History of the Grove


The Treaty of Prairie du Chien between the American government and the Winnebago Indians in 1829

For more illustrations of the history of Rockford, check out the very interesting website at http://rockfordreminisce.com/Main_Lobby.html!

made provisions to furnish land to Indians of mixed blood who did not move westward with their tribe. These grants were to consist of previously undistributed or "floating" lands. Catherine Myott, daughter of a Winnebago Indian and a French soldier, obtained one such "float" of 637 acres, mostly west of the Rock River and containing all of what later became Churchill's Grove.

During the Civil War this land was turned into a Union training camp, which took the name of its organizer, Adjutant General Allan C. Fuller, a resident of Belvidere. Fuller was responding to a presidential call for army volunteers in July 1862, when he set up the camp in what had by then become "Churchill's Woods." Much of Catherine Myotts's "Float" had been acquired by one Phineas Churchill, a farmer who in 1862 leased his cornfields to the U.S. Army.

(map reprinted with permission of Rockford Historical Society)

The barracks for Camp Fuller were bounded by what later became Guard Street on the south, Post Avenue on the west, and Auburn Street on the north. The original hospital can still be seen at 1260 North Main.

The 74th Regiment, which trained at Camp Fuller under the command of Colonel Jason Marsh, fought in numerous battles in the Mississippi River campaign. The trainees of Camp Fuller distinguished themselves in Grant's conquest of Tennessee; Colonel Marsh won renown and suffered a wound at Mission Ridge in 1863. Although the 74th was disbanded at Nashville only at the end of the war, in January 1863, Camp Fuller, its point of origin, had already been closed down. Churchill's Woods would again be covered with corn stalks.

In April 1882, four prominent citizens of Rockford, Hosmer P. Holland, William Lathrop, Levi Rhoades, and H.W. Price, bought 29 acres abutting the Rock River for $7200. By 1925 the value of this acreage had risen manifold and on Harlem Boulevard, and later National Avenue, could be found some of the most stately homes and famous personalities of the Northern Illinois region. The industrialists Charles Brantingham, Winthrop Ingersoll and Frithiof Nelson, the inventor Seth B. Atwood, the department store magnate Charles Von Weise, and the banker W. T. Robertson were all among National Avenue's early residents.  

Just north of the Grove lies Greenwood Cemetery.  Greenwood is the final resting place for a large number of men and women who played significant roles in the early history of the City of Rockford, of the State of Illinois and even of the United States generally.  For an interesting summary of the contributions and sacrifices of these men and women, review the remarks given by City Administrator Jim Ryan on the occasion of the dedication of the Veterans Memorial Circle at the Roundabout on Nov. 8, 2013.

Today, Churchill's Grove (legally known as Riverside Addition) can boast of a superabundance of architecturally-striking homes. The styles range from Victorian frame, American Tudor, Dutch Colonial, and Edwardian to at least one example of the Prairie architecture first developed by Frank Lloyd Wright in the 1890's. The charming mix of late Victorian and American Midwestern architectures gives to Churchill's Grove the kind of ambiance also found in the old Chicago suburb of Oak Park. In a report financed by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, twenty-four homes in Churchill's Grove have been deemed worthy of historic preservation. Numerous newspaper articles and a booklet on National Avenue provide information on the histories of many of the homes in the area.