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


Nachusa was set off from the Town of China, by resolution of the Board of Supervisors of Lee County February 7, 1871, being made up of the west half of the latter town. Dixon Township remained intact as first formed until the February meeting of the Board of Supervisors in 1872, when all lying east of the following line was detached and added to Nachusa: Commencing at the river and following the half section lines south to center of Section 34, thence east to center of Section 35, thence south to center of Section 2, thence west 80 rods, thence south to the north line of South Dixon. After two petitions had been rejected, a third was unanimously granted, without opposition, at the July meeting, 1877. restoring to Dixon the east half of Sections 10, 15, 22. 27 and the northeast quarter of Section 34. The construction of the bridge across the river at Grand Detour, in 1902, with its south terminus resting in the town of Nachusa, necessitated the repair of the approaching roads and rendered desirable the opening of a new and more direct highway to the bridge. Nachusa having failed indeed, practically refused to take the needed action, and having manifested such indifference on the subject as to arouse the indignation of the people most interested in the bridge, two petitions were placed before the Board of Supervisors, asking that the territory embracing the roads calling for repair and the projected new road be added to Dixon. Both of these petitions were defeated, but a third petition offered at the September meeting, in 1903. resulted in detaching from Nachusa all the territory embraced in Towns 21 and 22. Range 9. and adding it to the Town of Dixon. Thus Nachusa has been brought back to its original boundaries. (For further information as to bridge history, see "Lee County.")

The proximity of Grand Detour to the northern boundary of the township drew an unusual number of early settlers to this locality. Among this class was Cyrus Chamberlain, who located on Section 18. Mr. Hollingshead, coming a little later, settled on Section 19. In 1835 Joseph Crawford arrived, and after living one year with Mr. Hollingshead, then settled in Dixon Township. Solomon Shelhamer joined the settlement a year or two afterwards. In 1836 John Chamberlain bought the Hollingshead farm and, in this same year. a Mr. Fisk came from the Eest with a stock of goods. with which he opened a 8tore in the Hollingshead house.

A number of dwellings. including Cyrus Chamberlain's, in time, grouped about the point on the southwest Quarter of Section 18. Town 22, Range 9. where a road leads off to the upper Grand Detour ferry, in such manner as at the present day to suggest a village. This settlement has been known for many years as "The Kingdom." Old settlers trace this name to different sources, but all agree that it became attached to the place about 1844-6. One says that Sabbath breaking, profanity, horse racing and other irregularities caused the law abiding, Sabbath observing people of Grand Detour to assaciate locality with the devil's affairs. Another (Harvey Herrick, now living in Dixon) relates how, when a boy of twelve or fourteen years of age. he and an older brother quarreled with the boys of the only other family then in the place (Chamberlain's). and how their respective fathers took sides with the sons until finally one of the former charged that Satan had reigned ever since the other family had come into the neighborhood: that this was taken up by others in jest, and was circulated until it became firmly fixed to the place. The accompanying circumstances are told with such particularity that the latter seems to be the more probable of the two accounts. In time the satanic part of the name was dropped.

In 1844 Harvey Herrick, Sr. (father of the Harvey Herrick above mentioned) settled here, having brought a house from over the county line, which was the second, Cyrus Chamberlain's being the first.

The first school house in the township was built of stone by Cyrus Chamberlain on his land, and its use was given to the pioneers. It was built on the southwest quarter of Section 18. Town 22. Range 10. and is still standing on the Weatherbee farm at "the Kingdom." Chester Herrington was the first teacher. Prior to the building of the school house, school was taught in private houses by a man named Sheldon, who is supposed to have been the first teacher in this section. The second school house was also built of stone and stood on the south half of the southwest quarter of Section 26, Town 22, Range 10.

Mr. Chamberlain was the first Justice of the Peace in this part of the town, and was also County Commissioner when Ogle and Lee Counties constituted one county. He is also credited with building the first saw mill in that section. It was located east of the road on the southwest quarter of Section iS. on the north side of Franklin Creek. from which the power was obtained through a mill race which tapped the creek about a mile further upstream. Harvey Herrick, Sr., took advantage of this power for blast purposes, to start a foundry here undoubtedly the first in the county which he had been operating by horse power at Grand Detour.

On the county map of 1863 appears the name "Galena & Chicago Union Railroad" across the south half of Section 18 and the southwest quarter of Section 17. When the road (now the Chicago & Northwestern) was being constructed, timber was cut from these lands for ties and fuel.

In 1842 a settlement was started on the Dixon and Franklin Grove road, where Ludlum Ayres, Levi Green, Thomas Hopkins, William Parker, William Richardson, James Goddard and Don Cooper took up claims and built their huts. Most of these disposed of their claims in a few years and moved further west. In 1845 quite a number selected land near where the village of Nachusa stands. At the west end of the Franklin Grove timber and within the present town of Nachusa, Joseph Emmert bought a claim of Don Cooper where he erected, in 1845-6, a two story dwelling and a large barn. In 1850 he put up quite a large fiouring mill on the creek at heavy expense. He was a minister of the German Baptist, or Dunkard, faith, and about 1850 erected the first church of that deiiomination, where the present one stands, on the Dixon and Franklin road, on the southeast quarter of the southeast quarter of Section 5. In 1847, A. P. Dysart purchased the claim of Thomas Hopkins, which included the northwest quarter of the southeast quarter of Section 6, where Col. Dysart continued to reside up to the date of his death, and where he erected an attractive and expensive dwelling. This building Mrs. Mary E. B. Shippert has recently given to the Northern Illinois Lutheran Synod, to be turned over to the proper committee or trustees of the Northern, Central and Southern Illinois Synods, the Synods of Iowa, Nebraska and Kansas, and the two German bodies for an orphanage. The property, embracing forty six acres, is valued at $6,000. The gift in such hands will prove a great blessing to the parentless through long years yet to come.

John M. Crawford and Samuel Crawford, brothers, came in 1846, the first establishing a permanent home on the east half of the southwest quarter of Section 5, and the other the west half of Section 9. Jonathan Depuy reached the county in 1842, and before long settled down in this township. About 1844 or '45 William Fiscel bought in Section 32. John P. Brubaker located on Sections 5 and 6, about the year 1850, and it was in this year that Benjamin Kesler also settled on Section 6. In 1852 Henry Wingert settled on Section 4, and John W. Wingert also came to the town. Joshua Wingert arrived in 1846. Jacob Wertman arrived still earlier, reaching the township in 1838. William Brandon reached Dixon in 1837, and in a few years moved to Nachusa Township, where he resided many years. Marshall McNeel came to the county with his parents in 1847, and Jacob Hittle reached the county as early as 1841, both of them spending the remainder of their days in this township. Chester Harrington arrived in 1837 and soon secured the land in Section 13, Town 22, Range 9, on which he now resides with his son. William Garrison landed in the county in 1845 and eventually, some ten years later, settled in Nachusa.

Prior to the building of the Dunkard church, above mentioned, by Joseph Emmert, and prior to his coming, the society was in existence over the river in Ogle County. Mr. Emmert first preached to its members there; but this was so inconvenient to him and the members in this county, that a society was formed in his neighborhood composed of himself and family, Christopher Lahman and wife, Jacob and Samuel Riddlesbarger and their wives, Oliver Edmunds and wife, Isaac Seits and wife, Andrew Dierdorf and wife, Benjamin Kesler and wife, with a few others. Adjacent to the church is the cemetery, in which the first burial was that of Debbie Beever.

At an early date a Methodist minister by the name of Benjamin preached to the settlers in their homes; but the first church building to be erected in the north part of the township was the Mt Union church, dedicated November 9, 1890, for the use of the denominations desiring to hold service there. It stands on the northwest corner of the northeast quarter of Section 26, a prominent point, giving the white building a conspicuous place in the landscape. Separated from the church yard only by a fence is the Mooers Cemetery, which was given by one of the pioneers, Josiah Mooers, whose remains were the first to be interred within its precincts. It dates prior to 1860. In 1887 the Lutheran Church erected a neat meeting house in the village of Nachusa, which is now occupied by the society. In May, 1900, Trinity Evangelical church dedicated a new building erected by its members at "the Kingdom."

Turning to the southern portions of the township, it is found that the first settler was a Mr. Jones, who located on Section 20, Town 21. In 1839 Dr. Charles Gardner settled on the northwest quarter and north half of the southwest quarter of Section 20, where he resided until his death at a good old age. Most of the pioneers emigrated from the East by means of horse or ox teams, or by way of canals and lakes, but Dr. Gardner entered the new country by an altogether different route. He reached New Orleans by sloop from Newport, R. I., and thence by steamboat up the Mississippi and Illinois to Peru, where wagons and teams were purchased with which the remainder of the journey was accomplished. His wife followed the track across the States a few months later. Dr. Gardner belonged to the Thomsonian school of medicine, and was the first physician in that section. He brought with him a large supply of seeds, cuttings, grafts and slips, with which to start the much desired fruit and ornamental tree culture. These were freely distributed and, besides his own planting, laid the foundation for taste and interest in trees which have characterized the locality. In 1873 he built a large hay barn, the heavy timber for which was cut from the grove which he himself had planted. This southern part of the township had the advantage of the Chicago road, which was the artery of travel from Chicago to Dixon's Ferry, and, naturally, the first settlements were thickest along its course. About six months later than the coming of Mrs. Gardner, her aunt and Mrs. Hannah DeWoIf arrived and purchased a home about a mile west on the northwest quarter of Section 19. Here Mrs. Gardner and Mrs. DeWolf started the first Sunday School in that vicinity, and here, in Mrs. DeWoIf's house, the first public school in the township was taught. The first teacher was Miss Betsey DeWolf. On the northeast corner of Mrs. DeWolf's farm she donated a plat for a cemetery. which is still in use. This was about the year 1840, and the first person to be buried there was "Old Michael." a man who worked for her. Adjacent to this site, the first school house wa.s built in 1841 Or '42. when Miss DeWoIf again taught, also a Miss Hunter. The house was afterwards moved to the southwest corner of Dr. Gardner's farm, where it was known for many years as "Locust Street School House." Later it was moved to the crossroads, where it took the name of "Hollister."

In 1841 John Leake settled in the township at Temperance Hill, having emigrated from England in 1840. His wife and three sans, William, John C., Thomas, and a daughter, Mary Ann, together with Mrs. Lake's two sisters, Mrs. Edward Willars and Mrs. Daniel Leake and their husbands, all came over in a party in 1841. Isaac Means and William Moody accompanied Mr. Leake. John Leake (2d) with his wife and two children, Clarissa, and William, made the passage from England in 1843 and settled on the highest ground at Temperance Hill. that part of the southwest quarter of the southwest quarter of Section 27, lying south of the road. The two Johns became distinguishable in the neighborhood by names coined for the purpose; John. the first comer, being called "Butcher John; from his early occupation in the old country, and the other, "Miller John," or "John on the 'illtop," from the elevation of his land. Miller John and Daniel were brothers, and cousins of Butcher John. Alva Hale was one of the early settlers, entering a claim on Section 33.

Nachusa Village.- The station was called Taylor when the railroad was in process of construction, but when the plat was made in the fall of 1853 by Col. Dysart and George Baugh, it was given its present name the one by which Father Dixon was known among the Indians. The first business enterprise in the place was launched by its founder, Col. A. P. Dysart, who built a warehouse, bought grain and dealt in coal and lumber. In 1855 or '56 he opened a general store in partnership with a Mr. Cunningham. They were succeeded in 1860 by the firm of (John) Dysart & Riley, who built the present elevator. The business finally passed into the hands of William C. Dysart, and now is owned and conducted by Mr. C. B. Crawford.

The first postmaster was Col. Dysart, and the office has always remained in the store where he opened it. the successive proprietors of which have held the commission, except during the first four years of President Cleveland's administration, when C. D. Hart held the office.

The first school house to be erected in the village was the one now in use. It was built in 1868 and J. A. D. Barnes was the first teacher to hold forth in it. The first blacksmith shop was started in 1855 or 1856, by Mr. Farwell. According to the census the township had a population in 1890 of 913 and in 1900 of 886.

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