The Legacy of Federated Church
After DeKalb County was created by the Illinois Legislature in 1837, Sycamore quietly began the construction of a 20×30 foot, two-story building on the south side of what is now West State Street. With a “courthouse” already underway, Sycamore citizens persisted in establishing their town as the county seat and ultimately prevailed. And so, on the first Monday of June, 1839, the first session of the Court met in the new building, still very rough and incomplete.
A year later (April 11, 1840), the courthouse also housed the newly organized First Congregational Church. Prior to and during that time, founding members met in the homes of members. One of those homes was that of Deacon Jesse Kellogg at 232 South Main Street, which is still a residence. In the spring of 1846, construction of a permanent house of worship began. Captain Eli Barnes donated the land east of the court house square. Even though construction began in 1846, the building was not dedicated until January 1, 1852. Later, the church was sold to the First Church of Christ Scientists.
The original structure has been razed and the DeKalb County Public Safety Building (jail) occupies that property. The Congregationalists began construction of a new stone church in 1884. The building, which is a Sycamore landmark, still stands. At present it is a Baptist church located at 302 Somonauk Street. Over the years it also has served as The Peoples Church and also the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints. On October 10, 1910, O.T. Willard formed the first Boy Scout Troop in Sycamore at the church and today Federated remains home to a boy scout troop.
During this time, The Universalist Church was also holding services in the old court house, beginning in 1845. In 1853 a Society was organized and erected a building at 212 South Main Street in 1854. This building is now a residence. In 1875 the Universalist Society erected a handsome brick structure at 425 West State Street at a cost of $13,500. This building still stands, serving the city as a Community Center and, more recently, the home to the Midwest Natural History Museum.
On January 11, 1927, the two congregations met at their respective churches and voted to merge. The Universalist had 50 members and the Congregational had 149 members present at their meetings. Federated Church became a reality when the first service of the newly christened Federated Church was held on January 23, 1927. That memorable service was conducted by Rev. H.S. Roblee in the old Congregational Church building at 302 Somonauk Street.
Through a generous gift of the Jane W. Dutton family, a stately residence at 612 West State Street was deeded to the Federated Church in 1955. The home was razed and the lot became the location for the present building, which was completed in 1963. On March 10, 1963, the church held a service of dedication and on March 31, 1974, Rev. Donald Bourne held a service celebrating the retirement of the new building’s debt.
David West, born 1806 in New York. The 1850 census listed him living in Sycamore with his wife, Lucinda, and their six children. He was active in the underground railroad.
Jesse Kellogg, born 1806 in New York. The 1850 census showed him living in Sycamore with his wife Phoebe and their 5 children. Jesse was the first Deacon of the Congregational Church and was also active in the underground railroad.
Carlos Lattin (Sycamore’s founder), born 1813 in Connecticut. The 1850 census showed him living in Sycamore with his wife Nancy and 1 child. He was the first person to build a log home in what is now downtown Sycamore. His second home still stands at 307 Somonauk Street.
Brig. General Dutton, born in 1838 in New Hampshire. He was a banker and active in the Universalist Church.
1927 Board of Directors:
C.D. Rogers—Dry Goods Store Owner
H.H. Parke—DeKalb County Soil Improvement Association
J.W. Becker—Idea Industries
W.M. McAllister—Dry Goods Store Owner
A.D. Gates—Shoe Store Owner
A.H. Holcomb—Lumber & Coal Owner
Rev. H.S. Roblee—Pastor