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THE DAIRY BUSINESS.
The dairy business takes the lead in farm products, there being, in the county, no less than twenty cheese and butter factories in operation, the most of them making both, while several confine their operations to butter alone, and a smaller nurnber to cheese alone.
The first factory was built in 1866, in the township of Hebron, by R. W. & W. H. Stewart. About the same time, Dr. R. R. Stone built one at Richmond, and recently, D. E. Wood & Co., at Huntley, have put up the largest factory in the county. There are about twenty-seven or twenty-eight all told, but some of them are closed.
The number of cows connected with these factories is from 12,000 to 15,000, and the total product of milk is probably 30,000,000 pounds, of which 3,000,000 is made into cheese, producing about $300,000 per year; and the receipts for butter are about one-third as much.
Of milk otherwise disposed of, about 1,000,000 pounds is shipped to Chicago in eight-gallon cans, this producing about $10,000 a year. The above, including milk used at home and fed to stock, would make the value of this product alone about $700,000.
The heaviest operator in the factory line is Dr. R. R. Stone, of Richmond, who now controls about one-fourth of that business in the county.
During the war of the Rebellion, McHenry County responded promptly to every call of the government; the number of men furnished being 2,533, which is just three less than the number required, but as many enlisted in the Irish Legion, who do not appear upon the records of the county, the number must have been in excess of that given. It has been found impossible to ascertain the precise number who went from each township, for the reason that men who belonged in one township were frequently credited to another, because enlisting there, it being the custom to consider a man as belonging where he was enrolled.
The county issued bounty orders, to the amount of $260,000, of which about $90,000 remains outstanding. Part of these orders drew ten and part eight per cent., but last year (1876) they were, by order of the Board of Supervisors, funded into eight per cent.
Progress from the log school house, with its puncheon floor and slab seats, has been as rapid as in any other county in the State. School edifices of frame, brick and stone have superseded the log expediency, while a system of supervi.
sion has largely increased the efficiency of teachers, and in the various cities and villages of the county, the graded system has been introduced. From the first schools of Wm. M. Jackson, in Coral, in 1838 to 1875, the school houses have increased to 150, while the number of pupils, according to the census of 1870, was 11,890, of whom 7,000 were enrolled. The amount paid teachers was $13,000 in 1874. The number of female teachers, during the last twenty years, has doubled, while the number of male teachers has increased but oneseventh. The average daily attendance is about one-half of the school census, or 5,995, being about two-thirds of the enrollment.
Formerly the county made ample provision for school supervision, appointing Carlisle Hastings to the office of School Commissioner in 1840, but under the new school law, the duties of the School Superintendent are limited to making an annual report to the State Superintendent, apportioning the public money, loaning the county funds, examining teachers and visiting schools when required by school officers, he receiving four dollars a day when engaged in his official duties.
In the fall of 1874, at Nunda, the teachers organized a County Association for mutual improvement. It meets monthly, numbers fifty members, and is in a flourishing condition.
The county has twenty-two school libraries, the best one being at Richmond.
THE TEACHERS' INSTITUTE
Was organized by Rev. R. K. Todd, during the first year of his first term as School Commissioner. It was held in the old court house, continued for one week, had an aggregate attendance of one hundred and fifty, much exceeding the expectations of the presiding officer, who, in conducting the exercises, was assisted by several of the citizens of the town. This was in the fall of 1849, and each fall, during his term, a similar meeting was held, but during the reign of his successor the interest dwindled until A. W. Smith, on assuming the office in 1855, had some difficulty in re-awakening the teachers' dormant interest in this means of improvement. His institutes were held for two weeks, and at his third meeting, in the fall of 1856, a constitution was adopted, and the Institute began to assume a permanent form. Mr. Smith was the first to
outside the county for instruction to the members, he having, at his second gathering, the State Superintendent.
School Commissioner Hutchinson was succeeded, in 1855, by Asa W. Smith, Esq., who shall be allowed to tell his own story:
· In the fall of 1855, I was elected School Commissioner, and, upon accepting the office, found it to be one of my legal duties to visit schools fifty days in a year, with a compensation of $2 a day. There were at that time somewhat over two hundred schools in the county. Notwithstanding it was big work and small pay,' I resolved to undertake the task, which was performed by visit
ing two schools daily, and lecturing at night in the most convenient place for the accommodation of the two districts thus visited.
“In October, 1856, the present organization known as the McHenry County Teachers' Institute was formed.
“ In 1857, we had the most successful and interesting Institute of my time as an active member thereof. It was quite generally attended by the best teachers of the county, among whom were Rev. R. K. Todd, John A. Parrish, S. F. Bennett, Theodore Mead, M. F. Ellsworth, two Misses Thomas, Miss Jewett, Miss Achsee Smith, Miss Thompson, Miss H. S. Corey, Mrs. C. M. Smith and many others.”
The records of the Institute referred to by Mr. Smith cannot be found since the election of G. S. Southworth, into whose hands they never came; so the McHenry County Teachers' Institute is without a regular organization, further than may be necessary to hold one meeting.
Since 1857, the Institute has not met regularly, except during the terms of A. Brown, A. J. Kingman, G. S. Southworth and the present incumbent, Wm. Nickle. Its meetings have generally been held in Woodstock, but sometimes they have gone to McHenry, Richmond and Nunda.
The Woodstock University of Rev. R. K. Todd grew out of the necessities of the people, who, feeling their need of a better education than could be had in the public schools of the county, as early as 1848 began to urge him to open a school. He finally consented; and, from himself and wife as teachers, the school grew into the second hundred and the teachers were multiplied by four. A suitable building was erected on his lot, a little east of his residence, and, with 150 students, school had been in operation for about twelve weeks when, in the early part of the winter of 1861, he was called up in the night to see his school building become a heap of smouldering ashes.
His loss was about $7,000, and, feeling sure that he had no enemy who could do that, and, being equally certain that the fire could not have been the work of accident, inquiry was set on foot and the deed traced to one Cosgrove, who accused another person of having hired him to do the deed. This other person proved to be one to whom Mr. Todd, when School Commissioner, had refused a certificate on the ground of moral character ; but, being too adroit in covering up his tracks, he could not be convicted. Cosgrove, however, was sent to prison for six years, but was pardoned out at the end of two, and moved to Will County. The real criminal has never been heard from since the trial.
At the fire, or immediately after its occurrence, Mr. Todd promised to open his school again within ten days, in the basement of the then unfinished Presbyterian Church, which was done. The school was continued there till 1867, when it was moved into a newly built addition to his residence, where it still continues, but, for several years, has been for boys only.
The University was incorporated a short time previous to the fire.
Crystal Lake ice has such a reputation for coolness and clearness, that the people of Chicago would not care to dispense with it; and no history of MCHenry County would be complete that did not give some account of it, which, through the kindness of John Brink, Esq., we are enabled to do:
The Crystal Lake Ice Company, consisting of Joy, Frisbie and others, was organized in 1855, and put up some 7,000 to 9,000 tons of ice, which Joy sold in the city. The ensuing year, Joy & Frisbie had the concern entirely on their own hands, and, from that time to 1860, shipped yearly 10,800 tons. The houses were burned that year and, till 1863, Crystal Lake ice was unknown in Chicago; but Joy, Smith and others organized another company, putting up and selling ice for the ensuing six years, when the Fire King closed them out a second time.
During these six years, the company put up and sold about the same quantity yearly that had been done by the company burnt out in 1860. From 1869 to 1873, the lake had a rest, the only ice cut being for private use or sent into Chicago by the carload, probably 2,000 tons yearly; then C. S. and J. H. Dole got possession of the lake, and, in the winter of 1873–4, they put up and filled six ice houses, each having a capacity of 1,250 tons, or 7,500 tons, besides shipping to different places 3,000 tons more—a total of 10,500
The next winter the number of their ice houses was increased to eight, capable of holding 12,000 tons, whilst, during that winter, 7,000 tons was shipped, making 19,000 in all. In the winter of 1875–6, they filled their houses and shipped 1,200 carloads, making, altogether, 26,400 tons. This fall they are putting up four more buildings near the others, the new ones being 38x148 feet and thirty feet high. This will give them twelve ice houses, to fill which they are putting in an engine of twenty-five horse power.
These new ice houses will hold an aggregate of 14,416 tons, which, added to the capacity of the old ones, gives a total of 26,416 tons, the amount that will be put up this winter and, probably, half as much shipped. These houses are situated at the south end of the lake, near the outlet, in a beautiful grove, and are fenced in with a tight board fence eight feet high.
Of course, a business that has, in so short a time, grown to so large proportions has not yet arrived at its maximum, and we may look to see those ice houses doubled in number within the next ten years, unless Chicago should cease to grow or contrive some better way to keep themselves cool and preserve their meats during the hot weather. The ice harvest gives employment to many who, but for that, coming, as it does, when there is nothing else to do, would
go idle and want for the luxuries, if not for the necessaries of life.
In 1855–6, the C. & N-W. Ry, then called the Chicago, St. Paul & Fond du Lac, was built through the county, and its effect was greatly to stimulate business, legitimate and illegitimate. Every village traversed by the road was destined to be a city, and corner lots went up to fabulous prices. People have now learned that means of transportation alone do not build up a town; to do that, requires bodies to be fed, lodged and clothed.
The Fox River Valley, now the Elgin & State Line, was built at the same time by a different company, but never having been a paying investment, has been absorbed by the Chicago & North-Western.
The Galena & Chicago Union Railroad was built in 1854. It is now the Galena Division of the Chicago & North-Western Railway, and has three depots in the county-one at Huntley, one at Union, and one at Marengo. And the Rockford & Kenosha first began to run trains in 1861. It forms part of the same corporation, and has a depot at each of the following named places: Hebron, Alden and Chemung.