Past, Present & Future
The first settlement in Crawford County was established in the spring of 1849, by Cornelius Dunham and Franklin Prentice, who named the first community Dunham’s Grove.
These early settlers came after hunters and trappers who had been through the area earlier told them of its many resources. Franklin Prentice erected for Mr. Dunham the first house in the county, a log house, with a door made of one slab hewn from a large black walnut tree. These first log cabins were built in and around groves so there was access to wood and water.
The greatest factor in the development of later Crawford County is the extension of the railroad to the area. The main line of the Northwestern Railroad was laid from Denison westward around 1866, and the majority of the newcomers settled near the railroad lines. The areas farther away from the railroad, like that which became Aspinwall, grew at a much slower pace.
The railroad allowed the communities in Crawford County to trade with distant locales, mostly sending hogs and cattle to Chicago. With a successful trade operation, the towns enjoyed some prosperity and were free to develop and set about with internal improvements, thus realizing the ideal lives which they originally sought. Over time, the towns of Crawford County strengthened their economies as well as their sense of community, and built a strong and respectable foundation. From those farming roots, Crawford County is still growing into a thriving trading center and promises to continue to do so for quite some time.