History of NcHenry, Il.
From: The History of McHenry County, Illinois
Published by: Munsell Publishing Company, 1922
keywords: gardening composting planting corn history chicago
keywords: gardening composting planting corn history chicago
BOUNDARIES - EARLY SETTLERS - PIONEER EVENTS - CEMETERIES - INDIAN FORD - VILLAGE OF MC HENRY - FACTORIES - BUSINESS FACTORS IN 1885 - INCORPORATION - PUBLIC IMPROVEMENTS-POST OFFICF - HOTELS - WEST MC HENRY - JOHNSBURG - RINGWOOD - SPECIAL FEATURES - POPULATION - TOWNSHIP OFFICIALS.
McHenry Township is bounded on the north by Richmond and Burton Townships; on the east by Lake County; on the south by Nunda Township: and on the west by Greenwood Township, and it is congressional township 45, range 8. The Fox River traverses it from north to south, and it contains half of Pistaqua Lake, which is in the northeastern part; one-half of Lilly Lake, which is in the southeastern part; and MeCollum's Lake, which is near the center of the township; while two branches of Boone Creek which is the main stream of the Nippersink, as well as many smaller water courses supply ample water and drainage. It is one of the most fertile and productive townships of McHenry County, which has long had the reputation of being one of the leading agricultural sections of the state. McHenry County is one of the oldest settled townships in the county, and in it the county seat was located not oniy before Lake County was separated from McHenry, but for some time thereafter, as is given in another chapter.
The first settler of McHenry Township was Dr. Christy G. Wheeler, who came here in 1836, and opened a small store. He was a brother of Elder Wheeler, who lived to attain the distinction of being the oldest living pioneer of McHenry Township. Dr. Wheeler was a medical practitioner and also a local preacher, and alternated between his mercantile pursuits and his two professions. His health was very frail, he in fact having come to Illinois in the hope that the change would prove beneficial, but he did not improve, and at length died only a few years after his settlement here. Some of the other pioneers were as follows: Henry and John McLean, Louis and John Boone, William and David McCullum, Wesley Ladd, Samuel Walker, Allen and Freeman Harvey, B. B. Brown, Jonathan and Mike Sutton, Rev. Joel Wheeler, William H. Hankins, and his aunt Mrs. Valentine and her son, and also a man by the name of Teabout. The Harkins party came to McHenry Township in September, 1837, having made the journey in an emigrant wagon, which they used as a shelter until their cabin was erected. In December, 1837, Young Valentine fell from a tree and was instantly killed. Mr. Teabout lost his life while hunting not long thereafter through the accidental discharge of his gun.
Rev. Joel Wheeler performed the first marriage ceremony in McHenry Township in November, 1839, when he united
Joseph Fellows and Christiana Robinault, that is recorded. The first child born in the township was Christy Wheeler.
The "silent cities" of the township, the cemeteries, are numerous.
At the point on the Fox River where the city of McHenry now stands, in the days long before the white man set his foot on McHenry County soil, the Indians built a ford of broad, flat, square-cut stones of sandstone, which were regularly laid and secured by other stones in such manner that the swift current of the stream would not dislodge them. The pioneer white men removed these stones and used them for hearth-stones, and some of them are still to be found. It has never been ascertained the source from which the Indians obtained these stones, as no similar formation has been found anywhere in this locality.
THE VILLAGE OF MC HENRY
The Village of McHenry is distinguished as having been the county seat for so many years, and also as being
the first town that was organized in McHenry County. It was laid out by a Chicago surveyor, named Bradley, in 1837,
through the efforts of Henry McLean, and the latter built the first house in the place, a log one, 12x16, near
the site of what later was known as the Riverside House. For several months after this little building was erected
it served as a gathering place for the settlers and a wayside tavern. Dr. Christy Wheeler opened and conducted
the first store. The first wagonmaker was Richard Bishop, who opened his shop in 1840. Nathan Haight was the first
blacksmith. The first saw-mill was built in 1837 by a man named Barnum, who later sold it to H. O. Owen and James
Salisbury who completed the work of construction, John McOmber doing the actual work. Mr. McOmber afterwards built
himself a house from the first lumber sawed by this mill. Not long after this mill was completed, James Salisbury
went below to correct some error with reference to its action, and not having notified the miliman, he had scarcely
placed himself in the machinery, than the gate was hoisted, the mill put in motion, and Mr. Salisbury was crushed
and killed almost instantly. He was buried by Rev. Joel Wheeler in the first cemetery by the mill dam.
There was a day when Mellenry bid fair to become a place of much manufacturing interest, in fact it is related
that the village had an opportunity during the early sixties to secure what is now known the world over, as the
Elgin Watch Factory, but business men did not pull together in harmony, and they let the prize slip away to Elgin,
which made concessions and some sacrifices in order to build up that great plant when its stock holders most needed
BUSINESS FACTORS IN 1885
By reference to old publications, paper files, etc., it is learned that the following constituted the majority of business men, firms and professions in McHenry from 1880 to 1885:
Richard Bishop, E. M. Owen & Son, Amos D. Whiting, Francis A. Herbard, Isaac Wentworth, Charles B. Curtiss, Gottlieb Boley, Nordquist & Weber, Barbeau Brothers, L. D. Lincoln, John B. Blake, Henry Madden, William M. Yager, E. M. Howe, Mathias Englen, O. W. Owen, J. P. Smith, H. E. Wrightman, Perry & Owen, Mayers & Bartlett, Edwin Lawless, Henry Colby, Dr. H. T. Brown, Dr. C. H. Fegers, I. E. Bennett, John Karges, E. G. Smith, George Dimmel, Anton Engelen, J. J. Gillis, John Heimer and Thomas Knox. Many of the above named business factors had been residents of McHenry prior to and during the Civil war period, and bore well their part in sustaining the Union at that time.
It was incorporated August 10, 1872, with the following officers: Richard Bishop, president; J. B. Perry, J. M. McComber, H. C. Smith, John King, and Frank K. Granger, trustees; and Michel Keller, clerk. The subjoined have served as presidents of McHenry village from date of its incorporation: 1872- R. Bishop, 1873- J. B. Perry, 1874-C. B. Curtis, R. Bishop, F. K. Granger, R.. Bishop, Smith Searles, H. Bishop, Anthony Webber, Rollin Howard, R. Bishop, B. Gilbert, F. K. Granger, Rollin Howard, J. Van Slyke, Simon Stoffel, J. Van Slyke, (1891), (No record for several years), 1897-John I. Story, 1898-W. A. Christy, John Evanson, P. J. Freund, F. J. Wattles, John H. Miller, Simon Stoffel, D. J. Wells, R. G. Chamberlain, John Olson, and Simon Stoffel.
The following are the present officials of the village of McHenry: president, Simon Stoffel; clerk, W. G. Schram; treasurer, J. C. Holly; magistrate, John W. Kimball; marshal, John Walsh; attorney, A. H. Pouse; trustees, Peter Doherty, Louis Erickson, John R. Knox, Albert Krause, B. I. Oaten and Frank Wetten.
The village voted to issue bonds and construct a system of water works in August, 1897, and this was carried
out, and today the village has a fine system of waterworks, including a deep artesian well from which is ever flowing
a large stream of health-giving water. The water is pumped to a ninety-foot steel water tower which has a large
holding capacity as reserve in case of fire or other emergencies. The water is distributed through the scattered
village, and most all neighborhoods will soon have water in front of their very door.
McHenry has two post offices. One at the old original village and another near the depot, in what is styled
West McHenry about one mile apart. The original McHenry post office was established in 1837, with Christy Wheeler
as postmaster. When West McHenry sprang into existence, at the time the railroad was built, there was soon a bitter
rivalry between the two town sites and indeed the spirit has not altogether died out, however generally speaking
peace obtains between the two sections. It was during one of these hard-fought rivalry battles that by some "hook
or crook" the office was moved from the old to the newer part of town. So, for more than a year, the people
at the old village had no postoffice, but through Congressman Elwood, a man came from the department at Washington,
and looked the field over and as a result a new post office was established, since which date, 1883, the two parts
of McHenry have each had a post office, one mile apart. Certainly Uncle Sam is a peace maker! The postmasters names
for the earliest years are not a matter of record, save in the Department at Washington, hence only those of a
later period can be given. At the original McHenry they have been in the order given: J. B. Perry, Captain Snow,
Rollin Waite, J. C. Holly, T. J. Walsh, who was commissioned in 1915. This is a third class postoffice; has three
rural routes eared for as follows: No. 1 by carrier H. H. Fay; No. 2, D. I. Granger; No. 3, Joe N. Miller. The
U. S. leases the brick building in which this postoffice has been kept several years.
The first hotel in the township was built in 1837, by B. B. Brown, at Mdllenry. It was a rude, although very
comfortable log house, and served as a hotel more than twenty years. The second hotel was the Mansion House, at
McHenry, built by Horace Long, and used for the old courthouse until the county seat was removed to Woodstock.
It was built in 1838, was a frame structure 40x60 feet, and two stories in height. Early in the eighties it went
out of commission as a hotel.
This is a small hamlet situated on the northeast corner of section 13, of McHenry Township, three miles southeast
of Ringwood, a station on the railroad in this township; and it is also about two miles northeast from McHenry
village. This hamlet was settled by the Germans in 1852, and was named in honor of their leader, for the settlement
was really a colony. His Christian name being John the place was called Johnsburg. It has ever been known almost
exclusively as a German settlement. St. John 's Roman Catholic Church was established here by Father Portman in
1845, when the membership consisted of but three families, but today it is among the largest churches of any denomination
within McHenry County. About 1880 a $45,000 stone edifice was constructed here, and then its membership (1880 to
1885) was 275 families. The present business interests are not large, this hamlet being away from any railway,
and the greater number of the people trade at larger places in and out of this county. A large parochial school
is conducted here, by the Catholics.
This village is a station on the Chicago & Northwestern railroad, in sections 9 and 10 of McHenry Township.
It was settled in 1837 by Dr. Luke Hale and William H. Beach. Doctor Hale was a physician engaged in active practice
at Ringwood for many years. Both of these men came from Vermont, bringing their families with them. The village
was platted and recorded in 1844. Owing to the fact that the entire plat was surrounded by a ring of woods, the
appropriate name "Ringwood" was given to it by its proprietors. Elder Wheeler held the first religious
services in what is now McHenry Township, in a log house erected by H. W. McLean.
Every Township has its own peculiar features, distinct from all others. Here in MeHenry Township it may be said of its special characteristics that it is the oldest organized settlement of the county; it was the home of the original county seat when Lake and McHenry were all in one large sub-division of Illinois. The old land-marks which to the older generations presented hourly reminders of an honor this division of the county once possessed, but today these reminders are mostly gone and the story is handed down from father to son. But this township and her beautiful villages and hamlets may well boast of the progress they have made with the passing years.
MeHenry Township had a population in 1890 of 2,555; in 1900, 2,673; in 1910, 2,679; and in 1920, 2,825.
The following are serving as the township officials of McHenry Township: Supervisor, Stephen H. Freund; assessor, John W. Kimball; clerk, Charles B. Harmsen; highway commissioner, William B. Tonyan; justices of the peace, W. J. Welch and E. C. Hawley; constables, W. H. Kelley and John Walsh.