Stephenson County, Illinois Genealogy
Having recounted the prime incidents of the county as a whole, we must not forget that each township has its first events and some of them but a short time later than the prior claim.
In Winslow the first settlement was by Lyman Brewster in the spring of '33. He shortly established a ferry, the first in the county, as related before. Ransomburg was the first townsite in the county but its glory faded soon. The first marriage was that of Dr. W. P. Bankson and Phoebe Macomber in which Squire Waddams tied the knot. The first death was that of a son of Lemuel Streator, while the honor of the first birth was that of Sarah M. Denton in the fall of '36. This claim is disputed and claim made for a son to George W. Lott. The town of Winslow was laid out in 1844.
Oneco was first settled by Simeon Davis, Andrew Claro and John M. Curtis, about the same time, during the year 1833. The Lott suicide is supposed to have been the first death, and the first marriage was that of Henry Reybold and Lizzie McNear with Squire Gibler officiating.
The first settlement of Rock Grove was in the summer of 1835, when Albert Albertson and Jonathan Corey settled on section 36, and they were followed the next December by Eli Frankenberger at the village of Rock Grove. The arrival of a daughter Louisa, soon after, was the first birth. The first school of which we have any account was held on section 36 in the winter of 1846.
Mrs. Swanson enjoys the honor of being the first settler in Rock Run, where her claim was located on sections 10 and 11. The Mullarkeys, Fooleys, Flynns, Hulses, Lees and Bakers were not far behind. The wedding of " Poney " Fletcher and Narcisse Swanson was the first celebrated in the township.
Dakota's first settlement dates from '36, but as it was until 1860 a part of Buckeye, the facts of its early history are obscured.
John Goddard, the first settler of Buckeye, arrived in the spring of '35, and became a prominent figure in the development of the county. The first school in the township was held some three miles north of the site of Cedarville in 1836. Richard Parriott, Sr., was the first to lay down his earthly burdens in May of the following year. Cedarville was not laid out until 1849.
Waddams received its first permanent settler February 14th, 1835, in the person of Levi Robey, and his son, William A. Robey, has the distinction of the first birth, the date being September 21st, 1836.
West Point is the seat of the first settlement of the county, as related before, by William Waddams and his two sons. Thomas A. French came in '34 and Luman Montague about the same time. In the latter's cabin in 1835, Rev. James McKean preached the first sermon in the county and began that religious movement that has never waned. Amanda Waddams was born in February of '36 and is claimed to have been the first white child born within the county lines. She was certainly the first born in West Point. George Place and Eunice Waddams were the first to plight their marriage vows, the date being July the Fourth, 1837. Minerva Rathburn's demise in '39 is the first recorded death.
Kent enjoys the distinction of having within its borders the site of the first houses built in the county. We have already related the building of the Kircher cabin and the more commo dious house of Kellogg's. The latter passed to the possession of a Frenchman named Lafayette and later to Greene, who sold it to James Timms and he became the first permanent settler in Kent. William Ensign conducted the first school in 1837 in the Timms house. The same year James Blair and Kate Marsh furnished the candidates for the first wedding, while the arrival of Harvey M. Timms, May 27th, 1837, is the first recorded birth. Jessie Willet, Jr. is said to have been the first one to die.
Erin's first settlement is somewhat in doubt, but it is probable that Valorous Thomas, who arrived in '37, has the honor, and a son of George Cavanaugh the distinction of first birth, in 1843. Not until the following year did a wedding occur when Robert Cavanaugh and Bridget Maher plighted troth in the Dublin settlement.
About this time was erected the church of St. Mary's of the Mound, claimed to have been the first erected between Chicago and Galena. It was only eighteen by twenty feet and eight logs high, but it served until 1857 when the more commodious edifice was built.
Miller Preston was the first settler of Harlem township and the date of his coming is 1835. He had been on a prospecting tour through the west two years before and returned to Gallipolis, Ohio, closed up his business there and in the spring of thirty-five came through with a drove of cattle and made settlement as related
2 above. The first death was Louis Preston whose demise occurred in 1838.
As previously related Lancaster was settled in December, 1835, when Benjamin and John Goddard and John Jewell took up claims there. The birth of Lucy Goddard the thirty-first of March following was the first in the township, and Ryan Lewis was the first to die, his life ending in the autumn of '37. Thatcher Blake and Jane Goodhue were parties to the first wedding but who officiated in the ceremony is probably not known.
The fourth of March, 1836, is set as the date of the first settlement of Ridott. Andrew Jackson and Jefferson Niles locating in the township on that date. If there is anything in names they should have been old line democrats as were many of the settlers in those days. Early that spring, whether before or later than the date named, Harvey P. Watters, who had spent the winter in Silver Creek township, took up a claim in Ridott on the banks of the Pecatonica and became a permanent citizen of the county. In the fall of '37 Daniel Wooten proudly announced to the interested neighbors that " It is a girl! " and Margaret Wooten goes down in history as the first child of Ridott to the manor born. March 10th, 1830, Thomas J. Turner, J. P., performed the first marriage ceremony by which was united A. J. Niles and Nancy A. Farwell in the residence of her uncle Eldridge Farwell. Miss Laura Colburn held the first school in a log house on her father's farm in the year '45.
The settlement of Silver Creek dates from August, 1835, when Thomas Crain entered a quarter section in the south-west corner of the township and gave his name to the beautiful grove there. The first birth was that of a son, Jacob, born to William and Lucinda Thompson in the summer of '38. Not until February 11th, 1841, did a wedding occur: Frederick Baker and Miss Crain were the happy pair. The drowning of Milburn and Reed are supposed to have been the first deaths, though it is not certain the drowning did not occur in Ridott.
Florence township dates the advent of its first settler in the fall of '35, when Conrad Van Brocklyn, from western New York, took up his abode on section seventeen. Others followed in goodly numbers the following year, the excellent soil attracting the newcomers. The first school was taught by Miss Flavilla Forbes in an abandoned log house in 1840. Florence contained no village until the building of the railroad in 1859.
There is no dispute over the settlement of Loran. That honor is conceded William Kirkpatrick who entered his claim in 1836 and built a mill the following year. The first wedding occurred in the fall of forty when Thomas French and Polly Kirkpatrick were made one. The first school was conducted during the winter of '40-'41.
Jefferson was settled early in '37 by Hector C. Haight who later joined the Mormons and became a leader in their councils at Salt Lake. The first death was that of Louis Kleckner about 1844, and in the fall of the following year the union of Henry Doherty and Catherine Flickinger is the first marriage the historian has to record. In Jefferson is to be found some of the wildest and most beautiful scenery of the state, a region abounding in picturesque outline hill and vale and wood.
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