The History of Groveland Township

Submitted by Bill Bane - March 15, 2019

This article was written in 1931 and provided by Bill Bane.

By Helen Y. Klesath. Dist. 5

Because af the glacier which occurred millions of years ago, Groveland township was left very level. .For the reason of the land being low and damp, not one of Woodford. Marshall, or Livingston counties would add this and Osage township to it. Kind-hearted La Salle county did, giving it a "panhandle" and a nickname for this part of the county.

The first settlers, among them Abner Shinn, Oscar Jacobson and Elias Frink, of New Rutland, made open ditches, which drained the land. By means of modern drainage the soil of this township is today of the richest in Illinois.

The Illinois .Central Railroad Company obtained, in 1853, from the national government, a grant of 3,700 acres of land for every mile of railroad it was to build. The main line from Cairo to La Salle, three hundred and one miles, was finished in 1855, and the next year extended to Chicago. At that time every other section of land in Groveland township was a railroad section, thus resembling a checkerboard.

In 1872 the Chicago, Pekin and Southwestern railroad was built diagonally across the southeastern corner of this township. It was later acquired by the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railroad Company and given that name. The main line of the A., T. and S. F. railroad touches the northwestern corner of this township.

In 1856 J. H. Klesath, my great-grandfather, broke prairie with oxen on the land now owned by C. J. Pritchett of this village, two miles north and
one mile west of Dana. Five years later he enlisted in the Civil war. After, returning from the war, he and his family moved to Livingston county, where his home now stands.

John H. Martin settled in this township in 1873, and claimed the northwest quarter of section 25, 160 acres, through a grant given him by President Buchanan during the "Homestead Act." He lived on the farm now inhabited by Mr. and Mrs. Dewey Klendworth. and named this area "Martin." It was later called "Conklin," and then "Dana," its present name, after the superintendent of the C., P. and S.W. railroad. On June 11, 1873, Dana was incorporated, and Mr. Martin sold different lots to new settlers. I am now living with my grandfather, J. J. Klesath, who owns one of these lots.

Dana's first public building, the Christian church, was built in 1865. As was the custom at that time, the graves of the deceased surrounded the church. These were later removed to the southern edge of the village and now form a part of a very beautiful cemetery. In 1909 the church was torn down and a veneered concrete block church was built. A Methodist Episcopal church was built in 1890 and rebuilt in 1915.

The first drug stores in Dana were owned by Dr. W. R. Harvey and R. M. Pritchett. The latter's is still operating, in charge of his wife, Mrs. Ella Pritchett. The former is now a restaurant in charge of R. E. Dickfoss.

In 1900 a brickyard was operated by Albert Miller, in the southwestern-corner of this village, but only lasted for a few years.

On July 6, 1914, a huge fire swept nearly two blocks, including Main street, resulting with much damage. It was caused by the explosion of a gasoline stove in a butcher shop.

The population has increased about sixty per cent since 1880. A large brick high school in the southern part of Dana and a grade school in the southeastern part provide means of education for the village boys and girls, as well as for the country children nearby.'

The village of Rutland was surveyed in 1855, and incorporated in 1867. It was named after Rutland, Vermont, from, where a group of settlers came in 1855, and settled near the present site of the village. It was called "New Rutland" until 1873, when its name was changed to "Rutland" by the village authorities.

Its first church was the Congregational, built in 1866. Since then have been built the Methodist Episcopal, Christian and Catholic churches.

The same year that the first church was built, a'three-foot vein of coal was found at a depth of 275 feet, in southern Rutland. A company sold
stock at $100 a share. The mine flourished at the start and continued in operation until just a few years ago. It brought many people to Rutland, numbering 880. Since the mine shut down the population has decreased about fifty per cent.

In Rutland there is one grade school. Since there is no high school building, the high school rents rooms from the grade school for its pupils. There is also a gymnasium beside the school.

The first white baby born in this township was the daughter of Alexander Clegg, Mrs. Florence Bane, who now resides in Pontiac, Illinois.

The population of Groveland township has increased many fold since its beginning, and the township is flourishing in lodges, societies and organizations of different kinds.

There is electricity and running water well in the homes of the residents of Dana and Rutland. There are also parts of two good highways in this township, those being Routes No. 2 and 45.

Thus rises this region from a barren prairie to a prosperous township in La Salle county, which is next to the largest county in Illinois.