by Susan O’Neill
The Sugar Grove Historical Society celebrates its 25-year anniversary on Monday, March 18. The celebration, held at Bliss House on Main Street, will feature an overview of the society’s history.
â€œA bunch of us were sitting around a kitchen table,â€ society treasurer Ruth Frantz recalled of the initial conversation to create the society. â€œIt was (in 1984) just before the sesquicentennial celebration of Sugar Grove Township.â€
Frantz said the people gathered there decided they wanted a written history of the area. She and Frank Damon created a pamphlet that featured the highlights of Sugar Grove’s past.
Around that time, a graduate student from Northern Illinois University’s archaeology department came to them regarding a dig she wanted to do. She wanted to find the first cabin built in the area.
Although she never found the cabin, the connection developed into a mutually beneficial relationship between the residents and a group of NIU professors.
The professors came to Sugar Grove and talked to the group about what they needed to do to create a historical society and a museum. Society members created a reproduction of a farm kitchen for viewing at the university’s anthropology museum.
â€œMany of our original members were farmers,â€ Frantz said.
She said the society receives many requests for historical information about the area. The society gathers and keeps written, oral and photographic historical information about Sugar Grove Township from its 1834 settlement. Bliss House is the repository for items of historical value.
Although the requests most often come through e-mails and phone calls, people sometimes will come to the Bliss House to conduct research. Bliss House, which originally stood on Bliss Road, was the township’s first mercantile building from 1838.
Society President Ralph Harkison said he joined the society in the late 1990s after the Bliss House was moved to Main Street. He said his family has been in the area since the early 1830s. The earliest document he has been able to find was for an easement, dated Jan. 1, 1839.
Harkison said the celebration will likely include remembering some of the founders of the society, and people will be able to view some of the earliest pictures of the area.
After the overview of the history of the society, Kane County Sheriff’s Department Lt. Dwight Randall will give a presentation on the new Kane County jail.