Pioneer History


Samuel Gillilan arrived in November and farmed 245 acres east of Algonquin Cemetery on Algonquin-Cary Road near Camp Algonquin. His family immigrated from Virginia and were recognized as the first settlers in McHenry County. The Native Americans that inhabited the Algonquin area were the Potawatomi Indians. The Native Americans made their camp about one mile up the river from the present Fox River Bridge. There was interaction between the Indians and Gillilans.


Second settler was Dr. Andrew Cornish, a physician who conducted a ferry across the Fox River south of the present bridge. He also ran a Post Office and store while farming 640 acres. He later built a grist mill located at the intersection of Pyott and Algonquin Roads and also distillery located at same location.


Dr. Thomas Plumleigh, the third settler received a land grant from the government and settled on the land now called South Main Street business district which is now part of the Old Town District. He farmed 383 acres and knew how to prepare many of the Indian medicines. Later during the Civil War moved to Carpentersville.


During this time John Brink surveyed the area for the government. His map was the first map of the township which shows the prairies and timber areas and some early farms. The areas called timber were actually a combination of prairies and forest areas called Savanahs.


William Powell came to Algonquin and helped lay out the town lots. He built a tavern and boarding house for travelers from Chicago. His place was located on what is now the Shell Gas Station at Main Street and Algonquin Road. He purchased this 80 acres of land from Andrew Cornish.


Another early settler was John Chandler and his family who settled near the bike path just east of the Fox River on 110 acres of farm land.


Dygert family made their homestead at Crystal Lake Road and Algonquin Roads. Charles Dygert who was first white baby born in McHenry County was born in 1841 on a farm that had 80 acres. The Dygert Home was demolished for the strip mall that was built on the northeast corner Crystal Lake and Algonquin Roads.


Jesse Miller arrived and bought 40 acres north of the small village. The first school was located in the log cabin of Jesse Miller and the students were taught by Ben Cole.


Ambrose Dodd started his farm along North Main Street. He purchased an 80 acre farm from the government at cost of $1.25 per acre. He also help start the Congregational Church with a meeting in his home. Before he died, he paid the last of the debt the congregation owed on the church which was built just after the Civil War.


There is a government record of William Powell selling his saw mill for $25.00 to Alex Dawson. The saw mill was located on the north bank of Crystal Lake outlet and near the west bank of the Fox River. Location would have been in the Cornish Park on the north bank.


Alex Dawson also started the construction of a flour (grist) mill on the east side of the Fox River near the dam. The mill was completed by Petrie and a dam was constructed the following year to power the mill. For many years, the mill was the major business in the village.


James Philp, Esq. built a brick home which once was located at 114 South Main Street and is the oldest brick structure in the village. Mr. Philp chose to settle in the village because the railroad came through Algonquin in 1855. He ran blacksmith's shop (now Algonquin Apartments). He became the leading business and money lender in Algonquin before there were banks at the turn of the century.


James Philp, Esq. opens his blacksmith shop. The two buildings were joined together 40 years later to look as if it were one building which is now called the Algonquin Apartments.


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