Tag Archives: Rochelle Illinois

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 (link forthcoming) 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 (link forthcoming).

1840 Survey of Flagg Township, Ogle County, Illinois

The image below is of a survey titled “Township 40 North of the baseline Range 1 East of the 3rd Principal Meridian” in Ogle County. This township was labeled this for its location in the Rectangular Survey System (explanatory PDF here). The survey shown below is part of a book held at the Ogle County Recorder’s Office and labeled “Government Field Notes” — these notes seem to be a kind of rough draft for the formal survey of the township survey dated 14 Dec. 1841 (accessible here as part of the Illinois Federal Township Plats). The formal survey seems rewritten but looks very much like this map below.

Click on photos and then click on “View Full Size” to see these images magnified.

1840-1 survey of Township 40 North, 1 East of the 3rd Principal Meridian. This was later named Flagg Township. Map found in volume labeled Government Field Notes held at Ogle County Recorder’s Office, Oregon, Illinois.

Here is the same map, showing the area that would become modern-day Rochelle. The downtown is in the southeast quarter of the southwest quarter of Sec. 24 — basically, it’s that part of Section 24 between the “79.90” and the “640a”:

Detail of Flagg Township map. The words cut off at the right site of this picture say “Variation” and “West boundary–7° 57 [partial word]” and “all the other lines 7° 10”

Some observations:

• Since the final survey is dated 14 Dec. 1841, the information on the map must have been collected before December 1841, and, so this map would seem to be the most detailed information available on what this land looked like before there were major infrastructure changes. The fields marked on the maps perhaps could be identified as belonging to particular early settlers, as described in histories such as the 1878 History of Ogle County .

• It’s my understanding that while some these early settlers may be living on and making claims to buy this land by 1841, no one would have been able to buy the land itself (from the federal government’s land patent system) until these township surveys were completed.

• This township was named Flagg Township at the first township meeting held 2 April 1850, perhaps after early settler in Section 25, Willard P. Flagg. It may be his claim that contains the field located in the northeast corner of Section 25.

•  The land that would become downtown Rochelle — in the southwest corner of section 24 in this map of Flagg Township — seems surrounded by water-logged soils referred to variously as “wet land,” “wet prairie,” “very wet prairie,” “swamp,” “slough,” and “marsh.” The fields in Section 24 and 25 and the “Road from Rockford to Ottawa” seem to be in the (from my personal observations) modestly elevated land between the wetlands marked in light blue. Thus, the reason Rochelle is where it is and is not, say, a mile southwest, has to do with elevation and drainage issues.

 

 

 

Ogle Co. criminals rob, of all things, a food bank

According to its Facebook page, a food pantry in the Ogle County city of Rochelle has been robbed:

“We at Hand in Hand have some very troubling news. We have had a major theft. Our full freezers were emptied and our shelves were just about emptied also. The theft has been reported to the police and they are investigating. It is a federal offense to steal from us because we receive food from the National food bank. When someone steals from us the are really stealing from the poorest people in our area. We are very sad and disturbed by this turn of events but we will persevere, our clients need us to keep going.”

I’m not sure exactly what this says about Ogle County and its criminals, but it sure seems to say something.

UPDATE: Here’s a local TV story about this robbery.