Immigration Into Mc Henry County Essay

1808 words - 7 pages

Samuel and Margaret Gillian are considered the first white people to settle in what is now McHenry County. Prior to their arrival on November 18, 1834, Samuel Gillian was a farmer from West Virginia. On an attempt to move westward, he first moved to Champaign County, Ohio, where he remained for approximately a year. As his quest for a permanent settlement continued, he came upon the city of Chicago. Although fascinated with the mass population and varied activities, Gillian, along with his wife and eight children, were pursuing unsettled land. While traveling Northwest over an ocean of prairie, they reached the banks of the Fox River. With it's high bluffs and deep valleys, the area also was home to such game as deer, lynx, and wolves. Not knowing of the Indian settlement already along the banks, the Gillians settled in this location.The first year on the banks of the Fox River was tough. The Gillians faced unrest with the Indians who lingered around, their first corn crop was lost due to illness, and the death of their eldest daughter left the family mourning. Although the hardships, Samuel Gillian continued to live with his claim until his death in 1837.The year was 1835, and already two separate colonies had developed; Virginia Colony, located in what is now Dorr County, and Pleasant Grove Colony, which is now called Marengo.As a large population of immigrants migrated here from Virginia, settlers from that area came and lived amongst each other and hence, came up with the name Virginia Colony. Out of this settlement grew the village of Ridgefield.Calvin Spencer, noted for staking claim in Crystal Lake, was also the first settler in the Pleasant Colony. Just as Spencer arrived, it wasn't long until the colony populated a dozen people.Although claiming land in this area, it was a common procedure for men and their families to spend most of their winter in Chicago. The development of Chicago back then provided new settlers relief from having a food shortage or sudden mishap during the long, harsh winters.The advantage of having wood and water were of prime importance to the settlers. The area of McHenry county yielded rich soil good for planting, along with an abundant amount of trees which the settlers used as a means for building houses, fences and fuel. What more appealing to the settlers, this area had a plentiful amount of strong wood (oak, hickory, etc.) which lasted a long time with out the need for much repair.Ideal water for the settlers would have been swift, flowing rivers, but the well watered area with many lakes ponds and small rivers suited early settlers fine.Because roads didn't come into the historical perspective for a long time, the many small rivers served as not only a watering hole, but also a means of transportation for the many industries which sprung up along the banks of the Fox River.As new settlers arrived in this area, they found mostly prairie land housing tall buffalo grass which the new people didn't know how to...

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