Richmond Township in the northeastern part of McHenry County, is bounded on the north
by the State of Wisconsin; on the east by Burton Township; on the south by McHenry Township; and on the west by
Hebron Township. It is a well-watered township, its streams being the North and South Branches whose waters find
their way into the Pox river. Twin Lakes have a small outlet which flows into the Nippersink. The surface of this
portion of McHenry County is nearly level and is well adapted to general agriculture. Where needed, there has been
considerable tile drain put into the land and this is annually being carried on.
["History of McHenry County, Illinois" Chicago: Munsell Pub. Co., 1922]
It was during Martin Van Buren's term, on the 15th of May, 1837, that Mr. A. McConnell and Charles A. Noyes pitched their tents upon the soil of Richmond, with the intention of becoming citizens of Illinois; then came John Purdy, who bought part of Noyes' claim. Alexander, David and William Gardner followed, settling the next year on Section 26, and began the march of improvement by putting up a saw mill on the Nippersink. In 1839, Stephen Pardee, Briggs Thomas and Jonathan Ineson made their claims and the Garners sold part of their water power, on the Nippersink, to Henry White and his son, John W., who, in 1840, erected the first flouring-mill in the county. These settlers, having come from a land of school houses, in the summer of 1839, built one of logs on the claim of William A. Mc Connell and called it Montalona school house, after the name of their first post office, whose Postmaster, William A. McConnell, received his commission from Amos Kendall, Van Buren's Postmaster General from 1837 to 1840. The second school house was built at Solon, in October, 1842, and Charles Knapp managed forty pupils the first year. Richmond village has the honor of constructing the first house of worship, which was a union affair between the Methodists and Congregationalists, Rev. N. Jewett being the first Pastor. The date of this building is unknown, nor how long it was so used, but the town now has four church buildings, owned respectively by the Catholics, Methodists, Baptists and Congregationalists; none of them being very strong in numbers. The aggregate cost of these buildings is, probably, $10,000.
The saw-mill, above mentioned as built by the Gardners, who were assisted by the Mansfield brothers, finally fell into the hands of the Whites, who found that it was not in the right place, so it had to be moved to the north side of the creek, and the same parties, in 1840, built a flouring-mill at Solon, which is said to have been the first grist-mill in the county. In 1844, C. G. Cotting and John Purdy, under the firm name of Cotting & Purdy, at an expense of $6,000, put up the mill at Richmond, now owned by Cole, Cooley &Co. Cotting & Purdy, after seven years, dissolved partnership, the business being continued by Cotting for thirteen years more, when it was bought by James Bacon & Son. This mill is now worth $20,000. They have recently put in a steam engime, so as to run the mill independent of the creek, if necessary. Robert S. Turner is now engaged in the erection of a third flouring-mill in the town and will soon be ready for business.
Two railroads cross this township, the Rockford & Kenosha crossing Section 6 in a northeast and south-west direction. The Elgin & State Line was built to Richmond in 1855. It enters the south side of the township, parallel to and almost identical with but a little west of the line between Sections 32 and 33, thence to Richmond village, whence it bears to the west, leaving the State about one-third of a mile west of the east line of Section 5. This town has about seven and a half miles of railroad. The first train was run across the Nippersink, to where the depot now stands, on the 26th of November, 1855.
That depot was rather a diminutive affair and was long since replaced by the present building. Hon. William A. McConnell is one of the Directors of this road.
One-half mile west of the village may be found the pioneer cheese factory of McHenry County, which was built by Wm. A. McCconnell. It is of wood 30x112 feet, two stories high, is still running and making more cheese than any other in the county. At Spring Grove, near the east line of the town, is another similar structure; in fact, the dairy business is the leading interest of the town.Cotting & Purdy built the first store at Richmond, in 1844, which they rented to the firm of Hale, Lee & Lay, of Kenosha, Wis., who put in a large stock, in charge of Edwin A. Lay. They traded here seven years, then went to Chicago. Previous to this time, in May, 1842, R. R. Crosby opened a store at Solon, Leverett Steele being afterward associated with him. This Steele was the first Postmaster at Solon.
The village of Richmond was laid out by Cotting & Purdy in 1844, and Solon about the same time. The former has a very fine school library, of four hundred volumes, which is well cared for, and shows that it is useful as well as ornamental. At the time of the settlement, game, consisting of geese, ducks, grouse, and deer, was abundant, while the Nippersink furnished plenty of fish to those who loved the rod. The north and the south branches of this creek unite near the center of Section 27, a little southwest of Solon, whence it flows nearly east into Burton, thence southeast into the northeast corner of McHenry, finally finding its way into the Fox River. This town is well adapted to stock, and the creek affords a fine water power. John Purdy was the first Justice of the Peace, who was succeeded by R. R. Crosby. The village of Richmond has a graded school, of three rooms, and its reputation is good.
Elder Joel Wheeler, now of McHenry, preached the first sermon in the township, in July, 1838, and, in October following, L. S. Walker came from the M. E. Church Conference and formed the first Methodist class. The first birth occurred in the family of John Purdy, on July 4, 1838, and was a girl. The first death was in the same family and the second son, who died August 19, 1839, aged 21 years.
[Submitted by Anne Kunzen (unknown data source]
To Hon. William A. McConnell belongs the distinction of having been the first pioneer to invade the prairie wilds of this township. He located here in 1837 and built a log cabin 16x18 feet. Following him came Charles A. Noyes, John Purdy, Todd Francis, Daniel Newcombe, William and Alexander Gardner, Stephen Pardee and R. R. Crosby, the majority of whom arrived in 1838.
The first white person to die in this township was Francis Purdy, who passed away in August, 1839, and was buried in the Richmond Cem-etery. One week later, Hannah Thomas passed from earth. She was the daughter of Briggs and Amy Thomas.
The first white child born in the township was Sarah, daughter of John and Pamelia Purdy; the date of her birth was July 4,1839. The earliest marriage of parties living within this township was that of Andrew Kennedy and Laura Warner, in 1844.
Alexander and David Williams commenced erecting a sawmill in 1838, on the Nippersink Creek. Later this mill became the property of Henry and John W. White. The last two mentioned built a gristmill at Solon in 1840, the first of its kind in the county.
This building was built at the cost of $25,000, but it is stated that $40,000 would not build such a structure today.
The post office here is a third-class one and has two rural free delivery routes connected with it—No. 1 in charge of Clyde Wilson; No. 2 in charge of F. G. Motley. These routes are about twenty-nine miles in length. The postmasters, since the establishment of the office, have been: William McConnell, appointed 1838, who was succeeded by William Adams, D. Bennett, Luther Emmons, Dr. Stone, Allen Potter, J. V. Aldrich, D. A. Potter, Marcus Foot, J. V. Aldrich, J. T, Bower, J. V. Aldrich and W. P. Stevens, who was commissioned in 1914.
The village erected a large town hall for general public purposes in 1900 at a cost of $15,000, and it is known as "Memorial Hall." It was named for Charles DeWitt McConnell who donated $10,000 toward its building.
The oldest burying ground in this township is the one at the village of Richmond. Another cemetery was established at Solon very soon after the one at Richmond. Another in the White schoolhouse district, was among the first to be in general use.
VILLAGE OF RICHMOND
Richmond was platted in 1844 by Charles Cotting and Theodore Purdy. It is situated on sections 9 and 16, and is on the banks of Nippersink Creek. The same year that the village was platted, Messrs. Cot-ting and Purdy built a gristmill, and at its frame raising (a great event those days) the offer was made by its owners that whoever climbed to the top of the building could have the naming of the new village. Isaac M. Reed reached the top of the building and named the place Richmond, after a favorite town of his in Vermont. At first this township was named Montelona, but later it took that of Richmond.
Charles Noyes erected the first house in the village of Richmond. This was built of logs and was 20x24 feet in size. Ralph Andrews was the pioneer wagonmaker, and David C. Andrews was the first blacksmith ; the first lawyer was C. K. Young and the pioneer physician was Dr. Hessett. Of a somewhat later date, the business and professional factors in Richmond were as follows: P. W. Mead, George Alfs, Robert Johnnott, H. Chevillin, A. P. Gray, Dr. I. B. Rice, A. R. Alexander, Downing & Dennison, John West, C. E. Culver, H. P. Boutell, Milan Hicks, C. P. Paxton, Aldrich & Burton, C. F. Hall & Co., D. A. Potter, Smith & nay-thorn, John Billings, Cropper & Co. With the many changes in the passing of multiplied years down to the present, the village has never ceased to progress with other parts of the county.
A fine modern public school building was erected in 1910. It is a two-story and basement structure. It has six main rooms and there are seven teachers. Its first session was held, commencing January 1, 1911. ["History of McHenry County, Illinois" Chicago: Munsell Pub. Co., 1922- transcribed by K. Torp]
[NOTE: David C. Andrews' wife was Harriet Cheney born Dec 6, 1801 in East Hartford Connecticut. She died Oct 1862 - b. Sept 6, 1948; d. Jan 25, 1985; Submitted by Dennis Gleeson]