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

HAMPSHIRE TOWNSHIP.

This township is in the extreme northwest corner of Kane County, and is known as Township 42 North, Range 6 East. It had a population in 1870 of 1,049, with an assessed valuation in 1877 of $592,037. The surface of the country is rolling, the soil fertile and well watered and produces corn and hay in plentiful profusion.

The first settlement was made in 1836, by Lenas Allen. Mr. Allen came from the State of Vermont to Chicago, in June, 1885, when that great city was little else than a kind of marshy bog, or one immense frog pond. He remained in Chicago until the latter part of the Summer of 1836, when he came to this section and took up a claim in the south part, upon which he built a rough log house. This was the FIRST HOUSE erected in what is now Hampshire Township. A portion of the walls of the old building are still standing, but are rapidly crumbling into decay, and in a few years more it, too, will be gone, with other relics of this early day. A year or two after making his first claim, he removed a few miles to the north and made a permanent settlement, where the remainder of his life was spent in agricultural pursuits. His son, John A. Allen, now lives on the old homestead, while grandsons occupy the land embraced in Allen's original claim, and are respected citizens of the community.

Thomas E. Whittemore came from New Hampshire, and Samuel Hawley from Connecticut, and made settlement in this township in 1836, and for many years were identified with the affairs of the settlement. Whittemore seems to have been a man of considerable prominence and a kind of leader among his neighbors.

The next year, Daniel Hall came from New York, and in 1838, William H. Seymour and S. A. McApes, from the same State, located claims in this town and settled permanently. Mr. Seymour is still living in the old town or village of Hampshire, and Mr. McApes near Bloomington, Wis.

In 1840, Levi Willard and three sons, George, Stephen and William T., came from Michigan and settled in the northern part of the township; of these, George and Stephen live in Dundee Township, William T. remains on the site of the original settlement, while the aged patriarch sleeps beneath the sod in the old graveyard.

Rev. Robert Williams, Enoch O. Garland, from New Hampshire; Joseph Dalby, from England; William Trumbull and Isaac Paddock, from New Yolk; John Aurand, from Germany, and Hilda Coon and Stephen Haviland, all took up claims and settled permanently in the township in 1838-40. Lucien Baldwin, from the county of Bennington, Vt., took up a claim in Hampshire Township in 1842, upon which he is still living.

Samuel C. Rowell left his home in the Old Granite State, when a youth of 18, and went to Kentucky, where he spent about three years. Not altogether satisfied with the "Dark and Bloody Ground," he mounted his horse, then the usual mode of locomotion, and struck out across the Hoosier State toward the setting sun, to select a home in the "Far West." Mr. Rowell's description of this trip, as related to us, is highly entertaining, and would make the hair rise on the heads of the tender youths (hot house plants) of the present day.

Grand Prairie, southwest of Danville, Ill., at this remote period, had but one house for a distance of forty miles; and his wits were often exercised to the utmost to secure shelter for himself and horse, other than the blue sky. In those early days, it was the fashion, in the Eastern States, for men to wear long hair; and in conformity with that custom, Mr. Rowell wore his far down on his shoulders, and it being rather black gave him quite a brigandish appearance. In crossing Big Foot Prairie, in Wisconsin, when bringing up for the night he was informed that the tavern was full, and he would have to seek refuge farther on. At the next, and the next, the same excuse was made, with rather suspicious glances, which seemed to indicate that all was not right, and when 9 o'clock had come, and still found him without a shelter for the night, he determined to know the cause of so many refusals. He had been directed, at the last tavern where he had tried for lodging, to a house a little off the road, where strangers were sometimes entertained when the tavern was overcrowded, but another refusal was the result. It was 9 o'clock at night, eight miles to the next habitation, and every appearance of an early thunder shower. The man of the house was not at home, and the lady very positively declined to allow him to remain, and asked why he had not stopped earlier in the evening. He told her of his ineffectual efforts to procure lodging for the night, which seemed to confirm her in her refusal. But, nothing daunted, he renewed his appeal. He told her that he came from a land where the weary, way worn traveler, never sought refuge in vain, nor the poorest were denied shelter from the storm. Something in the appeal stuck a sympathetic chord in the woman's heart, who, after asking a few questions, recognized in him a son of one of her old neighbors. She had moved into the neighborhood after Rowell went to Kentucky, and had heard many accounts from his parents of their distant boy.

He received shelter, not only for the night, but remained with the family for several days, during which time was developed the secret of his many failures to obtain lodging. A short time previous to his appearance, a number of blacklegs and thieves had passed that way, and had stolen a lot of horses, with which they had made off. They wore long hair, and hence the suspicious glances cast upon him, and the abrupt refusal to his request for a night's lodging. He had his hair trimmed the next day, and says he has never worn long hair since that eventful period.

After traveling some 800 miles over the West on horseback, Mr. Rowell finally came to Hampshire Township, in 1843, where he took up a claim and made a permanent settlement. He went back to Kentucky in 1844, where he married, and returned, with his wife, to his new home, where he continued farming for years. In 1850, he embarked in the mercantile business at the old town of Hampshire, where he remained until a few years ago, when he removed to the new village of Hampshire, and is one of the solid men and prosperous merchants of the town.

Henry Doty came from Ashtabula County, Ohio. After the great crash of 1837, finding times hard and dull in the old Buckeye State, he cast about him for a means of bettering his condition and his worldly prospects. Owing to the very bad name which Illinois at that time bore, in regard to her financial condition, being, as he informed us, several millions in debt, he went on to Kenosha, Wis., with the determination of settling in that region. Having a brother in this township, however, who insisted on his making a tour of inspection here before locating permanently, he finally concluded to act upon his advice, and came overland in wagons from Kenosha, arriving here on the 3d of December, 1843. He found snow on the ground a foot deep, a wild, dreary waste, and as cheerless a prospect as one might well wish to see. He lost no time, however, but took up a claim at once,- upon which he is living at the present time.

Of these early pioneers many have gone to the "land of shadows." Lenas Allen, the first in the settlement, died February 15, 1848, at a ripe old age. His wife, who was the first white woman in the township, still lives, and is enjoying very fair health. Thomas E. Whittemore died on his orignal claim several years ago, leaving a vacancy not easily filled. Daniel Hall, who came to the town at the same time, died in Elgin, 1875. Samuel Hawley, known in those early days as "Father Hawley," and Stephen Havilland rest in the old grave yard at Doty's school house. Both died on their original farms - Hawley in 1858, and Havilland in 1872. Joseph Dalby lives just over the line in McHenry County, at the village of Huntley. Rev. Robt. Williams, the first preacher in the township, finished up the work of his Master, and passed to his reward a short time ago. E. O. Garland died in Hampshire Township, and Paddock went to California, where he died a few years ago. William Trumbull and Lucien Baldwin are still living upon their original claims. Aurand, Coon and Willard rest after their labors under the weeping willows.

Those were the "times that tried men's souls," and the struggle for a home in the wild wilderness, often a prolonged and bitter one, and one in which the hardy pioneer went down with his aim unaccomplished, his goal unreached. The farmers of today know little of what the early settlers of the country had to contend with. What would the world think to see a train of wagons, laden with wheat, coming into Chicago drawn by oxen And yet a third of a century ago, that was the usual mode of transportation (as an old farmer informed us) from this section. The snort of the iron horse has at length driven the slow, plodding, patient ox from the track, and the railway car has taken the place of the road wagon; the old time way of doing business has become obsolete - has passed away "among the things that were," and still the world is moving on. People did their milling in the early settlement of Hampshire Township mostly at St. Charles, until a mill was built at Elgin, when their custom was transferred to that place. A few had occasionally made trips to Boardeman's Mill near Batavia, and once in a while one had gone to Belvidere, but the building of a mill at Elgin brought "the war into Africa," or a mill to their doors, as it were, and forever put a stop to the long and uncertain trips to distant mills.

There were still a few Indians of the Pottawattomie tribe in this section when the first settlers came in 1836, but they were apparently harmless, and left soon after for the reservation made them by the Government.

The first road in the township of Hampshire was the old State road from Chicago to Galena, already referred to in this work Another road, from St. Charles to Marengo, ran diagonally across the township. These were the great thoroughfares of travel in those early days, and were often the scenes of crowded caravans that would astonish us were we to witness such spectacles at the present day An old settler informed us that he had often known as many as two hundred wagons to pass over the Chicago and Galena road in one day. And it was no uncommon occurrence for fifty and sixty wagons to camp over night at the old village of Hampshire, known familiarly at that early day by the sobriquet of "Hen Peck." It was then that there was kept at Hen Peck a kind of summer bar room, for the accommodation of thirsty travelers. The village at that period was composed of a cool, clear pond of water, upon the banks of which stood a large and beautiful shade tree. These were originally the inducements which lured the jaded teamsters to the spot, until it became known far and wide as a general camping ground. Finally, with an eye to business, and a mind to turn an honest penny, William H. Seymour, already mentioned as one of the early settlers of the town, and an enterprising individual, conceived the idea of opening a saloon under this old shade tree. Driving a couple of posts into the ground, and putting a board across from one to the other for a counter, with a jug of whisky behind the structure, he was ready for business; and many a "fourpence" and "bit," or "shilling" - as the small change was denominated in those days - passed over this unique counter in the course of a day. This was the first saloon, and probably the commencement of the liquor traffic in Hampshire Township. When the jug was emptied, it was refilled at the stillhouse, and thus the trade went on.

Garland's Tavern was probably the first in the township, and was on the Chicago and Galena road, fourteen miles west of Elgin, and one mile west of the old village of Hampshire. It was kept by E. O. Garland (who also kept the stage stand in connection), about the years 1838-40. McApes also kept a tavern near by about the same time. In 1845, W. N. Humphreys, from Elgin, opened a tavern at the old village, which continued many years.

Dr. Thomas E. Fowler, who came from Ohio in 1850, was the first practicing physician in the town. After following his profession in the community for twenty years, he went to Iowa, where he died but a short time ago.

Thomas E. Whittemore was the first Justice of the Peace, and held the office at the same time with Elijah Rich, of Rutland Township, when this and Rutland were known as Deerfield Precinct, and entitled to but two Justices between them.

A post office was established in 1840, at the.old stage stand, and was the first post office in the township. E. O. Garland was Postmaster, and kept the office until 1848, when it was removed to the village of Hampshire, and W. N. Humphreys made Postmaster. In 1875, it was removed to the new village of Hampshire, and S. C. Rowell became Postmaster. Recently, there has been an office re-established at the old town.

Rev. Robert Williams, already mentioned as one of the early settlers and a local minister of the Methodist Episcopal Church, was the first preacher in the township, and preached the first sermon heard in the infant settlement; and the first church built in the township was the German Evangelical, situated in the "northeast corner" of the town, and was erected in 1852. It is a plain, well arranged frame building, 30x40 feet, and cost about $2,000. The society was originally organized in 1842, and, previous to the building of the church, worshiped at the neighbors' houses, principally at Mr. Aurand's, and was under the spiritual charge of Rev. Mr. Dikover, now of Chicago. Rev. Mr. Kellar is the present pastor, and he has 150 names upon his roll of membership.

The Methodist Episcopal Church, in the new village of Hampshire, is a handsome structure and of the latest style of architecture. It is large and roomy, well finished, and cost $2,400. It was erected in 1876, has a membership of thirty five, and is in charge of Rev. B. H. Cartwright, a lineal descendant of the renowned Peter Cartwright, whose fame as an evangelist and a preacher of great power is a household word throughout the country. The church was organized in the township about 1856-7, in the school house at the old village of Hampshire, where it remained until the building of the church in the new village, in 1876.

The Roman Catholic Church, in the new village, was erected in the Summer of 1877, at a cost of $2,000. It is of modern architecture, well and substantially built, and, withal, quite an imposing structure. It is in a flourishing condition, drawing a large membership from Burlington, as well as from this township, and is in charge of Rev. Father Gormley, of Huntley.

The first birth in the town was Jane A. Seymour, a daughter of William H. Seymour, and occurred in 1840. The first death in the little settlement was that of a Mr. Bass, in 1838, who seems to have been a transient man, as no record can be obtained of him at the present time, except that he died in the township at this early day. The increase in the population of the town, since the original settlement, indicates that there has been "marrying and giving in marriage," and is evidence that there was a first marriage, but who the high contracting parties were, it is impossible at this time to say.

The first store was opened by Solomon Freightine, at the old village of Hampshire, in 1845, where a store is still in existence. though with many changes in proprietors and in other respects, since its original establishment.

The schools of Hampshire compare favorably with those of any township in the county. The first school house built was in what is now District No. 1, and was near where the Bean school house stands. It was a small log structure, and was built on Whittemore's land. "Not one stone is left upon another" nor a single trace remains of this early temple of learning to tell where it stood, but a modern frame edifice occupies very nearly the original site; nor can any one at this late day tell who taught the first school in it. Through the courtesy of Mr. Baldwin, the Treasurer, we were shown the old school records. but the examination elicited no information of any particular interest. The early records were poorly kept, and are somewhat indefinite and obscure on many points. Under date of February 12, 1842, we find that Lenas Allen, Samuel Hawley, and T. C. Whittemore were elected School Trustees. At a meeting of the Trustees, held at the house of E. O. Garland, E. A. Allen was appointed Treasurer, and the township divided into three school districts. The following Directors were appointed for each of the districts; District No. 1, E. O. Garland, Levi Willard and N. Penniman; District No. 2, Isaac Paddock, Benjamin DeWitt and William Pierce; District No. 3, A. G. Allen, Hilda Coon and Norman Hawley. At this meeting, "It was ordered that, at the request from the legal voters, an election be held on the 5th of March, 1842, for the purpose of incorporation and on that day the records show that the "town was incorporated." January, 1845, the children subject to the School Law were as follows; District No. 1, 28; District No. 2, 36; District No. 3, 28; District No. 5, 22; total, 114.

At the report of April, 1850, there were eight districts, and 430 children under 21 years of age. In 1871, the following was the school report; No. of schools, 8; No. of pupils enrolled, 330; No. of children under 21 years, 600; No. of teachers, 18; No. of school houses, 8; No. of districts having libraries, 2; No. of volumes in libraries, 100; amount of special tax, $11,035.19; amount paid teachers, $1,410,52.

The following was the report in 1878; No. of districts, 8; No. of school houses, 8; value of school property, $5,100; value of libraries, $10.00; school fund, $2,065.89; No. of children under 21 years of age, 635.

The new school building, in Hampshire village, is an elegant frame edifice, of modern structure, and specially adapted to school purposes. It was built in 1876, at a cost of $3,500. Prof. Gardiner is Principal, and has, for assistants, Misses Mary and Lucy Whiting, and Jessie Rowell. An average of 125 pupils are in daily attendance.

Hampshire Lodge, No. 443, A., F. & A. M., was organized in 1864, at the old village of Hampshire, by H. G. Reynolds, Grand Master. James Sutfin was the first Master, and S. C. Rowell, first Secretary. It was moved to the new village, in 1875, and N. S. Carlisle is the present Worshipful Master. S. C. Rowell is still Secretary. It has a membership of thirty five.

Cheese Factory. - There is but one cheese factory in Hampshire Township, though there are quite a number around, just outside the lines, that draw largely from this township for their supply of milk. This factory was built and is owned by Hathaway & Co., who make up the milk principally for their patrons. The factory is doing a fair business, though not running up to its average capacity. It is a two story, frame building, well and substantially put up. A large portion of the milk of this township is shipped from Hampshire Station to other points mostly to Chicago. The dairy business is extensively followed, and pays better, perhaps, than any other pursuit the farmers could engage in.

The first mill, and the only one in the town making breadstuffs, was built in 1875, and is owned by William Rinn. It is of combined steam and wind power, with the old fanciful pattern of wind attachment, after the kind that Don Quixote and his man Sancho Panza used to go forth to do battle with; in thegood old days of chivalry. It is well patronized, and kept pretty busy, to supply the wants of the surrounding community. A feed mill is embraced in the mill proper, which does a large business.

An institution of the township, deserving of notice, is the planing mill of George Kettelwell, in the new village of Hampshire. It was built in the Fall of 1877, and is designed to be, when completed, a planing mill, machine shop, lathe, etc., and will give employment to a number of hands. A feed mill is also attached, and kept busily engaged, grinding feed for the neighboring dairyman.

The Hampshire Gazette, a live little newspaper, published by C. E. Howe, was established in the village of Hampshire, in the Fall of 1877. It is devoted to the interests of the town, and is liberally supported by the citizens.

The Chicago & Pacific Railroad crosses Hampshire Township from east to west, dividing it very nearly through the center. The road met with a hearty support here, very unlike to that extended to it in the more eastern section of the county. A substantial endorsement was given it by this township, in the shape of $26,400 stock, individually subscribed by the citizens. Mr. Jacob Rinn, alone, subscribed $10,000. The first train passed over the road through Hampshire, in May, 1875, and doubtless would have been serenaded, could the delighted inhabitants have kept up with it. Although the road has not yet been in operation three years, the following statement of the business done at Hampshire station (the only station in the township) shows, very conclusively, the advantage it has been to this section of country.

Forwarded in 1877;

 

Freight on Milk

$2,331.00

Other Freights Forwarded

4,343.43

Receipts from Passengers

2,270.75

 

_______

Total

$8,945.18

Freights Received

6,290.23

Excess of Freights Forwarded........

$2,654.95


The villages of this township are Old and New Hampshire. The old town, in the zenith of its glory, never exceeded two or three stores, a tavern, blacksmith shop, and a post office. One small store, a school house and a post office, with one mail a week, now comprise the town. But associated with it are some of the tender reminiscences of the early settlers, that will fade only with their lives. Here was the first store, the first tavern, and the first post office; and here, after the toil of the week was ended, the farmers congregated to gather the news; to discuss the events of the day over their evening grog, and recount the hardships of pioneer life.

The new village of Hampshire is one of those mushroom towns that spring up, as if by magic, on new railway lines. Three years ago, there was not a house in the section where it is situated, except a few farmhouses. In October, 1874, it was surveyed by W. H. Pearce, for Andrew J. Willing and Ceylen A. Fasseth, who owned north of the land. It was laid out, the next Summer, as a village; and after the Chicago & Pacific Railroad, upon which it is located, was built through, its growth was rapid. It was incorporated in October, 1876, and Philip Doty, S. C. Rowell, E. W. Whelpley, J. S. Wychoff, Henry Rinn and A. R. Freman elected Trustees, who organized, by making S. C. Rowell President of the Board, and J. S. Wychoff, Clerk. The population, January 1, 1878, was about 600. It has two churches, one school house, one cheese factory, one steam flouring mill, two steam feed mills, one planing mill and machine shop, five general stores, one grocery store, two hardware stores, one drug store, one bakery, two hotels, one restaurant, two butcher shops, one newspaper, five blacksmith shops, three wagon shops, one lumber yard, two agricultural stores, two livery stables, four saloons, three billiard halls, two shoe shops, one harness shop, one millinery store, three doctors, one lawyer, one preacher, etc. The buildings are all new, and of a better class than the majority of young railroad towns. To sum up, in a few words; The village of Hampshire is a busy, thriving place; its citizens industrious, wide awake and enterprising, and deserving of the greatest prosperity.

The name of Hampshire was bestowed on the township, in commemmoration of the Old Granite State, from whence came many of its early setttlers. This, with Rutland Township, was, in the early settling, Deerfield Precinct. When organized into townships, in 1848, under government survey, and the question of a name came up, there chanced to be a majority who were natives of New Hampshire, and so carried the day, so far as the naming of the township went. Politically, Hampshire is largely Republican; though, in the days of Whigs and Democrats, it was pretty evenly contested on the questions at issue.


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