Genealogy and History
Part of the Genealogy Trails History Group
This township comprises the east half of Township 27, Range 5, and the west half of Township 27, Range 6, with an aggregate of 22,700 acres, upward of 20,000 acres being under cultivation. The township is well watered by Yellow Creek and its numerous branches, and a fine growth of timber is to be found in the northern part. The first settlement was made in 1827, by 0. W. Kellogg, who ventured into the wilderness of Burrows' (now Timms' Grove), and erected a shanty, which remained intact until 1862, when it was torn down and a new one erected on the site ; this is still standing, owned by a Mr. Taylor
The old cabin, however, was first sold to a man named Lafayette, who in turn assigned his title to one by the name of Green, from Galena. The latter remained in possession until 1835, when James Timms became the purchaser, removing thither with his family the same year, the first permanent settler in the township, and the only settler at that date west of Freeport. In the fall of 1835, Jesse Willet came in, and settled at what is now known as Willet's bridge, below Timms', building a house there that is yet standing. Calvin and Jabez Giddings are said to have come about the same time and established themselves on Yellow Creek, four miles north of Timms'. During the winter of that year and the spring of 1836, there is no record of any one having ventured into the vicinity, wherein Timms and his neighbors held undisputed possession, and cultivated patches of corn and other grains. In the fall of 1836, Gilbert Osborn was added to the number of settlers already mentioned, and again was the colony remitted to quiet and relief from further incursions by pioneer plodders in the wilderness. In 1839, J. Reber settled one and a half miles northwest of Timms', and in the following year Frank Maginnis erected a cabin on the present farm of Jacob Gable. Benjamin Illingsworth settled near the Timms house, making that hospitable mansion a home while his cabin was without a roof to protect its owner from the inclemency of the weather.
Previous to this last date, a mill had been erected on Yellow Creek by John and Frederick Reber, and, as it was near the center of the township, it was liberally patronized. Before its completion, the settlers had been obliged to procure the grinding of their cereals at Craig's mill, on Apple River, at Buffalo Creek in Ogle County, and elsewhere. The inhabitants obtained their supplies of bacon from Galena or Dixon, and when short of " hog-meat," indulged an appetite for game, which was to be found in abundance in the winter, on barrens and prairie. In 1837, a school was opened by William Ensign in the house of James Timras, where he taught the young idea, acknowledged by the Timms, Maginnis, Giddings and Willet families, the rudiments of reading, writing and arithmetic. By these and kindred means did the early pioneers of Kent Township not only dissipate dull care, but contributed in providing substantial means for future wealth and civilization. Among others who settled up the township was Thomas Carter, Isaac Rand, etc. ; Samuel Bailey settled across Yellow Creek ; Jacob Gable came in and purchased the Maginnis place ; L. L. L. Pitcher, who is still living near the old Timms place ; a man named Lathrop, with some few others, were among the number who became identified with the cultivation and development of the county in that portion subsequently allotted to Kent
In 1840, the township began to be made the objective point for a large proportion of emigrants coming into Northern Illinois. These, as is well known, were largely made up of natives of Pennsylvania and the more Eastern States. They brought resources with them, and their industry, thrift, economy and perseverance have been the agencies through which not only Stephenson County and Illinois, but the Great West, to-day in the last degree prosperous, have been brought to that condition of independence it now enjoys. Thence to 1 850 the increase in population, proportioned to the inducements held out to become residents, was large and profitable. In 1844, the land came into market and was sold at public vendue in Dixon. For a short time after, there was considerable trouble between settlers who had come at an early day and purchasers at the Dixon sales, arising from a conflict of title to lands thereat disposed of. The difficulties growing out of this dispensation were, however, compromised in time, and what promised to prevent, for a season at least, the gratifying success now apparent throughout the township, in no manner materially affected its settlement, growth or improvement.
Since 1850, when the results of nearly twenty years of labor began to bear fruit, the prosperity of the township has been not more pronounced than rapid. Since 1832, when Capt. Adam Snyder was attacked by Indians while encamped in Kellogg's Grove, until to-day, nature and art would seem to have combined to render Kent Township attractive. That they have proved irresistible to a superior class of settlers, is to be found in the wealth and education of the inhabitants, the cultivated fields, the handsome homes, the schools and churches and other evidences of refinement and morality which greet the eye of the permanent and transient at all points.
The first marriage in the township was in 1837, between James Blair and Kate Marsh, who were united at the house of James Timms. The first birth was a son to James Timms and wife, who was born on the 26th of May, 1837, christened Harvey M. Timms, and now resides in Loran Township, a prosperous farmer. Jesse Willet, Jr., is reputed to have been the first death in the township. He was buried at what was afterward known as " Willet's burying-ground,"" where the Dunkard Church now stands. [Source: The History of Stephenson County,
Containing a History of the County, its Cities, Towns &c... Western Historical Company, pub. 1880]
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