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




Richmond Township in the northeastern part of McHenry County, is bounded on the north by the State of Wisconsin; on the east by Burton Township; on the south by McHenry Township; and on the west by Hebron Township. It is a well-watered township, its streams being the North and South Branches whose waters find their way into the Fox river. Twin Lakes have a small outlet which flows into the Nippersink. The surface of this portion of McHenry County is nearly level and is well adapted to general agriculture. Where needed, there has been considerable tile drain put into the land and this is annually being carried on.


To Hon. William A. McConnell belongs the distinction of having been the first pioneer to invade the prairie wilds of this township. He located here in 1837 and built a log cabin 16x18 feet. Following him came Charles A. Noyes, John Purdy, Todd Francis, Daniel Newcombe, William and Alexander Gardner, Stephen Pardee and R. R. Crosby, the majority of whom arrived in 1838.


The first white person to die in this township was Francis Purdy, who passed away in August, 1839, and was buried in the Richmond Cemetery. One week later, Hannah Thomas passed from earth. She was the daughter of Briggs and Amy Thomas.

The first white child born in the township was Sarah, daughter of John and Pamelia Purdy; the date of her birth was July 4, 1839.

The earliest marriage of parties living within this township was that of Andrew Kennedy and Laura Warner, in 1844.

Alexander and David Williams commenced erecting a sawmill in 1838, on the Nippersink Creek. Later this mill became the property of Henry and John W. White. The last two mentioned built a gristmill at Solon in 1840, the first of its kind in the county.

The oldest burying ground in this township is the one at the village of Richmond. Another cemetery was established at Solon very soon after the one at Richmond. Another in the White schoothouse district, was among the first to be in general use.


Richmond was platted in 1844 by Charles Cotting and Theodore Purdy. It is situated on sections 9 and 16, and is on the banks of Nippersink Creek. The same year that the village was platted, Messrs. Cotting and Purdy built a gristmill, and at its frame raising (a great event those days) the offer was made by its owners that whoever climbed to the top of the building could have the naming of the new village. Isaac M. Reed reached the top of the building and named the place Richmond, after a favorite town of his in Vermont. At first this township was named Montelona, but later it took that of Richmond.

Charles Noyes erected the first house in the village of Richmond. This was built of logs and was 20x24 feet in size. Ralph Andrews was the pioneer wagonmaker, and David C. Andrews was the first blacksmith; the first lawyer was C. K. Young and the pioneer physician was Dr. Hessett.

Of a somewhat later date, the business and professional factors in Richmond were as follows: F. W. Mead, George Alfs, Robert Johnnott, H. Chevillin, A. P. Gray, Dr. I. B. Rice, A. R. Alexander, Downing & Dennison, John West, C. E. Culver, H. F. Boutell, Milan Hicks, C. F. Paxton, Aldrich & Burton, C. F. Hall & Co., D. A. Potter, Smith & Haythorn, John Billings, Cropper & Co. With the many changes in the passing of multiplied years down to the present, the village has never ceased to progress with other parts of the county.

A fine modern public school building was erected in 1910. It is a two-story and basement structure. It has six main rooms and there are seven teachers. Its first session was held, commencing January 1, 1911. This building was built at the cost of $25,000, but it is stated that $40,000 would not build such a structure today.


The post office here is a third-class one and has two rural free delivery routes connected with it-No. 1 in charge of Clyde Wilson; No. 2 in charge of F. G. Motley. These routes are about twenty-nine miles in length. The postmasters, since the establishment of the office, have been: William McConnell, appointed 1838, who was succeeded by William Adams, D. Bennett, Luther Emmons, Dr. Stone, Allen. Potter, J. V. Aldrich, B. A. Potter, Marcus Foot, J. V. Aldrich, J. T. Bower, J. V. Aldrich and W. P. Stevens, who was commissioned in 1914.


The village erected a large town hail for general public purposes in 1900 at a cost of $15,000, and it is known as "Memorial Hall." It was named for Charles DeWitt McConnell who donated $10,000 toward its building.


Richmond is an incorporated village and has been so ever since 1872, when its first officials were elected as follows: Dr. F. S. Bennett, president; A. R. Alexander, clerk; J. V. Aldrich, treasurer; D. A. Potter, magistrate; Alanson Brown, constable; and Dr. S. F. Bennett, John Haythorn, George Purdy, William Purdy, John Halian and J. B. Hyde, trustees.

The presidents and clerks for the village from 1884 (110 record prior to that date) have been as follows:



Richard Wray


J. W. Haythorn


Daniel Dennison


L. W. Howe


P. K. Wright


F. E. Holmes


J. T. Bower


George MeConnel


G. W. Eldridge


E. C. Covell






F. W. Mead


Charles S. Green


E. R. Bennett


William Sherman


L. W. Nichols


G. E. Eldridge


John Holian


H. J. Kimball


H. W. Aldrich


F. B. McConnell


R. G. Scott


R. F. Parsons


J. T. Bower


E. C. Covell



The following are the village officials of Richmond: president, E. C. Covell; clerk, J. T. Bower; treasurer, J. N. Burton; magistrate, J. F. Brown; marshal, W. H. Reed; trustees, J. B. Richardson, Fred Arp, W. A. McConnell, F. H. Bell, Robert Walkington.


Solon Mills was among tile first settled communities in this county. It is situated on section 26 and 27. A flour mill was built there at a very early date, but the property became entangled in endless litigation and was of little value to the community. The old. mill still stands a monument to legal folly and poor business judgment. The property and twenty acres of land on which it stands are now held by Chicago parties. It is on the bank of Nippersink Creek. With the failure of the milling interests, and the springing up of other villages near by, Solon has never taken on much commercial importance, but has a few business interests. It is in a splendid farm and stock country. Lands are selling for high prices and the demand for substantial commodities is steady.


To but very few who have heard since childhood's happiest hour that now immortal song, "In the Sweet By-and-By," is it known that this popular song was composed and set to music in Richmond, but such is the fact. Dr. S. E. Bennett, for so many years one of Richmond's foremost citizens, is the author. He located here in 1859 at the age of twenty-three years, taking charge of the public schools as principal, and held that position for two years, then going to Elkhorn, but returned in 1871 and again took charge of the school work for one year. He then attended Rush Medical College, Chicago, from which he was graduated in 1874, when he began the practice of medicine, continuing it for more than twenty-five years or until his death in 1898. During his residence in Richmond he became associated with J. P. Webster, a musical composer. They were associated together for several years, during which time they published a number of hymns, the leading one being that immortal one, "In the Sweet By and By," now translated in all languages of the civilized world.

It appears from writings of Mr. Richards, in his Woodstock Reminiscences, that "Doctor Bennett and Professor Webster, a musician, were in a corner store at Richmond and that something was said in desponding mood. Someone said, 'Oh, that will be all right in the sweet by and by,, whereat Doctor Bennett turned to his desk and in a few minutes handed the poem to Professor Webster, saying 'how will that do?' Professor Webster took his violin and in a little time composed the music. It was then sung and approved by those present, and given to the world."


Richmond Township had a population in 1890 of 1,212; in 1900, 1,498; in 1910 its population was 1,472; and in 1920, 1,448.


The following are the township officials of Richmond Township: supervisor, F. B. McConnell; assessor, John Collison; clerk, J. T. Bower; highway commissioner, Henry Vogel; justice of the peace, William H. Rotnour; constables, John Collison and W. H. Reed.

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