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


is on the western line of the county, and is known as Township 41, north Range 6 east. It is an agricultural region, and equals in wealth any township, as devoid of towns and villages as it is, in Kane County. The population in 1870 was 919, and the tax book of 1877 shows the equalized valuation of taxable property to be $371,749.00.

From the most authentic information now attainable, there seems little doubt that Stephen Van Velzer made.


in the section of country now composing the Township of Burlington. He came in 1835, and located a claim twelve miles square, in which was embraced the larger part of this township

The mode of making claims to land in that day was, it seems, for the party first in the field to claim as large a tract as he could plow around in one day. This is said to have been Van Velzer's title to his twelve miles square.

Allison Banker came from New York the same year, and took up a claim in this township, shortly after Van Velzer had settled. He married a daughter of Solomon Wright, who came from Putnam Co., N. Y. in the following year (1836), and settled near Huxley's Corners, in Burlington Township

Mr. Wright had three sons, Baldwin, Elisha and D. C. Wright. Elisha is dead; Baldwin lives in Plato Township, while D. C. and their sister, Mrs. Banker, still live in Burlington. near the original settlement.

P. R. Joslyn, a kind of migratory character, but a good man withal, settled in the town in the early part of 1836. He was originally from New Jersey, but had lived in Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana. From the latter State he came to Burlington. He had some difficulty with Van Velzer, in regard to his claim, who attempted to collect a sum of money from him as a bonus for the privilege of settling on it. Upon inquiry, he learned that Van Velzer had no just grounds for such demands, and so he settled upon the claim selected, in open defiance of him. His son, Riley Joslyn, came the next season, and took up a claim in the township.

In 1836, O. H. Ellithorpe came to Chicago, from Franklin Co., Vt., with his brother, T. C. Ellithorpe. They remained in Chicago three weeks, when they came out to Geneva, and stopped over night with one Herrington. From Herrington's they went up the river to St. Charles, and from thence out to Esquire Griggs', who lived in Plato Township. They next went to William Paddock's, who lived six miles east of Geneva, in De Kalb County, and who was the only settler then between Burlington and Genoa. They had started for Galena, but turned back at Paddock's, and finally came and settled near Griggs', but over in what afterward became Burlington Township. Griggs had settled in 1835, as previously mentioned in the history of Plato Township. Mr. Ellithorpe made a permanent settlement - a claim upon which he lived many years. He is at present living in Elgin.

John Holden, from Pennsylvania, Asa W. Lawrence, from New York, and C M Andrews, from Hampshire Co., Mass., came out in 1837, and took up claims in the town, where some of them are still living.

Stephen Godfrey came from Orange Co., Vt., to this township, in 1839, and bought a claim from Van Velzer. This was in the Fall, and after hiring a piece of ground broken, he returned to Vermont and remained over Winter. In the Spring following, he brought his family to his new home and located permanently, where his widow is still living, with their only surviving son, Charles B. Godfrey. Mrs. Godfrey said that in those early days she used to get so lonesome and so blue and discontented that it seemed almost impossible to remain a moment longer in their cabin. In such moods she would go out and take a walk around their little patch of cultivated ground. After a few such turns, she would enter the house in a very complacent frame of mind, and perfectly contented with her lot.

In 1842, B. F. Chapman, from Canada West, and Stephen R. Ellithorpe, from Vermont, took up claims and located in Burlington Township; where both still live.

James Roseborough, from the North of Ireland, settled in 1843, and is still living on his original claim.

David Sholes, from Genesee Co., N. Y., came to Illinois in the latter part of 1840, and after spending about a year in Knox County, and a like period in Galena, finally settled in this township, and at present owns and lives on the original site of Van Velzer's first settlement.

James Mann came from Wyoming County, New York, in the Fall of 184:3, and bought a claim of 1,000 acres in the township, and after breaking a piece of ground and planting out an orchard, returned to New York and spent the Winter. In the following Spring, he brought his family to the West, and made a permanent settlement. He is still living on his original purchase - an old man, feeble in bodily health, but with a mind undimmed by the lapse of time. He celebrated his 84th birthday, which occurred on the 1st day of January, 1878, at the residence of his son, S. D. Mann, who gave the entertainment in commemoration of the event. His children were all gathered around him, save one son living in Elgin, and two daughters who reside in Lockport, New York. Mr. Mann was likewise married on his birthday, and celebrated the 63d anniversary of his marriage, conjointly with his 84th birthday. When he came to the township in 1843, Mr. Mann found, in addition to those already noticed, Eben Norton, Elder Isaac Newton, Spafford, Orlin and Joel Root, who came from the State of Ohio; John and Stephen Ellithorpe, and J. W. Hapgood, from Vermont, all of whom had taken up claims and made settlements.

In 1849 Mr. Mann made a visit to his old home in New York, accompanied by his wife and two youngest children, in an open carriage. While absent from home, his house was burned to the ground, together with all his worldly goods contained in it at the time. When he returned from the East, he built an elegant brick residence on the ruins of the one destroyed by fire. It is still standing in a state of good preservation, and is occupied by one of his sons.

The claim law, at a very early day, was used in Burlington, and often to excess. We alluded, a little space ago, to the manner and mode of laying claims, by plowing around a certain tract of land. After one had made a claim of this kind, woe betide the individual who had daring sufficient to set his flimsy title at defiance An instance was related to us of a man by the name of McClenathan, who had sold to one Mason a yoke of oxen for $100. Mason afterward took advantage of the Bankrupt Law, and McClenathan, in order to get pay for his oxen, went to Chicago and got bond for deed of land that Mason held as a claim, and had improved to some extent. This was considered sharp practice on the part of McClenathan, and Mason determined on revenge for what he considered an outrage. He gathered a number of his friends around him for the purpose of giving him (McClenathan) a taste of claim law, or more correctly termed mob law. They stripped him and, after breaking the ice, "ducked" him time and again, until the poor fellow was half drowned, when he succeeded in escaping from the mob, who pursued him hotly to the village of Burlington. The Maims and their friends resolved to protect McClenathan, and so stood by him, and when his pursuers came, absolutely refused to give him up. High words followed, and savage threats were indulged in by the mob, but produced no effect. The mob disappeared for a while, but soon returned with forces augmented. Numbering fully fifty desperate fellows, they demanded their man, with an assurance that if their wishes were not complied with, the whole village should be treated to a coat of tar and feathers, while one, zealous in the cause, and more thoughtful than the others, flourished a rooster he had brought purposely to supply the feathers. But finding that McClenathan's friends were as determined as themselves, and 'moreover had the advantage of fighting behind the walls of their own castles, the mob finally withdrew, muttering curses dark and dire upon the village and all connected with it. They never succeeded in forcing McClenathan to re-deed the land to Mason. In fact, many of the parties were arrested, and others, fearing prosecution, left the country. They came very nearly ending McClenathan's earthly career, and, as a consequence. suffered the penalty of their violence.


Each moment, in dying. bears with it a dead human being. Flowers perish and spring again, suns set at eve and rise again in the east, but the dead render not up their dead to mortal eyes. Death, the grand leveler of human greatness and human ambition, entered the infant settlement at an early period of its existence. Van Velzer's wife was the first victim of the grim tyrant. She died in 1837, and was buried amid the wild flowers of her prairie home. A native of the sunny South, her tender frame was unable to withstand the fierce winds of a colder clime. Others of the early settlers in time followed her to the better land. Joslyn, perhaps, was one of the first, and died about 1846-7. Stephen Godfrey died on his original claim in 1851, and Holden in 1875. Van Velzer sold out and moved into De Kalb County, where he died about the year 1867. Solomon Wright died many years ago, on the place where he first settled. Many of the early settlers mentioned in these pages have removed to other sections, and it may be that a number of them have made their last journey. All trace of them is lost, and whether they be in the land of the living or of the dead, we are alike ignorant. Upon those still surviving, the rolling years have written their record, and the hand of time silvered their hair with the frosts of Winter.

A post office was established in 1848, which was the first in the township. S. S. Mann was the first Postmaster, and held the office for a number of years, when he was succeeded by his brother, Franklin Mann, who held it but a short time, when S. S. Mann again took it; then John Ellithorpe was Postmaster for a while, then Henry Manchester, and he was followed by Walter Scott; finally the office went to A. J. Mann, who is Postmaster at present. Another post office was established, in 1868, at East Burlington, in the southeast quarter of the township. It was originally called Berkshire post office, but latterly changed to its present name.

The first frame house built in the township was put up by James Mann, in 1845, and was the one consumed by fire while the owner was absent in New York, as already noticed. He also erected a large frame barn in 1844, the first of the kind ever built in the town, and which is still standing.

His eldest son, Franklin Mann, and Gideon Sherman built the first saw mill. This mill was put up in the village of Burlington in the Summer of 1850. It did faithful work for about seven years, when, having accomplished its day, it was sold, taken down and moved away. It cut the lumber for the plank road from Elgin to Geneva, a part of which only was ever built.

The first road through the township of Burlington was the old Territorial road from St. Charles to Galena, and was the regular stage line between those point's. In the early settlement of the place, this road, together with the main line, leading from Chicago to Galena, were the only outlets from this section, save across the almost unbroken wilderness. On this road (St. Charles and Galena) Ezra Hanson kept tavern in a small log building, which was the first house of public entertainment ever opened in the township. But the continuous stream of travel pouring along this highway daily, induced other enterprising individuals to embark in a similar enterprise, until nearly every farm house on the road was a hotel, and every cabin a place furnishing "entertainment to man and beast."

The first place where the early settlers could exchange their superflous farm products for "store truck" was where Burlington Village now stands. At this point, S. S. Mann opened a store, in 1847, which was the first in the township by several years. In this store was kept, by Mr. Mann, as already stated, the first post office. With some changes in proprietors, and considerable changes in outward improvements, the store, as an institution, is still in existence, near the original location. The little frame building, in which it was first opened, has given place to a large and commodious brick structure, well filled from floor to ceiling. The present firm, Mann, Hapgood & Co., are doing a thriving business, and own the only store in the township.

The first church in Burlington Township was the Congregational Church. at Burlington Village. This edifice was constructed on as liberal principles, perhaps, as any church to be found in the country. It has been occupied by various denominations, without any regard whatever to their particular dogmas. The building was commenced in 1853, but was not completed until five years afterward. And although put up as a Congregational Church, and principally by that denomination (the elder Mr. Mann alone contributing about $400), yet it seems to have been used for years after its completion by the Free Will Baptists. It was formally dedicated and opened for worship by the Baptists, in 1858, under the ministerial charge of Rev. Mr. Baxter. The Congregational Society was first organized in 1853, about the time the church building was commenced, but had become lukewarm and dormant at its completion. Hence its early occupancy by the Free Will Baptists. The Congregational Society revived and prospered for a while, but at present is nearly extinct, and their church is occupied alone by the Baptists. The building is a large and corn fortable one, about 30x40 feet, and well finished up.

The Free Methodists have a plain, but substantial church building, on the south line of the township. It is in a flourishing condition, and has a large membership. Long before a church was built in the township, Methodist circuit riders preached at farm houses, and even held protracted meetings. For several years, Godfrey's was used as a regular preaching place, and the Revs. Swift and Styles proclaimed the word of God there many years before the township boasted of a church.

The first preacher in the township was Elder Eaton, of the Free Will Baptist denomination. He came from Ohio early in 1840, and organized a church, or rather a society, at the old log school house soon after. This was the first sanctuary of worship, and within its walls was preached the first sermon ever heard in Burlington Township. The shepherd of this early flock finished the work given him to do, and has long since gone to his reward.

The first doctor was I. W. Garvin, who practiced in this township for several years. What year he came to the settlement, and where from, could not be obtained. He went to California in 1849, where he remained for a time, and then returned and settled in the town of Sycamore. where he still lives.


The dairy business, so extensively carried on in Kane County, is represented in Burlington Township by three large cheese factories. The first one built was that at the village of Burlington, erected in 1871 by a stock company, Uriah Thomas taking $1,000 stock, and assuming the business management of the concern at the time. It is a two story frame building, of the capacity of a majority of the factories in this section. It is doing a good business, but running somewhat below its average, and is owned at present by Mann & Roseborough. They make up the milk exclusively. In 1872, a factory was built at East Burlington, by Kraft & Parks. It is a large two story frame, with stone basement, and is doing a flourishing business. It is owned at present by Duncan Johnson, a man heavily interested in cheese manufacturing in the county, and mentioned frequently in this history in connection with different factories.

Edward Jackson, in 1874, put up a factory on the south line of the township. It is a two story frame building of the usual style, and is doing a very good business. He makes up the milk for his patrons, and still owns and operates the factory. Nearly all of the milk produced in Burlington Township is manufactured at home, but a very small portion of it being shipped to other points.

The first school house in the township was built between 1840 and 1844, by Root & Eaton. It was a small, log affair, and built on Section 10, on the St. Charles and Galena road, about one mile from the present village of Burlington. Who taught the first school in this house is, at the present time, a question involved in some doubt. A Miss Larrabie taught there at an early day, as also did Miss Nancy Hill But to which one, or whether to either, belongs the honor of teaching first in this rude temple of science, cannot now be determined. Mrs. Catharine Ellithorpe, wife of John W. Ellithorpe, it seems, from the best information to be obtained, taught the first school in the township. She taught a school in her own house, in 1839, a year or two before the log school house was built. This method of schooling was often resorted to by the early settlers, when school houses were scarce, and educational facilities almost unattainable. Mrs. Godfrey taught a school at home, in 1840, when there was no school house in the township but the one before alluded to, which was not within the reach of the neighborhood where the Godfreys lived. Miss Fannie Putnam taught a Summer school, in 1842, in Van Velzer's barn. The present generation would doubtless turn up their indignant noses in lofty scorn, at the idea of becoming scholars under such difficulties. Yet, little more than a quarter of a century ago, school houses were few and far between, in the great State of Illinois, and the people of those days snatched eagerly, at every opportunity to obtain an education.

The present schools of Burlington Township seem to be in a. very flourishing condition, and to compare favorably with those of any other township. But of their history, from the early period of schools down to the present time, but little definite information can be obtained. Their records have all been destroyed previous to 1870, and nothing remains but the remembrance of some of the more important events connected therewith, in the minds of those directly interested in the matter. The following is the school report of 1871: No. of school districts, 10; No. of pupils enrolled, 278; No. of teachers, 12; No. of school houses, 10; No. of school libraries, 6; No. of volumes in libraries, 300; amount of school tax, $3,271.02; amount paid teachers, $1,288.00.

In 1877, there were eight school districts wholly in the township of Burlington, and two union districts. These all have good, comfortable frame buildings, with sufficient capacity to accommodate all who are entitled to their benefits. Franklin Mann is the present School Treasurer, recently having been elected to that office. The report of 1877 was as follows: No. of school houses, 10; No. of pupils enrolled, 313; No. of children under 21 years, 401; value of school property, $6,700.00; present school fund, $1,300.00.

The first marriage in Burlington Township was John Holden, one of the early settlers, and Miss Hannah Van Velzer, in 1840 or about that time. It is supposed that they were married by Esquire Griggs, who lived in Plato Township, and who appears to have been in the habit of performing that duty as frequently as the sparsely settled community would admit of:

The first birth in the township is a little obscure, as to date and to whom the honor belongs. Some claim that it was a child of Van Velzer, by his second wife (he having married a second time, in 1839), while others Maintain that Mrs. Banker gave birth to the first white child born in the township.

Eben Norton and T. C. Ellithorpe were made Justices of the Peace, when this township was first divided from Plato, it and Plato formerly comprising Washington Precinct.

When the State was organized into townships under Government survey, in 1848, Washington Precinct was divided into two townships.

At a meeting held for the purpose of organizing, the subject of a name came up, when Mr. Hapgood, a native of Vermont, and still cherishing a veneration for the old Green Mountain State, moved the name of Burlington, which carried unanimously.

When Van Velzer came to Burlington Township, in 1835, he brought with him a negro female slave, but which became free according to the laws of Illinois. She remained, however, with the family for years, displaying all the devotion to them characteristic of that perculiar race. But longing for the old plantation where she was born, after the death of her first mistress - Mrs. Van Velzer - she wandered back to the old Southern home.


was surveyed by Andrew Pingree, in 1851, for James and S. S. Mann. Though about twenty seven years old, it has not grown to a city, but is still a small, unpretentious village. Considerable business, however, is done every year.

There is one large store, comprising a general and complete stock of goods, owned by Mann, Hapgood & Co.; one cheese factory, owned by Mann & Roseborough; one wagon and blacksmith shop; one church; one school house, and a post office.

East Burlington consists merely of a post office, a school house and a cheese factory.

Burlington Lodge No. 637, A., F. & A. M., was organized in 1867, in the village of Burlington. It was organized as Willing Lodge, U. D., but when chartered, some eighteen months subsequently, the name was changed to Burlington.

After the Masonic Lodge in Hampshire Township was removed from the old to the new village, the two being so near together, it was deemed advisable to discontinue Burlington Lodge, No. 637, and accordingly they surrendered their charter in the latter part of 1877.


Burlington Village has a beautiful little cemetery, handsomely laid off and neatly kept. The first to occupy this necropolis was Miss Julina Mann, who died April 26, 1847.

There is another small cemetery on the south line of the township, not far from the Free Methodist Church.

There are also several private burying grounds on plantations in different parts of the town.

Politically, Burlington Township is Republican. In the old times, however, it gave a large, in fact almost unanimous, Whig majority.

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