ILGW logo

will banner

USGW logo

History of Will County

Township Histories


The township of Crete is one of the two largest in the county, being about nine sections more than a Congressional town. The Congressional survey describes it as Town 34 north, Range 14 east, with all of Town 34, Range 15 east, lying in Illinois—the balance of last-described town lying in the State of Indiana. The township is bounded on the north by Cook County, on the east by Indiana, on the south by Washington Township, and on the west by Monee. Plum Creek, which flows from near the southwest corner and leaves the township at the northeast corner, cuts it diagonally into two unequal portions. Lying along the banks of this and a small southern branch of the same, is a heavy belt of timber, formerly named and still known as Beebe's Grove, from one of its earliest settlers. The northwest corner, along Thorn Creek, is also covered with timber, and is called Thorn Grove. Ten or twelve sections, therefore, of the township of Crete are woodland; not so heavy, however, as formerly, the largest trees having fallen before the woodman's ax. The injunction of the poet, "Woodman, spare that tree," was unheeded by the early settler, and most of the noblest of the forest's representatives entered into the construction of their dwellings, or were consumed in the shape of fuel. Strange as it may seem, land was actually cleared for agricultural purposes; though just outside and adjoining were thousands of acres better adapted for farming than the land thus laboriously prepared for the plow; but then, they had seen it done so in the East or South, from whence they had come, and the prairie would have been an experiment, and they had no time or disposition to try it.

The soil is varied; some of the land is very fertile, and in other parts of the township the reverse is the case. All of the land is well adapted for the purpose of grazing, and dairying for several years has been carried on quite extensively.

Hogs, cattle, corn and other grains and vegetables, common to this climate, are raised. In the southeastern portion was formerly an extensive marsh covering about a section. Successful drainage has redeemed this land and made it good pasturage. Prior to 1869, the market was Chicago, with occasional trading with Monee, on the Illinois Central Railroad. In the year named, the Chicago & Eastern Illinois, or Danville & Vincennes, line was completed through the western portion of the township, making a direct outlet for produce. The village of Crete had already been laid out and built up; but on the completion of this line, it took a new growth, and is now one of the most thriving places in this part of the State. Another town in the southwestern part also sprang up, and the convenient trading-point of Goodenow was established.

The original settlements of Crete Township were four, and quite distinct. The settlements of Thorn Grove, Beebe's Grove and Wood's Corners, on the State road, were almost identical as to time, but divided as to locality more definitely than are the townships of to-day. Especially was this the case with the two grove settlements; while Wood's Corners, now the village of Crete, being just on the borders of Thorn Grove, partook more of the identity of that settlement. The German settlement, which began a few years later, though not confined to any one locality, was yet distinct, in that the people were from the same country and spoke a different language; and, too, their settlements were made mostly on the prairie, the borders of the groves having generally been previously occupied.

If any of these settlements can claim priority, probably the advantage, on that score, lies with Thorn Grove, David Haner being the first permanent settler of that locality. His location here was certainly as early as 1834. There may have been some one in that part of the Grove east of the Monee Township line; but, as this family was permanent, members of it still residing here, the claim, if for no other reason, appears good. One or two other names have been suggested; but, as the evidence in the one case is conflicting, and in the other case the parties having removed at an early date, we give them other places in the matter of chronology.

Mr. Haner died many years ago, perhaps as many as thirty, but his interests were closely identified with the neighborhood. He was the first Constable in this section, at a period following closely on the organization of the county. He was from the State of New York.

Following soon after, came to Thorn Grove, James Rice and William Brooks—Rice from Indiana and Brooks from New York. In the cabin of the former are said to have occurred the first death, the first birth and the first marriage in this township. Very soon after the arrival of these two men, with their wives, James Rice, Jr., was born, and almost coincident was the death of James Rice, Sr. Very shortly after, Mr. Brooks' wife died, and Mr. Brooks and Mrs. Rice each being in want of a partner, their marriage was celebrated in the aforementioned Rice mansion. The united family removed to Minnesota some years ago.

A. R. Starr and Erastus Cole, both from New York, came in 1835. Both these men are dead; but a son of the former now resides in Joliet, and a son of the latter still lives here, and is a large farmer of this township.

In 1838, A. Wilder, formerly of New York, but more recently of Ohio, moved into the neighborhood. Mr. Wilder still resides in this neighborhood. He has always been and still is one of the most prominent of the citizens of Crete Township.

In the mean time, the State road, mentioned in Washington Township, was attracting some settlers. Doubtless from its very publicity, and from the desire of the human kind for society, or even the frequent sight of his species, the "Big Road," all along its extent, became a continuous settlement. Willard Wood was the nucleus or founder of the Corners, or what has developed into the village of Crete, and, in 1849, laid out the town. Mr. Wood has probably been more closely identified with the interests of this vicinity and of the whole township than any other man. Willard Wood taught the first school, in the Winter of 1837-38, a short distance north of the Corners; and, in 1840, was appointed first School Treasurer. Charles Wood was a brother, but does not reside here now, having removed to Minnesota. Luman Hewes came, with a large family, from Vermont, in 1837. The family consisted of Mr. Hewes and wife, sons John, Austin, William, Benjamin, Luman, Jr., Daniel and Wallace, and one daughter. Four of the sons—John, Benjamin, Daniel and Wallace—are still residents of the township; the balance are all dead. They have all been successful men. All bought farms and improved them, though some are at present engaged in other business.

Enoch Dodge came from New Hampshire, in 1838. He is dead, but the family still reside here. Asa Lyttle was also an early settler in this neighborhood. He was a native of Vermont, and is now a resident of Minnesota. B. Boardman, now of California, was also from Vermont. B. Stafford was another Vermonter. He was the father of Gov. Stafford, of Arizona, and also of Mrs. Dr. Mary Blake, Medical Lecturer in one of the medical colleges of Boston. During the late war, Mrs. Blake repaired to the scene of battle and engaged in the work of nursing and caring for the sick and wounded soldiers, and, in that capacity, gained the enviable title of "Le Petite Angel."

In the eastern portion of the township, where lies the longest stretch of timber-land, quite an extensive settlement was being made at the same period. Minoris Beebe is credited with being the pioneer, and his advent was, no doubt, as early as 1834. In honor of him the grove was named. He was a man of more than ordinary intelligence and worth, and was one of the first Justices of the Peace in this section of the county. Following him but a short time after, was Hardin Beebe, uncle of Minoris and father of Judge Beebe, of Kankakee. Quartos Marsh, with five sons—Edwin, Jonathan, Henry, Nelson and Frank—came about the year last named, or a very short time after. Of this family, Nelson was afterward editor of the Joliet Republican. The family, as a whole, was one of the best in the township.

Maj. John Kyle was one of the earliest residents of the Grove, and was the first death. He was from the Green Mountain State. His son Merrill was Colonel in the late war. He is now a resident of Blue Island, near Chicago. Several other members of the family live in the city, and are all wealthy.

J. E. Burritt and son, Elisha, son-in-law Henry Mulligan, and Norman Northrup, came together from Connecticut. Mr. Mulligan subsequently removed to the western part of the county. His oldest son is Superintendent of one of the railroads of Michigan, and resides at Detroit, in that State. Northrup removed some years ago to Monee, where he died. His widow, who afterward married Willard Wood, has also recently died.

Shipman Frank and James L. Dean were both from New York. Frank was the first Postmaster in the township and was commissioned to take charge of the office of Endor, which was the first established. The post office has been, with the exception of a couple of years, from 1856 till 1858, in existence ever since. Mr. Frank died many years ago. His son, Augustus, is in the Treasury Department of the United States, at Washington.

While the war with Mexico brought a large number of settlers to this country, they having been in the service and received warrants for land, which they located here, so, also, the result of that war having opened up the extensive Pacific Slope to emigration, it was the means of removing many others to the old-fields of California. The treaty of peace with Mexico had scarcely been signed, when there was almost an exodus from some of the Eastern States to dig for the precious metal. Among the number from this section who thirsted for gold was James L. Dean. He did not realize his bright anticipations, however, but died on the way. His family continued to reside here, until about 1859.

Rev. David Ripley was the first preacher who located in the township. He was from Connecticut, and had been preaching in that State and New York, prior to his coming here. By him the first church organization in the township was effected, it being that of the Congregational denomination, in 1839. Hiram Rowley and John Pease were from New York. The father of Rowley was one of the contractors for the building of the Erie Canal. It is said of him that on one occasion, while in the discharge of some of his duties, Gov. Clinton and some other gentleman were on the ground inspecting the works. Mr. Rowley not being acquainted with the gentlemen or their business at the place, and noticing that they were somewhat in the way of the laborers, ordered them to stand aside, and not to interfere with the work. Gov. Clinton, instead of taking offense at the seemingly rude treatment of His Excellency and companions, complimented Mr. Rowley on his zeal and energy in carrying on his business. Pease carried the first mail from Chicago to Iroquois, in 1836, at which time the post offices of Endor and Crete were established. Moses Cook and John Williamson were also here before 1839. They are still residents of the township.

In the year last named, Samuel Cushing, or Deacon Cushing as he is more generally called, arrived from New York. He has a history that would make a respectable appendix to "Uncle Tom's Cabin"; and all of the interesting incidents of his pioneer life, which was at a period when the Antislavery movement in this country was just beginning to assume shape, and when the underground railway, for the transfer of colored passengers from bondage to a land of freedom, was just being established, would make a volume. Notwithstanding the laws of Illinois imposed severe penalties on any convicted of in anywise aiding or abetting a fugitive in his efforts to gain his liberty, Samuel Cushing accepted the position of agent and conductor, and his house was a real station. Mr. Cushing thinks he has helped to place beyond the reach of their pursuers, about eighty or ninety of these fugitives. The usual method of operation was to receive the "human chattels" from the hands of a former conductor, from Wilmington or Joliet, before daylight, keep them concealed in the upper tfoom of his cabin through the day; and then, as night came on, convey them to Crown Point in Indiana, arriving there before light the next morning. Many incidents of an exciting and interesting character took place, which, but for want of space, are worthy of mention here. Suffice it to say that Mr. Cushing's operations finally culminated in 1843, in his indictment and arrest for "harboring slaves." It seems almost incredible that such a proceeding should have taken place so short a time ago. Thirty-five years have barely passed, and there is not a slave in the land. Then the poor, trembling fugitives came, seeking shelter and protection from such as were adjudged outlaws in the free State of Illinois. The following is a copy of the original indictment, still in the possession of Mr. Cushing, and is certainly, to say the least, considering the character of the man, the time and place, and the nature of the offense, a great curiosity:

Of the October term of the Will County Circuit Court, in the year of our Lord, one thousand eight hundred and forty-three, State of Illinois, Will County:

The Grand Jurors, chosen, selected, and sworn, in and for the County of Will, aforesaid, in the name and by the authority of the people of the state of Illinois, on their oath present that Samuel Cushing late of said county, at the county aforesaid, on the first day of July, in the year of our Lord, one thousand eight hundred and forty three, four negroes, then and there slaves, and owing service to a person to the jurors unknown, residing in the state of Missouri, one of the United States of America, then and there, to wit: on the day and year, and at the county aforesaid, in the dwelling house of him the said Cushing then and there situate did harbor, he the said Samuel Cushing, then and there well knowing the said negroes then and there to be such slaves, and fugitives from service as aforesaid; contrary to the form of the statute in such case made and provided, and against the peace and dignity of the same people of the state of Illinois.

And the Grand Jurors, chosen, selected and sworn, in and for the county aforesaid, in the name and by the authority of the people of the state of Illinois, on their oaths aforesaid, do further present, that one Samuel Cushing, late of said county, on the first day of July, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and forty three, at the county aforesaid, one female negro, and one male negro, there and then being slaves and owing service to a person to the jurors unknown, in the state of Missouri, one of the United States of America, then and there to wit: on the day and year aforesaid at the county aforesaid in the dwelling house of him, the said Samuel Cushing then and there situate did harbor, he the said Samuel Cushing then and there well knowing the said female negro and the said male negro, then and there to be such slaves and fugitives from the said state of Missouri; contrary to the statute in such case made and provided, and against the peace and dignity of the said people of the state of Illinois.

And the Grand Jurors chosen, selected and sworn, in and for the county aforesaid, in the name and by the authority of the people of the state of Illinois, on their oath aforesaid do further present that one Samuel Cushing, late of said county, on the first day of July in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and forty three, at the county aforesaid, two colored persons then and there being slaves and owing service to a person to the Jurors unknown in the state of Missouri, one of the United States of America, then and there, to wit: on the day and year last aforesaid, at, the county aforesaid, in the dwelling house of him, the said Samuel Cushing, then and there and then situate, did harbor, he the said Samuel Cushing, then and there well knowing the said two colored persons, then and there to be such slaves as aforesaid, and fugitives from their said service as slaves aforesaid; contrary to the form of the statute in such case made and provided, and against the peace and dignity of the same people of the state of Illinois.

P. PALLINGALL, States Attorney, Pro Tem. Seventh Judicial Circuit. On the back of the document appears the following indorsement: Will County Circuit Court, October Term, 1843. The People of the State of Illinois vs. Samuel Cushing. Indicted for harboring Slaves. A True Bill. C. C. Van Horne, Foreman. Witness—Dwight Haven, Carlos Haven.

Then comes the list of grand jurors:

C. C. Van Horne, John Runyon, John Tanner, Jr., Moses Porter, Jr., J. S. Reynolds, William Wigant, Robert Strong, William Rowe, John Robb, James Walker, Asher Holmes, Reuben Willard, George Woodruff, Titus S. Abbott, Dennis Kelly, Lyman Meacham, Lucius Robinson, Horace Messenger. It would, doubtless, be injustice to some of the names of the grand jurors whose signatures are given as indorsing this action, to suppose that they sympathized with the spirit which incited the movement. On the contrary, some of them will be recognized as leaders in the very cause for which Mr. Cushing was called upon to answer. On this indictment Mr. Cushing was arrested, taken to Joliet and held to bail until the next term of Court. At the term mentioned, though Mr. Cushing would have acknowledged to ten times as much as charged, the Prosecuting Attorney was not ready for trial; and an immediate trial being demanded, a nol. pros, was entered, and the law-breaker allowed to return to his work of "aiding and harboring slaves, contrary to the form of the statute in such case made and provided, and against the peace and dignity of the people of the State of Illinois." At the session of the grand jury mentioned, Col. Peter Stewart, of Wilmington, was indicted for a like offense and with like results. Fifty years hence, in the absence of records, it would be exceedingly hard to convince any one that such proceedings ever took place; and, indeed, at the present time the relation of the event sounds like a story of a century past. Mr. Cushing still resides here at an advanced age, and expresses no regret for the part he took in feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, and sheltering the cold and weary, worn traveler, remembering that the Master had said, "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto the least of these, ye have done it unto me."

The first German who made his appearance on the prairie was William Rinne. His first habitation was, if anything, of a more primitive character than any of its time. It consisted simply of what might be denominated the cellar of a house, lacking the very material part, the building, or, in other words, simply a square hole in the ground, with a low wall of sods built above the surface and covered with prairie grass, supported by poles. In this burrow he lived five or six years, the while toiling and economizing until he had not only paid for his land, but had saved sufficient to build a more comfortable abode.

John O. Meier, the present Supervisor of the township, came in 1844, and is next to the wealthiest man in this part of the county.

John O. Piepenbrink is one of the richest, if not the wealthiest, men in the township. He came to the township in 1849, and began the manufacture of butter and cheese. The business, though at first a small matter, has developed into a concern of large proportions, from which Mr. Piepenbrink has realized a fortune.

John and Christopher Scheiwe came about the same time, and have been exceedingly successful in business.

Conrad Tatge was one of the first German settlers, and, through his influence, probably, more of that people have come to this neighborhood than through that of any other man. Mr. Tatge served the county for eight years as Circuit Clerk, in which position he merited and gained the esteem of all with whom he transacted business. The German settlement grew most rapidly from 1848 till 1856, at the end of which period most of the Government, railroad and speculators' lands had been bought by them. Since then the German population has steadily increased by settlers in the village, and also by those who buy out the original purchasers of the land, they, in turn, removing to newer localities further west. The German people of Crete Township have proved to be most industrious, intelligent and honorable citizens, and the indications of their prosperity are observed on every hand.

Gustavus Brauns was the first German merchant. He came to Crete and opened a store in April, 1857. He has been a very successful man in business, and has the confidence and respect of not only his own people, but of all of his fellow-citizens. Beside these already named, among the early German settlers, were John Windheim, Conrad Weinhoffer, Henry Scheiwe, Philip Jurdining, Henry Ohlendorf, Conrad Hecht and Christopher Batterman, settling in various portions of the township, and mostly before the year 1850.

The history of the churches of Crete Township is almost a history of the township itself, as nearly all of the leading citizens—especially of the early ones—were, directly or indirectly, connected with these enterprises; and to this fact, in connection with the deep interest taken in educational matters,, must be attributed the excellent state of morals and intelligence found here. Like the Puritans, when they landed from the Mayflower, the first thing was to set up the altar in the wilderness; and, like the Israelites, when they had safely landed on the borders of the promised land, they erected to God a tabernacle.

Though, as before stated, Rev. David Ripley organized the first church—that being a Congregational society—the Methodists really organized the first class for religious culture and teaching. A class of this denomination was formed by the noted pioneer preacher, S. R. Beggs, at Thorn Grove, in 1836, with fifteen members. This was the first religious organization in the east end of the county. Five years later, it was transferred to the village of Crete, but no building was erected until 1852, the meetings of the society in the mean time being held in schoolhouses and, in warm weather, in the open air in the grove. The building erected at the date named cost $1,500. The present Pastor of the Church is Rev. U. C. Reynolds. I. C. Reed is Superintendent of the Sunday school. The present membership of the Church is 123, and of the Sunday school, about as many.

The Congregational Church at Beebe's Grove was organized in 1839 by Rev. David Ripley, with Nathaniel Frank and wife, Mrs. Beebe, James L. Dean and wife, Moses Cook and wife, John Kyle and mother and Samuel Cushing and wife as members. Of these original members, Cook and Cushing and their wives are all that are now living. Soon after the organization of the Church, Rev. David Ripley died, and Rev. J. Thompson was called to fill his place. It is related that once the minister's horse strayed away from his stable, and, for over a week, no trace of him could be found. At the end of the period named, however, some one, in passing the church-building,* (*The schoolhouse was then used for church purposes.) heard a noise within, and, supposing some one was inside preparing the room for Church services, pushed open the door, when lo! the poor horse confronted him with looks and actions which indicated that, though he had not been holding religious meetings, he had been fasting for a long time. The horse, after leaving home, had, doubtless, from force of habit, taken the road to the church, and, finding the door ajar, had pushed it open and walked in for the purpose of protecting himself from the inclement weather. "Old Dick" was always afterward dubbed the "Pious Horse."

Six years after the organization at Beebe's Grove, another church of the same denomination was started at Thorn Grove, by Rev. E. C. Brige. Eight or ten years later, the two organizations were united, and steps taken to erect a building for religious worship at the village of Crete. The building was completed a short time thereafter, at an outlay of $2,000. The membership at present numbers about sixty persons, though more than one hundred others, have been dismissed by letter to other organizations. Rev. J. F. Smith is present Pastor, and Mrs. Smith is Superintendent of the Sunday school.

The German Lutheran denomination has been exceedingly prosperous since its establishment here. Trinity Church, of this denomination, is the result of the union of two branches—the one at Beebe's Grove and the other near the village. Rev. C. Weil was the first minister, and preached here a year, in 1849. He was succeeded by Rev. August Selle, who labored with the Church for eight years, and did most of the work in systematizing the enterprises with which the society has since been connected. Mr. Selle organized the first Lutheran Church established in the city of Chicago. In 1860, their present house of worship was erected. It stands nearly a mile south of the village of Crete, is a neat structure of the kind and cost $2,640. The society also owns two schoolhouses, one southeast and the other southwest of the village, in which schools are kept open the most of the year. At each of the schoolhouses, and at the church, they have ten acres of land. They, also, by special agreement with the school authorities, have a school in the public school-building in the village, in which the religion of the Church, the German language and some of the primary branches taught in the common schools are learned. Rev. Gottlieb Traub has been, for the last twelve years, Pastor of the Church. At its first organization, the Church consisted of thirteen families; the present membership is 131 families. The Albright Evangelical Church, located in the southeastern corner of the township was established in 1856, by Rev. George Fetters, with twelve familes. The society has not been very prosperous, the Lutheran Church located a quarter of a mile south, in Washington Township, completely over-shadowing it. In 1862, under the pastorate of Rev. Noah McLain, a small house of worship was erected for $800, on land owned by Conrad Hecht. Seven families at present belong to the organization, and Rev. William Gross is minister. Willard Wood. Esq., now a resident of the village of Crete, taught the first school in the township, in the Winter of 1837—38, and public action looking toward the establishing of a public school system was taken in 1840. On April 11, of that year, the school township was organized, with Luman Hewes, M. H. Cook and Norman Northrup as Trustees, and James L. Miner as Treasurer and Clerk. Miner, however, refused to act, and so Willard Wood was chosen in his place, and continued in office until 1846, when Richard Brown was appointed. The first business done by the Board was the division of the township into three school districts, with the six northeast sections, or Beebe's Grove, as District No. 1; the northwest twelve sections, or Thorn Grove, as No. 12, and the south half of the township as No. 3. The first two of these districts organized at once, and under the public system Miss Eliza Burrit taught during the Summer of 1840 at Beebe's Grove. This was the first term taught in this neighborhood, and was held in the schoolhouse previously mentioned, in which Elder Thompson's "Pious Dick" kept his forced fast. This schoolhouse was a very simple affair indeed; and, as it was a fair sample of the architecture that prevailed in those days, a brief description of it will doubtless prove interesting.

Interested parties to the number of eight or ten came together by appointment, bringing with them their axes, saws and whatever implements they happened to possess, and built it on the mutual assistance plan. Small trees were felled and cut to the length of twenty feet. Notches were cut in each end to admit others designed to rest thereon. Then the logs were laid up, in the manner of constructing a rail pen. When the building had been raised to insufficient height, openings were cut for a door, fireplace and windows. The cracks between the logs were "chinked"—that is, partially filled with small pieces of wood, wedged in, and then daubed with mud. The roof was made of "clapboards," or very large shingles, split from the bodies of straight-grained trees, and these were held in their places by the weight of poles laid thereon. In the building of King Solomon's Temple, it is found worthy of record that it was constructed "without the aid of ax, hammer, or any tool of iron." In our temple of learning it is worthy of note that, with the exception of a few nails in the door, not a piece of iron entered into its composition. The door was made of the boards of which, formerly, a dry goods box had been constructed; was hung on wooden hinges, and fastened with a wooden latch, which only the ingenuity of the backwoodsman could invent, being raised by means of a leather thong attached to it, and hung through a small auger-hole a few inches above. The floor was made of "puncheons," or logs split in two parts, each of which, with it flat surface turned upward, rested on the ground. The desks were broad boards, resting on pins driven into the wall. The seats were constructed of slabs, into the ends of which were inserted wooden pins, serving as legs or supports. These benches were placed in front of the desks, and while the children studied from their books the sharp edges of the desks served as supports for their backs. The chimney and fire-place were composed of small sticks, built up after the manner of the house, and plastered with mud, the fire-place being very ample to admit of large logs used for fuel. The same Summer that the public school was opened at Beebe's Grove, a school was taught by E. Smith in District No. 2. The next year (November, 1841), District No. 3 was organized and school established there. The school land, being the section cornering with the village of Crete, on the southeast, was sold in 1841, at an average of about $2.00 per acre. In 1850, the number of districts had increased to six, since which time no new districts have been formed.

The following items, extracted from the books of the Township Treasurer, Willam L. Adams, and of the Treasurer of the fractional township, J. C. Doescher, will doubtless prove interesting to many readers, as indicating the present condition of the schools:

-------------------------------------------------------Town 14. Town 15.
Number of schools--------------------------------------6 ------------1
Number of persons under 21---------------------744 ---------124
Number of persons between 6 and 21---------497 ----------83
Number of months taught during the year----40 -----------8
Value of school property-----------------------$8,250 ------$300
Amount paid for teaching-----------------------1,865 --------235
Total paid for support of schools-------------2,696 --------264

By no means least among the enlightening and elevating influences in a community is a good newspaper, and as such deserves to be classed with the pulpit and the rostrum. The Enterprise, which is all that its name indicates, was established at Crete in 1875. Its first number appeared on the 25th of December of the year named. C. E. Carter, who had been in the newspaper business in Wisconsin, originated and founded the paper, and by him it has been edited and published ever since. The Enterprise is a sprightly eight-column quarto, full of local and foreign news, and enjoys a good patronage, both by way of subscriptions and advertising. It is issued every Friday. It is independent in politics and religion.

The Crete Sash, Door and Blind Factory, located at the village, is worthy of more than a passing notice. This institution was founded in 1869 by Messrs. Conrad Tatge, Christopher Knabe, William Hahnlein and F. Sennholtz. Two years later, a stock company was formed, with a capital of $21,000, with Walter Loock as Manager, and Gustavus Brauns as Secretary and Treasurer. Twenty hands are employed in the manufacture of the articles before mentioned, and also of moldings and stair-rails. Lumber for use is brought directly from the pineries. The product of the factory finds sale in the southern part of the State and in Indiana.

A fire insurance company, called the Crete Farmers' Mutual, with a capital of $20,000, is one of the institutions of this township. Conrad Tatge, Henry Scheive, John O. Meier and Gustavus Brauns were the originators of the scheme, the last-named being the first Agent and Secretary. Its province is to insure farm-buildings and other careful risks, the rate being about 1 per cent.

The call of the President for soldiers to suppress the rebellion was heard by many in this township, and hearing, they left all—homes, firesides, friends and kindred—and followed the beat of the drum to the field of battle. A number of the brave boys who left us never returned. Their bones lie mingled with the soil of the country which they went out to rescue from the hands of traitors. The names of some of them are here given. Among those who were killed or died of wounds or disease contracted in the army are remembered: A. Quackenbush, John W. Cole, Robert Cave, M. H. Cook, Orlando Hewes, William Conskay, Conrad Ingleking, August Myer and James M. Mulliken. Whether there were others or not, we could not learn, but surely this was enough; and, though the prayers of brothers, sisters, parents and friends ascended day after day for their safe return, the sacrifice was demanded, and it had to be made.

In 1850, the township of Crete, embracing all of what now constitutes the townships of Crete and Washington, was formed. The first township election occurred on the 2d day of April of the year named. The meeting was called to order by Willard Wood. Moses H. Cook was elected Chairman or Moderator, and E. W. Beach was chosen Secretary. They were sworn to perform the duties of their offices according to law, by J. Marsh, a Justice of the Peace. At this first election, there were 109 votes cast, of which the following persons received majorities for the respective offices: N. Brown, Supervisor; Z. Handerson, Clerk; J. Luce, Assessor; D. Wilkins, Collector; Horace Adams, Overseer of the Poor; A. Wilder, S. W. Chapman and William Hewes, Commissioners of Highways; H. E. Barret and O. H. Barret, Constables, and H. Sprague and J. Marsh, Justices of the Peace.

The present voting population of the township is not less than three hundred and fifty, though the highest vote ever cast has been but 334.

The present township officers are: John O. Meier, Supervisor; Emil Walter, Clerk; Henry Hattendorf, Collector; Henry Cole, Assessor; A. Darling, William Diersen and H. N. Doescher, Highway Commissioners; Charles Smith and D. E. Hewes, Justices of the Peace, and Frank Pease and Lorenz Tillotsen, Constables.


The village of Crete was laid out in 1849, by Willard Wood, who lived here, occupying the site since 1837. Mr. Wood built at the place now occupied by the Hewes House, at the last-named date, and kept the house as a hotel. As mentioned in the history of Washington Township, places for the accommodation of the traveling public sprang up all along this great highway, and among the number was the Wood Tavern. Of course it was not the commodious hotel that now occupies the corner, but a small log structure; though the use of that corner, with numerous changes and additions, has always been devoted to that purpose. Until about the time of the laying-out of the town, the same log cabin was the hotel; but, at the date named, it gave place to a more pretentious affair. Wood then erected a building 26x36 feet, which he occupied until 1865. In 1873, the Hewes brothers, Daniel and B. F., came into possession, and built the main part of the house, and have occupied it ever since.

The first merchant to locate here was H. H. Huntley. He opened his store directly after the town was laid out, in 1849. Z. Handerson came in a year later, and opened another store. George Gridley had been blacksmithing here for some years before the town was laid out.

Dr. H. H. Hitchcock, now of Chicago, was the first physician at the Corners, but removed from here about the time the village started. Dr. G. W. Minard, who still resides in the place, was a student of Hitchcock's, and succeeded to his practice.

The post office was established at the Corners in 1836, and was named Crete; and from this the village, in 1849, and the township, in 1850, have derived their names. Crete is one of the most enterprising towns on the line of the Chicago & Eastern Illinois Railroad. It is composed of men of ability and thrift, as indicated by buildings, both public and private, which are of a superior character. Some of their fine stores and private residences would appear respectable in towns of ten times its size and pretensions.


This town was the direct product of the building of the Chicago & Eastern Illinois Railroad, and was laid out by George W. Goodenow the same year. Mr. Goodenow, at the same time, built a storehouse and put in a general stock of merchandise. The same year, William Kophmeir erected a hotel and saloon, and Herman Brinker built a wagon-shop and dwelling.

Next year James Darling built a blaeksmith-shop, which was at once occupied by Samuel Rose. Darling removed to Kansas. Mr. Goodenow was first Postmaster, and still occupies the position. The village is situated on the southeast corner of Section 32, about four miles south of Crete. It is a fine loeation for a town, and but for the hard times which have intervened since its beginning, would doubtless by this time present a greatly improved appearance.

Last Update: Sunday, 22-Mar-2015 20:05:47 EDT

ILGW logo   USGW logo

Will County Coordinator: Dennis Partridge
© 2007- ILGenWeb Project. All Rights Reserved.
Copyright of submitted items belongs to those responsible for their authorship or creation unless otherwise assigned.