Saratoga cannot boast of as early settlement as some of the other sections of Grundy County, owing to the fact that but little timber was to be found here. It was the usual rule with the pioneers that those lands which would furnish material for houses, fences, barns and fuel, would be selected first. An idea prevailed among some that the prairie lands were not as fertile as those which nature had covered with dense growth, and it was not until the thick sod of the prairie was turned, that some appreciation of its fertility was gained. Those who came into a section a little later on, oftentimes obtained the most valuable land, as the prairies fell to their share. Saratoga Township is in the northern portion of the county, lying on its northern boundary adjacent to Kendall County. On the east is Aux Sable Township; on the south is Morris Township and Erienna Township; while on the west is Nettle Creek Township. Aux Sable Creek crosses the township in the eastern part, while Nettle Creek is in the southwestern corner. Saratoga Creek flows through the central portion, and the east fork of Nettle Creek drains the southeastern, and joins the main stream at Morris.
The first settlement made in Saratoga Township was by Joshua Collins, of Oneida County, N. Y., who arrived here in 1844, and spent the remainder of his life in the township. That same year saw the arrival of Phillip Collins and Alexander Peacock. The latter was an Englishman, who perpetuated his name in Grundy County, by his donation in Morris Township, of a plot of ground between the two portions of Evergreen Cemetery, to be known as St. George Cemetery. According to the terms of his donation, none but those of English birth were to be buried in this cemetery. His original holdings also included the old fair grounds in Morris Township, so that his name is not likely to be forgotten. Another Englishman, H.M. Davidson, came in 1834. In 1842, the records show that John B. More obtained considerable land in the northeastern part of Saratoga Township, although he did not live in Grundy County, but across the line in Kendall County.
Two years later, in 1844, Carpenter Conklin took up land on Section 9, and Elias Bartlett, a friend, followed him at no great interval. Although he was then a very young man, he began teaching school, and so prospered and gained in favor with his neighbors that he felt justified in returning to New York State for his bride, a daughter of Mr. Conklin, who had not accompanied her father on his western trek. The tastes of this young couple led them to continue teaching, and in time they conducted the well remembered seminary at Ottawa.
Still another early settler was James Cronin, who came to this region in connection with the canal work and associated himself to a considerable extent with Mr. Peacock, above mentioned. Daniel Johnson and Gersham Hunt also came prior to 1847.
The actual growth of the township did not perceptibly commence, however, until 1847, or 1848, when the Norwegians began flocking to Saratoga. Although they soon outnumbered the others who had located here, they retained the name, Saratoga, given to it by the New Yorkers, in remembrance of their old home, and it has since continued to be known as such.
The Norwegian Lutheran Church, known as the Hauge’s Menighed, was organized in 1876, and a church edifice was erected on land owned by H. Osmonson.
Some of the earlier residents of Saratoga Township were: William H. Ayres, Jerry Collins, Cryder Collins, Joshua E. Collins, Henry R. Conklin, M.H. Cryder, K.M.J. Granville, Peleg T. Hunt, Gersham Hunt, James A. Hunt, Frank Hunt, John Johnson, Edmond Johnson, Erik Johnson, Gunner Johnson, Story Matteson, Halver Osmonson, Oliver H. Osmonson, Olie Osmonson, Wier Peterson, Andrew Sorem, Mons N. Sorem, Walter S. Smith, John Steel, Nathaniel H. Tabler, Seneca Tupper, Alexander Telfer, John Bredennick, and A.F. Watson. There were many others, who also did their part in developing the natural resources of this fertile agricultural region.
The Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Railroad runs through a portion of this section, passing on to the city of Morris, the county seat.
Today, anyone traveling through Saratoga Township finds it difficult to believe that this fertile farming district was ever other than it is, for the farmers have so developed the locality that in the well-improved farms, with their comfortable houses, commodious barns, well-kept fences, and multiplicity of agricultural implements, are shown sign, of a prosperity that is convincing proof of the substantiality of the property owners. As a rule they are men of superior intelligence, whose exhibits at the annual stock shows prove that they believe in high grade produce, and know how to raise it. This is all but the natural result of well-directed effort, intelligently carried out to a definite end.
The American principles of fair play and love of justice have prevailed here, and no matter how poor a man might be upon arrival and no matter how little he knew of the customs of his new country, if he were willing to work and live honestly, he was given a chance, so that many of the men who have made Saratoga Township what it is today, started out without a cent. While there are no villages here, the region being strictly agricultural, the people are in touch with the larger centers. They patronize the leading stores at nearby towns, and attend places of worship there. The schools of Saratoga are uniformly good, keeping pace with those in other townships, and many of the pupils graduated from them continue their studies at the Morris High School. Many of the farmers not only own costly machinery for farm work, but automobiles as well, and a number of them belong to secret organizations for the promotion of fraternal relations. Taking Saratoga Township all in all, it would be difficult to find a community that was more prosperous, contented or loyal to township, county, state and nation.
The men who have served Saratoga faithfully as members of the County Board of Supervisors, have been as follows: Philip Collins, 1850; Colquhoun Grant, 1851-1856; C.G. Conklin, 1857; Philip Collins, 1858-1870; Michael H. Cryder, 1871-1872; Philip Collins, 1873; Hiram Thayer, 1874; Gersham Hunt, 1875-1876; Townsend Gore, 1877-1878; L.L. Gardner, 1879; Townsend Gore, 1880; Fred Ayers, 1881; Jerry Collins, 1882-1891; Charles M. Stephen, 1892-1903; E.G. Cryder, 1904-1914.