The Village of La Grange Park - 1890s through 1920s
With the Germans of Franzosenbusch to the north and the early settlers of Lyons Township and La Grange to the south LaGrange Park was influenced by both. The northern boundary of the Village of La Grange was the border between Proviso and Lyons Townships.
David and Barney Laughton, two brothers from Bourbon Springs, built a house near the present day Burlington Railroad in Riverside in 1828. Stephen Forbes (later the Cook Country Sheriff) moved into Lyons Township in 1829. Aaron Parsell started operating his mill in 1832.
It was events in the 1890's which led to the incorporation of the Village of La Grange Park.
In 1879 the La Grange Park area was largely farm and still unincorporated when the Village of La Grange was incorporated. By 1890 more than 300 people lived in the area, but La Grange's five marshals seldom went there according to accounts by historian Charles Metz.
In the early 1890's concrete had not yet come into general use and every foundation was built of squared rubble stone. In a fast growing community a skilled mason were kept very busy. Pete Swanson, a busy stone mason of the area, was doing well, but the work was hard with many days of rain and cold. He saw an opportunity to make even more money and enjoy himself. The area was dry, but that did not stop him from setting up a "blind pig" (an illegal tavern) in his home on North Kensington between Brewster and Richmond. The residents of the area quickly grow sick of the carousing patrons of the Swanson tavern.
Alphonse Kemman (grandson of Henry Kemman) and David Lyon led an effort to incorporate the area. Frank Ely proposed the name La Grange Park for the new village. On July 14, 1892, Cook County Judge Frank Scales issued a decree for the incorporation of the Village of La Grange Park. Elections were held on August 10. The first Village of La Grange Park officials were:
A. H. Kemman was also elected justice of the peace which set the final piece in place to deal with Swanson. (Kemman was also the village's first police officer and fire chief.) One of the first acts of the newly formed Village was to declare the Village dry. It remained dry until the 1970's although "blind pigs" existed in the village until the 1920s.
The fate of Swanson was not the only item on the village board's agenda in 1892. Other items included the removal of dead horses, stray chickens and smelly outhouses.
The limits of the village were much as they are today:
The village was not completely subdivided at the time is was incorporated. The jog in Brainard, Waiola and Stone Avenues was caused by Clark and Johnson. They subdivided ten acres they purchased from Mr. Meyers into shorter lots than those in the surrounding areas. Two farmers on the adjacent lands, Busch and Hart, were asked to move far enough west to straighten the streets in exchange for a land swap. However, no agreement was reached and the jog remained.
On September 4, 1893, the village fathers decided it was time to build a jail. During its construction an ordinance was passed to use La Grange's jailhouse until construction was completed. In 1895 the volunteer fire department was formed.
On June 17, 1897, it was decided to build a Village Hall. The building was to occupy a twenty by thirty feet space and not to exceed a cost of $400.
In 1899 the La Grange Park Fire Department was organized. It depended on "drayman or other team operation" to move the hose and ladder carts. Milk horses were not to be used -- they tended to make routine route stops on the way to a fire.
Also read Fire Destroys Alleys_LaGrange Citizen_Oct 17 1908
In the 1920s the village board met in the old school building know as the Poets corner, on North Fifth Avenue. (That school was sold when the Odgen school was built.) La Grange Park was in a very unusual possible for a village of its size -- it was without a post office, a railroad, a school, a street car line and a business district.
Until the 1920's there were repeated effort to combine the villages of La Grange and La Grange Park. In the 1923 the issue was put to the voters of the two villages. The vote tallies were clear.
The residents of both villages rejected merger.
In 1925 the Planning Commission was formed and started some significant actions, but it was to be in the 1940s that the Commission really brought big results to the Village.
Residential development continues as Another New Subdivision, LaGrange Citizen, June 6 1924 was planned.
Street improvement were another subject of activity in the 1920.
The Cook County and the Cook County Forest Preserve District were making changes during the 1920s:
LaGrange Park's first school was Poet's Corner at LaGrange Road and 31st Street, built in 1865 and used until 1909. "There is no whispering without permission" was in the Rules of the Schools (an early governing book at the school). Stanford's Fountain Pen Ink was used in the school ink wells.
In 1909 the La Grange and La Grange Park school districts were consolidated to form District 102.
The story continues in LaGrange Park 1930s and Later.
Also see Parkholm Cemetery.
A map of the the village of 1892 is at Early Map of the La Grange Park. The maps notes the farm holdings of that time.
The primary sources of this information includes but is not limited to:
The above information was obtained through the LaGrange Park Public Library,
Last Modified: 01/04/2007