History of Kane County, Illinois
History is composite biography. There has been no great event but what has affected us all. The spirit awakened by the struggle in 1776 lives by heredity in all American hearts and by adoption and education in the hearts of those who were foreigners but are now citizens. Any people become what they are by the combined experiences, failures, and successes of their chain of ancestry. Too little thought is given, too little credit attached to this fact. We cannot change what is back of us. if we would, and what is there determines our equipment. So history — the history of a State, Nation, City or County, is but a composite biography of those who there worked, and by their efforts left to us who here follow them a hundred forces and tendencies that aid or retard our advancement. They left public opinions, social notions, business methods, forms of government, standards of morality, etc., etc., by which we are now controlled; and which are changed with difficulty. So it is with all communities; their standards are largely set by those who first established themselves in control. To them came others of like standards and methods and cemented the recognized ways of doing and thinking. History is the composite picture of the past; setting forth the common outline.
The subject of this historical sketch is a piece of land thirty miles long and eighteen miles wide, within whose borders dwells a population of nearly 100,000 people of many different nationalities; a people whose products are distributed to the four ends of the civilized world. Less than seventy-five years ago it was a wilderness peopled by native Redmen, whose ancestry had dwelt here many centuries, living by the chase and the hook. Today it is the home and workshop of a prosperous population. It is the story of the evolution of this territory that we shall here present, seeking to make intelligible its varied activities, their origin and progress, and the men and women who directed them.
The word "County" is doubtless a thousand years old. for it originated in the Feudal System of about 800 A.D. Charlemagne, after conquering an unwilling territory, sent out officials to govern it. Some of these were named Counts, and in time the district they controlled came to be known as a County. When William the Conqueror readjusted English land tenure the County or Shire became a political division over which one of the new nobility was set as owner, judge and law maker, subject to the King and owing allegiance to the throne. The word "Shire" is an English name and was used as a synonymous term, and is yet common in England and New England.
Under the Feudal System, the Count or Earl was the chief person of the County or Shire. He was "lord of the manor." The people had little power or privilege, their value being as contributors to those in power and place, whose occupations ran much to wars and political strife. We here today can but vaguely picture the subjection of the general people of those ancient Counties. The Count held court, collected taxes and spent them as he willed. No workman could leave his County without consent of the overlord. Freedom of act was unknown. The common idea was that the lesser man was created to give support to the powerful and privileged.
But times have changed. Some battling has been done; many lives sacrificed. Today the Count and Earl and his followers have disappeared, and we here control the government and conduct of County affairs. We with difficulty realize that this territorial and political division was ever other than it is. Therein is the value of history — of such local history as is here presented. To those who read it, it gives a larger and more intelligent view of the conditions now realized. Today is ever the child of yesterday.
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VOLUME II - Biographical
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William George, a capitalist of Aurora, forceful and resourceful and strong in his ability to plan and to perform, was born in Sugar Grove, Kane county, Illinois, September 23, 1861. His paternal grandfather was Ebenezer George, a native of Keene, New Hampshire, and a son of a soldier of the Revolution. Hon. Alonzo George, father of William George, was for many years one of the most prominent and honored residents of Aurora. He was born at Strafford, Vermont. The mother, who bore the maiden name of Lydia May, was a daughter of Colonel Elisha May, of Fairlee, Vermont.
Excellent educational opportunities were afforded William George, who pursued his preliminary studies in the West Aurora schools, mastering the branches of consecutive grades until he became a high school student in West Aurora and was graduated there with the class of 1879. He afterward matriculated in the state university of Iowa at Iowa City and upon the completion of his course there he became a student in the Union College of Law at Chicago and was graduated with honor in the class of 1885 and admitted Lo the bar of Illinois. Returning to Aurora. Mr. George put his theoretical training to the practical test in the law office of Hopkins. Aldrich & Thatcher, where he remained until October. 1887. He then entered upon an independent professional career, continuing alone in practice until the 1st of January, 1894, when he formed a partnership with F. D. Winslow, which continued until September 16, 1895. In that year the law firm of Hopkins, Aldrich & Thatcher was dissolved and Nathan J. Aldrich joined Winslow & George as senior partner of the firm of Aldrich, Winslow & George. Later Mr. George retired from that firm. His business has been of a most important character, especially in the line of corporation law, but outside business interests have in recent years largely claimed the attention of Mr. George, precluding to some extent his active participation in his chosen profession.