History of Loren Township, Stephenson County, Il
From: History of Stephenson County, Illinois
A record of its settlement, oragnization
and three quarters of a century of progress
By: Addison L. Fulwider, A. M.
The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company
Chicago, 1910


Loran Township is one of the western townships of the southern tier. It is bounded on the west by Jefferson Township, on the north by Kent and Erin, on the east by Florence, and on the south by Carroll County. Until 1859 it was of much larger extent than at present, comprising also the township of Jefferson, with its eighteen square miles extent. In 1859, owing to a petition of the dwellers in the western part of Loran, that section was divided off, and became a separate township. As Jefferson Township has been treated elsewhere, we now propose to treat of the settlers who took up their claims and established themselves in that part of the country which is now Loran Township.

The first settlement in the township was made in 1836 by William Kirkpatrick, who subsequently built Kirkpatrick's mills and became a figure of great prominence in the county history. He established himself in Section 14, on the banks of Yellow Creek, at the settlement which was later known by the name of Mill Grove. Here he soon erected his mill - just at what time we cannot say. Some of the old settlers assert that he put it up in 1836 or 1837-, as soon as he had got his household settled. Others are quite as vehement in their declarations that the event did not take place until 1838. Whatever the time was, it is of small importance to know the exact date. It is altogether probable that Mr. Kirkpatrick built his mills as early as 1837 at least, for the traditions of the village of Winneshiek, which became Freeport, affirm that some of the houses of that settlement were constructed of boards brought from Kirkpatrick's mills on Yellow Creek.

Mr. Kirkpatrick built his mill as soon as he did his house, and the traditions say that he was subjected to all sorts of hardships while the building was going on, being forced to sleep in his wagon, in an improvised tent, and so forth.

Loran Township was settled very slowly, and later than almost any other section of the county. As late as 1838 the settlers were few and scattered, and confined almost entirely to the Kirkpatricks and the few people about the mill in the Mill Grove settlement. In the next year Smith Giddings came, with John Shoemaker, who settled in Section 19, Albert Curry, and Sylvester Langdon, who established himself in Section 13. There were others, but their names are now forgotten.

In 1840 a considerable delegation of new settlers arrived: the Babb family, including Samuel Babb, Solomon Babb, Reuben Babb, and Isaac Babb; Mathias Ditzler, and Christian Ditzler. In 1841, George House arrived and soon after him John Lamb. Warren Andrews and Anson Andrews came about this time, but just when it is impossible to say. They settled in Section 3, and there erected a mill on the banks of the creek. In 1842 Horace Post came, and located near the Andrews brothers' mill. Among the other settlers who came in this year were Truman Lowell, Moses Grigsby, William Barklow, Thomas Foster (both of these men settled in Section 17); Joseph Rush, in the southwestern corner of the township; Samuel Shively, near Yellow Creek; John Apgar, also on the creek bank near Kirkpatrick's mill; Henry Layer, and two men by the name of Slocum and Pointer.

Until 1848 settlers came slowly and in small numbers. While the rest of the county began to crowd up with emigrants about 1840, Loran Township did not receive its full quota for fully eight years. With 1848, the process of change began and soon Loran became as populous as any township in Stephenson County. The first marriage said to have occurred in Loran was that of Thomas French and Polly Kirkpatrick, who were married in the fall of 1840. A certain Mrs. James who died about the same time and was buried in the township was the first death. The first school in the township was founded in 1840 at Kirkpatrick's Mills, where it remained for about a year. Then the pedagogue removed his parlors of learning to a new schoolhouse built especially for the purpose in Section 2, near Babb's church. The men instrumental in securing the new building were Reuben Babb, William Kirkpatrick, and Anson Andrews, the first school trustees of Loran.

Until late years Loran Township has always been behind the other townships of the county in point of development. One reason for the neglect which the township suffered was the comparative unhealthfulness of the township, especially along the banks of Yellow Creek. It is said that all sorts of fevers and agues prevailed along the banks of that stream, while even the inhabitants farther inland were subject to fevers of the severest sort. Now-a-days this condition of affairs has been entirely dissipated, and it is very hard to realize what must have been the dangers to which the early Loranites were subjected. In 1850, when the cholera plague made its presence known in the county, Loran suffered excruciatingly. Mill Grove, about Kirkpatrick's Mills, was nearly wiped out of existence. All the farms in the vicinity felt the effects of the plague, which was in every instance of so sudden and violent a character, that many a sufferer who had not realized that the poison was working in his system in the morning was seized with the sickness and died before sunset. In 1852, when the cholera appeared the second time, the horrible story of two years previous was repeated with even greater calamities. In 1854, on the occasion of the third and last visit, Kirkpatrick's Mills suffered again. Since that time, the improvement of the farms, and the drainage of the land has brought about so great a change 'that Loran Township has no longer a reputation for unhealthfulness as a place of abode. Mill Grove has disappeared, but Pearl City is very much alive and is as thrifty and thriving a little settlement as can be found in the rural districts of Illinois.

In addition to the unhealthfulness of the land there were the various other plagues to which the early settlers of Stephenson County were subject: snakes, the unfriendly red man, and the ordinary terrors of the wilderness, of which we can have not the slightest conception today. But the farmers were sturdy and survived the perils of the years and their descendants are engaged in the cultivation of farms which are as productive and well conducted as any that can be found in the county.

The township is well supplied with streams. Yellow Creek, entering from Kent Township at the north, flows south and east through Loran and is joined by a large number of sluggish creeks and brooklets. The Chicago & Great Western Railroad crosses the township from east to northwest, following somewhat the course of Yellow Creek, with its one station at Pearl City. The area is the regulation thirty six square miles, since the division with Jefferson Township.


There is little to tell concerning the history of Mill Grove, but what there is is of a profoundly pathetic nature. The settlement marked the site of the first permanent settlement in Loran Township. It is located in Section 14, on the banks of Yellow Creek, where that stream makes a wide curve and loop to the northward, and William Kirkpatrick was the man whose efforts brought it into life.

He settled here with his household effects in 1836, and straightway proceeded to build a mill which was christened Kirkpatrick's Mill. For a long time, it remained the mill of greatest importance in the county, its nearest competitor being the Van Valzah Mills at Cedarville, established by Dr. Van Valzah. When new emigrants came to Loran Township, Kirkpatrick's Mill was the logical place for them to take up their abode. Not only was it the only settlement of consequence, but the rest of the township was almost an untrodden wilderness, and the courageous pioneer was never desirous of hewing himself a home in the wilderness when there was already one hewn out for him on the outskirts of the virgin forest. So Mill Grove continued to thrive and became quite a settlement in spite of the unhealthfulness of the site.

But the settlers had founded their expectations upon vain hopes if they ever thought Mill Grove would become a settlement of considerable size. In 185o the cholera visited Kirkpatrick's Mills with disastrous results. In 1852 the dread disease appeared again, and almost the whole population was which to operate. The population was gone, the town dead, and the wheels of the mill silent. Never again did Mill Grove attain importance as a settlement. When the schoolhouse was moved away in 1841; no second institution of learning was ever built. With the advent of the cholera and its attendant calamities, the town was abandoned, and its name is almost forgotten.


Pearl City is one of the most wide awake and progressive villages of Stephenson County. It has a population of about five hundred inhabitants, and ranks about fourth in size in the list of Stephenson County towns. While it is a village in point of organization, and number of inhabitants, Pearl City, as its name rightly indicates, has many of the qualities of a miniature city. It is not far from Freeport, but the fact that it is not connected with the county seat by railroad has permitted it to devleop independekept and has .kept many of its citizens from transferring their place of residence to the larger city.

Pearl City is in reality made up of two separate and distinct villages: Pearl City, the main village, the business section of which is located south of the Chicago Great Western tracks, and Yellow Creek, the old original Pearl City, which is located north of the railroad tracks, and has completely separate business and residential sections of its own. Yellow Creek is now known as the "north side" to the people of Pearl City, and contains the few scattered buildings which are remnants of the old village.

Concerning the history of Pearl City there is not a great deal to tell. The village is of comparatively recent growth, having been almost entirely built up within the last twenty years. Before the Chicago Great Western Railroad came through the county there existed a tiny settlement known as Yellow Creek, which contained a blacksmith shop, general store and postoffice, and three or four houses. The location of the village was not especially pleasant, and it did not seem at all likely that a village of consequence was to be erected at that point. But the advent of the railroad changed matters. A station was established at Yellow Creek, and a grain elevator built, after which the tow immediately began to feel its own importance. The Yellow Creek settlement, which was about a quarter of a mile north of the point at which the station had been erected, was enhanced by the addition of a few houses, and one or two stores were also put up.

But the distance of the station from the village, and the inconvenience attached thereto soon caused a revolution in the village. The more progressive merchants moved about half a mile south of their old locations and erected new buildings close to the Great Western tracks. Three grain elevators were put up, also south of the tracks. With the building of two brick buildings in the new business section, the growth of the new village seemed assured. The railroad had caused the whole site to be platted out when it came through, and the officials of that company were interested in bringing the village farther toward the station.

Still the name of the settlement remained "Yellow Creek" and the sign painted upon the Great Western station announced the fact to travelers. Finally a number of public spirited citizens, feeling that it was inappropriate that their growing town should be hampered by the public proclamation of its proximity to Yellow Creek, petitioned for a change of name and the village became "Pearl City" about fifteen years ago. Since that time the name of the railroad station has also been changed, and now the metropolitan character of the settlement is assured in name if not in fact.

The churches of Pearl City are three in number, the First Methodist church, St. John's English Evangelical Lutheran church, and the Dunkard church.

First Methodist Church. The Methodist church is the leading church of Pearl City, both in size and activity. The early history of the church is extremely difficult to trace. In the beginning it was a part of the Kent circuit, and was ministered to by a student pastor. About fifteen years ago, the Pearl. City congregation, having increased greatly in size, felt hampered by the lack of church facilities offered, and decided to petition for the establishment of a separate church, and a pastor who should be able to devote his entire time to Pearl City. The petition was carried through, and the Pearl City congregation became a separate organization.

Soon after this event, the church previously occupied by the congregation was sold to the Dunkard congregation, and the erection of a new structure commenced. Previous to the occupation of their first church the Methodists had been in the old town hall which stands just south of the present commodious edifice. The new church, probably the handsomest country church in the county, was built in root at a cost of $5,000, L. W. Herbruck being especially instrumental in the work of building.

The latest work of the congregation has been the building of a new parsonage for the minister, next to the church. This parsonage, which cost about $3,000, was completed the latter part of July, 1910. The church is in a flourishing and satisfactory condition in every way. The congregation numbers seventy, with a Sunday school of approximately one hundred and fifty. The Rev. J. V. Bennett is the minister at present in charge.

St. John's English Evangelical Lutheran Church. The Lutheran church of Pearl City, which is located on the south side of the town, and occupies a handsome brown frame structure, was organized September 1, 1888, with a charter membership of thirteen earnest members. Rev. Klock was the first pastor.

Soon after organization the congregation deciding upon the erection of a church building, the present edifice was built, and has been occupied for about twenty years.

The Pearl City church is on the same circuit with the Kent church, both of the churches receiving the services of the Rev. Alex. MacLaughlin as pastor. The Pearl City church has a membership of thirty nine, with a Sunday school of about fifty five members. The church property is valued at $2,500, with a parsonage worth $2,000.

Dunkard Church. The Dunkards' stronghold in Stephenson County has always been in the western part of the county in the vicinity of Pearl City and Kent. There had always been a number of the sect in the village itself, but they never occupied a church edifice of their own until about fifteen years ago, when they purchased the church of the Methodist congregation. They have no pastor, but every member of the congregation officiates as pastor in turn. The membership of the church is somewhat fluctuating, but remains in the neighborhood of fifty.

Lodges. Pearl City, like every other country village in this section of the country, supports a number of lodges. Most of these have been founded within the last ten years, and deserve only passing mention. The Masonic lodge is the oldest of the aggregation, and holds an important place in village activities.

Pearl Lodge, No. 823, A. F. & A. M. The Pearl Lodge of the Masonic order was founded in the winter of 1893. It is the most important fraternal organization of Pearl City, and has a membership of about sixty five. Meetings are held on the first and third Tuesdays of the month. Dr. M. W. Hooker is worshipful master, and C. G. Robinson is secretary.

Fox Camp. No. 7n, M. W. A. The Woodmen founded their Pearl City lodge about fifteen years ago, and have maintained a prosperous and lively organization ever since. The camp meets every Thursday evening. The officers are: J. F. Mishler, V. C., and John Seebold, clerk.

Eleroy Lodge, No. 247, I. O. O. F. The Eleroy lodge was organized at Eleroy, in Erin Township, on the 18th of December, 1857, but was transferred to Pearl City a few years ago. It is now attended by the inhabitants of both villages, and by the farmers of the country lying between. Although the lodge itself is by far the oldest in the list, the time of its existence in Pearl City has been comparatively short, and hence it ranks among the newer Pearl City lodges. Meetings are held every Monday. P. H. Schnell is noble grand, and J. V. Bennett secretary.

The other lodges have all been founded since 1900, and occupy somewhat secondary position in the fraternal life of the community. They are:

Rose Leaf Camp, No. no, R. N. A. The Royal Neighbors meet on the second and fourth Fridays of every month. The officers are: Oracle, Sarah Heine; recorder, Lucy Hooker.

Orpha Chapter, No. 304, Eastern Star. The Eastern Star meets on the first and third Friday evenings of the month Emma Sheffy is worthy matron, and Julia E. Snow performs the duties of secretary of the organization.

Pearl City Banking Company. The banking facilities of Pearl City are unexcelled for a village of the size. The Pearl City Bank, a private corporation, was organized about twenty years ago, by Simon Tollmeier, who became the first president, and has since continued to hold the office. The firm represents a capital of $25,000, and a personal responsibility of $250,000. The officers are: President, Simon Tollmeier; vice president, Dr. S. H. Aurand; cashier, A. L. Hurd; directors, Simon Tollmeier, Dr. S. H. Aurand, Frank R. Erwin, Fred Tollmeier, Frederick Althof, Henry Althof, August Althof, Charles Althof, Albert Althof, Otto Althof.

The bank occupies a frame structure on Main street which is well fitted out for its banking offices.

Pearl City News. One of the best country newspapers of the state is the Pearl City News, edited and managed by Dr. M. W. Hooker, who purchased the paper last March. It was founded in 1889 by William H. McCall, who also started the Orangeville Courier on its career. Mr. McCall resigned after filling the editor's chair for a brief time, and Ed Barklow took charge of the venture. Subsequently the paper fell into many hands. It passed under the management of Messrs. Beadell, Perkins, Freas, and Buckley, and on March 1, 191o, was sold to Dr. Hooker.

Dr. Hooker occupies the position of editor, with his brother, O. G. Hooker, as associate editor. The paper has a large circulation among the farmers of the vicinity. It is a seven column weekly octavo, and is an attractive up to date sheet in every respect.

The management of the Pearl City News also publishes the Kent Observer, a weekly newspaper devoted to the interests of the village of Kent. This portion of the paper was founded by Mr. Freas during his management of the concern. The Kent Observer occupies the last four pages of the News, the two papers being printed together, and containing items of interest for both of the villages The News also maintains correspondents in the various country towns about Pearl City, and publishes items of interest to the subscribers in those localities.

Pearl Hotel. The hotel of Pearl City, known as the Pearl Hotel, occupies a frame structure near the railroad station. It is a neat, well kept, and inviting hostelry, far superior to the ordinary country village tavern. L. J. Krell was proprietor for some time, but disposed of his interests to Mrs. Dodge who is the present owner.

The hotel offers excellent accommodations at somewhat reasonable prices. The table is especially good.

The business districts of Pearl City and Yellow Creek contain two or three dozen stores, including general stores, hardware establishments, millineries. dry goods, drug stores, a blacksmith shop, livery stable, etc. The business outlook of the town is most satisfactory, and the prosperity of its inhabitants may be judged from the statement that there are sixteen automobiles owned at present within the corporate limits of the village. Many of the farmers about Pearl City are also owners of the horseless carriages, and the whole of the rural districts thereabout present an appearance of thrift, careful attention, and scientific farming. Pearl City is thirteen miles from Freeport, and is accessible from the county seat either by carriage, or by the Chicago Great Western from the South Freeport station.

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