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Danforth


During its early political existence, Danforth Township was a part of Douglas Township. This township is the form of a parallelogram, four miles wide by thirteen miles long.

About 1852 A. H. Danforth and George W. Danforth, of Washington, Illinois, formed a partnership to buy land in part of Iroquois County. Between 1854 and 1860 they purchased from the government and the Illinois Central Railroad nearly 50,000 acres of land. George Danforth cane to this part of the county during this time and devoted his time to improving and selling the land. Much of the land purchased by the Danforths was quite swampy and had to be drained to increase its value. The closeness of various rivers and creeks made such drainage quite practical.

Besides draining the land, the Danforths induced a number of people to migrate from Holland to settle here. It is this action that accounts for the Dutch influence in this township. For example, John Huizenga, a native of Holland, was attracted to this area while he was working on the Illinois Central Railroad near here in 1853.

Returning to this township after the Civil War, Huizenga, along with Mr. Heersema, purchased farmland here. After farming some time, John Huizenga opened what was probably the first store in the township.

Practically all of the new residents were members of the Dutch Reformed Church. This denomination held services as early as 1869 in Danforth and built their first church in 1872. St. John's Lutheran Church began holding religious services in 1870 and built their original place of worship in 1873.

In 1877 the residents of the northern part of Douglas Township requested a separate township organization. In that same year, a division was approved by the Board of Supervisors as to the area of the two township, Douglas and Danforth.

The first election of Danforth Township officers was held in1878. The following were elected: David Brunlack, supervisor; H.R. Danforth, clerk; L.A. Benjamin, assessor; and Fred Kohl, collector.

The firm of A.H. Danforth and Company had been dissolved in 1873, and H. R. Danforth arrived to represent the interest of this father and his own. This firm had much more success in managing its land holdings than did many similar companies and played an instrumental role in the development of this township.

The village of Danforth was laid out in 1872, on Section 18 and the corner of section 7, which lay between that and the railroad. The switch and station had already been established in 1865.

(from Iroquois County History 1985--page 89 transcribed by Carrol Mick)


Poultry Business

H.C. Woigast, after retiring from the general merchandise business in Danforth, entered the egg business, buying eggs from wholesale dealers in surrounding towns and shipping them to Reimer Bros. at New York. He first conducted the enterprise on a small basis, occupying the cellar of P. H. Wolgast & Son's store as a store room for cases, and the former printing office building for an office room. The second year he stored and made his cases in the room of the bank. As the years passed and his business increased, and about 1906 realizing the necessity of more room, he purchased a vacant lot, belonging to John Eden, east of the track. Here he erected a spacious structure, having a capacity of many thousand cases, together with large store rooms, picking rooms, and a general office room. After erecting his building Mr. Wolgast carried on his business on a still greater basis, branching off into the poultry business. He did go to dealers to a great advantage. Eggs were purchased from miles around and shipped directly to Kankakee, where they were transferred into refrigerated cars leased by Mr. Wolgast, and shipped to New York, twice each week. The egg cases were received here knocked down in lots of 4000. They were manufactured here and furnished to customers. Some days the empties were shipped out by the hundreds in carload lots. Miss Dora Wolgast, his daughter, acted as bookkeeper and stenographer, while his son, Fred did general work. Extra help was employed nearly all the time until the closing of the business in 1917. (Danforth Herald, December 1909).

(from Iroquois County History 1985--page 90 transcribed by Carrol Mick)


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