Joseph Call was the first settler in Yorkville. He located at what is now
known as Ives Grove, in the summer of 1835. He built a log house which he
afterwards kept as a tavern.
In the fall of 1835, Nelson A. Walker bought a quarter section claim from
Call, at the Grove, immediately went upon it and worked it from March, 1836,
until the fall of that year, when his family joined him. Mr. Walker says
that when he bought his claim the only white woman in Yorkville was Mrs.
Betsey Call, and there was no house between the Grove and Rochester. He
found at the Grove, in addition to Call, Samuel Kerr, Daniel Whitmore and
Samuel Daniels, who each had a claim, but lived together.
Mr. Walker lived on his claim until 1838, when he removed to Mt. Pleasant,
where he has since resided. It is worthy of mention that when Mr. Walker
came into the country he walked from Toledo, Ohio to Wisconsin.
George Nichols and Charles Nobles were among the earliest settlers in the
town, coming in 1836. Early in 1837 or late in 1836 Marshall M. Strong and
Stephen N. Ives purchased Joseph Call's claim, upon which his tavern was
situated, and in May, 1837, sold it to Roland Ives, who then located upon it,
his family arriving in May, 1838. The grove has ever since been known as
"Ive's Grove." John Nobles settled at the same place in the spring of 1837.
In 1837 L. S. Blake made a claim of 160 acres in another part of Yorkville
and sold it to Cornelius Brezee who settled on it with his family in June,
1837, and there lived until his death.
Charles C. Wait and Alexander Gray, accompanied by George Nichols, came to
Yorkville in 1837. Mr. Wait and Mr. Nichols had made their claims in
November, 1836, and located with their families in March, 1837.
Mr. Wait, in 1835, from Vermont to Troy, N. Y., via the Champlain
and Troy canal, thence to Buffalo by canal from Buffalo to Detroit on the
steamer "North America," from Detroit to Niles, Mich., traveling upon foot
from Niles to St. Joseph, and thence across the lake on a vessel to
Chicago thus; In his own experience, realizing the difficulties and
vicissitudes of a journey to the remote West in that early time.
Mr. Wait is yet the owner of 120 acres of land in Yorkville, for which he
received a patent from the government and which he has never removed
from, conveyed or incumbered.
Reuben Wait, father of Charles C. Wait, settled in Yorkville on the 8th of
April, 1838. The first school in the town was taught in Reuben Wait's house,
in the winter of 1839 and 40 by Levantia Barnum. There were eight scholars
in attendance, and the teacher was employed by Mr. Wait at his personal
Among the other early settlers should also be named Edward Buchan,
Robert Bell and Col. F. F. Lincoln, who came in 1837. He made his claim in
June, '36, then went away, and returned in September, '37. Mr. Lincoln is
remembered to have traveled through the settlements in the early days
threshing with a flail.
Mr. Collar and the Northways came in 1836, and were among the earliest
Abram Gilmore, in September. 1840, also settled in Yorkville, where
he has ever since resided.
In 1838 Arba B. Terrell located at Ives Grove. He was a carpenter by
trade, and a great mimic, when amusement among the settlers was desired.
He built Elisha Raymond's first barn in Raymond.
In September, 1838, Owen Campbell bought the claim of N. A. Walker,
paid $1,000 for it, and purchased the land at the land sales. He came out
first with Roland Ives, in 1837, and in the subsequent year settled on
his claim as the future home of himself, his wife and ten children, who
were thus early in years introduced to the hardy experience of pioneer life.
Forty acres of his claim was improved land.
The settlers in this locality were particularly exposed to prairie fires.
The grove standing like an island in the prairie, all around it the fires
were accustomed to sweep, by night and by day, exposing property and
sometimes life to danger.
Dr. Homer Campbell, a son of Owen Campbell, tells me that although exposed
to some privations and dangers the settlers were contented and happy. For
meat they depended chiefly upon game, in the summer season,
which was everywhere abundant. They ate their meals from pewter plates, and
submitted cheerfully to the inconveniences of their situation.
Religious services on Sunday, were held at the houses of the settlers when
a passing missionary came, or opportunity was otherwise afforded.
Mr. Campbell was a justice of the peace, in his town, seven years, and was
familiarly known as Esquire Campbell far beyond his neighborhood.
Ebenezer Heald settled at Ives Grove in June, 1837. He occupied the claim
of Samuel Daniels until May, 1838, when he made a claim in Dover, where he
built a log house, which was burned. This misfortune pushed him further
west, and he made a claim and permanently settled in Burlington where, in
1840, his daughter, now the wife of Mr. John Wilson, of Racine, taught school.
The first white child born in Yorkville was Mrs. Mary Jane George,
daughter of Nelson A. Walker, born May 13th, 1838.