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Vernon Township

Daniel C. Didech, Supervisor

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It was in the spring of 1833 that Captain Daniel Wright settled in Vernon Township.  He is noted as the first white settler in Lake County.  Prior to that, the only white men were trappers and traders passing through the area.

Captain Wright became friends with the Indian Chief Potawatami and he lived with them until he built a log cabin near the Des Plaines River.  Shortly after his wife and seven children arrived from Mt. Vernon, their former home, a son died and three days later his wife died presumable from the hardships of the trip.  Local historians have concluded that because Captain Wright was from Mt. Vernon he suggested our township be named Vernon.  The Wright's daughter, Carolina, became Lake County's first bride, marrying another "first settler", William Wigham.  Hiram Kennicott officiated.  He,along with Mr. Wigham came to Lake County in 1834.  The Wigham's had two children.  William Wigham, Jr. resided on the Wright farm for many years.

1834 saw the arrival of William Cooley and Theron Parson.  They settled in the Wright neighborhood; Mr. Parson opened a tavern in Half Day and Mr. Cooley dealt in cattle buying and selling.  Tiring of pioneer life he left the area.

Hiram Kennicott built a saw mill and grist mill near the Luther Bridge which spanned the Des Plaines River.  He opened a store in Half Day and later one in Libertyville.  He had studied law and was the first Justice of the Peace in Lake County.  John Kennicott was a riding circuit doctor and was highly respected.

In 1835 more settlers came to Lake County and among those settling in Vernon Township were Matthias Mason, William Easton, Moses Putnery, B.F. Washburn, Ashabel Talcott, Henry Wells, John Gridley and sons, John A. Mills, James Chambers, Erastus Bailey, Matthew Hoffman and Thomas Bradwell.

Seth Washburn was the first postmaster in Lake County; appointed in 1836.  He built the first saw mill near Wright's homestead.  His family later donated the land for Washburn Congregational Church and the Half Day School.  Matthias Mason opened a blacksmith shop.  He was appointed first county treasurer and his descendants have been active through the years in civic affairs.

In 1836 the first school opened.  Laura B. Sprague, whose parents settled here in 1835, was the first teacher.  A school on Riverwoods Road is named for her.