HISTORY OF THE TOWN OF YORK
from a History of DuPage County, Illinois, 1857
We are unable to give as complete a history of this town as we could desire, although we have tried faithfully to obtain the necessary information to do so. We cannot but believe that there are many incidents connected with its early settlement that would, to say the least, be of interest to the inhabitants of the township, if not to the general reader, notwithstanding the contrary opinion, which prevails among the early settlers.
York was first settled in the spring of 1834, by Elisha Fish. His claim was on the south east quarter of section thirty-five, where his widow still lives. The next who came in was Henry Reader, who settled in 1835, on the south west quarter of section thirty-five. Luther Morton settled soon after on section seven; Benjamin Fuller on section twenty-five; Nicholas Torode, sen., on section twenty-seven; and in April, 1836, John Talmadge removed to this town from Brush Hill, where he had lived since 1834, and settled on the south east quarter of section twenty-three. In May, 1836, there were several families added to the settlement. Among these were the families of Jesse Atwater, Edward Eldridge, and David Talmadge. In July of the same year, the settlement was increased by the families of Jacob W. Fuller and David Thurston. In 1837, Sheldon Peek, W. Churchill, Zerais Cobb, John Glos and John Bohlander Page 192 came in and settled on what is now called the St. Charles road. John Thrasher came in about the same time, and settled on section thirty. The first settlers of this town were preeminently fitted to endure the trials incident to frontier life. They were "made of the right sort of stuff," and advanced boldly with the standard of civilization, regardless of danger, and knowing no dread of hardships. Many of them had been brought up on the borders of civilization, and were thoroughly inured to all the privations of pioneer
life. Perhaps no town in this country can justly claim to itself a more hardy, daring class of pioneers. John Talmadge, whose name had already been mentioned among the early settlers of this town, was for several years a soldier in the U.S. army. In that capacity he was in the service of his country during the war of 1812, and in several battles fought valiantly under our national banner. Although his head is now "silvered o'er with age," yet
that quenchless spirit of patriotism which fired his youth still glows within his breast and flashes from his fading eye.
This township contains thirty-six square miles of land, and has a soil, cultivation, vales, fields, landscapes and scenery, which would not suffer in comparison with many sections of country more widely and favorably known. It affords an agreeable variety of surface and soil, well adapted to the wants of the husbandman, and, with proper cultivation, yields him most bountiful harvests for the support of the multitudes dependent upon his industry.
The principal stream is Salt creek, which runs through the town from north to south.
Most of the first settlers were originally from the State of New York, and when the inhabitants were called upon to give a name to their precinct, that of York was selected with but few dissenting voices.
The manufactures of this town are unimportant. A steam flouring mill is now in operation at Brush Hill, owned by F. Gray. This mill has two run of stones, and is the only manufactory of much importance in the town. The Galena railroad runs through the town, and upon it two young and thriving villages have sprung up, like Minerva from the brain of Jove, full armed and ready for effective service. These are at Cottage Hill and at Babcock's Grove.
"The village of Cottage Hill is pleasantly situated on the line of the Galena and Chicago Union Railroad, sixteen miles west of Chicago. The first settler here was J. L. Hovey, who came from Painesville, Ohio. He built a small house in 1843, which he kept as a hotel, it being favorably known by the farmers of the Fox and Rock river counties, who then teamed their own produce to Chicago, as the 'Hill Cottage.' The 'Hill' proper lies half a mile from the railroad, and commands as fine a prospect of prairie, cultivated farms, groves, cottages and railroad trains as one could desire to behold. This place being but 15 1-2 miles from the centre of business in Chicago; having good water, pure air, and railroad trains hourly passing - all of which stop here - must soon become known to those who would find for
themselves and families, at a convenient distance from the city, a retreat from the noise and dust of its hot and crowded streets."
The railroad was completed to this place in 1849, since which time the village has been chiefly built up. It now contains one hotel, five stores, several manufacturing establishments, a railroad passenger house, some thirty or forty dwellings and about 200 inhabitants. A fine edifice is now in process of erection, to be used as a church and school house. There is no other church building in the town, although there are several organized
religious societies, which hold their meetings in the school houses in different parts of the town.
Babcock's Grove is a pleasant village, of some 200 inhabitants, situated about five miles west of Cottage Hill on the Galena road. It is an active, businesslike place, and promises to become a town of considerable importance. It has a good hotel, several stores, and a number of fine residences.
The present population of the town of York is not far from 1500. The Germans have settled pretty thickly in some parts of the town, and among them may be found some of the best farmers in the county. They are frugal, industrious, and honest, as a class, and manage their farms with superior agricultural skill.
There are three post offices in the town. George Fuller is post master at York Centre, Jerry Bates at Cottage Hill, and J. B. Hull at Babcock's Grove.
York has the largest school fund of any town in DuPage county. The school section was sold at five dollars per acre, creating an original fund of $3,200. It is now near $3,500. The highest rate of compensation paid to teachers is $25 per month; the lowest is $10
per month. The amount paid for teachers' wages amounts to about $800 annually. There are eight public schools taught in the township, which are attended by 400 scholars. The average number of months in the year in which schools are taught is eight, and the average number of scholars in each school is forty.
We would here remark that the sources from which we have obtained the statistics relating to this town have not been the most reliable, and if we find errors have occurred, it will, not be to us a matter of very great surprise.
Transcribed October 1999 by Erv Uecker, Milwaukee, WI