WHEN OUR TOWNSHIPS WERE BORN…

On January 4 we should have had a birthday party.  It was 173 years ago in 1842 that Schaumburg Township was born.  Papers were filed in St. Louis with Jos. C. Brown, Surveyor of the public lands for the District of Illinois & Missouri, laying out the 36 sections of our township.  At the time the township was known as “Township 41, North of the base line, Range 10 East of the 3° principal Meridian.”  The official name, Schaumburg Township, had yet to be adopted.  That would happen at the first annual town meeting on April 2, 1850 when Frederick Nerge pounded on the table and insisted that the township be named “Schaumburg” after his homeland in Germany.

Thanks to local resident, Linn Beyer, who graciously lent me a variety of old, township maps, you can take  a look at the hand drawn townships of Schaumburg, Elk Grove (1842), Hanover (1842), Palatine (1840) and Barrington (1839).  The maps are quite a marvel, given their age and the number of physical geography elements that were there in the 1800s that are still evident today.

Each township is made up of 36 sections that are one square mile in area.  The sections were then divided into quarters.  Because it is impossible to make each township perfectly square in the entire state of Illinois due to the curvature of the earth and the uneven boundaries of the state and therefore, the counties, adjustments had to be made to the township lines.  In the townships shown here, the adjustments were made on the north and west boundaries of the township, often resulting in smaller sections on those edges.  Perfect section lines always began on the south and east sides and expanded to the north and west sides where the adjustments were made.  The township system is what the legal description of your property is based on today.

Let’s take a look at what Schaumburg Township was like in 1842…

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The first noticeable thing on the map is Sarah’s Grove, smack dab in the middle of the township–and parts of it certainly exist today.  Other than that, the only distinguishing characteristics drawn in  by the surveyors were a series of marshes, sloughs, a few fields on the northern, southern and eastern borders  and a portion of Salt Creek flowing into Elk Grove Township.  Maybe you recognize some of the lower spots today in the township that were marshes and sloughs back then?   In the upper right corner, you can even note the “Road from Missionary on Fox river to Chicago.”  This road came out of Palatine Township and is essentially Algonquin Road today.

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Moving on to Elk Grove Township, one of the most prominent, distinquishing characteristics is the large light bulb-shaped area noted as “Timber.” This would later come to be known as Busse Woods.  The next thing your eye goes to are the fields in the shape of a “t.”  It’s amazing that this acreage was already planted on such a large scale at such an early time in the history of the county.  Salt Creek is also distinct and already named as it runs north to south through the western side of the township.

A couple of written notations also mention “witness points” in both the lake at the top of the map and Salt Creek at the bottom.  “Witness points” were survey marks set in place by the surveyor to note part of the section lines.  It would have been impossible for the surveyor to establish such a point in bodies of water; hence, it was written on the map.

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Moving west from Schaumburg Township to Hanover Township, fields, sloughs and marshes are very evident.  This is the first indication of Poplar Creek which is also already named.  It runs east to west through a good portion of the central part of the township.  There is even a saw mill near noted hills along the banks of the creek.  The sawmill also had a dam on the creek that must have been built to power the mill.  Clearly this township was on its way to being settled.

The large  fields are scattered and one in section 20 even has a house built in the middle.  Other houses can be found in Section 8 at the top of the map and Section 34/35 at the bottom.  Based on the same type of lines on other maps, the squiggly lines are drawn to make note of a wooded area of the township.  As with the future Busse Woods, this area is unnamed unlike similar groves on the next map.

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Compared to the other maps, Palatine Township is simply littered with groves of trees.  Missionary Grove and Plum Grove are in the southern part of the township near its boundary with Schaumburg Township, English Grove is in the center and Deer Grove takes up much of the northern part of the map.  Parts of Plum Grove are still in existence today–as well as the similarly named road.  Missionary Grove is now the Paul Douglas Forest Preserve.  English Grove is part of Inverness and, well, Deer Grove, is still very much a large part of Palatine Township.

There are a number of fields scattered throughout the township with a couple of houses noted too, including one that is mentioned as a “frame house.”  Given that the year was 1840 and it was very much an unsettled area, a frame house must have seemed so unusual that the surveyor felt it was worthy enough to note it on the map.  In addition, the “Road from Fox River to Chicago” can also be seen traversing the southern part of the township.  This is the early version of Algonquin Road.

The other distinctive notations on the map are the water patterns in the township.  The North Fork of the Salt Creek, along with its “over flown bottom,” drains in a fairly north to south line along the eastern boundary.  The West Fork of the Salt Creek flows through Plum Grove and converges with the North Fork in the very southeast corner of the township.  In addition to the fairly large swamps in the center and in the northwest corner, there are also two large “grass lakes” shown on both the west and north boundaries.  The one on the west boundary with Barrington Township is now known as Baker Lake and is now part of the Baker’s Lake Forest Preserve.  The one on the north boundary with Lake County is known today as Deerpath Lake.

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When we move to Barrington Township, it is clear that what isn’t identified as “Prairie” consists of three substantial “Timber” patches on the west and northern boundaries.  All of it is now part of the Spring Creek Valley Forest Preserve and parts of Barrington Hills.  Goose Lake is identified in the middle of it and still exists as that name.  Two roads move through the township.  One comes in from the northwest and traverses through to the southeast border.  Again, this is Algonquin Road.  The other road moves north to south and crosses Algonquin Road on the eastern side of the map.  It looks like it could be the early vestiges of Barrington Road.  The interesting thing is there is an “Indian trace” on the southern border.  This is another name for a trail.  There are also a few fields and marshes but the area appears to be unsettled.

After exploring these maps, it’s fairly easy to see why Schaumburg Township remained a quiet enclave for such a long period of time.  It was perfect for farming but, due to the lack of waterways or early roads where communities often form, it was destined to be a perfect location for the German farmers who found it in the late 1840s and 1850s.  They quickly established St. Peter Lutheran Church in 1847 and created a tight community within the boundaries of the township.  It wasn’t until after World War II that the township moved from rural to suburban but, even so, many of the identifiable spots on these old maps remain to this day.  It’s hard to fool with Mother Nature!

Jane Rozek
Local History Librarian
Schaumburg Township District Library

 

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