Jefferson Township occupies the southwestern corner of Stephenson County, and comprises an area of eighteen
square miles. Although one of the three smallest townships in the county, it contains some very desirable land,
and is most attractive as a place of residence. The ground is rolling, and the hills rise to considerable height.
Jefferson's only village, Loran, is picturesquely situated, lying among and between the green hills, near the source
of the Plum River.
Jefferson Township was originally included in Loran Township. As late as September, 1859, this condition of affairs
prevailed, and then, obeying the numerous petitions of the citizens of the western section of Loran, that portion
was subdivided off, and Jefferson became a separate and independent township.
The settlers did not come into either Loran or Jefferson very early, and the land was strangely neglected. The
first settler who came into the part of the township which afterward became Jefferson was Hector C. Haight, who
made his appearance with his wife and family in 1837. He entered his claim and established his farm about four
miles from the present village of Loran, on the Freeport road.
Very soon after Haight's settlement, M. Pennington came in and opened a claim in the eastern part of the township.
The immigration to the southwestern corner of the county was for some unknown reasons not very large, but the section
which afterward became Jefferson received the biggest quota of settlers. George Lashell settled where the village
of Loran is today. Thompson Smith, Henry Aurand, and Jacob Gable, who later went to Kent, all settled in Jefferson,
also Charles Fleckinger, who built his cabin and planted his corn patch on a hill near Loran.
After the coming of the railroad to Freeport, the section quickly filled up with settlers. The names of the early
settlers are for the most part lost, but it is certain that they came in large numbers. Ministers of the gospel,
and teachers began to be in large demand ; and a number of them are listed among the early settlers of Jefferson
Township. Two teachers who are known to have migrated to this section of the country were a Mr. Bonnemann and George
Truckenmiller. The first schoolhouse in the township was a log cabin, built near the village of Loran, and the
children for miles around attended it, as the only institution which their portion of the country possessed. Two
ministers who are on record as pioneer preachers of the gospel were Revs. Kiefer and Chester, who came soon after
the advent of the school and teachers and preached to the people (so says tradition) in th barn of one Samuel Hays.
In 1844 occurred the first death of the township. Louis Kleckner, a laborer in the employ of Samuel Hays, was taken
ill with a sort of malarial fever, which seems to have been prevalent in the early days of the county. He received
the best of care and attention, but notwithstanding, he died, and was buried in the cemetery in the wilderness
west of Loran. The records seem to indicate that the death of Kleckner was greatly mourned in the county side round
about and was considered a deplorable tragedy. We have stated that Kleckner's death was the first to occur in Jefferson
Township. His burial was however preceded by that of a man named Tiffany, living in Jo Daviess County, who died
at his home across the county line and was buried in the Loran cemetery. His headstone bears a date earlier than
that of Kleckner's.
The first marriage took place in the fall of 1845, the contracting parties being Henry Doherty and Catherine Fleckinger.
The ceremony was performed by the Rev. Mr. Kiefer at the home of the bride's father. Tradition says that the celebration
of the event was meagre, for the times of prosperity had not yet come in the vicinity of Jefferson, and the settlers
lived in the meagrest and closest manner possible. But after 1845 the township began to fill up. It continued to
be part of Loran until 1859, when, as before stated, the division was made, and Jefferson went on its way rejoicing.
The township does not contain any railroad, but the, line of the Chicago and Great Western passes less than a quarter
of a mile from the northwestern corner of the township. The land is well supplied with streams, and contains the
source of the Plum River, which flows down into Carroll County. Though small in size, Jefferson Township, has always
played an important part into county politics. It is always largely democratic, which distinguishing feature has
perhaps served to differentiate it from the other townships of the county.
Loran is one of the most picturesque villages of the county, being situated between and among the hills. It is
a very old settlement, and, in spite of the lack of railroad facilities, has continued to hold its own with the
towns of the county which are more favorably situated.
In 1854, George Lashell, who owned a farm near the Jo Daviess County line, conceived the idea of laying out a town
and selling lots at a very reasonable price. The county surveyor was called into service, and laid out the plat
of the present town, which has never been increased or added to because of a too rapid influx of population. The
village occupies only one street, and originally contained five blocks of twelve lots each. The sale of lots was
so slow that part of the original town plat was then vacated for village purposes, and only as much reserved, as
equalled the limited demand made.
The town contains a store, blacksmith shop, two churches, a schoolhouse, and a number of private residences.
The First M. E. Church was built in 1875, and is valued at about $1,500. It is a frame edifice 30x40, with a seating
capacity of one hundred and fifty worshipers. The congregation numbers about seventy five members, who live in
Loran and the surrounding country. There is no resident minister.
Evangelical Church. The Evangelical church is also a frame structure, 30x44 in dimensions, and was built about
forty years ago. The membership of the church is about fifty, and the pastoral duties are performed by the pastor
of the church at Shannon, Carroll County.
The schoolhouse is a stone building located on High street, the main and only street of Loran. It has always been
considered an unusual good district school, and serves the country round about Loran for some miles.
Loran has not grown appreciably within the last fifty years, and hardly any development is to be expected of the
village, as it is inaccessible, without transportation facilities, and offers no inducements in the way of business
opportunities to the prospective settler. Its pleasant location distinguishes it from most of the villages of the
county, but in all other respects the place is the ordinary country village. The population is supposed to be about
one hundred or thereabouts.