History of Batavia Township, Kane County, Il
From: The Past and Present Kane County, Illinois
Wm. Le Baron, Jr. & Company
Chicago 1878


Batavia Township forms the southern portion of Town 39 north, Range 8 east of the Third Principal Meridian. It is bounded on the north by Geneva, east by Winfield, Du Page County; south by Aurora, and west by Blackberry, and is crossed from north to south by Fox River, and by the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy, the Fox River Valley and a branch of the Chicago & Northwestern Railroads. Its surface is well watered by small tributaries of the Fox, and diversified, like that of the entire tier of towns along the valley of the river, with low hills, rolling prairies, and occasional patches of woodland.


To Batavia and the village in the heart of it belongs the honor of the first settlement in the county - that of Christopher Payne, in the Summer and Fall of 1833, a further account of which will be found in the sketch of the village. His claim was on the east side of the river, and his house within the village limits. Some doubt has arisen about Payne's settlement being the first, several of the old settlers, and among them E. S. Town, Esq., declaring that Payne himself had told them that he had entered the county in June, 1833, and had there found Daniel S. Haight living upon a claim upon the present site of Geneva, afterward owned by James Herrington. But Capt. C. B. Dodson, than whom there can be no higher authority, explains this apparent anachronism by the assurance that Payne had repeatedly told him that he had broken land near the head of Big Woods, in the Summer of 1832, but had made no regular claim at that time, and had left the county and remained at Naperville until the Indian war had ceased. In September of the following year, his family settled at Batavia. Haight, meantime, had left the county, but subsequently returned and was on his claim in the Spring of 1834. As a house was ready, in September, 1833, to receive Payne's family, it is tolerably certain that he had taken up his claim early in the Summer. From these facts, and the general belief of early settlers, we shall agree with previous writers upon the subject, and consider Payne's settlement the first in Kane County.

Col. Joseph Lyon, from the Empire State, settled in Batavia early in 1884, and remained in the village throughout its settlement and progress until 1875, when he left for Stockton, California, his present home. Few men have ever possessed more fully the esteem of their townsmen. He was a soldier in the War of 1812, and was, for a number of years before his removal to California, the oldest settler in the county. Capt. C. B. Dodson, now the oldest, settled at Clybournville, a mile and a half south of Batavia village, in June, 1834. But Clybournville was only a prospect then, and is only a memory now. No sooner had Capt. Dodson settled than he commenced building the first saw mill in the county, at the mouth of Mill Creek, and the first store, for trade with the Indians. In the same year, a partnership was formed between himself and Mr. Clybourn, of Chicago, and the settlement at the mouth of the creek was named in honor of Capt. Dodson's partner. Great preparations were made to trade with the Indians, and an old hunter, one Caldwell, from Michigan, was kept in the swamps with the redskins, as an agent. The store was often filled with the skins which were purchased for almost nothing and sold for but little more. A young Indian chief was obtained to stay in the store, for the purpose of teaching the American clerk his language, and for communicating with his own race - as few of them understood the English language well - and Capt. Dodson himself soon learned to speak the Pottowattomie vernacular with nearly as much fluency as his mother tongue. His life has been a remarkably eventful one, both before and after his arrival in Illinois. It required no small amount of courage and determination to settle - almost the only European - amid hordes of the hereditary enemies of the white race, conciliated within a comparatively recent period, and well aware that the government was plotting to cheat them out of their land. Capt. Dodson was well acquainted with Waubansie and Shabbona, and describes the former as a man of splendid personal appearance, who always carried a long spear as a badge of his exalted position in his tribe. He never spoke the language of the conquering race well, but independently used his own, whether in conversation with his tribe or with others. In 1835, Dodson & Clybourn took a contract from the Government to remove the Indians to Council Bluffs and Kansas. Waubansie lingered upon his hunting grounds, reluctant to go, until many of his friends had left, but was at length induced to leave at the solicitation of Capt. Dodson. He was the last of his tribe to go, however, and it may be doubted if he would have gone at all, had not the squaws been induced to take their places in the wagons prepared for them, and the journey commenced. Then he followed, and left the valley of Fox River forever. Previous to their departure, Col. Lyon had made an unsuccessful attempt to civilize one of them. The result illustrates the lazy nature of the race. Neuqua, eldest son of Waubansie, was an intelligent young man and a general favorite among the settlers. As he wandered into a field one day, where Col. Lyon was at work, the latter staked out a small piece of land plowed and ready to plant, and told him that if he would put the seed in the ground, he should have the entire crop for his trouble. The idea pleased him, and he promised to be on hand the next morning. True to his pledge, he appeared at the time designated, but with him came a dozen or more squaws, with hoes upon their shoulders. Col. Lyon remonstrated, informing him that the bargain was that he should perform the work himself, and intimated that the land was not staked out to afford him an opportunity to give practical illustrations of woman's rights. But in vain was the attempt. Neuqua replied, " Me hunt the meat, squaw hunt the corn," and would not touch a hoe. This chief is said to have raised a regiment of Pottawattomies in Kansas, and assisted the Northern army in Missouri during the late war.

We have it from the authority of 'Squire Town, that James Vanatta was located upon a claim beast of Batavia village, previous to January, 1834, and one Corey, about the same time, was settled on a tract adjoining. During the latter part of December, 1833, James Nelson took up a claim and built a cabin in a grove known to the early settlers as Nelson's Grove, about two miles west of the village, and moved into his house in January, 1834. The place is now known as the Carr farm. John Gregg, the first blacksmith in the township, settled on what is now known as the Griffith place, east of the village, early in the Spring of 1834 His services were in great demand, as he was an excellent workman, and the prairie breakers used to come to his shop from Rockford - a journey which required a week to perform and return - to get their plows repaired.

The first death in the township was that of a child of one Myers, who kept house for Capt. Dodson in 1834, and the first death of an adult, that of Mrs. Ward, in the Fall of the same year.

Settlers flocked in during 1835, 1836 and 1837, and before the close of the year 1838 we find, aside from those already mentioned, J. W. Churchill, William Van Nortwick, Joel McKee, James Risk, James Rockwell, Dr. D. K. and Horace Town, William Vandeventer, Isaac Wilson, George Fowler and James Latham, all permanently located in Batavia. Clybournville, although it was proposed to locate the county seat there in 1836, never became more than an exceedingly small hamlet, but Batavia village, just north of it, attained the position which the cluster of shanties at the mouth of Mill Creek never gained. The history of that village is the history of Batavia Township, since little of historical importance has transpired in the latter since its settlement. Its fertile farms passed from squatter claims to Government purchases without excitement, or injustice to any man, since the settlers had formed regular claim organizations, in common with the other townships, and each tract was purchased and retained by the original owner at a dollar and a quarter per acre. From that days to this, the quiet but steady occupation upon which all others depend has been pursued and abundantly rewarded. The assessed valuation of its land in 1876 was $665,007.


has received more than usual attention in this township, and it claims the first school in the county. This was taught in a log house on Col. Lyon's claim, a mile east of the village, in the Fall of 1834. The teacher was a Vermonter, by the name of Knowles, and the average number of pupils in attendance, nine. The estimated valuation of school property in Geneva and Batavia, for the year 1876, was $70,000, nearly $40,000 of which is contained in Batavia.


There came a time in Batavia's history when the usual uneventful course of daily pursuits was broken, and every patriotic soul burned with indignation - the day when the wires proclaimed throughout the land that the national flag had been fired upon. Then did the township first in the county in settlement, schools and progress of every description take her place among the first in the defense of the country. Three companies were enrolled in the village during the war - one for the Forty second, one for the Fifty second and one for the One Hundred and Twenty fourth Illinois regiments Among the officers from Batavia may be mentioned Col. E. D. Swain, now in Chicago; Major H. K. Wolcott, and Col. D. C. Newton, still residents of Batavia; Major Adin Mann and Capt. E. S. Stafford, since removed West, and F. P. Crandon, who enlisted in the First Maryland Cavalry. The names of those who fell upon the numerous Southern battle fields, or perished in those cursed prisons, we have not the statistics to obtain; but wherever their graves may lie scattered though they may be throughout the South, or removed to Northern cemeteries - a grateful nation honors them.

" And freedom shall awhile repair
To dwell a weeping hermit there."

Also see the City of Batavia.

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