History of Alden, Il.
From: The History of McHenry County, Illinois
Published by: Munsell Publishing Company, 1922




Alden Township is bounded on the north by the State of Wisconsin; on the east by ilebron Township; on the south by Hartland Township; and on the west by Chemung Township. It comprises all of congressional township 46, range 6.


Like many other townships, Alden took its name from its first post office. Originally, the post office was named Wedgewood, but on account of another in Illinois by the same name it was changed to Alden after Alden, N. Y., from which place several early settlers to this township had emigrated.


The very first settlers in Alden Township were Nathan and Darius Disbrow, who came here in the fall of 1836, and built cabins in the following spring. They located on section 15, which later was destined to become the site of the village of Alden. Miles Booty, a native of England, was the third to locate in Alden Township, he arriving during the summer of 1837, settling on what later became the Capron farm, east of the village. Ashael Disbrow, with his wife and eleven children, came here from Greene County, N. Y., about the same time. Another settler, John Alberty, from the same location, came in 1838, and Dennis Ryder of York State arrived about that same year.


Alden Township is a prairie township, although originally some tracts of very fine timber were found growing within its borders. There are to be seen considerable artificial timber planted by the hands of the hardy pioneers, which trees have come to tower up some twenty, thirty and even forty feet, providing shade in the heated seasons and a windbreak in winter. Nippersink Creek is the principal water course, it rising from Mud Creek, and from it flow Kiswaukee Creek and Piskasaw Creek.


Timothy M. Eller and Esther Disbrow were married on January 7, 1839, by Wesley Diggins, a justice of the peace, and this was the first wedding celebrated in the township, although in 1838, Darius Disbrow, who lived in Alden Township, was married in Milwaukee, to Sarah Cross, a resident of Hebron Township. Their child, Lorain J. Disbrow was the first white child born in the township, the date of his birth being in 1839. Twin daughters of Mr. and Mrs. Timothy M. Fuller, were the next white children born in the township.


The first burial in Alden Township took place near Mud Lake, it boing that of a child who died at the home of Ashael Disbrow. This infant belonged to the family who were going on further west to settle. The first cemetery, however, was that located in 1846, and A. Broughton was the first to be buried there. This tract originally had two acres set off as a cemetery. In 1847 a graveyard was platted to the east of the village cf Alden, and there repose the remains of scores of pioneers, but later this tract was abandoned, and the bodies were transferred to other cemeteries, chiefly to the one originally laid out as above noted.


Miss Clarissa Nelson of Geneva Lake taught the first school in Alden Township, in the spring of 1841, in the first schoolhouse which was built of logs.

Rev. Leander Walker held the first religious services in the township in the fall of 1838, at the home of Ashael Disbrow, and there lie organized a Methodist society, which held meetings until 1845, when it was disbanded.


The first post office was established in 1843 at the home of Francis Wedgewood, and he continued as postmaster until 1847, when the office was transferred to the railroad station. In 1849, P. W. Lake was made postmaster, and he was followed by N. M. Capron in 1850. In 1858 Mr. Capron died, and he was succeeded by George B. Andrews, and in 1881, E. S. Smith was appointed. The later postmasters are generally well recalled by the present patrons of the office.


The village of Alden was laid out in 1848 by Francis Wedgewood, and John Brink of Crystal Lake made the survey. Nathan Disbrow built the flrst house at that point; and the first store was opened by P. W. Lake, in 1847, prior to the platting of the village. The first wagon shop was run by C. N. Jiles; J. Wood was the first blacksmith and M. P. Hoy was the first shoemaker. Other early business and professional men included these: J. C. Brewer, barber; Ferris & Son and Julian Brothers, butter and cheese factory; Copeland & Manning, operators of a creamery; John Snell, wagon maker; Edward Wright, carpenter; C. H. Bennett, harness maker; T. J. Disbrow proprietor of the hotel; Thomas Rushton, lawyer; E. S. Smith, merchant; and Dr. G. R. Barringer, physician.

The village has never grown to any considerable extent, and now there are a few stores and small shops for the accommodation of the surrounding rich farming community. Alden Township has many beautiful and valuable farms and fine herds of excellent much cows, the milk from which is sold at the station of Alden where a large collecting station is conducted by one of the great milk companies mentioned in the chapter on dairying. In 1877 Alden had a cheese factory, built in 1870, and used the milk of 500 cows, but it has been long discontinued.

The early settlers from New York being great fruit lovers demanded fruit trees in this new country and a Mr. Easton in 1848 planted out a good sized nursery from which the farmers were soon able to get trees. The first apple seeds were planted by Sidney Disbrow, in 1838, and these trees thus started, come to be excellent bearing trees within a few years.

The Alden Mutual Fire Insurance Company was organized at the village of Alden, in 1874, but since then it has enlarged its scope and takes in the townships of Alden, Hebron, Richmond, Burton and McHenry.

It now has in force 500 policies, with insurance amounting to $1,800,000. The rate for insurance is a trifle more than one per cent for a five year period.

The officers are: James H. Turner, Hebron, President; Arthur D. Cornue, of Alden, Vice-President; A. G. Dickerson, Hebron, Secretary; The board of directors are: H. E. Street, Hebron, Arthur D. Cornue, E. G. Kingsley, H. G. Durkee, Alden; E. G. Turner, Spring Grove; J. B. Richardson, Richmond.

This mutual fire insurance company has been of great benefit to the farming community of North McHenry County.


The population of Alden Township in 1890 was 1,026; in 1900 it was 1,015; in 1910, 1,014 and in 1920, 964.


The following are serving as the township officials of Alden Township: supervisor, H. G. Durkee; assessor, J. L. Baldock; clerk, E. M. Fink; highway commissioner, E. C. Hammond; justices of the peace, A. L. Disbrow and William W. Fleming; constable, J. H. Carbrey.

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