It is difficult after over 100 years to piece together a story and try to distinguish between fact and rumor. Each story has several versions. On June 7, 1861, in the town of Lane, a row of elevators and grain warehouses were burned. That same day a group of citizens met at the Republican Hall and a committee started to investigate. The Board of Trustees hired a detective from Chicago who gained the confidence of Thomas D. Burke. Mr. Burke had come from Kentucky, and was thought to be a Southern sympathizer. A trial was started in the three-story building on the corner of Cherry and Washington Sts. The testimony of the detective convinced many that Burke was indeed guilty.

At noontide several people went home to eat, and during this time a few took matters in their hands and hanged Thomas Burke. This was on June 19, 1861. A special edition of the Lane Leader gave the story on June 20, 1861. On June 29, 1861 the Winnipisaukee Gazette in New Hampshire had a long article which said: "A correspondent of the Chicago Tribune, writing from Lane, Ogle county, Ill., gives an account of the hanging of a man by a mob." This incident gave Lane the nickname of "Hangtown."

Local people decided that the only way to get rid of that name would be to change the name of the town. A few men were sitting in a drug store talking about the possibilities and one of them noticed the bottle of Rochelle Salts (a cathartic) on the shelf and said what the town needed was "a good cleaning out." His suggestion was voted upon and Rochelle became official in 1866.


Bicentennial History of Ogle County 1976, Published and edited by Ogle County American Revolution Bicentennial Commission, 1976, page 253.