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

Green Garden Township. - The land in Greengarden will not suffer in comparison with any other township in the county. Scarcely an acre, except what is taken up by the beds of Prairie and Forked Creeks, is untillable. The surface is gently undulating, none being either too rolling or too flat for successful cultivation. The soil is all that the agriculturist or the "Gardener" could desire, being deep and rich, and capable of producing enormous crops of corn, oats, hay and vegetables of every kind. The two creeks named both rise near the center, and afford stockwater to the adjacent farms, except in the dryest seasons, when they are sometimes dried up. The township is entirely devoid of a natural growth of timber, and this accounts for the tardiness of its settlement. When the township of Crete, in the eastern part of the county, and all of the western portion of the county had been well settled, this vicinity was just beginning to receive a few apparently unwilling squatters. They came from the heavily wooded States of Vermont and New York, or the equally densely timbered countries of the old world, and, finding the land adjacent to the little belts of timber already occupied, were loath to venture out upon the prairie, as the landsman is reluctant to venture upon the untried waves of the great ocean. The absence of timber for fuel, fencing and building purposes was certainly a great drawback. Not until 1865 was it known that within a few miles was a condensed forest of fuel that would supply all this country for ages to come. Then, too, the prairie, as a field for farming operations, was only an experiment. It looked much to them as if an absence of timber might indicate a dearth in those qualities of soil necesary to produce good crops. The subjugating of the prairie, though, in comparison with the clearing of the eastern farms, a trifle, was, in their eyes, no small matter. The little barshare plow, with the wooden moldboard, in common use in the East, was not to be thought of to turn over the thick prairie sod, matted with grass roots, as hard almost as hickory withes. But soon the inventive genius of the Yankee supplied an article, though somewhat rude and unwieldy, with which most of these prairies have been brought to cultivation. The original "sod plow" is now seen no more forever, as it has long since outlived its usefulness. It consisted of a large share, cutting a furrow two feet in width, with iron bars for a mold board. The beam of the machine was fifteen feet in length. No handles were needed, though sometimes they were attached, but were used only for the purpose of starting or throwing it out of the ground. To this immense machine were hitched from five to eight yoke of oxen. The breaking was usually done late in the spring; and, with the turning over of the sod was deposited seed, which produced an inferior crop of corn the first year, growing and ripening without further attention. From this crop has come the brand of a favorite drink in the Western country. Hay was cut with scythes and gathered with hand rakes. Wheat was cut with cradles and threshed by causing horses to tread upon it. These ancient landmarks have all passed away, and but few who wielded them remain to tell us the story of these and the many other peculiar institutions of the olden time. The first to venture out on the almost unknown waste of the prairies of Green garden Township was M. F. Sanders, from Vermont. The date of his advent was 1847, and he has consequently been a resident thirty one years. The "Squire," as he is familiarly called, is well off in this world's goods, having not only survived the hard times incident to pioneer life, but had something "laid by for a rainy day." He was the first justice of the peace, and, in that capacity, performed the first marriage ceremony in the township.

G. M. Green, or "the Deacon," as he was familiarly called, was also a native of Vermont, and came to the place about the same time. He was a man of good qualities and well worthy to bear the cognomen universally bestowed upon him. He removed from this place to Joliet, where he died some years ago.

Following these two families, and mainly through their influence, were a number of families from the same state. Within three or four years, Rev. James Hudson, Daniel Haradon, David McClay and Hiram Twining arrived from Vermont and settled in the same neighborhood - the northwest part of the township. These people, it seems, were mostly of one religious faith - being that denominated Christians - not the branch sometimes called Disciples or Campbellites, but the branch founded by Smith and others some seventy five years ago, and who would under no circumstances acknowledge any other name but that of Christian. In Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky and some of the Eastern States are many of this persuasion; but in this section a church of this faith is rare. Horace Mann, one of the greatest acknowledged educators of this country, did his last work as president of Antioch College, at Yellow Springs, Ohio, the college then being one of the educational institutions of the denomination. Elder Hudson, soon after his arrival, organized the little community into a church; and as such it was very prosperous for a few years, and drew around it a large number of enlightened and substantial people. But the good man's labors were not of long duration. His body was laid away beneath the prairie sod soon after his work in this wild field had been successfully inaugurated.

Hiram Twining still resided on the old place His house, built before roads or partition lines were definitely known, proclaims itself to be one of the ancient landmarks, by not "being placed due east and west," but varying from that usually accepted rule several degrees. In this house many of the early religious and other meetings were held. The first township and school elections took place here, it being nearer the center of population than others of sufficient size for the purpose.

About the same time, the Baileys and the Bemis family arrived, the former from New York, and the latter from Michigan. Morrison and Martin Bailey were brothers. They were men of intelligence, and were counted as leaders in society and politics. Morrison Bailey was the first teacher that ever presided over a school in the township. At the first township election, held in 1853, Martin was elected Moderator, one of the four overseers of highways, justice of the peace and supervisor. Morrison Bailey was the first township clerk. The Baileys removed a few years later.

The Bemiss family consisted of Simeon and three grown sons - Ephraim, James and Edwin. In the first election, this family was also honored with six offices. Simeon was elected commissioner of highways; James, clerk pro tern, and justice of the peace; and Edwin, road overseer, collector and constable. This family also removed from the township after a short residence.

Augustine Hauser, John Young, A. A. Angell, D. G. Jaynes and William Hutchinson were also early settlers. Hauser was a native of Switzerland, and came here with a little fortune, which he proposed to double in a short time in the manufacture of cheese. But it seems he was a little ahead of the time; for the business, which to those embarking in a few years later was the means of realizing to them fortunes, was the means of his complete failure, and he left the township several thousand dollars poorer than when he came. The article manufactured by him was, it is said, of superior quality; but the reputation of western cheese was not yet made, and, on account of the prejudice of dealers and consumers for the eastern product, Hauser's scheme proved a failure.

In the mean time, while the settlement in the northwestern part of the township was well under way, another settlement was being formed a little further east and south. The first settlement was, in every respect, a Yankee enterprise, while the other was as positively German; and, while the former had for its central point its church organization, so also had the latter.

The Dierks family and the Strassens, though not the earliest German settlers, came about 1851, bringing with them a preacher of their own faith, and immediately set about the organization of a society, and subsequently of erecting a house of worship. Probably, the very first German in the township was John T. Luehrs, later of Monee, who had come to this vicinity three years before. Following him, in 1849, was his brother, F. Luehrs. The Dierkses were cousins to Luehrs, and came over at the instance of their relatives who had preceded them. The Dierks family consisted of Simon, Fred and G. A. Dierks, who have since all removed to Nebraska. On the recommendation of Luehrs, amongst numerous other families scattered all over this part of the state, came to the township in 1850, O. H. Remmers, B. B. Henry, A. and G. G. Beiken. Peter and William Young, from the same country, but who had been living in Ohio, also came in 1850. The Youngs were not satisfied here, and sold out, William returning to Ohio and Peter moving further south. Fred Hassenjager and Peter Bowlander, the latter later a resident of Monee, were also among the earliest Germans. Hassenjager is an example of what industry and economy may accomplish in the face of deprivations and hardships incident to a pioneer life. When he came here, he was as poor as the poorest, now he is among the wealthiest citizens of this part of the county.

One of the most important public acts of the township occurred about the close of the period of the two settlements named, and was the separation of the two portions of Trenton Township, now designated as Manhattan and Greengarden. It seems to have been the understanding from the first that, when both sections should have attained to a population sufficiently strong for separate organization, such division should take place, though it was hardly expected that it would take place so soon. However, owing to the rapid filling up of each, it was found not only feasible, in 1853, but there were many reasons adduced for separate organization, and thus a "peaceable secession" was accomplished.

Petitions were, therefore, presented to the proper authorities, and, by them, a division was made, accompanied with an order to hold elections. The election was accordingly held in this township, the first meeting taking place at Hiram Twining's house, on the 5th day of April, 1855. Martin Bailey was chosen moderator and J. N. Bemis, clerk, pro tem. The result of the ballot was the election of Martin Bailey, as supervisor; Morrison Bailey, clerk; Edwin Bemiss, collector; George M. Green, assessor; A. A. Angell, overseer of the poor; Martin Bailey and J. N. Bemis, justices of the peace; Edwin P. Bemis and A. A. Angell, constables, and John Young, Simeon Bemiss and D. G. Jaynes, commissioners of highways. Of these, Martin Bailey had been justice before, during the union of the two townships, and administered the oath to the judges and clerk on this occasion.

At the first election, there were twenty seven voters present. It will be noticed that the present officers are German, while the first corps of officers were as decidedly Yankee. During the first few years, the settlement was marked by a preponderance of Americans; but of later years, the German element not only increased more rapidly, but, in reality, most of the Yankee population has disappeared, having sold out their farms to the Germans.

In 1851, a post office was established in the Yankee settlement in Green Garden Township with Rev. James Hudson as postmaster. The office was called Greengarden, and has been in existence ever since, though for the last two or three years its location has been within the bounds of Manhattan Township. These country postoffices, like some orphan children, have a kind of vagrant existence, with no certain home, but travel from place to place at the pleasure or forbearance of their keepers. Greengarden Postoffice has been no exception, as it had many homes. Sometimes it was sought, and at other times it did not know where to take up even a temporary abode.

Green Garden Township is strictly rural as it was half a century ago. It is one of the best agriculture sections of Will County. All of the land has been drained so that it may he cultivated. Farmers are prosperous giving most of their time to the raising of grain for which they now have convenient markets along the Illinois Central Railroad, the Michigan Central Railroad, and the Chicago, Milwaukee and Gary Railroad which is a new road built about twenty years ago.

The township retains the school districts in the shape in which they were laid out at first, each one being two miles square. Each district maintains a school for eight months in the year. The attendance has fallen off during the past decade so that it is less than one third of what it was a quarter of a century ago. This is due in part to the increased size of the farms and in part to the fact that the residents are older people.

A concrete road is being constructed which passes through the township from north to south, one mile from the east edge of the township. At the north edge of the township it swings eastward and strikes the village of Frankfort on the east edge. This road will be completed during the present summer (1928). A stone road crosses the township from north to south along the central line. This stone road is connected with Monee by a good stone road which runs east from the town hall in the center of the township. It was completed in 1927. Plans are complete to finish this road westward to Manhattan thus giving it two good roads across the entire township and the concrete road along the east edge. Green Garden has not had as many good roads as other townships in the county because it was farther removed from road building material than any other one. Here again improved transportation by means of trucks has aided very materially.

While the first settlers in Green Garden Township were known as Yankees because they originated in the east, the present population is almost entirely German. They are honest, industrious, home loving people, devoted to their family, and faithful to their friends.


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