For the past couple of weeks we have investigated the three Johnson men who came to the Schaumburg Township area in the early 1840s from their home in Yates County, NY. Daniel, Morgan and Lyman were all born in Bennington County, Vermont and, with their parents, moved to New York during their childhood.

One has to suppose that, because the men all purchased property around the same time, they and their families came to Illinois together. According to an 1884 obituary for Lyman’s wife, Emilene (Van Court) Johnson, the couple left New York in 1840 and traveled down the Erie Canal by boat and made their way to the area that is now Detroit. They stayed there until the following spring in 1841, arriving in Chicago in the early summer.

However, the 1877 History of Whiteside County states that, “in 1844 he [Lyman Johnson] sought the west, and with his family settled in Cook County, Illinois.”  Apparently, there is some discrepancy with the dates. Because Emeline died in 1884, a mere seven years after the Whiteside County history was published, it is difficult to determine which account is correct.

Eventually, Lyman and Emeline made their way to Schaumburg Township and established a farm in Sections 12 and 13. According to the 1851 map below, they also ran a tavern on their property.


Interestingly, I can find no further mention of this tavern. There is nothing in Emeline’s obituary or in the 1877 History of Whiteside County that lists this occurrence as part of the family’s history. In addition, Lyman is listed as a farmer in the 1850 census for Schaumburg Township. My suspicion is that the tavern reference is possibly attributed to Wickliffe, the tavern that his brother Morgan ran on Algonquin Road in Palatine Township. This tavern was discussed in last week’s blog posting.

We find Lyman and Emilene living in Schaumburg Township as recorded in the 1850 census. They had four children at the time: Rollin, Edwin, J. Harvey and Larman. The three oldest were born in New York and Larman was born in Illinois. Since Larman’s age is three, he was clearly born during their time in Schaumburg Township.

Shortly after, according to the 1877 History of Whiteside County, Lymanabandoned [farming] and settled at Huntley Station, engaging in the hotel business, which enterprise he relinquished about one year afterwards, having secured a contract to build that portion of the present Northwestern railroad between Round Grove and Fulton [in Whiteside County.] He removed his family to Fulton, where he resided about nine months, and from thence came to where Morrison [Illinois] now stands, having purchased a considerable tract of land, upon which part of the city is now located.”

From this point forward, Lyman platted the city of Morrison on the property he purchased. According to a later History of Whiteside County published in 1908, the town was surveyed in 1855. He built the first house (which was a log cabin that was similar to the one above,) opened a couple of different general stores and devoted his energies to building up the town. The book also states that he “was the leading spirit in the early development of Morrison.”

In addition, according to the 1860 census, he and his wife had two additional children, Charles and Frank while living in Morrison. Rachel, who was 10, must have been born shortly after the 1850 Schaumburg Township census was taken and, possibly, while they were still living here.

Lyman died on March 17, 1867 and is given the honor of being founding father of Morrison with his wife, Emeline, known as the Mother of Morrison. In the 1908 History of Whiteside County, the section on Morrison begins, “If Lyman Johnson could rise from the grave, and compare the virgin prairie of his time with the bright and beautiful city of the present day, he would acknowledge his successors have been exceedingly busy.” In looking at Higgins Road today, Lyman might say the same about the small farm in Schaumburg Township where he and Emilene got their start.

The Johnson brothers who made the strenuous journey from New York to Illinois in the early 1840s definitely put their mark on the Schaumburg Township area–and beyond. They are proof that the pioneering spirit moved strongly through all of them.

Jane Rozek
Local History Librarian
Schaumburg Township District Library

Sources used:

History of Whiteside County by Charles Bent, 1877.
History of Whiteside County by William W. Davis, 1908.
Photo of the unidentified log cabin is from History of Mt. Pleasant Township by Genealogy Trails.



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