Tag Archives: Robert P. Lane

Plat of Lane/Rochelle, Illinois, 1853

Here are the first documents defining the town of Lane (later, Rochelle), Illinois. This plat, a sheet of paper roughly the size of an end-table, is held at the Ogle County Recorder’s office, and it was filed with Ogle County government on 30 July 1853 (and re-recorded in 1915). According to the process of town formation described in the source detailed here, it seems that all a landowner — in this case, Rockford businessman Robert P. Lane — had to do to create a town was to hire a surveyor to make a plat, and then to record that plat — it seems there was no requirement to gain permission of a county board or higher authority, as there often is now for new land developments. The filing of the plat was the official act that allowed the landowner/proprietor to start selling lots. As Lane did not incorporate as a governmental entity of its own until February 1861, law enforcement and other government functions were, I presume, provided by the county.

Click on each photo to see it zoomed in.

This plat covers 75 acres . The streets kept the names above until the city renamed them in 1907. For reference, the west side of plat would later be Bartholomew St. (modern-day 7th St.), the north side is Chapin St. (6th Ave.), the east side is 2nd Street, and the south boundary became Jefferson St. (now 1st Ave.).

The streets named on the map above and their modern names:

East-West streets: Holland Street is 5th Avenue, Brice Street is 4th Ave., Palmer Street is Lincoln Ave., and Walnut Street is 2nd Avenue.

North-South streets: Lafayette Street is 6th Street, Washington is now Lincoln Highway (except south of Lincoln Ave., where it’s still Washington), Main remains Main, and Flagg St. is 3rd Street.

Detail of the plat showing Cherry Avenue (unnamed, bisecting blocks 13 & 18) and, above that, Brice Street (now 4th Ave.), running E-W. For N-S streets, there’s Washington (now Lincoln Hwy) on the left, Main in the center, and Flagg (now 3rd St.) to the east. 2nd street would be the east boundary of this plat.

Note the graphic blandishment of the town name, made in an era well before computer graphics were available.

“No. 9921 191500009921 [document number in the recorder’s office]
Filed July 30th A.D. 1853. Re-Recorded June 30th 1915.”

This lower-right corner of the plat shows the only landmark reference to locating the plat on the ground: “Stone 14-8-5-inches in demension’s [sic] bearing from the S.E. corner of the S.E. 1/4 of the S.W 1/4, Sec 24 T40-R1E of 3 P.M. n. 46 [degrees] 50′ E 66 3/4 links distant.” [Some of my interpretation of this handwriting may be different from what others might read here.]

Notes and observations:

•  These blocks and lots are still used as legal descriptions of properties today. For example, according to Ogle County GIS, the Rochelle Municipal Utilities building at the southeast corner of Lincoln Highway and 4th Avenue is sited on lots 6, 5, and part of lot 4, block 13. Rochelle City Hall is on lots 1, 2, and 3 of block 6.

• Outside dimensions of the plat are 1,980 feet (north-south) by 1,650 feet (east-west), for a total area of 3,267,000 square feet, which, at 43,560 square feet per acre, would be 75 acres. Most roads are 66 feet wide. Most lots are 66 feet wide by 123.75 feet deep (lot size 8,167.5 sq feet or 0.1875 acre), followed by an alley of 16.5 feet. There’s at least 50 feet between railroad tracks and the nearest plots.

• The Walters article describes some towns being designed with smaller “in-lots” and larger “out-lots,” the in-lots being more valuable as they were closer to the town center, presumably the future business district. The article also states that “by the 1850s the railroad station replaced the square as town center,” and this seems to describe Lane/Rochelle. This could explain why the lots on Cherry Avenue are smaller — they were meant to be the locations of businesses.

•  While most of the streets marked on this plat remain today, 3rd and 6th streets not crossing the railroad tracks, and Dewey Avenue is an east-west alley splitting the lots in the 18th block. Certain other changes to the plat have been marked by later handwriting.

•  The “G & C.U R.R.” marked on this plat is the Galena and Chicago Union Rail Road, also sometimes called The Dixon Air-Line or the Chicago, Fulton & Iowa line, was under construction during 1853, according to Yesterday and Today: A History of the Chicago and North Western Railway System (page 22). The 1878 History of Ogle County states that the “final survey” of the railroad was made in the spring of 1853, and that “several different routes were projected with the evident purpose of inducing competition among the landowners in order to cheapen the right of way” (page 513). I would like to do further research to find out the precise chronology of when Lane proprietor Robert P. Lane first heard of the railroad’s route and when he bought land and ordered the plat survey. Lane filed his plat and, it seems, started selling lots when the railroad was under construction but before it was operational.

•  This rail line first opened from Turner Junction (West Chicago) to Lane on 10 January 1854, connecting Chicago with Ogle County (pages 22 and 27; the 1878 source gives the date of completion as 14 January (page 513).  The Galena & Chicago Union railroad later became the Chicago & North Western RR and exists today as the Union Pacific line. Note also that the second line to come through Rochelle, today’s BNSF line, is present on the 1872 Krause map and it cut through blocks 26 through 30 on the plat above.

•  The railroad arriving in southeast Ogle County changed the business conditions for the local farmers, according to the 1878 Ogle County History: “Chicago was the principal grain market for this section until about 1852 when a load was occasionally drawn to Rockford, Peru and St Charles. The greater part was taken to Chicago, however, until the railroads came and gave them a market here at Hickory Grove. There were few horses used until about 1843 or 1844 and it usually consumed six days to get a load of wheat to market.” And while the railroad was being built, “there was a great influx of people, all anxious to reap the advantages and embrace the opportunities for money-making that were sure to be developed here by the new railroad.  The old Lane Hotel … was built that Summer by Horace Coon … and when the railroad was completed arrangements were made for a grand banquet in the hall over the hotel.”

• It’s not clear that Lane proprietor Robert P. Lane ever lived in Rochelle before or after buying the land and constructing the plat survey of this town. The 1878 Ogle County History names several settlers, including Willard Flagg, Sheldon Bartholomew, Horace Coon, Harmon Minkler, and Mills Stewart, who seemed to have been living in this area, as they had applied for land patents, well before 1853. I wonder how these land owners felt about a town being platted near their farms by someone from outside of town. Perhaps they didn’t mind — Sheldon’s widow, Charlotte Bartholomew Powell, did sell land to R.P. Lane that made up part of the town plat.

R.P. Lane, founder of Lane/Rochelle

The town of Lane (later, Rochelle) formally began with the filing of a plat at the Ogle County Recorder’s office on  30 July 1853 by Robert P. Lane. Some background information about Lane:

• Robert P. Lane, M.D., lived Feb. 21, 1818 to March 7, 1891, (aged 73 at death), according to Find a Grave, and is buried in Greenwood Cemetery in Rockford.

•  Holland’s Rockford City Directory for 1874-5 lists Dr. R.P. Lane on page 153 as living at 508 N. Church and as having these titles: president, Second National Bank; cashier, Rockford Savings Bank, and treasurer, Rockford Insurance Co.

•  In a “Historical and Business Review” of Holland’s Directory (pages 9 and 10), Dr. R. P. Lane is named among a list of “prominent gentlemen [who] associated themselves under the style of ‘Rockford Water Power Company’ and determined to build another and stronger dam” after a first dam across the Rock River failed. Also mentioned in Kett’s History of Winnebago County, 1877. (page 403)

•  In a section describing his management of the Second National Bank, Dr. R. P. Lane is described as “one of the foremost and progressive public lights of Rockford” who “settled here in 1836, and has succeeded abundantly in the many and varied enterprises of his own creation.” (page 35) This 1836 date of arrival is contrasted to the 1851 date given in the Past and Present source below.

•  Lane “secured” “a special charter” for Rockford Savings Bank, an institution that may be “highly appreciated” by “the working classes and those of small means.” This bank is “another evidence of [Dr. Lane’s] business capacity and good will toward his cherished home, Rockford.” (page 52).

•  According to the book Past and Present of the City of Rockford and Winnebago County, Illinois, (here at Google Books, full-but-uncorrected text here), Robert P. Lane, M. D., was born in Hopewell, Bedford County, in south-central Pennsylvania, in 1818, and came to Rockford in 1851.

Past and Present also says that Lane “was a member of the banking firm of
Lane, Sanford & Company and was “one of the organizers of the Second National Bank, and continuously served as its president from 1864 to 1881, when
he resigned to accept the Presidency of the Rockford Insurance Company. He served as a member of the library board, and was senior warden of the Episcopal church for forty years.” Library board report here, in Annual Reports of the City of Rockford, page 50.

• R. P. Lane was involved in the building of the Kenosha & Rockford Railroad in the later 1850s, and he was involved  — it’s not clear to me exactly how — in some military or political organizing during the Civil War times. (Past and Present, pages 80-81, 88).

•  In addition, Lane was involved in organizing a hospital for Rockford, and he served as one of the first “consulting physicians” for the hospital that opened 1 Oct. 1885. (Past and Present, page 128)

• “January , 1855, the banking firm of Dickerman, Wheeler & Co. began business on West State street. The firm consisted of W. A. Dickerman, Buel G. Wheeler, G. A. Sanford and R. P. Lane. This house became the Second National bank.” (Past and Present, page 132)

•  Lane was involved in building the Chick Hotel at 123 S. Main in Rockford.

•  In March 1855, Lane was president of an effort to build a rail line between Rockford and Mendota, but “operations were never commenced on this line.” (History of Winnebago, 1877, page 284)

Robert P. Lane may have never lived in Rochelle, but his son Jas. B. Lane is listed as a Rochelle resident on page 664 of the 1878 History of Ogle County. Jas. B. Lane is said to work in the manufacture of malleable iron in the firm Barber, Lane & Co. and “he also attends to the sale of lands for his father, Dr. R. P. Lane,  of Rockford.”