Wheatland is the northwestern township of the county, and, like the most of them, is a full township of thirty-six sections. It is described as town 37, north range 9, east of the third principal meridian. It is wholly prairie, there never having been to exceed five acres of timber in the whole township. The land is rolling and all good, in fact, some of the very best land to be found in the county is in that township. It is watered by the Dupage river, which passes through it, entering the township in the northeast corner and passing out of it on section thirty-five, on the southern border. There are no villages in it. The Aurora branch of the Elgin, Joliet & Eastern railroad passes through the western part of it, and has two stations. Wolf’s Crossing and Normantown, but no attempt has ever been made to build villages at the stations. The Joliet, Plainfield & Aurora Electric Railway also passes through the township near the line of the railroad. There were several postoffices established in the township, but we think they have all been abolished, as the rural delivery of the mails gives the inhabitants much better service than the small post-offices could do. The inhabitants are all agriculturists, and take much pride in the work. Their farms are well kept, the buildings neat and comfortable, and no township in the county can boast of a better stock of horses and cattle than can Wheatland. One of their hobbies is the Wheatland plowing match, that comes off every fall on the farm of some farmer, and the people gather from far and near to attend these matches and compare notes, talk politics, and a few to see the plowing. It is a big affair, and much more interest is taken in it than in the county fair.
The pioneer inhabitant of the township was Isaac C. Foster, a native of Watertown, N. Y., who settled there in 1837. It was claimed that he was a preacher, though no one is known to have ever heard him preach. Chester Ingersoll came there from Plainfield in 1839, where he had settled the preceding year. Joseph B. Wightman came soon after, and was the third settler in the township. David Cheeney, a native of Massachusetts, and a man by the name of Eddy, from the same state, came there with their families in 1841. About the same time several other families were added to the inhabitants, among them being L. G. Colgrove, Simeon B. Tyler and Anthony Freeland. In 1843 and 1844 they came in more rapidly, and some of them were from “Auld Scotia.” The Clows and McMickens were among this number. William and A. B. Cotton, James and John Bobbins, and many others came in 1844 and 1845.
The first birth in the township is thought to have been Levi B. Wightman, but about the same time a daughter was born to Mrs. Russell. It is hard telling really which was first; but one thing is certain, they were the first two. The first death was a child of E. T. Durant, and the first marriage that of Rufus B. Olmsted and Miss Juliet Foster, a daughter of the first settler. Schools were taught on sections 5 and 13 at about the same time, 1846 and 1847. It is claimed that Miss Elizabeth Hoag taught a school in the home of Ira B. Thomas, on section 26, before that date, but if true it must have been a private school for a few families in that neighborhood. There are now nine school districts in Wheatland, and all are supplied with good comfortable school buildings.
The first justices of the peace in Wheatland were Edward Lilley and Robert Clow. The township was organized in 1850, and D. W. Cropsey was elected the first supervisor. The first preacher was Rev. Mr. Osborn, who preached occasionally at the home of Mr. Finley in the southwest part of the town, on section 30. That was about the years 1846 and 1847. In 1855 the United Presbyterians erected a church building on section 19. The building is a neat frame and cost some $1,500. The German Lutherans erected a church in 1864 on section 14, at what is known as East Wheatland, at a cost of $3,100. It has a large and flourishing membership, and a very large Sunday school for a country church. The first trustees were Jacob Fry and John Leppert, and the first meetings of the society were held in the homes of the members. Their pastor was Rev. Mr. Leisman. In 1863, land was deeded to the society by Robert Clow, and the next year the building was erected. The first pastor in the church after its erection was Rev. Ernest Buhri, and he remained with the church until his death, in 1877. He was a man of ability and very much beloved by his people.
The German Methodists erected a church building in 1868, on section 17, at a cost of some $3,000. It has a large membership and Sunday school, and both that and the church are well sustained.
The township politically has always been strongly republican. In fact, the memory of man runneth not to the contrary when it did not cast its vote for the republican party—at least ever since there was such a party. The strong German Lutheran element combined with the Scotch element constitutes more than one-half of the voters in Wheatland, and neither element was ever known to cast a democratic vote. The township was named from Wheatland, New York, one of the early settlers being from the latter place, and when the township was formed he suggested the name, and it was adopted and since retained.
Thirty or more years ago Wheatland was much better populated than now. The census of 1870 gave the township 1,133 inhabitants, while that of 1900 gave it only 905, a falling off of 228. The vote cast at the last general election was 234, 148 of which were for the republican ticket and 86 for the democratic ticket.
Schools of Wheatland Illinois
Number of pupils enrolled in 1906, 196 Number of school districts, 9 Number of teachers, 9 Number of ungraded schools, 9 Number of pupils enrolled in 1876, 539 Loss in thirty years, 343.
Source: Past and Present of Will County, Illinois, by W. W. Stevens President of the Will County Pioneers Association Assisted by an Advisory Board, consisting of Hon. James G. Elwood, James H. Ferriss, William Grinton, Mrs. Kate Henderson and A. C. Clement ILLUSTRATED Chicago: The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company 1907.