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Past and Present of Will County, Illinois

By W. W. Stevens
President of the Will County Pioneers Association
Assisted by an Advisory Board,
consisting of Hon. James G. Elwood, James H. Ferriss,
William Grinton, Mrs. Kate Henderson and A. C. Clement
Chicago: The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company
Dedicated to the Pioneers of Will County


This is one of the townships in the county that had not a tree in it of any size when it was organized as a township in 1853. It was all clean, rolling prairie, with a small stream or two, and now and then a slough or low piece of ground of an acre or two, but all good farming land, that has since been taken up by the sturdy farmer, and it is now one of the most thriving and prosperous of the country townships. It is settled almost entirely by Germans, who came there from the fatherland years ago, and settled upon the broad open prairie, and by perseverance and hard labor have caused it to blossom as the rose. They have well cultivated farms, neat and tidy farm buildings, and everywhere the appearance of prosperity and wealth.

Prior to its being formed into a township it was included with Manhattan under the name of Carey. There were but few inhabitants in those days, and they were so widely scattered as to be hardly in sight of each other's homes. It was called Thornton at first, but afterwards changed to the very appropriate name of Green Garden, and by that name it will be known to future generations. On the map of the county it is designated as town 34, range 12, east of the third principal meridian. It is a full township of thirty-six full sections, or 23,040 acres.

The township was one of the very last in the county to become occupied by the settler. Its entire lack of timber was the great drawback to its settlement, for without that for buildings, fences, and especially fuel, the land was almost valueless, except for grazing. But the discovery of large beds of coal but a few miles away soon brought the farmer to occupy and cultivate its fertile acres, and now the deep, rich soil is producing enormous crops of corn, oats, hay and vegetables of every kind.

The pioneer who first ventured out on the Green Garden prairie was M. F. Sanders, a Vermonter, who came there in the year 1847. He was the first justice of the peace and henceforth was familiarly known to "all the country round" as "Squire." In his capacity as justice he performed the first marriage ceremony in the township and through all the long years that he thereafter continued to hold the office he tied many a nuptial knot and settled many a knotty difficulty among his neighbors. He died January 7, 1903.

G. M. Green, another early settler, also came from Vermont, and about the same time, but some years later, he removed to Joliet, where he died many years ago.

The above two families settling there induced others from the same state to come there and occupy the rich prairie soil, and within three or four years the Rev. James Hudson, Daniel Haradon, David McClay and Hiram Twining arrived and became permanent settlers.

These early pioneers of the township, it seems, were all of one faith or creed, calling themselves Christians, and soon after the arrival of Rev. Hudson he formed them into a society, which continued to grow and flourish for several years, until his death some years later.

In 1851 Martin and Morrison Bailey arrived there from New York. They were both men of intelligence and education, and soon became leaders socially as well as politically. Morrison Bailey taught the first school in the township, and when the township was formed his brother Martin was elected the first supervisor, while Morrison was elected the first township clerk.

Simeon Bemiss and family came there in 1851 or 1852, but they remained but a few years.

Augustine Hauser came there from Switzerland and started a cheese factory. He brought some considerable money with him, which enabled him to start quite a business in his line, but he could not compete with the eastern manufactories and hence the scheme proved a failure.

John Young, A. A. Angell, D. G. Jayne and William Hutchinson came there in the early fifties and they were among the last of what was then known as the Yankee settlement of the township.

It was in 1851 that the Dierks family put in an appearance there, and they were the forerunners of the large German population that has since occupied the township. John F. Leuhrs and his brother, F. Leuhrs, came there soon after, and they were followed by O. H. Remmers, B. B. Henry, A. and G. G. Boiken, and Peter Bohlander were also among the earlier of the Germans there. They came there poor, but they are now among the wealthiest of the county. Another of the early families of the township was the Stassen family. They settled in the Southern part of the township and have been from the very first among the ablest and most worthy of citizens of the township. Henry H. was for several terms the supervisor from his township, and was one of the building committee at the erection of the present magnificent court house in 1886. Some years later he removed to Joliet, and was soon elected mayor of the city. Since then he has served several terms on the board of supervisors from Joliet. We have already alluded to the first school taught in the township. Since that day the schools have grown in number, until every part of the township is supplied with good school houses, well filled with as intelligent pupils as are to be found in any part of the county.

The small society of Christians organized by Rev. James Hudson in 1847 erected a church in 1861. The society then embraced about forty persons. The building was dedicated by Rev. Noah Johnson and was under his pastorate for several years.

The German Baptist society was organized about the year 1855, by Rev. H. Jacobs, and six years later a fine church building was erected, at a cost of $1,400. It is located on the southeast corner of section 14, in the eastern part of the township. There is a neatly inclosed churchyard adjoining, in which he buried many of the pioneers of that part of the country.

The St. Peters Evangelical Lutheran church, located two miles further north, was erected in 1867 at a cost of $2,000. A parsonage had been erected in 1863 before the erection of the church, and services were held there. In 1874 a new church building was determined upon by the society, and soon one was erected at a cost of $3,000. The church is in a very flourishing condition and has a membership of over sixty families.

In 1871 the German Methodists erected a neat little church in the northern part of the township. It has thirty-five families as its members.

In 1867 the Green Garden Farmers' Mutual Insurance company was organized, protecting property against losses by fire and lightning. It is in a very flourishing condition and has a membership of over 2,000 in Green Garden and the adjoining towns. It is the cheapest insurance company in the state. It insures farm property only, and charges a small cash premium, besides a premium note of three per cent on the one hundred dollars' worth of property insured by its members. Out of the cash premiums the company has paid all incidental expenses, including salaries of officers and all losses and expenses for several years to come.

At the breaking out of the Civil war Green Garden was very sparsely settled, yet the inhabitants responded nobly to the call for troops, and quite a number of those who went to the front lost their lives in the service of their adopted country. Among the number are Stephen C. Kenny, John Dupuy, George W. Holmes, Mathew Bush, Ellery B. Mitchell, E. J. White, Albert E. Devereaux, J. D. Blanchard, Albert Haraden, and Erastus Rudd.

The population of the township in 1900 was 1890, while the highest vote cast was 208.


Number of pupils enrolled in 1906, 290
Number of school districts, 9
Number of teachers, 9
Number of ungraded schools, 9
Number of pupils enrolled in 1876, 490
Loss in thirty years, 200

Last Update: Sunday, 22-Mar-2015 20:06:34 EDT

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Will County Coordinator: Dennis Partridge
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