It is now approximately 175 years since the first people moved into what became Kendall County. The first pioneers
settled near the timber. They believed the trees would help protect them from the fierce winds that blew across
the prairie. They also needed to be near a source of building material, and fuel for cooking and heating their
The pioneer's best source of water was a good spring. Initially springs were plentiful and the settlers clustered around them. After the most desirable land was taken, pioneers began to drain the sloughs. When the sloughs were drained, the springs dried up and the pioneers were forced to seek other sources of drinking water. Initially wells were dug by hand, but the depth a well could be dug was limited. It was not until the late eighteen seventies or early eighteen eighties, that well drilling technology advanced to the point that deeper wells could be drilled. The ability to drill a well, even through solid rock, was a major factor in the development of the area away from the timber and streams that flowed through the groves.
When the first settlers arrived, the closest mill was near Peoria. Under normal circumstances, taking wheat or corn to the mill required several days. When weather was bad, a round trip to the mill could take two or three weeks.
Initially wheat was the only marketable commodity. Chicago was the nearest market but there were no roads between Kendall County and Chicago. The grain had to be hauled there by wagon, sloughs were numerous and difficult to pass through, and rivers and creeks had to be crossed without the benefit of bridges. A round trip to Chicago often required several days.
During the initial settlement period there was virtually no money in circulation, requiring the pioneers to trade one commodity or skill for another. If they became ill or were injured, they had to rely on their own medical skill to survive.
Those who led the way had to survive droughts, prairie fires, storms, harsh economic times, and much other depravation.
To the extent possible, the following represents a list of the names, and the genealogy of the pioneers and settlers who came to Kendall County before January 1, 1841. In some cases it was not possible to determine the pioneer's date and place of death. In other cases pioneers were tracked for a while and then lost. Information in brackets [ ] within the second "Place" column indicates the last place and time the compiler was able to find that person. For example, [Burlington, IA 1910] means the last genealogical sighting of the person referred to was Burlington, Iowa in 1910.
Some of the entries are incomplete. Addition information or corrections will be gratefully accepted.
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