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


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Dunham Township is bounded on the north by Chemung Township; on the east by Hartland Township; on the south by Marengo Township, and on the west by Boone County. It comprises all of congressional township 45, range 5. This township is about equally divided between timber and prairie land, or at least was when the county was first settled. It is naturally adapted to stock raising and many are the fine herds that have been grazing from its sweet grasses in the decades that have passed since its surface was first used by the white race. It is well watered and reasonably drained by Rush and Piskasàw creeks, with their several small tributaries.


Rush Creek, a branch of the Kishwaukee, crosses the township from northeast to southwest, passing out from section 34, and the Piskasaw courses through the northwest corner.


The first white man to locate in this township, with a view of becoming a permanent settler, was John Diggins, who came here in 1836, locating in section 10 and section 11, a farm later owned and occupied by O. C. Diggins. The latter named came to the township in March, 1837, and his family joined him as soon as he had a cabin prepared for them. While N. K. Jerome made a claim in 1837, he did not take up his residence upon it until 1838. Two unmarried men, Baker and Dunham, were the next two to arrive, and they were followed by Joseph and James Metcalf. Before 1841, the following had taken up residence in Dunham Township: A. Joslyn, B. Latham, Joseph Diggins, J. F. Moore, Dexter Barrows, J. Snowden, R. and D. Linton, and W. B. Heath.


The original name of this township was Byron, but when the post office was established, it was discovered that another "Byron" existed within the state, hence the name was changed to Dunham, in honor of pioneer Solomon J. Dunham, a very prominent resident, then serving as a justice of the peace.


Josephine Diggins was the first white child born in this township. She was the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. John Diggins, and she died when aged seventeen years.

In 1839 occurred the first death in Dunham Township, when Walter Walton passed away, and was buried in section 3 of this township.

The earliest marriage was that uniting Jacob A. Davis and Miss Helen M. Diggins, on New Year's day, 1839.

In 1840 a log schoolhouse was built by School District No. 1, in sec tion 1, and a school was immediately opened.

The only church ever erected in this township was that of the Methodist Episcopal denomination known as the County Line Church. This building cost $2,000. Rev. P. M. Huffman was the first to serve as pastor.

There are about two miles of railroad in this township, the Chicago & Northwestern line running through Harvard from the southeast.

In 1874, a cheese factory was built in section 35, and was still being successfully operated in 1885. At one time Latham Corners had a general store, but its existence was brief.

Sheep raising as. far back as 1870 was a large industry among the farmers of this township. The land it was believed then, was better adapted to stock than grain. There were more sheep killed by dogs in this township, along in the seventies, than in any other part of the county.


The first cemetery in this township was laid out either in 1841 or 1842, near the old Jerome log schoolhouse.

In the western part of the township around the Methodist Church, is another early burying ground.

Mt. Auburn Cemetery was laid out late in the seventies. It is about three-quarters of a mile southeast of the city of Harvard, taking the place of the old Harvard Cemetery, abandoned on account of low ground, the bodies being transferred to the new burial place.


The first schoolhouse in Dunham Township was built in 1838 on the farm of Mr. Jerome. Here schools were kept and here the elections were held many years during the pioneer days. Here it was that the first term of school in the township was taught by Miss Edna Jewett.

The first religious services in this township were held in the Jerome schoolhouse in 1838 or 1839, and were conducted by Elder White and Rev. Jewett.


On June 11, 1883, Dunham Township had the misfortune to be visited by a cyclone, which first struck the residence of Richard Downs. The Moore schoolhouse was literally blown into splinters. Benjamin Phelps, Josiah Goodsell, Proctor Russell, D. R. Wyant, Arthur Thompson, Mr. Jerome, N. A. Clark, John Mohelus and Michael Sullivan, all suffered from the fury of the storm.

Being near to Harvard, with the county seat not far distant, there never has sprung up a village within this township. Neither has it a railway station nor has there been a post office in recent years, but a good rural mail route service delivers the mail for this section of the county.


In 1890 Dunham Township had a population of 919; in 1900 it had 859; in 1910 it had 849; and in 1920 it had 857.


The following are the township officials of Dunham Township: Supervisor, H. E. Whipple; assessor, P. A. Barrows; clerk, Herbert Kieskowski; highway commissioner, Thomas Green; justices of the peace, D. A. Barrows and L. O. Higgins; constables, C. M. Downs and David Fitch.

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