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

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Hebron Township lies along the northern line of the county, and is bounded on the north by Wisconsin; on the east by Richmond Township; on. the south by Greenwood Township; and the west by Alden Township. It comprises congressional township 46, range 7, east. It is one of the best watered and drained townships in this county. Nippersink creek and its tributaries, with Goose Lake form a magnificent natural drainage system and supply unlimited water at all seasons of the year. While the greater part is prairie land, considerable timber was originally found growing along the streams. Grain, stock raising and dairying are profitably carried on here. Verily he who owns a farm home in this township is an independent man.


The story surrounding the naming of Hebron Township is so interesting and unusual that it is here given at length. The first white woman to live in Hebron Township was Mrs. Bela H. Tryon, and as is usual in such eases her home was the gathering place for lonely pioneers who came from far and near to her for motherly advice, and help in their affairs. It was the custom for them to engage in singing during the Sunday afternoons and evenings, and upon one occasion after they had finished singing Old Hebron, she suggested that Hebron would be a good name for the new township. Her selection was approved and the name adopted. On the Sunday following the adoption, the settlers gathered at her home, and to prove her pleasure, she fried a bushel of cakes for them, all of which were eagerly consumed by the hungry men, tired of their own efforts at culinary operations. This is the only instance in MeHenry County of the name being given by a woman to a township division.


The honor of being the first settler in this township belongs to E. W. Brigham, who made his original claim in 1836, and built the first house in the township, constructing it of poles. He was a native of Vermont, as was Josiah H. Giddings, the second settler, who erected the first frame house, and long continued to occupy it, although he later added to its original proportions. Bela H. Tryon was the third settler, coming here in 1836, and residing here until his death in 1848. He was from New York state. From that same state also came in to this township, R. W. Stuart, A. H. Parker, and John Sawyer, very early settlers. G. W. Giddings and C. S. and John Adams were settlers of 1836.


The first white child born in Hebron Township was Mary Roblee, who lived many years in her native township. Arabel Hibbard died in September, 1852, when eighteen years old, and hers was the first death in the township. She was a daughter of William and Julia Hibbard. On September 7, 1840, was celebrated the first marriage of the township, when Rev. Samuel Hall united George C. Hopkins and Rebecca Tuttle in marriage.


The first burying place within Hebron Township was set apart in 1844, two miles northwest of the village of Hebron, at the Presbyterian Church, and a Mr. Duncan, a Scotchrnan, was the first person to be buried in it. Another early cemetery was in the eastern part of the township, and there several burials were made before the place was abandoned. This was really a private burying ground on the farm of Robert Stuart.

During the sixties, the cemetery at the village of Hebron was laid out and has since been used. This is located right south of the main village and is handsomely cared for.


In the sixties and early seventies cheese factories sprung up here and there all over this county, including those in and near the village of Hebron. The leading ones were those of H. W. Mead, George Conn, Robert Stuart, a Mr. Perrin and a Mr. McGraw.


Hebron village is situated in Hebron Township, in sections 16 and 17, township 46, range 7, east. It is situated on the line of the Chicago & Northwestern Railroad running from Rockford to Kenosha, and now has a population of more than 700. Its churches are the Methodist, Presbyterian, Baptist and the German Lutheran. The village has fraternal societies-the Masons, Odd Fellows and Modern Woodmen of America.

At first Hebron was named Mead Station from the fact that Henry W. Mead had been appointed depot agent at this point when the road first went through. The place was platted on the Mead lands, they having been the first settlers to locate here.


Prior to the building of the railroad the township of Hebron had two country post offices, one of which was situated at the house of Bela H. Tryon, who was the postmaster, the date of establishment being 1839. Mail was brought from Chicago and thence to Jaynesville, Wis. The mail was carried on horseback. Another office was established in 1842 in the west part of the township, and kept at John Adam's place, he being postmaster. The list of postmasters at Hebron office established in 1856, is as follows: J. H. Giddings, Munson Goodsell, Frank Rowe, John Pettibone, Frank Rowe, George Boughton, M. W. Merry, who held it three full terms; Dr. E. A. Mead, Henry Earl, who was commissioned in 1913. This is a third-class post office and has two rural free delivery mail routes going out from it six days each week. Route No. 1 is now in charge of carrier Ed Hawthorne, while No. 2 is under Clyde Trow.


Hebron was not incorporated as a village until October 21, 1895. The presidents of the village council since the first have been: G. W. Conn, W. C. Hyde, G. W. Conn, Frank Rowe, Z. H. Young, L. A. Nichols and F. C. Slavin, and M. B. Spooner.

In the month of June, 1906, a system of waterworks had been installed and were on that date accepted by the Council. Bonds were sold to provide this needful internal improvement.


The following are the officials of the village of Hebron: president, M. B. Spooner; clerk, C. E. Bieren; treasurer, Wilder E. Smith; magistrate, K. Woods; attorney, D. R. Joslyn, Sr.; trustees, J. M. Trueson, M. C. Clark, G. Phillips, Frank Holmes, M. B. Brooks and A. G. Dickerson.


The first store built in Hebron was opened by M. S. Goodsell, and the first wagon shop was that conducted by George Colburn. The first "village blacksmith" was a Mr. Risden, while the first shoemaker was James Rowe. Among the dealers who came in a little later were: William O. Broughton, J. O. Reynolds, Lund & Johnson, C. F. Prouty, D. S. Blodgett, J. W. Webster, E. F. Hews, H. W. Mead, Frank Rowe, G. L. Phillips and Taylor Bros.

By Cyrus L. Mead

Recollections of one of the oldest residents, dating from 1853 up to the early sixties.

It is with pleasure that we present to the readers of The Tribune a brief history of reminiscence of the early days before Hebron became a town. This information is given us by Mr. C. L. Mead, of our village, who has been a resident of this section since 1853. Although in his ninety-second year, his memory is very keen and his physical condition most wonderfully preserved. Following is the story dating from that time on until recent years, just as it was dictated to the editor by Mr. Mead.

"On the fifteenth day of March, 1853, I came to Woodstock, Illinois, from Oswego County, New York, town of Sandy Creek. My early arrival in that then small and unattractive place was made on that memorable day and well do I remember the weather. The sun shone brightly and the roads were as dry as in mid-summer.

"Not being favorably impressed with the village of Woodstock, I decided to walk to Richmond, a distance of some sixteen or seventeen miles. I carried a large satchel or carpet bag in which I carried my wearing apparel. Show me today the young man not yet in his twentysixth year who would attempt to walk this distance and carry a heavy parcel.

"I arrived in Richmond about the noon hour and took dinner at the hotel then owned and operated by Colonel Gibbs. In the afternoon I walked to the house of Barney Burdick, about a half a mile northeast of Richmond and there spent the time until the next day.

"On the following day I journeyed on foot to the neighborhood of Gena Junction, northeast of where my brother, Henry W. Mead, was then employed as teacher in the Gibbs district or Mound Prairie.

"Myself and brother had purchased the 400-acre tract of land now lying north of the Hebron townsite, which we came into possession of in the fall of 1853. After taking possession of our newly acquired farm, my brother Henry again resumed the teaching of school and I busied myself with the arranging of the buildings, there being a fair-sized house already built. This is the first house that was built in Hebron and stands today, except for some remodeling, with many characteristics of its original outlines. In later years it was moved and now stands as a part of the home in which James Roan lives.

"In the year 1854 together with my brother, we broke forty acres of sod, using seven or eight yoke of oxen to draw the plow. We sowed wheat and barley and had a fairly good crop. The harvesting was done with an old styie cradle and grass scythe.

''Our sister, Mrs. Emily Conklin, kept house for us and together we loiled to gain a footing in this new country.

''in the fall of 1854 we purchased some twelve or fifteen head of hogs which we began feeding and by December were ready for the market. We killed and dressed them and hauled the meat to Milwaukee by wagon. We received $3.25 per hundred for the dressed meat.

"About the sixteenth of January, 1855, I concluded to return to New York, and although we had experienced a very open and mild winter the snow began to fall as I left and we had the heaviest snow and most severe winter weather up until April.

"I reached my destination and was united in marriage to Miss Finett Carman, in Wayne County, N. Y., on the 29th of January. We spent the next few weeks in New York, when we came to our new home in Hebron, arriving here about the middle of March. The snow was yet on the ground and the weather very severe.

"That spring we prepared our forty acres of new broken ground and put in wheat. In the harvest time we received thirty-five bushels to the acre. This occurred in the time of the Crimean war and we received all the way from seventy-five cents to $1.25 per bushel for the grain. Other crops were of a fairly good yield and times were very good.

"In the year 1856, April 1st, we sowed wheat, which looked like a promising yield, but a late frost occurred about the first of June, and although the grain was of good height it only yielded an average of nine bushels of poor wheat to the acre.

"Here I wish to speak of some of the early pioneers and neighbors who resided in this country and helped to subdue the vast prairies of this fertile township. To the east were: Eden Wallin, Alphonso Tyler, Fred Smith, L. D. Seaman and a man by the name of Farman, who owned the Simes place at that time. To the west we had 'Pappy' or Zenus Pierce, Colonel Ehle, John Adams, Whitney Brigham, Deacon Tower, Sheldon Sperry, Deacon Sawyer, Wm. Woodbury, Capt. Stone, Chas. Wright, Squire Giddings, Volney Phillips. To the south were Rowel Carney, John and Peter O'Dell, living on the farms now owned by A. J. Cole. We had no neighbors within two miles to the north, there being no road in that direction.

"The first post office was at the home of John Adams located where the present home of Charles Nichols, Sr., now stands, two miles west of town. We received mail twice a week from McHenry to Big Foot., the trip being covered by a mule team conveyance which also hauled freight, etc.

''Dr. Giddings built a residence on the presefit site of the R. D. Sill residence, which has also undergone many alterations and repairs, although the original part of the structure is still standing. This was the first house built in Hebron after my coming here.

"After Dr. Giddings built this house, the post office was moved to his home and even after the post office was moved to the Goodsell store in 1861, it still went under the name of Giddings and all business of the government was done through his name.

"At that early time there was no envelopes, although they were soon adopted, but at that time we simply folded our letter and placed some sealing wax on the fold to hold it securely. The postage at that time was five cents and we didn't send very many letters.

"In the year 1855 the first schoolhouse was built and is the building now occupied by the Hebron bakery. David Rowe was the carpenter who done the building. Miss Rebecca Lord taught the first school in the summer of 1855 in a granary on the Bowel Carney (George Francisco) farm and in the fall the school was resumed in the new building.

"The first board of directors were C. L. Mead, Henry Ehle and Bowel Carney. I served on the school board continuously from 1855 until 1880, except one year.

"In the year 1855 there was no road leading either north or south, all travel being done in an easterly and westerly direction.

"In the fall of 1855 I purchased the eighty-acre farm which I now own, for $22.50 per acre.

"In 1856 we purchased fourteen head of steers and fed them on meal and corn fodder. The meal was secured by taking corn to Richmond to the mill and having it ground. I had no previous experience with cattle feeding, notwithstallding I had very good success and by April 18, 1857, we sold these steers for $3.25 per hundred. Eggs and butter at that time sold at a low price. Butter was twelve and one-half cents to fifteen cents per pound and eggs were five cents and six cents per dozen, which was taken in trade at the stores.

"The crops in 1856 were just fair for a new country and we did not have much money.

"In the summer of 1857 we purchased some steers and a few head of sheep and began dealing in stock to some extent, also putting in our usual crop of wheat, oats and barley and some corn.

"By October we had selected about fifteen head of steers which we had intended to feed, we also had a good drove of seventy-five or eighty fat sheep. About the 29th of October, a cattle dealer came along, a Jew, and wanted to buy our herds. My brother had purchased a carload of hogs and together with the sheep and steers, we sold the entire lot to the Jew and did not feed any stock that winter, delivering our stock to Richmond, where they were loaded onto the trains.

"In the year 1858 the regular farm work was done and crops raised were not extra good, prices were also very low. In November I drove seventeen head of steers to Milwaukee, walking the whole distance and without the aid of help. I marketed the bunch for $3.00 per hundred and came home by rail as far as Springfield, Wis., thence by stage to Lake Geneva, and walked the balance of the way home.

''About the first of the month of December I again drove a herd of one hundred head of sheep to Milwaukee, this time covering the distance on foot and alone as before, receiving in the neighborhood of $3.00 per hundred.

"About the 10th of January, 1859, I drove some fourteen head of cattle to Milwaukee, which I had purchased of different farmers. These steers were in good condition and made the trip as well as our previous herds. In about two weeks I again made the trip on foot to Milwaukee, with some nine or ten head of fat steers. The country was new and it was difficult to find a place to shelter myself and stock for the night. About the first of March, I went for the fifth time with a herd of sheep, which were in very poor condition and my experience was very costly, realizing very little if anything on this trip. During my whole business transactions I was never held up or robbed, although forced to carry the proceeds of my herds home in money, checks were unheard of at that time. The five trips to Milwaukee covered over 300 miles and would be. considered an impossibility or a rare undertaking on foot in the winter months at least.

"Our farming activities had so increased that we employed two men, my brother teaching school in the winter months, and in the following year of 1859 and 1860 we were very actively engaged. The steers we sold this year brought a better price and were sold to a Mr. Knowles, of Marengo.

"In the year of 1860 my brother went with a shipment of cattle to the Chicago market, then situated about six miles west of Chicago known as 'Bull Head Market.' At that time there were also a market and slaughter house located at Twenty-second Street. The Merrick Yards, near Cottage Grove, was the third yards and slaughter pens.

''The Methodist Church was built in the year 1861 and dedicated in the year 1862, in September. Elder Jewett was the promoter and besides being a good organizer, his ability as a horse trader is also recalled.

"In the year 1860 I raised and fattened a carload of hogs and had them ready for shipment over the new railroad, which reached Hebron in 1861. About the last of May the hogs were loaded onto a flat car and shipped to Milwaukee. This was the first car of stock out of Hebron. The railroad was of light construction and very little stock was shipped at that time.

"Henry W. Mead was appointed agent of the local station and the first station was built at that time. My brother continued to be the agent until after years, when the road installed telegraphy. The station was known as Mead's Station, but was changed to Hebron.

"In the year 1867 the Linn-Hebron Church was built and is still standing as first erected. Elder Lord was the first minister and previous to the building of the new church, held services in the residence now occupied by Willis Brown, which was then the Elder's home.

"The Baptist Church was built in 1876 and cost about $3,000. The Presbyterian Church was built in 1877. The cemetery in Hebron was laid out in 1860. Volney Phillips being one of the promoters and to my recollection, the first man buried in the new place. The German Lutheran Church was constructed in 1900.

"In the year 1862, Henry W. Mead was married to Miss Anna Turner, and myself and family moved from the north side of Hebron to the eighty-acre tract which I still own, my brother occupying the original farm, thereby dividing our interests and embarking separately.

"In going along I failed to mention the fact that in 1853 the only persons owning a buggy with steel springs were B. Tryon and Colonel Ehle. Buggies were just coming into use in this section at that time.

"The first cheese factory was built by William and Robert Stewart on the farm now owned by John J. Stewart in the year, as I recollect, 1865. In 1868 Henry W. Mead buiit a factory just north of the town site on his farm.

"The first schoolhouse was moved from the original site to Main Street in the year 1878, and is now occupied by the bakery. A brick building was erected which was the first half of the original building which was discarded for the new modern structure which now adorns the site. The first brick structure was built by Beck and Strowler. The board at that time were: E. R. Phillips, C. L. Mead and D. A. Clary.

"The only man now living who was here at that time is George W. Seamon, we being the two oldest residents.

"Our wheat crop in 1860 went thirty bushels per acre and with the 1855 crop of thirty-five bushels per acre were the only two which paid us for the raising.

"The first teachers in the new brick schoolhouse were: Friendly Strong and Miss Mary Brigham, the latter being a resident of Hebron at this time.''


The census gives the population of this township in 1890 as 1,430; in 1900 it was the same number; in 1910 it was 1,167; and in 1920 it was 1,363.


The following are the township officials of Hebron Township: supervisors, H. M. Turner; assessor, Charles Hawthorne; clerk, L. K. Rowe; highway commissioner, Fred Peterson; justices of the peace. Carlton Hunt and F. E. Woods; constables, G. M. Honsliolder and Lyle Pierce.

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