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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 Gardners sold a 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. McConnell 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; I 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 engine, 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 southwest 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. McConnell. 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 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.


This township was settled from 1836 to 1843 by T. W. Cobb, Roswell Bates, N. E. Barnes, Jenkins Underwood and Osborn, and, in 1845, they built on the north part of the town a frame school house, showing that these settlers, too, came from a land where education was deemed as necessary as dollars.

Having plenty of facilities in adjoining townships, they have erected no church within their limits; the population being almost equally divided between the Methodist and Congregationalist denominations, who hold their meetings in the various school houses, of which at present there are eight.

The dairy business forms quite an item in the industries of this town, about thirty of its farmers being engaged in some branch of the milk business, and the town has one cheese factory.

Riley has many good orchards that produce an abundance of apples and cherries, but there are no nurseries in the township, Marengo being able to supply all wants of that kind.

In early times, Riley had a store kept by H. G. Hastings, but now Marengo is handy enough for all practical purposes.

This township is well adapted to either grain or stock, and several of the large farmers have turned their attention to fattening steers for the Chicago market.

About three-fourths of her soil is prairie and one-fourth timber.

Riley possesses one improvement that she can boast of, but manifests no disposition to do so, and that is a Town House. The other towns do their business on election days in school houses and halls.

Though not so well watered as some of the towns, it possesses one stream of water called Coon Creek, the two branches of which unite on Section 22, near the Town House and cheese factory, thence flowing northwest and passing out into Boone County about the middle of the west line of Section 6.


Wm. Deitz, Mr. Dickerson, Spencer Flanders, Jasper Havens, Levi Morsey and Joseph Hanna, from Virginia, made claims in and about Franklinville in 1835–36, and that same fall the settlers put up a frame school house a little west of the site of the present one in that hamlet. Mr. Albro was the first settler of Franklinville in 1836.

The school house, in 1845, was followed by the church, the Methodists erecting the house in 1849 which now stands a little north of the corners, and the next year the first funeral was held there upon the death of Mrs. Ellis, the mother of Mrs. Geo. T. Kasson. No other denomination has a house of worship in this township or holds regular meetings.

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In 1839, a Mr. Lockwood opened a store at the corners, and the ensuing year exchanged with Mr. Robinson, of Geneva. Robinson was succeeded by Harley Wayne in 1843, who, after about six months, took in Geo. T. Kasson. This firm continued about a year, when Kasson sold out to his partner, and in company with Mr. U. T. Hyde, opened the second store, which was soon sold out to Mr. Allen, when Kasson and Hyde put' up a third store building. Franklinville, at that time, giving promise of a lively town.

In 1843, through the efforts of John Wentworth (Long John) then Congressman from this district, the place was named Belden, and had a post office, Sylvester Mead being the first Postmaster. The name for the post office came about in this way: A law of Congress had established a mail route from Marengo to Woodstock, via John Belden's, who lived near the south branch of the Kish waukee, and Long John coming to Franklinville, saw the germ of a future city and said to the crowd in the store, “Why, you ought to have a post office here." That was not disputed, but the route, by way of Belden's, seemed to be in the way. Wentworth cut the Gordian knot by the remark, “Why not call this Belden Post Office ?" The thing was done, and Franklinville had a Postmaster till about 1866, when it was discontinued. The name Franklinville was given to the town in honor of Mr. Franklin Stringer. As Postmaster, Mead was succeeded by H. Wayne, and he by G. T. Kasson.

A Mr. White and family came into this township, from one of the Carolinas, in 1835 or '36, and settled on Section 29, where soon after White & Son put up a saw-mill at the confluence of the middle and north branches of the Kishwaukee. It is not now in operation ; but shortly afterward, Geo. Smith & Son erected a flour and saw-mill on the main stream of the same creek, on Section 30, which is still doing a good business under the name of Geo. Smith & Co. Another saw-mill was built at Anderson's, by Graves, in 1844. It was a kind of partnership concern, by which A. W. Anderson furnished the site and the engine, Graves building the mill.

Dairying is a leading business in this township, the first cheese factory having been built by Jackson & -, at Franklinville, in 1868—since moved a little south, and now owned by Dr. Stone, of Richmond.

About one year ago, a feed store was put in, and the concern now makes butter, cheese and grinds feed. The next year, Bigelow put up the second factory on his farm, about a mile west of Franklinville, and after doing business a few years, leased the farm and factory to I. Boies, of Marengo. It has, for the past two years, been managed by his two nephews as a butter factory, exclusively. Beside these two there are several private daries, among the largest of which are those of H. Foote, on Section 25, and C. G. Perkins, on Section 24.

Seneca, in literary matters, takes no second place, the ladies having, several years since, organized themselves into a Literary Society that meets semimonthly at the house of one of its members, the object of the society being to

procure good reading as cheaply as may be. There are now in their library 152 volumes, but they have had many more, it being their custom to sell off the old books at auction, when they are no longer in demand by the members, and thus get money for a new supply. School District No. 2 also has a library of eighty-five volumes.

As an illustration of the difference in prices between that time, 1836 to 1850, and this, it is said, by those who dealt at Franklinville (whose surname, for a long time, was Snarltown), that Wayne could buy all the eggs and butter he wanted at five cents a dozen for the former and ten cents a pound for the latter, in trade, while corn brought but twelve and a half cents a bushel, in barter.

In putting down the rebellion, Seneca took an active part, one family, named Penmen, within the limits of the township, sending every member, to wit: father, mother, four sons, daughter and son-in-law. What is still more wonderful, they all returned in safety. But the crowning glory of the town took place on the Fourth of July, 1876, when Mayor Donnelly, having offered a flag to the township bringing in the largest delegation to the Woodstock celebration, Seneca brought in nearly eight hundred and captured the prize.





Value of

Value of
Farms and Value of

Farming Live Stock.








Alden..... Algonquin Chemung Coral... Dorr...... Dunham.... Grafton.... Greenwood Hartland Hebron. Marengo. McHenry Nunda.... Richmond.. Riley Seneca..

6,058 337,560 61,550 104,955 33,820 17,045 1,274,634 202,929 326,082 85,084

8,455 509,665 73,519 111,372 42,000 20,704 543,508 145,909 209,795 64,775 13,850 758,742 128,298 | 155,414 45,217 10,466 652,399 95,987 147,473 46,295 15,571 686,349 130,765 184,535 45,540 11,657 729,813 112,566 172,301

48,744 8,538 522,905 94,530 | 161,286 48,145 17,033 815,518 136,529 257,759 | 102,150 20,592 933,763 150,282 220,411 78,884 13,602 992,337 142,680 313,355 | 167,305 17,266 1,128,264 178,709 273,083 83,731 10,313 727,033 105,417 188,335 84,880 18,216 681,576 142,250 207,778 76,982 17,846 819,108 | 135,498 185,198 66,693

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