Chicago Tribune, February 18, 1900
About the naming of the myriad suburbs of Chicago cling many pleasant stories. They begin with the coming to the almost trackless prairie and woodland of the pioneers of the early ’30s and they are still developing as tract after tract is subdivided and added to the list.
These outlying districts naturally divide themselves, like “All Gaul” of the school boy’s “Caesar’s Commentaries,” into three parts, emulating the chief geographical sections of Chicago itself. There is the north shore region, which fringes the beach of Lake Michigan. With this are associated the group that clusters along the upper Desplaines River and the scattered places in between the shore line and the little stream to the northwest. Then there are the western suburbs. The third group includes the settlements to the south, southwest, and southeast, the last mentioned snuggling close under the bend of Lake Michigan.
Of the north shore and kindred suburbs Philip Rogers was the pioneer. Rogers Park perpetuates his name. Evanston, known by other titles in its early days, stands now as a monument to Dr. John Evans. Some of the others perpetuate Indian names. Still others, from natural conditions, suggested names for themselves.
Stories of the nomenclature of some of the northern and northwestern suburbs are given herewith.
Philip Rogers was the pioneer of the region occupied by the north shore suburbs, and it was after him that Rogers Park was named. The place is now a part of the City of Chicago, but in 1836, when Mr. Rogers came West from Watertown, N.Y., it was prairie and woodland, trackless except for Indian trails and deer runs and a single road. The journey of nine miles to the courthouse in Chicago then was perilous and tedious. Now one can make it by steam or street railway while he is scanning his morning paper.
A portion of the north limits of Rogers Park is bounded by what is known as Rogers avenue, formerly the old Indian boundary line which runs from Lake Michigan is a southwesterly direction to the Fox or Illinois River, and is the boundary line between the land obtained by the United States from the Indians in 1816 and that purchased from them in 1833.
Ownership of the land now covered the greater part of Chicago was held by the Chippewa and Ottawa Indians some time after the first settlement beside “Chicago Creek” was made. In 1816, after the close of the war of 1812, a conference was called of the chiefs of the Chippewas and Ottawas and of representatives of the United States at St. Louis, resulting among other things in the purchase by the United States of the title of the land embraced between the two lines, starting at the shore of Lake Michigan, ten miles on each side of “Chicago Creek,” and running southwesterly to the waters of the Kankakee, Illinois, and Fox Rivers. The south line starts at the mouth of the Calumet River, the north at a point in section 29 known as the Indian boundary line, which is now Rogers avenue.
The lines bounded by the purchase were surveyed in 1821. The land between them was immediately thrown open to preemption and homestead claim. The growth of Chicago dates from that time, but to the north of Rogers avenue, or the Indian boundary line, there was no road, and no white settlement south of those at Green Bay and Milwaukee, on land which was purchased after the St. Louis convention, until 1833.
In September of that year the Ottawa, Chippewa, and Pottawotamie chiefs of the country about Chicago were again called together to consult the government officers, this time in Chicago. As a result of this powwow the land north of the Indian boundary line, or Rogers avenue, extending to the northern purchase and west to the Mississippi River, supposed to contain about 5,000,000 acres, was purchased by the government.
The first road to the north, the old Green Bay road, was surveyed and laid out along the high ground that year. In the following year it was cut to a width of two rods as far as Milwaukee, and was improved with corduroy through the swamps and log bridges over the streams. This thoroughfare, now known as Ridge boulevard, extends far to the north through what is now important, intellectual, ambitious, and wealthy Evanston, of which Philip Rogers is also the accounted pioneer settler. The first structure built on this broad avenue, now lined with the costly residences of Evanston, was the log cabin of Philip Rogers.
Mr. Rogers from time to time bought land from the United States government. and in 1856, when he died, he owned 1,600 acres. Included in this tract were the sites of the present suburbs of Rogers Park, Ravenswood, Sheridan Park, and Sunnyside Park. Some of the giant trees now standing in Sunnyside Park were planted by Philip Rogers.
Mr. Rogers’ large estate went to his daughter, Catherine C. Rigers, now Mrs. P.L. Touhy. She and her family reside in the old homestead built in 1871, in what is now North Clark street. formerly the Indian trail between Fort Dearborn and Green Bay. Black Partridge’s wigwam used to stand beneath the oak trees that now surround this building. Among the celebrated persons who have tasted the hospitality of the descendants of Philip Rogers were Charles Stewart Parnell, John Fitzgerald, Bishop De Koven, and General Phil Sheridan. In the yard is a relic of the old Chicago Courthouse, an ornamental stone corner piece saved during the great fire.
The descendants of Philip Rogers now living are: Mrs. P.L. Touhy, her four daughters and two sons—Maybell, Catherine (now Mrs. Edwar W. Cullen), Alice, and Grace, and S. Rogers Touhy and Joseph Tpuhy. All reside in Rogers Park.
Philip Rogers is described as a large man, whose resemblance to Henry Irving was so strong that two descendants having no photograph or other likeness of him, keep in the old homestead a profile picture of the English actor so that they may show their friends how the pioneer of the north shore looked.
Evanston, which was not born a Chicago suburb, but had its suburban honors thrust upon it by the swelling of a city that would not be pent up, will be a monument, while its name endures, to the memory of Dr. John Evans, a Chicagoan of pioneer days, who fancied the pretty lake shore retreat and built himself a summer house there in the ’40s. Dr. Evans was afterward the virtual founder of Denver, Territorial Governor of Colorado, and in time Senator from the Centennial State, but for Chicago he never did anything else so famous as leaving his name ton the north shore college town.
In the days when Indians camped on the “ridge,” it was known as Gross Point, and this was still the name when Philip Rogers built a log cabin there in 1836, and burned charcoal which he hauled to what was then of Chicago with an ox team. In 1850 the name was changed to “Ridgeland,” in deference to the backbone of high ground extending through the low, swampy region.
The high tone of public sentiment which later insisted on the “four-mile limit” in order to conserve Evanston morals and society was in embargo in the community even then, for the new town of Ridgeland had to take continued and emphatic disavowal of all participation in or sympathy for the duello, either as principal or second.
Northwestern University, with whose fame the name of Evanston is bound up, was started practically in 1854, though it had been chartered in 1851. The first quarterly conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church in Evanston (or Ridgeland) was held in July, 1854, and the same year the present university site was purchased. The old Chicago and Milwaukee railroad reached the town also that year.
Still the dominant idea in the minds of the leading men was to keep the town an educational center and remote from such ensnaring influences to Chicago, eleven miles away. It is not generally known that the Town of Jefferson was an applicant for the university seat, and came near getting it, but it was too near to Chicago, and Rigeland’s relative remoteness, as well as the lakeshore, gave it the prize.
In 1857 Ridgeland, as the name of the town, made place for “Evanston” in recognition of Dr. Evans as official title, and in 1873 the village, now the city, was separated from the rest of the town and took up its independence existence as a suburb of Chicago. Instead of being a mere university town it has become the home of a mixed population of many thousands, but in a sense the intention of the founders has been carried out through all vicissitudes, and it is still a college seat unsurpassed in the country for the safeguards, with which it surrounds its resident student body.
William C. Goudy founded Argyle Park, and he so named it as a tribute to the memory of his mother. Mrs. Goudy was of Scotch descent. She loved the name “Argyle,” and her son not only called the suburb after this shire, but he gave Scotch names to all the streets laid out in the palce, such as Kenmore, Auslie, Aberdeen, and Glengyle.
Mr. Goudy bought the site, five and one-half miles north of the City Hall, and with a frontage of half a mile on Lake Michigan, in 1872. It was then a tract of sandy shore land, partkly covered with oaks and with no buildings except an old-time farmhouse. A little of it was cultivated, but it was used mostly as a hunting and picnic ground.
The panic of 1873 retarded Mr. Goudy’s plans, but ten years later, partly to develop the property, its owner procured the construction of the Evanston and Lake Superior railroad, now the Evansto division of the St. Paul line. The road began service in 1884, and Mr. Goudy built at that time the first purely suburban houses erected between the city limits at Fullerton avenue and Evanston. A feature of Argyle Park is its rapid development from a sand dune to a well settled city district, for it is within the present limits of Chicago.
Argyle Park Station
Lake Forest, twenty-nine miles north of Chicago, named itself. The site was a deer park, noted for its large and numerous oaks and ravines, and the place was fringed by Lake Michigan. So when, half a century ago, a real estate association selected it as the location for a city and a university, the members gave the place the name that its natural conditions suggested. Among the men who composed the association were Peter Page, Sylvester Lind, the Rev. Dr. Robert W. Patterson, D.R. Holt, and H.M. Thompson.
The association gave to Lake Forest University one-half the lots it platted, and sold the rest to cancel the purchase price and the expense of laying out the streets after the fashion of a park. The members of the Second and Third Presbyterian Churches of Chicago were responsible largely for the business details of the transaction.
Lake Forest now is a city of from 3,000 to 4,000 inhabitants. Edward F. Gorton is Mayor. Among the prominent men who have made the place their home are Byron L. Smith, Marvin Hughitt, Granger Farwell, ex-Senator C.B. Farwell, John V. Farwell, Walter Larned, Leander McCormick, and Cyrus H. McCormick.
A notable feature of Lake Forest is the Onwentsia Golf club.
About the naming of Glencoe there are two stories. One is that Walter Gurnee gave it its appellation because he loved the good old Scotch name. Another is that Matthew Coe, an early settler, was so identified with the place that people called the district Coe’s Glen. After a time the cart was put before the horse and the name became Glencoe.
The land on which Glencoe is situated was procured by James Murray and Alexander Brand by patient from the government in 1843. In 1867 Walter Gurnee, Luther Greenleaf, Charles E. Brown, John Nutt, Steven Lunt, and Chancellor Jenks subdivided the land. One year later the Village of Glencoe was incorpoorated.
It was the idea of Mr. Gurnee to make the place his home. He had 2,000 pear and other trees planted, picked out a home site, and was planning to build, when he was persuaded by his wife to go East.The place where Mr. Gurnee had his trees planted is now known as “Pear Orchard.”
A notable landmark in this orchard is a pioneer house made of oak timbers. It was built about fifty years ago by Jerry O’Mahoney in Deerfield. It was moved to the present site by the owner.
Glencoe is nineteen miles north of Chicago.
Joseph Sears founded Kenilworth, fifteen and one-half miles north of Chicago, about fifteen years ago. He purchased a large tract of forest and shore land lying between the northern limits of the Village of Wilmette and the southern limits of the Village of Winnetka. It was Mr. Sears’ idea to build a suburban village that would combine country features and and city improvements. At the time of the purchase of the land was unimproved. Now it has realized plans of its founder.
Mr. and Mrs. Sears, during a trip abroad, visited Kenilworth castle and were much impressed with the place and with the historical romance woven about it by Sir Walter Scott. When Mr. Sears was casting about for a name for his north shore suburb he remembered the trip abroad and called the place Kenilworth.
One of the attractive features of the place is the superior character of the houses and the large grounds. A general plan is to have the lots of at least 100 feet frontage. Many of them increase this to 300 and 400 feet.
Among the institutions of the place are a boarding school for girls, a college preparatory school for boys, and a public school with a kindergarten adjunct. The Northwestern depot is a picturesque structure and a public fountain adds grace to the landscape.
Kenilworth Chicago & Northwestern Station
Buena Park, six miles north of the City Hall, derived its name from the homestead of James B. Waller, wjo was the originator of the suburb. This homestead—called “buena”—occupies a tract of about sixty acres, and is all that is embraced in the sub-division. But by custom all the property from the Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul railway on the west to the lake on the east, and from Irving Park boulevard on the south to Montrose boulevard on the north, comprising about 160 acres, has acquired the right to be called Buena Park. The most conspicuous building in the suburb is the manor house of the Walter family. It is situated in large wooded tract between Evanston and Buena avenues and the Sheridan road.
Mr. Walter bought the land now known as Buena Park from Elisha E. Hundley in 1859 for about $250 an acre. The place now is largely built up with fine residences. Among the promoters of the suburb was the late City Controller, Robert A. Waller, son of James B. Waller.
J. L. Cochran founded and named Edgewater. The name is given because the 350 acre tract comprising the suburb lies along the edge of Lake Michigan. The place is seven miles north of Madison street. Only a few years ago it was practically as nature made it. Now it is laid out in fine streets which are lined with costly residences. The most notable semi-public place in Edgewater is the clubhouse of the Saddle and Cycle club.
Edgewater Saddle and Cycle Club
Chicago Tribune, December 25, 1895
Winnetka was named originally by the Pottawatomie Indians. They called it “Wynetka,” or “Beautiful Land.” So when Charles E. Peck bought the site of the present suburb in 1854 he perpetuated the name given by the aborigines. In 1869 the Village of Winnetka was incorporated. The land now held at a round sum was secured by patent from the United States government in 1843 by Erastus Bowen for $1.25 an acre.
Among the men who are or have been interested in Winnetka holdings are Timothy Wright, Artemus Carter, John Garland, and Gilbert Hubbard, the last named celebrated as the owner of the ravine-traversed “Hubbard woods.” Winnetka is eighteen miles north of Chicago. A unique fact about the village is that it owns and operates its public utilities.
Park Ridge would have been called “Pennyville” if the modesty of George Penny had not stood in the way. It was settled in 1840, but never amounted to much until Mr. Penny mired one of its clay beds in 1854 and, being of a practical mind, determined to stick there and start a brickyard. In 1858 the population decided it wanted a post-office and fixed onn the founder to stand sponsor as well. When he declined the honor the molders and burners took the next suggestion from the environment and named the hamlet “Brickton.” It worried along on this makeshift until the Fourth of July, 1872, when a plethora of fireworks led some unsung genius to paint “Brickton” in big letters on a fire balloon and send the apparatus and uneuphonious label to be consumed together in the upper air. As the balloon flamed up “Park Ridge” was suggested as a new name and uproariously adopted by the mass-meeting of patriots. Village organization dates from 1873.
Sanborn Fire Map
Bowmanville was known first to local fame as “Roe’s Hill” neighborhood, from the delectable fact that Hiram Roe, the pioneer settler sold whiskey there of no uncertain proof. His cabin was on a rise of ground just north of the present village. It gained its modern name in memory of of the exploits of one Bowman, who came there in 1850, bought a large tract of land, subdivided, and sold it in sections for goodly suns “down” and the rest on mortgages, and “skipped” with the procees. Too late his grantees learned his title was bad and they had to pay for their holdings all over again.
The town’s other claims to fame lie in its pickle trade and the fact that in adoriginal days it was the site of an Indian arrow and spear head and ax factory. The chips of the workshops are still turned up by the curious in its vicinity. bit of its local history is preserved in “Rosehill,” the name of the cemetery, which is only modified spelling of “Roe’s Hill.”
Jefferson’s first white settler was John Kinzie Clark, known locally as “Indian” Clark and No-ni-mo-a (“Prairie Wolf”), who went to live with his Indian wife in 1830. Later the same year Elijah Wentworth, who was the second hotelkeeper in Chicago’s history, built a log inn near Clark’s cabin. The site was on the old Indian trail running northwest from Chicago and the place was known as “Wentworth’s” for a long time. In 1845 it secured promise of a postoffice and “Monroe” was chosen for a name. This was discovered to be a duplicate, however, and the settlers being all of one and the same mind in politics, said “Jefferson,” and Jefferson it remained until in a measure lost its identity by absorption into tye city.
Originally the road to Jefferson was run to avoid the prairie sloughs. When the engineers started to survey Milwaukee avenue a man named Powell, who then had a tavern at the southern edge of the town, raised a flag above his hostelry and told the surveyors there was a “spresd” awaiting them, with whiskey and wine to wash it down, if they struck the flag in a straight line. They kept the line to the tavern all right, but it took a bend just beyond, and tradition has it that this was due to the “bender” in which the engineers indulged at Powell’s.
Cragin was known as “Whiskey Point” until 1882, because local legend has it, in the “good old days” the best liquor in te county sould be had at Deacon Lovett’s or George Merrill’s; and the young men and not a few of the older ones had the habit of driving over for a social evening. It got its present title from the Cragin Manufacturing company, which moved its plant thither in 1882.
Desplaines has had more names than any other suburb of Chicago. It was christened “Rand” in 1840 for Socrates of that name, who settled in Maine Township in 1836. It got a postoffice the same year and gave promise of being known beyond Cook County in time. But in twenty odd years it had become so mixed in nomenclature that strangers went hopelessly astray in trying to find it by name, and even the residents had trouble sometimes on dark nights in picking it our from its burden of official titles.
The postoffice had been changed to “Maine,” the village was “Rand,” and the railroad station was “Desplaines.
In this extremity the Legislature was appealed to and the solons in 1869 happily settled on the railroad’s name, and Desplaines the town has been ever since. The Methodist campground was established there in 1860 and village organization was secured in 1873.
Norwood Park was named “Norwood” only at first by George Dunlap, afterwards a member of the Illinois Legislature, after Henry Ward Beecher’s novel of that name.The township was organized in 1870 by taking sections from Jefferson, Leyden, Niles, and Maine, and the reason for this late manifestation of independence was alleged unfairness in the distribution of the road tax. Village organization was secured in 1874, and “Park” was added to the name for dignity. A.J. Snell had a toll road to Norwood Park until 1875, when he was induced to abandon it by the arguments of the villagers. The first settler on the site was Mark Noble Sr., who built his cabin in 1833. Norwood Park is inside the city limits.
Lake View never had any other sponsor than the instinctive sense of marine and landscape beauty which the settlers possessed. The name belongs to that semi-poetical class of which Edgewater, Riverside, and Dellnook are other specimens. Who first called it Lake View no one now living knows; probably not even the man himself thought of giving a name when he spoke his sense of the charm of the scene as it burst on him in primeval beauty. Old timers remember it as one of the prettiest regions around the lake, and almost from the start a favorite resident spot.
The first settler was Conrad Sulzer, who took up a farm in 1837. Many of his descendants still live in the neighborhood of the homestead acres. The township was organized in 1857 and the town in 1865. In 1872 the Town Hall (right), deemed a magnificent structure, was erected at Halsted and Addison streets, at a cost of $17,000. It was the pride of the suburb and served the local government and more or less occasional concert and theatrical companies until the City of Lake View (formed 1887) was absorbed into Chicago in 1889. Now it is the police station of the Forty-second Precinct, but still a landmark.
The social importance of Lake View at an early date is recalled by the opening of the famous old Lake View House, south of Graceland avenue on the lake shore. Cassius M. Clay was one of the guests on that occasion, and the elite of Chicago society drove along the lake front road and through the groves that fringed the beach to participate in the festivity.
OTHER NORTHERN SUBURBS.
Dunning was named for Dr. S. Dunning, who settled in DuPage County in 1830, but later removed to the site of the present county institutions and established himself in fruit growing. The original farm site was owned by Peter Ludby, who entered on the land in 1839. The first train on the Milwaukee road reached Dunning in 1882.
Highland Park was first familiar to the white world as “Port Clinton.” Its change of name was due merely to a recognition of its natural beauties—the magnificent bluff commanding a fine view of the lake and the picturesque ravines, which have been utilized to such advantage by the landscape artists who have had charge of th later development of the suburb.
Arlington Heights was plain “Dunton” until 1874. It was so called in memory of W.H. Dunton, on whose farm the hamlet grew. The land was part of a tract taken up in 1837 by Asa Dunton for his sons. The historic name was abandoned for Arlington Heights for euphony’s sake.
Ravenswood was the creature of a land company’s artistic and commercial sense. The first settler under the plan which gave it individuality in the Township of Lake View, ofb which it was a part, was M. Van Allen. Its christening, so far as known, had no reference to association, and was merely intended to give a pretty title to a pretty spot.
Niles was known as “Dutchman’s Point” until 1850. Why the name changed is not of record, except that the action was taken at a mass-meeting of the townspeople. The first settlement in the town was made in 1831 by Joseph Curtis.
Ridgetown was given its present name by A.C. Badeau in 1873. From 1854 until that time it had been called “Canfield” after an early resident.
Mount Clare, while it was merely an unimportant station on the Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul road, was known to the train crews and semi-occasional passengers as “Sayre.” It was rechristened in 1876 in the interests of the real estate boom.
Kelvyn Grove was named by the early Scotch settlers in memory of their home in “Auld Scotia,” near Glasgow.
Grayland was christened by John Gray, whose homestead still exists in the suburb and who platted it for the market.
Garfield was named for the President in 1882 by E.S. Dreyer & Co.
Pennock’s sponsor was Homer Pennock. It came into existence in 1883.
Humboldt, another old time suburb, north of Humboldt Park, received its name from its German settlers, who in it commemorated the famous German scientist shorn of the “von.”
Calvary’s name needs no explanation to those who know it as a cemetery, but it is not without interest that it was laid out and formally dedicated as long ago as 1849.
Wilmette, fourteen miles north of Chicago, got its name from Ouilmette, the Pottawatomie Indian chief, who lived on the site of the place when it was an Indian reservation.
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