| This township, situated in the extreme south-eastern corner of the county, is the largest town in area in the county, and is one of the finest agricultural regions in the State- being well watered and finely timbered. It is bounded on the south by the Desplaines river, thus bringing a large portion of its inhabitants in close proximity to the Illinois and Michigan canal; also sufficiently near to be greatly benefited by the extensive stone quarries of Lemont and Athens. The main line of the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy railroad passes through the entire town on the north, upon whose line many beautiful suburban villages are now springing up. The popular management of this railroad company has had much to do with the development of the country through which it passes. This township was settled in 1832, by Pierce Downer, from whom it derived its name.
The natural attractiveness of the country soon brought in a large population, which consequently caused the land to become claimed at an early day, and when land offices were opened, and these lands put in market, nearly every acre of this township was already held by claim-right; and as a rule among the early settlers, by deeding and re-deeding, where the claimlines and survey-lines did not correspond, many of the early claims were materially changed. The early settlers of Downer's Grove, like all others, were not exempt from "claim wars." Timber and water in those days were regarded as indispensable to a claim; consequently many of the boundaries of the early claims terminated when sufficient timber, prairie and water were surrounded; and between trading and claim-jumping many contentions arose, but happily in this locality none occurred of a serious nature. In 1833, Mr. Stephen Downer, a son of Pierce Downer, a Mr. Wells and Cooley, were added to the settlement. Pierce Downer having made his claim on what is now section six, and lying immediately north of the Grove, the other settlers made claims east and south of the Grove.
Prior to 1836 but few families had settled at the Grove- perhaps not more than half a dozen all told. Mr. I. P. Blodgett moved from DuPage township, in Will county, to Downer's Grove, in 1836, where he continued the manufacture of plows. Mr. B. built the first blacksmith shop in Downer's Grove, and perhaps in the county. Soon after this date, quite a number were added to the settlement, among whom were Dexter Stanley, Asa Carpenter, L. C. Aldrich, G. Smith, S. Curtis, J. R. Adams, Henry Carpenter, David Page, Horace Aldrich, J. W. Walker, and perhaps others. The first school in the town was taught in 1839, by N. G. Hurd. In 1844, the first school-house was built. The principal villages of this township are Hinsdale, Downer's Grove, Clarendon Hills, and Fullersburg.
Upon the completion of the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy railroad in 1862, the northern portion of this town began rapidly to settle up, and the land along the line of the road became very valuable.
In September, 1865, HINSDALE was platted, and was recorded in August, 1866. the village is located on the extreme eastern line of the township, and is fifteen miles south-west from Chicago, and on the main line of the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy railroad. The location is a beautiful rolling prairie, and already the village is assuming the appearance of a city, and can boast of a greater number of fine residences than any town in the county.
The Baptist Church was organized in 1866 by Rev. N. Colver, with fifteen members. A church was erected in 1870, at a cost of $12,000. Present membership, about fifty.
The Unitarian Church was organized in 1869, by Rev. G. H. Wilhelm, with 40 members. this and the Universalist Society occupy in a company a church built by A. J. Stough, at a cost of about $5,000.
The Congregational Church of Hinsdale was organized August 12, 1866. The present membership is 48. They now have a fine church nearly completed, and, when finished, will cost from $12,000 to $15,000.
Hinsdale has fine public schools, which are well attended, as well as an academy, which is also in a flourishing condition.
CLARENDON HILLS is the name of a plat lying immediately west of Hinsdale, and also on the line of the railroad; the peculiarity of this place being its crooked streets, no two streets being parallel, not no two lots of the same shape or size. The town is new, only being recorded November 4, 1873. It occurs to the writer that only men of steady habits must settle in this place, for the serpentine appearance of the streets might prove too much for a head not evenly balanced.
The Methodists of this place have a class formed of 25 members, and occupy the school-house for services. The natural location of this plat is beautiful, and bids fair to receive its share of public favor.
DOWNER'S GROVE- The village of this name is located on the main line of the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad, and at the center of section eight, and is 22 miles from Chicago. It is one of the old towns of the county. The location is beautiful- the timber coming up to the village on the west. The Linden Heights Association is now buying up the lands around this point, with the view of a re-subdivision, preparatory for a new town on a more modern scale. There are fine schools at this place. A mill is now being erected for the grinding of feed; also for the manufacture of sash, doors and blinds. About one and a-half miles east of this place are fine brick-kilns, where building material of a fine quality can be obtained.
The Baptist Church was organized 1852 by S. F. Holt. The first house of worship was erected in 1853, and was burned in 1871. A new house has since been built at a cost of $6,500, and waS dedicated March 25, 1872. Present membership, 100.
The Methodist Episcopal Church formed a class, and held services as early as 1839. The Church was regularly organized, 1841, by Rev. Mr. Grundy, with nine members, and in 1852 erected a house of worship. Present membership is 35.
The German Evangelical Church of Downer's Grove was organized 1858, with 35 members, which has increased to 50, and now occupy the church formerly owned by the Congregationalists.
The Congregational Church was organized in 1836, and erected a house, one mile and a-half west of Downer's Grove, and occupied it until 1855. They now hold services at Downer's Grove Village, and design building this season.
The Methodist Episcopal Church of Cass, in the southern part of this township, was organized in 1834, with five members. In 1870 they erected a fine church building, on land donated by Wm. Smart for this purpose. The church is in a prosperous condition.