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Woodstock, Illinois

Woodstock, Illinois
the County Seat

[The following was transcribed from the 1885 History of McHenry County by Anne Kunzen]

 The county seat of McHenry County is an enterprising city of about 2,000 inhabitants, situated neat the geographical center of the county and surrounded by rich farming districts on every side.  The site of the city is beautiful, the greater portion of it being slightly elevated above the surrounding country, while a general air of neatness and thrift, evident on every hand, adds much to the natural beauties of the place.  The well kept park in the center of the business portion of the city, the substantial brick blocks around it, the shaded streets and the comfortable and elegant private residences all declare to the chance visitor that the citizens are possessed of enterprise, intelligence, and good taste.  In its general aspect it is far more like a New England county seat than a Western town.  It is a city of homes, many of which are costly and beautiful, and all of which are neat and comfortable.
 The town was laid out by Alvin Judd in 1844.  After the plat was made Judd sold it to George C. Dean, who, in June 1844, caused it to be recorded.
 The place was first called Centreville; but as there are hundreds of villages and towns of the same name in the United States, the citizens early showed their good sense in seeking an appellation somewhat less common, and in February, 1845, the Legislature of the State passed a act changing the name to Woodstock.
 The first house within the limits of the town plat was built by Bradford Burbank, in 1843.  It was a log building and was removed years ago.
 Alvin Judd erected a frame building, second house in the town, in 1844, and opened the first tavern.  Joel H. Johnson built the third house, also frame, in the winter of 1845-‘6.  It is still standing, just west of the Baptist church, and is now occupied by Mr. Ed. Fured.
 In an old copy of the Woodstock Sentinel the following list of early settlers of town is given with the date of their coming to the county and to Woodstock:



                            

NAME 

CAME TO COUNTY

  CAME TO WOODSTOCK

Alvin Judd

1836

1844

Joel H. Johnson

1836

1844

James M. Judd

1836

1844

Wm. E. Dean

1843

1844

E.I. Smith

1838

1844

Neill Donnelly

1837

1848

John Donnelly

1837

1853

Abel W. Fuller

1845

1846

Wm. H. Beach

1837

1844

Levi Sherwood

1845

Oscar L. Beach

1837

1845

Josiah Dwight

1837

1847

Geo. H. Griffing

1837

1848

Lindsey Joslyn and Sons.
(M.L., Edward and F.C)

1838

1848

                                              


 The city has never had any periods remarkable for rapid growth.  It has, however, progressed and improved steadily, thus ensuring substantial prosperity.
 With the completion of the new courthouse in 1857 the citizens began to exhibit an active interest in village improvement.  In 1858 and 1859 the public square was graded and shade trees were set out.  Work on the streets was constantly and vigorously carried on, new streets made and old ones improved, sidewalks laid, and rubbish removed, until now Woodstock is noted far and near for its neat streets, good walks and thrifty appearance.
 
Woodstock Firsts
Mercantile and Industrial

 The first store in Woodstock was opened in 1845 by Josiah Dwight and Oscar L. Beach.  It stood where Whitson’s hardware now is. A little later in the same year Henry Petrie opened a store where John Donnelly’s now is.  He continued business here about 5 years.
 The firm Dwight & Beach was subsequently changed to Beach & Norton, and finally A.B. Norton conducted the business alone.  They had but a small stock.  A.W. Fuller started a store in 1848; subsequently I.B. Lyon became a partner under the name of Fuller & Lyon.  The firm next changed to Fuller & Sherwood, Mr. Fuller continued business until his death.
 Wm. Gunning and Allen Dufield opened a store in 1849 and carried on business about a year.  Gunning then sold out to John McClure.  The business was closed about three years later.
 Neill Donnelly opened a general store in 1849 and continued in business until 1883 when he died.  He was a shrewd business man, honest and very successful.
 John Donnelly started a grocery and liquor store in 1853.  He was also a prosperous merchant until his death in 1884.
 Ira C. Trowbridge set up a boot and shoe establishment in 1847 and continued in trade until about 1866 when he sold out and went to Minnesota.
 Among later merchants came Leonard Burtchy, Jr., A.W. Tappan, and L.B. Converse, _____Tripp, Joseph Hatch, Blakeslee, I.T. Salisbury, John Bunker, J.J. Murphy, Geo. W. Bentley, J.C. Choate and others.
 About 1849 the first hardware store was opened by Mr. Mansfield who continued in business several years.  J.A. Davis engaged in the same business later.  F.C. Joslyn opened a hardware store in 1868.
 A drug store was opened by C.B. Durfee in 1851.  He soon took Chris. Walters as partner.  In 1854 Dr. Baldwin bought the establishment and conducted it for three years.  He then sold out and moved to Elgin, and Durfee & Walters opened a dry-goods store.
 A drug store was also started in 1852 by Joseph Golder and Dr. Hedger.  The latter died a few months later.  In 1856 Dr. O.S. Johnson and Dr. A.D. Merritt bought the store of Golder.  Johnson subsequently sold to Merritt, and Merritt to a Frenchman: the latter sold to Holmes & Marvin, who were succeeded by Drs. Davis and Northrup, Nathan Jewett and Dr. Richardson.  The latter took Anderson Murphy as a partner.  Richardson next sold to L.T. Hoy and the firm was Hoy & Murphy until 1880, since when L.T. Hoy has been sole proprietor.
 About 1867 Dr. Stone bought C.B. Durfee’s drug store.  Several years later he sold out to Dr. Adams who conducted business until his death.  J.S. Wheat and A.S. Wright then bought the stock, and under the name Wheat & Wright the business was conducted until 1880.  A.S. Wright has since been proprietor.
 Wheat & Murphy next set up a drug store, and about two years ago the firm became Murphy & Blossom.
 The first jewelry store was established by Geo. F. Mills who was in business about seven years.  He was succeeded by George Sylvester, and Sylvester by M. Sherman who still conducts the business.  E.W. Blossom opened the next jewelry store in 1866 and is still in trade.
 The first wagon makers in the village were two brothers named Eddy who opened a shop in 1846.  The first blacksmith was H.P. Norton, and the first shoemaker, Ira C. Trowbridge.
 The first school was taught in the old courthouse (then new) in 1846.  The first religious services were also held in the courthouse.  They were conducted by Rev. Howe, a Presbyterian clergyman, in the winter of 1844-’45.
 Alvin Judd was the first hotel-keeper, opening his house to the public in 1844-’45.  It stood where the bank now is.  Marin Thrall bought it in 1855, and about five years later sold out to O.A. Kent who enlarged and improved the building and made it the Exchange Hotel.  He died while its proprietor, and his family continued the business until about 1868.  H.H. Hildreth was the next proprietor, succeeded by John H. Thomas.  The hotel was destroyed by fire in 1872.
 The Waverly House was built by Roswell Enos in 1851.  In 1854 it fell into the hands of Leander Church who enlarged it and gave it its present name.  Church sold out to Daniel W. Robinson who further enlarged the building to its present size.  He rented it to Geo. S. Sherwood, the present proprietor.
 The Richmond House, in Commercial Block, was built in 1874 and has since been conducted by E.H. Richmond.
 Rudolph Diesel started a furniture store over twenty years ago.
 A saw-mill was erected in 1852 by Enos W. Smith, and ran for about four years, doing a considerable business.  H.M. Wait and others started a flax-mill in 1846, and soon after converted it into a planing-mill.
 A tannery was started by Roswell Enos about 1854.  It was a small affair, and was destroyed by fire after being in operation a few years.
 Gilbert B. Dake and Cornelius Quinlan built a steam flouring mill in the north part of the city in 1856.  It proved an unprofitable venture and the mill has not been in operation for several years.  Later a grist-mill was run for a time on Phoenix Block.
 In 1866 J.C. Temple and Henry Eckert erected a foundry and machine-shop on Dean street, near the depot, at a cost of $8,000.  They carried on business in partnership for a time.  Then Teeple sold out and Eckert continued alone.  The property next came into the hands of L.H.S. Barrows, the present owner.  The foundry part of the business was abandoned some time ago.
 In 1868 C.B. Durfee began the manufacture of drain tile at Woodstock.  Soon after, the industry took the name of the Woodstock Brick, Drain and Peat Works, using the peat found in the vicinity for fuel.  The business was closed in 1873.



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