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


was laid out in 1886, for John Oatman and sons, Thomas Deweese and Thomas L. Shields, by Mark W. Fletcher, County Surveyor. Oatman and Shields had come from McLean County, Ill., in the same year, the former being the father in law of both Deweese and Shields. Joseph Russell was the first settler in the village. In the Spring of 1836, Thomas Deweese commenced the erection of the Spring Mills, which are still in successful. operation. The motive power was obtained from several large springs upon the East Side, a much cheaper mill site than the river bank, as the power in that stream at this point is not good. The Spring Brook, however, tumbles down a height of forty feet. furnishing excellent facilities for moving an overshot Wheel, and thousands of bushels of grain have been ground there since operations were first commenced in the old building. The settlers hailed its establishment with rejoicing, for no other institution was as much needed. It passed from Deweese's possession into the hands of Isaac Rice, since which time it has been owned by various proprietors, and is now operated by Charles Nolte, who uses steam power during a part of the year.

The Oatman family was one of the most prominent among the early settlers in this region. They came, originally, from Kentucky, and at the time of their immigration to Dundee; consisted of John Oatman and wife, sons Joseph, Hardin, Clement, Jesse, Ira, William, James, John, Jr., Pleasant and three daughters. The family, with the exception of Jesse, removed, in company with Deweese and Shields, to Texas in 1849, where John, Sr., died November 29. 1877, near Austin, at the age of 90. Joseph, also, has been in his grave for many years. Clement is a clergyman in Texas; Hardin is a physician in Missouri, and John, Jr., a farmer in the same State. Jesse, who came to the village in 1837, is a merchant in Dundee, and the traveler may wander the country through without finding a more genial gentleman or one more generally respected in his town. He was a soldier in the Black Hawk war, and assisted in burying the mutilated victims of the Indian Creek massacre in what is now Freedom Township, La Salle County. Ira Oatman is now an eminent physician in Sacramento, Cal.; William is practicing the same profession in Austin, Texas, and Pleasant is a resident of Denver, Colo. Solomon Acres and Seth Green were among the settlers whom they found in Dundee Township at the time of their arrival. The Oatmans brought a small stock of goods to the place, when they came, which they offered for sale in the first building erected upon the West Side, or Dundee proper. This house was a frame one, no log cabin having been built, at any time, within the limits of that village It stood on the northeast corner of Block 12, across the street from where the Baptist Church now stands. It changed proprietors several times, and finally burned, L. N Bucks being the last owner.

The first hotel upon the same side of the river was opened by Hardin Oatman about 1838, who was succeeded by Henry Townsend. About 1840, a hotel was opened on the opposite side by David Hammer.

In 1838, Increase Bosworth opened a store, and subsequently forming a partnership with Mr. Edwards, sold a large amount of goods during the following years. The first bridge at Dundee was built in the Winter of the same year. It was a wood structure, and, having been carried off in a freshet, was replaced by one which was at length removed for the iron one which still spans the stream. A grocery and liquor shop was opened by David Hammer, near the Spring Mills, about the time that the hands were engaged in building the latter. About this time it became apparent to the few settlers in and about Dundee that the place might, at some future day, need a name. A meeting was accordingly called for the partial purpose of determining what it should be. Various ones were suggested, but when at length a young Scotchman, named Alexander Gardiner, a laborer upon the mill, suggested " Dundee," the name of the place that from whence he came, it received a majority of votes. It was on this occasion the building was erected afterward converted into a hotel, and kept for many years by Jesse Oatman. Among the settlers who came while the mill was in process of completion was one who hired as a day laborer, pretending to no special skill of any kind. It was soon discovered, however, that he was an educated man and a good physician. His name was Goodnow, already mentioned as the first physician in the town. He was elected one of the first Justices of the Peace, presided over many claim trials, and was long well known in the northern part of the county. Seth Green was also a Justice of the Peace as early as 1837. About 1838, Rev. D. W. Elmore, from Fayville, preached the first sermon in the village, in Messrs. Oatman's store. The first teacher has already been mentioned. The second was a Mr. Burbank, who came to the place with Dr. Goodnow, and is now Dr. Burbank, of Chicago. In the Spring of 1839, several of the settlers clubbed together and built the first school house in the village. The next building of the kind was constructed of brick, and built upon the land now occupied by the residence of George H. Bullard, the builder being A. C. Libby, who still lives in Dundee. It was put up by a tax upon the district, and used until the erection of the elegant Union School, which is now the pride of the town, and was the result of a combination for building purposes of Districts 5, 8 and 9, or East and West Dundee and Carpentersville. It was built in 1872-8, stands in the north part of the village, on the west side of the river, cost $20,000, is well graded, and under the management of Prof. M. Quackenbush.

The last claim fight in this township, so noted at an early day, for difficulties of the kind occurred early in 1839, when Eaton Walker, from one of the New England States, settled on a fractional eighty on the East Side, lying partially within the present village limits, and previously claimed by Thomas Deweese. There had been no improvements upon the land, and Mr. Deweese had not the slightest right to it. After Walker had commenced the foundation of a house, he was visited by the man who claimed the greater part of the township, and informed that he was trespassing upon his property, and advised him to leave it. Walker replied that his own right was superior, as he had made the first improvement and held possession. A short time elapsed, when David Hammer appeared upon the scene, claiming that Deweese had deeded the property to him, and ordering Walker to leave. But the unterrified Yankee continued his labors, assisted by his brother in law, Mr. Hemenway. Threats and maledictions were poured upon him, but in vain; and the cellar of the house had been nearly completed, when a gang of men, with teams and rails, came on from the country and commenced fencing the field. Thomas Deweese headed them, and they were well supplied with liquor and exceedingly noisy. Mr. Walker repaired to Elgin and procured the assistance of a young Constable, John Lovell, but the rioters only laughed at him and proceeded with the fence. It was about 9 o'clock in the morning when they commenced - there were between fifteen and twenty of them - and they continued their operations, meanwhile reviling Walker and Hemenway until about 2 in the afternoon, when the former, who was a man of few words, told them to " quit." As no notice was taken of this order, Mr. Lovell was requested to perform the duties of his office, in which he signally failed, being shoved back with contempt by the mob, while Sol Acres and Sam Hammers commenced making warlike demonstrations toward Walker, Dewiest standing near, meanwhile, and urging them on. Walker defended himself with ease, for he was one of the most powerful and athletic men in that region, when Hammers picked up the limb of a tree and broke it over his arm, and Acres joined in the attack without further hesitation. Deweese had been approaching ilemenway during this time, and now, having reached a favorable position behind him, dealt him a blow upon the cheek which knocked out one of his teeth and laid him senseless upon the ground. Just as he fell, he states that he saw Walker, who was still struggling against the two brawny assailants, draw a knife from his pocket and plunge it into Acres' neck. A stream of blood gushed from the wound, and he dropped without another blow. Walker raised the knife again to deal a quietus to Hammers, but that worthy, thinking that " discretion was the better part of valor," wisely withdrew. Not so with Deweese, however. He was as bold a man as the country afforded, terrible in a fight, and accordingly he seized a rail and would have leveled Walker to the ground had he not rushed toward him and caught it as it was descending, and stabbed him twice upon the head. Deweese was then content to stand back, with threats that he would kill Walker and assurances that he was not afraid of him. Walker assured him that he would not leave a breath in the body of the next man who approached him with malicious intentions. The rioters took their wounded from the place, and he was left in possession of the field. An attempt was afterward made to indict Walker for assault with murderous weapons. Deweese was one of the Grand Jury, but was excused from taking part in the consideration of the case, and a verdict of no cause of action was the result. This was the most sanguinary claim fight which ever occurred in Kane County, Walker died at his home in the village in the Fall of 1876, and Deweese has slept in a Texan grave for years. His family still reside in Texas, and one of his sons was a Captain in the Confederate army. Mr. Hemenway is Postmaster in the office which was established in the village upon its removal from McClure's Grove. When past 50 years of age, he enlisted and served throughout the late war without losing a day in the hospital.

Company I, of the Fifty second Illinois, organized in Geneva, was composed, to a great extent, of Dundee men, who did gallant service for their country in her life struggle.

A Congregational Church was organized in the place about 1839, followed a little later by one of the Baptist denomination. In 1841, the former had become sufficiently strong to build a house of worship, which was abandoned for a new brick building, erected in 1853. There were but eleven members at the time of the organization. Now there are about one hundred. The Baptists formed a church early, and built a frame edifice in the same year as the Congregationalists, but have rebuilt since the war. The Methodist Episcopal Society erected a cheap building about 1844, and in 1856 replaced it by the frame church still used. As early as 1848, the Episcopalians held their first religious services in Dundee, Rev. Mr. Philo officiating; but it was not until 1864 that regular services were commenced by Rev. Peter Arvedson, in the Congregational Church. When the Baptists left their building, it was purchased by this society for $450, and repaired. There are now about twenty communicants. The Rector from Elgin officiates. The German Methodist Episcopal organization purchased, in 1874, a church built years before by the Scotch Presbyterians, a society which had been but short lived. At the time of the purchase, the German society had been in existence in the place a number of years. Rev. F. Martin was the first preacher. There were now about twenty members, the number having remained nearly unchanged since the organization. The. German Lutheran Society was established some two years previous to the above denomination, and held the first preaching in the school house on the East Side, the first clergyman being Rev. Henry Serfling. In 1864, a house of worship was built of the beautiful brick for which the town is so justly noted, and the church has probably the largest membership of any in Dundee. The same society erected a school house in 1874, on the East Side, in which instruction is given in the German language, by two teachers, to about seventy five pupils. Among the first Germans who came to the village were Henry Havercampf, Henry Bartling, Anton Bummelman, John Bauman and Charles Rover. At present, the East Side is settled mainly by the Teutonic race. The Dundee people claim that they cannot support a lawyer, and the facts seem to justify the statement. It is a village where peace and harmony prevail; still in the years which have passed several gentlemen of the legal profession have made their homes there. And whether the town was more prone to iniquity then, or whether their presence rendered it less so, doth not appear. The first of these gentlemen was C. B. Wells, about 1841, and since then C. C. Hewitt and E. W. Vining have successively taken his place for limited periods. The first cooper was Allan Pinkerton, whose fame as a detective has since spread to every hamlet and house from Nova Scotia to Texas. At the time of his arrival in Dundee, his goods were left at the hotel, about a block from Oatman's corner. where his shop stood, and he had not sufficient money to hire them carted, but took them to their destination on a wheelbarrow.

In 1842, H. E. Hunt drove a team from the State of New York to the township, and three years later, commenced keeping grocery in a store built at a cost of only $75, where his dwelling stands. He now occupies the finest business block in Dundee, which was erected in 1871, on the West Side. It is built of the Dundee brick; contains Hunt's extensive dry goods store, a bank, and the printing office of the Dundee Record. The manufacture of brick has been. during the past, the most important industry of Dundee. The clay is of a superior quality; and the brick, when burned, are of a delicate cream color. The business was commenced as early as 1852, near the house of Jesse Newman. Subsequently, Hull & Gillett manufactured them for a time, upon the West Side; and later, the same parties operated a yard where the Methodist Episcopal Church now stands, on the opposite side. About twenty five rods south of this point, E. H. Hager & Co. are now manufacturing them. Several millions of brick, from Dundee, were used in the building of the Insane Asylum, at Elgin. From three to four millions of them have been made in the village yearly, and the clay is practically inexhaustible. About 1844, a foundry was built on the East Side, by A. C. Libby and William Carley, who operated, for a short time, employing five or six hands; but the business proving unsuccessful, was discontinued, and the building is now used as a pump factory, by Mr. D. Waterman.

The newspaper history of Dundee has been extensive, considering the size of the town, and commenced about 1855, when a Mr. Farnham published, for a short time, the "Dundee Advocate." Some eleven years later, the "Dundee Weekly" was commenced by Mr. P. Sevick, and was continued a number of years, being owned, at one time, by C. P. Thew, and purchased of him, in the Spring of 1871, by R. B. Brickley. In 1875, the "Dundee Wizen," formerly the Algonquin Citizen, commenced its brief career in the village, under the editorship of George Earlie; but after a single year, was removed to the center of journalism, Elgin, and sold, at length, to J. Stoddard Smith, who published it, until recently, as the _Elgin Free Press. It is now owned by Taylor & Van Gorder. On the 29th of March, 1877, S. L. Taylor, of Elgin, published the first number of the "Dundee Record." Dr. Cleveland, of Dundee, a gentleman of rare culture, was employed as editor, and later, in the same year, purchased the establishment of the proprietor. It is now an eight page paper, with a supplement, containing scientific, educational and home departments each under special assistant editors - and as a family paper, is one of the best of the numerous publications in the country. Circulation, about 500.

As already shown, Dundee is one of the greatest dairy regions in the country. Aside from the butter and cheese factories already mentioned, one was built in the village, in the Spring of 1874. It is a large building, constructed mainly of wood and owned by a stock company. The stock is valued at $6,000, and the patronage extensive. Six or seven of the largest dairies in the township send their milk to the condensing factory, in Elgin, and the freight upon the milk shipped direct from the Dundee depot to Chicago may be seen by the following statistics:

For January


For February


For March


For April


For May


For June


For July


For August


For September


For October


For November....


For December....


A single milk ticket, paying for the transportation of eight gallons, costs nineteen and four fifths cents.

In 1877, a steam grist mill was built upon the East Side, near the railroad depot, and is operated by George Taylor. Previous to its last erection, it was twice destroyed by fire within the space of a year.

Dundee, East and West, is composed of two separate villages, having a President and Council for each side, but they are so closely connected geographically and socially, that it has been deemed expedient to devote but one chapter to both. They are situated southeast of the center of the township, about five miles north of Elgin, in a portion of the valley unusually rugged and beautiful.


A mile northwest of Dundee lies the Village of Carpentersville. Here the valley widens, and the railway which followed the river to the village below diverges to the east at that point, leaving the more northerly place with no thoroughfare but the wagon road. Yet Carpentersville possesses advantages which more than offset this inconvenience and has gained a name as a manufacturing center. The village was first settled in 1887, by Daniel G. and Charles V. Carpenter. In the Spring of 1838, John Oatman & Sons and Thomas L. Shields built a mill dam there, with the intention of conveying the power to Dundee, and about the. same time erected a saw mill and commenced converting the surrounding forests into lumber. Valuable black walnut logs were drawn there from Plum Grove, Cook County, and the patronage was equally extensive upon all sides. The mill was sold early to George J. and S. H. Peck, who sold it to Joseph Carpenter, from Providence, R. I., uncle of the present proprietor.

In 1844, a carding mill and cloth dressing establishment was started between Dundee and Carpentersville, by William Dunton, who operated it for five or six years, and then sold it to J. A. Carpenter, who removed it to Carpentersville, where it was continued as a cloth dressing factory for some time; was finally enlarged and converted into a manufactory of stocking yarn and flannel. It went into the possession of the present stock company in 1866. From twenty to thirty hands are employed, and the stock is valued at about $25,000. J. A. Carpenter owns an extensive part of it, and of nearly every manufacturing and business establishment in the village.

The grist mill, still running upon the East Side, was erected about 1845, and is now owned. by Mr. Carpenter.

The village was surveyed and laid out July 15, 1851; and about the same time, the first bridge was built, by subscription, Mr. Carpenter defraying nearly the entire expense. It was replaced by an iron one in 1869. About 1855, a school house, two stories high, was built, the upper part being used as a hall by the Sons of Temperance, who have succeeded in maintaining an active organization in Carpentersville since 1851.

But by far the most important institution in the place is the mammoth manufacturing establishment of the Illinois Iron and Bolt Company. In 1853, Mr. George Marshall opened a shop for the manufacture of reapers and agricultural implements. The business was continued, in a small way, until 1864, when a radical change was made, a joint stock company formed, and the manufacture of thimble skeins, sad irons, pumps, copying presses, garden and lawn vases, seat springs, etc., commenced. The buildings are of vast proportions, including a foundry and machine shop. The main structure is of brick, and was erected in the Summer of 1871. In the following season, a wooden building, where the large brick office now stands, was destroyed by fire, and replaced, the same year, by the present one.

A brick foundry was built, in 1875, in connection with the larger shop. The stock amounts to $110,000, of which Mr. Carpenter owns a controlling interest, and became Manager, in July, 1868. Over 120 hands are employed, and the annual sales amount to $200,000. The manufactured articles are sold from Maine to California.

The Star Manufacturing Company (agricultural works) was established in 1873, in a large building belonging to J. A. Carpenter. It is a stock company, employing about twenty hands, engaged in making horse powers, cultivators and feed cutters. These, with a small planing mill, upon the East Side, complete the main manufacturing establishments of the place.

The post office was established in the village about 1866. The mail is obtained from Dundee.

During the Fall of 1877, the appearance of Carpentersville was much improved by an elegant business block, built by T. L. Whitaker, who has an extensive trade in dry goods and groceries.

The vast deposits of peat, extending over several hundred acres, east of Carpentersville, have received some attention during the past year, and the proprietors entertain the hope that in the near future, the demand for it as an article of fuer may be sufficient to warrant them in making efforts for its removal.

[Also see Dundee Township.]

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