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


Charles F. Ingals settled just over the line in Lee Center Township, in 1836. Sherman Hatch reached Dixon in 1837, and soon found his way to Mr. Ingals' place. During that summer or fall he settled on the southwest part of Section 7, taking possession of and completing a log house that had been partly built by previous claimants who had abandoned their claim. He went back to Vermont that fall and returned the next year with his bride. Jonathan Peterson laid claim, in the summer of 1837, to the northwestern part of Section 4, and after building a log cabin near by in Lee Center, he, too, repaired that fall to his New England home for a wife, returning with her the next year. In the fall of 1838 Thomas and William Fessenden arrived with their families, and built a log house near the southeast corner of the northwest quarter of Section 7, and moved into it in December. In the following year William Fessenden built on the southeast corner of the southwest quarter of Section 6. Sometime in the '30s William Knox and family settled on the south side of the eastern portion of the grove which bears their name. It was on the Chicago and Galesburg road, east of the center of the southeast quarter of Section 24. Sylvanus Peterson, brother of Jonathan, located on the southeast quarter of Section 5. Earlier than 1840, John Morton and R. E. Goodall settled on Sections 5 and 8. One of the old settlers, Daniel Baird, located in LaSalle County in the fall of 1836, and came on to Sublette in 1839, planting his home on the LaSalle and Grand Detour road, near the northeast corner of the south half of the northeast quarter of Section 17. It was in this year that Phineas Rust built the first frame house in the township, on the northeast quarter of Section 31. He never lived there, however, but sold his claim late in 1840 to Philo Stanard and Thomas Angier. During the year 1839 Thomas Tourtillott built a frame house near the center of Section 31 and Obed W. Bryant settled on the Chicago and Galesburg road on Section 35. In 1843, Ephraim Reniff, with his family, located on the south half of the northeast quarter of Section 33. and Hiram Anderson did likewise on the northeast quarter of the southeast quarter of the same section. It was over the latter claim that the Settlers' Claim Society applied a law of their own making to a claim-jumper by the name of Bull. A force, sixty-five in number, well armed, repaired to Dixon and captured the offender. The difficulty was so adjusted, however, that Anderson held the land, and the vigorous remedy protected the settlement from "jumpers" ever thereafter.

Early in the '40s Stephen Richardson located near the southwest corner of the northeast quarter of Section 31. Jacob Vertrees came in 1843 or '44, and John Skinner in 1844 or '45. Hezekiah and John McKune were also settlers in the early '40s, the former locating on the north half of the northeast quarter of Section 8, and the latter on the southwest quarter of Section 17. In 1848 or '49 William Coleman settled on the northeast quarter of Section 7. In 1843 Alpheus Crawford bought a claim to the south half of Section 13 for $75. This was within the Knox Grove settlement, where Levi Camp had settled that year and Daniel Pratt the year before. Prescott Bartlett claimed the east half of Section 27, and built a log house near the northwest corner of the tract in 1844. Silas D. Reniff also settled on the north half of the north half of Section 20, and John Betz on the southeast quarter of Section 33, near the southeast corner, the same year. It was in this year, too, that R. P. Hubbard settled east of the road on the northeast quarter of the northwest quarter of Section 17. In 1846 Bartholomew Theiss made a claim to 120 acres in Sections 29 and 32, where his sons, John, Jacob and Gotfreid Theiss, subsequently lived. John W. Skinner located on the southwest quarter of Section 13 in 1846; Stephen Averill settled on the same section about the same time. John Clink located on the southwest quarter of Section 12 in 1847, and about 1848 William Clink settled on the northwest quarter of the same section. Jacob, Andrew and Michael Lauer came in 1849 or '50. Other settlers on the south side of Knox Grove were Solomon Porter who bought out William Knox in the fall of 1845; Samuel and Nathaniel Ellsworth, who settled on the southwest quarter of Section 25, the same year, and David Maxwell, who came to the southwest quarter of Section 35 about the same time. George Hoffman settled on the southwest quarter of Section 33 about 1845, and Henry Schwab located the next year, just south of the center of Section 34. John Spielman came in 1846 and located on the eastern part of Section 34, in Perkins Grove neighborhood, and also a German family by the name of Smith. In 1849 or '50 Carl Buettner bought part of the southwest quarter of Section 35 and made it his home. About the same time the Pohls and Andrew Henkel came to the township, the former locating an the southwest quarter of Section 36, and the latter on the southeast quarter of Section 26. May 22, 1846, Eleazer Barton, father of J. B. Barton, settled on the northeast quarter of the northwest quarter of Sec. 25. William A. Miller and son-in-law, George Gheer, settled on the northeast quarter of Section. 35 in 1846. Miller sold out to H. N. Erskine, who later sold to P. H. Kapser and bought the east half of Section 12. William and Thomas Ireland and Jacob Schneck came in 1849-50, and Jacob Wolf and father, Nicholas, Jacob Eich and Andrew Hatzenberger in 1850. In 1846 what was known as Knox Grove settlement covered a radius of two to three miles around the grove, and numbered fourteen families. Not a house had been built on the Chicago and Galesburg road between the settlement and Paw Paw Grove, a distance of twelve miles. There was no settlement to the south nearer than the Illinois River. To the southeast Troy Grove settlement, eight miles distant, was the nearest. On the north, Inlet Grove was eight miles away; on the northeast, Melugin Grove, ten miles, and Four-mile Grove, eight miles distant, were the nearest settlements in those directions.

The town was first called "Hanno" from "Hanau," a city on the Rhine above Frankfort in Nassau, Prussia. It was so named at the suggestion of James Tourtillott. By act of the legislature, approved February 18, 1857, it was enacted "that the name of Hanno Township, in the county of Lee" be changed to "Sublette Township." The new name Sublette has been accounted for in other histories as having been derived from the practice of "subletting" contracts for the building of the railroad. This is clearly erroneous. In the first place, if that had been its origin, the name would have been spelled "Sublet" without the final "te." In the second place there was little, if any, subletting on this section of the road, and hence the word was not brought into prominence. But, conclusively, the name on the recorded plot of the village is spelled "Soublette," and, in the Company's certificate attached, the place is named "Town of Soublett" without the final "e." Moreover the name on the station house for years was "Soublette." There is nothing to indicate where the name was found, but clearly the history commonly given it is wide of the mark.

The first town meeting was held on the second Tuesday of April, 1850, at which the following officers were elected: Daniel Baird, Supervisor; Henry Porter, Clerk; Whitlock T. Porter, Assessor; Silas D. Reniff, Collector; Daniel Pratt, Overseer of the Poor; Hiram Anderson and W. H. Hamblin, Highway Commissioners; Daniel Avery and Thomas S. Angier, Constables; Alpheus Crawford and Andrew Bertholf, Justices of the Peace. The number voting at this election is not given, but two years later forty-seven votes were cast. Town meetings were held at private residences as follows: 1853, at Daniel Pratt's, Knox Grove; 1854, at Daniel Wilcox's; 1855, at David Maxwell's. At the latter meeting $1,000 was voted for the erection of a town house in the village of Sublette.

In 1848 Alpheus Crawford and others killed a black bear north of Knox Grove, which weighed 400 pounds.

The first postoffice in the township was opened in Daniel Baird's house, about 1840. The office was called Brookfield. The second postoffice was established at Knox Grove in 1847 or '48, and named Ovid; the first postmaster was Solomon Porter.

In 1841 O. W. Bryant burned a kiln of brick on the northwest corner of Section 35. As early as 1850 a man by the name of McBirney had a blacksmith shop near the southwest corner of the town.

The Baptist church was organized in 1843 in Jonathan Peterson's log house, with thirteen members. It was known as the First Baptist Church of Palestine Grove. To accommodate the members, meetings were held alternately on opposite sides of the grove at the homes of worshipers until the school house came, when that, as a rule, became the meeting place in the different localities. In 1854 meetings began to be held in Benton's Hall, about half a mile west of the site of the church where they now assemble. Here they continued until November, 1858, when the building in the village, where the congregation now worships, and which had been built at a cost of $5,000, was dedicated. The society also had a parsonage, which has been sold.

The first organization of the Methodist Episcopal Church was effected at the house of Levi Camp, at Knox Grove, about 1846. Meetings were held at private residences and at Knox Grove school house, until the town hall was available at the village, when the meetings became localized at that place. In 1870 a church was built in the village and dedicated the next year. Services continued seven or eight years, when the society was abandoned and the property sold, since which time Sublette has been without a Methodist church.

A Congregational church was established April 20, 1871. This, like the other societies, held its meetings in the Town Hall. Soon, however, a building was begun and when completed had cost about $5,000.

The Society of the Evangelical Association of North America erected a building in 1864, on the northeast quarter of Section 35, north of the southwest corner. It is now closed and the organization, once strong, is now weak.

The organization of the Roman Catholic Church took place in 1848, and, in 1853, a church building and parsonage were erected on the northeast corner of Section 32. The parsonage was destroyed by fire in 1869, and no services are now held in the church. In 1868 a Catholic church was built in the village, which is now being superseded by a splendid edifice of pressed brick with slate roof, which will cost, unfurnished, not less than $30,000. Its extreme length is 115 feet and its extreme width 74 feet, and the building is surmounted by a spire 141 feet high. The old church in which services are conducted while the building is going on, was moved aside so that the new structure could rise on the site of the old one. Work was commenced in August, 1902, and the building will probably be ready for occupancy in the summer of 1904. Father Tasche is the priest in charge.

The pioneer school was started in the west part of the township in a log house on Thomas Fessenden's farm. The next was in a slab building on the farm of Thomas Tourtillott. It was a structure used at first as a shelter for the purpose of preempting land, and was afterwards known as the "Sheep Pen." Maria Coleman was the first to keep school in it. The next school in the neighborhood was taught in the winter by Joseph Carey, in Mrs. Tourtillott's house, and the next of any importance was taught by John Bacon, about 1850, in Mrs. Richardson's house. The third school in the township was in a log school house on Section 5, where Mrs. Clute, sister of Jonathan Peterson, taught the first summer school about the year 1844. The winter school kept here was for several years quite important, being well attended by an advanced class of pupils.

The first school taught at Knox Grove was in a vacant log house (the first built in that neighborhood), in which William Knox had lived, being taught by Stephen Barton. The second term was kept in a "lean-to" about 12 by 16 feet, attached to Daniel Pratt's log house. The first Sunday. School was organized in these same narrow quarters. This was in the summer of 1847. Later, meetings and Sunday school were held in Levi Camp's log house until the log school house was erected.

The first school house in Knox Grove settlement was built on the county line on the north side of the Chicago and Galesburg road. It was built in 1848 of logs and accommodated pupils from Sublette, Brooklyn and Mendota townships. It also served the purposes of a church for a number of years.

For a number of years the Lee County Guards, a 'distinctively Sublette organization, designated as Company F, Twelfth Infantry, Stale Militia, has reflected on the township the credit due to superior drill, discipline and soldierly bearing. They were regularly mustered into the service of the State May 30, 1879, with 98 members, which increased to 103 at the annual inspection. March 31, 1880. It was then the largest infantry company in the State, and was frequently honored by being called to participate as escort on important occasions in different parts of the State. It owned a large armory in the village, and was prosperous for a number of years, but in time the members scattered, recruiting became difficult and the company finally disbanded.

Henkel. - Where the Illinois Central Railroad crosses the south line of Section 25 is a station called by this name. It is a grain buying point where a single elevator serves the purpose of storing grain.

Sublette Village. - The village was platted as "Soublette," or the "Town of Soublett," May 8, 1855, on land of the Illinois Central Railroad Company.

A railroad depot and warehouse were erected in the summer of 1854. During the following winter Daniel Cook built the first dwelling. The next summer, A. L. Wilder built a small store in the back part of which he lived. Jesse Hale began a store a few months earlier. George A. Richmond also put up a house and Mr. Swartout moved into his new house in the winter of 1855-6. In 1855 Frank Bartlett built what was afterwards the Catholic parsonage. Paul Lindstraum completed a tavern the next year. Dr. Smith moved into his residence that winter. "Uncle Alva" Hale, as well as the families of James Colvin and Robert Ash, came to the village in 1856 and, in that year, J. B. Barton opened a drug store.

The first elevator in the place was built by Fred Oberhelman in 1874. It was enlarged in 1898 by an addition much larger than the original building. Its present capacity is 42.000 bushels. The business is conducted by F. Oberhelman & Bro. A second elevator was built in 1900 by J. H. Ebersole, who is now operating it. It has a capacity of about 20,000 bushels.

The banking interests of the community are looked after by the Sublette Exchange Bank, with a capital of $12,500 and deposits amounting to $102,946 at a given date. The officers are: Geo. F. Maloch, President; John P. Ma-loch, Vice-President; Anton H. Lauer, Cashier.

The village was incorporated under the general law December 27. 1892. According to the Government census, the population of the township, including the village. was 1.000 in 1890 and 1,004 in 1900. of which number the village furnshed 306 in the latter year.

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