Welcome to  Genealogy Trails

Grafton Township


History of Grafton Township

written and contributed by Jake Marino 2007

 Places of recognition in Grafton Township


Grafton Township First Events 

The first child born in the township was Marion, who was the son of William Robb. 
The first person to die in the township was Charles Stowell
The first school, erected in 1842, was in a log cabin west of the future town of Huntley. 
The first teacher of that school was
Cynthia Thompson
The first religious service was held in the Prescott Wittemore house.  The Wittemore house was also the first house in the township.  The structure was also used as a road house. 
The first township election occurred on April 2, 1850 in the home of
Lewis Holdridge.
  The elected officers are as follows:
Thomas Huntley, Supervisor; Stewart Cummings, Clerk; E. S. Haydon, Assessor; W. S. Robb, Collector; Prescott Wittemore, Overseer of the Poor; Wm. Chambers, Elisha Dayton, and Sanford Haight, Commissioners of Highways; J. Holbert and J. Hoyt, Justices of the Peace; Wm. Robb and W. Smith, Constables. 

Thomas Huntley

Thomas S. Huntley


Thomas S. Huntley moved from New York to McHenry County in 1846.  He owned and operated a farm north of the future town.  When he learned that the proposed Chicago-Galena (later the Chicago-Northwestern) railroad was going to run near by, he purchased land along the future line.  He earmarked land for Churches, businesses, a cemetery, and a town square.  The town was officially founded in 1851, the same year that the first train came through. 

Huntley First Events and Early Businesses
The first house built after the town was founded was by
Thomas S. Huntley and was first used as a dry goods store.  It was also the first business to open. 

One of the first hotels was constructed by Sanford Haight and served as Glazier s Hall.  The structure, which burned down, was located on the east end of the town square. 

The first hardware store was opened by Mr. Marshall in 1862. 

The first harness shop opened in 1856 by F. J. Glazier.  In 1856, the first shoe shop was opened by H. B. Brown and R. C. Van Hoozen. 

The first wagon shop opened in either 1856 or 1857 by A. M. Robinson. 

The first blacksmith shop was opened by Dwight Ramsdell

The first school in the village was in 1851 in a frame building west of the village.  The first class was made up of thirteen pupils. 

The first post office in Huntley was established in 1851. The first postmaster was Stewart Cummings, who was appointed June 19, 1851. 

The first doctor in the village was Dr. Ainsworth.

Other early businesses include the Devine and Skeel s general store, T. R. Ferris- druggist, W. J. Pfeifer- grocer, and Dr. C. E. Cook- physician, druggist, bank owner. 

Main and Church Streets
Corner of Main and Church Streets circa 1900.
Early Settlers

Richard S. Hadley- Came in 1840 from New York. Built the first Hip Roof barn in the area in 1871.  Born Feb 22, 1821, died in 1890.Prescott Wittemore- Came in 1839 from New Hampshire.

J. S. Cummings- Came into the area in 1838.  Born in 1830 in New York.
John Conover- Came in 1844 from New York.  Born in 1824.
John F. Randall- came in 1840. Settled three miles southwest of town.  Moved into town in 1871.  Born may 27, 1837.
Mr. and Mrs. C. D. Chase- Came about 1888 from St. Louis.  Tried building a machine that would fly.  Attempts were made from Michael Hill.  Built a clock that would tell time for all parts of the world at the same time.  Tried to find a use for milk rather than butter and cheese.
The Huntley Mill
The Huntley Mill was owned by the Lattimer Brothers.  The brothers fabricated the first pneumatic tire in the United States.  Goodyear and Goodrich both wanted to buy the patent. A final offer of $25,000 was made, a large sum for the day.  The offer was refused and the brothers manufactured the tires for buggies, hearses, hacks, and other vehicles that would be used around the late 1800s to the early 1900s.  One of the brothers also had an inventive mind and invented a checker for a corn planter.  The mill eventually became the Victor Mey creamery and later Hilbert s feed mill before being razed in the 1940s.  The site is currently a parking lot for Dean Foods, located to the east across the tracks.

Other Notable Information

Around the late 1800s, Huntley was the Milk Capitol of the World, producing more dairy per capita than any other place.  The D. E. Wood creamery was, when it was constructed, the largest in the state.  Dairy products were even shipped from Huntley to England. 

Huntley was the first town in the county to consolidate its schools, which occurred in 1920. Huntley was also the first town to get school busses in the county, which were driven by high school      

The First Congregational Church in Huntley is the oldest church in continuous use, being constructed in 1864. 


©Genealogy Trails