History of Chemung, Il.
From: The History of McHenry County, Illinois
Published by: Munsell Publishing Company, 1922
BOUNDARIES - TOPOGRAPHY - ORIGIN OF NAME - EARLY SETTLERS - VILLAGE OF CHEMUNG - CITY OF HARVARD - EARLY EVENTS - HARVARD IN 1876 - HARVARD IN 1885 - INCORPORATION - PRESENT OFFICALS - PUBLIC IMPROVEMENTS - POST OFFICE - INDUSTRIES - CEMETERY - POPULATION - TOWNSHIP OFFICIALS.
Cheinung Township is located in the extreme northwestern portion of this county, and is bounded on the north by Wisconsin, on the east by Alden Township, on the south by Dunham Township, and on the west by Boone County. It comprises all of congressional township 45, range 5.
This township originally had more low wet land than any of the other townships, but through a course of scientific draining this land has come to be very valuable, having as it does the richest of soil. Piskasaw Creek and its three branches, are its principal water courses.
ORIGIN OF NAME
The name Chemung was given the village of Chemung before the township was organized, by a Mr. Steward who came from Chemung County, N. Y., and he desired to name the place after his old home. The township was organized in 1850, and took on the name of the village.
Between 1836 and 1838 the following came into the township for the purpose of making permanent settlement: George
Trumbull, M. Wheeler, Wesley Diggins, Alonzo Riley, and William Hart, and these were the first to effect the settlement,
although it has been claimed that the two brothers, David and Ransley Shaw lived here for a brief time. David Smith,
T. B. Wakeman and Daniel and Adolphus Hutchinson came here several years later.
The old village of Lawrence, sections 22 and 27, was settled in 1855, the railroad depot being built in 1856.
Bixby & Conklin first offered goods for sale, but ere long three others went into trade, believing that the
depot at that point would eventually kill Chemung. G. F. Kasson and G. Blakeslee next began business, but it was
not long before the store was burned. This village was named for Lawrence Bixby, its first merchant. In 1857 a
steam flouring mill was operated, but did not pay and was soon abandoned.
VILLAGE OF CHEMUNG
Chemung was laid out in 1844, but like Lawrence has suffered from being too near to Harvard, also within this township. The first house in Chemung was erected by a Mr. Lewis and was built of logs. Burge & Aisles kept the first store; Mr. Baker the second. Other business men were: Jacob A. Wood, B. F. Carey, A. J. DeGraw, Peter Fitzer, Henry Munger, Householder Brothers, J. P. Kennedy, E. D. Maxon, S. L. Puffer, J. A. Little, John Alexander, G. I. Sinderson, Warren Chase, James Potts and N. Crane. With a store and shop or two Chemung has kept its name and place on the map but has never been able to increase in commercial interest.
CITY OP HARVARD
This city is sixty-three miles northwest of Chicago, on the Chicago & Northwestern railroad, and is beautifully situated in section 35 of Chemung Township. It was platted November 25, 1856 by Amos Page, proprietor. Abraham Carmack and Jacob A. Davis were the original owners of the town site of Harvard, having obtained it from the government in 1845. They sold it to Gilbert Brainard, and after his death the land was secured by a company of railroad men, who laid out the town in 1856. E. G. Ayer, a member of the company named the place Harvard in honor of Harvard, Mass. Many additions have been made to the place with the growth of recent years.
In 1856 the first stock of merchandise was placed on the shelves in the new town of Harvard, the owner of these
goods was Charles Crawford. His store was in reality a railroad shanty. Soon after Hull & Julius opened their
store in a one-story log cabin. The first frame building was erected by J. C. Crum on the corner of the railroad
right-of-way and the crossing of Ayer street; it was used for a lumber yard office. Mr. Crum was engaged in the
lumber trade before the coming of the railroad. He used to purchase his stock of lumber in Kenosha, Wis., shipping
it to Chicago by rail, and thence back to Woodstock by rail, and from there freighted it. The first frame store
was built, in the spring of 1857 by John Diggins. The earliest blacksmith was H. Norton; the first wagonmaker was
J. Flemming; the first shoemaker was Daniel Carpenter.
HARVARD IN 1876
From a directory of McHenry County published in 1876, the following facts concerning Harvard have been obtained, and when contrasted with the city of Harvard of today, are indeed interesting.
Harvard is the junior town of Chemung, and, like many other juniors, it has absorbed the substance of the seniors
till it almost rivals the county seat in size, containing five dry goods stores, four grocery stores, one boot
an.d shoe store, two mixed stores, such as clothing, boots and shoes, two drug stores, two hardwares, eight saloons,
two livery stables, two bakeries, three confectioneries, two clothing stores, two jewelry stores, two furniture
stores, one photograph gallery, three hotels, one bank, five doctors, two lawyers, two harness shops, one fiouring
mill, one planing-mill, sash and blind factory, three millinery stores, one dentist, one news depot, two barber
shops, two malt houses, one cheese factory, four blacksmith shops, three wagon shops, one car repair shop, three
meat shops, one agricultural implement warehouse, three churches and a schoolhouse."
HARVARD IN 1885
The following is a list of business and professional men at Harvard prior to 1885 and during that year:
Harvard became an incorporated village February 28, 1867, amid the following were the first officials: H. G.
Ayer, president; William Marshall, clerk. The trustees were: J. C. Crumb, Frank Cobb, Owen McGee, B. F. Groesbeck.
In 1891 Harvard became an incorporated city and its affairs have usually been well administered to the best interests
of its population. The mayors and clerks have been as follows: mayors, N. B. Helm, P. E. Saunders, M. W. Lake,
L. A. Gardner, James Logue, John A. Sweeney, W. D. Hall, Richard Phalen, J. H. Vickers, C. J. Hendricks, F. O.
The following are the officials of the city of Harvard: mayor, J. U. Maxon; clerk, Eugene Saunders; health official, Dr. C. W. Goddard; magistrate, H. S. Williams; treasurer, E. A. Crumb; attorney, R. F. Marshall; aldermen, Jerome Crowley, J. M. Harris, Benjamin Hagar, H. A. Jordan, Amos G. Smith, and F. O. Thompson.
The waterworks were established at Harvard in 1891, for which the city has been variously bonded, and for which
some bonds are still unpaid. Water is obtained from two deep wells, one 900 and one 1,800 feet, and these furnish
an abundant supply of pure water. A volunteer fire company of sixteen members looks after the fire department.
In 1918 a $3,000 auto-fire-truck was purchased by the city.
Harvard secured a post office in 1851. Its first postmaster was William Randall; he was succeeded by the following
persons: R. W. M. De Lee, A. E. Axtell, J. W. Groesbeck who was appointed in 1880 and he in turn by Messrs. J.
A. Sweeney, Dr. Woodruff, J. A. Sweeney, M. F. Walsh and M. F. O'Connor.
The various factory interests of Harvard include the branch of the famous "Black Cat" Hosiery Company of Kenosha, Wis., the Bowman Milk Bottling Works and the Hunt, Helm & Ferris factory which are treated in another chapter of this work.
Just to the south and east of Harvard is found the beautiful, though silent city, the cemetery which was laid out about the time the village of Harvard was platted. In all northern Illinois one can find none so beautiful and well cared for. It can be seen from incoming trains, as having been originally planned, and is annually kept up to a high state of perfection. The shade trees and flowers in season are indexes to the passerby of a people of religious and cultivated tastes. This is indeed a true index of Christian civilization, proper care for the departed. The monuments erected here are in keeping with the grounds wherein repose hundreds of Harvard's deceased pioneers and later citizens.
The 1910 Federal census reports gave Chemung Township, including Harvard city, a population of 4,101; and in 1920 it was 4,421.
The following are the township officials of Chemung Township: supervisor, W. H. Ward; assessor, John Dean; clerk, F. O. Thompson; highway commissioner, W. D. Cornwell; justices of the peace, John T. O'Brien and Charles J. Vierek; constables, R. W. Hall, James Hagen and Fred Dean.