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The following is a copy of original (1867) articles written by Robert J. Cross of Roscoe, Illinois:

"The Town of Roscoe is the North East town in the County of Winnebago, the northern boundary being the state of Wisconsin and the Eastern, Boone County, Illinois. The town comprises most of Township 46 of Range 2 excepting the West tier of sections and the West ½ of 5 which is attached to Rockton and including of Township 45 that part of north ½ of section 4 lying East of Rock River and over two sections west of the river, the latter having been added from Owen at the request of those attached, to assist the town in building a bridge across Rock River. Three fourths of the west part of the town is a beautiful gently rolling prairie. The Eastern part is oak openings more hilly and a clayey soil. There is only one grove in the Western part of the town, that on that part of the S. W. ¼ of Section 32 lying north of Rock River. On the West side there are some oak openings. "The town is well watered, the dry run passing from the N. E. to the S. W. the whole length of the town and emptying into the Rock River in Section 30. The north Kinnikanic (sp.) also passes through the town from N. E. to the S. W. The South Kinnikanic is on the south of the town. Both the last named streams emptying into Rock River at section 33. Rock River passes through the SW. part of the town.

"The first settlement in Roscoe was commenced in the Fall of 1835. At an earlier day some Indian Traders had erected cabins in Sec. 32 and spent some time trading with the Indians. The remains of the cabins were there when the settlers first came. The Sugar Maple in the grove showed plainly that the Indians had improved their opportunities for making sugar. The wagon track made by General Atkinson in June 1832, when following Blackhawk, was plainly traceable through the town, crossing through the village just East of the woolen factory and crossing North Kinnikanic about halfway between the Wagon Road and the Rail Road and continuing across the Prairie, crossing the state line one mile East of Beloit and East of the Turtle village of Winnebagoes on Turtle Creek.

"The prairie grass was largely interspersed with flowers of hues and colors looking like a vast flower garden. The Potowattamies and Winnebagoes occupied it as a common hunting ground. With their ponies, they could be seen in all directions, going to and from Mack Trading Post, on the left bank of Rock River below the mouth of Dry Run.

"On the third day of August, 1835, R. J. Cross of Coldwater, Michigan, Col. Van Hovenbough and, a Potowattamie Indian as guide, came in from Millwakie, and crossed the state line at the mouth of the Turtle Creek. Col. Van Hovenbough returned to Michigan. Mr. Cross bought the claim of Lavec, an employee of Mack, to the grove in the South West ¼ of section 32 and remained in the town 10 or 12 days, putting up hay and exploring the County, going down the river to the first house, which was occupied by Wood and within the city limits of Rockford, nearly across the road from the residence of ----- Brown. At that time this was the frontier house up Rock River. There was ½ an acre broken at the lower end of the big bottom where the two roads going up the river divide in the South West corner of Section 7 in Town 44 R. 2

"The claim of Mr. Cross was the first made in the town for the purpose of permanent settlement and cultivation.

"In September, E. H. Brown, James, Lee, and William Mead from LaPorte, Indiana came into Roscoe. Mr. Brown built a house on the left bank of Rock River, just above the mouth of the North Kinnikanic on the North East ¼ of Section 32 and within a few feet of the section line between Sec. 32 and 33. This was the first house built in Roscoe. The second house was built by James Lee on the north bank of Kinnikanic on the right hand of East road leading from Roscoe to Beloit near the southeast corner of the southwest ¼ of section 23. William Mead settled in Harlem on the east side of Rock River, on the southwest ¼ of Sec. 8 Town 45, being the first settler in Harlem.

"In October, R. J. Cross in company with Robert Logan returned with team and farming tools and commenced improvements of his claim.

"On the 17th. of November, John Lovesee and Ferris Thayer arrived. Mr. Lovesee and Thayer came in with Mr. Cross who had been to Chicago. They left Chicago with perhaps 500 lbs. of load with a good team of horses on the 10th. day of November. From Chicago to the sand ridge the water was often nearly knee deep, never less than ankle deep, with a heavy snow prevailing. Among the freight was a small grind stone, the first one above Rockford, which with a stick through the hole was carried perhaps ¼ of the distance on our backs, being about the most convenient thing to carry out of the sloughs. On the 17th. day night we arrived at E. H. Brown's in Roscoe.

"Mr. Lovesee and Thayer stopped at the mouth of the Pecatonica. Afterwards, Mr. Lovesee settled in Roscoe. "Provisions were brought in from Green's Mill on Fox River, four miles above Ottawa, and from Chicago. When a team left, it was quite uncertain when it would return, as that depended on the streams being frozen or so high with recent rains as to prevent crossing. Whether at the mill you found corn and wheat, or had to go among the settlers and look it up and wait your turn for grinding.

"Mine was the only horse team in the settlement most of the winter. It was kept on the road hauling provisions in for the settlers while the roads were frozen and preparing for spring work. Usually when we went to Chicago, it was for flour and other goods, and not for corn. Before leaving we usually went into a grocery and paid from ten to fifteen dollars for oats, put them on top of our load, to feed the team until we returned to Chicago or went to Ottawa. After the winter broke up I found it difficult to keep corn for my horses, as the families must have it to eat, at $2.00 a bushel.

"In the spring of 1836, Reynolds from Rolling Prairie, Indiana bought out James Lee and was the first Blacksmith, and the only one, for a large tract of country. In the summer Henry Abell of Westfield, New York, bought out the claims, both of Mr. Brown and Reynolds. In August 17 of the same year, Benjamin Richardson & Smith Jenke with their families came in, meeting by different roads after a separation of several days. Ruben Bennett moved in a short time after.

"Cory Taft came in Sept. 1836, moved his family March 1837, settled on the West side of the river, died June 5, 1839. Levi M. Taft, who came into town June 5, 1837, now occupies the claim made by his brother.
"Russell Brayton & Simon Secoy in Sept. 1836.
"Rev. Albert Tuttle and Rev. Dudley Greely with their families in the spring of 1837.
"Amos Tuttle came in 1837, moved his family in 1838.

"George Bradley and Edward Bradley came into Roscoe on the west side of the river in July 183-. Doctor Solomon Jenks and his daughter Harriet came in the fall of 1837. Alvan & Solomon Leland in 1838. Franklin Abell with his family came in Spring of 1837, and P. M. P. Abell at the same time.

"The early settlers found their nearest Post Office at Chicago. When any of the settlers from Mouth of Turtle, Mouth of Pecatonica, or of Roscoe were going to Chicago, an order was made for mail and signed by all who knew of it. But if by any neglect letters in the office were not on the order, the Post Master was told the order was at the Hotel, and soon an order was furnished duly signed for all who had mail matter in the office. Clerks in the office were not always careful to examine closely. I remember being at the office inquiring for a letter and finding none, brought a Chicago paper home with me, in which I found 3 letters advertised. By sending a man to Naperville for grain, and having him take a horse and go to Chicago, paying five dollars as a bill for man and horse over night, I got 9 letters. The first I received since I came to Rock River.

"Our next Post Office was at Belvidere. In the Spring of 1837, R. M. P. Abell was appointed P. M. for Roscoe, supplying for some time all up the river and west of us. Roscoe succeeded before Rockton, Beloit and other places, for we had some difficulty in finding a man to accept, while other places found it difficult to agree on a man.

"In 1837, Henry Abell with his son Franklin, built the first saw mill on the North Kinnikanic at its mouth, intending to make a village on the prairie between creeks. In selecting a name for the future village they saw in the name of a packet ship sailing between New York and Liverpool, the Roscoe. On inquiring of a neighbor, who had read Irving's Sketch book what Roscoe meant, was informed it was the name of an eminent Historian of Liverpool in England. Liking the name they called the future village Roscoe, and asked the commissioners to divide Winnebago county into towns. Gave the town the same name in opposition to the wishes of some who wished the town called North East, the name of the Precinct.

"When first settled, the country was only surveyed into townships. In the winter of 1837 Donalenze Spaulding from Alton subdivided the townships into sections. In October 1839 the land was offered at public sale at Galena. At a sale of public lands each settler cannot well bid off his own claim, particularly when the land is in fraction on a navigable stream, therefore the settlers appointed an agent to bid off a township or more at this sale. Townships 45 of Range 1, Owen; 2, Harlem; 3 Caledonia; Townships 46 of Range 2, Roscoe; 3, Manchester; united and selected R. J. Cross of Roscoe as agent. Many incidents might be related of the two weeks spent in Galena. I will only relate one on our journey home. A company of us left Galena in the afternoon intending to stop all night at Gratiots Grove. Soon after dark we found we had missed the road and found no dwellings to inquire of our way. Near midnight we came to a dwelling, and in approaching it 7 large dogs ran out barking at us besides many more we could hear yelping in the house. This aroused the man who called off his dogs, and Luke Joslin asked him what had become of all his dogs. Thinking Joslin was an acquaintance and asking in fun, he answered, "The dog distemper had killed more than half of them." Not withstanding the room made by death in the family, we found no room for ourselves or team and got directions to the Grove, where we arrived without any more dogs.

"The town of Roscoe held its first town meeting at the house of James R. Knowland, April 2, 1850. J. G. Prentice was elected supervisor, Nathaniel Howland Town Clerk. The office of Clerk was held by Mr. Howland until his death. S. H. Eastman then held the office for many years, until he removed from the town. A. M. Maynard for two years. At this date (1867) Charles G. Covill is serving his second term. The office of supervisor has been more changeable, except Mr. Rhodes. It has changed usually in three years. At the first election there were 180 votes polled, which is not often exceeded after seventeen years have elapsed.

"Among the notable events happening in the town was the death of the whole family of the Rev. Horatio Illsley by a flood in the south creek, at midnight June 3, 1858. The Madison Branch of the Chicago and Galena Railroad had erected a high embankment across the creek ½ mile above the village. On the afternoon of the 3rd. the culvert ceased to let all of the water pass through, making a pond 2 miles long by ½ mile wide by 25 to 35 ft. deep, at the embankment. About midnight the culverts caved in, bank gave way, and flooded the village sweeping away many houses, among which was a brick one near the upper end of the village which fell down on Mr. Illsley and family. He was the only one saved, having caught hold of a limb of a tree near the river, and was rescued by Mr. L. M. Richardson. Near the North East corner of the cemetery are buried the Mother and seven children.

"The first birth in the town was B. F. Richardson, son of Ben and Mary Ann Richardson.
"First wedding, William H. Ryley and Ruth Brown.
"First death, William Hale, drowned in Rock River June 27, 1837.
"First school was taught in the fall of 1837, in a blacksmith shop, by Weldon Warner. The first school house was built on Section 33, between the creeks in 1838.
"First store was opened by Alvan Leland in the house of Albert Tuttle in 1838.

"On my return the second time from Ottawa with a load of flour and Indian meal, I camped all night in company with Luke Joslin and Corey in a grove on the Killbuck. While the rest of the company were building a fire, Joslin took a bucket to look for the spring. Being snow on the ground and drifted in low places, Joslin found the spring by falling into it. Being decidedly cold night, Mr. Joslin found a cold bath with his one coat on nowise agreeable. Being satisfied the road made much further East than necessary, in the morning parted from the company, who were driving fat hogs and struck out on the prairie intending to cross the Kishwakie at a ford about a mile below New Mill and was informed when I got on the high ground across the creek I could see a house on Rock River near Haight's. I got to the Kishwakie about sundown and found the stream from each shore frozen about 1/3 of the way across. By going down the stream 4 or 5 rods, by breaking out little ice I could get into the current where it was not frozen, and driving my team up stream to the ford, and turning my horses heads to the shore and getting out on the tongue of the wagon, to the neck yoke and jumping on the ice I cut a track for my horses. Leading them up as I cut the ice until they could jump out, then drawing my wagon up to the ice untouched, most of my load, got my wagon out and started on. It was then dark. Not knowing when to turn to Haights, I got up into the timber above where they were getting out rails. Following back I got to Haights at 11 o'clock at night.

"A volume might be written of the adventures, suffering and hair breadth escapes of settlers in the winter of 35-36, 36-37. In teaming in provisions from Ottawa, Galena, Savannah and other points, the danger was of getting lost on the prairies either by snow storms or the darkness of the nights. None of the settlers in Dec. 1836 will forget the cold. It had rained through the forenoon and until about 4 o'clock in the afternoon when it suddenly turned cold, and froze the water in the puddles in less than 2 hours, that it would bear a horse. All over the county many people perished, there was no help for any one on the open prairie through that dreadful night.

"In after years when the settlers had to team their wheat and pork to Chicago the danger of perishing was less, but the carrying loads out of sloughs, lifting out wagons with rails, was much more common. With a horse team one week was considered fair time for the trip. But 2 or 3 yoke of Oxen were much better team, not getting so easily stuck in the mud, costing nothing for feed.

"As late as the fall of 1847, the writer with 2 of his neighbors was 14 days making the trip to Chicago and back, camping out every night except the one we spent in Chicago.

"The first assessment of property was made in the summer 1837. The County Treasurer was appointed by the County Commissioners and was the Assessor for the County. The settlements were scattered over all parts of the County and often difficult to find each one. I remember of spending most of a day unsuccessfully looking for John Greenlee, the first settler in the Scotch Settlement in the town of Harlem. I think I would have been more successful if I had had the directions I received in looking for the settlement on the S. branch of the Kishwakie. Being at Joseph Gruggs (?) on the north side of the Kishwakie where C. V., (Cherry Valley), now is, I learned that there were some families on the South Branch. It being near night I made particular inquiring where they lived and on which side of the stream I should find them. One of the boys answered, "They live on the tother side of this and on this side of tother."

An account book 1 kept by R. J. Cross for the years 1847 - 1866, has many interesting entries indicating the financial activities engaged in, and the cost of various commodities.

Page: 32 "John Benedict- in Account with R. J. Cross
(Robert married John's sister, Hannah Benedict, in 1836)

 1847 Sept. 1st,    38 lbs of pork at 6 cts. per lb.  $2.28
  1848 Apr. 3rd,     35 lbs. of pork at 6 cts. per lb. $2.10
  1848 Jul. 8th,     44 lbs. of pork at 6 cts. per lb. $2.54
  1849 Jan. 3rd,     348 lb. of pork at 2.5 cts. per  $8.70
  1853 Nov. 18th     10 bu. Rye  $5.00"

The following are two newspaper clippings probably published in Springfield, Illinois newspapers.

"DEATH Of REPRESENTATIVE CROSS. Representative Stewart received a telegram today announcing the death of Representative R. J. Cross of Roscoe, Winnebago County, Chairman of the Committee on Public Charities. he was 69 years of age and had occupied many positions of importance. He was a member of the Constitutional Conventions of 1847 and 1870, and had twice before been a member of the General Assembly." "IN MEMORIAM. Mr. Stewart, of Winnebago, announced the death of his colleague, Hon. R. J. Cross, of Roscoe, Winnebago County, in the House today, and presented resolutions of respect covering an adjournment of the House. "Mr. Howe, of Adams, delivered an eulogy upon the deceased, and was followed by Mr. Armstrong, of LaSalle, Mr. Hay, of Sangamon and others.

"The Speaker appointed as a committee to attend the funeral, Messrs. Stewart, Hildrup, Rice, Cronkite, Johnston, Rogers, Rose, Gridley, Granger, Alexander of Crawford, Hart, Booth, Shaw, Taggert, Armstrong of LaSalle. "In the Senate, appropriate resolutions were adopted at the suggestion of Senator Green, and remarks eulogistic of the deceased were made by Senators Cummings and Whiting. President Early, Messrs. Whiting, Nicholson and Kehoe were selected to attend the funeral, which takes tomorrow afternoon"

And another news clipping describing the Roscoe funeral services:

"FROM ROSCOE-- Roscoe, Ill., Feb. 19, 1873. EDITOR JOURNAL.--- You have doubtless heard of the rather sudden death of the Hon. R. J. Cross, on the morning of February 15th. The funeral services were attended the 18th by a large concourse of people, a portion of whom assembled at the residence of the deceased, where a prayer was listened to, and then the procession was formed for the M. E. Church, filling forty carriages, in the following order: Rev. Mr. Sabin, officiating clergyman; eight pall-bearers, of the first settlers of Roscoe and Rockton; the delegation from Springfield, sixteen in number, and two pages; the Board of Supervisors; a large number of the old settlers; the hearse, followed by the family and relatives; a number of citizens, also friends of the deceased from Beloit, Rockton and Rockford; among the latter were his Honor, Mayor Bronson, and other distinguished gentlemen. "The services at the church were very befitting. Revs. Anderson, Whipple and Fisher assisted Mr. Sabin, who paid a high tribute to the sterling character of the deceased, using for his text-- 'Be ye also ready, for ye know not in what hour the son of man cometh.' The cortege again formed, and followed the remains of our honored and esteemed friend to their last resting place.... F."

From Washtenaw County Newspapers 1858/12/21 Tuesday
Local News & Advertiser [article] Pg.?

To the Editor of the "Local News" PITTSFIELD, DEC 15th, 1858. Mr. Editor, Sir - I notice an article in your issue of the 14th inst. [1858/12/14], headed "The Oldest Settler", in which you are mistaken; and at your request, I will respond by stating the fact that I brought my family into this county, in May 1824, at which time I found Mr. Steats, Hiram Tuttle, Alvin Cross and Wm. Cross, all of whom are now living in the county I believe. Respectfully yours, S.D. McDOWELL. We are happy to receive the above communication from our friend McDowell. We send each of the above named gentlemen the "Local", with the request that they will write us, giving the date of their settlement in the county; and whether, to their knowledge, there is now in the county any one who was here at the date of their settlement. [Ed. LOCAL NEWS]

  1. Source:
  2. Account book of Robert J. Cross, March 1847 through April 1867, 292 pages. In the possesion of Laurence E. Ralston.
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