History of Alto Township, Il.
From: Encyclopedia of Illinois
and the History of Lee County
Edited by: Mr. A. C. Bardwell.
Munsell Publishing Company
Chicago 1904.


On the northeast quarter of Section 21 grows "Plum Thicket," the only natural grove in the town. The propensity, universally followed by the pioneers, to gather in or around the Umber, prevailed in this instance, for the first settiers located at this grove. Here John Grimes, in 1847, built the first house, although he arrived in 1843. About two years later came Rev. J. Wood, of the Baptist faith, who remained two or three years and removed to Earlville, LaSalle County. Then followed Jedediala Loveridge in 1853, who, after some twenty years, emigrated to Nebraska. After these came James Holcomb and his father's family, and Hubbel Williams, Mason Herrick, the Mills family, James Tyler, C. R. Hall, the Kirbys, McDonnels, Stewards, Carpenters and others.

Alto was set off from Willow Creek by resolution of the Board of Supervisors, at its February meeting in 1860. At the first election in the town 47 votes were polled, resulting in the election of the following officers: Supervisor, C. H. Hall; Town Clerk and Assessor, James Tyler; Collector, Josiah Carpenter; Justices of the Peace, Daniel Carey and H. C. Holcomb; Constables, Josiah Carpenter and John Dorson.

The town voted to take $32,000 of the stock of the Chicago & Iowa Railroa.d when that road was about to be built through the township, and to issue bonds in payment therefor. This was in the early part of the winter of 1869. Grading was commenced early the next summer on this part of the road, and it was completed into Rochelle on the night of December 31, at 10:25 o'clock. A compromise was finally effected by which the town, instead of investing $32,000 in stock, donated the company $25,000 in bonds.

The Norwegian Evangelical Lutheran Church organized, June 25, 1870, and btzilt a church building three miles east of Steward, at a cost of about $2,300.

Steward.- The town of Steward was platted, November 22, 1872, by Mr. Wesley Steward, who owned the land and founded the town It was incorporated as a village, April 13, 1903, by proceedings in the County Court.

The first dwelling to be erected in the village was built by Patrick Casey on Lot 6, Block 1, and the first store was built by Henry A. Robinson on Lot 3 of same block. The first school house was built in 1882 at a cost of about $3,000, and was destroyed by fire February 8, 1903. A new building was erected on the same site at a cost of $7,000 ready for opening of the fall term of the school the same year.

The first elevator in the place was put up by Wesley Steward, who after two years took in G. F. Henning as partner, and the business, including dealing in lumber, coal, etc., was carried on by them, under the firm name of Steward & Co., for twenty-five years, the firm of Titus Brothers, the present owners, succeeding them. Another elevator was erected in 1880 and is now owned by Titus Bros. It is asserted that about one million bushels of grain are shipped from this point yearly, and that it ranks as the greatest grain-shipping station in Northern Illinois.

The First National Bank of Steward furnishes the banking facilities of the community. It was organized January 6, 1903. with a capital of $25,000. Its directors are: E. L. Titus, J. M. Durin, A. B. Titus, R. W. Hough, W. P. Graham, George E. Stocking, Wesley Steward, G. W. Durin and I. R. Titus. The officers are: E. L. Titus, President; J. M. Durin, Vice-President; I. R. Titus, Cashier. Its deposits, at close of business August 28, 1903, were $51,742.44.

Steward is a very prosperous village and is looked upon as one of the best of the smaller towns in the county. According to the census returns the township had a population of 923 in 1890, and 924 in 1900. The census of the village does not appear separately from that of the township.

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