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




Grafton Township is in the southern tier of townships in this county, and is bounded on the north by Dorr Township; on the east by Algonquin Township; on the south by Kane County, and on the west by Coral Township, and is described in surveys as congressional township 43, range 7, east.

When first settled this township was very wet and swampy, and by many the land was believed to be next to worthless, the lowest point being in its center; but modern and more scientific methods have come to the rescue and drained out most of these lands, which are now among the finest, most productive of any in the country. Here one sees many beautiful, well improved and highly valuable farms. Crystal Lake covers one-fourth of section 1, and the Kishwaukee Creek and its branches drain the land and furnish ample water supply at all times of the year.


The name Grafton was given to this township by Prescott Whittemore who thus honored his old home back in New Hampshire, which was also called Grafton Township.


The first settler was a Mr. Grinnell, who only remained a short time, and then sold his land to Lewis Hoidridge, the second man to select Grafton Township as a place of residence. The third settler was Prescott Whittemore, who arrived in 1838, from New York state, and he lived here for more than twenty years. Another pioneer was Mr. Stowell, from Massachusetts, who made Grafton Township his home for about fifteen years, and then went to California, where he died in 1870. William Robb was a settler of 1839, coming from New Haven, Connecticut, locating in section 30, where he died many years ago. For a time John Curren lived in this township, but finally sold to Thomas Huntley and moved to Iowa. Richard Hadley came to Grafton Township about 1839-40, and James Winney and John Conover were here about the same date last mentioned.


The first white child born in Grafton Township was Marion, son of William Robb and wife. He was born in. 1839.

Death first invaded the home of Charles Stowell and wife and claimed a two-year-old daughter, and she was laid away beneath the prairie sod in the eastern edge of the village of Huntley.

The first to unite in marriage in this township were Sanford Haight and Miss Mary A. Sprague. They were made man and wife by Beman Crandall, a justice of the peace of this township.

The first hotel in Grafton was kept by Prescott Whittemore. It was in fact his residence, but he had to care for the land and home-seekers as they flocked into the county. He carried this on for ten years, more for accommodation than for profit. When the village of Huntley was established Mr. Whittemore sought to retire, but it was well known that his "latch-string" always hung outside and anyone who desired might here find a welcome hand and something good to eat.


While Grafton was still in its infancy as a settlement, three soldiers traveled on their way to territory further west, having been with General Winfield Scott in the War with Mexico. They were stricken with that dread disease, cholera, and died, and were buried in the vicinity where later stood the Free Methodist Church, at the north side of the Township of Grafton.


In the early fifties the Protestants of Huntley village laid out a cemetery south of the place, the, same being originally two acres. In 1882 the Catholics laid out their cemetery just to the south of the one just named above.


Grafton Township had a population in 1890 of 1,589; in 1900, 1,484; in 1910, 1,437; and in 1920, 1,475.


The following are the township officials of Graf ton Township: Supervisor, John Conley; assessor, W. S. Conover; clerk, E. H. Cook; highway commissioner, John F. Weltzien; justices of the peace, John Donahue and Emil Arnold; constable, John French.


In 1851 Thomas S. Huntley laid out the village which bears his name. This was the same year the railroad went through the township and this village was made a station on the line, and thus it soon began to be known abroad, and commenced to thrive as a small, but very enterprising place. Mr. Huntley built the first house and used it as dry-goods store. This building stood for many years as a monument of pioneer days in the village so well known now. Later it was used as a drug store, but at last disappeared from the village as a thing of the past. The first hotel was erected by Sanford Haight, and later the structure went into the construction of Glazier Hall. The first hotel was abandoned soon after it was built, and a second one put up by Lewis Holdridge, and conducted by a Mr. Johnson, then by Mr. Fletcher, who sold it to Byron Thornton, in whose hands it ceased as a hotel. H. B. Brown built the third hotel, and after two years sold it to Peter Ferris. Finally the property was burned. The next hotel was built by George Scheler in 1878; it was sold to Cummings Brothers and Haight, who hired O. P. Mason to run it. After going into many other hands it finally became a storehouse. The well known Ellis House was established by B. F. Ellis who conducted a model modern American plan hotel many years.


The first general store in Huntley was opened by T. S. Huntley, who after one year sold it to Hoyt & Brown, who enlarged the building and greatly added to the size of the stock. Henry Dunn opened the second store in the village, and a Mr. Grist the third business place. A Mr. Hill was also engaged in mercantile pursuits here for a short time. In 1862, the first hardware store was opened by Mr. Marshall, who continued three years and sold to William Schemerhorn, and lie conducted it five years, and then turned it over to his son, Theodore. About 1867 a grist mill was operated at this point. It was a steam plant built by the Jewells, in the southeastern part of the village. Subsequently, it became the property of a Mr. Schaffler, and under his proprietorship, in 1871, there was a serious accident which resulted in the killing of the engineer, William Benedict. Mr. Schaffler was also injured, but not so seriously. He rebuilt the mill and sold to a Mr. Spaulding, who conducted it till 1876, when it was burned. Spaulding rebuilt it and sold it to David Williams, who conducted it as a feed mill.

The first harness shop in this village was started by F. J. Glazier, and the first shoe shop in 1856 by Brown & Van Hoozen. A wagon shop was opened in 1857, and Dwight Ramsdell was the first blacksmith.

John S. Cummings shipped the first car of hogs from Huntley, and as there was no weighing scales in the place he "guessed" them off, paying three cents a pound, but when he reached Chicago with his load, he found his estimate a little too high. He also shipped the first car of cattle from Huntley to Chicago, and received only from $10 to $15 per head.

The Huntley Cheese Factory was an important factor in the community in its day, during the eighties. It was built by D. E. Wood & Co., in 1876-7. At the same time D. E. Wood and John Weltzine owned four other factories of this kind in MeHenry County. When this cheese industry flourished at Huntley, some of the business men were: William Hackett, S. Haight, George Van Valkenburg, F. O. Dain, Patrick Duffy, Thomas Fenwick, J. G. Kelley, P. McNinney, Wood & Waltzine, A. Disbrow, T. R. Ferris, W. G. Sawyer, A. Oakley, B. F. Ellis, M. D. Hadley, Smith & Oakley, Teeple & Co., Devine & Skells, Hawley & Tappen, Ellis & Ballard, M. J. Kelley, D. M. Williams, Dr. O. K. Griffith and Otto Gaupner.


The post office was first established here in 1851, before which time people in this neighborhood went to Coral post office for their mail. Stewart Cummings was the first postmaster at Huntley and following him were Peter Miller, John Wales, Miss Izanna Bridge, H. B. Williams, John S. Cummings, Edward Haight, T. R. Ferris, John Donahue, T. R. Ferris, E. H. Cook and J. F. Wendt. This is a third class post office and has two rural routes going out into the surrounding district. Route No. 1 has as its present carrier, J. M. Venard; for Route No. 2 Thomas Frederick.


Huntley was incorporated as a village under the state laws in 1872 with officers as follows: John S. Cummings, president; John P. Skells, clerk; H. B. Brown, treasurer; F. J. Glazier, city marshal; D. E. Wood, Charles Bruckman, and S. S. Sprague, trustees. Since that date the various presidents have been: Thomas Grimley, Jackson Wood, O. K. Griffith, A. W. Nash, Henry Sinnett, W. G. Sawyer, Henry Sinnett, John Wiltzien, James Sheldon, D. M. Williams, John Wiltzien, John Donahue, John Wiltzien, John Donahue, F. A. Fisher, John Donahue, Henry Maekaben, J. F. Wiltzien.

The following are the officials of the village of Huntley: President, John F. Wiltzien; clerk, Frank MeNeeney; treasurer, W. F. Barlett; magistrate, W. P. Whittemore; marshal, John C. French; attorney, F. B. Bennett; trustees, T. H. Ferris, Henry Williams, Claud Williams, James Marsh, Walter Butler and E. H. Cook.


In 1910 the village bonded itself for water works. They now have three deep wells; an eighty foot steel tower; a twenty-foot tank surmounting the tower. Pumping is effected by means of an electric motor. The fire department is equipped with two hose carts, 1,000 feet of hose, and a hook and ladder outfit. The village owns a small frame hail, with a jail in the rear of it. A small, neat park adorns the opposite side of the chief business street, and good paving obtains throughout several streets.

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