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Pioneer Families of Tower Lakes


In 1833, the Potawatomi Indians agreed to leave their land in northeast Illinois, including what is now Tower Lakes, within 3 years in exchange for acreage west of the Mississippi. Many of them began the move west immediately, and by 1834 settlers began to move in. Although Illinois had been a state since 1818, only the lower 2/3 was populated by settlers at that time. Northern Illinois was Indian land. Chicago in the late 1820ís was a village of a few dozen homes clustered around Ft. Dearborn. However, it grew explosively in the 1830ís and 40ís, especially after the Treaty of 1833. The federal government encouraged the migration west by offering to sell the newly acquired land cheap. In 1833, this poem appeared in a Boston newspaper:

Come leave the fields of childhood, Worn out by long employ
And travel west and settle, In the state of Illinois.

The 1830ís homesteaders staked claims to the good farmland, built log cabins and patiently waited until 1840 for the US government to finish surveying the land so they could buy it at the promised bargain price of $1.25 an acre. There were no roads near Tower Lakes, only a military trail that passed through the southern end of the present Cuba Township, and many Indian trails. The pioneers made their way out into the wilderness from Chicago or Little Fort (Waukegan) in wagons and ox carts and had a lifestyle similar to that described in Wilderís "Little House on the Prairie". The Potawatomi occasionally returned for short visits and were generally friendly.

From the 1830ís until the 1920ís, three hardy and colorful families farmed the majority of todayís Tower Lakes land, the Davlins, Murrays and Brooksí. Their descendants were involved not only in the development of Tower Lakes, where streets are named for them, but Barrington and Wauconda as well. The following is a summary of the information we have on them. If you know more, weíd love to hear from you so this history can continue to improve.


Before there was a tower or a lake, the Tower Lakes area was known as Davlinís Corners. The Davlins were Lake County pioneers who helped build the town of Wauconda as well as the largest farm in Cuba Township and, eventually, the lake in Tower Lakes.

In around 1836, one of the first settlers to arrive in the future Cuba Township was Hugh Davlin, with his wife Rose and several children. Hugh and Rose were born and married in Ireland and had earlier settled in Troy, NY, as had a few of their Illinois neighbors. (These neighbors later tried to name the Township "Troy" when it was organized in 1850, but it was changed to "Cuba" after they discovered the name Troy had already been taken). The family came west, probably by boat through the Erie Canal and across Lake Erie, then out from Chicago with oxen & carts. They claimed 80 acres of government land, as superimposed on this 1993 village map, and built a log cabin.

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Hugh chose this land because, among other things, it lay at the intersection of two Indian trails. He may have anticipated that wagon roads were sure to follow the trails, and he was right. Hugh traded with the Indians, and they showed him how to build a new kind of cellar to store his produce.

Hugh & Roseís youngest son, Hugh Jr., was the first white child born in the Township in 1837, according to family obituaries. Rose is believed to have died in 1837, possibly in childbirth. In 1841, Hugh and 8 of his Irish Catholic fellow settlers, including brothers John & Michael Murray, organized a church and in 1844 constructed one of the first church buildings in Lake County. It was built on land owned by John Murray in present Fremont Township, a few miles northeast of Hugh, and just east of the settlement of Wauconda. The log church was called St. Johnís Mission and stood at the Murray Settlement where the Wauconda Transfiguration Churchís cemetery is today, across from the entrance to Lakewood Forest Preserve. Stained glass windows in the Transfiguration Church depict the first services in the Murray's cabin as well as the log church.

Hugh Davlin soon bought 240 additional adjacent acres from his neighbors to the east and west and expanded the farm as shown:

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Hugh died March 23, 1847 at age 46. Justus Bangs, the founder of Wauconda, was appointed the executor of his will. His children, James, John, Margaret, Charles, and Hugh (ages ~10-19) were moved a few miles north to Goodale (now Grant) Township, to live with friends or relatives, but the farm stayed in the family, divided equally among the four boys, and tended by neighbor William Fleming. Hugh and Rose's sons apparently inherited the spirit of adventure from their adventuring parents.

Around 1850-51 James followed the Oregon Trail west to Oregon, taking up farm land there that is still in his family. Johnís fate after 1854 is unknown. The 3rd oldest son, Charles, took over the family farm sometime before 1860, sharing the residence with his sister Margaret.

In 1857, the Davlin School district was organized and land for it was donatedschool.jpg (85325 bytes) by Charles at what had become known as Davlinís Corners. The frame school building was built by David McClane and was called the Davlin School. The first seats and desks were carved from logs.

Hugh Jr. enlisted in the Civil War, probably 1861-65. He was apparently in the 1st Illinois Artillery regiment, Battery B, which served with General Sherman in Georgia.

Meanwhile, in 1860, 24 year old Charles went west with a gold rush and took up a claim of several hundred acres of land in Prickly Pear Valley Montana, which he farmed for about six years before selling and returning to Illinois. On his return, he decided to take an alternate route to avoid hijackers preying on gold miners. However, his horse stepped in a prairie dog hole and broke its leg. Charles also broke his leg in the fall. Unable to walk, he was forced to spend the winter on the prairie in a sod shanty he built, living off the remains of his horse. In the spring, he traded his rifles to some passing Sioux Indians for a horse, and rode home to Illinois. He walked with a limp for the rest of his life. After returning, he worked in Chicago until about 1869, where he was in charge of the horse-drawn cable cars.

In the late 1860ís (1865 or 1869) Charles and his spinster sister Margaret, who had been watching the familyís farm in Cuba Township, built a new frame house on the property, which still stands today at 108 East Tower Dr. in Tower Lakes. In 1867 & '68, Charles bought out James & Hugh Jr.'s shares of the farm. Davlin's Corners now included not only the school, but also Brandy Walker's Blacksmith Shop. Charles married Mary Nimsgearn of Wauconda in 1871. They had 5 daughters and two boys, one of whom died as a youngster. In 1877, Charles Davlin and the Murray families of Wauconda, among others, built a new larger Catholic Church in Transfiguration Church.jpg (48609 bytes)the Wauconda village center to replace the one his father had helped build east of town. Charles, his younger brother Hugh Jr. and James Murray were 3 of the first trustees of the new church, called Transfiguration Church. This building also still stands. 

Hugh Davlin Jr. had returned from the war, married Julia Murray and was living on the Fremont Township farm of her father, Michael Murray, which was across the road from the John Murray farm where the first church had been. Hugh and Julia moved into a house in nearby Wauconda Township while still working on her father's farm and raising a family. They moved west to Nebraska in the 1880's or 90's.

Charles Davlin continued to expand his farm at Davlin's Corners to what was at one time the largest in Cuba Township, perhaps at times as much as 800 acres. He became quite influential in Lake County politics and was Cuba Township assessor from 1873 to 1898. In 1900, his 19 year old daughter Priscilla Davlin, who then lived at home, was working as a school teacher, most likely at the Davlin School. In 1910, Charles and Mary along with sister Margaret moved off the farm, into a house on Bangís Lake in Wauconda, 3 miles north. They left the farming and old house to the surviving son, Vincent E. Davlin and his wife Edna. Charles was remembered as one of the first in Wauconda to own a car. He died in 1915 at the age of 79.

Vincent Davlin and his wife Edna had 2 children, Charlie E. and Marian, who grew up on the farm and attended the Davlin School next door. In the 1920ís Vincent and young Charlie experimented with dam building. With the consent of the Paddock and Murray families, they succeeded in creating a lake on Mud Creek in the lowland of their adjacent farms. In 1925, Vincent and his western neighbors sold several hundred acres, including the lake, to Chicago evangelist Paul Rader. Vincent & Edna moved to his motherís lakeside house in Wauconda, leaving 23 year old Charlie to tend the remaining easternHoney Hill Beach.jpg (35587 bytes) portion of the farm. For a time, Charlie rented the family farmhouse from the new developers. His parents' house in town later became known as Honey Hill, one of Waucondaís many summer resorts. The resort no longer exists, having been replaced by a townhouse development in 2002, also called Honey Hill.

Charlie E. Davlin continued to be interested in building lakes. He had the idea to build a dam in the mid-1920ís on the neighboring Miller farm, which his father and grandfather had once owned, resulting in todayís Lake Barrington. He owned an excavating company, Davlin Construction, for 40 years and was a volunteer fireman for the same period. He was a director of Wauconda National Bank, a Wauconda Village Trustee 1941-53 and Mayor ofcedavlin.jpg (62497 bytes) Wauconda 1953-57. He sold most of the remaining farmland east of Barrington Road to developers, and much of this area was subsequently also incorporated into Tower Lakes. In about 1960, he bought some land along Mud Creek, just upstream of Tower Lake, and widened the creek out into what is now called Davlinís Pond. He sold this land to his younger sister Marian and her husband George Klupar, who developed it in the 1970ís as a sub-division (Marian Hills), now part of Tower Lakes. Charlieís company also did some dredging of the main lake in the 1960ís and built the soccer field. He passed away in 1996 at the age of 94.


John Murray and his wife Mary were both born in Ireland in the 1790ís. Mary was from County Cork. Their two oldest sons, Dennis and Owen, were born in New York. They came to Illinois in 1843-4 and bought 80 acres of US government land west of Hugh Davlinís property, where their third son John was born soon after they arrived.

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The elder John Murray was very likely somehow related to the John/ Michael/ Martin Murray brothers from Wexford, Ireland in nearby Wauconda and Fremont Townships, which Hugh Davlin Jr. married into (see Davlin story above). They attended the same Catholic church and are buried in the church cemetery on Murray land in Fremont Township (the Murray Settlement). There was also a James Murray who was the first owner of the eastern portions of the Davlin's farm plus land in Wauconda Twp. He seems to be gone from the area by 1860. However, we have not yet been able to document any family relationships between these groups of Murray families who came here from Ireland at about the same time.

The oldest son, Dennis, fought in the Civil War. He returned to Illinois, married Catharine, an Irish girl from Massachusetts, and settled on his fatherís farm, which he bought in 1867. The farm grew to 144 acres:

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Dennis and Catharine had 10 children between 1868 and 1889. Dennis died in 1894 at age 64, leaving his wife to care for the farm with their younger children.

In 1908 Catharine died, leaving most of the farm to her youngest son, Raymond F. Murray (1882-1963) who lived in one of the farmís houses with his youngest sister Ethel. One of his brothers, E. Lee Murray, lived in another house with his wife and son. An older sister, Agnes, was also part owner. As shown on the above map, some of the Murray land was flooded when the south portion of the lake was created in the 1920's. The main house location seems to have moved from 1861 to 1885 to 1907. The first one was behind 27032 Robin Rd. and the last one was near 27009 West Lake Shore Dr. and the present dam, (that house was torn down by Mr. Barsumian after TLIA declined his offer in 1931 to give it for use as a Community Center).

In 1925, Ray & Agnes sold nearly all of their farm, including the lakeshore, to Chicago evangelist Paul Rader at the same time as the Davlins, Paddocks and others did.


John Lewis Brooks was born in Boston in 1817, the son of a Boston Alderman. jlbrooks.jpg (54775 bytes)He first visited the future Cuba Township in 1837, settled in Chicago and started a newspaper, the Western American Whig. It was said to be the second paper started in Chicago and the first abolition journal in the West. After a few years, he returned to New York, became ordained as a Baptist minister in 1845 and returned to Illinois. In 1845, he bought 80 acres of government land on section 15, south of Flint Creek, in what is now Lake Barrington. In 1847, he helped organize the earliest Baptist church in Barrington, which met in a schoolhouse on Penny Road and, after 1853, across the street in the Old South Church at Barrington Center (now South Barrington/Barrington Hills). He was pastor there on alternate Sundays until 1855, riding 10 miles each way on horseback from his farm.

He married Mary Winch of Wauconda in 1848. In 1857 Rev. Brooks, or "Elder Brooks" as he was known, sold his 80 acres and bought a 120-acre farm farther north in Cuba Township in what is now Tower Lakes:

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The farmhouse was on the north side of the road now called Roberts Rd, near 717 & 721 Circle Dr. Starting in 1849, Elder Brooks also began helping organize the Baptist congregation in Wauconda. In 1855 or 57 he took over as pastor of the congregation, a post which he held until 1874 and then intermittently through 1886. In 1856, they joined with the Methodists in building a jointly occupied church building. In 1870, Elder Brooks led the Baptists in building their own church building across the street. Baptist Church.jpg (52883 bytes)In 1915, the Methodist and Baptist congregations united (federated). The Methodist Church was picked up and moved when IL Rt. 176 was improved in 1929 and it was joined together with the Baptistís building to form what is today the Federated Church building at the corner of Barrington Rd. and Rt. 176.

Rev. and Mary Brooks had five children, three of whom survived into adulthood. Their oldest son was Eugene W. Brooks, born on the new farm in 1858. Eugene (E.W.) became "one of the widest known men in Lake County". He was Postmaster of Wauconda for 13 years, president of the Bank of Wauconda, Wauconda Township Supervisor, Wauconda Village Trustee, Mayor of Wauconda (1903-06) and Justice of the Peace at the time of his death in 1915. He also once operated a general store and was active in real estate. He was a large rotund man who was a familiar figure in both Wauconda and Barrington.

E.W.ís older sister, Florence May Brooks, was born in 1853. With her brother and sister, she attended the Davlin School, and later she apparently also taught there. She married William Paddock of Cary in 1879. William had been a lumberman, stone mason, and for a time even drove a horse-drawn cable car in Chicago, like Charles Davlin. After a year running a meat market in Cary, the couple moved back onto her fatherís farm and helped run the place, which they acquired after Rev. Brooks died in 1900. William Paddock was Cuba Township Tax Collector for 2 years and Township Highway Commissioner for 14 years.

In 1890 William and Florence Paddock had a son named Leslie Brooks Paddock. Perhaps encouraged by stories of his grandfatherís newspaper experience, Leslie determined to go into the newspaper business. At age 15, he began working the printing press at the Wauconda Leader. At 22, he joined the Barrington Review as a reporter and printer. After 2 years in the Army in WW1, he worked for newspapers in Morris and Harvard. He got married and moved to Barrington in 1919, becoming Editor of the Barrington Review. After 15 years as Editor, he was appointed Postmaster of Barrington, a post he held for 25 years. In 1953, he returned to the Barrington Courier-Review as Editor for another 17 years. In August 1963, Les printed a special edition to commemorate Barrington's Centennial. The following is an excerpt from his editorial in which he mentions two anecdotes from his childhood farm home along what became Roberts Rd in Tower Lakes:

"...Wolves were most numerous. They were the bane of the sheep raisers and the most difficult to get rid of. Stories of wolf hunts were frequently related, and so persistent the farmers in hunting them down that after the Eighties one was rarely seen. I recall one. Working in the cowbarn one morning when a boy of 10 or 12 (1900-1902), a wild-looking bedraggled red dog entered the barn at one door and disappeared out another; on his heels was my father, pitchfork in hand, greeting me with "Where did that wolf go?" By the time we got to the door the animal was almost out of sight across the fields. 

Rattlesnakes were a menace and farmers, their womenfolk and children had to be alert. Grandmother (Mary Brooks) told of opening the kitchen door and stepping out quickly one morning, to find that she had stepped over a rattler curled on the door sill in the sun."

Les retired to Florida in 1970, where he died in 1978. As far as we have been able to determine, there was no family connection between Leslie Brooks Paddock, Editor of the Barrington paper, and the descendants of Hosea Paddock, owners of the Palatine, Arlington Hts and other nearby newspapers (Paddock Publications) from 1872 to present. Just coincidence.

In 1924, William & Florence Paddock sold 70 acres of their 120-acre farm to the Myron H. Detrick & William E. Brooks partnership (D&B). This was soon after the construction of the lake and many of these acres were under water. William E. Brooks was the son of William Brooks, formerly the owner of the farm next door to the east*. D&B subdivided this into 165 lots called Tower Lake Park. In May 1925, not long after the subdivision plat was finalized, the Paddocks sold their remaining 50 acres to Chicago evangelist Paul Rader, who also bought most of Tower Lake Park from D&B as well as hundreds of acres around the lake from the Davlins and Murrays. The Paddocks bought several lots from D&B the same day and proceeded to build a new house for their retirement in Tower Lakes.

*John Lewis Brooks was likely somehow related to the pioneer William Brooks family in the nearby Slocum Lake area of Wauconda Township. They attended the same church and are buried in the same church cemetery. William Brooks (1830-1903) came from Lincolnshire, England between 1853-1860 and owned a farm southeast of Slocumís Lake and also in 1878 bought the farm immediately east of John Lewis Brooksí farm in Cuba Township. That property passed in 1904 to Williamís daughter Lillie H. Toynton and to his son-in-law William Toynton who owned it until 1917. William Brooks' son, William E. Brooks (1877-1955), was a Wauconda farmer and realtor and the partner of Myron H. Detrick in D&B who bought part of the Brooks/Paddock farm, started to develop Tower Lake Park and claimed to have had the idea for building the lake and the tower. However, we have not yet been able to document any family relationships between John Lewis Brooks, whose family was from Boston, and William Brooks, who was born 13 years later in Lincolnshire, England. We do know they both bought farms southwest of Wauconda in the 1850's and for a time even owned adjacent parcels, and their children worked together to start Tower Lakes.

Compiled by Trustee David Parro, 12/00.

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