Dunham Township

107 Airport Rd, , Harvard, Illinois 60033
815-943-4444 | |


History of Dunham Township

The founding name of the township was Byron. When a post office was established, it was discovered that there was another Byron in the state.  The name was changed to Dunham to honor Solomon J. Dunham, he was the Justice of the Peace.

A schoolhouse was built in Dunham Township in the year of 1839 in June.  It was a log cabin structure that was built on the Jerome Farm.  Miss Helen Diggins taught the students. The log cabin was also used as a church and a political meeting place.

The first settler to arrive in the county was in Dunham Township. Abraham Carmack arrived in 1831. He came from New England via the Great Lakes Region, landed in Milwaukee and traveled to the Dunham area.

One of the many cheese factories/creameries was located at Dunham Road and Route 23.

Central and Southern most part of the township was wet and marshy. Rush Creek was believed to be named after the bull rushes and cattails growing in the marshes, the area it flowed thru. Another idea was that the creek could have been named for Charles Rush. He was a farmer who farmed the Southwest edge of the Town of Alden. It was the starting point of the creek.

Around 1901  Farmers figured out the low areas of Dunham Township could be a good area for crops if the area could be drained. The farmers organized the South Island Drainage District and Rush Creek Drainage District. The year of 1910, a dredging machine was hauled into the area.  Rush Creek was deepened and was straightened in Dunham Township from the Northeast to the Southwest.  The South Island Drainage District had tile made of red clay, which was produced in Marengo, Illinois. 

The township is known as an Island area because the settlers of early days would build their farmsteads on the islands between the marshes.

As far back as 1870, sheep raising was the largest industry for the township. It was believed at that time the land was better for sheep raising than grain. The 1870's were harsh for sheep farmers with many  dog attacks to their herds.

The first purebred horses were brought into the township, then any part of the county.  They were Norman horses, but in later years they were renamed to Percherons.

The first cemetery existed between 1841 - 1842, near the Jerome log schoolhouse. Mount Auburn was in existence in 1870's.

A cyclone was recorded in the township on May 18, 1883.  Damaged many barns and livestock were lost.  On April 21,1967 a tornado damaged the Southwest part of the township.

The Harvard Area 1829-1976 First Edition Harvard Bicentennial Committee

 If anyone has more knowledge of the history of Dunham Township, please contact us.

Thank you in advance.