Genealogy and History
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Silver Creek Township
Silver Creek township is adjacent to the city of Freeport, and is consequently a section of considerable importance from every standpoint. It is bounded on the north by the Pecatonica River, on the east by Ridott township, on the west by Florence township, and on the south by Ogle county. The township is somewhat larger than the surveyors' customary thirty-six square miles, owing to the extensive curves of the Pecatonica River. All told the township embraces twenty-two thousand and sixty-nine acres of land, or about thirty-seven and a half square miles.
The township is well supplied with water. Yellow Creek courses across the northwestern corner of Silver Creek and flows into the Pecatonica two or three miles east of Freeport. Yellow Creek is joined on its way by three smaller creeks, all of which rise within Silver Creek township, and the Pecatonica is joined by one inconsiderable stream which rises in the southern part of Ridott township, flows into Silver Creek, and thence north through the eastern part of the township to the river.
Three railroads cross Silver Creek township: the Illinois Central, with two branches, the main line crossing the extreme northern portion from west to east, and the south branch traversing the town from north to south, from Freeport to Baileyville; the Chicago and Great Western which crosses the central part of the township from east to west ; and the Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul, which crosses the northwestern corner and then proceeds into Florence township.
The roads are good and the school and church facilities of Silver Creek are particularly excellent. The proximity of the township to Freeport has made the growth of any large town an impossibility, and the section is devoid of settlements except for a tiny one at South Freeport, a station at Dunbar, and the outlying sections of Baileyville, whose post-office is in Ogle county.
The first permanent settlement in Silver Creek township was made in August, Z 835, by Thomas Craine, who took up a claim in the southwest corner of the township, built a log cabin, and made a home for his family, which consisted of a wife and three children. In the fall of the same year, Augustus Bonner settled on section 34, near the mouth of Yellow Creek. However the land did not belong to him, and, during the winter of 1836, he relinquished the claim and the cabin which he built upon it to the rightful owner, Thomas Covel. He himself went on farther west.
In the spring of 1836, a large number of new settlers arrived, Charles Walker, F. D. Bulkeley, a Mr. Hammand, and, in the fall of the same year, Sidney Stebbins, Joel Baker, Loran Snow and a Mrs. Brown. Of these, Charles Walker was a notorious character, and his subsequent history was particularly interesting. It seems that he was employed by Thomas Craine, the pioneer settler, to tutor his children, at the salary of $75 a quarter. It was a mere pittance, of course, and evidently Walker did not think that it was enough to meet his needs, for he began to employ his spare moments in the profitable enterprise of horse stealing. Unfortunately, his career was short lived. He was soon caught, and sent to the penitentiary at Alton.
The next year was a fallow period in Silver Creek's development. Settlers came in large numbers to other portions of Stephenson County, but very few to Silver Creek. In 1837 Seth Scott settled here, near Craine's Grove, Hiram Hill, at a point on Yellow Creek, Major John Howe, west of Craine's Grove, I. Forbes, in the extreme eastern portion, on the old Stage Road near the Ridott town line. Two deaths occurred in 1837, those of Thomas Milburn and a man named Reed, who were drowned while attempting to cross the Pecatonica River. These were the first recorded deaths in Silver Creek Township. Reed, according to tradition, had only arrived in the township a few months previous.
John Milburn arrived in 1837, and in 1838 John Walsh, John and Thomas Warren, the latter of whom settled northeast of Craine's Grove, Isaac Scott, Samuel Liebshitz, Christian Strockey, Christian Strockey, Jr. Frederick Strockey, Chauncey Stebbins, and others, all of whom made their claims in the extreme eastern part of the township. And so it continued for about five years more. ' No one ventured into the western part of the township, whether from ignorance of the fertility of the land or from some other motive will probably never be known. In 1839 another delegation arrived.
The '39-ers included Jacob Hoebel, A. Gund, Valentine Stoskopf, Jacob Shoup, Jacob Bartell, D. E. Pattee, "Jock" Pattee, and others, among them a man named Judkins. Shortly after the arrival of this delegation, Mrs. "Jock" Pattee committed suicide by hanging herself to a tree in the eastern part of the township on Gallows Hill.
In the summer of 1838 the first birth in the township occurred. The distinguished infant was Jacob Thompson, the son of William and Lucinda Thompson. Nearly three years later the first marriage in Silver Creek was solemnized, that of Frederick Baker and Miss A. Craine. Miss Craine was a daughter of Thomas Craine, and the wedding ceremony was performed at her father's residence by Squire Thomas. The date is said to have been February n, 1841.
From that time forward the township began to settle up. Two years later, in 1843, a large number of settlements were made in the western part of Silver Creek, that hitherto neglected portion of Stephenson County. Ever since, Sil-ver Creek has been one of the wealthiest and most populous townships of the county. Many of the early settlers were Germans, a thritfy and desirable class of citizens, who have ever since predominated in the annals of Silver Creek. [Source: "History of Stephenson County" by Addison L. Fulwider, 1910]
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