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


What is now the Township of Ashton was set off from the town of Bradford, by resolution of Board of Supervisors, at its February meeting in 1861, to be known as the town of Ogle. The first settlers in the neighborhood were C. Royce, J. Clark and I. Rosecrans, in 1835. In 1838 Andrew Drummond and John Weatherington, with their families, settled on the west side of Lafayette Grove. Erastus Anderson was the first settler within the boundaries of the township. His year was 1848. In a few weeks his brother Timothy joined him, and in December, his father. At that tine there were only four houses within view, some of which are said to have been twenty miles distant. In 1849 a man by the name of Hubbard settled in the west part of the township. In 1852 Daniel Suter located near the present site of the German Baptist Church and Henry Sanders farther to the west. These comprise about all the settlers of what is now Ashton Township, up to the time the railroad was built in 1854.

The railroad company named the station “Ogle,” which in time was dropped for the present name. The site of the village is claimed to be the highest point of ground between Chicago and the Mississippi River. It was platted as the “Town of Ogle,” May 9, 1855, by Joseph Crawford, County Surveyor, for D. B. Stiles and Thomas D. Robertson. The first house was built in what was to be the village in 1854 by James L. Bates, and he kept the first store. The first warehouse was put up in the latter part of 1854. The next year S. M. Kifnes started the first blacksmith shop.

The first meeting house put up in Ashton was the Methodist Episcopal, in 1863. It was considered a temporary structure. The next year the Free Methodists erected a building, which is claimed to be the first one built by that denomination in the State. Indeed, the birthplace of the sect or society is said to have been just over the Ogle County line, where J. G. Terrol started it in 1860. The third church to be built was the Catholic, in 1866. The German Baptists erected their house the same year about a quarter of a mile south of the village. Next was the Christian church built in 1868. The Presbyterian church was erected in 1877. The denominations now maintaining service in the village, with present pastors, are the Methodist Episcopal, J. E. Honeywell pastor; Free Methodist (name of pastor not ascertained); Evangelical, C. Marth pastor; United Evangelical, W. Schuster pastor; Lutheran, H. Stauffenberg pastor; Presbyterian, W. J. Manifold pastor; Catholic, Thomas Finn pastor.

Fire has dealt cruelly with Ashton. In 1863 a grain elevator was burned, with etimated loss of $2,000. Flour mills were burned the same year; loss $60,000. In 1871 railroad property, consisting of the depot, two tanks and the coal house containing 1,200 tons of coal, besides a lumber yard and four dwelling houses, were consumed; estimated loss, $75,000. In 1874 a hay-press and elevator were burned; loss $30,000. In the summer of 1889 fire consumed twenty-eight business houses in three hours. The village was still without any protection against fire, but the Dixon and Rochelle Fire Companies were on the ground in time to check the progress of the destroyer. The estimated loss from the last fire was $65,000, with an insurance of $17,000. Within twenty four hours Mills & Petrie, bankers of the place, commenced preparations to erect new brick buildings, not only for themselves but to supply store-rooms for those who were not in position to build. In the summer of 1891, fire again did its work, consuming nearly ail the frame business buildings spared by the fire of 1889. The estimated loss was $20,000 without insurance. The village now has a fire company of seventy-six members, equipped with fine hand engine, hose and cart, hook and ladder truck and two tank wagons.

The village possesses fifty-seven business places and offices; has four doctors, five blacksmith shops and two meat markets. Four grain elevators handle the grain of the section with a capacity of 45,000 to 60,000 bushels. Three are owned and operated by A. L. Clark & Son and one by Zeller & Hutchinson. The latter also conduct extensive sheep-feeding sheds and yards, where as many as 15,000 head have been fed, at one time, in preparation for the Chicago market.

But probably the most important institution of all, in a business sense, is the Ashton Bank, because it is largely the mainstay of the business interests. S. F. Mills and N. A. Petrie, under the name of Mills & Petrie, commenced banking in Ashton in September, 1869, and sold out January 1, 1903, to the Ashton Bank, which was incorporated about that time under the State Banking Law, with $25,000 capital and $5,000 surplus, and organized with N. A. Petrie as President; Geo. H. Mix, Cashier; and M. D. Hathaway, Vice-President. Deposits are about $140,000. During the long experience of Mills & Petrie, covering a number of financial panics, their business stood on a conservative basis, commanding the confidence of the community, and every check rightly drawn on them was promptly honored. The banking facilities have been added to by the establishment, early In 1902, of the People's Bank of Ashton, a private institution, with Booth & Lyons as proprietors.

Ashton village is underlaid with a superior quality of building stone, which has been on the market, in a snail way, for a number of years. It admits of high polish and stands the action of acids better than most Illinois stone. Experts give it the credit also of resisting a higher pressure than any other building stone in the State, with but one exception.

The village has a large two story public school building built of this stone. The school is graded and employs six teachers.

The cemetery is controlled by the "Ashton Cemetery Association," which was incorporated August 14, 1902.

The village put in a gas plant in the summer of 1903, which supplies satisfactory gas for street lighting and other purposes.

The population of the township, including the village, was 1,031 in 1890, and 1,125 in 1900; that of the village alone, in 1890, being 680 and, in 1900, 756. The village was first incorporated March 5, 1867, and again under the general law, July 23, 1872.

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