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Roads

To become stuck in the mud along a Glencoe village street was not unusual in the early days.  Photo courtesy of the Glencoe Historical Society.

Our History-Getting Down To Business

 

HorseHog BW

 

In July 1850 the new officers had to grapple with serious business: There were very few roads in the area and most of them were simply muddy tracks.

The new administrative unit was obligated to maintain the existing roads, such as they were, and build new ones.

A series of entries in the Board Meeting Record books tell the story: A group of residents would appear with a petition to have a road built along a specific route. The men whose farms or property would be served by the road agreed to provide the labor.
The Township would supervise the road construction and deliver the gravel necessary to surface the road. However, the direction or layout of the new road was often disputed. Another group would petition that the road should take another route. These disputes took considerable time to settle.

A letter from a constituent read at an Auditors’ Meeting in 1910:
 
Dear Sir!

Will you kindly notify the proper authority in regard to the big ditch of which the sides are falling in and it is only a question of a few weeks that the road in front of my place will sink into it. The boards are rotten as was the whole job when done. Who ever heard of it to use the lumber that way without being soaked in hot tar, of course it must neccesarily [sic] rot in a comparatively short time. Please see to this at once and oblige very respt.

L Schlotfeld

The Road Commissioners were instructed by the Auditors to investigate Mr. Schlotfeld’s problem.

Because some of the Township sat on a flood plain, concerns about roads, sewers, and drainage ditches had a high priority in the Township government. In 1879 a notation indicates that the Township’s road expenses amounted to $2,800.

From the beginning, there was a concern for those in need. Overseer of the Poor was one of the first offices established.

The Township Auditors were also Justices of the Peace (JPs) with jurisdiction over civil cases that did not exceed claims over $500 and criminal cases that were punishable by fines only. Drunks and disturbers of the peace were either fined locally or, after adjudication, sent to Cook County. Complaints against owners of free-running livestock that damaged gardens were also handled by the JPs. Later they had the responsibility for ticketing autos that exceeded the 12-mile-an-hour speed limit.

The money to carry out all these responsibilities came from assessments on real and personal property, so an Assessor and a Collector were essential Township officials. The office of Collector was fraught with difficulty from the beginning. Collecting taxes wasn’t easy, and the Collector almost always needed a special account to pay his expenses. The Collector was paid a percentage of the taxes he collected in addition to reimbursement for expenses. These expenses had to be accounted for and often the accounting seems to have been inadequate. An excerpt from the minutes of a meeting in 1880 notes that the sum of $150 would be allowed to B. Mueller as extra compensation for the collection of taxes, providing B. Mueller brings a statement and settlement from the County Treasurer for all the money he received and paid out to the proper officers.

Early proceedings reflected a somewhat relaxed attitude toward roaming animals, but an indication of increased urbanization appears in a set of 1871 minutes:

"Resolved that it shall not be lawful to let run at large at any time during the year any horse or horses, colts, mules or asses..."

Apparently it was unnecessary to mention sheep, goats, or hogs.

Public health concerned the Township officials. In 1877 there was an outbreak of smallpox. Fifty printed smallpox cards were ordered to mark houses where someone was sick with the disease.


                                                                                                              Read the next chapter - Elected Officials:  Now & Then

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