A couple of weeks ago I received a call from a gentleman who was doing research on an early Schaumburg Township pioneer by the name of Horace P. Williams. He is a great, great, great grand nephew and wondered how much information we had on his relative. Knowing a fair amount about some of our German settlers, it was time to look into a gentleman who was clearly not of that lineage. It turns out we had a number of sources in our Local History Digital Archive.
Mr. Williams was one of a group of New Englanders in the 1830s who was looking for cheap land. He found it in Schaumburg Township and, from 1844 to 1846, proceeded to purchase 800 acres. The land was in Sections 10, 11 and 14. Think of standing in the north entrance of JC Penney at Woodfield Mall, looking north and west, and you’re getting a glimpse at the Horace P. Williams acreage.
Born on April 16, 1813 in Canaan, New Hampshire, the story goes that Mr. Williams first came to the Lake County, IL area in 1838 and settled in Schaumburg Township in 1841. He returned to the northeast in 1843 and married Lavina T. Thomas of Montgomery, VT. They journeyed back to our township and purchased the property mentioned in the paragraph above. The story (as mentioned in a 1903 obit and numerous other places) also goes that Mr. Williams took another trip back east and drove a flock of sheep from Ohio to Schaumburg Township—the first sheep of the area.
He and Lavina had four children: Flora, Owen, Ida and Eva. According to a 1903 obit of Lavina’s, he spent his life on this farm, presumably raising sheep. The agricultural census of 1860 sheds some valuable light on his farming operation. He was the largest landowner of the township with a total cash value of $23,200. (The regular federal census of 1860 lists his total value as $34,000.) He owned a team of oxen, eight horses and 564 sheep. The wool production must have been substantial but the figure is not given. It is stated though, that the farm produced 50 gallons of molasses, 20 bushels of grass seed, 1500 bushels of corn, 125 tons of hay and average yields of oats, wheat and potatoes. The farm was so busy that it was necessary for him to employ William and Louis Thies from Prussia as farmhands and Ann Beamish from Ireland as housekeeping help.
Original documents owned by the Schaumburg Township District Library detail Mr. Williams’ dealings with the township fathers. On April 3, 1851 he signed a petition to the Schaumburg Township Highway Commissioners requesting stoppage on road construction of the Chicago and Dundee Road (now known as Higgins Road.) It is assumed said road would have gone through his property or that of his neighbors. Unfortunately, a denial was issued on June 30 “because of non-compliance with the law.”
Another document filed with the Schaumburg Township Commissioners of Highways on November 23, 1867, by a neighbor, Heinrich Mensching, sought governmental permission to lay a drain across the property of Williams’ and his neighbors, the Kublanks, in Section 11. While Mr. Williams and the Kublanks rejected the idea, the three Commissioners on December 9 gave their permission as well as the specifications of the size of the drain and the amount that would be laid on each parcel. It doesn’t appear he had a lot of luck with the local governmental hierarchy.
According to family lore, he had an early affiliation with what is now North Central College in Naperville. Although he is not listed as one of the founders of the college’s history, it is quite possible he was either at the conference that established the school and/or gave some funds at the time of its inception. It is said that, because of the Williams’ generosity, the college issued a perpetual scholarship to the family for one male per generation.
Horace eventually spun off some of his property to his daughter, Ida Yates. On August 4, 1881, while visiting his daughter, Flora Biggs in Kansas, Mr. Williams passed away at the age of 68. He was buried in Hillside Cemetery in Palatine, IL, leaving an estate of $60,000. His wife later moved to Palatine where she died on February 6, 1903. She is also buried in Hillside Cemetery.
After the death of Horace, the farm was operated by his daughter Ida and her husband, Charles Yates. Charles inherited the farm when Ida died in 1895. Yates hung onto it until 1905 when he sold it to Charles Quindel. [As reported in Genesis of a Township] Thus ended the 64-year tale of Horace Williams—one of Schaumburg Township’s earliest pioneers.
Material for this posting was extracted from the obituary of Lavina Williams, entries written by Wendy M. for Horace P. and Lavina Williams on findagrave.com, the Palatine Mailing List on rootsweb.com, and documents on Schaumburg Township District Library’s Local History Digital Archive.
Local History Librarian
Schaumburg Township District Library