Nettle Creek Township gains its name from its principal tributory, which is also known as Little Mazon, which means nettles, this hardly desirable form of vegetation once being found in immense quantities along the rich bottom lands. No longer do they disfigure the landscape, for the present system of drainage has redeemed the land that once was thought of no more use than to grow unproductive nettles, and the home of what gave the township its name, is now producing great crops of golden grain, or is the rich pasture fields of sleek cattle.
This township in the northwest corner of Grundy, is almost level prairie, except along the creek, along which oak and black walnut trees were found. Quite a number of little streams run into Nettle Creek, but many are almost dry in the summer months. Scotland, England, Ireland and Norway all sent of their sons and daughters to represent them in Nettle Creek Township, and sturdy people came from various more eastern states to find new homes on the prairie. Their descendants are thrifty, industrious, honorable and law-abiding people.
Without doubt the first white settler of what afterwards became Nettle Creek Township, was William Hoge, of Loudoun County, Va., of Scotch descent, who arrived here in 1831, putting up a tiny log cabin that for years sheltered the family. In 1845, however, a much more comfortable residence was erected. He was one of the two settlers of Grundy County for years. The nearest trading point was the village of Ottawa. When the Black Hawk war shed its shadow of dread over the rest of the state, Mr. Hoge took his little brood to Pleasant Grove, just across from the present town of Pekin. As soon as he felt it was safe, however, he returned, for he was too anxious about his crops to remain away longer than absolutely necessary. In those days when transportation was so difficult, and food and money scarce, the very lives of the family depended upon the outcome of the crops, scanty as they might be. In 1833, Samuel Hoge joined his brother in Nettle Creek Township and both became heavy landowners in this and adjoining townships.
John Gray, a Scotchman, and George Brouse, an Englishman, arrived here in 1837, locating on Sections 20 and 17, respectively, their properties joining. That same year, William Stephen, a fellow countryman, joined Mr. Gray, but only remained about a year, when he went to Kendall County, eventually coming back, however, and identifying himself with Grundy County. George Bullis was another of the pioneers of 1837 or 1838, but moved from Grundy County in 1870. A Mr. Coup came here about 1840, but had some serious financial difficulties, that forced him to sell much of the land he acquired.
Thomas Loughhead came here in 1841 or 1842, with his two sons and four daughters, having lost his wife. He was a veteran of the War of 1812, and died in 1855. James P. Thompson, son-in-law of Mr. Loughhead, followed the latter in a year or two, settling on a part of Section 19. Oliver Dix arrived in 1844, locating on Section 8. In the same year, Minard Waterman settled on Section 20. William and Hugh Mossman came here in 1845, and about the same time Samuel Fry arrived. Thomas and John Agan were arrivals of 1848, and in 1849, Isaac N. Brown became a resident of the township.
The Norwegian pioneers began to arrive about 1845, among the earliest being: John Peterson, Ben Thornton, Ben Hall, Lars and Erasmus Sheldall, John Wing, G.E. Grunstead and others.
In 1849 the following were numbered among the inhabitants of Nettle Creek Township: H.A. Ford, Baker Knox, R. Carpenter, Isaac N. Brown, Lars and Erasmus Sheldall, John Wing, G.E. Grunstead, John Peterson, Ben Thornton, Simon Fry, Lars Likeness, Ben Hall, Edson Gifford, George Bullis, Hugh Mossman, Morgan Lloyd, S.G. Rider, John Gibson, Alexander Bushnell, Ben Sears, Daniel David, Charles McCann, John and Thomas Loughhead, Oliver Dix, William Mossman, David Jamison, James P. Thompson, John Gray, Minard Waterman, Samuel Hoge, William Hoge, Thomas Agan and John Agan. The remarkable growth of the township is shown by contrasting these few names with the total number of inhabitants as shown by the last group.
Events of Interest
The first mill for sawing lumber was built of logs by William Hoge, but after ten years the dam was destroyed. A steam mill was later constructed, for the purpose of supplying the contractors building the canal with necessary material, but has been abandoned. In 1876, Zach Severson dealt for a short time in boots, shoes and groceries.
First White Child Born
James Hoge, son of William Hoge, was the first white child born in the township, and perhaps the first born in Grundy County.
The child of Warren Chapin was the first person to die in Nettle Creek Township, and the body was buried on his father’s farm, as there was no cemetery.
William Hoge with his brother built the first schoolhouse, on land belonging to the former. Like the majority of the little log schoolhouses of the time, it was meagerly furnished with home-made benches and desks, and was heated by a fireplace. Miss Maria Southworth was the first teacher, and for her services received $2.50 per week, the money being furnished by William Hoge. The second schoolhouse was built on Section 8, but was very inconveniently located, so that another was put up near the home of Mr. Brown, and finally, there was only one school in Nettle Creek, and it was taught by Oliver Dix. In 1849 Nettle Creek Township was divided into four school districts, and later the number was increased to seven, and since then further progress has been made.
The Congregationalists were the first to hold religious service with an idea of church organization in Nettle Creek Township. This was in 1849, when the organization was completed through the efforts of the Rev. James Loughhead. The schoolhouse was used for the services, and the society existed until 1868, when it became extinct.
In 1850, the Methodists organized, with three families of the name of Mossman, Mr. and Mrs. J. P. Thompson, Mrs. Fry, and Reuben Aylesworth as charter members. The home of Oliver Dix was used for the initial services, later the schoolhouse was utilized. The churches of Morris claim quite a large membership and attendance over the township, while in this section there are numerous Norwegian churches.
Nettle Creek Township has been represented on the County Board of Supervisors of Grundy County by the following men: William Hoge, 1850; A.J. Ford, 1851; I.N. Brown, 1852-1853; William Hoge, 1854-1855; Wm. McFarline, 1856; William Hoge, 1857-1867; Andrew F. Ford, 1868; William Hoge, 1869; John K. Ely, 1870; William Hoge, 1871; Samuel Hoge, 1872-1877; Hendley Hoge, 1878-1880; H.A. Gregory, 1881; William Hoge, 1882; Isaac Hoge, 1883-1892; Olen O. Johnson, 1893; S.S. Marvick, 1894-1902; Joseph H. Osman, 1903-1904; Ami Markeson, 1905-1909; E.S. Hoge, 1910-1914.