History of Crete Township, Will County, Il
From: History of Will County, Illinois
By: August Maue
Historical Publishing Company
Topeka-Indianapolis 1928

Crete Township

Crete Township. - The first settlements in Crete Township were in Thorn Grove in the northwest corner. In 1833-34, Major Price, Wm. Osborn and Asa Dade settled there; in 183536, Minoris Beebe, Shipman Frank, Inartus Marsh and four sons (Jonathon, Edwin, Horatio and Henry), James L. Dean, Wm. Bryant, J. Stalcop, William R. Starr, Willard Wood, Deacon Samuel Cushing, Norman Northrop, John H. Bennett, Moses H. Cook, Henry Milliken, Charles Wood, Hazen Adams, John Kyle and son, Enoch Dodge, Henry Ayers, David Haner, John E. Hewes and J. W. Safford.

These were the first corners in eastern Will County. Twenty years elapsed before other settlers came. By that time railroads were built and the land was taken up rapidly.

Since the eastern part of the county was settled largely by Germans, one has a desire to know what prompted them to leave the fatherland. Emigration from Germany occurred in small numbers to Germantown, Pennsylvania, in 1683. A larger exodus took place from 1700 to 1710, due to the influence of William Penn, who visited the Rhine Valley and offered inducements to go to America. In 1807, a larger migration was made. Many Germans whose property had been confiscated sought refuge in America and indentured themselves to settlers to pay their passage. Ship captains took chances in bringing them over and auctioned them off to the settlers in payment for transportation. Being sure of employment, they came freely. They worked out their freedom and then worked out their farms by clearing the forests away. In 1749-54, about two thousand landed in America.

The immigration to the Mississippi Valley began in 1833. This exodus was much larger and was caused by more forceful influences. From the time of Napoleon down to 1848, the government of Germany was despotic, supporting an established church. The great revolution of 1848 grew out of the education of a class of liberals. German universities developed rapidly in those fifty years and the better informed sought more freedom in government. When the revolution failed, many of these liberals left the country. They sought refuge in America and brought in liberalism in politics as well as religion. This group settled in cities.

Soon after this the peasant class came out of the fatherland to escape military service. They were found in large numbers in the Union army during the Civil war. They were ready to fight when it meant freedom for themselves rather than the promotion of the welfare of some prince in Germany.

These imigrants were men of thrift who set about making homes for themselves. They were liberty loving people. They were patient and industrious. They were of high character and came where they might find material prosperity and freedom to think for themselves.

Route 1 of the Illinois Highway extends through Crete. This is known as the Dixie Highway. It was the first concrete road built in Illinois. It has brought prosperity to the town of Crete and its development has been very rapid during the last five years. This prosperity is manifested by the building of many beautiful homes, by the extension of the city limits and improvements of the streets. The rise in value of real estate is an excellent evidence of its growing importance.

South of the village of Crete is the Lincoln Fields, the most luxurious race track in the United States, built during 1925-1627, at an expense of more than two millions of dollars. The Dixie Highway was widened to double width to accommodate the large numbers who attend these races.

East of Crete is the Lincolnshire Country Club, which is a real estate project of real merit. At this writing (1928) the golf course is half completed. Residence lots have been sold in large numbers. Much money has been expended to develop the prosperity of the village and it bids fair to become an important and extensive suburb of Chicago.

The account of the early history of Crete Township as given in the preceding paragraphs shows that it was settled early by eastern people. This was due to the fact that it was near the Indian trail which became the highway for prairie schooners and later the Lincoln Highway. Here again, transportation was an important cause. The building of the railroad about 1858, increased the facilities for moving in and out, and the township settled up rapidly.

The Dixie Highway is Route 1 of the Illinois Highway system. Number 1 shows that it was the first concrete road constructed. Upon it traffic is always heavy and exceedingly congested on Sundays and holidays. It enters the township on the edge of Section 5, and goes southward, bearing slightly to the east. During this year it has been made double width from Crete northward, to accommodate the heavy traffic which comes to the Lincoln Fields Jockey Club. The township is also well supplied with stone roads east and west, giving good access to the concrete road. These good roads have increased the industry of the entire township.

Forty years ago, Crete Township was devoted quite largely to the raising of beef cattle. The Baker farm at Goodenow Station was the mecca for all Hereford buyers. The eastern part of the township at that time was owned by Chicago men who operated stock farms on which they raised the white faces. It was a flourishing industry. One six months old calf sold for a thousand dollars. This set everyone on fire with enthusiasm for this breed. Many farmers mortgaged their farms to buy a half a dozen head to start a herd.

Immediately prices began to fall and many of these farmers never succeeded in paying off the mortgages. The Chicago people abandoned what had been but a mere pastime for them. The Baker farm still continues to raise Hereford cattle of the very best type. The management makes it pay very well, indeed.

The remainder of the township is devoted very largely to the dairy business, because good roads make it possible for the milk trucks to pick up their products at convenient points. This has brought prosperity to the farmers throughout the township

The grain is raised in large quantities. The yield per acre is very good. Much of the grain is fed at home. The remainder finds a ready market at Lincoln Fields as well as at the elevators at the stations along the railroads.

The farming is carried on as in other townships with the latest improvements, machinery, tractors, gang plows, disk harrows, as well as binders and in some cases combines which harvest and thresh at the same time. Every farmer has his own automobile and his family no longer is confined to the farm home. This has brought a broadening in the lives of all.

The Village of Crete is a thriving town and promises soon to become a city. During the past four years, many new homes have been built under the direction of the most important real estate dealer, Fred B. Rohe. He has the vision for the future and faith in his fellow men which foresee a city. He is a leader in the community and does much to develop it as well as the neighborhood around. East of Crete is the Lincolnshire Country Club, of which the golf course is about completed. Surrounding this golf club are home sites which are being taken up rapidly. It is a beautiful country with forests and prairies, hills and streams, together with level areas which will make it a beautiful residence section. At this writing the future of Crete is very promising indeed. The school house which was built in 1870 was re-modeled in 1923 into a four room building modern in every detail. In it were four teachers taking care of two grades in each room. It was one of the best village schools in the county. This summer (1928), this school house was burned to the ground. Preparations were made at once to rebuild. The people voted a bond issue of $65,000 without a dissenting vote. Plans have been made and excavations have begun for a six room building with a gymnasium attached. It is a ground floor plan with all of the rooms opening on the ground floor outside as well as to the corridors which lead td the gymnasium.

The German Lutheran school which has been maintained for many years in the village was held in one room of the public school building until 1921. In that year they built a modern building of brick in which they have their school at the present time. Professor Edward Stelter has had charge of the school for several years. He is an able teacher and conducts a very good school. During this year he plans to move to Chicago and his position in Crete will be filled by another.

Goodenow Village, which started when an elevator was built to receive grain, remains about as it was 40 years ago with a store, a garage, a lumber yard, an elevator and a post office, together with the homes in which the men who operate them live. John Bahlman conducts a general store in which one may buy anything he needs at a reasonable price. The grain comes in smaller quantities than formerly, because much of the produce of the farm is fed to the live stock. However, the sale of stock feed has made it possible for the elevator man to do a good business.

South of Crete about a mile and a half is located the Lincoln Fields Jockey Club. This was built in 1925-26, at a cost of two and one half thousands of dollars. It is the most modern and complete race course in the United States. The capacity of the stand is very large and hundreds of horses are in training continually on its tracks. Thousands of Chicago people are found in attendance at the races. Automobiles are parked by the acre, thousands of them being there every day. It is a thriving institution and during the three years in which it has been operated no report of trouble has been heard. Its patrons seem to come filled with hope and go away happy, thinking that they have had a good time. Meanwhile, the institution prospers, bringing much money to the promoters.


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