BIG ROCK TOWNSHIP.
The settlement of Big Rock is historically interesting, from its having been one of the earliest in Kane County,
and from its position, which was adjacent to one in Kendall, of still more venerable date. As early as 1834, claimants
had taken up large tracts in Little Rock, the adjoining township upon the South, and it is not at all improbable
that some of them wandered, during that year. over the territory which forms the subject of this chapter. The first
actual white settler, of whom any satisfactory records or traditions remain, was found occupying the banks of Big
Rock Creek, in 1835. How long previous to that year he had been there with his family, it is difficult to determine,
as there was no one in the country for a circuit of many miles, when he came; and he seems never to have wasted
any time in bragging that he was the oldest inhabitant. Esquire Mulkey, of Little Rock, states that when he first
became acquainted with the country north of him, the settler was there, and Mr. Mulkey's arrival on the borders
of Kendall County dates from 1834. Even the name that the man's mother gave him is involved in doubt and uncertainty.
His family name was Cook; and the people who purchased a portion of his vast claim say that he was generally known
by the meaningless nickname of " Santy Cook. His family was large in more senses than one, for they were all,
like himself, gigantic in stature, and were numerous. They came to Illinois from Kentucky, and, for some time,
lived in a tent on the creek, about a mile south of the spot now occupied by the little village of Big Rock. Justice
Ament, who came in the Fall of 1835, found them there, and John Pierce, now a resident of the township, states
that upon his arrival, the following year, the Cook family occupied a tent upon his original claim Again, in 1837,
we hear of them from L. J. Lamson, who came from New York City, and took up the claim upon the west side of the
creek, which he still occupies. Mr. Lamson arrived late in the evening in the township, having made the journey
from Chicago by stage, and was deposited, at his own request, near the creek. Wandering thence along the unknown
stage road, he noticed a light in the distance, and approached it with the hope of obtaining comfortable lodging.
Knocking at the door, he was received by a tall and uncouth individual who towered a foot or more above him, and
was evidently suffering acutely from toothache. All of the rest of the family had retired, he stated, and, with
Southern hospitality, invited him to do the same, adding that he might take his place, as his sufferings would
not allow him to sleep. Accordingly Mr. Lamson laid down upon a space on the floor, which the young man assigned
him, amid a number of recumbent forms only partially distinguishable in the dim light. Morning revealed to him
a scene which he had not discovered the night before: Men and women lay promiscuously under their blankets, upon
the floor, like savages in a wigwam; the cabin was a wretched one in every respect, and there was a general lack
of furniture and every comfort peculiar to civilization. All the men and women stood far above him as they arose,
and all the family had reached maturity.
Some two years later, Shepard Johnson arrived from the East, and purchased a thousand acres of Cook. He returned
to the East and went on a trip up North River, and was never heard of afterward.
The following June, Lamson went back to New York, and when he came West again, brought a stock or lot of goods
for his brother, which they stowed away, during the night, in a stable belonging to L. D. Brady. They were broken
into and stolen. This was the first theft committed in the township. Matthew H. Perry, more commonly called Hale
Perry, and his brother William Perry, from Berkshire County, Pennsylvania, went to New York in 1813, and in 1835
came West and settled in Big Rock Township. Hale Perry entered a large claim, on which he remained a number of
years, when he sold out and removed to Burlington Township, where he still lives, enjoying a reasonable state of
In the Fall of 1835-6, Justice Ament came from the State of New York with his wife and four children. There were
at that time but two families in the township - Hale Perry's and Cook's. He settled about a mile from the village,
where he died some twelve years ago, on his original claim, which had been purchased from a man living just outside
of the township.
John Pierce came to the township in 1836; Joseph Summers came with him, and also, Robert Nash. Indian Jim, a noted
character, lived in the vicinity where Pierce located, and often did work for him.
James W. Swan, originally from Vermont, came from Chautauqua County, to Michigan, where he remained but a short
time, when he came with his wife to Big Rock Township, arriving in January, 1836; Percy Taylor, from New York,
came with Swan to Big Rock. Mr. Swan bought his claim from Hale Perry, as also did Taylor. In addition to Hale
Perry, Justice Ament, Jos. Summers, Nash, Pierce and Whiddon were all in the township when Swan came
James Hatch, from Oneida County, New York, came out, arriving in Chicago, in September, 1837. He went to Oswego,
where he worked for some time building a grist mill, but returned to his claim during the Winter. He had bought
his claim from one Enos Jones, who lived over the line in Little Rock, in 1840.
James Dundee came from Ireland at an early day, and took up a claim, on which he lived some years. He died several
years ago, in the State of Nebraska. He was the inventor of one of the riding cultivators now in use and so popular
in the Western States.
Daniel and David Evans and Thomas Jones came at an early day, and settled in the township. Ellen Jones, living
in Blunt, is 97 years old; Mary Jones - now Mrs. Pierce - came to the township in 1840. These parties all: came
In 1886, Robert Fisher, a native of Scotland, came to Big Rock, and settled in the northwest corner of the township,
just below where Lamson was then living. S. Samson, who came from New York, in 1839 (now deceased), Robert Norton
and Silas Long, from Ohio, were living near where Fisher settled. Perry, Taylor, Ament, Rhodes and the Swans lived
on the west side of the timber in 1840. Rhodes bought his claim of Hale Perry, amounting to near 500 acres, where
Blunt now stands, for the sum of $200. It was near Big Rock Creek, and today is worth, perhaps, one hundred times
what Rhodes paid for it at that early period.
L. D. Brady, now living in Aurora, and Jesse Brady, living in Plano, came from New York, in 1837, and settled in
this township, and bought their claims from the old man Cook, in the southwest part of the town, on the south side
of Big Rock Creek, just north of Esquire Hatch's.
A man named Picksly came previous to the Spring of 1838, and settled near Robert Fisher.
Dr. J. T. H. Brady, a brother to the other Bradys, came in the Spring of 1838, and was the first doctor in the
township. He did not commence a general practice of the healing art until the Summer of 1846, and soon after removed
to Little Rock.
Dr. S. O. Long came the same year from Massachusetts. After practicing his profession some years in the township,
One Matlock took up a large claim in 1837-38, where the Longs afterward settled, on the west side of the creek.
A sharp turn in the stream about three quarters of a mile west of Blunt is called Matlock's Point to this day.
Alexis Hall came at the same time as Matlock, and made a settlement. Edward Whiddon and Maurice Price came as early
as 1837. Rexford also came in 1837-38, and settled near Swan and Taylor.
Thomas W. Glasspool came to the township from "Merrie England," at an early period. He was married to
Katie Cook, in 1838. George Peck's account of the marriage runs somewhat as follows: Glasspool took his bride elect
and struck out for the Esquire's in the dead of the night. On arriving at the house of that functionary, who had
retired for the night, and knocking at the door, received the inquiry, "Who's there ?" "Glasspool."
"What do you want ?" "To get married." "Come in." The Esquire drew the bed curtains
for a moment, tumbled into his breeches, if such could be, and came forth looking as dignified as possible, and
proceeded: "You, William Glasspool, etc., etc.," "and you, Katie Cook, etc., etc." "So
help you God; and may the Lord have mercy on your souls." The night of Glasspool's wedding was one of the
coldest of the Winter.
Paul Colburn, now living in Big Rock Township, came from New York, in 1836, and made his present settlement.
Richard Morrison came from Wales, and settled in the township in 1840.
The first birth in the township of Big Rock was Edward Pierce, born in 1836. Calista Ann Anent wAmentrn in the
township, November 13, 1837. This was the beginning of the fulfillment of the passage of Scripture, "Be fruitful
and multiply and replenish the earth." And Big Rock has continued to do its duty in that respect down to the
The first marriage was doubtless Glasspool and Miss Cook, as we have no account of one previous to that time.
From the green mounds and marble slabs to be found rather thickly grouped together in different spots of the township,
we conclude that death has not been idle. Who the first was to meet it, we were unable to learn; but the fact is
evident to all, that many of the early settlers mentioned in these pages have gone to their eternal rest There
shall be funerals hereafter, for many are laid out," and death, the grand leveler of human greatness, will
sooner or later lay us all side by side.
In 1865, two daughters of James Davis (one of them now Mrs. James Davis, the other Mrs Edward Pierce) took the
first and second premiums in horsemanship, at Chicago. They broke their own horses, and that, too, without saddles.
Their debut in the city created a great sensation, which is not yet forgotten. They had their horses so well trained
that they could make them kneel while they mounted.
A post office was established at the village by Brook & Hoskins, in 1837, and was at first called Acasto, afterward
changed to Big Rock. This was the first post office in the township, and Orson Brooks was the first Postmaster.
These parties also started a hotel, and were soon followed by Livingstone, Shepard Johnson and others. Johnson
had money, but the others, except Thomas Meredith, possessed little of the world's goods.
The first tavern in the township was kept by Joseph Summers, on the Chicago and Galena State road, which passed
through the township. Summers also kept a post office at one time at his tavern.
The first blacksmith in the township was Willard Coon. Isaac Hatch learned the trade from Coon, and afterward kept
a shop on his claim. These men kept the first shop in that section, and worked for a large scope of country.
The first store opened in the township was about the year 1855, by a man named Walby. It was a frame building,
and did not have a very long life. Rhodes' store was the first in the village, and was opened there for business
Joshua F. Rhodes was the first acting Assessor for the township. He was elected to the office in 1850. He was also
appointed the first Postmaster in the vicinity of Big Rock Village, in 1861. He kept the post office in his own
house when first established. J. D. Denny was the first Supervisor of the township, and was appointed to the office
A saw mill was built in 1837, by Coon & Mussy, on Big Rock Creek, just below Rockville (then called Catsville),
which continued in active operation for a number of years.
A very large grain elevator was built in 1875, by Maltby & Co., which has always done a very fair business.
H. A. Denny, in 1871, put up a wagon shop, and two years later, a good substantial steam feed mill, which is kept
pretty steadily running to supply the demand. A number of other shops were put up in the Fall of 1875.
The road from Aurora to Sugar Grove was laid off by the following Commissioners, years ago: Joshua F. Rhodes, Thomas
Meredith and Ira Hodges. The road staked out at an early day ran directly through Big Rock Township. It passed
Cook's house and entered the section of Little Rock.
The Chicago & Iowa Railroad was completed and commenced running trains through the township of Big Rock
in 1871. Since that time, there has been a marked improvement in all the business and resources of that section.
Lands have increased in value, the farming interest almost doubled, and a large amount of freights are annually
shipped from Blunt Station.
Isaac Hatch was elected Justice of the Peace in 1842, and was probably the first to hold that office in the town.
A house built for school purposes in 1844-5 was moved into the township in 1847. It was built of hewed logs, and
stood on land now owned by E. Widding. But the first school house in the township was built in 1841, and the first
school taught by Cohn A ment. This primitive temple of learning was built of rough logs, with a log sawed out for
a window, slab door, slab writing desk, slab seats, slab floor, slab everything, and was raised by a bee of the
neighbors, and stood on Rhodes' claim. The present school house in the village was built in 1859, and cost about
$1,200. The school records in Big Rock Township, known as Township 38, north Range 6, east of the Third Principal
Meridian, are preserved since 1842. In March of that year, the following men were School Trustees: Alexis Hall,
Joseph Summers, James E. Smith, Samuel W. Lamson (resigned) and James W. Swan.
At a meeting held March 14, 1842, the township was divided into four school districts, and Directors appointed
for each district. The school house in District No. 3 is mentioned in the record as early as 1843, at the July
meeting At that meeting, the following preamble and resolutions were adopted:
"WHEREAS, We, the Trustees of Township 38, North Range 6, East of Third Principal Meridian, and of the County
of Kane, State of Illinois, deeming it necessary that there should be some bylaws adopted for our regulation. which
authority for so doing is implied in the law of the State, therefore do resolve:
" Section 1, etc."
Here follow thirteen sections of iron clad bylaws for the government of this august body, which wind up as follows:
We do solemnly agree to submit and bind ourselves by the above laws, and to which we do now affix our names and
seals this 15th day of July, 1843 Signed,
JAMES SMITH [L. s.]
J. W. SWAN [t. s.]
A. REED [L. s.]
A. HALL [L. s.]
JOSEPH SUMMERS [L. s.]
A record of the schools in the townships:
For 1841, District No. 1, 29; No. 2, 34; No. 3, 50; No. 4, 24; total, 137. For 1843, District No. 1, 24; No. 2,
35; No. 3, 49; No. 4, 24; total, 1:32. For 1845, District No. 1, 24; No. 2, 39; No. 3, 61; No. 4, 32; total, 156.
For 1848, District No. 1, 72; No. 2, 65; No. 3, 49; No 4, 58; No. 5, 35; total, 279.
L. LAMPSON, Treasurer.
The school section was divided into sixteen lots of forty acres each, and sold, the amount it brought being $1,191.20.
On the 5th of April, 1845, on account of the settlements of the vacant sections, the entire township was divided
into four equal districts, and were rearranged in 1846.
Shepard Johnson was a man of intelligence, and a zealous patron of schools. The records kept by him are unusually
In 1856, there were in the township seven school districts And in 1864, there were in the town 383 children entitled
to school privileges. In 1869, there were 400 children in the town under twenty one years.
In the township of Big Rock are the Welsh Congregational and English, and the Baptist. The Welsh Congregational
Church was dedicated in 1854, the Rev. John Daniel being the first Pastor. In 1842-3, George Lewis, who lived on
land now owned by John Whiddon, preached for about two years there. The church had but 13 members, when first organized
in Mr. Pierce's house, by the Rev. Mr. Jenkins and Mr. Morris, about the year 1853. Now it has about 30 members.
In 1858, a division occurred in the church, and the Congregational Church was formed in Big Rock; the year afterward,
built a church. The preacher and part of the society left the Welsh Church to form a new one. Rev. Mr. Evans was
the minister at that time.
The Baptist Church was completed in Big Rock, in the Winter of 1874-5, having been previously moved from west of
the village, where it had been standing for many years. It is at present in a flourishing state. Services are held
every two weeks and the attendance unusually large. There are 25 names on the roll of membership.
The war record of the township was not quite so good as some of the other townships in the county, but upon the
whole, creditable at least. Charles Schryer enlisted as a private in Capt. James Hayden's Company of Zouaves. Re-enlisted
in Company F, First Illinois Cavalry, in same year. He afterward became Captain of Company F of the One Hundred
and Twenty Seventh Illinois Regiment. D. E. Schryer, David Vaughn, Henry Houghtaling, Warren, Dick and Henry Colson,
all from Big Rock Township, were in same regiment. Many others also from this section were in the One Hundred and
Twenty Seventh. The Fifty Second, Fifty Seventh and Thirty Sixth likewise had a few from Big Rock. Schryer commanded
the One Hundred and Twenty Seventh Regiment nearly a year during Sherman's campaign. He was in command at the battles
of Jonesboro and Bentonville, and acquitted himself with honor, as well as the brave boys under his command.
The name of Big Rock was the Indian name of the creek, and at the time of township organization in 1848, under
Government survey, it was bestowed on the township, a name it has ever since borne. Politically, Big Rock, like
the majority of townships in Kane County, is Republican, but was Whig in old times by almost as much of a majority
as it is Republican at the present day.
As an agricultural region its soil is rich, well watered and productive. Corn is the principal crop, though other
crops are cultivated to a considerable extent.