ANOTHER plan of colonizing, that was almost an exact pattern of the New York Colony, was the La Grange Colony, which first settled in Western Township . The company, in July, 1839, through their authorized agents, Killboume and Buel purchased in townships 15 north, 1east, and 16 north, 1 east, and 16 north, 2 east, about 18,000 acres of land, and after the New York Colony plan, laid out a big town, divided it up, and sold preference for choice at public auction, receiving as premiums about $7,000.
Kilbourne and Buel were paid $25 for each quarter-section, and the premium money was then to build a hotel, a seminary and a slush fund, to lobby through the Legislature a charter for a seminary, and also procure a charter for a Beet Root Sugar Company, as well as have a State road located and made from the mouth of Rock River to Hennepin.
Mr. Kilbourne lobbied two seasons at the Legislature. These brilliant schemes came to naught. A wing of the great public house was put up in township 16 north, 1east, in 1836. Afterwards it became the home of Mr. Denton. Some of the "timbers of the main building (30 x 40), were got out and hauled to the ground from Richland Grove, a distance of seven miles, and they lay unused on the ground for a few years, and were finally sold to J. B. Trego, who used them in constructing a barn. The colonists wereto come out, and each was to build on his piece of land.
Alfred Buel built his house near the company's hotel, and some one erected another frame house, but never occupied it.
These were the entire improvements of the new town, and in after years they were sold to the Bishop Hill Colony, of which a full account is given in another place.
In the fall of 1837 M. B. Lloyd purchased of the La Grange Company 240 acres, paying $3.33 per acre. He could have got thousands of acres in the county just as good for $1.50 per acre. He built the first house outside of the town, about two miles distant. Albert and Francis Wells bought of the company a half-section in 1838. They were from Sing Sing, N. Y. Francis Wells came out and brought a large lot of Berkshire hogs, and fenced his farm with a sod fence, and entered upon raising hogs for the New York market. He raised quite a crop of corn, and had to carry water to his hogs. They became diseased, many died, and a part he slaughtered, took to Knoxville, and sold at $1.50 per 100. He sunk about $4,000 in his hog speculation, and having a horse and $10 left he mounted and turned his horse to the East, and left the country. His abandoned house was divided out piece meal among the neighbors,and when last heard from Francis was in California in the hot pursuit of wealth. He was a man of education, a lawyer by profession, but, like the majority of graduates who came West, with only the bright but superficial ideas of the school-room, are signal failures nearly always, the only exception being those young men who are enabled to throw off the education that has cost them so much time and money as though it was a loose-fitting cloak, and as quickly learn that practical education of life that adapts men to their surroundings
William Blackfan removed from Pennsylvania and settled two miles west of La Grange in 1839. Dr. Alfred Trego soon followed, and two other families from Bucks Co., Pa., came in 1840. This last named was known as West La Grange.
These constituted the settlements in this part of the county for years. Dr. Robert D. Foster bought 1,100 acres of the company's land in 1847, and the next year sowed 200 acres in wheat. This crop and his improvements, and all his lands, he sold to the Bishop Hill Colony. Buel removed to Galena in 1844 and died there. Blackfan died on his farm in 1841. Dr. Trego removed to Mercer County.
Portrait and Biographical Album of Henry County Illinois
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