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ALGONQUIN, TOWNSHIP 43, RANGE 8. This appears to have been settled the first in the county. Samuel Gillilan, in 1834, coming from Virginia and settling on 'Section 23, where his widow, Mrs. Margaret Gillilan, and her son Richard now reside. John Gillilan came soon after, locating on the other side of the river and about the same distance from the present village. In 1836, Mr. A. N. Beardsley settled on Crystal Lake Prairie, Beman Crandall also making his claim about the same time. Z. Beardsley, Najah Beardsley and Mr. Lanphier, Isaac and William King, Wesley Hickox, William Powell and father, Dr. Plumleigh, Esq. Chunn, Nelson Thomas, the Crabtrees, at Carey Station. From that time to 1839, when H. B. Throop located on Section 10, and was several times County Commissioner. In 1841, John Brink came with his compass and chain, since which time the county has never been without a County Surveyor. In 1836 or 1837, a Dr. Cornish settled near Algonquin, and looked after the health of the early and later settlers.
A log school house was built in the village of Crystal Lake in 1838, and the first school of twenty pupils was taught by Miss Hannah Beardsley, now Mrs. Hannah Wallace. The second term was under the rule of Frederick Joslyn, now of Woodstock.
The Baptist denomination, in 1842, built the first church in the township, at Crystal Lake, their first pastor being Rev. A. Pease. Rev. L. S. Walker, of the M. E. Church, preached the first sermon, at the house of A. W. Beardsley. Nathan Jewett and Elder Wheeler also officiated. In 1840, Rev. Seth Barnes preached the gospel according to Universalism. There are now five churches in Crystal Lake—Congregationalist, Baptist, Episcopal, Free Methodist and Lutheran, while at Algonquin village there are two, Episcopal and Congregationalist, the former in charge of Rev. Peter Arvedson, who settled there in 1842. The village of Cary has also a Free Methodist Church. These church buildings are estimated to have cost $19,500.
The Congregationalists at Crystal Lake have a membership of 105; the Baptists, 60; and the Free Methodists, 80. The Lutherans, under the pastorate of Rev. H. G. Smith, have 150.
Near Chunn's Creek, the Catholics have a church, principally Bohemians, with 100 members.
Benjamin Douglas and Col. Huffman erected the first saw-mill, in 1839, on Crystal Lake outlet, about three-quarters of a mile from the lake. A saw-mill was built at Algonquin village, in 1842, by A. Dawson, and another was built in 1840 on Chunn Creek, five miles northeast of Algonquin, by 'Squire Chunn, and Job Toles, in company with a Mr. Northrop, put up a grist-mill on the same creek in 1862. In 1848, a grist-mill was erected by Burger & Cornish, on the outlet of Crystal Lake, on the Cornish farm. The grist-mill at Algonquin, on the east side of the river, was commenced by A. Dawson and finished in 1849 by Henry Petrie. The only brick-mill in the township is on Crystal Lake outlet, at Algonquin, and was built in 1850, by Dr. Thomas Plumleigh, at an estimated cost of $12,000. The saw mills are gone, but the grist mills are still in full blast and doing a good business. The frame mill is now owned by Peacock Bros. ; the brick-mill by Messrs. Marshall; that on the outlet by T. Richards, and the one on Chunn Creek by George Jayne.
The father of the dairy business is Daniel Mitchell, who, some years ago, commenced sending his milk to Chicago. He now milks about forty-two cows. There are many more dairymen, whose names must be omitted for want of space. Milk is the leading product of the town, about half being shipped to Chicago and the remainder carried to the cheese factory at the village, which was put up in 1874 by Dr. Stone, of Richmond.
Crystal Lake is the oldest village, having been laid out in 1839 or 1840, and the next was Algonquin, Cary coming in last, in 1854.
A. W. Beardsley set out the first orchard at Crystal Lake, but there is no nursery in the town.
This town, too, is the happy possessor of the only library in the township, which is a circulating one of some 200 volumes.
Crystal Lake, being the oldest village, must have had the first store, and we find that in 1840 or thereabouts, Mr. Anar offered goods for sale across the counter in that town.
The early history of this town, as told by the pioneers, contains many an incident giving color to the suspicion that the timber along the river formed a good hiding place for horse thieves, and the inaccessibility of Bogus Island made it equally a resort for counterfeiters, and it is said that it was in ferreting out that nest of outlaws Allen Pinkerton first gave evidence of those talents that have since made bim famous. There are rumors, too, of an insurrection among the hands engaged in building the F. V. R. R., in which something more powerful than moral suasion was used, but the thing is too dim and vague to form part of this record.
Algonquin contains a great variety of soil, with its timber, prairies and bottom land, making it about equally adapted to grain or stock. In the latter, , C. S. Dole, of Crystal Lake, has as fine a lot of horses and cattle as can be found in the State. He keeps thoroughbred stock only; and the ice-houses on the lake show how much it costs to keep Chicago cool during the summer months. B. Carpenter, James Crow and T. H. Ashton also keep some fine stock; and Elijah Birch never fails to carry off the premiums on Leicester sheep
Crystal Lake has one hotel, kept by T. G. Aston, and there is one at Algonquin, kept by Charles Pingry; and the first tavern at the Lake was opened by Lyman King; the first at Algonquin, by Eli Henderson ; David Weaver cares for the traveling public at Cary.
The first child born in the township was Wm. H. Beardsley, son of A. H. and Mary Beardsley ; born in 1837.
CRYSTAL LAKE VILLAGE.
Crystal Lake has three stores, all of pretty much the same character, except that Hill keeps drugs, Marlow & Fitch, hardware, and Buckholtz & Dydeman dry goods and groceries only. At Algonquin they have a like number, Tomisky keeping dry goods and groceries, Chappel & Furgeson the same, Peter & Helm sell hardware, and Mr. Chunn keeps drugs. James Nish keeps the only store at Cary.
VILLAGE OF ALGONQUIN.
The village of Algonquin is pleasantly situated in the irregular valley formed by the junction of Crystal Lake Outlet with Fox River. It is the most picturesque village in the county; the river, the bluffs and the narrow valley combining to give the place a striking and attractive appearance.
At the time of its settlement, the Indian trail across the river at the ford was still visible, and the plow still turns up quantities of those implements so well known to relic hunters—arrow heads, stone hatchets and the chisel-shaped stone they used in skinning game. Indian graves abound, many of which have been opened.
The village was first known as Cornish Ferry, from the doctor of that name, living near. Later a vote of the people changed the name to Osceola, but upon learning that there was already one town of that name, the matter was left to Mr. Edwards, a large property hoider of the town, who having once owned a boat by the name of Algonquin, gave that name to the rising town.
This township is crossed in a northerly and southerly direction by the Elgin & State Line R. R., formerly the F. V. R. R., then as the Fox River branch of the Galena & Chicago Union, but being finally absorbed by the C. & N. W. R. R., received its present name.
The cheese and butter factory at the village produces daily about 75 pounds of butter and 500 pounds of cheese, giving a yearly product of 27,000 pounds
of the former, and 182,500 pounds of the latter; to effect which the milk of some 500 cows is daily passed through their weighing can. In addition to the above, the milk of near 1,500 cows goes to Chicago daily, in eight-gallon cans. In 1875, the amount so shipped was 584,000 gallons, at a net price to the dairyman of 124 cents per gallon.
It is estimated by good judges that at least one-half a million dollars is invested in this business in the farms marketing their produce at Algonquin. In addition to the stores mentioned above as being in the township, this village has two wagon shops, three blacksmith shops, and a factory for milk cans that turns out about 400 yearly, at five dollars each.
The water power of Fox River at this point is estimated at 100, not onefourth of which is used by the mill at the east end of the bridge. Here is an abundance of power that needs nothing but capital and brains to put wheels in motion and develop wealth.
ALDEN, TOWNSHIP 46, RANGE 6.
In the fall of 1836, Nathan and Darius Disbrow made a claim where the village of Alden now stands, on Section 15. In 1838, their father, Asahel Disbrow, followed, and, at about the same time, came Joel Brandon, H. Bashford, Ransom Parish, T. B. Wakeman and D. Rider, all of whom came from Greene County, New York.
A log school house was put up in 1841, a few rods from where the depot now stands, and school opened by Miss Clarissa Nelson, whose charge consisted of nine pupils. This shows that, in common with the early settlers of the other towns, they had not forgotten their training. It was the school first, then the church.
The first religious society organized in the township, and the only one now possessing a place of worship, was that of the Methodist Episcopal Church, in 1838, at which time it could boast of a total of nine members—just equal, in point of numbers, to Miss Nelson's school. The Pastor's name was Rev. L. S. Walker. In 1861, this society, at a cost of about $1,600, built themselves a church, which still stands, but has recently been repaired and frescoed, so that it is comfortable and pleasing to worshipers.
While the men, under direction of the society, were at work at the buildingfor they thought they could do it cheaper themselves than to let out the job, they neglected to prepare for wind, and a thunder storm leveled the uncovered frame to the ground. This second framing and raising added so much to the cost that, upon completing the structure, the society found itself near $800 in debt, to clear which, an excursion, by railroad, to Rockford was undertaken, and, as the Ninety-fifth regiment was encamped there at the time and this was the pioneer excursion, the society came out ahead.
The Presbyterians, in 1861, formed themselves into a society, but were too few to build a church, nor did they keep up the organization more than ten years.
A steam mill for grinding feed, the only one in the township, was built by one Thompson, in 1873.
The Rockford & Kenosha Railroad crosses the township in an irregular curve from the southwest corner of the northwest quarter of Section 31, to the northeast corner of Section 13, making about eight miles of road, with one depot at Alden, which was built in 1861, W. W. Wedgewood being the first Station Agent.
Alden has one cheese factory, which was built in 1870, and disposes of the milk of 300 to 500 cows, according to the season and time of year.
The early settlers, being from York State, could not forget the fruit so familiar to their boyhood, and we find that, in 1848, a Mr. Easton planted a nursery to supply the demand for apple trees. The only nursery now in the township is owned by Mr. Wedgewood; it consists chiefly of apple trees and has been in operation about four years. The first apple seeds were planted by Sidney Disbrow, in 1838, and the trees thus produced are still living and flourishing
Alden has no public library and no village, except the one above mentioned.
Of course these settlers had wants which they could not supply from the products of their farms, and P. W. Lake, in 1848, opened a general store in the building now occupied by Mr. Geo. B. Andrews, and where a store has been continued from that date.
The first post office was opened in 1844, with Frank Wedgewood for Postmaster. It was called Wedgewood, but finally changed to Alden.
Two years before the advent of the mail carrier, James Wedgewood saw the need of a blacksmith shop and erected his forge. At the present time two anvils are kept busy in the village.
At the time of the establishment of the post office, T. B. Wakeman was the only as he was the first Justice of Peace, and belonged to Chemung Precinct.
Had it not been for the prairie wolves, which at that time were plentiful, Alden might have gone without mutton some years longer than they did, and it is believed to be the only instance in the history of Illinois, at least, where wolves have had any hand in the importation or the exportation of sheep, but in 1839 Mr. Asahel Disbrow saved seven sheep from the wolves. Where they came from was unknown, but the wolves were certainly driving them. A few days afterward a Mr. Stafford, from Bigfoot, in the northeast corner of the county, called at Disbrow's and claimed the sheep, which the latter bought of him, and thenceforth wool and mutton figured among the staple productions of Alden.
At present, Sidney Disbrow is the only Notary Public in the township.