Gurnee History - Warren Township
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An Early History of Warren Township
Early settlers in the area came by foot, horseback and by "Prairie Schooners" drawn by oxen or via the Erie Canal and the Great Lakes. They came from the town of Warren in New York State, which was named in honor of Major General Joseph Warren, killed at the Battle of Bunker Hill. Warren Township, formed in 1850, was also named after him. The first settlement of Warren Township commenced in 1835 in the vicinity of the Aux Plaines River (now the Des Plaines River).
The 2800-mile-long Tecumseh trail that ran from the Canadian border to Florida, and used by the Pottowatomie Indians, passed through Warren Township. The "She-Suick" or Soft Maple River (DesPlaines) used by the earliest settlers was the means of transportation coming from Chicago to Warren Township.
A stage coach line was established between Milwaukee and Chicago via the first road built here (Milwaukee Avenue, now Route 21). Its main stop was the O'Plaine Tavern, today Mother Rudd's Home.
Grist, saw, sorghum and cider mills and blacksmith shops erected on Mill Creek and at Lamb's Corner (now Gurnee Mills). The corner of Grand Avenue and Esty's (Hunt Club) Road, was called "the crossroads" in Warren Township history -- a name that applies today.
The western part of the township became a resort area from the Dady and Decker Picnic Park on Gages Lake to the Lakeside Hotel on Druce Lake. As the population grew, homes were constructed on the Sears Farm (founder of the Sears, Roebuck and Company); the Wildwood area and, to the south, the Dobe Tree Farm became Arbor Vista. To the north, the Traer farm with "Little Sand Lake," grew into Grandwood Park. To the east, we had Warrenton (a train stop which was later called Wilson) becoming part of Park City, and on the first Edellyn Farm was built our first major shopping center, Lakehurst.
Farmland which formed our great Warren Township agricultural heritage is now occupied by Great America and the Tri-State Industrial Park. On Washington Street today are buildings remodeled to remind us of our rural atmosphere: the barn on the Sawyer-Arcola farm houses the Montessori Country Day School, and the DeMeyer Farm barn and silo have become part of our Warren Township center, used by thousands of residents each year.
- 1837 Pioneers began arriving to this area by "Prairie Schooners" drawn by oxen, by horseback, by foot or via boat on the Erie Canal, Great Lakes and Aux Plaines River. First Post Office was in operation at Abingdon Inn, corner of Milwaukee Avenue and Belvidere Road.
- 1838 First log school house, Dodge School, built in northwest Warren Township.
- 1842 First floating log bridge built across the Aux Plaines River just north of the present Grand Avenue Bridge.
- 1846 Early settlers selected land near the center of the township for locating a permanent burial ground and it became Warren Cemetery.
- 1847 Post Office opened in Wentworth -- present day Gurnee.
- 1849 First toll road, Old Plank Road, built across the Township -- east to west -- now called route 120 or Belvedere Road.
- 1850 First town meeting held at O'Plaine School and the name of Warren Township was adopted, named after Joseph Warren, a major general of the Continental Army.
- 1873 First railroad built to cross the township was the Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul Railroad.
- 1874 Town and post office renamed Gurnee after the train station
- 1876 A two story building, Whittier's Grange Hall, was put up on the intersection of Grange Hall and Edic Roads (now Washington and Hunt Club) by the Society of Grangers to serve as their meeting place and to act as headquarters for farmers' collective buying system.
- 1879 First church, Christian Church, built in this community next to the Gurnee Grade School. It was the fore-runner for the Gurnee Community Church.
- 1887 A franchise petitioned and granted to the Flood Family for the Warren Postal Telegraph Company
- 1888 Warrenton Grove Post Office (which later became Wilson) opened on Belvedere Road.
- 1904 First rural delivery route for the mail was established. Mail was delivered by horse and buggy.
- 1912 Valahalla Order of Vikings purchased the Beidler Home in Gurnee and made the Big Home into a hotel and beautified the grounds into a showcase of Lake County.
- 1913 First telephone system organized was the Warren Mutual Telephone Company.
- 1917 Higher education was established with the opening of Warren Township High School.
- 1917 A chapel was built and dedicated at the Warren Cemetery.
- 1928 First village established in the township when Gurnee was incorporated.
- 1938 A recreation system established in the area with the formation of the Warren-Gurnee Recreation Association.
- 1949 Township citizens won a referendum on consolidation of one- and two- room schools forming Woodland Consolidated District.
- 1960s Interstate Highway I-94, a toll road, constructed through the central part of the township, making it the center of transportation of Lake County.
- 1976 Warren Township Center established and dedicated.
- 1980s Senior housing -- Warren Manor --was built next to the township center.
- 1986 100-Year flood hits the Gurnee area.
The Village of Gurnee / History / Warren Township / Last Revised 03/28/01