“Seventh and eighth grade students throughout Lake County compiled the 1918 School History notebooks in celebration of the Illinois Centennial.  The histories feature photographs and accounts from students and teachers at one-room schoolhouses.  In addition, information on the settlement history of the area is often included, along with photos of early families, businesses and residences.” – Bess Bowers Dunn Museum of Lake County

The following has been transcribed by Vernon B. Paddock from “Wauconda Township – Volo School” compiled by : Virginia Van Haecke, Clara Van Haecke, Pearl Webb and Charles Webb. The document “1918 School Histories – Wauconda Township – Volo School” is provided by the Bess Bower Dunn Museum of Lake County (formerly the Lake County Discovery Museum) through the “Illinois Digital Archives” website of the Illinois State Library.

Illinois Digital Archives website for “1918 School Histories – Wauconda Township – Volo School”: http://www.idaillinois.org/digital/collection/lakecoun001/id/3174/rec/49


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“Wauconda Township – Volo School”


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“Wauconda Township – Volo School


History of Lake County

Lake County lies at the extreme northeast corner of Illinois.  Its length is twenty-three and one half miles.  Its average breadth is about nineteen and one half, containing an area of about four hundred and sixty square miles.

It derives its name from being situated on Lake Michigan, and from the great number of small lakes contained within, amounting to about forty.

It was detached from McHenry and erected as the County of Lake, by an act of the General Assembly, approved March 1, 1839.

We do not know when white men first came into this land, but it is believed that Little Fort (which is Waukegan today) was visited by La Salle and Hennepin in 1679.

The National Government made a treaty with the Pottawattomies and other tribes, at Prairie Du Chien in August, 1829, by which the Indian title was given up on February 21, ’35.

Daniel Wright was the first white settler of Lake County; he settled a short distance west of the Aux Plaines River in August, 1834.

Others, who made claimes (sic) the same year were: Hiram Kennicott, Jonathan Rice, Asahel Talcott, Ransom and Richard Steele, William Cooley, Charles Bartlett, Thomas McClure, Williard Jones, Phineas Sherman, and Amos Bennett the latter was an African, he is said to have remarked, that he was the first white settler to plant corn in the County, speaking with reference to the Indians.  He was very intelligent and respected.

The settlements made in 1835, were along the west side of the Aux Plaines River as far north as the Aux Plaines Bridge in the present town of Warren.

Peleg Sunderlin opened the first public house, or tavern, for the accomodation (sic) of travelers, on Green Bay road, about a mile north of the site of Spauldings Corners.

In September, Hiram Kennicott opened a store near Indian Creek on the river, he also completed the first saw mill, which he had commenced the Fall before, near his store.  He was a lawyer, having studied law at Aurora, New York.  He was chosen first Justice of the Peace, at a special election held October, 17.  In January, 1836, he performed the first marriage, when he united Daniel Wright’s daughter in marriage with William Wigham.

The first public road was laid out by order of the County Commissioners of Cook County, by Richard Steele, Thomas McClure and Mark Noble from Chicago to the Des Plaines River.

The National Government established a road, for military purposes from Chicago to Green Bay.  Later a road was established between Milwaukee and Chicago.

Among those who came into the County in 1836 were: Nelson Landon, Jeremiah Stowell, Williard Jones, Leonard and George Gage, and George Druary at Gage’s Lake; Wm. Fenwick at Diamond Lake; Daniel Marsh, Lewis Schenck, Elisha Clarke, Soloman Norton and Hiram Clark at Mechanics’ Grove, so called because the men were all mechanics; Mason and Gridley on Indian Creek; John Mills, Seth Washburn, R. and J. Washburne, J. Chambers, C. Knights, A. Cook, H. Wells, M. Putney, C. Bartlett, E. Tingley, J. and W. Lloyd, N. Christopher, and others who settled at various places on the Aux Plaines River.

Great progress was made in the settlement of the county in 1836.  Two saw mills were established, one by Seth Washburne at Half Day, and the other by J. Miller on Mill Creek.  In those days as great value was attached to a favorable mill site as the discovery of gold in California.  But in spite of the watermills there were, all have disappeared on account of evaporation and improvements which have reduced the supply of water.

About June 1836, a stage line was established between Chicago and Milwaukee, for carrying passengers and mail.  Mr. Johnson, a hotel keeper at Chicago started the enterprise.  A lumber wagon was used, but to give it character for the purpose used, it was drawn by four horses.  Before this time, the mail had been delivered to the military posts, about once a month, by a man on foot.

On the fourth of July 1836, about fifteen persons gathered at Vardin’s Grove (which is Libertyville at present) to celebrate.  This was the first formal celebration of the county.

The settlers had no form of government until December 1836, when the people met at Independence Grove and appointed a committee of three, Nelson Landon, Samuel Brooks, and Williard Jones to report a series of resolution and regulations.

These were adopted and called, “The Compact”.  Meetings were held each year to elect officers and transact other business.

Before the compact was made, a man could claim land by building a house, plowing the land, or even marking the tree, if he did not wait too long to take possession.

A dispute arose concerning the occupancy of a “claim” on the part of Mr. Blaisdell against E. Boyland.  The land in question is in the present town of Warren.  A Justice of the Peace of Chicago had the case.  The defendant appeared but nothing was proved against him, so case was dropped.

The first Post Office was built at Half Day, Seth Washburne was appointed postmaster.

In the Fall of 1836, Laura Sprague opened the first school taught in the county.

The same fall, a school house was built at Independence Grove out of hewn logs, called a block house.  It was built by contributions from the inhabitants, the larger part of whom were bachelors.

In those days, if a new house was built, the owner usually dedicated it by a “house warming”.  The first occasion of this kind was at the home of Hiram Kennicott.  Everyone young and old came from miles around and were welcome.

Mr. Kennicott, Justice of the Peace, tried the first lawsuit in Lake County.  Michael Dulantry was charged of assault and battery against Arthur Patterson, who was also a Justice of the Peace.  Considering it a high offense to assault a magistrate of the law, he was fined five dollars.

In August 1837, Dr. J. H. Foster came to Libertyville to live, the first physician to settle here.  The same year, Reverend Samuel Hurlbut, a minister of the Methodist denomination came to Independence Grover, (Libertyville) to make his home.

After Lake was separated from Cook County, in 1839, three commissioners were appointed, E. Hunter, Wm. Brown and E. C. Berry, to select a suitable place for the county and purchase not less than twenty acres of land from the government, as the government still owned most of the land.

As Libertyville seemed to be the center of population, it was chosen and called Burlington – the fourth name it had had.

A few influential parties along the lake shore, greatest desire was to increase the population along the shore, so as to effect a removal of the county seat to Little Fort.  This scheme entered secretly into the first election of county officers, which accured (sic) on the first Monday in August, 1839.  The results were as follows, Henry Steele was elected Sheriff; Chas. Bartlett, Nelson Landon and Jared Gage, County Commissioners; Marthias Mason, County Treasure; A. B. Wynkoop, Recorder; Louis G. Schenck, School Commissioner; John Mills, County Surveyor; Arthur Patterson, Probate Justice of the Peace; Starr Titus, Coroner; Lansing B. Nicholas, Clerk of the County Commissioners Court.  The county was divided into eight precincts, and each precinct was to have two Justice of the Peace and two Constables.

The subject of building a court house was discussed, but it was decided that the county lacked finances, so a building was rented.  Libertyville continued to be the county seat until 1841 on the fifth of April, when the question of removal was voted upon.  Little Fort received a majority of the votes cast.  Therefore the county seat was removed to the southeast quarter of section twenty-one.  Elmsley Sunderlin let the county have two hundred dollars to purchase the land desired.  This lead to great bitterness among the people.  There were two great political parties, the “Whigs”, and the “Democrats, but in Lake County the two parties were, “The Grove Party,” and “Little Fort Party.”  The election of 1844, settled the contest between the two towns.

The first civil case tried in the county was that of Samuel Hurlbut vs. Wm. Eaton.  The first criminal case was, The People against John Gatewood, indicted for stealing five dollars from Absalom Funk.  When arrested he gave the name of Gatewood, who was a State Senator, and appeared very much surprised at being arrested.  But when brought to trial, he gave his name as Shepherd.  He was convicted and sentenced one year in the penitentiary.

The census was taken in June 1840, showing a population of two thousand nine hundred and five persons.

The next summer, a county jail was completed and the court house was finished for the Fall term on 1844.

On March 4th, 1845, the first newspaper entitled the “Little Fort Porcupine and Democratic Banner”, was issued, but lasted only two years.  “Lake County Herald”, “Lake County”, “Visitor, Lake”, “County Chronicle”, and “Waukegan Free Democrat” were published but lasted only a short time.

In October, 1850, Nathan Geer commenced the publication of the Waukegan Gazette, which is still in circulation.

In September 1847, a murder was committed at Goodale Tavern, Fort Hill, which is on the McHenry town road, now in the town of Grant, the body, of Silas Marble was found in the barnyard.  Large clubs were found near the body, showing he had been killed by violence.  Joel and Jacob Sherman and Spencer Mills had brought the man to the tavern the night before, where he intended to spend the night, as he was a peddler, and they were to attend a ball.  They were accused, tried, but evidence enough could not be brought against them to convict them.

The County Commissioners, Michael McGuire, Alva Trowbridge a (sic) Charles Hall were asked to provide a place for the poor of the county.  After much criticism, forty acres was purchased from Trowbridge in Libertyville, which is still used.

In 1848, the plank road from McHenry to Waukegan was commenced.  Fifteen miles of road was built, but the experiment proved a failure.  There were three toll gates, one in the city limits of the present Waukegan, one at Gage’s Lake, and one at Hainesville, but the tolls were not sufficient to keep the road in repairs.

In November 1849, at a general election, the people voted to adopt township organization.  On the first Tuesday in April, the first town meeting was held in each township.  The following were the numbers of the first Board of Supervisors from several towns.  Harrison P Nelson from Antioch, John Gage, Avon, Harrison L Putman, Benton: Philetus Beverly, Cuba, Cabel Cadwell, Deerfield, Stephen Bennett Ela, Hurlbut Swan, Fremont; Chester Hamilton, Grant. Wm. Crane Libertyville, John Reid, Newport, Michael McGuire, Shields James Moore, Vernon;, Peter Mills, Wauconda, H. Whitmer, Warren, J. Gordon, Waukegan.

In 1851, an agricultural society was formed with sixty nine members.

The first county Fair was held at Waukegan September 22, 1852.

A railroad was completed from Chicago to Milwaukee in 1854, which is now one of the lines of the Chicago and Northwestern, passing through Highland Park, Highwood, Lake Forest and Waukegan.  Several other lines were started, but only two, the Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul and the Chicago and Northwestern succeeded.  The passengers, freight, and express proved very successful on these lines.  To-day there are five prosperous railroads in the county, Sault St. Marie, Northwestern, two lines; Elgin Joliet and Eastern Chicago Milwaukee and St. Paul and Belt Line.

Lake County sent the first company of eighty five men to Chicago, after the Civil War broke out.  During the whole period of the war two thousand men went, sixteen hundred of whom were volunteers.  About four hundred were killed.

The census of 1910 shows the Lake County had fifty-five thousand fifty eight person, which must be increased now.

The present county officers are: County Judge, Perry L. Persons; County Clerk, Lew A Hendee; County Treasurer, R. L. McDonough; State’s Attorney, R. J. Dady; Circuit Clerk and Recorder, Lewis A. Brockway; County Superintendent of Schools, T. A. Simpson; Master in Chancery, Paul McGuffin; Coroner, J. L. Taylor; Sheriff E. J. Griffin; Surveyor, C. E. Russell; Superintendent of County Farlon Appley; Court Reports, Circuit Court, F. Blakeslee; Court Reports, County Court, Roy J. Mason; County Physician and Superintendent of County Hospital, Dr. A. E. Brown; County Superintendent of Highways, Charles E. Russell.


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Wauconda is one of the fractional towns upon the west line of the county.  As a Congressional township, it is known as township 44, north, Range 9 east of the third principal meridan (sic).

Among the earliest settlers were Justus Bangs, Elisha Hubbard, Mark Bangs, W. H. Hawkins, Thomas Slocum, Peter Mills, A. J. Geeber, D. H. Sherman, John C. Wooster, Daniel Martin, S. Rice and R. R. Crosby.

When these settlers came, no roads had been broken.  They came from the Eastern States by way of the Great Lakes, or with the oxen.  Those who drove across with oxen followed the “Blazen Trail,” which had been made by cutting the trees and placing marks for those who followed.  The people were not molested to any great extent by the Indians since they had moved across the river.  They built their houses of hewn logs, near a river, lake or spring.  Some furniture was brought with them, but the rest was made from the logs.

Justus Bangs built a house in vicinity of Bangs Lake in 1836, from whom its name is derived.  Slocum’s Lake is named for F. T. Slocum, who was among the first settlers around the lake.

The land was mostly woods and oak openings, except for about six hundred acres south of Volo which was known as Rice’s Prairie.  Because of the abundant supply of timber, this town was rapidly settled with an intelligent and industrious class of farmers.

Two villages sprung up, Wauconda in the southern part, and Volo in the north, located on the old Lake and McHenry plank road.  It afforded a hotel, two stores and other mechanics.

Limestone was found around Volo, and the burning of lime became a source of considerable profit to the people.

The first school was taught by Mrs. Euphemia Valentine, in the fall of 1839, in a house built for that purpose by R. R. Crosby and E. S. Johnnott in the northeast part of the town.

The first Pose Office was established at Cornelia on Slocum’s Lake.  Later taken to Wauconda.


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The first town meeting was held in the village of Wauconda, on the first Tuesday in April, 1850.  Jonathan Wood was chosen Moderator and La Fayette Mills acted as Clerk.  The following were elected for town officers; Peter Mills, Supervisor, La Fayette Mills, Town Clerk; James S. Davis, Assessor; E. L. Huson, Collector;, A. J. Seeber, Andrew Cook and T. McKinney Commissioners of Highways;, Hazard Green and J. H. Wesscher, Justice of the Peace; E. L. Huson and Seth Hills, Constables.

The assessed value of property for 1850, including both real and personal property was sixty-one thousand nine hundred seven dollars.  The amount of tax computed was eight hundred twenty seven dollars and eighteen cents.

In 1857, an academy was erected at Wauconda, which continued in successful operation for about ten years, then the building was rented for a public school.  Professor C. A. Allen was the first teacher of the Academy.

The first Methodist Episcopal Church was organized at Wauconda under the direction of Reverend C. Trench, on September 3, 1853.  In November, 1872, a church of the same denomination was opened at Volo.  In November, 1877, a Roman Catholic Church was dedicated at Wauconda.  The first Catholic Church at Volo was burned before completion.  Another was built and dedicated in 1869.

The name of Wauconda was selected by a young teacher, who had been reading an Indian story, in which the name accured (sic).  The name was voted upon by the people, as all agreed it was adopted.

The present officers of the town of Wauconda are Arthur Powers, Clerk; Elmer Wheelock, Assessor; Ray Paddock, Supervisor; A. Crabtree, Highway Commissioner, Henry Stoffel and Broughton, Justice of the Peace; Lee Huson and Hapke, Constables. The election was held April second 1918.


Volo School

The first school house at Volo, was made of logs, it stood about a quarter of a mile west of the present schoolhouse, on land now owned by T. Fisher.  From the recollection of an old settler, the log house must have been built about 1850.  The children sat on benches with no backs, and wrote on a rude constructed desk.  The teachers were paid by contributions from families, who had children, and when they were obliged to board, they would board at the homes of the children.

In 1864, the directors were G. D. Torence, J. W. Gale and Oren Marble, they served for a term of three years.

Among the first teachers were: Miss Seeber, Elisabeth Ackley, John Adams, E. G. Payne, Jeanette Mobile, Peter Gavin.  These teachers were hired for winter and summer terms, a man being hired for the winter, as all the older boys and girls would attend then.  The lowest salary paid was sixteen dollars, and the highest thirty-five which was paid during the winter.

In 1911 the schoolhouse was remodeled to meet the requirements of the state.

The attendants in school, only twelve scholars, is small on account of the Catholic school taught by two “Sisters” in Volo, who have about sixty pupils enrolled.

A War Saving Society has been formed among the children, eight having joined, Zelma Russell, Beatrice and Clifford Wilson, Lucille Copper, Roy, Lester, Jenny and Harold Hironimus.

The oldest house in the school district is owned by Mr. James Kirwin, standing in the town of Volo.  It is narrow and rather long, a small window in each end, two windows to the west, with a door between the windows.  An old shoemaker, who the town supports, lives in the house now, and mends shoes when he can.

Some of the farmers in the district have taken much interest in improving their place.  Mr. Countryman, who bought the A. J. Raymond farm two years ago, has erected the most improved barn.  It is very large, being properly lighted.  Water is forced into the barn for the cows.  The floors are of cement, with a drive wide enough for a wagon through.  The grain is put in the barn as well as the hay.  A large cement silo stands on the north.

The boys who have gone from this neighborhood to prepare themselves for the great conflict we are engaged in are: Frank Rossdieutcher (sic), Joseph Shade, Harry Hughes and Dewey Nicholas and Frank Brown.


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