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The following are excerpts from “Glenview: The First Centennial,” published by Paul H. Thomas and the Glenview Centennial Commission in 1999.
The first Indian tribe known to inhabit early Illinois was the Winnebago who were mound builders. They lived in villages and were basically an agricultural society. As time moved on, other Indian tribes moved into the area, notably the Potawatomi who settled in the area now known as Northfield Township. A succession of treaties had gradually wrested most of the Indian lands from the Native Americans. Finally, in the treaty of Chicago in 1833, the Indians gave up their last five million acres, thereby relinquishing all claims to northern Illinois and opening up the area to settlement by early pioneers.
These first pioneers, who left their homes in Europe and England in the 1830s, were a brave, resourceful, persevering, and self-sufficient group of people. They had a strong will for freedom and were looking for an opportunity to establish themselves, Illinois, unlike the original 13 states, was a vast but beautiful sea of prairie grasses broken only by stands of oak trees which were called “groves.” Traveling in those days was very difficult and often dangerous as the streams and treacherous swampy areas were unbridged, and the trails were winding and narrow. The Indians were, for the most part, friendly and even helpful so they did not present a great danger to these settlers.
After the 1833 Treaty of Chicago, a flood of early settlers came into the area. One of the first families to take up residence was that of George Heslington. They had been living at Fort Dearborn (Chicago) since their arrival from England, waiting to lay claim to their future home site. All early settlers were permitted to select 160 acres of land in the area now known and Niles and Maine Townships near the site of the present Glen View Club. Located on the Deerfield moraine, their farm was just north of a large Potawatomi village. Their baby daughter was the first white child born in the Glenview area and was a great pet of the friendly neighboring Potawatomi Indians. In 1836, Mrs. Heslingtons’ parents, the Robert Dewes, arrived and settled near their daughter. Just as the Heslingtons followed the Indian’s example of choosing high land, the early settlers in the Glenview area proper all located along the established Indian trails. Two were called the Little Fort and the Indian Lakes Trails, now Waukegan and Glenview Roads. Others settled along the Milwaukee Trail.
Dardenus Bishop and John and Benjamin Troups located near the intersection of the Little Fort and Indian Lakes trails where Sgt. Joseph Adams had established a primitive store in an area we now call downtown Glenview. John and Edward Cammack laid claim to their acreage along Shermer Road. Dr. John Kennicott, his brothers, and their families settled along the Milwaukee Avenue trail in the middle 1830s.
The Civil War years were a period of prosperity for the farmers in Glenview. Many of the early farmers improved their farm buildings and their homes and were really quite prosperous. In October 1871, Chicago was devastated by the Great Chicago Fire. Chicago’s building needs to rebuild the city lead to the construction of the Chicago and Milwaukee Railroad through the center of town. Suddenly South Northfield became easily accessible to Chicago, creating opportunities for manufacturing and the delivery of farm products to the city, such as milk, cheese, and produce.
The concentration of settlers living on the 40 acre Swedenborg tract of land was new to the farming community of Oak Glen. It soon became apparent there was need for more services than could be provided by the existing county government or the rather informal township organizations that existed. It became apparent to the residents of the area that a local government was needed to respond more quickly to the needs of the community.
Under the leadership of the Swedenborg businessmen, a referendum to incorporate at as a village was held in 1898. The first effort was defeated. However, on June 17, 1899, a second try was made; and, by a vote of 59 to 51, the decision was made to form a village from Section 34 and most of Section 35 of Northfield Township. The estimated population was 351.
At that time, only males could vote, so only 20 ballots were cast for the first Village Board of Trustee. Hugh Burham was elected the first village president. Trustees were: August Clayey, Frank Hoffman, Henry Maynard, Charles Rugen, John Hutchings, and A. C. Butzow. These men represented a good cross-section of the leaders of the various parts of the Village.
Originally our village was called South Northfield, then for a time North Branch. In 1878, Fred Hutchings named it Oak Glen. But the railroad already had a stop by that name, so another designation had to be found. After an attempt to call it Hutchings after the donor of the land (Sara Hutchings didn’t want the Hutchings’ name on the railroad station which was an unsightly old rail car), and Barr, after a railroad superintendent, it became Glen View. However, Glenview, as it is know today, is the name under which it has continued to grow and prosper.