Grove Area Historical Society
was founded to establish, promote and maintain a
society dedicated to the study and preservation
of our area history. The Society's function shall
be collection, preservation, research, display and
dissemination of any artifacts, documents or lands
which illustrate and reflect the Franklin Grove
area heritage. The society shall endeavor to make
its possessions, property and materials readily
accessible, with discretion, to those who wish to
study or examine it.
1980 - Sponsored the first Franklin Grove Area Summer
Harvest Festival and continued as the sponsoring
organization until 2001.
1981 - Members of the Historical Society along with
others founded the Living History Antique Equipment
1983 - Roger Taylor and Ray James founded the Hawk
and Blade Muzzle Loaders Club.
1985 - Instrumental in organizing the first Franklin
Grove All Class Reunion in 61 years. Placed a time
vault in the Franklin Grove Library yard to mark
the sesquicentennial of Franklin Grove.
1987 - Moved the last Blacksmith Shop in Lee County
from Ashton to the future Chaplin Creek Historical
Site. Blacksmith Shop donated by Glenn White.
1989 - Accepted donation of the Lindsay Saltbox
House by Lois Calhoun and moved it to the site.
1990 - Accepted donation of the Yorty School from
Hilda McIntosh and moved it to the site.
1991 - Officially named the "Chaplin Creek
Historical Site". Held the first Pioneer Day.
Members, along with Lauren Kahn, founded the ChaplinCreek
1993 - Began construction of a log cabin in the
Muzzle Loaders area of Chaplin Creek Historical
1995 - 1996 - Completion of the downstairs in the
1997 - Accepted donation of the "Smith and
Hull" building from Dale and Adeline Jasper
and moved it to the site.
1998 - Accepted donation of buildings from Ed Floto
and Mary Lou Kidder and moved to the site.
Members of the Historical Society and other interested
parties formed the Illinois Atlatl Asssociation.
1999 - Accepted donations of 1855 barn from Jim
Scott and summer kitchen from Robin Lahman.
2000 - Raised the "Scott Barn" during
the Summer Harvest Festival. Laid out new roads
and finished the outside of all buildings.
2001 - Landscaping Committee formed. Major tree
planting effort launched.
2002 - Tree Plantings contine. Vinegar house from
the Whitney property donated and relocated to site.
Draft horse arena constructed in farm area. First
annual Fourth of July Program initiated.
2003 - Permanent restrooms with modern fixtures
2004 - Gazeebo constructed by Jack Kelley, Max Baumgardner
and others in memory of Jack H. and Vera Kelley.
Wedding held at the site. Land debt retired.
Work progresses each year in all
of the buildings - there's always something new
to see. Be sure to check out Chaplin Creek to see
some of our buildings and features and Franklin
Grove History for early views of the community as
well as ATLATL and our Calendar of events.
The Lincoln Highway
July 1, 1913 - Organized at Detroit, Michigan, with
the objective: To procure the establishment of a
continuous improved highway from the Atlantic to
the Pacific, open to lawful traffic of all description,
without toll charges, and to be a lasting memorial
to Abraham Lincoln.
September 14, 1913 - Announcement of the route from
Times Square in New York City to Lincoln Park in
San Francisco, covering 3,389 miles, the first transcontinental
September 1914 - First concrete "seedling"
mile completed just west of Malta, Illinois.
May - September, 1915 - Moving picture made of the
entire Lincoln Highway for showing the San Francisco
July - September, 1919 - Lincoln Highway traversed
east to west by an army truck convoy.
1922-1923 - Construction of the "Ideal Section"
between Schereville and Dyer, Indiana -- the model
for future highway design.
1928 - Lincoln Highway marked coast-to-coast by
concrete posts set by theBoy Scouts. The posts,
which featured Lincoln medallions, contained directional
1935 - Publication of the story of the association's
great achievement in the book, THE LINCOLN HIGHWAY:
The story of a Crusade That Made Transportation
History. The association then dissolved.
October, 1992 - Association reactivated at a meeting
in Ogden, Iowa.
1996 - Headquarters office established at: 111 South
Elm Street, P.O. Box 308, Franklin Grove, IL 61031
Phone:815 456-3030. The office is on the Lincolnway.
1999 - Headdquarters office relocated to the H.I.
Lincoln Building located at 136 North Elm Street
in Franklin Grove.
H i s t o r y
A RAMBLING SKETCH OF ITS HISTORY, BUSINESS AND PROSPECTS
- - EARLY SETTLEMENT - - PIONEERS -- BUSINESS MEN.
This comes from a small booklet printed by Telegraph
and Herald Book and Job Print, Dixon, dated 1870.
The flourishing town of Franklin Grove situated
on the Chicago & North Western Road, eighty-eight
miles from Chicago holds a prominent place in the
early history and present development of Lee county.
The prosperity of its business and trade, the agricultural
richness of the country around and the thrift of
the farmers are eminently worthy of note among the
first and most favored. Presuming that a review
of men and affairs thereabout in the early settlement
of the country and through the infancy of the town
would be of general interest we introduce our article
with sketches from the pen of one of its citizens
written in the summer of 1868.
SKETCHES OF EARLY DAYS.
Among the first settlers was E. Morgan who, in 1835
erected the first house in this part of the county,
near what is known as the "Old Brick Yard."
There were then but a few scattering trees, and
underbrush so small that cattle could be seen as
plainly as upon the open prairie. On this tract
of land now flourishes a dense and valuable forest,
worth from $60 to $125 per acre.
In the course of the next year David Holly built
a log house near where Jacob Riddlesbarger's house
now stands. In the same year, Jerry Whipple erected
a house on the creek, on what is known as the "Old
Whipple Place," where he afterwards built a
The commencement of Franklin Grove dates back to
1836, when C. R. Miner erected the first house,
a one story structure near the present site of G.
Millers residence. He afterwards built what is now
the dining-hall of J. Hughes' hotel.
During the same or following year, Mr. Vroman built
a log house on the site of which Mr. T. W. Scott
has lately erected his splendid residence. It was
first occupied by Nathanial Yale, who in the following
year built a house on Franklin Creek near the railway
The land in those days had neither been surveyed
or offered for sale by the Government. The laws
governing the ownership and transfer of real estate
have been remodeled somewhat by later necessities.
It was the practice of our early settlers to mark
off the amount of land they might think their wants
would require, and this was held a sacred right
which must not be infringed upon or questioned.
We frequently hear laughable incidents of selling
"Squatter Claims." Jerry Whipple plowed
for several days, surveying a tract of land embracing
probably as much as is now composed in a number
of towns. Many anecdotes are told of the fights
he had on his way with the "Squatters."
He frequently sold claims to later comers. David
Holly, seeing the pecuniary benefit to be derived
from holding large tracts, started out with his
oxen and plowed around what is now a number of townships,
embracing portions of China, Bradford, and Ogle.
FATHER WHITNEY -- EARLY SETTLERS-- FRANKLIN GROVE
Col. Nathan Whitney and Jacob John came to this
state in 1836, and in 1838, Col. Whitney built the
first frame house upon the prairies, in the county,
which is yet standing.
He established what is now the Franklin Grove Orchard
and Nursery, in 1843. It was the first established
north of the Illinois river. Under the efficient
management of its present proprietor, Mr A.R. Whitney,
it did at that early day much towards the development
of the resources of this part of the State. Probably
no one thing at that time did more for Northern
Illinois than the establishment of this nursery.
We are now reaping the benefits of his labors by
having older and better orchards in Lee and joining
counties than in any other part of Northern Illinois.
For some years it was the only nursery through this
vicinity. It was the first commercial orchard and
is yet the largest orchard and nursery in the State.
It covers 125 acres of land, and contains 18,100
bearing apple trees, yielding annually from 6,000
to 8,000 bushels of apples. He has facilities for
making cider and cider vinegar unsurpassed in the
Col. Nathan Whitney, or as he is now familiarly
known, Father Whitney, a title which he richly deserves
by having endeared himself to the citizens of this
county by his faithful discharge of duty and by
his many social qualities, which have made him revered
as a father by all who know him, was born in Massachusetts,
in 1791; he removed with his parents to Ontario
county, N. Y., where he spent his youth. In 1836
he came to this State.
He is now living with his son, A. R. Whitney, in
the full enjoyment of his physical and mental faculties.
He is the oldest Mason in the county. During the
Morgan excitement in New York he faced the storm
and was "Among the many faithless, faithful
found." On all occasions he is ready to assist
the needy, and practices that "highest"
To show the esteem in which he is held by his Masonic
Brethren, it is only necessary to state that he
is an honorary member of Franklin Grove Lodge, Nachusa
Chapter, Dixon Council, Dixon Commandery and Scottish
In the year 1838 Wm. H. and Harrison Hausen came
here. Silas P. Tolman and John Nichols arriving
about the same time. Amos Hursey and James Holly
settled here in 1839.
The customs of living in the early days of the West
have probably undergone as great changes as have
the farming implements now used, since the farmer
started out at his day's labor with his cradle,
and used his barn floor for a corn sheller. Our
great commercial metropolis, Chicago, was then in
its infancy, and furnished but a scanty supply of
the necessaries of life, and but a slim market for
the farmer's produce.
The hardships and privations endured by the early
settlers can scarcely be realized by us who are
now enjoying the fruits of their labors. The entire
absence of luxuries, with scarcely sufficient of
the necessaries of life, the want of comfortable
dwellings, combined with the sickness incident to
a newly settled chondromata the life of the pioneer
one not to be envied. About the first of August
bilious and intermittent fevers would commence and
continue their ravages until spring; at times there
were not enough well persons in this instant colony
to take care of the sick.
"SQUATTER CLAIMS" -- MARKETS -- W. H.
This part of the State was but sparsely settled
up to the year 1840. New and then a log house was
to be seen near some grove, but few were bold enough
to venture out upon the prairies. It was thought
by many that they would spend all their days in
loneliness and without neighbors.
The land through Northern Illinois bordering on
Rock River, the most fertile and valuable in the
State, was the last to be surveyed and offered for
sale by the Government, -- this owing probably to
the disputed claim of the Indians, they holding
possession and would not relinquish their claim
until 1838, when they were routed, and Black Hawk,
their Chief, that ingenious and successful warrior
of their race, was captured and transported beyond
Previous to the Government sale of land, which was
not made until about 1845, it was held by what was
known as squatter claims -- by building a house
and fence around what land each could cultivate,
secured a clear title' a compact was entered into
among the settlers that when the land came into
market these claims should be held in inviolable,
and when the land came into marked, each squatter
was allowed to purchase the land he had previously
claimed. If any outside parties came in to purchase
the land from the Government held by settlers, they
were either forced to relinquish their title, or
were driven from the country. Some land about here
was sold by the Government for one dollar and twenty-five
cents per acre, which was really worth from ten
to twenty dollars. Mr W.H. Hausen, one of the pioneers
of the West, commenced life in the pine forests
of Maine finally wended his way around the country
till in 1838 he purchased one of these squatter
farms, upon which he still resides, and of which
he has made a noble farm. He was among the first
in the country to devote his attention to the improvement
of stock. The stock on his farm shows the effect
of skillful breeding and careful management as do
even his bees and chickens. He is one of the first
horticulturists in the State. It is but necessary
for those who have contended that Northern Illinois
is no fruit region, to examine his orchard to dispel
the delusion; he is devoting much time to the culture
of pears, and is succeeding beyond his own expectations;
he is also very successful in the culture of the
The chief and almost only pursuits of the early
settlers were agricultural, and the only article
of produce transported to market was wheat -- corn
and oats not being of sufficient value to pay the
expense of marketing. At times the farmer could
dispose of his grain to emigrants coming to the
country to settle; but when forced to find a market,
slim indeed was the price, and hard the labor that
prepared his grain for market, beside hauling it
about a hundred miles with an ox team to sell it
and then dispose it at an average of about 40 cents
per bushel. A good steer or milk cow could be bought
for ten dollars.
Mr. Cyrus E. Miner bought good hogs at a dollar
apiece, drove them to Milwaukee to market, and came
home 35 cents in debt on each hog.
Much sport was derived from hunting and fishing.
Deer abounded in the groves, chickens were to be
had without number upon the prairies and the streams
were filled with fish.
LAND-MARKS -- BANDITS -- REGULATORS -- MURDER
It was not until sometime between 1842 and 1845
that the land was surveyed in this part of the State.
The Government was defrauded. The contract required
that a peck of charcoal be buried at the corner
of a section, a mound raised and a numbered stake
set in each mound. An old settler informs us that
the first part of the contract was filled by carrying
the charcoal in a bag, burying it, and then having
another man come along and take it out to bury at
another corner, thus making one peck of charcoal
answer to survey a whole county. It is owing to
this fact that surveyors experience so much difficulty
in finding section corners at the present day.
A great part of the land through this section was
taken on bounty land-warrants which were sold at
from 75 cents to $1 per acre. The swamplands were
donated to the several towns in which they lay for
This state was early infested with a desperate set,
who frequently organized in bands, the more successfully
to evade justice, committing all kinds of depredations
upon the then thinly settled country, counterfeiting,
thieving, robbing and even murdering. In many places
this class were so strong and numerous that they
controlled the county officers, frequently electing
sheriffs and constables, either belonging to the
band or pledged not to arrest any of them; even
judges of the Court were elected by this class,
so it was almost impossible to convict any of the
band when they were arrested. Either the officers
of justice were connected with them or some of the
band would be selected as jurymen, thus preventing
a verdict in the clearest cases. Even where they
were convicted and imprisoned some plan was devised
whereby they escaped. It became so bad in this and
adjoining counties, in about 1840 that well disposed
citizens organized in bands called Regulators, for
the purpose of self-protection and to put down these
desperadoes. And it was only after they took the
laws into their own hands and administered to these
banditti, that protection was secured to the citizens.
In the adjoining county of Ogle, one Driscoll and
son were executed by a company of Regulators, it
having been known that they belonged to these bands
and had been accessories to a number of murders.
They were taken out in daylight by a company of
about one hundred and fifty men all armed and shot,--
all firing at the same time so that no one knew
who gave the fatal shot, or could appear as a witness
against the other. Most of these men were afterwards
tried for murder but were acquitted.
One of the most horrible murders ever committed
in this county, was done in 1848 about two miles
west of town. On the 20th of May Mr Joshua Wingert
was searching through the grove for his cattle.
He approached a small log hut, and stopped to enquire
for his cattle. He pulled the latch-string and walking
in a shocking spectacle met his sight, two men lay
upon the bed, drenched in their own blood. He hastened
away to give the alarm, not knowing but what his
own family had met a similar fate. The startling
news soon spread through the country and the wildest
excitement prevailed. Many felt when they retired
at night that a similar fate might meet them before
morning. An inquest was held and it was found they
had been dead some three or four days. One had his
head nearly chopped off, while the other had a deep
gash in his forehead, all done with their own ax.
The house was generally ransacked by the perpetrators
of this horrid crime, some of the clothing in a
trunk showing the marks of bloody fingers, it was
supposed that one of them had considerable money
about him at the time. The murderer engaged in this
horrid crime has never been detected; neither has
an account of the murder before been in print. Two
little mounds in the grave-yards are all that now
mark the final resting-place of these two Norwegians.
VILLAGE STARTED -- FIRST STORES -- NEW NAME INCORPORATED
Very little had been done towards commencing a village
on the present site of Franklin Grove, till about
1849. Christian Lahman had laid out seventeen lots
as the commencement of a village called Chaplin.
This comprises about ten acres in the southwest
corner of Franklin. Up to 1854 but little improvement
had been made. C Ambrose opened the first store,
John Wagner built a blacksmith shop, C. B, Bill
had a small house and shoe shop on the lot now occupied
by J. G. Group, which he used as a store during
the building of the Railroad. Early in the spring
of 1854, H. I. Lincoln purchased the first stone
building in the town from L. Yale in which he commenced
business in Franklin. The surrounding country had
been slowly but gradually settling, till most of
the best land had been purchased from the government,
which was held by speculators who had obtained land
warrants, entered land, and were holding it for
an advance in the price. Land was but slowly advancing
in price. But few had opened their eyes to a realization
of what was to be the future of the country, or
had ever expected to see these vast prairies all
under cultivation. In 1854 the town was enlarged
and given a new name -- Franklin Grove. In the fall
of this year the railroad was completed to this
place, the terminus of which was to be the Mississippi
river. This lent new life and energy to all. The
long period of despondent struggle and hard labor
with but a spare recompense, was quickly changed
to the other extreme, thence forward commenced the
building of air castles of extravagant dimensions.
Emigrants flocked in from the East, land rapidly
advanced in value, town lots were held at a very
high price, improved lands double in value in a
few years, grain and all farm produce brought a
good price. Thus many were buoyed up with the hope
of gaining riches with little labor and in great
haste. The town was rapidly built up. C. Durkes,
J. Williams, L. M. Blaisdell, S. J. Smith &
Co., C. H. Ledger and John G Chambers, with others
not known to the writer, commenced business. J.
Hughes built his stone hotel.
Franklin Grove was not an incorporated village till
1857. S. J. Smith was the first President of the
After this rambling survey of the early days of
Franklin and its surroundings, the reader will not
object to being introduced to its present business
and general features. Few towns are better located
as marts of trade, and few favored with as rich
and prosperous a country pouring its tributes into
the warehouse, store and work shop. Situated on
the margin of a beautiful grove and in the center
of an agricultural section of garden richness and
bounty, it is certainly one of the most favored
towns, as a home and business point, within our
reach. Nature and man have united to present these
advantages, but the public spirit and sound sense
of its citizens erected the school house and the
churches which stand forth so prominently as the
land-marks of its progress and ambition. It is not
the yards measured at the counter nor the bushels
weighed in the bin, which furnishes the index to
a town's true prosperity. It is the object which
men have in view which determines their worth in
community and the church and the school house furnish
the best guarantee of the excellence of the men
who make up a town. In the respect Franklin holds
a proud place, entitling it to credit and commendation.
In the van of its business are its four well stocked
and prosperous dry goods houses. The establishments
J. W. WINGERT
Abounds in evidences of enterprise energy and prosperity.
Although less than three years have passed since
Mr. Wingert commenced, he may now boast of a trade
seldom surpassed in extent and desirableness by
any store in a town the size of Franklin. His stock
of dry goods, cloths, boots, shoes and groceries
are always fresh and full, and he makes it a point
to sell goods as cheap as any one in the trade.
Fair profits and fair dealing is the rule at Wingert's.
W. M. BALDWIN
Keeps a full and complete stock of dry goods, boots,
shoes, hats, caps, groceries and everything usually
in demand at a country store, and right well is
he prepared for the trade. Customers will find his
shelves well loaded with the desirable articles
which make life comfortable and pleasant. Mr. Baldwin
is on hand to accommodate and serve customers with
just what they want at as low a price as they can
reasonably want. And there's
G. MILLER & CO.,
The men who keep dry goods, clothing, boots, shoes,
hats, caps, shears, pen-knives, pitchforks, hay
rakes, sugar, tea, coffee and everything under the
sun, that is useful about the farm or in the house.
It matters not a whit what is wanted, go to Miller's
and it can be had at the most reasonable figures,
and of the very best quality. The store of
H. I. LINCOLN,
Is the oldest dry goods establishment in the town.
Mr. Lincoln, having been one of the early pioneers
of the place, and one of those steady, patient men
who always make success by sticking faithfully to
their calling. His store is a fine stone building,
an ornament to the town and a credit to the builder.
He keeps a full stock and complete assortment in
the dry goods and grocery lines, and is always on
hand to serve customers and give them good bargains.
Mr. Lincoln also deals in grain, buying and shipping.
In the lumber line, Messrs. Frost & Barger and
Mr. W. B. Hunt, are prepared to provide all comers
with lumber of all kinds without limit. The facilities
of both yards are such that on the shortest notice
they can supply any demand, however great, at desirable
George H. Taylor makes grain buying and shipping
a business, and therefore can offer good inducements
to the producer to ship at Franklin. He handles
a large amount of grain every season and has every
facility for accommodating the farmer . He also
deals in agricultural implements, and farm machinery
of all kinds doing a large business in these lines.
R. A. BRUCE
In the matter of hardware, stoves and tinware of
every kind and variety, few towns are more favored
than Franklin. Mr. Bruce keeps one of the largest
and most complete stocks ever found in a hardware
house, and withal manifests the most commendable
business enterprise. His stock is always very large,
and his prices are as low as can be found anywhere
in the West. He in consequence of his energy and
low prices has built up a large and most valuable
trade, both in the sale and manufacturing department
of the business.
Mr Trotnow keeps a number one furniture store, and
carries on a nice trade. Everything in his line
can be found in his store, and he manufactures with
skill and rare good taste anything under the head
of furniture or cabinet work. The reader will do
well to stick a pin here and give Mr. Trotnow a
Messrs. Rooney & Spickler keep a drug establishment
which would be a credit to any city. They have erected
a fine brick building and fitted up on the first
floor a tasty and commodious store room, while the
second is used as a Masonic Hall, beautifully arranged
and decorated. Messrs. Rooney & Spickler keep
a large and complete stock of drugs, medicines,
paints and oils, and in addition they carry a full
stock of groceries and a fine assortment of ladies
shoes and gaiters. Their establishment is a credit
and ornament to the town.
Mr George T. Weigle keeps a good stock of drugs,
medicines and notions of all kinds; carries on a
good trade and is gradually increasing it. From
a small beginning he has established a very prosperous
The large stone hotel of J. Hughes known by every
one for years as the "Hughes House," supplies
the best of accommodations for the floating populace,
and sends the traveler from Franklin with a good
impression within, while kind -------- leaves a
good impression without. Altho situated some distance
from the depot, it is worth being sought, and hacks
run to and from at the arrival of every train.
The "Sherman House," standing beside the
track near the depot has a good reputation under
the present management of Wm. Kitner & Son.
It has been fitted up in shape and offers good accommodations.
This seems to be a good point in our sketch to notice
the medicine men, without which Franklin, though
very healthy, could never prosper.
Dr. G. W. Hewitt, the Allopathic practitioner of
the place, had done good service for many years
to the afflicted about Franklin, and is popular
far and near for his skill and success. His circuit
is very large and his practice extensive.
Dr. S. A. Griswold, of the Eclectic school, has
for several years ridden a circuit in the adjoining
country and carried on a good practice, although
the advocates of his system seem to be in the minority.
Dr. Urisa C. Roe has recently located in town. What
school he follows we are not advised, though he
differs from either of the others.
The millinery and dress-making line is amply and
---- provided for by Mrs. Robinson & Spatford,
Mrs. Mary J. Twombly, Mrs Rebecca Campbell and Mrs.
Boyes. With such an array of Queens of the needle
and shears, we may rightly conclude that the ladies
of Franklin and vicinity keep up with the times
and exhibit a due allowance of style.
As co laborers in the good work of rendering the
human form divine more presentable, we find Mr.
A. S. Sall and Mr. Detrick, worthy knights of the
shears, cutting close and giving men fits.
Mr. Wm. Crawford is one of the old wagon makers
of Franklin doing a large business and always doing
Note: there were two other wagon making businesses
mentioned, but the print was not legible.
But what would a wagon be worth without a harness
for the horse? Mr. Joseph Graff and M. L. Grover
are always on hand ready with nimble knife and awl
to furnish just the harness wanted, at most reasonable
And a horse without shoes, would be only half a
horse for man's purposes. We therefore find Sol.
Sunday in full blast to shoe the horse as few others
can, and do general blacksmith work in short order
and in good shape.
BOOT AND SHOE MAKERS
In the journey of life men's soles become a matter
of solicitude. Mr. C. Lager and L. Trotnow are the
men who attend to those matters, but if men would
only get their boots and shoes of them, there would
be little solicitude on the score of the soles.
They do a good business and are popular in their
Squire Wm. S. Thompson has been chosen by the people
for many years to dispense justice to all to whom
justice is due. It might be supposed that among
such a people as abide in and about Franklin there
would be little use for law or its picked officers,
but Squire Thompson, either because of his popular
way of dealing out justice, or because the people
do sometimes itch for the lash of law, does a considerable
business in his official capacity. When, however,
we remember that he is the only magistrate in the
town, we can but conclude in accordance with the
fact that Franklin is a peaceable and harmonious
community Squire Thompson also pays particular attention
John Stewart is the barber who does the town shaving.
For clean, smooth shaves, Stewart is warranted.
Mr. R. Robinson carries on the watch making and
jewelry business, doing good work and keeping a
good stock. Men whose time gets out of joint or
behind should remember Mr. Robinson, and give him
H. A. BLACK
In the line of books, stationery and fancy goods,
Franklin is well provided by Mr. H. A. Black, P.
M., "which is Post Master." -- Mr. Black
keeps always on hand a good assortment of fancy
articles, a complete stock of stationery and school
books, and many desirable and standard works, and
has every facility for supplying on short notice
everything in th the catalogue of his trade. Always
courteous and obliging, he is a success as a Post
Master, and although Black is, to use a Western
expression, "every inch white" wherever
we find him.
Mr A. M. Williams supplies the candy and refreshment
seekers with a good stock and ample accommodations.
Sweet is an essential commodity, and likewise, it
seems, are nuts, fruits and tobacco in all its ugliness
-- all of which can be found in their best shapes
and tastes at Williams'.
J. C. SECRIST
Buys butter, eggs and other farm products, we believe,
always paying the highest market prices for everything.
He seems to think that he can do a little better
by the seller than any one else. Try him.
Mrs E. E. Faunce is the artist who preserves the
soul-lit face against the assaults of time. A wonderful
thing is the art Photographic, and Mrs. Faunce is
skilled in its practice. She "takes" in
good style anybody that can be "taken,"
and seems to give good satisfaction.
About two miles east (west?) of Franklin, on Franklin
Creek, are the Franklin Mills, Capt. R. L. Irwin
proprietor. These mills are justly popular, both
for custom and merchant work, and under the hand
of their energetic owner are doing a large business.
They do a heavy custom business, and in addition
turn out a large amount of merchant flour which
is sold in all the towns around and is universally
popular as number one family flour.
The Presbyterian, Methodist, Lutheran and Universalist
denominations have each a church in the town, and
each is in a prosperous condition. - Rev. Spencer
Baker is pastor of the Presbyterian church; Rev
J. Williamson, of the Methodist church, Rev. Hudson
Chase, of the Universalist, and Rev. Wm. Angelgerger,
of the Lutheran church.
Masonry is represented by Franklin Grove Lodge,
No. 264, A. F. & A. M., and by Nathan Whitney
Chapter, No. 129, R. A. M.
There is also a prosperous lodge at Odd Fellows,
under the name of Franklin Grove Lodge, No. 409,
I. O. of O. F.
The Good Templars have also a lodge in Franklin,
which meets every Saturday night. Prosperity and
conquest attend them in their good work!
We come now to notice the features of Franklin Grove
second only to its churches in point of importance
and influence. The public schools of the town are
its proudest pillars since the civilization of this
as of every other country, moves on the school benches,
and sows its golden seed about the country school
houses of the land. -- Franklin may well be proud
of its schools, and parents may be thankful that
such advantages fall in the paths of their children.
Mr. T. W. Scott, the Principal of the schools, is
a teacher of long experience and continued success,
and is popular among pupils and patrons alike.
Room No. 4, or the Higher Department is taught by
Miss Julia M. Bracket. Room No. 3 is presided over
by Miss Jennie Brown. Room No. 2 has Miss Maggie
R. Bailey for teacher and the teacher of Room No.
1 is Miss Rebecca Secrist. This array makes a corps
of very competent and ambitious teachers, working
in harmony toward the one purpose, to advance the
interests of the student. There are ------- attendance
in the various departments. 196 pupils making a
very large school for the size of the place.
Mr. Israel Zugg, supplies the town with the sweetest
and tenderest of meat the year round, warranted
to give strength to the weak and make the strong
FARM AND STOCK
A sketch of Franklin would be incomplete without
mention of A. R. Whitney's trees and fruit, noted
elsewhere; Samuel Dysart's fine herd of short horn
cattle, having no superiors hereabout; Wm Dysart's
perfect farm' Col. Dysarts grapes and fruit; W.
H. Hausen's delicious apples, and numerous other
attractions abounding in the rich country surrounding
the town.--But time and space prevent our giving
them more than a passing mention.
In this thriving town of Franklin Grove is published
a live six-column paper, christened The Franklin
Grove Reporter, with Mr. John Blocker as editor
and proprietor. Favored with a good circulation
and liberal advertising patronage, the Reporter
is now one of the institutions of the place. We
cordially wish it and its engaging proprietor many
years of smooth and prosperous sailing.
Thus ends this hasty, imperfect and, we fear in
too many cases, unjust sketch of the goodly town
under review. we have endeavored to touch on all
its features without imparting any extravagant coloring
from our pencil. It is indeed a good town, nestling,
as it were, in the lap of one of the richest agricultural
districts in the West, and blessed with a community
of the most intelligent and substantial men of the
country. Long prosper Franklin and its people.
FRANKLIN GROVE - 1923 -
In the Heart of the Dairy Belt Where the Blue Grass
Franklin Grove, with a population of 700 in Lee
County, a thriving and industrious busy little city
on the main line of the Chicago and Northwestern
Railway, on the Lincoln Highway, 10 miles from Dixon,
the county seat, and 88 miles from Chicago. It has
four churches of different denominations; two well
organized bands, a live weekly newspaper; cement
walks, fire department and a 24-hour light and power
service. It is situated in one of the finest agricultural
and dairy regions of the state, the soil being well
adapted to dairying and livestock raising which
are the chief industries, while diversified farming
is extensively practiced. All kinds of grasses and
forage are grown here in abundance and the community
this season, as in previous years, has enjoyed an
abundant crop. A great deal of thoroughbred livestock
is also raised. Improved farm land is worth $150
to $250 per acre and is an investment worth the
most careful consideration of the future settler
who is looking for a desirable and prosperous location.
Franklin Grove has a splendid representative list
of all business houses whose motto it is to keep
down high prices and invite exclusive home trade.
The business men are wide awake and energetic and
of wide business acumen, who are ready at all times
to lend assistance and can be depended upon for
Other features are excellent train and good bus
service, direct market facilities for all its products
with Chicago, the world market, fine water, good
roads and an ideal climate.
Franklin Grove is surrounded by numerous lakes,
rivers and streams, which makes this a paradise
for the tourist who is lucky enough to plan a stop
over here. Fishing, bathing, boating and dancing
with a large auditorium where motion pictures, opera
and other entertainments are given.
The room is here for thousands of people; those
who are just starting out in life or desire to change
their location; some with limited means and a laudable
ambition to possess a home; others with capital
who desire to get in on the "ground floor"
and secure property which must of necessity in the
next few years increase greatly in value, will find
this the ideal spot for investment. At all times
the people have been ambitious for the future, they
have appreciated the great wealth of natural resources
and the inexhaustible opportunities for the investment
of capital and have a firm and abiding faith in
the future of their town.
In educational advantages the city is on a par with
those of several times its size, having an accredited
state high school where the children are given the
benefits of a full high school course, music, domestic
science, manual training and agriculture.
With Your Help -- Watch Us Grow
Excerpted from : 1923 INFORMATION POCKET DIRECTORY
OF FRANKLIN GROVE, Illinois
State Natural Area
Franklin Creek State Natural Area is located in
Lee County, one mile northwest of the village of
Franklin Grove and eight miles east of Dixon, just
north of Illinois Route 38. The beautiful Franklin
Creek flows throughout the 664-acre park. Several
large natural springs, hardwood forests, bedrock
outcroppings, and a large variety of flora and fauna
comprise a pristine ecosystem.
Pioneer families in the 1830s found the Franklin
Creek area to be an inviting new home on the sometimes
unfriendly prairie. Large, cool springs provided
ample amounts of pure drinking water and early refrigeration;
hardwood forests provided construction materials;
and the creek provided fish for food and water power
to run saw and grist mills. The deep, pleasant valleys
protected by limestone and sandstone bluffs made
ideal homesites shielded from cold winter winds.
The mill spring, the largest in the park, provided
water power for the largest grist mill in Lee County,
constructed in 1847. Still today, many ponds and
rock outcroppings along Franklin Creek carry names
given to them by pioneer families.
For years, the Franklin Creek has been a favorite
local recreation site. In 1970, Mrs. Winifred Knox
donated 100 acres of land for wildlife preservation.
Through the 1970s, the Natural Land Institute purchased
additional properties as they became available.
Franklin Grove area citizens, wanting to see the
Franklin Creek area protected, organized in 1981
to form the Franklin Creek Preservation Area Committee.
Since the Committee's formation, they have gained
the reputation of being the first volunteer organization
in the state to improve idle, state-owned land for
park purposes through volunteer efforts. The committee
secured donations of money and labor, along with
assistance from the Franklin Center Future Farmers
of America, to construct roads, shelters, picnic
tables, restrooms, run underground electric lines,
drill wells, and clear hiking trails. Dedication
services were held August 28, 1982, to officially
open the park. In April of 1986, the State of Illinois
appointed the first site superintendent to manage
the new park.
Picnicking: Norwegian Hill and Mill Springs Day
Use Areas have two and three shelters respectively.
Each shelter is complete with electricity, cooking
grills, picnic tables, restrooms and drinking water.
The facilities at Sunday's Shelter are totally handicapped
accessible. A walk-in picnic area with parking by
Sunday's Bridge offers four secluded picnic areas
with picnic tables and grills. The Sunday's, Bartlett,
Hausen-Knox and Banker shelters may be reserved
by contacting the site superintendent.
Grist Mill: The newly constructed Franklin Creek
Grist Mill became operational in 1999. It is open
to the public from April to November -- Wednesdays
11:00 to 2:30, Saturdays 10:00 to 4:00, Sundays
Noon to 4:00, or anytime by appointment by calling
the Grist Mill at 815-456-2718 or the park office.
This very large reproduction is modeled after the
original corn meal and flour producing mill built
in 1847. Community volunteers, in large part, secured
donations and provided the labor to complete this
water-powered structure. Now the Franklin Creek
Preservation Area Committee has a long-term lease
to operate and maintain the facility. Along with
milling demonstrations, the building serves as a
visitor center for the natural area. All four levels
of the Grist Mill are handicapped accessible.
Hiking: Four and one-half miles of hiking trails
are marked and maintained at the park. All trail
markers are numbered and clearly shown on the park
map to help you follow the trails. The Mill Springs
Handicapped Trail is a unique, concrete-surfaced
trail suitable for people of all mobility levels.
The trail leads to the beautiful Mill Spring and
possesses an easy rating. All other trails possess
a medium difficulty rating. Pioneer Pass is highly
recommended to see the park's unique, natural beauty.
The three creek crossings on Pioneer Pass are wet
at this time pending the construction of foot-bridges.
Equestrian: The equestrian area contains six miles
of trails. The Rock River Trail and Horseman Association
has been instrumental in developing and maintaining
this area. Equestrian facilities include a picnic
shelter, restrooms, drinking water and an outdoor
show arena. Equestrian, overnight, Class "C"
camping is available.
Snowmobiling: Four of the six miles of equestrian
trails serve as snowmobile trails after the hunting
season closes and a four-inch snow base exists.
Cross-Country Skiing: Two of the six miles of equestrian
trails serve as ski trails winding through 65 acres
of rolling, wooded landscape. Trails possess a medium
difficulty rating and are opened after hunting season
Fishing is allowed in Franklin Creek on state-owned
property. Use your park map to be sure you are on
park property. Franklin Creek is not stocked at
the present time, but does support a population
of smallmouth bass, channel catfish, carp, redhorse
and rock bass.
At this printing, hunting is limited to archery
deer and wild turkey hunting and only allowed north
of Franklin Creek in the equestrian area in season.
The area consists of 180 acres of hardwoods and
Please: This park is for all to enjoy, so help keep
it clean. Put all litter in the nearest container.
No plants or parts of any tree may be removed or
damaged. If you have questions or need help, contact
the site superintendent. Call 815-456-2878 for information.
Check out the Illinois Department of Natural Resources
for more information on state parks.
The Franklin Creek Grist Mill
The Grist Mill - A Volunteer Effort - The recently
constructed Franklin Creek Grist Mill is a regional
landmark built near the site of the old mill originally
built by Emmert and Lahman in 1847. The early American
corn meal and wheat flour producing mill was the
largest and most complete grist mill in Lee County.
The new mill is the only completely water driven
operational mill of its type in Illinois.
Remarkably, the Franklin Creek Grist Mill was constructed
by volunteers who raised hundreds of thousands of
dollars and performed thousands of hours of labor.
Technology has modernized our world, but the mill
and the volunteers are evidence that the work ethics
and community spirit of rural America are alive
and well. The construction of the new mill began
in the fall of 1992. The dedication was held September
Then - Reverand Joseph Emmert and his son-in-law
Christian Lahman came from Washington County, Maryland
in 1843 looking for natural resources suitable for
construction and operation of a grist mill. Their
success would be measured by their ability to combine
hard work with creative use of abundant resources
such as water, wood, and soil. Surprisingly, they
selected a mill site a half mile from their water
source. Their project required excavating a long
raceway and a mill pond. The location required a
tremendous amount of earth moving accomplished by
horse power and hand shovel. The builders chose
the site because of its accessibility by customers
and the virtual elimination of flood and ice damage.
Although the mill changed hands several times over
the years, it was operated until about 1896 when
the decreased water flow caused it to be abandoned
as a mill.
Now - The new mill affords the visitor the complete
experience, hardly possible at an old mill. Visitors
can experience nineteenth century heavy-timber type
construction, and also, meet and visit with the
mill builders and operators.
The 4-ton wheel located outside the mill is driven
by water from the 2-1/2 acre spring fed mill pond.
The turning of the wheel powers a bull gear located
in the basement which turns the pinion gear driving
a series of belt driven pulleys which transfers
power to a vertical shaft to turn the runner stone
for grinding on the first floor.
Displays and learning activities on the second floor
include walls paneled in wood from 43 different
species of trees. The Learning Center on the third
floor details the story of the construction of the
mill with a scale model of the current structure.
Volunteers at work
H. I. Lincoln Building
The year was 1860 and the village of Franklin Grove,
Illinois was growing and prospering. Thirty years
previous, the first settlers had arrived. Within
a few years, the village of Chaplin was founded.
The main crossroads for Chaplin was the present
intersection of State and Lahman Streets (which,
incidentally, is part of the Lincoln Highway).
Chaplin had become quite a comfortable little settlement
by the time the railroad appeared in the 1850's.
With the advent of the rail line, new businesses
were established closer to the station. It wasn't
long before the existing establishments in Chaplin
realized the advantages of conducting business at
the new location and migrated to the present site
of Franklin Grove.
The little hamlet of Chaplin slowly faded into memory
(excepting a hotel) and eventually became residential
Henry Isaac Lincoln had come to Chaplin and established
a dry goods store in 1853. In 1860 he built this
structure. It was originally a Dry Goods Store,
but later became a Post Office and then the home
of the Franklin Reporter. The newspaper ceased publication
in the 1950's. With the exception of a dance studio
and an arcade which operated for a few years in
the early 1970's, the building sat empty.
In 1995 a group of ten men (Farming Heritage, Inc.),
residing in and around Franklin Grove, were able
to obtain this building with the intent of restoring
it to it's former glory.
As you view the building today, you will notice
numerous photographic displays depicting the condition
of the building when restoration commenced, as well
as other photos showing the restoration process.
The H. I. Lincoln Building is a restoration, which
simply means that everything salvageable from the
past is still in place. If you closely observe the
wooden pillars, the third step on the stairs, and
the interior door leading to Lincoln Hall, you will
notice various piecework and patching. The stencil
on the first floor walls is a copy of the original,
as is the board and batten ceiling. The restorers
were frequently guided by old photos and old lines
on the walls.
Lincoln Hall, as the top floor of the building was
named, came to be the focal point for social events
in the community. Weekly dances were held there,
the Methodist Church held services in the hall,
and basketball games were played there. Plans are
to resume some of these events once the restoration
of the hall is completed.
The rebirth of the Lincoln Building is a result
of volunteer labor, with the exception of the late
restorationist, Ron Nelson, who was hired by FHI
for his expertise. His advice proved to be invaluable,
but he also developed a great love for this project
and formed a strong bond of friendship with those
who labored side by side with him on this restoration.
He is sorely missed.
The H. I. Lincoln building opened it's doors as
the National Headquarters for the Lincoln Highway
Association in March of 1999. The highway route
was proclaimed in 1913 and it became the First Coast
to Coast Highway in the U.S. (from Times Square
in NY to San Francisco, CA). If you step out the
front door of the Lincoln Building and onto the
street, you will find yourself standing on the Lincoln
The H.I. Lincoln Building project is made possible
through private donations.