History of Grundy County, Illinois

In this volume the publishers present the results of their efforts to secure a creditable compilation of the History of Grundy County. In recounting the "short and simple annals" of a community founded in the "piping times of peace," and more in the midst than on the frontier of new settlements, there is little material for a thrilling narrative or a record of interesting exploits, but the authors of this enterprise believe that the essential facts of the early history are here set forth with substantial accuracy. No effort has been made to draw upon the imagination to embellish the story, but as it has been found, it has been given, in a plain, unvarnished tale. The historical matter has been revised by L.W. Claypool, Esq., whose thorough knowledge of the history and wide acquaintance with the people of the county assures its accuracy, and has largely contributed to its completeness, and the publishers take this occasion to acknowledge their indebtedness to him for his valuable assistance in the prosecution of this enterprise. The chapters on Morris were contributed by the Hon. P.A. Armstrong, with whom the undertaking was largely a labor of love, and to his cordial endorsement of the work and interesting contributions to its pages is due much of its success. The chapters on Gardner were contributed by Dr. C.M. Easton, to whom the publishers and patrons are greatly indebted for the intelligent and persevering zeal with which he has discharged the duty imposed upon him. The publishers also desire to thank the people everywhere in the county for the uniform courtesy and assistance tendered our corps of writers, and trust the general accuracy of the work will in some part repay the favors they have shown.


Table of Contents.


The Northwest Territory... 11
Early History of Illinois... 67

CHAPTER I. — Topography — Post-Tertiary Formations — Rock - Formations — Carboniferous Fossils — Economic Geology... 100
CHAPTER II. - Pre-historic Races — Earliest Traces of Man — Mound-Builders and their Remains — Indian Tribes — Relations with the Whites — Wauponsee — Shabbona - Nucquette... 113
CHAPTER III. — Early French Settlements — Frontier Settlements in La Salle and Grundy Counties— Civilized Life In a New Country — Political Organization — Formation of Grundy County — County Buildings... 132
CHAPTER IV. — Social Development — Early Society — Rise of Chureh and School — Indian Trails and Early Roads — Railroads and the Canal — The Newspapers... 148
CHAPTER V. — Grundy County's Share in the War of the Rebellion — The Loyalty of Her Men — The Devotion of Her Women — The Representatives in the Field... 164
CHAPTER VI. — Morris City — Introductory — Its Location - First Beginnings — Origin of Name — County Honors — Early Community — Biographical... 183
CHAPTER VII. — Morris City — The Second Period — Growth of the Corporation — Official Records — Internal Improvements — 1842 to 1850... 203
CHAPTER VIII. — Morris Township — Its Organization, Boundaries and Changes — The New Court House — Schools of Morris — Early Teachers — The Board of Education... 222
CHAPTER IX. — Morris City — Churches — Early Ministers — The Legal Profession — Business — Pioneer — Secret Fraternities... 248
CHAPTER X. — Greenfield Township — Surface — Streams — Timber — Origin of Name — Township Organization — Going to Mill — First Settlers — Incident — Wolf and Deer Hunting — Elections — Officers — Improvements and Prospects — What We are To-day, etc., etc... 264
CHAPTER XI. — Gardner — Town Platting - Naming — First Buildings — Inhabitants — Improvements — Coal and Mining Interests — Societies — Schools — Churches — Business Firms and Individuals, etc... 275
CHAPTER XII. — Nettle Creek Township — First Settlers — Life In a Praitie Country — Schools, etc... 285
CHAPTER XIII. — Au Sable Township- Location and Physical Characteristics — Its Early Settlement — Its Natural Attractions — Dresden — Minooka — Churches and Schools... 29O
CHAPTER XIV. — Saratoga Township — Physical Features — The Early Settlers — The Norwegian Emigration — The Houges Meuegbed... 297
CHAPTER XV. — Wauponsee Township — Its Material Resources — Early Settlers — Pioneer Life on the Prairie — The Church and School... 302
CHAPTER XVI. — Felix Township — Its Topographical Features — Pioneers — Floods — Sickness — Jug-Town — The Silent City... 312
CHAPTER XVII. — Erienna — Township 33 Norih, Range 6 East — Changes of Boundaries — Early Settlement — Horrom City — Clarkson — Norman — Surface Features — Pioneers — Churches and Schools... 321
CHAPTER XVIII. — Mazon Township — Early Topographical Features — Its Pioneers — Growth and Development of the Settlement — New Mazon— Churches and Schools... 328
CHAPTER XIX. — Vienna Township— Pioneers of the Prairie — The Changes of Fifty Years — Illinois City — Verona — The Church and School... 340
CHAPTER XX. — Braceville Township — Coal Measures — Early Settlement — The Open Prairie... 346
CHAPTER XXI. — Goodfarm Township — "The Lay of the Land" — Early Settlement — Pioneer Experiences — Schools — Churches... 354
CHAPTER XXII. — Highland Township — Topographical Characteristics — Prairie Bandits — Lawless Law — Settlement of the Township — The Catholic Church... 395



Morris City and Township... 3
All Sable Township... 41
Mazon Township... 62
Wauponasee Township... 76
Greenfield Township... 82
Braceville Township... 105
Felix Township... 122
Saratoga Township... 124
Nettle Creek Township... 132
Erienna Township... 134
Norman Township... 136
Vienna Township... 139
Highland Township... 151
Goodfarm Township... 154

S.B. Thomas... 45
L.W. Claypool... 81
P.A. Armstrong... 117
J.0. Lurtz... 153
0.J. Booth... 189
J.N. Reading... 225
Dr. C.M. Easton... 261
0.P. Augustine... 297
William Stephen ... 333


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In the year 1541, De Soto first saw the Great West in the New World. He, however, penetrated no farther north than the 35th parallel of latitude. The expedition resulted in his death and that of more than half his army, the remainder of whom found their way to Cuba, thence to Spain, in a famished and demoralized condition. De Soto founded no settlements, produced no results, and left no traces, unless it were that lie awakened the hostility of the red man against the white man, and disheartened such as might desire to follow up the career of discovery for better purposes. The French nation were eager and ready to seize upon any news from this extensive domain, and were the first to profit by De Soto's defeat. Yet it was more than a century before any adventurer took advantage of these discoveries.