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




Hartland is the second township from the northern line of the county as well as the second from the west. It is bounded on the north by Alden Township; on the east by Greenwood Township; on the south by Seneca Township and on the west by Dunham Township, and comprises all of congressional township 45, range 6, east. When it was first settled by white men, its surface was nearly all covered with good timber, but by the time of the Civil War all of the heaviest first growth had been cut off. Grain and stock raising are callings largely followed by the landowners in this township. The name Hartland was given the township in 1840, in honor of a town in New York by that name. The name Antrim” was proposed by the many Irish settlers, but was not adopted by those in authority.


It matters not, but here is a conflict in history, three factions of pioneers contending, one claims that the first to locate within this township was F. Griffin; another set up a claim that the honor belongs to George Stafton, and still a third faction is sanguine that to such honor should be attached the name of John Quinlan. It is certain that all three came here at about the same date. Right on their heels was P. W. Tower, and a Mr. Smith, who gained the nick-name of “Whisky” Smith, arrived not long thereafter. P. M. Dunn, William Fanning, Alvin Judd, Andrew J. Haywood, Appolos Hastings, and Alonzo Golder were among the pioneer band in Hartland Township.

This township was settled almost entirely by Irish Catholic people, who, strong in their faith, have made excellent citizens and built up thrifty and large congregations. Here, as in other townships in the county, a few of the settlers made their claims before the land had been surveyed by the government. Such claims gave rise to many disputes as to rights and titles, to settle which, meetings were held, attended by men with arms in hands, ready, if necessary, to maintain their rights by force. All such disagreements were finally adjusted without the spilling of blood, or creating of feuds, as has often been the case in other sections of the country.


John Short, later known as “squire” in Woodstock for many years, a son of Mr. and Mrs. Francis Short, was the first white child born in this township. The date of his birth was sometime in 1836. His father lived in Hartland Township until his removal, early in the eighties, to Woodstock.

Mrs. Debbit, who died in 1840, was the first white person to die within Hartland Township, and her remains were buried in Hartland Cemetery.

The earliest marriage in the township, celebrated at the residence of a Catholic priest, was that of Walter Gibbs and the widowed Mrs. Sutton, but the first recorded marriage was that uniting William Fanning and Catherine Donnelly, the ceremony being performed by Father J. Gregory, a Catholic priest, on February 4, 1842.


Up to 1844, a rail or pole pen surrounded a single grave, and this constituted the only cemetery in Hartland Township, but during that year Mr. Broeken gave to the township a piece of land in section 13 to be used for burial purposes, and about it is now located Hartland Cemetery. There have been other small burying plots within the township.


During the year 1840, Wesley Diggins built a saw-mill on the banks of Kishwaukee Creek, and for a number of years a flourishing business was carried on at that point. About it grew up a tiny community, known as Brookdale, and for a time it was believed by some that here was the nucleus of a city, but with the clearing off of the timber, and the end of the immense lumbering business, the trade was drawn away to Harvard and Woodstock, and this generation knows of “Brookdale” only by hearsay. A store was maintained there for several years, as was one also at Oliver’s Corners, but it too died a natural death. Other little communities of Hartland Township prospered for a time but soon fell into that “dreamless sleep that knows no waking.” The little hamlet of Hartland is the oniy village now within the township.


For some years after Hartland Township was settled the people had to go to McClure’s Grove, a distance of twenty-five miles, for mail. Later they received their mail at Crystal Lake, and finally a post office was established at the residence of Alvin Judd, about the center of the township. Eden post office was established in the eastern part of the township, with Henry Oliver as its first postmaster, and Peter McFarland was its second. At Deep Cut a post office was established in 1855, and there maintained until 1865. From 1865 to 1879 the people had to go to either Woodstock or Harvard for mail, but in the latter year a post office was established at Kishwaukee, and Philip Gafner was postmaster for many years. The people of the township, outside of the circuit around Hartland village, are furnished their mail by the rural free delivery system, daily, except Sundays.


At an early day Hartland Township harbored a gang of counterfeiters. These daring men had their outfit in a kind of natural cave in the timber, which was covered with planks and sod. In it the counterfeiters were found to be entering into competition with the government in the production of silver coins. A mile away was a shanty in which the men spent their time when not working at their unlawful task. The excellent citizens were not backward in expressing their disapproval of these methods, and the gang, taking the hint so openly expressed, disappeared and were never again seen in this county.


In 1890 Hartland Township had a population of 960; in 1900, 874; in 1910, 905; and in 1920, 860.


The Chicago & Northwestern Railroad traverses this township from the southeastern to the northwestern part, through the central portion. In 1877 a depot established near Deep Cut was first called Kiswaukee, now is called Hartland.


Hartland was platted in the southwest part of section 13 and in the southeast of section 14, township 45, range 6, July 26, 1878. It is the only railroad station within the township. It is a small shipping point and in the midst of a very fertile agricultural section. A few stores and shops comprise the business interests of this place.


The following are serving Hartland in an official position: president and treasurer, Earl C. Hughes; clerk, John H. Haley; and magistrate, Daniel H. Desmond.


The following are the township officials of Hartland Township: supervisor, E. C. Hughes; assessor, Frank Sullivan; clerk, J. H. Haley; highway commissioner, C. R. Cooney; justice of the peace, D. H. Desmond.

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