Roscoe Township Historical Society seeking antiques for upcoming sale


Robert Cross house, November 2019

Roscoe Township Historical Society is seeking donations of antique pieces - anything over 50 years old - to be placed in an upcoming sale on Sept. 24-25.

All of the proceeds from the sale will help restore the Robert Cross Homestead. This unique place of interest in Roscoe holds a strong history.

Arrangements can be made for a drop off of donations for the upcoming sale by calling the Roscoe Township Historical Society at 815-828-6107.

Sale dates are Saturday, Sept. 24 and Sunday, Sept. 25 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Both days, antique lovers and bargain hunters can come out to show support for one of Roscoe's most treasured places that continues to honor and preserve our history.

The Robert Cross home was built in 1842 and remained in Robert Cross's family until it was purchased by the Hulbert family in 1942. An addition was put on the house in the 1940's. After the 17-acre property was acquired by Roscoe Township, the Township leased the home to the Roscoe Township Historical Society. The rest of the property will become Founders Park, complete with a Community Center, at 4562 Hononegah Road near Frances Lane and Prairie Rose Drive.

About Robert J. Cross 

Robert Cross was the first non-indigenous settler in Roscoe. In August 1835, he ventured into northern Winnebago County from Coldwater, Michigan and bought a claim from one of Stephen Mack's French-speaking employees. 

This claim became known as “Cross Grove”in the southwest quarter of section 32 of Roscoe Township, presently known as Edgemere Terrace. Mr. Cross's claim was the first in the town for the purpose of permanent settlement and cultivation.

The original farm was two miles northwest of what became Roscoe and lay on both sides of what is now known as Hononegah Road.  Later Cross built another homestead farther up the road, which will be the centerpiece of Founders Park.

Cross assisted at the origination of Winnebago County. He was a member of the election board for the first election to ever be held in Winnebago County. At their first meeting he was elected by the County Commissioners as County Treasurer.

In 1841, when the Winnebago County Agricultural Society was organized, Robert J. Cross served as the Vice President.

Cross was elected by the Whigs as a representative to the Illinois General Assembly. He was also a delegate to the convention that framed the first constitution of the State of Illinois. In 1849 Cross wrote a letter to then Congressmen Abraham Lincoln of Illinois.

In 1869 Cross was unanimously nominated by the Republicans for membership of the Convention that formed the present Illinois Convention. Later he was elected as one of three members from Winnebago, and Boone Counties to the General Assembly. He was chairman of the board for several years, until the time of his death.

Cross was also the Township School Fund Trustee for over 30 years. During that time the Township never suffered from a loss of funds being loaned on insufficient securities, unlike other Townships in those days.

Cross was also one of the founding members of Roscoe United Methodist Church.

About the Roscoe Township Historical Society

Laura (McAffee) Zwart is the current president of Roscoe Township Historical Society. Zwart has special ties to the homestead. "My father was born in that house," Zwart said.

Roscoe Township Historical Society was incorporated on Nov. 13, 2018. Bernard Sundstedt was RTHS's first President. The society was brought together with the main objective of preserving and sharing the history of Roscoe. 

Renovations to the Cross Home started two years ago and have been ongoing. “There is work being done on the inside of the house,” Zwart said.

“We have been very blessed to get good donations to be used toward the renovations. Apex put on a new roof, local unions are providing assistance. Electrical, plumbing, heating and other services have been given to date.”

Roscoe Garage Door supplied a door for free. Pella discounted new windows. “Phil Rymer, who is on the Roscoe Township board, has done a lot of labor for us,” Zwart said.

More windows need to be replaced in the main part of the house. Removal of paint from the 19th century brick on the house's exterior is estimated to cost $36,000.

A partnership was formed between Roscoe Township Historical Society and Roscoe Township to develop the property into a public-use space. The Township is creating a community center, which is currently under construction, as well as gardens, paths, and a multi-use outdoor shelter to be used for public performances and gatherings.

Since their inception, the historical society honored long-time Roscoe businesses with the Heritage Enterprise Recognition at last year's Fall Festival.

Three local and family owned businesses received this honor for making a cultural, social and economic commitment or investment in Roscoe Township.

The 2021 “Building a Home for our History” fundraiser and the "Baking a Home for our History" cookie exchange event are two ways that the RTHS began to raise money to attain future goals.

Historical education came to life through several presentations, including one at First Congregational Church in Roscoe plus a nighttime event at Roscoe United Methodist Church reflecting on the history of local schools.

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