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

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SENECA TOWNSHIP

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BOUNDARIES - ORIGIN OF NAME - FIRST SETTLERS - PIONEER EVENTS - CEMETERIES - SCHOOLS AND CHURCHES - FRANKLINVILLE - POPULATION - TOWNSHIP OFFICIALS.

BOUNDARIES

Seneca Township is one of the central subdivisions of the county, being composed of all of congressional township 44, range 6, and is bounded on the north by Hartland Township; on the east by Dorr Township; on the south by Coral Township, and on the west by Marengo Township. As an agricultural section it has no superior in all this part of Illinois. The fertile, gentle rolling land has been put in a high state of cultivation. Originally, this township was heavily timbered on the west side of its domain, and nearly all of the houses of the early times were built of excellent varieties of solid oak cut from the nearby forests.

ORIGIN OF NAME

Seneca was the name of a powerful Indian tribe in western New York, from which many of the first settlers to this township came, hence they named the township to which they moved after that Indian tribe of the far away Empire State.

FIRST SETTLERS

It is stated on good authority that the first white man to invade what is now known as Seneca Township was E. Pettitt, who came in 1835. His selection of land was subsequently known as the Sponsable farm. John Belder also arrived that year from La Porte, Ind., and he lived here for many years. Jedediah Rogers, a Vermont Yankee, was another settler of 1835. In 1836 Russell Diggins moved from St. Lawrence County, N. Y., to Seneca Township, and his wife died soon after their arrival in this township. Her death was the first known within the township. A claim was taken up by a Mr. Woodard in 1836, but he left it before the Civil War period. Another permanent settler was Robert G. White, who came in 1836 and remained until his death in 1871. It was he who built the first saw-mill in the township. Eli Craig came in 1836, and in 1838 was elected a constable. During the latter year came to the township as settlers the following: Amos Damon, Captain Silas Chatfield, Joseph Hanna, Solomon Baldwin, Christopher Sponsable, Whitman Cobb and Ephriam Rogers. The next season the arrivals to the township were: M. Dickenson, John Ackerson, Peter Deitz, Clark Wix and Spencer Flanders. In 1840 the permanent settlers were: Leander Bishop, John White, Wffliam Sponsable and Salem Stowell. Another account given of the township's settlement says that the first band of settlers included Jasper Havens, Levi Morsey and Joseph Hanna, all of whom came from Virginia in 1835-36. A Mr. Albro was the first settler at Franklinville, coming there in the autumn of 1836.

PIONEER EVENTS

A Mr. White and his family came into the township in about 1836, settling in section 29, where soon after White & Son put up a saw-mill at the junction of the Middle and North branches of the Kishwaukee. A little later George Smith & Co. erected a flour-mill on the same stream on section 30, and this was doing a good business late in the eighties. The township had another saw-mill, built by Anderson & Graves in 1844. From quite an early day the principal business of the township was its dairy industry. A cheese factory was erected at Franklinville in 1868. Later this was bought by Doctor Stone and moved to a site not far distant, and was there used as a feed store. Still later it was converted into a feed-mill and butter and cheese factory. The next year Mr. Bigelow put up a second factory on his farm a mile to the west of the village of Franklinville. Subsequently this was sold to I. Boies of Marengo.

In literary affairs Seneca Township, from a very early time, has been second to none in the county. A literary society was organized and met semi-monthly, its object being largely to procure good books as cheaply as possible. When the books had been well read by the community they were auctioned off and more new ones provided.

As to the market prices in this township between 1836 and 1850, let it be stated for a fact that those who dealt at Franklinville (known a long time as "Snarltown") sold their eggs at five cents a dozen and their butter at ten cents a pound, in trade. Corn brought a shilling a bushel, in barter.

In putting down the rebellion in the Civil War, Seneca took an active part, one family named Penman, within tile limits of the township, sending every member, to wit: father, mother, four sons, daughter and son-in-law. And what is still more wonderful, every' member of that household returned in safety.

Perhaps the crowning glory of the township took place on Fourth of July, 1876, Centennial Year, at which time Mayor Donnelly, having offered a flag to the township bringing the biggest delegation to the Woodstock celebration, Seneca brought in nearly eight hundred people, and carried away the coveted prize.

CEMETERIES

The first burial place was between Woodstock and Franklinville.

Franklinville Cemetery was laid out in 1839 by the common consent of the pioneer settlers, but especially by the members of the Methodist Episcopal Church. Mrs. Lazarus was the first to be buried at that place.

SCHOOLS AND CHURCHES

The first school in Seneca Township was taught by Mrs. Stevens, the wife of G. B. Stevens, at their residence, one mile south of Franklinyule, in 1840. The first schoolhouse was erected in Franklinville.

The earliest religious meetings were held at the home of 0. B. Stevens in 1839, by Rev. Leander Walker, and lie and Rev. Nathaniel Jewett preached alternately every four weeks at private residences until 1849, when the Methodists built their church at Franklinville.

FRANKLINVILLE

This is a little community or hamlet, situated in section 22, about four miles southwest of Woodstock. It was first known as Snaritown, but the name was later changed to Franklinville in honor of Franklin Stringer, a spirited, highly enterprising citizen of the township. The reason assigned for the first and peculiar name of this hamlet is said to have been on account of a man named George Albrow, who immigrated hither from New York State. He possessed so contrary a nature that had he lived in later days he probably would have been termed a 'grouch." in those days, his habit of snarling at everyone gained for him the name "Snarl" Albrow. Hence the village that grew up around him was called after him, but fortunately this nomenclature was soon abandoned in favor of one given in honor of a much worthier personage.

A Mr. Lockwood opened a store on section 22, and began trading with the neighboring farmers, and after one year he exchanged his store for one owned by a Mr. Robinson of Geneva, Ill. Robinson was in time succeeded by Harley Wayne, who in 1843 took in George T. Kasson as a partner. Kasson bought out Wayne and formed a partnership with U. T. Hyde, and they opened a second store. Norman Brebhall was the first blacksmith to kindle his glowing forge in the hamlet. In 1843, through the efforts of "Long" John Wentworth, then congressman from this district, a post office was established at Franklinville, which at first was called Belden, and Sylvester Mead was appointed postmaster. He was followed by H. Wayne, and he by G. T. Kasson. The office was abandoned in 1866, and for six years there was no post office, but in 1872 Carrie Deitz was appointed as postmistress. Franklinville is now served by rural free delivery.

The community still known as Franklinvile has a Methodist Episcopal Church, a charge out from Woodstock; a store and blacksmith shop. In its early days it had high hopes of becoming the seat of justice and ranking among the best places of the county, but time changes the best laid plans of men.

The Seneca Ladies' Literary Society of this hamlet was organized in 1855, and has been in continuous service ever since. The first work undertaken was to help raise funds at a charge of five cents each two weeks, for the Mount Vernon Association. It early established a library and exerted an influence for good in various ways. It has now adopted and is supporting a French orphan. Mrs. Martha Rose, now of Marengo, was an early librarian there and is still an honorary member on its rolls.

POPULATION

In 1890 Seneca Township had a population of 1,046, including a part of Union village in Coral Township; in 1900, 1,105; in 1910, 1,023, and in 1920, 940.

TOWNSHIP OFFICIALS

The following are the township officials of Seneca Township: supervisor, E. F. Kuecker; assessor, R. M. Bean; clerk, Roy Andrews; highway commissioner, Henry A. Russell; justice of the peace, Philip Andrews; constable, James Welch.

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