Elba, Genesee Co. NY. Cyrus R. Minor was born in 1782 in MA and died in1846. Mrs. Minor died in 1839.

The year 1836 closed with three families of Morgan, Yale and Minor permanently located, several claims made and 35 people in the settlement.

Rev. Byron Cartwright, a pioneer Methodist Episcopal minister says " I was born in Auburn NY in 1810, I came to Illinois in 1833, and met Blackhawk on his way to Washington prison. Rev. James McKean was our first preacher in that part of the country. He preached all through what are now Ogle, Lee and Whiteside counties. I was sent to the circuit in 1837".

Squire Jeremiah Whipple located near the cave which bears his name in 1837. Joseph Whipple was an old line "Whig" and Squire Jerry Whipple was a strong democrat, both well read in politics so they made the double log cabin ring with party arguments. Most of the law suits of the day were tried by Squire Whipple, who had been a justice of the peace in NY.

In the winter of 1837, Otis Timothy drove (?) from Buffalo NY. He married later. Sarah daughter of Cyrus R. Minor.

On Feb. 8 1838 Col. Nathan Whitney, his wife Sarah (Gray) Whitney , one son Alexis Randolph Whitney,and their daughters Harriet, Eliza Ann, Cornelia, and Dr. and Mrs. Gregory came to the grove and located in the Noe house.

In the spring of 1838, which set in so early that wild flowers bloomed in March, Silas P. Tolman, his wife Mrs.Experience (Shaw) Tolman, and son Adrastus Tolman moved to the present site of Franklin Grove.

During the summer of 1838 John Nichols spent some time examining the township and returned to New York to induce his daughter's family to locate here.

In 1838 Amos Hussey, his wife Mrs. Jane Fredonia (Holly) Hussey and their two children, Mary and Jesse came from Pennsylvania.

In October 1836 (maybe s/b 1839?) William Henry Helmershausen, Harrison Helmershausen and Philip Stahl came from Bangor Maine. William Henry Helmershausen was born near Bristol, Lincoln Co Mass., August 25, 1816 and died at his home on part of the original Noe claim Dec. 6, 1901. The second pioneer brother Harrison Helmershausen was born near Bristol, Lincoln Co Mass., April 13, 1818.

In 1839 Rev. Erastus DeWolf claimed the east one half of section 21. Thomas Brown from Newport R.I. came with him and made a claim.

In 1839 Evans Campbell Thomas, his wife Mary Ann Thomas, and two children, Mary and William Henry, came from Michigan to China township.

The family of Cooper are especially remembered because the daughter, Miss Louisa Cooper, taught school at Whipple's Cave in 1839 and all traditions agree was the first school teacher at the grove. She married Mr. Warnsley and lived near Troy Grove. In 1843 the Coopers moved to LaSalle.

This year Col. Nathan Whitney was elected one of three county commissioners.

William Lader Girton was born in Pennsylvania 1830. On Sept. 22, 1856 Margaret, daughter of Henry Irwin. He was a member of Co G 73rd IL Inf. and fell while fighting gallantly at Perryville Oct. 8, 1862. In 1839 the Henry Irwin family came to China Township and settled near Edward Morgans.

Franklin Precinct in 1840 comprised the four townships known in 1914 as Nachusa, China, Ashton, and Bradford. An election was held in the double log cabin of Squire Jeremiah Whipple at Whipple's Cave. The judges at election were Cyrus Chamberlain, Jeremiah Whipple and Don Cooper. China township was also called # 9 district.

The first term of circuit court of Lee County was held April 1840. This year the new court house at Dixon was erected at a cost of $7,000. The money was donated and China township contributed her share.

Lorenzo Whiting taught school about 1840 near Tolmans timber, a short distance from the present site of Franklin Grove. He moved to bradford township near an old friend Thomas Doe, and from here was elected to the state legislature, and was long known as the "farmer senator".

In the summer of 1840 Charles Helmershausen Sr. came from Bangor Me., and joined his sons Henry and Harrison. Syrus Cobb Helmershausen was born October 17, 1825 and died Jan 18, 1912; married Sabina J. Fellows of Belvidere Dec. 20, 1859; had five children, Ida, Frederick, Lillian, Grace and May. Norman Helmershausen was born Oct. 2, 1831 and died Nov 21, 1908.

About 1841 Michael Brown, George O'Connor and Michael McFarland lived on McFarlands claim, near the farm owned by Ralph Sproul. They were three jolly bachelors from Ireland.

In August 1841 the John Leake, Daniel Leake and Edward Willars families came from Liverpool England and settled in the Southeastern part of China township.

About 1842 the little village of Chaplain was laid out and now forms the part of Franklin Grove west of the schoolhouse.

August 15 1842 was the tenth anniversary when the troop's in Black Hawk's war were mustered out by Lt. Robert Anderson and disbanded by Gen. Winfield Scott. So rapid had been the settlement that there were 30 surnames and 20 families in China township. At that time the township was called Fremont.

In 1842 Martin Eastwood located in this neighborhood. Nathaniel Lewis located here in 1843. In 1843 Rev. Joseph Emmert and family and son-in-law Rev. Christian Lahman and family came to China township. Both men were German Baptist Ministers.

This year Col. Nathan Whitney opened the nursery, the first one in northern Illinois.

The year 1846 saw several changes in the settlement of China township. James Dysart came to the west and secured one half section of land apiece for each of his children. The Dysart brothers were all located in China township before 1860. The Dysart family was founded by Joseph and Alexander Dysart of north Ireland who located at Lancaster PA.

In 1847 China township suffered a tragedy from the hands of the banditti of the prairies. At least the closest search and careful investigation could offer no other plausible cause except that a band of the banditti on the way north on a horse raid, saw a light in the cabin of Moody Thomas, a man with no family, and sacked the house and murdered him and Ohg Gannerson, his guest. In fact some years later one of the band of banditti, then under sentence, confessed to having slain two men alone with a piece of timber.

About 1848 John Durfee came and settled south of Col Nathan Whitney's cabin. Nathan Whitney taught a school in Timothy Lockwood Minor's cabin. Only large boys attended it and it was a subscription school. During this year Rev. Christian Lahman laid out 10 acres for the site of a town. The township was called Fremont and the town Chapin. The Minor Hotel, Charles Ambrose's store and a blacksmith shop are all the buildings recollected as standing at this time.

In 1848-1849 a post office was established with Abram Brown as postmaster. The third postmaster was A.R. Whitney.

This year the people of China township became interested in an act of the General Assembly of the people of the state of Illinois entitled "an act to provide for the contruction of a plank by general law', approved Feb. 12, 1849. To exist 30 years. The road made travel easier and many people subscribed to the stock.

With the year 1850 a new era seemed to dawn. Organization, commerce and general business developed. Up to this date the history of the township had been the local history of pioneer families. About this time John M. Crawford taught school at the grove. The James Holly cabin was used as the schoolhouse. He is remembered as an able teacher. On April 2, 1850 the township of Fremont was organized as China township. July 19, 1850 the organization was completed. George Russell Lynn, who lived near Lee Center, named the township for China, Maine on May 14, 1850. From 1850 to 1855 town meetings were held at the farm of Henry S. Buckman.

In 1850 the following vote was polled, there being 46 voters; Supervisor George Russell Lynn 30 votes; Clerk Josiah Wheat 45; assessor Rev.Christian Lahman 39; Collector Moses F. Curtis 22; Supervisor of the poor B. Hannam ; Commissioners of Highways Jesse Hale, William Clark Robinson, Col. Nathan Whitney; Justice of the Peace, Robert Sproul; Constables, Moses S. Curtis and WIlliam Clark Robinson. Ten highway districts were laid out. A fence law was passed by common consent.

In 1851 a log house was built east of the Amos Hussey homestead for school and church purposes. It was built by subscription. At the town meeting this year there were 77 voters. This year the blacksmith shop on State street in the center of the block, north of H.I. Lincolns was built by George W. Pense. By his industry and obliging manners Mr. Pense maintained a good trade for many years. Webster located in the village and took charge of the hotel. Webster built a small stone store on the corner south of Pense's Blacksmith Shop, Charles Ambrose opened a dry goods store in this building.

Louis M. Blaisdell started in the lumber business and prospered. S.J. Smith and Co. also tried the same business, but one lumberyard was all the village could support, and the firm went out of business. In 1853 Adrastus W. Tolman, F.W. Robertson and Rev. Christian Lahman laid out the village of Franklin Grove. The name was given to the town by John Dixon in honor of his son Franklin Dixon. It is said Col. John Dement had an interest in the new village for several years. A grain elevator was built south of the track. Williams opened a grocery store in one end of the elevator.

Dr. Uriah Crittendon Roe, son of Dr. John & Elizabeth (Lyons) Roe was born at Eddyville, Lyon Co KY. In 1846 he married Almeda Brown a woman of many estimable qualities.

George W. Hewett was one of the prominent factors in the early history of Lee County one of the leading physicians of his time; possessing knowledge and skill in medicine and surgery that caused his ability to be recognized not only in Lee county but far beyond its boundaries. Dr. Hewitt was a native of Pennsylvania, born in Middleburg, Dec. 23, 1820. In the spring of 1854, the same year in seeking for a wider field of operation than was to be found in the older states he came to Illinois and on the 1st day of May opened an office in Franklin Grove. Here he not only established a large practice but became intimately associated with the business and social interests of the county.

Dr. Henry Miller Hewett married Ida Eliza Jane, daughter of Conrad and Mary (Jones) Darkes. The family of Dr. David H. and Sarah (Wagner) Spickler resided several years in the village. Dr. George Hewett located in the village and opened a small drug business.

Henry I. Lincoln purchased the store built by Charles Ambrose and went into the dry goods business. Charles Ambrose then built a store North of Pense's blacksmith shop. This store he sold to a new firm "Lahman & Bill".

During this memorable year the Dixon Air Line of the Chicago & Galena Union Railroad was finished and the first train run through the village Dec. 3, 1854. Col. Alvah B. Fitch came as the station agent of the company and remained in this position for years, until his health failed.

The blacksmith trade was followed by Solomon Sunday and his sons from 1855 to 1914, for 59 years in Franklin Grove. Farming was included and the sale of agricultural equipment.

Joseph Winebrenner was a tailor in Franklin Grove from 1855 until the war broke out when he enlisted. An industrious and honest stonecutter came to town in 1856, and his work aided much in erecting the buildings going up rapidly. George Engel 1825 - 1905. The Trottnow family were in business for many years.

In 1861 Louis M. Blaisdell of Franklin Grove was elected one of three commissioners to expend the sum of $6000 voted by Lee County to equip the volunteers of Lee County, enlisting to go to the front. He was an able man and his executive abilty was much needed at this time. The Co G was raised in China township. Every man that entered knew that it was a hard and deadly combat. Twenty Seven men in Co G left unprotected wives at home. The Captain was Joseph William of Franklin Grove. The second Lt. was Robert L. Irwin of China township. The sergeants were Manley E. Brown, Charles H. Tweembly, and William Vance. The Corporals were C. Brinkerhoff, Joseph Winebrenner, Walter Gilbert, Calch Forbes, James Dysart. They became part of the 30th brigade, ninth division, Third Army Corps of the Army of the Ohio.

In 1864 the village built up a number of sidewalks, fixed the crossings, graded the roads and opened up the alleys. A large elevator was erected this year by the firm of Frost & Hanger who did ane extensive business. Up to 1867 the only newspaper was the Franklin Grove Gazette which was printed on a Dixon press. When it stopped its issue there was no paper at the grove. The Franklin Reporter was started by John Blocher in 1868 and today is the oldest weekly in Lee county.

By Adella Helmershausen
Member of the New England Historic Genealogical Society Boston, MA.
Printed in the Dixon Telegraph November 1 & November 3, 1948

Some Current updates:

Cyrus Royce Minor the son of Samuel Minor, was born 1 Oct 1783 in NY, died 5 Nov 1847 in Franklin Grove, married to Patty Lockwood; they had 3 children - Elcy born about 1808 died in Franklin Grove 16 Jun1827, Sally born 24 Jan 1809 died in TX 1870 and Timothy Lockwood Minor born 12 Feb 1814 married Maria Elizabeth Tolman in 1849, Ogle Co. They moved to TX. He was also married to Louisa Andrus Norton. Their children were Sarah born 1 Apr 1820 married Otis Timothy and had 8 children together, Cyrus Albert born 21 Aug 1823, Monroe Co NY died 20 Jan 1901 in Greene Co MO., he married Maria Sophia Buchanan, they were the parents of 5 children, Daniel Andrus & David Royce, twins, born 1 April 1827. Daniel went west to CA where he died about 1852. David died in 1899, he married Cina Whitmore. His last marriage was to Charlotte Andrus.

Edward Morgan, from Fayette Co OH was married to Nancy Stull in Ohio. According to recent information this family left Ohio and went to Vermilion Co. IL before they settled in Lee County. Their children were Willa born in Ohio who married Edwin Stoddard, Martin S born 6 Jan 1833 in Vermilion IL, married Harriet Jackson and were the parents of 5 children, Rachel born in Vermilion IL married Henry Sanders, John Wesley the first child born in China Twp, Lee Co. Il married Caroline Brimer, Mary E. married Christopher Cox, Nancy , and Sarah Jane.

Nathaniel Curtis Yale born 18 Jul 1780 in NY, he died 11 Jan 1870 in Franklin Grove. Married to Mary "Polly" Warden. From information found on the internet their children were Newell b 16 Dec 1816 in Camden NY, died 8 Jan 1849 in Lee Co. married Mary Taylor, Leonard b 18 Sep 1818 NY died 3 Feb 1841, Polly b 18 Jan 1820 NY died 13 Nov 1837, Milo b 15 Dec 1821 NY married Emeline Tallman, parents of 8 children all born in Franklin Grove, George born 18 Mar 1823 NY died 24 Aug 1890 Franklin Grove married Julia Stevens, parents of 8 children, Marcus born 28 Aug 1824 NY died 18 Feb 1900 married Harriet Yale, Menzo born 30 Oct 1826 married Sarah E Dewey and had 4 children, Betsy born 12 Mar 1828 married Frederick Sussmilch, Rhoda born 20 May 1830 died in Iowa 1893, married Daniel Barber, and Charlotte born 20 Dec 1831 married Adrastus Tolman, parents of 7 children.

Nathan Whitney - complete biography in Biographies section

William Lader Girton was born 30 April 1830 Madison Twp. Columbia PA the son of William & Elizabeth (Runyon) Girton