GRAND DE TOUR


This village was one of the earliest in the county. It is situated in a sweeping curve of Rock River, opposite a green and fertile island, and in the midst of romantic, picturesque scenery. Having an excellent water power, it was sought by many for manufacturing purposes, and at one time bade fair to become a thriving city.

Extensive manufacturies were begun, and Grand de Tour was well known, but the Chicago & Northwestern Railroad Company decided to pass through Dixon, nine miles south, placing the former village at a disadvantage from which it never recovered.

In 1834 Leonard Andrus started from Dixon's Ferry up Rock River in a canoe. The present Lee County was then a portion of Jo Daviess, and Dixon was not laid off as a village until the following year.

The inhabitants then were few in numbers, and it is probable that Mr. Andrus was the first white man to explore that beautiful portion of the Rock River Valley. The river is dotted with green islands, while the banks present an endless variety of towering cliffs and mystic caverns. About nine miles above the ferry Mr. Andrus landed and made claim to the beautiful vale which now forms the site of Grand de Tour.

The next season he and W. A. House, with their families, took up their residence there and built a log cabin. Their kitchen was located out doors, and culinary operations were often watched by lounging Indians. They were soon joined by Amos Bosworth, Russell Green, Wm. G. Dana, Marcus and Dennis Warren and others. The. first" white women were Mrs. Sarah I. House and Sophronia Weatherby, who came July 4, 1835. Mrs. E. G. Sawyer, Mrs. Hill and Mrs. Huston, came in the next year. Mrs. Esther G. S. Sawyer is still a resident of Grand de Tour, and is its earliest living settler. In November, 1835, the first child was born in Grand de Tour, a daughter, Gertrude, of W. A. and Sarah I. House. Mr. House established the ferry and was made postmaster.
Much general advancement was made in 1836. The village was laid out and a Hydraulic Company was organized for the improvemenit of the water power and erection of mills. The company, which consisted of Amos Bosworth, Leonard Andrus, Russell Green, W. A. House, W. G. Dana and Marcus and Dennis Warren, built a saw mill the same year, three miles from the village, on Pine Creek, where the bridge now stands. The Fourth-of July, 1836, was celebrated by digging the town well. When Mrs. Sawyer came in 1836 there was a tavern kept by Irad Hill and a store by House and Green. The only other house in the village was the residence of W. A. House, which consisted of one small room, and was used as a kitchen, dining and sleeping room. For a dressing room, a patch of tall grass near the river bank was cut down, and there they made their toilets, using the water of Rock River for a mirror. In 1837 the Hydraulic Company commenced to build the dam, race and sawmill. The gristmill was begun at this time, but was not completed until 1838-9, and was soon after purchased by Solon Cumins, who, indeed, purchased the greater portion of the village, and became postmaster and a prominent man.

The first frame house, known as the "Red House," was erected by Mr. House in the Spring of 1837. In the following summer five other houses were built—one a large hotel, by the Hydraulic Company, and kept by Robert McKenney, and afterwards by Henry L. Merrill. It was taken down in 1864 and a store-house erected on the same site. The second frame house was a dwelling built by E. H. Shaw, and is now used as a barn. The third was built by Calvin Turner, now owned by Mrs. S. H. Wilson; the fourth by Mr. Martin, afterwards bought by A. T. Stoneburner, and the fifth building was a store-house built by the Hydraulic Company, and now owned by James Rogers.

Charles Throop came to Grand de Tour in 1838. In 1843 he opened a general store with Mr. Dana, and has continued alone in business since 1848 to the present time.
The settlement, for a time, progressed very rapidly. The brick tavern, known as the Clinton House, was built and kept by Clifton C. Colburn in 1839. Mr. Cumins' purchases of goods in this year amounted to $40,000.

Settlers came from Elkhorn, North, Washington, Brodies, and many other groves to do their trading. John Deere, now the noted plow manufacturer at Moline, Ills., opened a blacksmith shop in Grand de Tour, with a set of tools purchased on credit in 1837. In 1839 he made his first plow, and two years later Andrus and Deere started the Grand de Tour plow works on a small scale. This factory was moved to Dixon, where the business is extensively prosecuted by Cumins, Noble & Dodge.

FIRSTS

During the financial crisis of 1857 the factory was burned down, but was rebuilt in ninety days. The first wagon maker was S. E. Hathaway; the first carpenter, George Gushing; the first cabinet maker, Mr. Henry; the first millwright, Ebenezer Day; first shoemaker, O. F. Palmer; G. Clements manufacturer of tinware, George L. Herrick doing the labor as first journeyman :inker; first Juistice of the Peace, Erastus Hubbell; first constable, Calvin Turner. The . first school was opened in the winter of 1838 by Mr. Goodrich, and in the summer o: 1839 a school was taught by Sophronia Weatherby in a slab house. The first physician was William Bass; the first wedding, that of Reuben Prichard with Mary Rathburn in March, 1840; the second, that of John Cutshaw with Willmot Brown ; the third, George L. Herrick with Julia Muzzy. The first death was that of Mrs. Gardner. The first birth has been referred to; the first boy born in Grand de Tour was Charles, son of John and D. Deere, in 1838.

The first school-house of brick was built in 1839, and was used for school meetings, elections, etc. The present school-house was commenced in 1856, and finished in 1858; Directors, W. T. House, J. F. Legro and C. D. Sawyer; its cost was $4,200, and was at that time the best one in Ogle County. The present teacher is D. C. Sears

J. A. D. and D. S. Cushing commenced the manufacture of the grape-\vine gram cradle in 1844, and in 1855 made five thousand cradles.
Leonard Andrus established a mail stage line from Dixon to Rockford through Grand de Toor, and from Grand de Tour to Freeport in 1838.

The stage line between Dixon and Freeport and Grand de Tour was maintained for many years by Joseph Cunningham. Recently, however, he was superseded by Joseph Mumma.

At one time Grand de Tour was the largest village on Rock River and had every indication of continued prosperity, but when the Chicago & NorthwesternRailroad was built through Dixon it drew the business to points on the line of the road and killed the growth of Grand de Tour. At present(1878) there are three general merchants, C. F. Throop, who established his business there in the Fall of 1837 and who has continued from that time; W. M. Palmer and James Rogers. The latter is also postmaster. J. L. Fine now carries on a blacksmith shop. June 1, 1877, a butter and cheese factory was incorporated with authority to issue certificates of stock to the amount of $3,000. It is managed by W. S. Crowley, and has the following officers: President—James Rogers; Secretaryy—Francis Hemenway; Treasurer—C. F. Throop ; Directors—E. T. Gates, A. A. Sheffield, Francis Hemenway and Wm. Cox.

 

CHURCHES

PRESS

JOHN DEERE

 

History of Ogle County-1878

 

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