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From the pages of the Chicago Tribune – March 3, 1957

Torode Homestead

The following article from the pages of the Chicago Tribune, March 3, 1957.  It provides a glimpse into the early Torode homestead as well as its fate to Twentieth Century progress.


May Raze Landmark For Superhighways



The Torode, homestead, an imposing stone and concrete building built 116 years ago a few miles south of the present Elmhurst may be in its last few seasons as a landmark before 20th century progress catches up to it. It faces York Road just south of Roosevelt Road.

Acreage right up to within a few yards of the 10 room house has already been purchased by the state for highway right of way, and a telltale surveyor's stick juts out from the ridgepole of the barn. Just south of the barnyard are hillocks of excavated land for a drainage system to serve highways of the proposed Tri-State toll road. Final plans for the road have not been made, but the home seems doomed.

Just as Originally Built

Miss Edith Torode, now of Elmhurst, moved from her home last November when the properly was sold to a new owner.

"You know," she relates, "I really felt bad about leaving it, even the way it is."

The "way it is" is just about; the same way her great-grandfather, Nicholas Torode, finished it. Electricity was .never installed, nor plumbing, nor running water. Bob Sestak, the present, caretaker, buys bottled drinking water, because water from the old pump is clouded. One stove, is .now in the dining-sitting room, replacing a heating system which once consisted of nine fireplaces.

Only one closet was ever built in the home, and old wallpaper hangs, tattered from a makeshift type of plaster of straw and clay.

Miss Torode resided in the home with her mother, Mrs. John Torode, who died late in 1955 at the age of 88. From her parents' reminiscings, and the nearly, unchanging way of life the homestead, she and her sisters know much of their ancestors' way of life.

Do It Yourself Types

The original homesteader, their great-grandfather, was Nicholas Torode who, with his family of seven sons, had an entire section of land in York County. They made their own way in all family needs – quarrying the stone to build the house, clearing the forest for their crops, marking candles by dipping cord into tallow, and spinning thread from the wool of their own sheep.

The homesteader’s youngest son, Philander, continue to reside in the home though acreage was much decreased as other sons married and were given portions of the land for their own farms. Philander’s only son, John, the father of the three present generation Torode women, was born in 1861.

"We remember hearing what great excitement there was in 1862 when the last of the Indians who had lived in the forest areas around us began the trek to new lands in the west," Miss Edith Torode related.

"The family was afraid of what vengeful Indians might do, and took the infant, John, up to the attic to hide him until the last Indian was out of sight," she reminisced.

Antiques Galore

Mementos of those early days of the Torode way of life formed a rich harvest for the Elmhurst Historical commission at the time Miss Torode moved. A spinning wheel, the shoemakers’ equipment which the family used, kettles and griddles for fireplace cooking, straw and plug hats, and candle making equipment were among the items.

Still left in the old house are such items as half a log stuck with heavy pegs, which served as a bench in the basement. The beams exposed in the attic are full timbers, dotted with the scars of the limbs chopped off the main trunk.

Miss Torode and her sisters, Mrs. Vivian DeHaan of Aurora and Mrs. Mildred Vaillancourt of Elmhurst, like to point out the family’s history was one of such hard work and such enterprise in the matter of making a living there was no time left over to make the house "artistic".

There was the Torode quarry to work, just south of the home on Salt Creek. There was a Torode saw mill operated on the grounds of present Graue Mill, Hinsdale. Then, there were crops to raise, and many sheep to care for, and furniture to be built.

Many Decisions

For Miss Torode and her sisters there is still much of their family accumulations still to be looked over, and decisions must be made where to "put things" – what to keep, and what to discard.

And as has happened to most families, moving expense was added to taking along old possessions to the new dwelling, then finding out a good deal was material meant to be discarded.

"Look at that," Miss Torode said pointing to piles of boxed material on her front porch.

"I meant for the Salvation Armey to pick it up from the homestead, but instead – the movers brought it here."

From the pages of the Chicago Tribune – March 3, 1957

To see how Torode's Woods may have looked view the Torodes Woods page.  The area is being restored by the DuPage Forest Preserve District.

Last Modified:  08/17/2002