The Dunton Times

Volume II Issue 2

February 1997


"Early Life in Illinois" Part 2 of 2

Dunton, IL -- Arrival of the Duntons, 1836

Historians have learned that early county histories throughout the country contain many inaccuracies. Published primarily for political reasons, much of the information was not properly authenticated. This is true in part of the Cook County history published in 1884. Additional sources had to be explored to verify facts.

Knowledge of the Homestead laws enacted after northern Illinois was opened for settlement, and careful research into family and public records have made possible the following story of the first white family to establish permanent home in present-day Arlington Heights.

History of Arlington Heights began in March, 1836 when Asa Dunton, a Yankee stone cutter from Oswego, New York, with his wife, Lois Hawkes Dunton, and six children, the youngest of whom was only two years of age, came to this locality looking for desirable farming land on which to stake a claim. Previous homesteaders had settled in the wooded areas of Wheeling and Elk Grove, but Asa, recognizing the excellence of the soil and the advantage of well-drained higher ground, decided to file his claim on open prairie. He filed his claim for the 160 acres allowed and a like amount for each of his minor sons, William H., 17 years of age, and James, 14.

He established his pre-emption rights to these public lands by declaring his intention of settlement, by proving his residence within six months, cultivation of the tract within one year, and payment of the established purchase price of $1.25 an acre. Final title of the homestead was not secured until he had proved his residence thereon for five years. During that first winter Asa and his family were forced to teach temporary shelter from the winter's icy blasts in Deer Grove. Final proof of compliance with the law enabled Asa to obtain full title to the three homesteads in 1841. Thereupon the family moved to Lemont, Illinois, where the men folks found employment in the quarries where stone was being cut for buildings in the town of Chicago, then numbering 4,000 souls.

Asa Dunton left Lemont in 1847 to return his family to his original claim. The small frame home that Asa erected for his family stands today (1971) at 612 North Arlington Heights Road. Built of hand hewn beams it has withstood the ravages of wind and weather and is today the proud possession of its present owner. Old timers well remember when it was the home of Asa's granddaughter, Mrs. Farwell.

Many of the fine old pine and spruce trees, a number of which are still standing north of Euclid and east of Arlington Heights Road, were set out by the Dunton Family. The name "Pine Street" was chosen in later years because of that stand of pines, now more than 120 years old, truly a bequest of beauty.

James Dunton resided in his father's home until his marriage in 1849. He built his first home at 623 North Arlington Heights Road, which though altered stands today. There the family lived until James erected the stately three-story home at 619 North Arlington Heights Road justbefore the great Chicago Fire.

The story is told that many local people stood on the flat part of the roof at the rear and watched the conflagration from that vantage point, twenty-two miles from the scene of the blazing city.

In 1855, Asa was the Postmaster, out of his house, of Arlington Heights.

From the book "Prairieville USA: The Story of the Birth and Growth of a Prairie Village", Daisy Paddock Daniels, 1971, The Historical Society and Museum of Arlington Heights, pgs. 47-49

Click on the hotlink at the beginning of this article to learn more about the town of Dunton (now Arlington Heights), Illinois.

"What's New At This Site?"

When I published this web page in December, I was not sure what to expect. Even though the format is not extremely complex, it does take a bit of time to put these things together and keep them up to date. I have learned a lot, in a short period of time, about HTML programming, converting GEDCOM data to HTML pages, as well as the basic mechanisms of web page graphical design.

It has only been about six weeks since the launch of The Dunton Family Home Page, and I am quite pleased with the response. As you can see by the counters at the bottoms of each of the pages, the site is getting visited. I have tried to publicize the page every chance I get. I am still waiting for it to get indexed by the major web search engines.

It is worth the effort. I have now met several cousins as a result of this site. I also believe that I have been able to provide lineage information to several others. The next phase of this project is now underway - actually getting us all together. If not physically, electronically. I have recently (1/25/97) added a new page called, Other Family Searchers (note: offline as of 1/2005). I have started to post the requests for information that I receive from "searchers" and that I cannot directly answer. I would also like to offer this service to all of you. Send me a request via email and we'll get it known to the world (wide web, anyway:).

"Announcements" - Submit obituaries, marriage, military service, special events, and birth announcements to keep us all up to date!

Nothing Reported This Month.

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Last Updated January 25, 1997
Copyright 1996-2019 by Michael L. Dunton
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