Genealogy and History
Part of the Genealogy Trails History Group
Waddams township is six miles square, and contains twenty-three thousand and forty acres of rolling prairie. It is crossed by the Pecatonica River, which receives a large number of tributaries within the confines of the township. The most important is Waddams Creek, a small but swift current, which rises in the southwestern corner of the township and flows northeast into the Pecatonica. In addition, there are numerous other creeks and streamlets which cover the township with such a system of water courses that water power is never lacking. The township, it is believed, was surveyed by William Hamilton, son of the great secretary of the treasury in Washington's cabinet, who had settled in the lead mine regions at Hamilton's Diggings and who also was an Independent Ranger during the Black Hawk War.
The first settlement was made by Levi Robey in 1835. His nearest neighbor was William Waddams, seven miles to the west. He built a log cabin on the Pecatonica, and began a "clearing," which was the first farm in Waddams township. The same year Nelson Wait, Hubbard Graves, Charles Gappen, Alija Watson, John and Thomas Baker and William Willis joined the settlement. These earliest settlers got their mail and supplies at Galena and went on a two or three days' journey to mill on Wolf Creek. Indians and wild animals abounded in the wilderness and the settlement of the township was accompanied by the usual frontier dangers and privations.
The settlement was made strong in 1836 by the new arrivals, mostly from the east. That year came Thomas Hawkins, John Boyington, Lydia Wait and family, N. Phillips, Pells Manny, John Lobdell, Barney Stowell, Lewis Griggsby, Nicholas Marcellus, John Dennison and a man named Velie. The first birth in the township was William Robey, son of Levi Robey, September 21, 1836.
Within recent years Waddams township has taken a place of great importance in the politics of Stephenson County. It is one of the few Democratic townships of the county outside of Freeport, and, as such, is an interesting factor in all county elections.
Waddams Center, as the name indicates, is the central spot of Waddams township. The site is not marked by a village of any consequence, and the main object of interest is the district school, known as the Waddams Center School. The settlement embraces a territory of three or four square miles, the inhabitants of which designate themselves as "Waddams Center people." Waddams Center does not support a church, but there is a church at McConnell, only a short distance away, which is attended by the farmers of the region. There is no general store, nor has there ever been a post-office. The population of the whole settlement at Waddams Center is about fifty.
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