Genealogy and History
Part of the Genealogy Trails History Group
Rock Grove Township occupies the northeast corner of the county, contains upward of 16,950 acres of improved land, which, with regard to its quality and agricultural resources, is not surpassed by that of any township in the county. An abundant supply of valuable timber is to be found scattered over the township, notably at Rock, Walnut and Linn Groves, suitable for building and other mechanical purposes, and the water facilities are equally desirable. There are no large streams, but a multitude of excellent springs, which form the headwaters of Rock Run and Cedar Creek, and, with their branches, are distributed quite generally through- out the township.
The farms, which are usually large, are under a high state of cultivation, and cultivators harvest generous returns for the care and labor bestowed to develop and enrich them. Corn, wheat, oats, rye, and the fruits peculiar to this section, are grown in abundance, while hogs, sheep and cattle are raised in large numbers. The schools and churches afford means of temporal and spiritual education, and its only village of " Rock Grove " is inferior to none in the county as a place of retreat from the cares of business, or residence where happiness and comfort must be prime factors in man's daily life.
As near as can be ascertained, no permanent settlement was made in the township earlier than 1835, though prospectors and transients came previous, but tarried only long enough to rest and recuperate, when they, as a rule, pushed on to more distant points. About the summer of 1835, Albert Albertson, accompanied by Jonathan Corey, made their way into the county from the East, and, having pursued their journey as far as the Grove, pitched their tent and decided to remain. Each entered claims in Section 36, and made some improvements during the summer, which were used by Eli Frankeberger upon the latter's reaching their site. He came with his family from Champaign Co., Ohio, and settled in the present town of Rock Grove during December of the same year. Hardly had he located before his wife was confined of a daughter, who was christened "Louisa Frankeberger," and is remembered as the first birth in the township.
The winter of 1836 was one of hardship and trial to the newcomers, who persevered, however, and have left the result of their labors to keep their memory green forever and ever. Josiah Blackamore is reported to have come in the same year. In 1836, there were few, if any, who selected Rock Grove as an abiding- place, but in 1837 they came more numerously and with beneficial results, as the sequel proved, to the county. Among these were Joseph Musser, settling in Sections 19 and 20, Thomas and Samuel Chambers, William Wallace, etc. Samuel Chambers settled in Sections 19 and 24, while Thomas built his home in Sections 25 and 26, Mr. Wallace in Section 36 ; a Mr. Moon entered a claim on the east side of the Grove the same year, in Sections 31 and 32, as also did Joseph Osborn ; he opened a farm in Section 35 and entered a claim to timber lands, located in Section 30. Samuel and Daniel Guyer " squatted " in Section 31, where the village of Rock Grove now is; in fact the original plat of the village included " Guyer's Addition."
The first marriage is said to have occurred during the winter of 1836-37, though this question is in dispute. Josiah Blackamore is reported as having been one of the " noble army of volunteers," who aided in expediting the departure of the Indians when the removal of these residents was decided upon by the Government. While en route to the frontier, so goes the story, Blackamore became smitten with the charms of Miss Wallace. When the cruel war ended, he returned to Rock Grove and, settling, plied his suit so successfully that the young lady, unable to resist his entreaties, accepted the overture made, and they ere accordingly married at the time quoted, which allegation, however, is without foundation in fact. Miss Wallace and Mr. Blackamore were married in Green County, Wis., at the time stated. Albert Albertson and Lavina Albertson have friends who contend that their claims for the disputed honor are entitled to precedence. They were united along in 1838 by Eli Frankeberger, who in that year was laden with the dignity attaching to the office of County Justice, in addition to the other obligations imposed by citizenship. On April 19, 1839, Elyah Clark and Harriet Hodgson were united at Walnut Grove by Squire Kinney.
In the fall of 1839, Solomon and Jacob Fisher came in from the East and made claim to 600 acres of ground in Sections 25 and 26, which they divided between them. The claim had been previously entered, it is believed, by a miner named Drummond, who had erected a cabin 16x16 and made a well. The claim with the improvements, however, came into the possession of the Fisher boys, by purchase, it is said. During the season of 1839-40, the emigration to Rock Grove had been comparatively generous, including, among others who came, Peter D. George and John Fisher, Calvin Preston, J. S. Potter, John Kleckner and others, all settling at the Grove, and remaining in that vicinity about a year, when they "scattered," some going to the northern tier of sections, others to the western tier, and others to the immediate vicinity of their first halting-place. In the spring of 1840, John and Reuben Bolender, father and son, established themselves east of the village, and George and Jacob Maurer in the Grove in Sections 29 and 30 ; a settler named, it is thought, Joseph Barber, also came in about the same time. Opposite the Grove was a vast prairie, with the timber in the western horizon, presenting a picture of rare beauty. Through that year constant additions were made to the population, including Levi, Adam and Michael Bolender ; the latter removing to Oneco in 1841, the two former remaining and opening farms east of the village. In 1842, Solomon Fisher erected a cabin at the head of Cedar Creek, which has since been changed for the commodious home now occupied by that gentleman.
During the summer of 1842 or 1843, William Wallace hung himself to a tree on the edge of the Grove in Section 36, a half-mile northeast of Jacob Sullivan's present house. He, too, was the victim of insanity, and the old setters say his was the first death announced in the township. He was buried in the vicinity where his tragic death occurred. At the date mentioned, the inhabitants, who previously depended upon Galena and other points for supplies, had them at home ; indeed, subsequent to 1839, no difficulty was experienced in obtaining meat, flour or meal. The Grove was alive with hogs, and the Curtis Mills, at Orangeville, Van Valzah Mills, at Cedarville, and mills on Rock Run were easily accessible and equal to every demand.
Some time in 1843, the farm of a settler named Daniel Noble, located near Walnut Grove, was the scene of a mysterious tragedy, wherein a man well known under the name of Boardman, employed in a subordinate capacity by Noble, was shot to death ; but the causes which led thereto, as also the assassin, are as much involved in mystery today as they were forty years ago.
In 1844, Government lands in the township were offered at public sale, and sold for $1.25 per acre in gold, the failure of the United States Bank estopping the Government from receiving any medium but gold and silver in exchange. It was apprehended at the time that trouble would arise between "squatters" and the purchasers, at the sale, growing out of a refusal of the former to perfect the latter's title by transfer of the property purchased, but claimed by right of preemption. Happily, this was entirely avoided, and, while similar causes elsewhere produced the results anticipated in other localities, Rock Grove was spared the affliction.
In 1846, a school was begun in the township, in Section 36, and thereafter the cause of education and other attendant circumstances of comfort and prosperity were portions allotted the township in the lottery of the future. In 1850, the township was set apart, and becoming, as above written, one of the favored townships in point of fertility, productiveness and natural resources, has in the past twenty-four years fully realized unto the inhabitants gathered within its limits, the fullest fruition of promises held out to them nearly half a century ago, as inducements to remain. [History of Stephenson County Western Historical Co. 1880]
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