Campton, the central township of Kane County, lies west of St. Charles and east of Virgil, is bounded on the
north by Plato and south by Blackberry, and is Town No. 40, Range 7 east of the Third Principal Meridian
John Beatty, from Crawford County, Penn., came to Chicago April 20, 1834, and, remaining there until March, 1835,
proceeded westward, and reached Fox River at the present site of Geneva, where Bird, Haight and Aiken were then
living. Early in the season, he traveled northwestward, and, entering the present township of Campton, took up
a claim of prairie where C. H. Shaw now resides. Returning thence to Geneva, he remained in the vicinity for about
two months, when he again sought the wilderness toward the setting sun, and this time, proceeding further, took
up a tract composed of both prairie and timber, upon which the widow Burr now resides, and built thereon the first
log cabin in the township. Not feeling satisfied with his first claim, owing to the scarcity of timber and running
water - which was abundant upon the latter one - he subsequently sold the former to one Archie, who settled and
remained upon it for several years. Mr. Beatty did not locate upon his land for more than a year after it was taken,
and, meanwhile, several settlers arrived. Foremost among these were Henry. Warne, in the southwest part of the
town; John Whitney, from New York State, who lived where his son Melvin now resides, and took up a claim embracing
a thousand acres or more; Culverson, where Robert Garfield lives; James Hackett, from Ohio, who located where C.
Cooley now resides; Luke Pike, from the same State, upon the present Chaffee homestead, and Charles Babcock, on
the Stewart place. All of the above took up their claims in 1835.
When Mr. Beatty came to the township, he states that an Indian trail extended across it upon the south from Ohio
Grove, thence east past Lilly Lake, across the Robert Garfield farm, thence through the lot now occupied by the
cemetery to a point about a mile and a half east, where it branched, one fork bearing southward to Waubansie Town
and the other reaching the river a little south of St. Charles.
About 1838, a company from St. Charles, including Ira Minard and Daniel Marvin, drove an ox team attached to a
fallen tree to the settlement of Oregon, on Rock River, thus marking a road the entire distance, a portion of which
lay in Campton.
Prairie breaking was an important industry in those days, as many of the settlers were but illy supplied with teams
and plows. The prairie breakers traveled the entire country with ox teams, and plowed wherever their services were
required. Mr. Beatty broke extensive tracts in the Summer of 1836. His team consisted of six yokes of oxen, and
the price charged was $3.50 per acre. He states that he plowed the first furrow in the township.
The settlers early turned their attention to the education of their children, and, accordingly, we find a log school
house in 1836 on land now owned by a Scandinavian named Lawson, and in it a Mrs. McClure was installed as teacher.
The building was the result of the united efforts of Messrs. Pike, Hackett, Archie, Culverson, Ryder and others,
and the flock of little boys and girls who gathered there at the opening of the first term was small in numbers,
but the following year found them more than doubled.
In the Winter of 1837, Mr. Beatty remained upon his claim, having passed the two previous Winters in Geneva. During
the previous season he had assisted in conveying the portion of the Pottawattomie Indians living in Indiana to
their reservation across the Mississippi, and, during the same Spring and Summer, numbers of settlers had arrived.
Among these were Harry and Spalding E. Eddy, brothers, from Genesee Co., N. Y.
The latter informs us that upon his arrival one Trow was living upon the farm owned at present by Augustus Fisher;
John Hogoman or Hagarman, a Dane, upon a claim still owned by his descendants; Thomas E. Dodge upon the claim afterward
purchased by Garret Norton; Ansel Lake upon his present homestead; John Tucker, deceased, where his heirs reside;
Geo. Thompson, of Ohio, the father of Charles Thompson, of St. Charles, was living upon the Hitchcock farm, and
E. Reed and James Outhouse were cultivating the banks of Lilly Lake, where they have remained ever since.
Edward Page and Edmund Elliott were early settlers from the State of New Hampshire. The former died upon his claim,
in 1838, of small pox.
Previous to this, however, death had appeared in the township and in 1837, a Mrs. Burgess had been laid at rest
in the old burying ground near King's mill. Mrs. J. Whitney was likewise called to her final reward, in the Fall
of the same year.
The first marriage was that of Mark Whitney and Caroline Ward, about 1838.
John Durant should be mentioned as one of the earlier residents in the eastern part of Campton.
Mr. Beatty, the first settler, is still living in the township, at the age of 80 years, and possesses a memory
peculiarly clear regarding events which occurred during the early years of the settlement.
William Kendall was the first settler at Canada Corners, where he claimed a vast tract of land.
James Ward, from the State of New York, settled where the Shavers now live, in the Spring of 1836.
As already shown, the first public institution established in Campton Township was a school house. Later, in
the Winter of 1887-38, Miss Mary Lee taught in the house of James Ward, and about a year from that date the settlers
erected a log school house on land now, forming a portion of the county near the residence of A. Fisher.
In 1841, we find a Board of Trustees organized, composed of E. Chaffee, Charles Fletcher, Thomas E. Dodge, Ansel
Lake and Hylas T. Currier, with Nelson Walker, Clerk.
The records have been carefully preserved, and exhibit a division of the entire region now occupied by Campton
into districts, as follows: District 1 was composed of Secs. 1, 2, the east half of 3, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15,
and the north half of 22, 23, 24 and 25. District 2 embraced the west halves of Secs. 3 and 10, Sec. 4, the north
half of 9 and northeast fourth of 8. District 3 embraced Secs. 5 and 6, the northwest fourth of 8, the north half
of 7 and a fraction of Township 41. District 4 included the south halves of Secs. 7, 8 and 9, and Secs. 17, 18
and 19. District 5 was formed of the south half of Sec. 22, Sec. 21, the east half of Sec. 20, the south half of
Sec. 25, and Secs. 26, 27, 28, 33, 34, 35 and 36.
Aside from the above, there was a Union District, embracing the west half of Secs. 20, 19, 29, 31 and 32 in
Township 40, and several sections in what is now Virgil. These six original districts were afterward increased
in number, and in 1847 there were not less than thirteen.
School houses were built as necessity required, and, before the year 1850, there was not an urchin in the thirty
six square miles of Campton but possessed the opportunities for acquiring the rudiments of an education near home.
At present there are eight good frame buildings in the township, dedicated to learning. Several of them were built
a number of years ago, but have since been repaired and all are now comfortable, and several elegant structures.
As an example of the latter, the one in District 9 may be cited, which was erected at a cost of $1,600. The estimated
valuation of school property is $5,000.
NAME, TOWN HOUSE, ETC.
The history of Campton refutes the old saying that " There's nothing in a name," since its citizens
have deemed it necessary to change its name for the sake of convenience. It was known at first as Fairfield, having
been named by Timothy Garfield, who had purchased of Culverson, of Ohio, and had come, from the town of Fairfield,
Vt. By this name it was called until 1850, when it was ascertained that there was another Fairfield in the State,
and a change was demanded. Various names were offered and there are two records in existence, dated early in the
above year, in which the township is designated as Milo township. But this name seems to have been speedily dropped,
and since December, of the same year, the township has been called Campton. The town was surveyed in August, 1842,
for the Government, by Silas Reed.*
* From a copy of the Surveyor's field notes. in the possession of Rev. A. Pingree.
Town. meetings were held for many years in the house of Eber Chaffee, afterward in various school houses, but in
1874, the inhabitants, with their characteristic enterprise, having determined to adopt a permanent location for
the future, erected the beautiful town house now in use. It stands upon Section 22, is a frame building, and with
its clean white walls contrasted with its dark green blinds, presents a peculiarly neat appearance, and may be
taken as a model country town house. But few of the townships in the county, west of the river, possess buildings
erected for a similar purpose.
The earliest roads in the township were the one from Geneva to Rockford, extending past Friend Marks, and thence
by King's mill, and the one from St. Charles to Oregon, both of which were laid out before the town was generally
settled. The vast amount of teaming across the town at an early day rendered the hotel business important, and
accordingly we find a log one kept by Elias Crary on the St. Charles and Geneva road at the south end of Chicken
Grove. It was replaced at a later period by a frame building, where entertainment was offered to the traveler,
for a number of years. Timothy Garfield also opened a public house on the road from St. Charles to Sycamore, as
early as 1839. About this time, or a little later, there were forty one hotels between the present residence of
Spalding Eddy and Randolph street, Chicago; so great was the travel from the present metropolis to the towns west
of Kane County. Prominent among these inns was the Fairfield Exchange, kept by B. D. Mallory, and located where
the residence of George Norton now stands. It was originally a log house built by Albert Dodge, and was purchased
by Mallory, who made frame additions upon all sides as well as on the top of it. The original building has long
since disappeared, but several of the frame portions still exist, the parlor being a kitchen in the house of the
present owner, while the bar room has been degraded to serve as a hennery. Many a scene of revelry and mirth has
that small apartment witnessed as filled with jolly teamsters, in a heaven of tobacco smoke,
"The night drave on wig' swags an' clatter."
Glorious crowds assembled there, and not unfrequently their numbers were so great that some of them were obliged
to sleep upon the floor. This deficiency in lodging accommodations was more than offset, however, by the excellent
table for which Mr. Mallory is still noted and which would have satisfied the demands of the most fastidious epicurean.
The fare for the teamster and team was four shillings sixpence, and a "receipt" was always given in the
shape of a glass of good Bourbon. In the course of time, a plank road was laid from St. Charles to Canada Corners,
with the design of extending it to Sycamore, but as it did not promise to become a profitable enterprise, it was
never completed, and was merely graded to the proposed terminus. With the appearance of railroads, the extensive
wagon travel ceased, as well as the taverns in Campton.
A steam saw mill was built near the old homstead of the Chaffees, for the purpose of sawing the plank for the
road which passed there, but it was never used for any other purpose. Previous to its erection, Dr. John King had
built, on Lilly Lake Creek, a mill which contained a single up and down saw, and was operated occasionally for
several years, but, the power being insufficient, it never sawed a great amount of timber. Dr. King was both a
physician and preacher, and the first resident professional gentleman in the town. He left the county at an early
POST OFFICES AND STORES.
The Campton people went to St. Charles or Virgil, at first, for their mail. The earliest post office in the
township was kept in the extreme southwestern part by Henry Warne. It was called the Fairfield office, but the
name was finally changed to Swinton, and it was at length removed to Blackberry Station. A post office was established,
under Dr. King, at an early day, at King's Mill, by which name it was known. At a later period, it was removed
to Gray Willow, where it still remains. The Campton office, at "Canada Corners," was established about
1845, and has since been discontinued and revived. It is now supplied from Blackberry.
The Corners is the most extensive hamlet in the town. As early as 1853, Eldridge Walker, a Canadian, kept a
store there, stocked with a few dry goods and groceries. The Woolcotts and Lindseys were early at that point, and
were also from Canada - whence the name of the settlement. It now contains a church, school house, store, two blacksmith
shops, a paint shop, and fourteen dwellings.
Rev. D. W. Elmore planted the germ of a Baptist Church in Campton, at an old log dwelling, near King's mill,
as early as 1838. The same organization continued to flourish for many years, under the ministration of Dr. King
and several other preachers, but at length became weakened, and had ceased to exist, when, in 1872, the church
at " Canada Corners" was commenced. The society was then revived, and several members contributed liberally
to the church, where the Baptists now hold meetings alternately with their Methodist brethren.
A Congregational Church was established very early in the Stewart neighborhood, formerly known as the New Hampshire
settlement. Father Clark was an early preacher; also, Rev. Mr. Warner, who lived where Orus Hitchcock now resides;
but the membership was never sufficiently strong to erect a house of worship, and in process of time, they became
scattered, many of them uniting with the church in St. Charles.
The Methodist Episcopal society was organized at the old log, school house, in the Eddy District; early removed
to the Corron school house and Canada Corners, and in the Fall of 1872, built with others the Union Church at the
latter place, at the cost of about $2,500. The membership is about thirty five.
About 1868, a small cheese factory was built at Gray Willow, by the Larkins Brothers, and was sold, at length,
to George Lake, and ceased operations in 1875, when the fine building was erected for a similar purpose, near the
old site of King's mill. In the Fall of 1877; Mr. Lake disposed of the property, and the business is now continued
by Duncan Johnson, who has since manufactured both butter and cheese, from 8,000 to 12,000 pounds of milk per diem.
In the Spring of 1870, Edward Thornton built a butter and cheese factory on the west side of the township, and
has worked it ever since, obtaining, on an average, the milk from 400 cows daily. The building, like the above,
is of wood, well furnished, and cost $6,000.
TOPOGRAPHY AND POPULATION.
Campton Township is well diversified between prairie and wood land, and contains but few tracts of the former
which are not under excellent cultivation. It ranks as one of the best towns in the county, both in agricultural
resources and the intelligence of its inhabitants, and like all the others, is steadily progressing. Its population,
by the last census, was 960.