[Return to Elgin History part 1]
of Elgin were firmly established, and scores of the men and women of the present city were obtaining within
them the intellectual culture which has contributed to give the place a front rank among the river towns.
In 1838, Miss Gifford, who had taught the first school during the previous year in her brother's log house, was
seated upon the throne in the Elgin chapel, or Union Church, where many little boys and girls were taught the rudiments.
of an education.
Some three years later, Mr. Adin Mann taught in the new church which the Methodists had recently erected; and,
later, Rev. Mr. Bolles and others wielded the ruler in the same building
During the Winter of 1841-2, Miss Ballard, now Mrs. Nathan G. Phillips, had opened a small school, south of the
business part of the town, in an unoccupied dwelling belonging to Horace Heath.
But each of these institutions was merely temporary, and no suitable house was dedicated exclusively to education
until 1844, when one was completed, by private subscription, upon the lot now occupied by the residence of Dr.
Tefft. Miss Harvey, afterward Mrs. P. R. Wright, was the teacher for a number of years; but, in 1845, additional
accommodations being found to be necessary, Mr. R. W. Padelford circulated a subscription paper, and, as a result,
the brick school house was commenced, which was completed two years later and dedicated in January, 1848. It was
then the most elegant school house in the northern part of the State. Mr. Ballard was employed as Principal, on
a salary of $400 a year, while Mrs. Ballard and Miss Graves, now Mrs. J. J. Town, were assistant teachers.
About three years later, the School Law was adopted, and then the day of subscriptions for the support of education
was at an end. Each man's tax was henceforth apportioned, and since that day there has been no interruption in
the steady progress of the Elgin schools.
In 1854, they were by special charter placed under the control of the city, Edmund Gifford being elected Superintendent;
Mr. Curtis, Principal in District No. 1, and Mr. Cole in District No. 2. Various changes have since been inaugurated.
In November, 1855, the new school house was dedicated in District No. 3, and Mr. Daggett opened the school as its
first Principal. In 1857, the new brick building was erected, for the occupation of the high school, and was dedicated
in the Fall of the same year.,
About this time, the citizens, after discharging several teachers, began to observe that competent instructors
could not be secured upon the same scale of prices paid for splitting rails or for farm labor, and, accordingly,
we find Mr. Heywood receiving the once fabulous compensation of $1,000 per annum.
Nine schools were taught in the city during the successive years, from 1859 to 1866, and ten teachers employed.
The average attendance ranged from 427 to 468. Two new school houses were built about 1867, one in the First, the
other in the Sixth Ward.
During the year 1869, the schools were re-graded and a complete census of the pupils taken by Mr. C. F. Kimball,
the Superintendent, and also Principal of the high school. The result was as follows: White children, from 6 to
21 years, 1,545; colored children, from 6 to 21 years, 30; total, 1,575. At this time the entire white population
of the city was 4,804; colored, 91; total, 4,895.
At the same time, more school room being needed, the old church formerly occupied by the Baptists was purchased
by the City Council for $5,000, and three schools were opened therein, in 1870, enrolling nearly 200 pupils. In
1873, the schools passed from the municipal control and adopted the general school law of the State. A new school
house, two stories high, was raised the same year, adjoining the high school. At present there are sixteen schools
in successful operation upon the East Side, with nineteen teachers, while the West Side supports three schools,
with four teachers. Mr. W. H. Bridges is the Superintendent of the whole.*
*For the above educational items we are indebted to Mr. C. F. Kimball, the former Superintendent.
Aside from the public institutions of learning, several have been established by private enterprise, at various
times. Of these, the Elgin Seminary, started in the Spring of 1851, by the Misses Lord, now of Chicago, should
be noticed. It was first opened in the basement of the Congregational Church, and a house on DuPage street, now
owned by Mr. C. K. Anderson, served as the boarding department. It was designed, principally, for the education
of young ladies, although several young men were admitted during its history. It was removed to the Elgin House
in 1852, which was fitted for its reception, with the house now standing next east of it, and there continued until
1856. During the intervening years, it attained a high reputation under the management of Rev. Daniel S. Dickinson
(deceased), A. R. Wright (now of Sioux City) and others. The original charter 6f the Elgin Academy was granted
to Solomon Hamilton, Colton Knox, George McClure, Vincent C. Lovell, Luther Herrick, Reuben Jume and Burgess Truesdell,
by act of the Legislature of Illinois, approved February 22, 1839. After an unsuccessful attempt, in 1843, to erect
a building and establish a school under this charter, the lot owned by the Free Will Baptists was purchased, in
1855, by a stock company organized under the charter as amended February 14 of the same year. This amended charter
still remains in force, the peculiarly liberal spirit of which may be seen by the following extract:
"SEC. 7. The said institution shall be open to all religious denominations; and the profession of no particular
religious faith shall be required either of officers or of pupils."
Previous to the sale of their lot, the Free Will Baptists had laid thereon the foundation of an institution of
learning, to be called the Northern Illinois College, and upon this arose the Elgin Academy. The school was opened
for students December 1, 1856, with Robert Blenkiron, a teacher of great ability and culture, as its first Principal.
He was followed successively by James Sylla, Clark Braden, C. C. Wheeler, Dr. Nutting, W. T. Bridges, B. C. Cilley,
A. S. Barry and A. G. Sears.
The war record of the Academy was a glorious one, sending, as it did, seven commissioned officers, six non commissioned
staff officers, twenty one non commissioned officers and twenty three privates.
In 1872, the course of study in the normal department was enlarged by the addition of the natural sciences, physiology
and laws of health branches which have been retained in the course ever since.
In the years 1873-4, $1,500 were expended in beautifying the grounds and in making the school building more suitable
to the purpose for which it was designed. A heavy debt with which the institution had been incumbered was liquidated
during those years, and the year 1875 opened with renewed prospects of success, and since then has been steadily
advancing. The course of study embraces all the higher branches required by the students desiring a liberal education;
also, the fine arts, music, drawing and painting. Since September, 1870, A. G. Sears has been the Principal.
The foregoing notice of the educational facilities of Elgin would be incomplete without a sketch of the rise and
progress of the
In March; 1872, the General Assembly of Illinois passed an act providing for the support, by taxation, in each
town, city or village, of a public library, under the control of six Directors. Section 6 of this act reads as
"Every library or reading room established under this act shall be forever free to the use of the inhabitants
of the city or township where located, always subject to such reasonable rules and regulations as the library board
may adopt, in order to render the use of said library and reading room of the greatest benefit to the greatest
On the 2d day of April, 1872, the town of Elgin voted to organize a library under the above act, and, on the following
April, a Board of Directors were elected at the annual town meeting, as follows: Zebina Eastman, I. C. Bosworth,
E. C. Lovell, J. A. Spillard, J. W. Ranstead and W. H. Hintze.
A tax of $3,000 was collected in the same year, and a correspondence opened with some of the leading publishers
of the world, by a committee of two of the Directors.
In December, 1873, the books and furniture of the Young Men's Christian Association library, previously formed
in Elgin, was purchased by the Board of Directors, for $250, and removed to the third story of the Bank Block,
on the corner of Chicago street and Douglas avenue, where rooms were leased and fitted for the use of the library.
In February, 1874, the circulating library of Denison & Burdick, containing 700 volumes, was purchased for
$500; and other purchases were made in Chicago, winch swelled the number of volumes to 2,000.
In 1875, Mr. E. C. Lovell made the tour of Europe, and was directed by the Board to expend a certain amount for
the library. The result was the purchase of the entire Tauchnitz edition of British writers, and many other valuable
works - some of them exceedingly rare. The selections, from the commencement, have indicated unusually good taste
in the Directors. While all the standard and popular authors of English and American fiction and poetry are to
be found upon the shelves, history has been made the specialty, and there is scarcely a work in the English language,
of any special merit in that department, which may not be found in this valuable collection. Science, too, has
not been overlooked, and all the more popular works under this head may there be found. Books of reference, comprising
lexicons of the various languages, atlases and cyclopeadias, astonish the visitor with their vast amount of erudition
upon every conceivable subject. Several of the most frequently quoted authorities upon English and American law
have been gathered in, and a room is devoted to works prepared under the direction of the United States. Government,
comprising State papers, agricultural reports, geological surveys, etc. There are now between 4,000 and 5,000 volumes
in the entire library 1500 of them having been obtained by the Lovell. purchase. The annual tax for the support
of the institution is. $2,100. In addition to this, donations are received from any individuals disposed to assist
by money or books. Not less than 120 persons attend the reading rooms daily, which are kept open until 10 o'clock
at night; and where all the news of the world may be found, as given by 25 weeklies, 8 dailies. 16 monthly journals,
and the North American
In the Spring of 1814, Mr. Louis H. Yarwood was appointed sole librarian, an office which he still retains, having
contributed much by his industry and good sense to render the benefits of the library available to all. The present
Board of Directors are J. S. Wilcox, E. C. Lovell, W. H. Hintze, J. A. Spillard, Geo. D. Sherwin, and D. F. Barclay.
No place in the county has been so productive of newspapers as Elgin. Their name is legion, and they commenced
in 1845, with the publication of a Baptist and Anti Slavery sheet, by a joint stock company composed and edited
by Spencer Carr, Rev. A. J. Joslyn and Rev. Wareham Walker. It was subsequently removed to the State of New York,
and was succeeded in Elgin, in 1847, by the Elgin Gazette, which continued until consolidated with the Advocate,
in 1874. In 1851, the Fox River Courier commenced its brief existence in support of the political views of the
Whigs, but, never proving a financial success, the publication was soon suspended. The Elgin Palladium followed,
in 1853, edited by Mr. Hough, and was changed about three years later to the Kane County Journal, published by
Lyman & Smith. In 1858, a Democratic paper was established by Grosvenor & Willis. In 1865, the Second District
Democrat took its place, succeeded in turn by the Elgin Chronicle, edited by Ed. Keogh, and finally merged into
the Watchman, after being purchased by E. C. Kincaid. The Lady Elgin, a monthly paper, under the control of operatives
of the watch factory, commenced her career in 1872, edited and published by Bertha H. Ellisworth, Alida V. Able
and Lydia A. Richards. It afterward passed through some important changes, and had attained a circulation of 1,500,
when its publication ceased during the past year. The publishers of the Dundee Citizen issued an edition in Elgin
in the Fall of 1874, and called it the Elgin Republic. It continued to be published until the Spring of 1877, when
it became the Elgin Free Press, with C. Stoddard Smith, editor and publisher. Since then it has been steadily gaining
ground and now claims a circulation of 1,000. Its size, 28x44, folio. The office is well arranged for job work.
The Elgin Advocate was established in 1871, by S. L. Taylor, its present editor and proprietor, and has proved
the most successful newspaper enterprise launched in the city. It absorbed the Gazette' in 1874, and since then
had an uninterrupted career of prosperity. The newspaper work of the office is but a small fraction of the entire
business - book binding, blank book manufacturing and job printing requiring the services of sixteen hands. Its
office occupies a front rank among those west of Chicago, both in its favorable location and the convenience of
its furnishings. The circulation of the Advocate is between 2,000 and 3,000; its size a seven column quarto; politics,
Republican. The Elgin Times was established by Ed. Keogh, in 1874. No changes have occurred in its management,
and it now claims a circulation of 600. It is an eight column folio, 24x36, and politically "Greenback."
In December, 1874, Dudley Randall issued the first number of the Daily Bluff City, suspended its publication for
a few days, and recommenced it in January, 1875. In the following August, W. J. Christie purchased a half interest,
and in the Fall of the same year it was enlarged from a three to a four column folio. In June, 1876, it was again
enlarged by an additional column, and became a six column folio in the following Fall. It is now owned by W. J.
Christie & Co., C. E. Gregory, editor. A daily paper was started by Dudley Randall, in 1875, but scarcely survived
the first quarter. The Elgin Daily News was first issued June 17, 1876, by the Elgin Printing Company, with F.
H. Taylor as manager. It is a five column folio, and Republican in politics. Its job printing establishment is
quite extensive, six men being employed in the office. Two monthly papers are also issued from Elgin, both commenced
in 1874 - the Informer and the Gospel Trumpet. Each has a large circulation.
As has been already seen, the Congregational Church, was the first organized in Elgin, and dated May 12, 1836.
We copy the following from the records:
ELGIN; May 12, 1836.
A number of members of Presbyterian and Congregational Churches met,' by appointment, at the house of James T.
Gifford. The meeting was opened by prayer. Rev. N. C. Clark was chosen Moderator, and James T. Gifford, Clerk.
On motion, Resolved, that it is expedient to have a church formed in this place, and that its form of government
be Congregational. The Rev. N. C. Clark then proceeded to organize a church, composed of the following members,
who presented letters from sister churches, gave their assent to the Articles of Faith, which were adopted as the
Articles of the church, and solemnly entered into covenant:
George McClure, Philo Hatch, Laura Gifford, Relief Kimball, Sarah E. McClure, Reuben Jume, Experience Gifford,
Mary Ann Kimball, Julia McClure, James T. Gifford, Ruth G. Dixon. The first house of worship was the Elgin Chapel,
occupied, jointly, with the Baptists, but in 1843, the Congregationalists sold their interest to the Baptists,
and in July, of the same year, the present building was commenced. It was enlarged, however, and repaired in 1869
and 1870; is now in a very prosperous condition, and has enjoyed many seasons of revival. The membership is 300;
and the Pastors, in their regular succession, from its commencement, Rev. Nathaniel C. Clark, from September 1,
1837, till June 13, 1845; Rev. Marcus Hicks, from July 17, 1845, to April 19, 1847; Rev. N. C. Clark, from July
29, 1847, till July 13. 1851; Rev. William H. Starr, from September 1, 1851, until his death, March 6, 1854; Rev.
William E. Holyoke, from March 20, 1854, till September 14, 1858; Rev. J. T. Cook, from April, 1859, till the same
month of the following year; Rev. N. C. Clark, from May 1, 1860, until September 1, 1862; Rev. Fred. Oxnard, from
September 1, 1862, until November 1, 1866; and lastly, Rev. C. E. Dickinson, the present Pastor, who commenced
his labors May 12, 1867.
Baptist. - On the Sabbath following the 12th day of September, a religious meeting was held at the cabin of Hezekiah
Gifford, and, as stated on a previous page, a sermon read by Miss Harriet Gifford. About the 1st of October, in
the same year, Hezekiah, Asa and' Harriet Gifford met with a few other Baptist brethren and sisters, at the house
ofMr. Kittridge, in St. Charles Township, for devotion, and were organized into a Baptist Church, under the name
of the Little Wood Baptist Church. The Elgin Baptists Continued to meet with this congregation, near, and subsequently,
at Fayville, until the 14th of July, 1838, when Rice Fay, Esther Fay, Asa Gifford, Marietta C. Gifford, Abel D.
Gifford, Harriet E. Gifford, Hezekiah Gifford, Luther Herrick, Sarah Hamilton, Samuel J. Kimball, Clarinda J. Kimball,
Nancy Kimball and James C. Stone, having taken letters of dismissal, met at the house of Hezekiah Gifford, where
a church was organized, called the Baptist Church of Christ of Elgin. Luther Herrick (Cook County) was the first
Deacon, and Hezekiah Gifford, Church Clerk. Rev. Joshua Ambrose was employed to preach every alternate Sunday,
for $150 a year, while Mr. Clark, the Congregational Pastor, preached during the remaining Sabbaths. During the
year 1838, under the ministration of the Rev. R. B. Ashley, a great revival swelled the ranks of the church members.
The sincerest friendship and good will prevailed during these early years, while the two Christian societies worshiped
together. This may be illustrated by the fact that the Baptist and Congregational Pastors were met upon the Sabbaths
by nearly the same congregations. The glory of God was then sought in preference to the up building of any sect;
and the conversion of members, nearly every year, testified that the object was fully attained. During the Winter
of 1842-3, the coldest since the first settlement of the country, an addition, 24 x 20 feet, was made to the chapel,
and in the following Spring the Congregational interest in the building was purchased by the Baptists. Here they
continued to meet regularly until 1849, when the cobble stone building was erected, which remained their spiritual
house for twenty one years, at the expiration of which time it was converted into a school building The Pastors,
in their order of succession, have been Revs. A J. Joslyn, Levi Parmley, C. N. Chandler, Levi Parmley, Benjamin
Thomas, A. J. Joslyn (supply), Charles K. Colver, Wm. P. Everitt and L M. Woodruff, now in charge. During the pastorate
of Mr. Everitt, extending from 1869 to 1872, the present brick edifice was erected at a cost of over $35,000, and
dedicated on the 5th of October, 1871. It is the most imposing edifice of the kind in the place. The membership
Methodist. - A sermon was preached by a Methodist minister in Elgin in 1835, and a class formed by settlers in
the township, and across the line in Cook County. In the following year, a sermon was preached by Rev. Washington
Wilcox west of the city, and occasional sermons followed in various parts of the circuit until 1839, when the church
was located for a time in the village, at the Union Chapel, a part of which is now the residence of Dr. Jaeger.
A camp meeting held the same year greatly increased the membership by additional converts. In 1840, a church was
completed 25x42, on land donated by James T. Gifford. Diminutive as was this chapel, it was amply large for the
congregation. The land upon which it stood is still the church lot. The timber was given by the Messrs. Hammers;
George Hammers made the oak shingles, and Horace Benham did the carpenter work for $150. When the brick church
now occupied by the society was built, in 1866, the former was sold to the colored Baptists, removed and occupied
by them until destroyed by fire March 28, 1875. The membership is now about four hundred.
Catholic. - Rev. M. De St. Palais, a zealous and devout priest of the Catholic Church, and now Bishop of Vincennes,
was the first who addressed congregations of his faith in Elgin For about four years, he labored in the place,
administering to the spiritual wants of his flock once in two or three months, and at the expiration of that time
was followed by Father Doyle, after whom came Rev. Wm. Feely, who was priest in Elgin from 1845 to 1852. During
his pastorate, a lot was donated to his church by James T. Gifford, and a church edifice, still occupied, was immediately
commenced thereon. From 1852 to 1857, Rev. James Gallagher officiated as Pastor, and was succeeded in the two following
years by Rev. M. Carroll. Next followed the long pastorate of Rev. A. Eustace, from 1859 to 1868, succeeded by
Rev. T. Fitzsimmons, an earnest temperance worker, who accomplished much good in the city. In addition to his efforts
in behalf of morality, Father Fitzsimmons inspired his congregation with a sufficiency of his own zeal to undertake
the building of an academy on Center street, at a cost of $15,000, to he managed by a religious community of sisters,
to whom he donated a house upon Gifford street, where they intend to board a number of the young lady students
after the academy has been opened.
Universalist. - A liberal movement was instigated, principally by the Universalists and Unitarians, in the years
1847-8, resulting in the erection of the church on Center street, now occupied by the Free Methodists. Rev. Mr.
Conant was the first Pastor. The church was soon sold, and preaching was afterward held in the Masonic Hall, and
later in the Free Will Baptist Church, where Rev. O. A. Skinner officiated for some time as Pastor. Mr. Skinner
being called to the Presidency of Lombard University, the church declined, and no meetings were held until the
Winter of 1865-6, when Rev. H. Slade reorganized it, and the edifice now occupied at the corner of Center and Du
Page streets was built. In 1871, Mr. Slade left, and was succeeded by Rev. W. S. Balch, who in turn resigned in
1876. At present, Mr Slade is supplying the church, which numbers about one hundred members.
Presbyterian. - The Presbyterian Church, of Elgin, was formed by the Chicago Presbytery (N. S.), February 8, 1853,
with twenty five members from the Congregational Church. A small building, standing on Center street, south of
the Methodist Episcopal Church, was purchased, and Rev. A. W. Henderson commenced his pastorate therein in June,
1854. Leaving, in August, 1856, he was succeeded, in March, 1858, by J. V. Downs, who remained until March, 1861.
The organization, meanwhile, flourished; but, owing to removals about this time, became weakened, and was dismissed.
The present organization called "The First Presbyterian Church of Elgin" was organized on the 4th of
May, 1855, by the Chicago Presbytery of the Reformed Presbyterian Church, with twenty five members. The first Board
of Elders was composed of James Christie and George Kilpatrick. Rev. J. B. McCorkle was elected to the pastorate
in September, 1855, and administered to the wants of the congregation until April, 1864. The house of worship,
at the corner of Center street and Dexter avenue, was erected in the Spring of 1856. After the resignation of Mr.
McCorkle, a vacancy occurred in the church for three years, during which it was supplied by the Presbytery. At
the expiration of that time, Rev. D. C. Cooper was called to the pastorate, in May, 1867, and served until September
of the following year. On the 18th of August, 1867, the congregation, with their Pastor, Mr. Cooper, withdrew from
the Synod of the Reformed Church, and united with the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (O. S.) Rev.
Samuel Hare then supplied them, from October, 1869, to January, 1871; after which, Rev. Donald Fletcher supplied
them, until October, 1872. During Mr. Fletcher's stay, the old church on Center street was sold to the Swedish
Evangelical denomination, for $3,000, and an elegant new church erected on the corner of Chicago and Center streets,
at a cost of nearly $15,000. It was beautifully furnished, and contained one of the most elegant chandeliers west
of Chicago, and was surmounted by the finest bell in the city. It was dedicated to the service of God July 11,
1872, but, by a. mysterious dispensation of Providence, took fire, December 5, and burned down. Its destruction
was.a severe blow to the society, but the present chapel was immediately commenced, and is very neatly furnished,
and designed merely as a lecture room of a larger structure to be built in the near future. Rev. Robert McKenzie
followed Mr. Fletcher to the pastorate, and was succeeded, in February, 1874, by Rev. W. L. Boyd, who remained
until February, 1876, when a vacancy occurred until the following October. The present Pastor, Rev. Alexander Alison,
then accepted a call from the congregation, and under his ministration the church has doubled during the past year.
The membership is at present 160.
German Evangelical Association. - In 1855, Rev. Mr. Logschute, a missionary of the German Evangelical Association,
visited Elgin and preached twice at the house of Henry Runge Later in the same year, Rev. A. Schnacke addressed
congregations of Germans in the city, and was followed by Revs. Authis, George Vetter, G. V. Lechler and Ragatz,
during whose preaching camp meetings were held and a number of souls converted. The meetings were much disturbed,
at first, by certain of the rabble and nondescript vagabonds who are always found about the streets of cities;
and, on one occasion, an attempt was made to burn the preacher's stand, upon the camp ground: but these annoyances
disappeared as their numbers increased. In 1859, under the pastorate of Rev. H. Hintze, a house was purchased of
B. W. Raymond and D. Hewitt for $300, and fitted up for a church. This meeting house stood opposite the Congregational
Church, on Center street, had previously been occupied by other religious denominations, but had passed into the
hands of private owners. Revs. E. Schneider, Mussulman and Carl Gaztstadter followed, and afterward came Rev. C.
Wagner, from 1863 to 1865, under whose pastorate the Sunday school was organized. Revs. John Kiest, V. Forkel and
E. M. Sindlinger succeeded, the ministration of the latter extending from 1867 to 1869, followed by Christian during
the two following years. The Free Methodists having meanwhile erected a house of worship for Which they were unable
to pay, it was exchanged, in 1870, with the Evangelical Association for their small building and $3,000. The pulpit
has since then been filled in succession by Revs. M. Stumm, B. C. Fehr, T. Alberding, who was retained for three
years, and F. Busse, the present Pastor. Membership, 150.
Episcopal. - There are no records in existence stating when church services were first held by the Episcopal denomination
in Elgin. The parish was organized. on Ash Wednesday February 17, 1858. Rev. J. H. Waterbury, now of Boston, was
the first Rector, remaining with the parish for eighteen months. and the first services after the organization
were held in the Free Will Baptist Church. Rev. F. Esch was next employed, and, after a vacancy extending over
a short period, was followed by S. D. Pulford, who remained until 1860. A vacancy in the pastorate then occurred,
until 1866, when Rev. D. C. Howard officiated for a few Sabbaths, but left during the year. From that date until
1870, the church continued to decline, but during that year aroused, temporarily, and employed Rev. George Wallace
as Rector, who remained only until 1871: S. J. French officiated from 1874 to 1875, when, after a short interval.
Rev. W. W. Estabrooke, the present Rector, succeeded. Number of communicants, eighty.
German Lutheran Evangelical, St. John's. - This church was organized upon the 1st of October, 1859. Revs. Winder
and Muller were the earliest of its preachers in Elgin. On the 26th of February, 1860, the first election of Trustees
took place, L. Schneidwend, John Long and Frederick Fehrman being selected to fill the important position. The
building formerly occupied by the Free Will Baptists was purchased for $550, and was used until 1876, when the
brick edifice now used was erected upon the same ground, at a cost of about $10,000. The old house of worship is
still standing and used for Sabbath schools and business meetings. The names of the Pastors who have successively
addressed the congregation are: Revs. F. Renecke, R. Dulon, Chas. Israel, W. Buhler, F. W. Richmann and H. F. Fruchtenicht,
the present Pastor, who has officiated since 1875.
German United Evangelical, St. Paul's Church, separated from the above organization, in Elgin, on the 1st of October,
1875. Preparations were immediately made to erect a house of worship, which was commenced the same year, and finished
upon the 23d of July, 1876. It cost, with the lot, $10,000. The membership has increased since its organization,
from seven to thirty. Rev. R. Katerndahl was the first Pastor. followed by Rev. Gustav Koch, who still officiates.
Free Methodist. - In the Fall of 1865, Rev. C. H. Underhill, organized a Free Methodist Church, in Elgin, with
four members, and, subsequently, continued his labors in the city until the Spring of 1867. Meanwhile, an elegant
church building was erected on a lot purchased at the corner of Milwaukee and Center streets. This house was 40
x 60 feet, and building and lot cost about $7,000. The membership had been increased at that time to forty five,
and the society continued to prosper during several successive administrations. In 1870, Rev. D. M. Sinclair was
appointed to fill the pastorate, and, in consequence of his mismanagement, the church greatly declined, resulting
in the final disposal of their building in exchange for the one formerly occupied by the German Evangelical denomination.
The present membership is about twenty.
The Swedish Evangelical Church was organized in January, 1870, and, in September, 1871, purchased the church formerly
owned by the Presbyterians, at the corner of Dexter avenue and Center street, for $3,000. The membership, which
was at first forty five, has now greatly increased.
African Baptist. - One hundred gentlemen and ladies of color arrived in Elgin from the sunny South, in the Autumn
of 1862, and their number was largely increased by arrivals in subsequent years. In 1866, the Second, or colored,
Baptist Church was formed, Rev. A. J. Joslyn ministering as Pastor for some time. A portion of the old Methodist
Church was purchased, fitted as a house of worship and occupied until it was destroyed by fire, on the 28th of
March, 1875, since which time the Court House has been used for the same purpose. The present membership is about
The Illinois Northern Hospital for the Insane is situated in Section 23, about a mile southwest of the business
portion, but within the city limits of Elgin; and the farm connected with the institution embraces 510 acres, of
which 150 were donated by the citizens of Elgin, and the remainder purchased by the State. The buildings stand
upon an elevation 3,000 feet from the river bank, and seventy above the water level, thus affording a pleasing
view from the upper portico of the river bend upon the east, the railroads following either bank, the smoke clouds
rising from the manufactories of South Elgin below, and the clustering spires and dwellings of the more ambitious
town on the north. The slope to the river bank is very gradual, and the scenery in the vicinity is of the quiet
and cultivated cast so often met with in this State. The main river road passes through the farm in front of the
hospital. The ground plan of the entire edifice includes a main or center building, occupied by the officers and
employes, two irregularly shaped wings, of which one is occupied by male, the other by female patients, and a rear
building for the domestic department and machinery. The entire frontage of the building, including the wings, is
1,086 feet; that of the main building, sixty two feet. The main structure is four stories, the wings three stories,
and the material is Dundee brick, with stone caps and sills, which give the whole an imposing appearance. There
are twenty four wards - twelve in each wing - light and airy, and supplied with bay windows and conservatories
for flowering plants, while the entire hospital is equipped with all modern appurtenances for convenience, safety
and health, including hot and foul air ducts, fire apparatus, railways, and dumb waiters for the distribution of
food, dust flues, speaking tubes, double bladed iron fans, for forced ventilation, etc. The outline and arrangement
of the Government Hospital for the Insane, in Washington, universally acknowledged as one of the best in the world,
has been carefully observed in the construction of the Asylum at Elgin. The buildings were originally designed
for the accommodation of only 300 patients; but, when completed, it was found that they were amply sufficient for
the demands of 500, as shown by a recent report of the Trustees. In 1869, the Legislature made the first movement
toward the establishment of the Hospital, by enacting a law providing for the necessary appropriation. A commission
of nine persons, to wit: Samuel D. Lockwood, of Kane County; John H. Bryant, of Bureau; D. S. Hammond, of Cook;
Merritt L. Joslyn, of McHenry; Augustus Adams, of DeKalb; Benjamin F. Shaw, of Lee; William Adams, of Will; William
R Brown, of Massac, and A. J. Matteson, of Whiteside, was appointed by Governor Palmer, in accordance with the
provisions of this statute, for the purpose of selecting a suitable location for the proposed Northern Hospital.
Various towns of the northern counties having been visited, a careful consideration of the advantages offered by
each resulted in the selection of the site now occupied. The inducements offered by the citizens of Elgin included
160 acres of land, valued at $16,000, a spring valued at $2,500, and freightage over the Chicago & Northwestern
Railroad to the amount of $3,000. Three Trustees were now appointed by the Governor, to adopt plans for the buildings,
and superintend their erection. The original board consisted of C. N. Holden, of Chicago; Henry Sherman, of Elgin,
and Dr. Oliver Everett, of Dixon. In 1873, Hon. C. W. Marsh, of Sycamore, was substituted for Dr. Everett, and
in 1875, Edwin H. Sheldon, of Chicago, was appointed in the place of Mr. Holden. The north wing was completed first,
and was opened, to receive patients, April 3, 1872, after a public and formal inspection on the 2d of February,
when the Governor of the State and many distinguished guests were present, and were regaled with a complimentary
dinner by the ladies of the city.
The main or center building was finished in April, 1874, and the south wing was ready for use in the following
July; hut, owing to a neglect on the part of the Legislature to appropriate a fund for the support of the patients,
it was not opened until April, 1875. The present census of the Hospital is 500, equally divided between the sexes.
The following is a list of the officers:
President - Hon. C. W. Marsh, Sycamore.
Trustees - C. W. Marsh; Frederick Stahl, Galena; I. C. Bosworth, Elgin.
Secretary - R. W. Padelford, Elgin.
Treasurer - Hon. J. A. Carpenter, Elgin.
Resident 0fficers - E. A. Kilbourne, M. D., Superintendent; Richard S. Dewey, M. D., John J. Crane, M. D., Assistant
Physicians; C. H. Woodruff, Clerk; Mrs. F. M. Porter, Matron; Edward Wellinghoff, Lizzie Dougherty, Supervisors.
THE ELGIN AGRICULTURAL SOCIETY
is a stock company, organized in the Fall of 1869, with a capital of $10,000. Forty two acres within the city
limits were immediately purchased, and inclosed by a fence eight feet high. The floral hall is one of the finest
in the State, and the race course and amphitheater are in an excellent condition, while the fairs, which are held
annually, have always proved successful. At present the company is composed of about 300 members.
BOARD OF TRADE.
The first attempt to establish a Board of Trade in Elgin was inaugurated by Dr. Tefft during a meeting of the
Northwestern Dairymen's Association, assembled in that city. A committee was appointed, at his suggestion, composed
of three persons, viz.: Dr. Stone, Mark Dunham and C. C. Church, to meet at Dunham's house and form a constitution
for an association, whose object should be the trade in dairy products. Twenty seven cheese and butter factories
in Kane County, and a still larger number in adjoining counties, now dispose of their products through this channel;
and the organization is well known both in this country and in Europe. The sales during the year 1877, to December
12, as obtained from Dr. Tea, who has been the President since the commencement of the organization, amounted to
We now approach the great industries of Elgin, to which her prosperity is due. Prominent among these, though
one of the more recent in the date of its establishment, is the Elgin National Watch, Factory. Several residents
of Chicago organized, in 1864, a joint stock company, called the National Watch Company, and acting under a charter
granted by the Legislature. The citizens of Elgin, being informed of these proceedings, and learning that no location
for manufacturing had been decided upon; appointed a committee to ascertain the inducements necessary to secure
the establishment of the buildings in their city. The committee consulted with B. W. Raymond, the President of
the company, and always, as heretofore seen, the friend of Elgin; an examination of grounds about the place followed,
resulting in the conclusion that those at present occupied would be satisfactory, and the offer by the company
to locate thereon, if thirty five acres were donated and $25,000 of stock taken in Elgin. Considerable difficulty
was experienced in meeting these conditions, but it was at length surmounted through the wise liberality of Henry
Sherman, Benjamin F. Lawrence, Walter L. Pease and Sylvanus Wilcox, and in 1866 the company moved into the new
establishments, which comprised a central building three stories high, with basement 40x40; a two story and basement
south wing, 28x87; a west wing of the same height, 28x100; a one story west wing, extending from the south wing,
25x35, for a dial room, and a one story wing on the west, opposite the dial room, 30x65, for the engine and boiler
room. A west wing was added to the front, 28x100, two stories, with basement, in 1868, and two years later the
south wing was extended, 28x100, two stories, with basement. The buildings were again greatly enlarged in 1873-74.
During five years and ten months from the date of the charter, the company manufactured their machinery, erected
their buildings and placed 42,000 watches in the market. In five years from the commencement upon the first watch,
125,000 were manufactured, and a world wide reputation attained. Six hundred hands are employed, nearly one half
of whom are ladies.
A Woolen Mill was erected in 1844, five stories high, 80x34 feet, and for three years employed a large force of
operatives. In 1856, it was sold to Harvey & Renwick. The latter then became the sole owner, and for some time
previous to 1866, it had been on the decline. In that year it was purchased and enlarged by the Fox River Manufacturing
Company, which has since then employed from forty to fifty hands, and made from 300 to 500 yards of cloth per day.
The machinery is valued at $100,000. A brick block, 50x80 feet, was erected by the Company in front of the factory,
in 1870, and is used for stores and newspaper offices.
Gronberg, Bierman & Co., commenced the manufacture of agricultural implements on River street, near Division
street, in 1870. Their specialty is the National Combined Reaper and Mower, but a large amount of general casting
and repairing is likewise done.
In the same year, O. Barr & Son commenced the making of agricultural implements on the same street, and have
won a deserved celebrity for the manufactured articles.
The year 1870 seems to have been unusually productive of manufacturing establishments, which brought wealth and
a name to Elgin, for aside from the above the Elgin Iron Works were established during that year. and have since
employed about thirty hands regularly.
The Elgin Butter Company also dates from 1870, and has made an aggregate of 144,000 pounds of butter and 190,000
pounds of cheese per annum. The former commands the highest price in market.
The Milk Condensing Factory commenced operations four years earlier, under a company of which Gale Borden, whose
name will be handed down to posterity as the inventor of the process, was President. In 1868, Mr. Borden and his
associates in New York purchased the stock, and the company name became "The Illinois Condensing Co."
The same Company controls the Borden Condensed Milk Company, the New York Condensed Milk Company - both in New
York - and the Borden Meat Preserving Company, at Borden, Texas. The factory at Elgin is the largest of these establishments,
employs thirty men and twenty six women, and pays out $8,000 per month.
Mr. Borden died in 1874. His biography will be found upon another page.
The vast proportions which the dairy business has assumed in Elgin have given employment to several companies,
established for the manufacture of dairy goods, viz.: vats, engines, boilers, cans, churns, pails, etc.
The Elgin, Packing Company, established in 1870, is devoted to canning fruits and vegetables, and employs about
one hundred and fifty men, women and boys during the packing season.
Besides these, there is a great array of manufactories of various products, some of them extensive, but which our
limited space will prevent us from more than merely mentioning. Among them are two tanneries, one of which employs
from eighteen to twenty hands; the boot and shoe manufactory of Russell Weld, established by Groce Brothers &
Co.' in the Fall of 1878, and which employs ten workmen; a number of large wagon and carriage shops; three flouring
mills, and minor shops in almost endless variety. In fine, there are few cities, large or small, which possess
so many institutions as Elgin calculated to bestow a universal fame. Her streets are well paved, and lighted by
the Elgin Gas Company, her business blocks imposing, her schools and churches an honor, her opera house, erected
in 1870, unusually good for a place of the size, while no less than four fire companies and a police force protect
her property. Several secret societies furnish social enjoyment for the few, a number of the more public associations
form resorts for the many, a military company, and last, but not the least important, three good cornet bands delight
the ear with music.
No accurate census reports of the population can be referred to, but it may be safely estimated at between 7,000
[Return to Elgin History part 1]
[Also see Elgin Township History]