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


This township, situated almost in the southeast corner of the county, is bounded on the north by Hyde Park and Calumet, on the east by Lake County, Ind., on the south by Bloom Townshio, and on the west by the township at Bremen. It contains nearly fifty square miles and has within its limits the villages of South Lawn, Dolton, South Holland, Homewood, Thornton. Lansing, and a portion of the town of Hammond of Lake County Ind. It was organized as a township in 1850 ; the officers chosen at different elections held since that time and to the present are given as follows

Supervisors. - 1850-52, A. H. Dolton; 1852-53, A. G. Sweet; 1853-55, A. H. Dolton; 1855-56, S. E. Baker; 1856-64, A. H. Dolton; 1864-65, Sanford Case; 1865-70, C. H. Dolton; 1870-78, Peter Schnob; 1878-81, C. L. Vansteenbergh; 1881-84, Henry Lansing.

Assessors. - 1850-53, Elisha Young; 1853-54, Stephen Crary; 1854-55, Aaron Young; 1855-56, C. L. Sweet; 1856-57, Stephen Crary; 1857-58, Sanford Case; 1858-59. Stephen Crary; 1859-60, M. Janson; 1860-62, Stephen Crary; 1862-65, C. H. Dolton; 1865-67, P. L. Vansteenbergh; 1867-69, C. H. Dolton; 1869-77, P. L. Vansteenbergh; 1877-79, Henry Gncnther; 1879-81, John De Graaff; 1881-83, H. Schuantke; 1883-84, Charles Stave.

Clerks. - l850-55, Stephen Crary; 1855-56, S. Case; 1856-57, Stephen Crary; 1857-62, Henry Zimmer; 1862-64. S. Case; 1864-65, W. R. Hunt; 1865-66, S. Case; 1866-67, Stephen Crary; 1867-69, Henry Zimmer; 186 9-70, Peter DeYoung; 1870-71, J. G. Forbes; 1871-77, George Levcrett; 1877-78, Mr J. Johnson 1878-8 4, S. A. Young. Collectors. - 1850-51, A. G. Sweet; 1851-53, Stephen Crary; 1853-55, Lott Chapman; 1855-56, A. C. Tassett; 1856-58, Henry Case; 1858-59, Lott Chapman; 1859-60, J. A. Richards; 1860-62, Charles H. Dolton; 1862-67, Henry Zimmer, Sr.; 1867-69, C. L. Vansteenbergh; 1869-70, N. Balsiger; 1870-74, Henry Guenther; 1874-75, M. L. Axtell; 1875-70, G. F. Hartford; 1876-77, Charles Stave; 1877-79, George A. Dolton; 1879-83, Henry Guenther.

Justices. - 1850, Stephen Spoor and John Milsted 1851, Elisha Yonng; 1852, Lott Chapman; l854, Lott Chapman and Benjamin F. Ross; 1855, B. F Baker; 1858, Henry Zimmer and A. C. Fassett; 1860, Lott Chapman; 1862, Alfred Robinson and Lott Chapman 1866, James Hsrt and A. J. Hewes 1870, Henry Lansing and Lott Chapman; 1873, James N. Shannon and Andrew H. Dolton; 1877, James N. Shannon and Andrew H. Dolton, The present Justices are James N. Shannon, A. H. Dolton and John M. Stewart.


Thornton is one among the oldest villages in the county, its first settlen cut dating back to 1834. It is situated on the Chicago and Eastern Illinois Railroad, twenty five miles distant from the city, and in the midst of a rich agricultural district, whose thrifty inhabitants glean from its fertile soil all that honest toil can bring. The first settler within the present limits of the village was William Woodbridge, who in 1834 located and built a house half way between Thornton and the Calumet. on the east side of Thorn Creek. Not liking the spot he had chosen, Mr. Woodbridge in the following year removed to a farm of 160 acres just adjoining Thornton on the west. Subsequently he sold this farm to John Blackstone, who in later years conveyed it to Gordon S. Hubbard, by whom it is still owned. Mr. Woodbridge on quitting the farm moved into Thornton, where he built and kept the first store in the village.

Stephen Crary, now a resident of Chicago and to whom the publisher is indebted far many of the facts pertaining to the early history of Thornton, arrived in the village in July, 1835. His father, Joseph S. Crarv, also eanre in the same year and located on Section 7, in the town of Bloom, near where is now the village of Homewood. Joseph and Sandford Case settled here in the spring of 1835, and in August of that year James Farwell purchased and settled on the southeast quarter of Section 27, nearly one mile east of the village. Owing to certain reservations made in the Tippecanoe treaty of 1832, by which certain lands here and there were reserved from sale, the title to the farm purchased by Mr. Farwell was found to be defective. He sold the place, subject to this cloud, to Noah Warren, and it was many years before he succeeded in establishing a perfect title to the place Stephen Spoor, the Berry family, Christian Randall, James Barton (who removed to Michigan in 1846), David Crandal and John Blackstone are among those not yet mentioned, who came to Thornton prier to 1836. Don CarIes Berry built and kept the first tavern here, in 1836; in the same year also a post office was established, and, Mr. Berry being appointed Postmaster, became in his dual positions a man of considerable prominence. Up to that time the people had obtained their mail either at Chicago or at a plaee called Hadley, near Mokena, in Will County. Joseph Case was the second Postmaster, succeeding Mr. Berry in 1837.

Joseph Milsted and James Childers settled on the north bank of the Calumet, almost opposite the month of Thorn Creek, in 1836, and abont the same time came William and Elisha Young who built and opened a general trading store on the corner of William and Margaret streets. The Young brothers remained here until 1850, when they went to California. They had, however, previons to their removal from Thornton, built and run a vessel, a moderate sized steam barge known as the Calumet met Traders and which plied between Chicago and the trading towns en the Calumet. The boiler of this vesel exploded, killing the engineer, in 1865, while it was lying in the harbor of Chicago. In this connection it may not be amiss to mention that in the early settlement of Thornton it was confidentially believed it was destined to become the "head of navigation." Mr. Crary is authority for the statement that Thorn Creek, now a stream of the most insignificant character, had then a channel, forty feet in width, in which the water run, even at what would be called its low stages, at a depth of from four to six feet. He also says that the water power at the village was, when he tirst came there, valued at $10,000. In snpport of this, it may be cited that as early as 1835 Messrs. Kinzie, Blackstone and Hubbard conceived the idea of building a grist mill on the banks of Thoru Creek; they employed a Mr. Sackctt, a millwright, to build a saw mill but by the time that was completed so much money had been expended that the ides of erecting the grist mill was abandoned. Relative to the great changes which have taken place in the water courses of the county. Mr. Crary also says that the story told, that in 1835 Peter Barton, when he laid out the village of Blue Island, chartered a schooner, which, laden with supplies, made its way up the Calumet to the month of Stony Creek, up which it ascended to where now stands the village, is literally true. The Stony Creek of to-day wonld have to be widened and deepened considerably before it would float the smallest schooner on the lakes, but that it was once a stream that would easily admit the passage of a vessel drawing four feet of water, cannot in the face of the facts be doubted.

The first death in the vicinity of Thornton was that of Margaret Hampshire, a member of Mr Blackstone's family, who died of measles in the winter of 1836. The first birth was, so far as can be ascertained that of Sarah Crandal, daughter of David Crandal, born in September, 1835. Joseph Case, who has already been mentioned as among the early settlers of Thornton, died in 1868. Lot Chapman, who came to the village in 1849, also died, in 1871. Ira Gardner came in 1850, and shortly after settled on what is now the Kellogg farm, one mile northeast of the village. Philip Schnob came in 1849 and erected a dwelling on the corner of William and Julian streets, as shown by the Hubbard and Kenzie plat.

PREHISTORIC RELICS. - When the first settlers arrived at Thornton, they found the ruins of what had once evidently been Indian fortifications, occupying the site of the present town. The ruins consisted of outer ditches or trenches, and inside of these were the works or fortifications proper. On the banks of these, trees, apparently not less than one hundred years old, were growing, which only furnished abundant proofs of the indisputable antiquity of the ruins. When Joseph Case arrived here he used frequently to talk with the Indians about the origin of the remains, but could only learn that with them it was supposed they were built by the French explorers many, many years before. In 1871 Ira Gardner dug up a number of skeletons in the neighborhood of the fort, which he states were in his opinion those of white men, rather than of Indians. He also, in the same year, dug up in his garden, specimens of pottery. flint arrow heads, a stone chisel and a pair of stone bullet monlds. It is claimed by some that these relics belonged to the southern Indians, who at one time, before they were driven still farther south by the more warlike tribes of the North, had possession of this portion of the Country.

Thorn Creek, already mentioned, runs through the village, and is a beautiful stream; its waters clear its crystal flow over a smooth bed of lime rock, and are fed the year through by almost innumerable and unfailing springs, which are distributed along its banks from its source to its month. Limestone of the finest quality also abounds in the vicinity, most of which is easily worked. In an early day the first quarry was opened by, or rather for, Gurdon S. Hubbard, but owing to the large size of the stone, and its depth under the surface, operations further north and nearer the outcrop of the rocks were found more profitable. In 1850 Mr. Stephen Crary, opened a quarry, which was situated on the upland, near where Peter Upton now lives. Since then various quarries have been opened, from which immense quantities of building stone have been taken. The largest one now in operation is worked hr Roland Flanagan. From this quarry there were taken in 1882 over eight hundred cords of stone.

The first school house in the village was built in 1836, from sawed lumber, prepared at the Hubbard and Kenzie saw mill, and stood just northwest of the present railroad depot. James Barton and Caleb T. Sweet were among the first teachers. In 1857 a building was erected for the double purpose of a town hull and school; this building, which is still in existence, was nsed for school purposes until 1872, when the new school house was built at a cost of $6,000.

In the early days of the settlement it could boast of no organized church of any denomination. Itinerant ministers of various creeds visited the village and dispensed the gospel, most generally at the school house, but sometimes at the house of a farmer in the vicinity. Mr. Crary says the first sermon he remembers to have heard preached in the village was by Marcellus McGowan, a Mormon missionary, who stopped in Thornton over Sunday on his way from the State of Mossouri to the East; this was in 1836; the sermon, which was an impassioned harangue in support of the pernicious doctrino of polygamy, was listened to by a large audience, attracted out of mere idle curiosity to hear what the "long haired apostle" had to say. The first house of worship, now the Methodist Church, was erected originally for the Society of Good Templars, but was purchased by the first named body in 1876.

The oldest house now standing in the village was built in 1837, for a nam named Barrett, by the Case brothers and John B. Toban. It stands on William Street near the residence of Peter Cpston. and as it is now in an advanced state of decay, the chances are that this land mark of early days will soon have gone the way of all the earth.

Thornton village was platted in September, 1835, by John H. Kinzie, who had already purchased the land hereabouts from the Indians. He soon after conveyed a one third interest to Messrs. Hubbard and Blackstone. The first plat thus made was one mile square, beginning at the forks of Thorn Creek, and running one mile north, one mile west, and one south and east to the point of beginning. The first physican in the village was Dr. Benjamin Baker, who located there in 1850. In 1870 the village population was 301; in 1880, 401 present estimated population, 500. The business interests of the place may he summed up briefly as follows; two grocery stores, three general stores, two saloons, one brewery and two stone quarries. The village was named Thornton in honor of Colonel W. F. Thornton, of Illinois, who was one among the first Canal Commissioners in the State.


Lansing is a small village on the Chicago, Pittsburgh & St. Louis Railroad, about twenty eight miles distant from Chicago. It is located on a sandy ridge, although the surrounding country is somewhat low, abounding in fine natural meadows, admirably adopted for grazing purposes. The principal industry of Lansing is baling hay, in which business Christian Schultz is the largest dealer and manufacturer. He has large warehouses and presses for this purpose, and puts into the market, from his establishment. 4,000 tons per annum, Lansing contains a handsome Lutheran Church edifice, built by that society in 1883 at a cost of $3,500.

Cummings Corners, which is usually considered a part of Lansing, has also a Church of the same denomination. The Holland Church has here two houses of worship, being the strongest religious organization in the Place.

The Lansing Hotel is kept by Christian Busack, and the post office, together with a general store, by Henry Lansing. The store at the Corners is kept by John M. Semmelhaack. There are also a shoe store, two blacksmith shops, four saloons, and two butcher shops.

The first settlers here were John, George and Henry Lansing. The town plat was laid out in 1865 by John Lansing, who died in the spring of that year. The land immediately adjoining the town is owned principally by C. Schultz, G. A. Gutzell, J. Hentz and Edwars Lansing, who is the present Justice of the Peace.


(Hammond is on a seperate page.)


This hamlet is essentially a self made town, and is dependent for its existence and progress upon no real estate boom nor promulgation of tictitious statements to invite settlement, The Pan Handle and Chicago & Eastern Illinois railroads cross at this point, and the Illinois Central affords a third lIne of rapid transit to Chicago.

The first settler was Andrew H. Dolton, who settled here in 1846; a few years later his brothers married and moved from the homestead on the Calumet to the present Dolton The plat of the village was made for the Dolton brothers by Alexander Wolcott, March 1868, and embraced a part of Section Township 36 north, Range 14, extending from the intersection of Park and Lincoln avenues to Washington Street. The property south of Blocks 7 and 8 was platted for the Doltons March 7, 1870, by George B. Dolton, and brought the area of the village up to sixty acres. The first store keeper of the village was Conrad Zimmer; the second was Adolf W. Lund, who owns Lund's Hall, and who testified his patriotism by raising a liberty pole, ninety four feet high, about July 10, 1883. The first school house was located opposite the present building and was built in 1868. The first teacher was Miss Bishop. The present brick and stone edifice was erected in 1874 by Adam Werner, from plans by Edward Studes, under authority of C. H. Dolton, Henry B. Dalton and Carl Neidow, school directors. The principal is George W. De Clark; first assistant. Miss Minnie J. Archibald; second assistant, Miss Helen C. Hoswell; and the number of scholars is about one hundred and twenty five. The present Trustees are Charles Neidow, Adolf W. Lund, and Andrew H. Dolton, Justice of the Pence. The school census warrants the assertion that Dnlton has eight hundred population. Dolton Station post office was established in 1869, with Andrew H. Dolton as Postmaster; ho was succeeded by Conrad Zimmer, and he by Zachoriah A. Neff. appointed in 1872. A lodge of I. O. O. F. met in Dolton for some time, but after vainly striving to build up an active and thriving membership, they surrendered their charter. The Methodist Episcopal Church was formed in Angnst, 1870, with Hey, J. M. Lambert, first preacher, and Miss Sophronia the original member. The present membership is eighteen, and the present pastor Rev. Mr. Lanck The frame chnrch was built in 1882 upon property donated by Andrew H., Henry B. and Charles H. Dolton; the building and ground are worth $3,000. The Sunday school averages an attendance of eighty scholars. The first Sunday school was a union Sunday school. formed August 12, 1877, of which S. H. Harrington was superintendent; fifty seven scholars were enrolled. It only lived one year. Many inhabitants of Dolton attend the German Lutheran Church on the town line, described in the article upon Riverdale.


This old Dutch settlement claims an antiquity which dates back to 1847. In that year a body of settlers located here, and Moravian like, built their shanties, labored on industriously, improved their lands, and are today a prosperosts and thriving community. John Kallowingeo settled hero in 1847, and during the same year he was joined by Henry DeYonng, F. Van Vuuren and the Gonwen and Benslip families. When in June, 1850, A. Zwijenberg came to the settlement, the homes of the above mentioned settlers were the only houses between Dolton and Thornton.


South Lawn, near Thornton, is situated on the lines of the Illinois Central and Grand Trunk railways, and abont eighteen miles south of Chicago. It lies between One Hundred and Forty seventh and One Hundred and Fifty fifth streets and Halsted Street, north of the Calumet River. George Gay, who was the first settler, located here in 1870, and three years later, Samuel De La Matter, John K. Rowley, Joshua P. Young, Joseph Collett and Joseph F. Young settled here. These men purchased the lands embraeing the site of the village from Joseph Robinson and from the Illinois Central Railroad Company. In 1882 a school district was formed, and school held in a temporary building. A new school house will be built and ready for occupancy by the spring of 1884.

The works of the Hopkins Mower Company, employing nearly one hundred men, were established here in 1880, and add materially to the business prosperity of the place. Substantial brick buildings have been erected, and during the year 1883 the factory turned out nearly 1,600 machines. With the railroad facilities South Lawn affords, together with the reasonable price at which ground for manufacturing purposes can be obtained, it may doubtless soon become a desirable point for the location of that class of manufacturing whose interests do not necessarily compel them to remain within the city.


This little village is situated twenty three miles south of Chicago, and on the northern border of the south plateau of the county. It was platted in 1852 by James Hart, under the name of Hartford, a name which is still used in deeds to real estate within the village limits.

The first settlers in the neighborhood were the Butterfields, Job Campbell, Horace Briggs, J. H, Scott, Cyrus Eastwood, James Hart, C. D. Robinson, James Walker, Daniel Hood, Samuel James, John Johnson, James Clark, William Hall, William Van Wyek and Joseph Gallener. A few years later, in 1848-50, a gooilly number of German colonists settled here, and in time almost superseded the original English speaking settlers. Among the first Gorman settlers were H. Brinkeman, Christian Buggart, C. Hecht, W. Gottsehalk. W. Hoffmeyer, H. Brinkman, C. Hipping, H. Hosberg, H. and C. H. Rathe, L. Hupe, H. Schonholz, H. Zimmer, and C. Zimmer.

The first business house in the village was built by C. D. Robinson, of Blue Island; in this building Thomas Hastings kept a general country store for a number of years. The property is now known as the Voghtman Saloon. In 1853 Alfred Robinson also started a store in what is now Dewey's harness shop. In 1855 Honry and Conrad Zimmer rented a house from A. Brinkman, and opened a store in April of that year. In the winter of 1856-57 ho built the present Zimmer store. The first hotel was built by H. Brinkman, in 1851. In 1852 the first post office was estab lished with Joseph Gallenor as Postmaster. Henry Zimmer is the present official, and was appointed in 1865, at which time the name of the village was changed to Homewood. The first station agent was George Churchill, appointed in 1852. In 1856 George Morris had forty acres of laud, adjoining Hartford on the south, surveyod and laid out in village lots, under the name of Thornton Station. For a time lots sold readily at fair prices, bat the panic of the following year had the effect to discourage speculators in suburban real estate, and as a consequence the place has grown but little since. The flouring mill in Homewood was built in 1856 by subscription. A company was formed, with George W. Morris president, and under this organization the mill was conducted until sold to its present owner, Mr. Steiner. The population of Homewood, according to the census of 1880, was 448; estiniated population now is 600. Homewood is almost exclusively a German settlement, as is also the country round about, and everywhere are seen the evidenoes of thrift and prosperity so characteristic of these industrious and frngal people.

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