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

Troy Township. - Jedediah Woolley, Sr., was one of the earliest settlers of Plainfield, but of that township it could hardly be said that he became a permanent resident, as he removed from it before the land came into market. He, however, lived there some time, and there experienced some of the trials and privations of pioneer life incident to this country at a period prior to 1835. In the year named, he removed to Troy Township, made a claim and settled permanently. His son, Jedediah Woolley, Jr., had already made some improvement, having built a saw mill on the Du Page, which flows through the township. The saw mill was completed and in operation by the Fall of 1834. His was the first mill enterprise in Troy, and one of the very first in the county. It was looked upon as a great addition to the industries of the community, and furnished lumber for most of the early buildings in this vicinity. The canal and railroad, though dreamed of, had not been built, and the only commercial communication with the village of Chicago was by means of wagons, and so most of the houses prior to that date were built entirely of logs. A dwelling of the character in use in those days would be almost a curiosity now; and, as compared with the fine farm houses and almost palatial residence of Troy and vicinity, would, at least, be considered a novelty.

Jededliah Woolley, Jr., was County Surveyor when Will was was a part of Cook County, and surveyed the county. A man named Chipman was partner with the younger Woolley in the saw mill. Chipman was from the State of Ohio. He did not find the country all that he had anticipated, and, after a short residence, he returned to the Buckeye State.

Alford McGill, a son in law of the Elder Woolley, moved to the township at the same time. It was McGill who guided the Knapps and the Tryons of Channahon, to the place of their location, and recommended it as the finest soil in the country. Cary Thornton was a native of Pennsylvania, but had lived in the State of New York prior to coming here, in 1835. At that date, he came West, and attended the land sale and purchased a half section of land. The next year, 1836, he, with his brother William, moved from New York to the land purchased the year before, each occupying one half. The location of the land was in the southern part of the township. Cary Thornton removed to the city of Joliet in 1866.

Josiah Holden, a brother of Phineas Holden, who settled in New Lenox at an early date, was in the township as early as 1836. He moved away and died many years ago. Dr. Alexander McGregor Comstock, whom, from the name we imagine, to have been a Scotchman, came here from New York, about 1837. He moved the city of Joliet and died of cholera, during the reign of that fatal plague years ago. He was the first resident physician, and a man of much intelligence and of excellent attainments. Horace Haff was from the Black River country, of New York, and settled in this township about 1837. By him the township was named West Troy, probably from the city of the same name, near which he had formerly lived. A portion of the name was afterward dropped, leaving it as we now have it. Andrew and Marshall King came to this place from Indiana, and settled in the north part of the township. Andrew died here, October, 1849. Marshall moved to Texas, where he died several years ago.

After the settlements already mentioned, but few additional were made for some years. The panic of 1837, continuing for several years, put a check upon immigration, and not until the completion of the Canal, which passes through the southeast corner, did the township again grow in population. In several ways, the Canal contributed to the rapid development of this part of the State. The works were pronounced complete in 1848, and boats began to ply along the line. Formerly, grain and produce of all kinds had to be hauled by wagon over bad roads, to the nearest market, which was Chicago, and supplies of groceries and other necessities had to be obtained there by the same means, and, consequently, emigrants looking for homes, located at points where commercial advantages were more convenient. When the Canal was completed, bringing these facilities to this portion of the State, immediately a new impetus was given to the settlement of Troy Township. Again, a number of the laborers on the works being now out of employment, and having saved some of their earnings, located on the adjacent lands. Quite a number of our Irish citizens date their arrival in the township, with the completion of the Canal.

The subject of education has received its share of attention by the Trojans. The first school was taught in a little log structure, erected for that purpose, on Mr. Thornton's place. This was about the year 1836 or 1837, but who was the pioneer educator is not now remembered. The first teacher whose name can be recalled with sufficient distinctness to fix dates, was Miss Rebecca Boardman, who taught here in 1840-41. From this small beginning was developed, in proportion to the development of the country, a system of education in this township, that compares favorably with any township in the county.

Though the Gospel was preached at an early date in this township, owing to its proximity to Joliet, and other points where churches and all the means of affording religious advantages abound, no church buildings are to be found here.

Bird's Bridge is on the Illinois & Michigan Canal, about five miles south of Joliet. It received its name from a man of the name of Bird, who formerly lived near the bridge, a hundred yards below the place. A grain warehouse and elevator were erected here by H. S. Carpenter, of Joliet, about the year 1867.

Grintonville, or Grinton's Mill, is another little hamlet on the Du Page River, five miles from Joliet. It was regularly laid out by Wm. Grinton and called after his name. Mr. Grinton was an early settler, and built a mill here about the year 1845. It was a three story building, with three runs of buhrs.

In the early times, when much of the clothing was made at home, and the cloth from which it was cut was spun and woven there, woolen factories or carding machines were common all over the country. Sheep were raised principally for their wool, and nearly all the product was consumed in the neighborhood. Now, a mill for the purpose of making rolls, is a novelty. The wool picking, the carding, the spinning, the weaving, are all of the past; and even the making of the clothing, though there is a sewing machine in almost every house, is largely done by manufacturers. A factory for the purpose of converting wool into cards preparatory to spinning, was built here by the McEvoys; but for many years it has stood idle, though at one time it did an extensive business. The factory was built about 1848 or 1849.

Troy Township made a splendid beginning with the mill at the river. This was one of the very first mill enterprises in Will County and was considered a great advantage to the industries of our county. It furnished lumber for most of the buildings in this vicinity. A store was started and Troy at that time promised to be quite a town with possibilities for being a city. The railroads and the canal passed the village by quite a ways off, and the village never increased in size. At the present time, there are three or four houses which are occupied. There is an oil station and also a large dance hall which is used occasionally. Bird's Bridge was started many years ago when the Illinois & Michigan canal was an important factor in transportation. This is still a good market for grain. The Rock Island Railroad came through and it was possible to ship on that road, hence it has remained to the present day in a prosperous condition. Grintonville or Grinton's Mill was another little hamlet on the Du Page which made a good start and ended in failure.

While no towns or villages have developed in the township, many people find summer residence in cottages along the Du Page River. This is a beautiful stream of water and is a favorite resort for hundreds of people each summer.


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