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




Dorr Township is bounded on the north by Greenwood Township, a portion of which is included in the City of Woodstoek; on the east by Nunda Township; on the south by Grafton Township, and on the west by Seneca Township. Originally this township contained some very fine timber, but no prairie land, although it is level. It is watered by Hanley Creek, and a branch of the Kishwaukee.


The township was named in honor of Governor Dorr, of Rhode Island, who opposed the English laws governing that state.


The first white man to settle in Dorr Township was Uriah Cattle, who came here from Virginia in the fall of 1834, and made his claim, after which he returned to his old home. The following spring he came back to this region, accompanied by William Hartman, Charles and John McClure, and John Walkup, who composed what was known in the early days as the "Virginia Settlement." These pioneers showed such energy after their arrival on Monday morning, that by the end of the week they had their log shanties up and roofed, although there were no floors for a number of months. Mr. Cattle continued to reside in the township until his death, either late in the seventies, or early in the eighties. Charles McClure died in the township in 1844. These original settlers were later joined by Christopher Walkup, John L. Gibson, James Dufield, and William Hartman.


The first death in this township was that of the three-year-old daughter of Uriah Cattle, in September, 1836. In the fall of that same year, a little daughter of James Dufield also died.

Martha McClure was born in the fall of 1835, and she is conceded to have been the first white child born in the township. She died at the age of seventeen years.

The first wedding was that solemnized between Oscar H. Douglass and Sarah Gaff by Rev. Joel Wheeler, May 13, 1839.


Ridgefield Cemetery, the oldest burial ground in the township, was laid out in 1835 by Charles McClure as a private cemetery, but later he permitted the interment of outsiders. It is divided by the eastern line of Dorr Township, arid the greater part of it lies in Nunda Township. Originally it comprised only two acres, but subsequently was increased to the present size.

Oakland Cemetery, located at the western limits of Woodstock, was purchased by the corporation, December 20, 1859, of M. T. Bryan, and then comprised ten acres. Two additional acres were added for a Potters' Field, and other additions have since been made, as increasing space was needed. The Catholic Cemetery, known as "Calvary," is located just south of Oakland, across the highway, and both are kept in beautiful condition.


Ridgefield is located on section 25, township 44, range 7, and was platted by William Hartman, January 8, 1855, and it occupies the lands originally owned by members of the Virginia settlement. It came into being as a result of a station being located at this point, when the railroad was built through the county. Lots were sold so low by Mr. Hartman, in order to induce outsiders to come here, that he failed to realize any profit. He erected the first building, in which a store was established by George K. Bunker. J. G. Hartman opened a wagonmaking shop; Miles Graff was the first blacksmith; Daniel Root was the first shoemaker, and David Graff opened a hotel, but soon thereafter sold to a Mr. Holmes. Ridgefield is now the center of one of the large milk plants of the county.

Ridgefield post office was established in 1837, and was located a mile and a half west of the present village, at the residence of Christopher Walkup, who was the first postmaster. After the building of the railroad the office was moved to Ridgefield, and Isaac Hamilton was appointed postmaster. He was succeeded by A. F. Davis. During the subsequent years the post office has been kept by the owner of one or other of the stores at this point, and is now located in the Economy store.


According to the United States census the population of Dorr Township has been as follows: In 1890, 1,113; in 1900, 968; in 1910, 1,004, which was exclusive of Woodstock, which in the latter year had a population of 4,331; and in 1920, 6,408, including a portion of the city of Woodstock, the remainder of the city, with its population of 5,523, lying in Greenwood Township.


The following are the township officials: Supervisor, F. A. Walters; assessor, A. J. Murphy; clerk, J. C. Pierce; highway commissioner, Fred Menges; justices of the peace, T. J. Rushton and C. E. Lockwood; constables, F. G. Behringer, William Conney and P. W. Murphy.


Woodstock, county seat of McHenry County, and one of the most beautiful of the smaller cities of Illinois, was laid out by Alvin Judd, in 1844. After the plat had been executed, Mr. Judd sold his interests to George C. Dean, who, in June, 1844, had the plat recorded. At that time the village was named Centerville because of its geographical position in almost the center of the county, but in February, 1845, through the influence of Joel H. Johnson, the name was changed to Woodstock by Act of Legislature. This name was selected because Woodstock, Vt., was the birthplace of Mr. Johnson and other prominent men of the county, who sought to perpetuate pleasant memories of theFr old home, in their new one.


Woodstock has the highest altitude of any place in the state, the survey, made many years ago, giving it at 373 feet above the waters of Lake Michigan, and 954 feet above the sea level of the Atlantic Ocean. An inscription on the face of the ba.sestones of the courthouse testifies to this interesting fact.


Bradford Burbank built the first log house in 1843, and the first frame one was put up by Alvin Judd in 1844. The latter was opened as a tavern. During the winter of 1844-5, Mr. Judd built another frame house. The first store was opened in 1845 by Josiah Dwight and Oscar L. Beach. Henry Petrie opened another store that same year. In 1848 A. W. Fuller established his general store, and the fourth mercantile establishment was conducted by William Dunning and Alfred Dufield.

Other very early business men were as follows: Neill Donnelly, John Donnelly, Ira C. Trowbridge, Leonard Burtchy, Jr., A. W. Tappan, L. B. Converse, Joseph Hatch, L. T. Salisbury, John Bunker, J. J. Murphy, George W. Bentley, J. C. Choate, F. C. Joslyn, C. B. Duffee, Joseph Golder, L. T. Hoy, J. S. Wheat, A. S. Wright, George F. Mills, George Sylvester, M. Sherman, E. W. Blossom, Eddy Brothers, H. P. Norton, and Ira C. Trobridge.

The commercial and industrial growth of Woodstock has been in keeping with the expansion throughout the county, and a history of its industrial interests, past and present, is given in the chapter devoted to this subject.


As above stated, the first tavern, or hotel, at Woodstock was the one put up by Alvin Judd in 1844. Others were the Exchange Hotel, kept for a long period by Mr. Trall; the American House, located on the west side of the Square, kept by Messrs. G. H. Griffing, White and McMasters; the Waverly, built by Roswell Enos; in 1856, on two lots which cost him $7 each; the Woodstock House, built by Alonzo Anderson in 1852-3; and the Richmond House, built by E. H. Richmond, in 1874, which was conducted for some years by Mr. Richmond.


Woodstock is beautifully laid out, many of its business houses being located on the streets surrounding the City Park, at the head of which stands the courthouse. To the right is the city hall. On the hottest of days, the delightful shade afforded by the little park is never lessened, and the drinking fountain furnishes artesian water and a mineral water. In the center of the park is the monument erected in honor of the soldiers of the Civil War, through the efforts of the Woman's Relief Corps, No. 223, of Woodstock. It is about twehty-five feet in height, and bears these inscriptions:

"Auxiliary to Woodstock Post No. 108, Grand Army of the Republic," on the north front; "Erected to the Soldiers of 1861-65," on the east front; "Erected in 1909 by the Woodstoek Woman's Relief Corps No. 223," on the south front; while on the west front is "In Honor of Our National Defenders."

Surmounting this shaft is a granite statue of heroic size, representing a private soldier holding the Civil-War type of musket. The monument is guarded by four large brass cannon, secured from the war department, one being placed near each corner of the base of the monument, hut there is a wide walk between the cannon and the monument. A little to the west of the center of the park is the band stand, and in the eastern part of the park is the drinking fountain. The trees in the park and throughout the city are principally elm, and were planted more than sixty years ago, when the public square was graded by the civil engineer of the Northwestern Railroad in 1856-7, and it was in accordance With his suggestion that these trees were set out promiscuously, instead of in rows. Many of these trees are now over sixty feet in height and afford a delightful shade.


The Woodstock post office was established in 1844, and Alvin Judd was the first postmaster. When he resigned in 1845, he was succeeded by Martin Thrall. Joseph Dwight succeeded him and remained in office until 1853, when F. D. Austin was made postmaster. Since then the following have served as postmasters of Woodstock: Dr. O. S. Johnson, 1857-61; A. E. Smith, 1861-66; William E. Smith, 1866; Mr. Crandall, 1866-67; Mr. Irwin, 1867-69; William E. Smith, 1869-75; Asa W. Smith, 1875-79; G. S. Southworth, 1879-87; Joel H. Johnson, 1887-91; Simon Brink, 1891-96; John A. Dufield 1896-1900; C. F. Renich, 1900-1911; W. S. McConnell, 1911-15; G. G. Frame, 1915 to the present time.

The Woodstoek post office belongs to the second class, and nineteen smaller post offices in the county are required to make their reports to this office, and purchase their supplies from it. On October 15, 1909, the Woodstock office was made a free delivery office. There are six rural free delivery routes out from Woodstock, the length of each one being thirty miles.

Since 1866 the Woodstock office has been a money order office, and the first order issued through it was on August 21, 1866, by E. Barton to A. A. Kelly & Co., of Chicago, for $9. The first order paid was on August 7, 1866, to John D. Short for $40, and it was issued by Dr. Asa Horn, of Dubuque, Iowa.


On June 22, 1852, Woodstock was incorporated as a village under Act of Legislature, and the governing power vested in a president and board of trustees. The original charter was amended several times, as needed. From 1852 until 1873 when Woodstock became a city, the following served it as village president: Alvin Judd, 1852-3; Enos W. Smith, 1854; Neill Donnelly, 1855-6; Melvin W. Baldwin, 1857; M. W. Hunt, 1858; H. B. Burton, 1859; Neill Donnelly, 1860; M. L. Joslyn, 1861; H. S. Hanchett, 1862; William Kerr, 1863-4-5; M. L. Joslyn, 1866; John S. Wheat, 1867; B. N. Smith, 1868; M. D. Hoy, 1869; E. E. Richards, 1870-71; and L. H. Davis, 1872-3. The original village officials were: Alvin Judd, president; and Joseph Golder, L. S. Church, C. B. Durfee, J. C. Trowbridge, and George H. Griffin, trustees: Charles Fitch, clerk; John Brink, surveyor; L. W. McMasters, constable; and Charles Fitch, treasurer.

The last to hold position as village officials were: L. H. Davis, president; John A. Rarrish, assessor and treasurer; S. Van Curan, constable; S. Brink, clerk; and T. J. Dacy, J. S. Wheat, George L. Sherwood, M. D. Hoy, G. K. Bunker and E. E. Thomas, trustees.

An election was held March 24, 1873, to decide relative to city incorporation, and the vote stood 109 in favor, none against the proposition.

The first city officials were: John S. Wheat, mayor; T. L. Maher, clerk; J. J. Murphy, treasurer; M. C. Johnson, attorney; and W. H. Stewart, G. K. Bunker, A. Badger, E. E. Richards, T. J. Dacy, F. Arnold, aldermen; S. Van Curan, marshal; A. J. Murphy, street commissioner.

The following have served as mayor of Woodstock: John S. Wheat, 1873; Neill Donnelly, 1874; R. C. Jefferson, 1875; Neill Donnelly, 1876; L. H. Davis, 1877-78; John J. Murphy, 1879-80; M. L. Joslyn, 1881-82; George H. Bunker, 1883-88; Erastus E. Richards, 1888-94; John D. Donovan, 1894-97; E. C. Jewett, 1897; E. E. Richards, 1899; E. C. Jewett, 1900-03; F. A. Walter, 1903-07; George H. Hoy, 1907-09; J. D. Donovan, 1909-10; A. J. Olson, 1912-14; he died in office, and Alderman H. J. Dygert completed his term; S. E. Olmsted was elected in 1916.


The following are the present officials of the city of Woodstock: Frank J. Green, mayor; H. G. Fisher, clerk; William Freeman, health commissioner; Walter E. Conway, treasurer; T. H. Brown, magistrate; David Joslyn, Jr., attorney; and Frank Brown, Joseph Peacock, Henry Johanson, Lester Nogle, F. J. Wienke, T. B. Merwin, W. H. Hobbs, and T. B. Owens, aldermen.


The first steps to secure public water works for Woodstock were taken in 1894 when a bond issue of $10,000 was made to secure funds; and another bond issue was made for $25,000 in 1902 for the improvement of the system already installed. The high water-tower tank in the western part of the city gives direct pressure and thus affords proper protection to the city in case of fire. The water is drawn from wells of the purest water, dug by the city for this purpose. The system of mains and street hydrants is complete throughout the city. A complete sewer system was not constructed until 1907-8.

Electric lights were installed in the city in 1904, bonds having been floated for this purpose to the amount of $3,000. Again in 1910 another bond issue was made for $8,000 for the extension of the service. Since then other improvements have been made as required.

The city of Woodstock granted the Western United Gas & Electric Company a franchise to lay gas pipes and supply the city with gas in 1909.

The history of the telephone development is given elsewhere, in the chapter devoted to industrial activities.

The city hail was built in 1889-90, under Mayor E. E. Richard's supervision, and it is a three-story and basement, brick structure. It has an opera hail on the top floor, and contains the city offices, council chamber, fire department, public library and reading room.


The Chicago Industrial Home for Children is located on Seminary avenue, Woodstock, and is one of the ornaments of this progressive city. The institution was established here in 1894, when Mrs. Boxy D. Stevens, a widow, without children, seeing the importance of the work being done by the home, which had been incorporated March 4, 1889, and was being conducted in the private residence of its founder, Rev. Thomas B. Arnold, of Chicago, under great difficulties, offered her own pleasant and commodious home for the purpose. This residence was styled by the builder and original owner, Mr. Galister, an English villa. Mrs. Stevens offered this property to the institution, only stipulating that she be given a home to dwell in and an annuity until her death. Upon these conditions the property was transferred to the institution, and has continued to be the home of the undertaking ever since.

From this center have gone out many children who were born to a spring without flowers, a summer without sunshine, and an autumn, of early frosts, with naught but a harvest of poverty, shame and disgrace before them, to homes of affluence, comfort and refinement, to become good citizens, noble men and women, and useful' members of society. The acquisition of this property gave the institution an excellent start in its good work. Not having been built for institutional work, this home was not suited to the ever-increasing demands. In 1912 it was practically rebuilt, and made into a modern building, so that it is now well adapted to and equipped for the purposes of its incorporate demand, and which its charter sets forth to be: "To provide a home for homeless, orphaned, deserted, destitute and dependent children; to educate them and instruct them in industrial pursuits; also to aid such children in obtaining suitable Christian family homes."

The scope of the work of the home is two-fold, home saving and home finding.

"Home Saving. If the home is of the right character, it is better fo extend temporary aid and preserve it than to suffer it to be broken up. In many eases by reason of sickness, death, the desertion of a parent, or some other cause, it is impossible for the home to continue. In such cases if we extend temporary aid to the children by bridging over the emergency, the home may be rebuilt, and the children have the rights and privileges that belong to every child, the right of home life and living.

"Home Finding. Through this department the institution finds homes in Christian families, for such children as are surrendered to it by parents, guardians, or by the courts. Hundreds of children have been given tender care, comfortable sustenance, good educational advantages, excellent training, wholesome moral and religious instruction, and many have been placed in Christian family homes for adoption, and by these means have been saved from becoming subject to those circumstances which are almost sure to result in viciousness and criminality."

The management of the home is vested in a board of eleven directors, and its offices are in Chicago. The institution is supported principally by voluntary contributions of charitably disposed people. Its accounts are audited by a public accountant at the close of each fiscal year. Its work is important and is measured by the amount of its contributions.


The Old People's Rest Home occupies a site adjoining the grounds of the Chicago Industrial Home for Children, at Woodstock, and both are under the care of Rev. J. D. Kelsey. In 1903 Samuel K. J. Chesboro, Burton B. Jones, James D. Marsh, Thomas B. Arnold, John D. Kelsey, William P. Ferries, John E. Coleman, Esmond E. Hall, William E. Bardell, Freeborn D. Brooke incorporated the Old People's Rest Home, and opened it for occupancy that same year.

The object of this institution is to provide and maintain a home for aged people of both sexes, who are in a measure dependent, where they may have the advantages of good accommodations, agreeable associations, pleasant surroundings, comfortable sustenance and tender ministrations when needed, amid which to spend the closing years of life. Certainly its objects are both philanthropic and Christian, and as such can but appeal to the sympathies and aid of generous people everywhere.

The doors of the Rest Home are ever open to aged people, who need such a place of rest and care, without respect of nationality, race, creed, or religion. Many have already found shelter, care and comfort in their last years within its enclosure, and the managers are only sorry that their limited room does not admit of their taking in many more. The home inmates usually number in the neighborhood of twenty, which with the matron and other helpers constitutes quite a large family to be maintained. The capacity of the home is for about twenty-four inmates.

Rev. J. D. Kelsey has had charge of the home since it was established. and his wife was its matron until her health failed, the position now being held by Florence Walcott.


The Woodstock Country Club was organized in 1915, and its membership has steadily increased. A tract of about fifty-seven acres was purchased by the club. These grounds, formerly the farm of the late Mr. McNulty, lie about two miles east of the courthouse, and a.re beautifully situated. There is considerable timber, and an artesian well over 1,000 feet. deep. This well was sunk and suitable frame buildings have been erected. A golf course has been laid out, and other improvements are projected.


On February 26, 1913, the Woodstock Business Men's Association was founded, and in the spring of 1918, to meet conditions arising out of the war, a new constitution, by-laws and name were given the club, which has since been known as the Woodsiock Commercial and Community Club. This was incorporated under the laws of Illinois, October 11, 1918. This organization has two objects, the promotion of business interests, and the furnishing of social diversions, or to use their own definition: "the furtherance of the social, civic, mercantile and industrial advancement of the city of Woodstock and the surrounding community."

The club is placed under the charge of a board of directors numbering fifteen, five of whom are elected annually. Among other benefits accruing from membership is the issuance of weekly reports showing the judgments given at the courthouse each week, in printed form. Retailers are also given a credit-rating book for the city of Woodstock and environments. This club takes in all honorable professional and business men of the community, and plans in the near future to become a still greater factor in advancing the best commercial and social interests of this section.

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