A Glimpse Back in Time at Mill­brook as it was in Decem­ber, 1873

Pub­lished in the Kendall County Record, Decem­ber 18, 1873
Edited and com­piled by Elmer Dick­son

15 Last Thurs­day it was too muddy to ride in a buggy, so we invested twenty-five cents in that giant cor­po­ra­tion too soul­less to pass an impe­cu­nious edi­tor, the C. B. & Q. Rail­road Com­pany. We went as far as the amount would take us and the con­duc­tor let us off at Mill­brook. The first man we saw was Dr. Lit­tle­wood, coro­ner and post­mas­ter, who holds an inquest on the Mill­brook mail twice a day. The next per­son we saw was that happy man, Jacob Budd, who is just as proud of the rapid growth of Mill­brook as a coun­try printer with a job of sale bills that he gets the cash for.

Stand­ing upon the plat­form we see sev­eral new build­ings built since we called her last sum­mer. On the right there is a block of stores and a hotel. On the left a hand­some build­ing used as a drug store.

Our first objec­tive point is the school­house about a quar­ter of a mile away. We notice in pass­ing, a new fence around the church­yard, and a large shed in which to shel­ter teams dur­ing church service.

Both improve­ments look well for the energy of our Mill­brook brethren. The school­house is a few rods fur­ther. The build­ing looked quite well before Mill­brook was built up, but now presents a less impor­tant appearance.

Enter­ing the school, we were greeted by Mr. J. F. McCloskey, of Aurora, who has charge. He is a man of expe­ri­ence in the pro­fes­sion. He for­merly taught at Plattville and in Kane and Lawrence Coun­ties. The seats are filled by twenty-five schol­ars, of which two-thirds are boys and young men. The enroll­ment is thirty. The inte­rior of the house is sit­u­ated to make it very con­ve­nient for schol­ars and teacher. There are three or four stu­dents in a seat. When a class is called there is much nec­es­sary con­fu­sion in get­ting it arranged. The seats are uncom­fort­able as well. Mr. McCloskey is a teacher, not merely a hearer of lessons. We were pleased with his geog­ra­phy class and his man­ner of instruct­ing it. In arith­metic he is equally at home in mak­ing things plain.

At noon we accom­pa­nied the teacher to din­ner. I had the honor of din­ing in com­pany with a lady ninety-two years of age, the grand­mother of Mrs. Edward Budd. As lit­tle Cor­nelia Budd informed us, “My great-grandmother.” After din­ner, we heard a soul stir­ring Sab­bath school song by Mrs. Budd, accom­pa­nied by a mag­nif­i­cent par­lor organ.

We walked back to the school and among other classes heard an excel­lent recita­tion in phi­los­o­phy by a class of young men. A lively dis­cus­sion occurred on the “upward pres­sure of water,” in which Mr. Wal­ter VanOs­dal ably defended his posi­tion. We like to hear a class recite that takes a deep inter­est in the les­son, and can appre­ci­ate a dis­cus­sion on a mooted point. This school is doing fine. A new school is promised at an early day.


12 We walked through the rain and mud to town again. Dropped in to see Dr. Lit­tle­wood. Found a hand­some lit­tle drug­store, clean and neat as a pin. The doc­tor keeps elixirs to cure all the ills flesh is heir to. As well as life-stuffs, the Doc­tor keeps dyestuffs.

The post office is here, and a neat case of boxes holds the papers and let­ters for the good peo­ple of the vicin­ity. The Doc­tor is please with his quar­ters, and does a good business.

Across the street we saw a famil­iar coun­te­nance about the lime bar­rels, and found Paul Dear­born get­ting ready to put the fin­ish­ing touches on the new hotel walls. Inside we found Jacob Budd hard at it. It was dif­fi­cult to tell which pre­dom­i­nated the most on his cloth­ing, mud or mor­tar. We read the gen­tle­man a les­son on econ­omy in these hard times, and went with him to look at as pretty a lit­tle hall as you will find in a day’s jour­ney. It is over the two store­rooms on the west side of the street, and is 28 by 40 feet with a ten-foot ceil­ing. It is nicely painted, with hard fin­ished, white walls, and a good plat­form. It is an orna­ment to the village.

The Hotel is small, but well arranged. Seven bed­rooms upstairs; par­lor, office, din­ing room and kitchen down­stairs. It is very con­ve­nient for the pur­pose intended. We under­stand that Mr. Henry Chap­pell, of Yorkville, will be the host, and his wife the land­lady. We don’t know just how much “Hank” can keep a hotel, but if his wife does not make her board­ers com­fort­able with good accom­mo­da­tions it will not be because she doesn’t try. She is an active lady and a good house­keeper. The house will be opened about the first of Jan­u­ary with a grand ball.

We crossed the road to Budd & Washburn’s store, where the peo­ple of Mill­brook do their trad­ing. Mr. Wash­burn was there, and he made us feel at home. The store­room is large. Its shelves carry a heavy stock of dry goods. Gro­ceries, crock­ery, wood­en­ware, etc., fill up all other avail­able space. In a large room just back of the store, the heav­ier and more bulky arti­cles are kept. A meat mar­ket is estab­lished which Wash­burn says has been kept busy fur­nish­ing the food for the gaunt and hun­gry men from Yorkville, Cor­nell, Chap­pell, Bur­ton, Dear­born, et al.

After a while Mr. Gale came in with a hand­some new desk, which was made for the firm. It soon found its place on the counter. While sit­ting by the stove, we noticed quite a thriv­ing trade, notwith­stand­ing the dull day. In talk­ing with the own­ers we found that both Mr. Budd and Mr. Wash­burn came from near Fishkill, New York. They have been in this vicin­ity nearly twenty-five years. The firm has done a busi­ness of about $20,000 this past year. By judi­cious and lib­eral adver­tis­ing in the Record this might be run up to $40,000 another year. What say you gen­tle­men, to half a column?

14 Here comes Major Bid­dulph, who does the grain buy­ing here. The major pays good prices for grain. He is just as socia­ble as ever, and the first thing he does is to hand out a two-dollar bill to the Record man for a sub­scrip­tion, and he wanted no change either. The major lives in a beau­ti­ful lit­tle sub­ur­ban town sit­u­ated on the banks of the Fox River below Mill­brook called Millington.


Nearly five o’clock and the train to the county seat is due. Invest­ing our last “two-bits” in a rail­road ticket, we board the cars and leave the new town in the dark­ness. We soon alight in the busy metrop­o­lis of the Fox River Val­ley, Yorkville, and thus close a pleas­ant visit to Millbrook.