Winnebago County, Illinois
This is the thirty-fourth volume of a group of new-style Illinois county histories which will eventually include all of the 102 counties of the Prairie State. It is part of an over-all project, specializing in low-altitude aerial photographs of cities, towns, villages and farmsteads and with brief historical narratives added, known as The American Aerial County History Series. For a list of already-published volumes in the lllinois and other groups, see back of title page of this book. Each of the volumes is being written by John Drury, author of Old Illinois Houses, Historic Midwest Houses, Midwest Heritage, etc., and member of the American Association for State and Local History and the Illinois State Historical Society.
In the preparation of this work on Winnebago County, Illinois, the writer and publisher hereby acknowledge their gratitude, for advice and assistance generously given them, to Mr. Joseph C. Wolf and Mrs. Ellen Chase of the Newberry Library, Chicago; to Mr. Herbert H. Hewitt, Mrs. Roberta Sutton and Miss Winifred Baum, all of the Chicago Public Library, Chicago; and to various librarians, public officials, business executives and private citizens of the city of Rockford and the county of Winnebago, Illinois. The author also wishes to express special acknowledgments to his wife, Marion Neville Drury, for research, editorial and proof-reading assistance. Grateful appreciation is also shown here to officials of the Bureau of Public Roads of the United States Department of Commerce and to officials of the Department of Public Roads & Planning of the State of Illinois (in particular to those in charge of that department's Bureau of Research and Planning in the Highway Department), for permission to use the Winnebago County maps included in this book.
Sources used by the author in preparing this volume were: The History of Winnebago County, Illinois (H. F. Kett & Company, Chicago, 1877); History of Rockford and Winnebago County, Illinois, by Charles A. Church (W. P. Lamb, Rockford, 1900); Rockford, compiled by Works Projects Administration writers (Graphic Arts Corporation, Rockford, 1941); Illinois: A Descriptive and Historical Guide, The American Guide Series (A. C. McClurg & Company, Chicago, 1939); County and City Data Book, 1952 (United States Bureau of the Census, Washington, 1952); The Editor and Publisher Market Guide for 1955 (The Editor and Publisher Company, New York, 1955); and The Rand McNally Commercial Atlas for 1955 (Rand McNally Company, 1955).
STORY OF WINNEBAGO COUNTY, ILLINOIS
Not only is Winnebago County, on the north border of Illinois, noted for its prosperous and dynamic Rockford, third largest city of the Prairie State, but it is also widely famed as the locale of Camp Grant, a vast 4,000-acre military establishment where thousands of soldiers from all parts of inland America were trained in the first and second World Wars. The county is also renowned for its picturesque and historic Rock River, often called the "Hudson of the Midwest" because of the many fine estates on both banks of the stream laid out by prominent Midwesterners.
Although one of the rich dairy and livestock counties of northern Illinois, with most of its rolling acres either in pasturage or under cultivation, Winnebago is essentially an industrial county, due to the presence within it of such leading manufacturing centers as Rockford and South Beloit. Census figures for 1950 showed that 49.8 per cent of the county's total employed were then engaged in manufacturing, while but 3.8 per cent were engaged in agriculture.
But Winnebago County is also known beyond its borders as an outstanding educational, religious and cultural locality. Its Rockford College, founded more than a hundred years ago, ranks high among the girls' schools of America, and its many beautiful parks and forest preserves, located along the wooded Rock River and in other parts of the county, attract thousands of visitors annually from not only Rockford but other cities and towns of northern Illinois. The county's innumerable churches represent all leading denominations of a typical American locality.
In the more than a century of its existence, Winnebago County has been associated with an unusual number of prominent men and women in American history. A one-time visitor to Rockford was Abraham Lincoln. At later periods came such other visitors as Presidents Grant, Theodore Roosevelt and Hoover. During the first World War a visit to Camp Grant was made by General John Pershing, commander-in-chief of the American Expeditionary Force.
Others linked in one way or another with the "Forest City" on the Rock River were Anna P. Sill, founder of Rockford College; Colonel Elmer E. Ellsworth, organizer of the famous Ellsworth's Zouaves drill corps; Jane Addams, internationally-known social service worker; Adrian (Pop) Anson and A. G. Spalding, celebrated baseball players; Mrs. Andrew MacLeish, one-time president of Rockford College and mother of the noted poet, Archibald MacLeish; Julia Lathrop, first director of the children's bureau of the U. S. Department of Labor; Bishops Peter Muldoon and Edward F. Hoban, eminent Roman Catholic prelates; Catherine Waugh McCulloch, distinguished Chicago attorney; Doris Emrick Lee, well-known artist; and Fred F.. Sterling, lieutenant-governor of Illinois from 1920 to 1932.
Off the main arteries of travel during the earliest years of French and English occupation of the upper Mississippi Valley, the region that now is Winnebago County was not settled by white men until long after the formation of the American republic. Before then, it was traveled over, or camped in, by wandering groups of the Sauk, Fox and Winnebago tribes of Indians, all of whom found good hunting and fishing along the Rock, Pecatonica and other rivers of the area.
But even before the arrival of the Sauk, Fox and Winnebagoes, who came down from the Wisconsin country, the area was a stamping ground of a still earlier tribe, the Illini. The latter occupied almost all of present-day Illinois. And to go back further, the Illini - as well as all Indians of the upper Mississippi Valley - were descendants of prehistoric natives which archeologists now call the Mound Builders.
So-named because of the ceremonial mounds they constructed, the Mound Builders existed in all parts of the Midwest, including present Winnebago County. A group of such prehistoric mounds, among them the famed "turtle" effigy mound, survives today within three blocks of downtown Rockford. These mounds are in Beattie Park, a three-acre tract given to the city by the Misses Mary and Anna Beattie. At the time of the Black Hawk War of 1832, there was still no Winnebago County, the region it now occupies being then mainly in Jo Daviess County. Although no battles or encounters took place in the Winnebago countryside during the war, it is known definitely that Chief Black Hawk and his Indian followers were, at one time, hotly pursued up the Rock River by American soldiers. "The army trail made in following Black Hawk's band to the headwaters of the Rock,'' says the local historian Charles A. Church, "passed through what later became the First ward of Rockford. The guide was Stephen Mack, first settler of the county."
ANNEXATION TO WISCONSIN
Had it not been for the uncanny foresight of Nathaniel Pope, delegate in Congress for the Territory of Illinois, Winnebago County - and thirteen other counties of northern Illinois - might today be in the state of Wisconsin. When Pope introduced into Congress a bill for the admission of Illinois into statehood in 1818, he included with it an amendment setting the new state's north boundary at fifty miles north of a line drawn westward from the foot of Lake Michigan. Thus the new state would include the important lake port of Chicago and all of the territory directly west of that city.
But some twenty years after Illinois became a state, with its north boundary fixed at Pope's line, a movement was started among the settlers of Winnebago and other nearby counties to have their region annexed to Wisconsin, which then was about to seek statehood. These settlers, most of whom were from New England, claimed they had little in common with the residents of downstate Illinois, who were in the main Southerners. Among other things, the New Englanders said that the Southerners, who were then in control of the state administration, had brought Illinois to a virtual condition of bankruptcy.
The New Englanders finally held a "secessionist" mass meeting at Rockford in 1840. It was presided over by Dr. Josiah C. Goodhue, pioneer Rockford settler and first physician of that city. The delegates "resolved" that the Territory of Wisconsin, which then was about to petition for statehood, should have its south boundary fixed on the line drawn westward from the foot of Lake Michigan - a line originally set up in the Ordinance of 1787 creating the Northwest Territory. When Wisconsin became a state in 1848, however, its southern boundary was fixed at Nathaniel Pope's line, and the secessionist movement in Winnebago and other counties thereafter collapsed.
Recorded as the first settler of Winnebago County was an educated Vermonter named Stephen Mack. After studying at Dartmouth College, young Mack came to what was then known as the "western frontier," entered the fur business in the Great Lakes region, and then settled in the Rock River valley. Here he married Ho-no-ne-gah, daughter of an Indian chieftain. It was about 1829 that Stephen Mack became the first permanent resident of future Winnebago County. He settled on land at the juncture of the Pecatonica and Rock rivers, near the present town of Rockton. Believing that this site, some twelve miles above the "rock ford" that today is the city of Rockford, had future possibilities, Stephen Mack laid out a town here, but this never materialized. He did, however, open a ferry service at this point, and here, too, he later built the first bridge across the Rock River. Mack continued to live here for the rest of his life. In 1849 he was elected an associate justice of the County Court. He died in 1850 and is now buried, with his Indian wife, in the Phillips cemetery near the town of Harrison. Today, his name is remembered in the Macktown Forest Preserve, a 214-acre wooded tract which includes the spot where Stephen Mack first settled before Winnebago County was organized.
GERMANICUS KENT AND THATCHER BLAKE ARRIVE
It was not until after the Black Hawk War of 1832, a conflict that resulted in the removal of all Indians from Illinois to reservations west of the Mississippi River, that an inrush of settlers, most of them from New England and New York, occurred in the northern part of the Prairie State. A few of them, however, came before the war to take part in the famous "lead rush" to Galena, which then outstripped Chicago as the principal town of northern Illinois.
First to arrive in future Winnebago County after the close of the Black Hawk War were Germanicus Kent and Thatcher Blake, both friends, both Connecticut Yankees, and both now regarded as the "fathers" of the city of Rockford. They came from Galena in 1834 and decided to establish a settlement at the junction of Kent Creek and the Rock River, in what is now the west side of Rockford. As a first step, they dammed the creek and built a sawmill to supply lumber for the erection of homes.
It was that sawmill that marked the beginning of Rockford as a manufacturing and industrial center. Although at first Kent called his settlement "Midway," because it was midway between Chicago and Galena, it afterwards came to be known as "Kentville" when more settlers arrived. But long before Germanicus Kent and Thatcher Blake (who was Kent's friend and $15-a-month employee) came, the place was familiarly known to travelers as the "rock ford," so-called because of a shallow, rocky crossing at this point.
DANIEL S. HAIGHT COMES TO "ROCK FORD"
It was not very long before Kent's settlement on the west side of the Rock River had a rival settlement on the east side of the stream — two pioneer communities that continued their rivalry even after Rockford was incorporated as a town in 1839. The second settlement was founded by Daniel Shaw Haight, a New Yorker, who arrived in April, 1835, and built a log cabin home and general store in the vicinity of present East State and Madison streets. This site was about a half mile north of the Kent village.
In a few months time others had arrived and built cabins around the Haight dwelling. Soon the place was being called "Haightville. " By the fall of 1835 the two settlements, on each side of the Rock River, had a combined population of twenty-seven persoi s. As soon as they could, these pioneers replaced their log cabins with frame houses, using lumber from Kent's sawmill.
When, in the spring of 1836, the Illinois state legislature passed a bill for the construction of a state road through the "rock ford" to connect Chicago with Galena, one of the three commissioners appointed to lay out the road was Daniel Haight. As was to be expected, Haight arranged to have the road pass his house in "Haightville" - a move that aroused the ire of Germanicus Kent. But Kent later won a victory over Haight when his friend, William E. Dunbar, was elected one of the new county's first three commissioners— a friend who made it possible for Kent to obtain a license to operate a ferry where Haight's state road reached the Rock River.
ORGANIZATION OF COUNTY
As the year 1836 opened, it was found there were enough settlers in the Winnebago countryside to form a new county. The state law then required that a new county could be established if there were "not less than three hundred and fifty white inhabitants" in a given area, a figure which, of course, included women and children. When it was ascertained there were slightly more than this number of residents scattered about on farms throughout the Winnebago countryside and in such river settlements as Kentville and Haightville, leading citizens of the area moved quickly to set up a new county.
And thus it came about that the Illinois state legislature at Vandalia (then the state capital and a member of which was Abraham Lincoln) passed an act on January 16, 1836, creating not only Winnebago County but four other northern Illinois counties — McHenry, Kane, Ogle and Whiteside. At that time the new county of Winnebago was nearly twice as large as now, for it then included the territory of present Boone County. But Winnebago was reduced to its present size when Boone County was organized on March 4, 1837.
Winnebago is one of the seven counties in Illinois which bear Indian names, the others being Iroquois, Kankakee, Macoupin, Peoria, Sangamon and Wabash. As we have seen, the Winnebago tribe of Indians were early residents of the region that now is Winnebago County.
COUNTY'S FIRST ELECTION
When the new county held its first election on Monday, August I, 1836, in the home of Daniel S. Haight, there were no printed ballots as now. Voting was by voice only. After 120 men from all parts of the new county gathered at the Haight home and gave voice to their preferences, it was found that the following early settlers had been elected Winnebago County's first public officials: Simon P. Doty, Thomas B. Talcott and William E. Dunbar, county commissioners; Daniel S. Haight, sheriff; Daniel H. Whitney, recorder; Eliphabet Gregory, coroner; and D. A. Spaulding, surveyor. At a later date the county commissioners selected Surveyor Spaulding to serve also as county clerk, and chose Robert J.Cross to serve as county treasurer.
COUNTY SEAT WAR
After the founding of the county, there followed a spirited contest for the selection of a permanent county seat. One faction was headed by Nicholas Boilvin, a former Indian agent turned land speculator, who had laid out a townsite he called "Winnebago," hoping it would be selected as county seat. This early "paper town" was situated on the Rock River about two miles north of the Kent and Haight settlements and is not to be confused with the present village of Winnebago out in the country west of Rockford city.
The other faction in the "county seat war" was headed by leading citizens of what is now Rockford. The battle continued for several years and was not ended until 1839 when an election was held to decide on a permanent seat of justice for the county. In that election Rockford won the title, with 320 votes, whereas "Winnebago" received only 75 votes.
TOWN OF ROCKFORD INCORPORATED
So many new settlers had built homes in the Kent and Haight villages during 1837 and 1838 that a movement was soon started toward the merging of the two pioneer communities into a single town. Out of this movement came, in 1839, the incorporation of the town of Rockford, the name of the new town having been suggested by Dr. Josiah C. Goodhue, first physician of the county. At that time the population of Rockford was 236. At the town's first election Dr. Goodhue, Daniel S. Haight, Ephriam Wyman, Samuel Little and Isaiah Lyon were chosen members of the town board, all of whom later selected Daniel Haight as president of the board.
ALBY BRIGGS, PIONEER FARMER
One of the earliest Winnebago County settlers to realize the future agricultural possibilities of the Rock River country was Alby Briggs, who, like Daniel Haight, came from New York state. He arrived in 1838 and, instead of stopping in Rockford, located on the fertile land to the southwest in what is now Winnebago Township. Here he laid out a sizable farm near that of David A. Holt, first settler of the township.
In the course of time the Briggs farm, located near the present hamlet of Elida, was taken over and enlarged by a son, Curtis R. Briggs. The latter was one of the first Winnebago County farmers to haul a wagonload of wheat to Chicago.And it was in Chicago that, in later years, Irvin Briggs, son of Curtis, became a leading commission merchant. Incidentally, a daughter of the commission merchant, Mrs. Roberta Sutton, is now assistant head reference librarian of the Chicago Public Library.
Until the county's first permanent courthouse was built, sessions of the board of county commissioners and of the circuit court were held in the private homes of either Daniel Haight, on the east side of the Rock River, or of Germanicus Kent, on the west side. It was not until 1844, eight years after the county was founded, that Winnebago's first permanent courthouse was erected in Rockford. This was a one-story frame edifice with a Greek Revival portico surmounted by a windowed cupola. Here the county carried on its business until the completion of a new, and much larger, courthouse of stone in 1878.
ROCKFORD COLLEGE FOUNDED
One of America's oldest and best known institutions of higher learning for women is Rockford College. It was founded at Rockford in 1849 by Miss Anna Sill, a distinguished educator of her time. First student to receive a degree at the college was the late Jane Addams, who subsequently founded Hull House in Chicago and became one of the world's foremost social service workers. A onetime president of Rockford College was Mrs. Martha Hillard MacLeish, mother of the noted poet, Archibald MacLeish. The college has a present enrollment of nearly 600 young ladies and is currently headed by Mary A. Cheek, internationally known educator.
Of the greatest importance in the economic development of Winnebago County - as well as of Chicago and all of northern Illinois - was the building of the first railroad to Rockford in 1852. This was the Galena and Chicago Union Railroad, which now is part of the Chicago & North Western System. The Galena and Chicago Union was the first steam road to be built out of Chicago, having been started there in 1848. As we are told in Pioneer Railroad, by Robert J. Casey and W. A. S. Douglas (1948), the Galena railroad was initially begun in 1836 but was abandoned. It was revived again at the insistence of a convention of farmer-delegates held at Rockford in 1846. And thus it was that the Galena railroad was finally completed to Rockford in 1852.
ARRIVAL OF SWEDISH IMMIGRANTS
Not only did the Galena and Chicago Union provide an outlet for the crops and livestock of Winnebago and other nearby counties, but it also served as an inlet for the first wave of European immigrants to arrive in the county - the Swedes. It is estimated that more than 40 per cent of Rockford's present population is of Swedish birth or descent. Soon after they came, many of the Swedish residents, skilled in handicrafts, helped to found Rockford's large furniture industry. In later years Rockford had an influx of German, Irish, Polish and Italian immigrants, all of whom, as with the Swedes, helped to build the city of today.
LINCOLN AND THE MANNY REAPER
"Mr. Lincoln once visited Rockford on professional business in connectionwith this suit," says Charles A. Church in his History of Rockford (1900). Church was referring to a lawsuit brought against John H. Manny, pioneer reapermanufacturer of Rockford, by Cyrus H. McCormick, the Chicago reaper king.Charging patent infringements, the suit was filed in 1855 and it was in July of that year that Attorney Abraham Lincoln came to Rockford to confer with Manny, who had retained the tall Springfield lawyer as defense counsel. The suit was won by Manny a year later, and Lincoln was paid $1,000 for his services.
COLONEL ELLSWORTH'S ZOUAVES
A dashing and colorful figure in the history of Winnebago County — as well as of the nation as a whole — was young Colonel Elmer Ephriam Ellsworth, organizer and drillmaster of the celebrated Ellsworth's Zouaves of pre-Civil War days. It was in the summer of 1858 that Colonel Ellsworth trained the Rockford City Grays, a cadet corps, in the spectacular Zouave system of close order drill.He remained at Rockford for many months and became engaged to Carrie Spafford,daughter of Charles H. Spafford, a leading Rockford banker. When the Civil War broke out in 1861, however, Colonel Ellsworth, at the head of the New York City Fire Zouaves, was shot and killed at Alexandria, Virginia - the first officer casualty on the Virginia front. A close friend of President Lincoln, his funeral services were held in the White House, with the President, cabinet officers and other dignitaries present. The young colonel's death shocked the nation and greatly stimulated enlistments in the Union Army.
THE CIVIL WAR
When President Lincoln sent out an urgent call for 75,000 volunteers on the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861, Winnebago County quickly responded with more than its quotas of men and money for the Union cause. It has been ascertained that at least 3,187 men of the county volunteered for service in the Union Army. The county also contributed $434,038, with Rockford raisin;; an additional $65,964, to cover local expenses in the prosecution of the war. Built to the memory of Winnebago County men who fell in the Civil War, and in later conflicts, is Memorial Hall, an imposing stone edifice in Rockford, dedicated in 1903 by President Theodore Roosevelt.
TINKER'S SWISS COTTAGE
In the early 1870's there was built in Rockford a private home that today is not only one of the outstanding sights of the Forest City but a notable landmark in the architectural history of Illinois. This is the Swiss Cottage, an authentic reproduction of an Alpine chalet erected for Robert Tinker, mayor of Rockford in 1875. Now open to the public as a museum and maintained by the Rockford Park Board, the Swiss Cottage, which contains twenty-six rooms, still retains all of the curios, antiques, art objects and books collected by Robert Tinker on his world-wide travels. Of particular interest among the exhibits is a settee in which Abraham Lincoln sat when he visited the Manny home in Rockford in 1855.
Started in 1876, the second Winnebago County Courthouse was completed in 1878 at a cost of $211,000. During its construction a large section of the building's dome collapsed, killing seven workmen and fatally injuring two others. An addition was built onto the courthouse in 1918. The courthouse is located at State and Church streets, on the west side of downtown Rockford.
"FOREST CITY NINE"
In 1869 and 1870 an amateur Rockford baseball team, known as the "Forest City Nine," became nationally famous when it defeated, during those two years,every team of any consequence in the United States. The team later included among its players Albert G. Spalding, who afterwards founded the A. G. Spalding & Brothers Sporting Goods Company, and Adrian (Pop) Anson, one of the most celebrated of all American baseball figures.
EX-PRESIDENT GRANT VISITS ROCKFORD
When the annual Winnebago County Fair was held in the late summer of 1880, the guests of honor were ex-President U. S. Grant and Mrs. Grant. A boulder at the north end of Fairground Park, in Rockford, commemorates the spot where General Grant spoke. At that time the Grants were living in their spacious home at Galena, Illinois, a mansion that had been presented to them by the city of Galena. In that same year General Grant was again a candidate for President, but lost the election to Garfield.
MARTHA HILLARD MacLEISH
Among outstanding women in the history of Winnebago County was Martha Hillard MacLeish. When she became president of Rockford College in 1884 following the retirement of the college's founder, Martha Hillard added to the high standing of the institution with her progressive teaching methods. She afterwards married Andrew MacLeish, pioneer Chicago merchant. One of her sons is Archibald MacLeish, a leading American poet of today and former librarian of the Library of Congress. Another son, Norman H. MacLeish, is a noted artist.
FIRST ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP
It was in 1908 that the Right Reverend Peter J. Muldoon was appointed first bishop of the Rockford diocese of the Roman Catholic Church. The present chancery office and residence of the Bishop, an imposing stone edifice of Georgian design, was built in 1930 at a cost of $200,000. At that time the Most Reverend Edward F. Hoban was Bishop of Rockford. He is now archbishop of the Cleveland diocese.
NOTED PARK SYSTEM
Among other attractions in the city of Rockford is its noted park system, and Winnebago County itself is famed for its extensive forest preserve areas. The Rockford park system was founded in 1909 by Robert Tinker, Robert Rew and Levin Faust, the first two having been one-time mayors of the city. Today, there are sixty-three parks in the system. Out in the county may be found nine forest preserves at picturesque locations, all equipped with conveniences and easily reached by highways.
That Rockford had a right to call itself the "Forest City" was proved in 1915 when a survey conducted by school children showed that the city then had 142,044 trees, or more than 122 trees to each block. This "tree census" did not include trees in the heavily wooded parks and cemeteries of Rockford. At a later period a local merchant, Gus J. Boehland, gave away thousands of saplings to school children each Arbor Day for planting in newer sections of the city.
CAMP GRANT IS BUILT
When the United States entered the first World War in 1917, one of the largest training camps in the country was built on the east bank of the Rock River, near Rockford. Embracing more than 4,000 acres of drill grounds, rifle ranges, barracks and trench systems, Camp Grant (as it was called) was the training camp of some 50,000 soldiers of the 86th Division during 1917 and 1918. Among many notable visitors to Camp Grant at that time were former Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft, Secretary of War Newton D. Baker. Governor Frank O. Lowden of Illinois, General John J. Pershing, Ignace Jan Paderewski and Sarah Bernhardt. After the first World War the camp was turned over to the Illinois National Guard for its annual summer training maneuvers. When the United States was drawn into the second World War in 1941, the camp was again used for the training of regular army troops.
A city of many fine old homes, Rockford has another notable landmark besides the Swiss Cottage of interest to visitors. This is the historic dwelling known as "Indian Terrace," restored some years ago by Ralph Hinchliff, a prominent business and civic leader of Rockford. The house, set in the midst of landscaped grounds that once contained an ancient Indian mound, was built in 1847 by Goodyear A. Sanford, pioneer Rockford settler.
TRANS-ATLANTIC FLIGHT ATTEMPT
One year after Charles A. Lindbergh made his sensational flight across the Atlantic in 1927, the city of Rockford attracted the attention of the nation by sponsoring a similar flight — one that, after two attempts, proved unsuccessful. The aviators were Bert R. J. (Fish) Hassell and Parker D. (Shorty) Cramer, two pioneer flyers, and their plane was called the "Greater Rockford." On the morning of July 28, 192S, they took off in their flying ship, intending to make a one stop flight from Rockford to Stockholm over the great circle route.
Shortly after the take-off, however, the plane was forced down in a cornfield west of Rockford, due mainly to an overload of gasoline and oil. About two weeks later the Rockford flyers again took off and got as far as Greenland, where their ship was forced down. After being missing for two weeks, Hassell and Cramer were found by a searching party. No attempt was made to locate their "Greater Rockford," from which they had wandered for many miles over the ice fields of Greenland. Cramer later lost his life in a solo attempt to cross the Atlantic.
GREATER ROCKFORD AIRPORT
If the Hassell-Cramer effort to fly across the Atlantic Ocean was unsuccessful, it nonetheless demonstrated Rockford's early interest in the Air Age. Today, the Greater Rockford Airport occupies a 130-acre field just south of the city and is considered one of the most modern landing fields in Illinois. It was developed largely through the efforts of Fred H. Machesney, pioneer Rockford flyer.
TORNADO OF 1928
One of the most serious disasters in the history of Winnebago Country occurred on September 14, 1928, when a tornado struck Rockford, causing fourteen deaths and serious injuries to thirty-six other persons. The sudden storm swept through the factory area in the southeast part of the city and left in its wake property damage estimated at $2,000,000. The tornado demolished five factories, three warehouses, two garages and 360 private homes.
SWEDISH SESQUI-CENTENNIAL CELEBRATION
When the Swedish Sesqui-Centennial celebration was observed in Swedish centers throughout the United States in 1938, Rockford's large Swedish population played a leading part in that event. Principal speaker at the Rockford celebration was Prince Bertil of Sweden. The nation-wide event was in honor of the first Swedes to arrive in America, the earliest of which, among other things, introduced the log cabin into the American scene.
GROWTH OF LOVES PARK
In the years just after World War II, both Rockford city and the area adjacent to it experienced a remarkable rise in population. One of the fastest-growing of the new communities near Rockford is Loves Park, which was incorporated as a city in 1947 and which in 1950 had a population of 5,366. It is located on the Rock River just north of the "Forest City." An older community of Winnebago County with a recent sharp rise in population is South Beloit, which in1950 had a population of 3,221— an increase of 14 per cent over its 1940 population.
NORTH ILLINOIS TOLL ROAD
Under construction today is the first section of the great new Illinois toll road system — a section that lies about six miles east of the downtown area of Rockford. Here, beside US 20, is being built a toll plaza and a stretch of six lane expressway which will be part of the North Illinois Toll Poad, connecting; Chicago and Rockford with South Beloit (where it will eventually connect with the proposed Wisconsin toll road). The first spadeful of earth starting work on the Winnebago County part of the new toll road was turned over by Governor William G. Stratton at ceremonies held on Saturday, September 22, 1956.
WHO'S WHO IN WINNEBAGO COUNTY
As in the past, Winnebago County continues to be the home of an unusual number of men and women who have achieved national renown in the sciences, humanities, professions and in the business and industrial fields. In the latest (1934-1955) edition of that standard reference work, Who's Who in America, we find biographies-in-brief of fourteen outstanding men and women of Winnebago County.
Perhaps the most noted native son and native daughter of the county today are General and Mrs. Laurence Sherman Kuter. Born at Rockford on September 24, 1905, a daughter of Benjamin A. and Anna (Smythe MacDougal) Lyddon. Mrs. Kuter studied at Northwestern University and the University of Illinois and then, in 1927, married General Kuter. A daughter of the Kuters, Roxanne, is now Mrs. R. L. Williamson.
After teaching in college, conducting a radio program and directing a little theater at Montgomery, Alabama (where her husband was stationed), Mrs. Kuter, on the outbreak of World War II, became a leader in affairs of the National Association of Air Force Women, serving as president of the group from 1945 to 1946 Later she was elected president of the National Society of Arts and Letters.
General Kuter was born at Rockford on May 28, 1905, a son of Maynard W. and Mintra (Reiser) Kuter. After graduating from West Point in 1927, he entered the Air Force, was advanced through the various grades to general, and served with great distinction in the European and South Pacific theaters during World War II. In 1952 he was appointed deputy chief of staff in charge of personnel at headquarters of the United States Air Force, Washington, D. C.
Another native son of Rockford who also is an Army general is John Taylor Lewis. He was born in Rockford on October 28, 1894, a son of Silas J. and Catherine (Coughlin) Lewis. General Lewis was in command of the Washington Military District during World War II.
Among distinguished women of the county today is Mary Ashby Cheek, who has been president of Rockford College since 1927. Also in this group is Mary Victoria Braginton, a noted classical scholar and academic dean of Rockford College since 1940.
Additional Rockford residents included in Who's Who in America are Robert M. Gaylord, president of the Ingersoll Milling Company; the Reverend John Gordon, pastor of the Second Congregational Church of Rockford; Stanley H. Hobson, president of the George D. Roper Corporation; William D. Knight, lawyer, civic leader and former state's attorney of Winnebago County; I. C. Martin, former president of the Woodward Governor Company; Mark A. Sommer, treasurer of the National Lock Company; the Reverend Thomas B. Thompson, publisher of the Rockford Morning Star; Ray Wantz, president of the Rockford Fibre Container Company; and Karl C. Williams, lawyer and former assistant attorney general of Illinois.
COUNTY OFFICERS, 1953-1954
Officers of Winnebago County, as of 1953-1954, were: Horace M. Skinner, county clerk; Bess E. Clifford, probate clerk; Paul N. Wilson, circuit clerk; William M. Two, recorder; George J. Meyers, treasurer; Tagee Bengston, auditor; Kirk S. King, sheriff; Robert Canfield, state's attorney; Fred J. Kullberg, county judge; Seely P. Forbes, probate judge; Paul S. Conklin, superintendent of schools; Collins Y. Sundberg, coroner; George R. Schroeder, superintendent of highways; John C. McCarthy, master in chancery; and Myron G. Smith, tountyagricultural adviser.
WINNEBAGO COUNTY IN 1950
On the basis of figures of the last United States census, a statistical profile may be drawn of Winnebago County as it was in 1950, or at mid-twentieth century. As previously shown, these figures reveal that the county is more of an industrial locality than an agricultural one, due to such manufacturing centers as Rockford and South Beloit. In 1950 the county had a total population of 152,385, which placed it 160th in rank among the 3,103 counties of the United States. This figure represented an increase of 25.8 per cent over the 1940 population count. An unofficial estimate places the 1955 population of the county at 172,500. Most of the increase since 1940 occurred at South Beloit, Rockford, and Loves Park.
Area and Density.
The county has a land area of 520 square miles. Its density of population in 1950 was 293 persons per square mile.
Because of Rockford, third largest city in Illinois, the county has a much larger urban population than rural one. The urban population was given as 125,447. The rural non-farm population (residents of unincorporated areas, villages and towns) was 19,142, and the rural farm population was 7,796.
In 1950 there were 16,734 persons under five years of age(infants), and 12,536 persons sixty-five years old and over. The median age was given as 31.4 years.
In that same year there were 7,600 residents of the county either living abroad or in some other county of the United States.
Also in that same year there were 99,846 potential voters in the county (persons twenty-one years old and over.)
A total of 3,737 live births was recorded, with 1,464 deaths (including 107 infants). Also recorded were 1,755 marriages.
In 1950 the number of families in the county (two or more persons related by blood or marriage) was 41,645. The median income of all these families was given as $3,766. The figures showed further that 15 per cent had incomes of less than $2,000, while 26.5 per cent had incomes of $5,000 or more.
At the same period there were 22,675 persons in the county between the ages of seven and seventeen years (school age). Of this total, there were 15,180 between the ages of seven and thirteen years (primary school age), and 97.3 per cent of these were enrolled in primary schools. There were 6,095 between the ages of fourteen and seventeen years (high school age), and 86.1 per cent of these were enrolled in high schools. Of all persons in the county twenty-five years old and over, it was shown that the median number of school years they completed was 10. There were 53 per cent who completed less than 5 grades, and 36 per cent who completed high school or college. The institutional population of the county (inmates of homes for dependent or delinquent children, mental hospitals, jails, etc.) was given as 694.
Winnebago County had a total labor force in 1950 (persons fourteen years old and over) of 114,799. Actually employed, however, were 67,757, of which 85.8 per cent were males and 33.5 per cent were females. The labor figures showed further that 32,971 were employed in manufacturing, 11,823 in wholesale and retail trade, 4,074 in professional and related services, 3,355 in business and personal services, 3,193 in construction, 2,808 in transportation, communication and other public utilities, 2,532 in agriculture, 1,925 in finance, insurance and real estate, and 59 in mining. The labor figures were summed up by showing that 49.8 per cent of the total employed were engaged in manufacturing, while 3.8 per cent were engaged in agriculture.
In the same year, Winnebago County had a total of 46,875 dwelling units, whereas in 1940 it had 35,483- The median number of rooms per unit was given as 4.9. More than 64 per cent of the total were one-dwelling unit detached structures (including occupied trailers), 23-3 per cent were built in 1940 or later, and 65.9 per cent had hot running water with private toilet and bath. The median number of persons per unit was given as 3-0. More than 60 per cent of all units were owner-occupied, 1.9 per cent were occupied by non-white households, 76.0 per cent had central heating, 90.8 per cent had mechanical refrigeration, and 98.2 per cent had radios. There were a total of 44,635 houses classified as non-farm dwelling units, and the median value of these was given as $9,345. The median gross monthly rental of renter-occupied dwellings was given as $48.77.
Retail and Wholesale Trade.
In 1948, when the last business census was taken, there were 1,673 retail stores in Winnebago County. In that year these stores grossed $163, 760 in sales, and employed a total of 8,756 persons. The largest number of retail establishments were food stores, numbering 460, and which grossed $37,841 in sales. The next largest were eating and drinking places, numbering 354, and which grossed $15,088 in sales. In the same year there were 273 wholesale establishments, which employed 2,452 persons and which grossed $135,639 in sales. Additional business figures showed there were 552 personal, business and repair services which employed 1,397 persons and which had receipts totaling $10,042.
As we have seen, Winnebago County is more of a manufacturing locality than an agricultural one. In 1947, when such figures were last obtained, the county had 375 manufacturing establishments which employed 34,982 persons and which produced goods, materials and articles in the amount of $188,520.
In 1950 there were 2,006 farms in Winnebago County, of which 1,642 were classified as commercial farms. The agricultural figures showed further that 31.7 per cent of all farms were operated by tenants. The average value of land and buildings for all farms was given as $22,924. The value of all farm products - crops, livestock, poultry and dairy products - sold in 1949 was $14,675,000. At that time the county had a total of 50,726 head of cattle and calves of all ages.
As of December 30, 1950, Winnebago County had bank deposits amounting to $125,332,000. Total savings capital of the county's two savings and loan associations, on the same date, amounted to $4,499,000, with $3,915,000 in first mortgage loans outstanding.
CITY OF ROCKFORD
Third largest city of Illinois and metropolis of the Rock River country, Rockford is the seat of justice of Winnebago County and principal center of the county's manufacturing, commercial, educational, cultural and religious interests. As the story of the "Forest City" is largely the story of Winnebago County, details of Rockford's past will be found in the opening historical narrative of this work.
An unofficial estimate placed the city's 1955 population at 116,800. In 1950 it had an official population of 92,927 - an increase of 9.8 per cent over its 1940 population. Just outside Rockford is Loves Park, a comparatively new community which in 1950 had a population of 5,366. The city, noted for its many tree-lined streets and attractive parks, occupies an area of fourteen square miles on both sides of the historic Rock river.
Here, on a landscaped campus of ten acres, stands Rockford College, one of the oldest colleges for women in the United States. It was founded in 1849 by Miss Anna Sill, noted educator of her time. First student to receive a degree at the college was the late Jane Addams, who became one of the world's foremost social service workers. The college has a present enrollment of 600 young ladies and is currently headed by Mary A. Cheek, a leader in the educational field.
Out in the country just beyond Rockford is located Camp Grant, one of the largest military training camps in the United States. During the first and second World Wars thousands of soldiers received their training at this 4,000-acre military establishment. In recent years the camp has been used by the Illinois National Guard.
Among leading manufacturing concerns of the city are the Barber Colman Company (textile machinery). National Lock Company (locks), Sunstrand Machine Tool Company (machine tools), American Cabinet Hardware Corporation (hinges and hardware), Geo. D. Roper Corporation (gas ranges), Greenlee Bros. & Company (hand and machine tools), Rockford Screw Products Company (screw products), Gunite Foundries Corporation (iron castings), and the J. I. Case Company (farm machinery).
The mayor of Rockford in 1954 was Milton Lundstrom and the city clerk was William E. White. The city is served by two daily newspapers, the Register-Republic (evening), and the Rockford Star (morning), both published by F. Kenneth Todd. The Register-Republic is the oldest newspaper in the county, having been founded in 1855. There are six banks in the city which in 1953 had deposits totaling 3171,269,748. South of the city is Greater Rockford Airport, largest airport of the county.
Only community of Burritt Township, northwest of Rockford, is the hamlet of Wempleton. It is situated on State 70. The hamlet was founded in early times by the father of Edward H. Wemple, a well-known farmer of the. region. The elder Wemple, says an old county historical work, "built a house and blacksmith shop, and was particularly instrumental in establishing the only church in the place."
In 1950 there were 524 persons living in Burritt Township. The township is now entirely devoted to agriculture. One of the earliest settlers of the township was John Atkinson, a native of England. He arrived in Winnebago County in 1837. During his life John Atkinson served at various times as road commissioner, assessor, collector and township trustee. One of his sons was George A. Atkinson, who operated a large farm in the township.
CHERRY VALLEY TOWNSHIP
Fast of Rockford, on the county line, lies the incorporated village of Cherry Valley, which in 1950 had a population of 741. It is located on the Kishwaukee River and is served by State 5 as well as by the Chicago and North Western Railroad. The village came into being when the Galena & Chicago Union Railroad—now part of the North Western system— was built through this area in 1848.
At the present time Emmett Burke is president of the village board, and the clerk is Lowell Batty. Cherry Valley is the principal community of Cherry Valley Township, which in 1950 had a total population of 1,544. First to settle in the township, and on the site of the present village, was Joseph P. Griggs, who built a log cabin here in 1835. A year later came the Gleason brothers and Densley Kiser.
Seventeen miles northwest of Rockford, in a rich farming region, is located the incorporated village of Durand. In I950.it had a population of 679. The village contains a cheese factory as well as facilities for the shipping of corn, oats, hay and dairy products. At the present time Ernest L. Baker is president of the village board and Charles Stauffer is village clerk.
Durand is served by the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul & Pacific Railroad and by State 70. Only newspaper of the village is the Durand Gazette, a weekly, founded in 1907 and now owned and edited by John R. Van Sickle. The village was laid out in 1855 by John B. Herring, Price B. Webster and John F. Pettingill and named after H. S. Durand, president of an early railroad of the county.
Durand is the only community of Durand Township, which in 1950 had a population of 1,335- Among the first settlers of the township were L. V. Cleveland, John A. Johnson, Frederic Sidorus and J. R. Herring, all of whom came in 1837-1838. A Methodist church was established in the township in 1840 by the Reverend Samuel Pillsbury.
One of the county's newer communities is Colonial Gardens, located north of Rockford on US 51. It is bordered on the west by the Rock River, and near it is situated Machesney Airport. Colonial Gardens is one of the principal commuities of Harlem Township, which in 1950 had a population of 5,728. First to settle in the township was Hiram Wattles, who arrived in 1835 and built a log cabin in the southeast corner of the township.
Another new community of Harlem Township is Liberty Park, located on US 51 just north of Colonial Gardens. As with the latter, Liberty Park is part of the Rockford urbanized area as most of its residents formerly lived in the city to the south.
An old community of Harlem Township is the small village of Argyle, located near the Boone County line. In 1950 the village had a population of fifty. It was founded more than a hundred years ago by a group of Scotch immigrants. The First Scotch Presbyterian Church of Willow Creek was organized here in 1844.
Another old community of Harlem Township is the hamlet of Harlem, located in the countryside east of Liberty Park on State 173- It is served by the postoffice at Rockford. First to hold religious exercises in the hamlet were the Baptists, led by Elder Picket. In 1847 a Methodist Episcopal class was organized here.
Situated on the banks of the winding Pecatonica River, in the north central part of the county, the tree-shaded village of Harrison is one of the older communities of Winnebago County. Through the village passes State 75. Harrison was founded more than a hundred years ago. A description of it, written about 1876, says this: "The village of Harrison . . . contains a number of shops, two or three groceries and small stores, an hotel, church, etc." This village, which in 1950 had a population of 200, is the only community of Harrison Township. There were 572 persons living in the township in 1950. First to settle in the township was a Mr. Brayton, who came in the fall of 1835. The township was named after William Henry Harrison, ninth President of the United States.
Bounded on the north by the Wisconsin state line, Laona Township is entirely devoted to agriculture, there being no villages or towns within its borders. In 1950 the township had a total population of 435. The eastern portion of the township is drained by Sugar Creek, a tributary of the Pecatonica River. At one time there was a small settlement in this locality called Laona, but this has long since disappeared. Among early settlers of the township were Peter Johnson, Hartley Gjeldseth, Niles Patterson, Allen Phipps, William Phipps, Dester Russell and Rienzi Webster.
Another of the newer communities of the county is Latham Park, which stretches along the west bank of the Rock River nortli of Rockford. Just below Latham Park, on the east bank of the river, lie such other new real estate developments as Colonial Gardens and Liberty Park. Latham Park is located on land that once was the farm of Francis K. Latham, who first settled here in 1854. For fourteen years he held the office of supervisor of Owen Township, in which Latham Park is situated. Owen Township in 1950 had a total population of 886. In addition to Francis E. Latham, other early settlers of the township were Mowry Brown, John M. Atkinson, Patten Atwood, Wadleigh Favor, William Halley, Frederick M. Knapp, James B. Lee, C. Schoonmaker, Isaac Seaverns, Orville P. Thomas, Stephen 0. Thompson and George Tullock.
Now more than a hundred years old, the incorporated village of Pecatonica, situated on the river of the same name, is the principal trading center and shipping point for the farming; population of western Winnebago County. In addition to many retail stores and service establishments, the village contains a milk condensery, corn cannery and cheese factory.
In 1950 the village had a population of 1,438. Pecatonica is served only by the Chicago & North Western Railroad and by nearby US 20. Just north of the village is located Pecatonica Airport. At the present time the president of the village board is John J. Meyers and the clerk is Irene Haueter. Only newspaper here is the Pecatonica News, a weekly, founded in 1872 and now published by Robert and Kenneth Mitchell.
Pecatonica was laid out in 1852 by T. D. Robertson and John A. Holland, both of Rockford. The land it occupies was originally part ot a farm owned by Daniel Reed, Sr., who settled here in 1846. The village is now the only community of Pecatonica Township, which in 1950 had a population of 1,975. First to settle in the township were Ephraim and William Summer and their sister (Mrs. Dolly Guiford), Elijah Guilford and Thomas Hance. The latter was the father of the first white child born in the county, Ogden Hance.
For a description of the city of Rockford, see opening chapter in this section of the present work. The "Forest City" lies in the center of Rockford Township, which in 1950 had a total population of 127,970. Parts of the township were annexed to the city in 1940 and in each year from 1942 through 1950. As the early history of the township is the same as that of Rockford city, see chapter "City of Rockford" and the historical narrative of Winnebago County.
Largest of the new communities just outside Rockford city is Loves Park, which was incorporated as a city in 1947. In 1950 it had a population of 5,366. The community, composed of all types of new, modern housing units, lies east of Rockford along the Rock River, through the center of the city runs US 51. At the present time Victor Jensen is mayor of Loves Park and Charles F. Edwards is city clerk. The city has two newspapers, the Post and Mail, both published by Curt West and edited by Rae Small.
One of the older villages of Rockford Township is New Milford, situated south of Rockford city on the Kishwaukee River. In 1950 it had a population of 200. Just west of the village lie the broad acres and runways of the Greater Rockford Airport. New Milford was founded about seventy-five years ago when the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy and the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific railroads were built through this area. Through the center of the village today runs US 51.
Another community of Rockford Township is Samuelson Corners. In 1950 it had a population of fifteen. The community is served by the postoffice at nearby Rockford city. The countryside about Samuelson Corners is drained by Spring Creek, a tributary of the Rock River.
Also in Rockford Township is the old village of Kishwaukee, situated near the river of the same name. The Wesleyan Methodist Church of Kishwaukee was founded as early as 1844 by five settlers of the region. The church was reorganized in 1863 and a house of worship was built in 1868.
Third largest city of Winnebago County is South Beloit, which forms part of the leading Wisconsin city of Beloit. It is situated on the Rock River at the Wisconsin state line. In 1950 the city had a population of 3,221 - an increase of 14 per cent over its 1940 population. South Beloit is served by the Chicago & North Western and Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul & Pacific railroads, by US 51 and State 2, and by the south Beloit Airport. and State 2, and by the south Beloit Airport. At the present time Edwin B. Cornwell is mayor of the city and W.W. Weirick is city clerk. Among leading manufacturing concerns of South Beloit are the Warner Brake & Clutch Company (electric brakes, clutches), Gardner Machine Company (disc grinders), and the Besly-Welles Corporation (disc grinders).
Among the oldest incorporated villages of the county is Rockton, located southwest of South Beloit at the confluence of the Pecatonica and Rock rivers. In 1950 it had a population of 1,432. The village is served by the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul & Pacific Railroad and by state highways 75 and 2. At the present time Lislie Gray is president of the village board and Helen Haug is village clerk.
Rockton was platted by William Talcott, early settler, in 1840, but the plat was not entered until 1844. Talcott was the father of Major Thomas B. Talcott and Sylvester Talcott, two of the most prominent of pioneer Winnebago County citizens. It is said that when Sylvester Talcott was serving as a justice of the peace, he performed, in 1836, the first marriage ceremony in the county, uniting Jerry Roberts and a Miss Langdon.
South Beloit is the principal community of Rockton Township. In 1950 the township had a total population of 6,106. The first settler of the township was also the first settler of Winnebago County - Stephen Mack. An educated New Englander, Stephen Mack came to the vicinity of present Rockton town about 1829. His name is remembered today in the Macktown Forest Preserve, a wooded tract that includes the place where Mack first settled before Winnebago County was organized.
Although the main portion of South Beloit city lies in Rockton Township, part of it is located in adjoining Roscoe Township. This part in 1950 had a population of 540. A portion of Roscoe Township was annexed to South Beloit city in 1944. For a description of South Beloit, see "Rockton Township."
In 1950 Roscoe Township had a total population of 2,368. Located in the northeast corner of the county, the township is traversed by US 51. First permanent settler of the locality was R.J. Cross, who arrived on August 3, 1835. A month later there came Elijah H. Brown, James B. Lee and William (M)ead, all of whom had journeyed overland from La Porte County, Indiana,
Oldest community of Roscoe Township is the incorporated village of Roscoe, which in 1950 had a population of 556. It is situated on US 5 1 and the Chicago & North Western Railroad. Through the village winds Kinninick Creek. A grist mill was built here in 1847 by James Thompson and in time a settlement grew up about the mill.
In the far southwest corner of the county lies the village of Seward, only community of Seward Township. In 1950 it hhad a population of 150. Through the village runs the Illinois Central Railroad. On all sides of Seward stretch many prosperous farms laid out in a level countryside. Almost entirely devoted to agriculture, Seward Township in 1950 had a population of 851. One of the early settlers of the township was William Benson, who served as a driver on the Frink & Walker stagecoach line of pioneer times. Other early settlers were Roswell Clark, Samuel Clark, W. ]. Cleveland, John T. Daugherty, Joshua Dowlen, Samuel Jones and William Jones.
An old village in the north part of the county, near the confluence of the Sugar and Pecatonica rivers, is Shirland, which in 1950 had a population of 120. Through the village runs the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul & Pacific Railroad. The village came into being after the railroad was built through here more than a hundred years ago. A Methodist Episcopal Church society was organized here as long as 1847. A cheese factory was built at Shirland in 1869 and turned out about 500 pounds of cheese per day. This village is the only community of Shirland Township. In 1950 the township had a population of 512. The township is bounded on the north by the Wisconsin state line. Among early settlers of this locality were Arlow Seaton and Lemuel Fisk, who arrived in 1837 and built log cabins for their first shelters.
Out in the level, fertile countryside west of Rockford lies the century-old village of Winnebago, which in 1950 had a population of 752. It is served by the Chicago & North Western Railroad and by a short roadway to US 20. At the present time M. E. Alden is president of the village board and C. W. Mellen is village clerk. In addition to many retail stores and service establishments, Winnebago contains facilities for the shipping of crops, livestock and dairy products from the surrounding countryside.
The village was platted on December 30, 1853, by T. D. Robertson of Rockford. This was just after the Galena & Chicago Union Railroad - first railroad to be built out of Chicago - was constructed through Winnebago County. It is now part of the Chicago & North Western System. The first house on the village site was erected by Joseph D. Warner, and the first general store opened by Albert Wilson.
This village is the largest community of Winnebago Township, which in 1950 had a total population of 1,579. First settler of the township was William Holt, who came in 1836. His brother, Elijah, arrived the following year. In 1838 there came Alby Briggs from New York state. He was one of the first Winnebago County settlers to realize the future agricultural possibilities of the Rock River county.
Another community of Winnebago Township is the small hamlet of Alworth, located south of Winnebago village. In 1950 it had a population of ten. The Illinois Central Railroad passes through the hamlet. Alworth was named after Ruben Alworth, early settler who operated a large farm in this vicinity. During his lifetime Alworth served as a postmaster, school director and justice of the peace.
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