History of Rich, Il.
From: History of Cook County, Illinois
By: A. T. Andreas
Published by: A. T. Andreas, Publisher Chicago, 1884


Rich Township is bounded on the north by the township of Bremen, on the east by township of Bloom and on the south and west by Will County. It is, in size, a full Congressional township, and contains within its limits the villages of Matteson and Richton.


This village, which was named in honor of Gov. Matteson, is situated at the junction of the Illinois Central and Michigan Central railroads, and is one of the oldest German hamlets in Cook County The village was surveyed for N. D. Ellwood of Joliet and Jacob Rich of Richton, in 1855. The first house on it was built by Charles Ohiendorf, in July of that year. Mr. Ohlendorf was also the first merchant in the place. In 1856 John Fox built a house and wagon shop here, and about the same time John Steiehelman built and opened to the public the first hotel in the village. The first train over the Illinois Central road to delict, passed by Matteson in January, 1852, and the first over the Joliet division of the Michigan Central, in June of the following year. The first school in the village was established in 1865, and the first religious society four years later. Among the early German settlers in the vicinity of Matteson were F. P. Weishaar, M. Emmerieh, A, Krudenning, S. Lux, C. Stuenke, H. Mahler, H. Merker. J. Blattner, F Kliene, C. H. Greenhager and F. Duensing. The village has, by the census of 1880, a population of nearly 500, and is a growing and thriving little place. Its business interests are represented by two general stores, two hotels, two saloons and boarding houses, one shoe shop, a clothing store, a hardware and furniture store, two harness shops and a blacksat ith and wagon shop. The Matteson grain elevator was built in 1881, for Marsh & Spier, by whom it is now operated. The building, with machinery, cost some $4,000, and has capacity of 200,000 bushels.

The religious societies of Matteson have not as yet erected a house of worship. The Lutherans use the German school house for services, while the English speaking people hold union meetings in the public school house of the district.


This little hamlet is situated near the southern line of the county, twenty nine miles south of Chicago and only one mile directly south of Matteson. The Illinois Central road has a depot here, while immediately north, at Matteson, is the crossing of the same road with the Michigan Central line, giving to the place and to the farmers roundabout splendid railroad facilities, Among those to first settle in thus vicinity were the Reihl, Millar and Merker families. The farming oommunity is made up of Germans who located lands here in the years between 1848 and 1855. George D. Lewis was the first station agent at this point, Richton village was surveyed in 1853. for Joh a Calhoun, of Chicago The German Lutheran Church was organized in 1841, and the building then ereoted is still standing and yet used as a place of worship. Rev. Mr Kuegele was the first pastor, and Rev. B. Burfeind is tlae present minister in charge. The German Union Church was organized in 1868, and two years. later a church edifice was erected. Rev. Messrs. Nirhma and Rheim wore the first pistors, the latter being succeeded by Rev. D. Behrems, who continued in charge until in December, 1880, when he resigned his position to accept a call from as Church in the State of New York.

Peter Pfiefer came to Chicago in Jnne, 1844, and first settled in the town of Proviso, but five years later removed to Rich, where he yet resides. The first merchant in the village of Richton was a nephew of John Calhoun of Chicago. So says Mr. Merker, the pioneer settler of the place. The old pioneer also relates, with much pleasure, that John Wentworth once worked for him in the harvest field. The circomstances were as follows: Mr. Merker and a neighbor, George Reihl, bought from the McCormick Reaper Company of Chioago oaae of the first reapers which the company built after its establishmemat in this city, and it was on Mr. Merker's farm that it did its first work. John Wentworth was much interested in the machine, as to its being a success, so much so that he went down to see it in operation. In those days self-rakers (much less self-binders) were not thought of. and a man was required to ride ou the reaper, his seat being back of the driver, and with a wooden fork or rake divide the grain and rake it off into bunalles for the bimaders. Mr. Merker was short a hand to do this work, so "Long John" mounted the reaper and raked oats for him. Mr. Wentworth, whose subsequent career is well known. has never forgottema this incident, the remembrance of winch affords him much pleasure to recount as among his experences in early times in the West.

The Township was organized in 1850, the first annual election being lucId on the second day of April of that year. The first officers were, Eli Taylor, Supervisor; Jacob Reibl, Clerk; Walter Goodenow, Assessor; L. L Butterfield, Collector; Eli Taylor and J. H. Batcheldor, Justices.

Those elected annually since are given below:
Supervisors. - L. L. Butterfield, 1851 to 1852; H. H. Ward. 1852 to 1855; John Heifer, 1855 to 1856; M. Arnold. 1856 to 1860; H. Werner, 1860 to 1863; Charles Ohlendort, 1863 to 1866; Adam Miller, 1866 to 1867; Charles Ohlendorf, 1867 to 1877; J. F. Elliott, 1877 to 1878; Fred Miller, 1878 to 1880; William Arnold. 1880 to 1884

Clerks. - Jacob Reihl, 1851 to 1853; Henry Merker, 1853 to 1854; Henry Werner, 1854 to 1860; Charles Ohlendorf. 1860 to 1861; Simon Miller. 1861 to 1865; George Bartling. 1865 to 1866; Cord H. Stege. 1866 to 1867; Fred Hellman, 1807 to 1868; Fred Miller, 1868 to 1875; William Arnold. 1875 to 1880: J. H. Lausen, 1880 to 1881; A. K. King, 1881 to 1883. Mr. Lausen resigned his office in May, 1883 when C. M. Marker was appointed to serve the remainder of the term.

Assessors. - Walter Goodenow, 1851 to 1852; H. M. Ward, 1852 to 1354; G. D. Lewis, 1854 to 1855; H. Werner, 1855 to 1856; Adam Miller, 1856 to 1858; Philip Werner, 1857 to 1860; Peter Meyer, 1860 to 1862; H. Weishaar. 1862 to 1863; Fred Bartheline, 1863 to 1865; Henry Kruse, 1865 to 1873; Henry Werner, 1873 to 1875; William Hesterman, 1875 to 1884.

Collectors. - Jacob Reihl, 1851 to 1853; Henry Werner, 1853 to 1855; Henry Depke, 1855 to 1858: H. Kruse, 1858 to 1859 Philip Werner, 1859 to 1860: H. Schultz, 1860 to 1862; Charles Ohlendorf, 1862 to 1863; William Hesterman, 1863 to 1865; lgnatz Weishaar, 1865 to 1866; Henry Duening, 1866 to 1867; William Jahn, 1807 to 1869; George Plumhoff, 1869 to 1871; William Arnold, 1871 to 1873; Henry Heinisath, 1873 to 1874; John Seheidt, 1874 to 1875; H. Heinisath, 1875 to 1877; George Plumhoff, 1877 to 1878; Fred Bruggerman, 1878 to 1880; W. Bartles, 1880 to 1882; George Plnmhoff, 1882 to 1884.

Justices. - H. Wernor and H. Depke, 1855 to 1859; F. Miller, 1859 to 1866: Jonathan Marsh, 1866 to 1881; Henry Greenhoger, 1866 to 1867; Henry Depke, 1867 to 1870; William Jahn, 1870 to 1881; William Hahue, 1881 to 1884

In 1851, the poll list of the Town of Rich contamed but fifteen names. The voters in that year were: Jacob Reihl, Walter Goodenough, John Knoat, Joseph Batcheldor, Henry Merker, F. P. Weishaar, Joseph Blattner, Meichel Blattner. J. H. Batcheldor, F. Weishaar, Anton Scheidt, John Blattner, Joseph Lodux, M. Weishaar and George Reihl. Among the real estate owners in the township, in 1850, were Hans Hausburg, A. Scheidt, Hans Hellman, W. Mahler, A. Hackbroth, P. Weishaar, M Arnold. Henry Cole, Peter Pfiefer, J. H. Depke, John H. Walker, John Stemple and Jacob Reihl.

In the names above mentioned are included the majority of the early settlers of the township - men who since they first broke the virgin soil of their then wild prairie farms, have seen the great, changes which their own labors have so materially contributed towards bringing about.

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