Genealogy and History
Part of the Genealogy Trails History Group
German Valley Township
Before the Chicago Great Western came through the county, there was a general store and one or two houses at the cross roads where German Valley, or Baalton, as it was then called, was located. With the advent of the railroad, in August, 1887, the present village was platted, and the town re-christened German Valley.
Probably the least attractive and interesting of all the Stephenson County villages, German Valley is nevertheless the home of a number of wealthy farmers, who are descendants of the famous German colony that came to Ridott over half a century ago. The country about German Valley is most attractive, the fields are fertile and productive, and the farm houses and barns are trim and well kept. The village itself is far from lively. There are half a dozen stores in operation, a creamery, a blacksmith shop, and a grain elevator owned by the H. A. Hillmer Co., of Freeport.
M. E. Church. The Methodist church of German Valley is of recent origin. The present church edifice was put up in 1903, the congregation having met about in various places before the building of the church. It is a frame structure, of a modern type of architecture, having cost about $2,500. The congregation also owns a new frame parsonage, located across the street from the church, which is worth about $1,500. The congregation numbers in the neighborhood of fifty communicants, with a Sunday school about as large. The Rev. Edward Breen is the pastor in charge.
There are no other churches in German Valley, but there are a number located within a radius of a mile or two, which are attended by the German Valley citizens. The German Reformed church is located a mile west of the town, and the Christian Reformed church two miles northeast.
Pleasant Prairie Academy. The German Valley high school, known as the Pleasant Prairie Academy, is located about a mile west of the village, at the settlement known as Pleasant Prairie. The academy is operated by the officials of the German Reformed church, and has been in the past presided over by the ministers of the Pleasant Prairie Reformed church.
Rev. Mr. Byers is at present principal of the Pleasant Prairie Academy. He is assisted by Rev. Schicker, pastor of the Pleasant Prairie church. The academy offers an excellent course of instruction, covering three years of preparatory work, and four years of high school and academic instruction. A very full course is offered, including Latin, Greek, English, the modern languages, algebra, geometry, trigonometry, and the various studies included in the curriculum of an up-to-date high school. The faculty includes a corps of three or four instructors.
German American State Bank. The State Bank of German Valley was organized in December, 1906, and opened for business January, 1907. It is one of the prosperous village banks of the county, and was incorporated under the banking laws of the state of Illinois. The founder and original president of the institution was F. A. Briggs, of Madison, Wisconsin, who resigned after a short term of office, to be succeeded by H. W. Coffman. The bank is capitalized at $25,000. The officers are:
President: H. W. Coffman.
Vice-president: H. Heeren.
Cashier: Louis Fosha.
Assistant Cashier: L. Van Osterloo.
The German American Bank occupies a substantial brick building built especially for its occupation on the main street of the village. It enjoys a large patronage among the farmers of the vicinity.
German Valley also supports a creamery, which is owned by capitalists at the village of Kent, twenty miles west of German Valley. The local superintendent in charge of the factory at German Valley is C. B. Ressler.
Unlike most of the county villages, German Valley does not possess any lodges or secret and fraternal organizations. The want is filled by the various church societies, and by the lodges at Ridott, and the neighboring villages to the west and north.
There are half a dozen stores, a large general store owned by N. H. Jansen, a post-office, blacksmith shop, and the usual residences. The population of the village is quoted as two hundred, with a slight increase since the taking of the last census. German Valley is about fourteen miles from Freeport, accessible by the Chicago Great Western from the South Freeport station. [History of Stephenson County, by Addison L. Fulwider; pub. 1910]
BACK - HOME
© Genealogy Trails