ROSCOE - Rockton might tout settler Stephen Mack, but Roscoe Township can celebrate Robert J. Cross.
The township is expecting a big turnout for the dedication ceremony of the Robert J. Cross Memorial Park, set for 1 p.m. Saturday at 11588 Cedarbrook Road.
Between 50 and 70 families who descended from Cross were invited as well as township officials and others proud of Roscoe's first settler. There will be enough chairs for 250 people, and ice cream served at the end of the big event, according to Supervisor Jim Benkovich.
The Roscoe VFW will be presenting colors, and keynote speaker Bernie Sundsted will give a presentation on the life of Cross. Visitors will be able to view the brass plaque featuring information about Cross which is mounted on a pedestal. There will be five information panels in a semi-circle around the back of the plaque providing details about his life.
In July of 2017, the Roscoe Township Board of Supervisors voted to change the name of Hawes Park to Robert J. Cross Park in honor of his contributions to settlement of the Roscoe area and his role in the local, county and state government. The park was previously named after former trustee and supervisor Tom Hawes who came up with the idea for the park.
Benkovich said the upcoming dedication ceremony will help develop a further awareness of the heroic life of Robert J Cross.
"He was not only an incredible example a developer, but a person who devoted his life to education and making Roscoe the community it is," Benkovich said.
Cross was Roscoe's first resident. He stopped at Stephen Mack's trading post and bought a claim which came to be known as Cross Grove in the Southwest Quarter of Section 32 of Roscoe Township in the present area of Edgemere Terrace. The farm was two miles northwest of Roscoe and was located on both sides of what is now Hononegah Road. The Cross home is located on the north side of Hononegah Road, constructed between 1841-1843.
Cross was one of the judges at the first election held in Winnebago County and was chosen as the first county treasurer.
In 1845 he was chosen as a member of the state legislature, and the next year a member of the constitutional convention.
In 1846 he was elected by the Whigs as a representative to the general assembly for his county.
In 1860 he was elected Town of Roscoe Supervisor.
In 1870 Cross was, for the a second time, chosen as a representative to the state constitutional convention that formed the Illinois Constitution and was again chosen as representative to the Illinois General Assembly.
Upon his death in Springfield, both the House of Representatives and the Senate passed resolutions honoring his services, adjourned and sent delegations to Roscoe to honor him at his funeral.