Late 1800s

1850:   1. The first brick house constructed in this part of the township was built and occupied by Andrew Cook and his family. The original floor plan had a kitchen, living room, parlor, and one bedroom downstairs, with five bedrooms upstairs[1]; first-floor rooms were heated by wood-burning stoves and the upstairs rooms were unheated. The Cook house still stands, though several additions have been made and it has been renovated. It is currently the home of the Wauconda Township Historical Society.

2. First Tuesday in April The first township meeting was held in the Cook home. Jonathan Wood was chosen as moderator, and LaFayette Mills acted as clerk. Officers elected were: Pete Mills, supervisor; E. L. Huson, assessor; A. J. Seeber, collector; Andrew Cook and J. McKinney, commissioners of highways; Hazard Green and J. Wessecher, Justices of the Peace; E. L. Huson and Seth Hill, constables.[2]

            3. Justus Bangs and Andrew Cook platted a village to aid in the sale of area land. Originally there was only one street, which followed the banks of the lake, until Hampton Colgrove, who lived in the north part of the town, petitioned to have the road changed to its present location. Justus Bangs, who desired that the town be as beautiful as possible, decreed that barns were not to be built along the main street.[3] The assessed value of Wauconda property for the year 1850, including both real and personal, was $61,907.00. The amount of tax computed on the same was $827.18.Records of the early justice courts and early trials have not survived; according to Mrs. Maria Powers, one of residents at the time, the records were lost when the house in which they were kept burned.[4]

4. “The increasing size of the village . . . made it imperative on the citizens that the Burying Ground be removed to quarters more remote from the Town, and acting on the suggestion of Mr. Justus Bangs (who proposed to donate a fractional piece of ground lying beside the public road and adjoining W. Winch and L. Oaks). In the autumn of 1850 ground was broken, trees removed and other improvements entered upon on what now constitutes part of the cemetery grounds. The dead from the old burying ground were removed very soon after.”[5]

1851:   Death of Louisa Bangs

1852:   1. 23 January Justus Bangs married Caroline Cone of New York. They met in Waukegan through mutual friends.

2. Elijah Haines wrote in this year that “Wauconda is a Village of about 200 inhabitants, or upwards, and affords three good Stores, two Public Houses, and various Mechanics. Its location is delightful and as the country advances, will become one of the most delightful and pleasant Villages in the County. . . . A Division of Sons of Temperance has recently been organized here which speaks well for the sobriety and morality of its citizens.”[6]

3. Forksville described as “a Village of recent growth, [which] contains about 150 inhabitants. It affords two Stores, a commodious Hotel, and such Mechanics as are usually found in like country Villages.”[7]

4. Northern Illinois Railroad Company chartered to build a line through Cook County to the state border. Justus Bangs was one of the first to get behind this venture, but “for reasons still not known today, that plan never went through.”[8]

1853:   First Methodist Episcopal Church of Wauconda organized by Rev. Charles French.[9]

1854:   1. John and Lydia (Webster) Pratt came to Wauconda from Stamford, Vermont, with 19 others. They bought land from Justus Bangs (to whom they were related). They also took over the hotel Bangs had built, which came to be known as the Pratt House. Many civic functions, such as elections (see 1877), were held at the Pratt House.

2. Justus Bangs resigned his position as postmaster, which he had held for several terms, to become the Justice of the Peace, a post he held for the next twelve years.

1855:   1. or 1857 “Elder” Brooks took over as pastor of the Baptist congregation. He served in this capacity until 1874, and then intermittently through 1886.

            2. In this year, Justus Bangs was Township Supervisor.

3. The Creamery, a cheese factory, built on land purchased by Michael Synnett in 1841. This business flourished well into the 20th century.

1856:   1. Wauconda Academy was built. It was one of three schools (the others were Lake Forest Academy and Waukegan Academy) charter- ed by the Illinois legislature. The first teacher was Euphemia Valentine. Conditions were primitive: Gas lamps and stoves predominated into the 20th century, and sometimes inkwells would freeze in the winter (see 1900, 1931).[10] Originally the second floor was used as a meeting hall for various local societies.[11]

2.The Baptists and Methodists formed a joint task force to prepare for the building of a church, which both would use. The building was erected by the Methodists on the Common; it was occupied by both Methodists and Baptists, who used it on alternate Sundays until February of 1870. Mary Lueder says the land was donated by Justus Bangs.

3. Birth of Thomas Vedder Slocum to Thomas and Mary Slocum

4. Birth of Fannie Bangs to Justus and Caroline Bangs; Justus was again Township Supervisor.

1857:   Thomas Slocum, Justus Bangs, Andrew Cook, and J. R. Wells were trustees for the Academy.

1858:   Lake Side Inn began operating. It was built by Lewis H. Todd, father of Laura (later Mrs. Arthur Cook). In the early days it had promi- nence as a stagecoach stop. Though the name and the owners have changed many times, the building still stands; today it serves as a restaurant and is once again called Lake Side Inn.     


early 1860s: 1. Shortly before the Civil War, a farm equipment and hardware store was opened by Reuben and Mary Hill. Not long after this a saw and grist mill was established by John Spencer on Mill St. There was also a foundry and blacksmith shop built by Kirwan and Fuller.

2. Justus Bangs fitted out a company of soldiers to go fight in the Civil War. Some soldiers killed during the war, who were unidentified or who did not have families, were brought to Wauconda for burial.

1864:   Justus Bangs elected Township Supervisor again.

1865:   1. Death of President Lincoln. Among the “line of guards who accompanied the mortal remains of President Lincoln” was Henry Mavric Davis, now buried in the Wauconda Cemetery.[12]

            2. Lillian Smith born to William R. and Marietta (Slocum) Smith

1866:   Early map shows several businesses on Main Street (then called the Chicago-McHenry Road), including blacksmith shops, S. Hill’s Meat Market, Hubbard’s Hotel, a harness shop, P. Swenson’s store, and Luther Kimball’s store. In this year also, Henry Maiman, a tailor from Germany, opened Maiman’s Store on Mill Street. This family-run business was a Wauconda institution for 100 years.

late 1860s: A Sunday school picnic was held at the Wauconda home of Jay Bennett. At this picnic the hymn “The Sweet Bye and Bye” was performed for the first time; it was written by Bennett’s brother Sanford.[13] 

1867:   1. F. W. Morrison, editor of Wauconda’s first newspaper, began a campaign for a railroad to Wauconda. Land was donated and about $10,000 of the needed $45,000 was raised, but momentum soon died, and the paper was sold a few years later.[14]

2. About this year Wauconda Academy folded as a chartered school. However, the school district began to rent it and classes contin-ued.[15]

1868:   1. Beaders Smith born; his parents were William and Marietta (Slocum) Smith; he died in youth.

2. Timothy Bacon farm established on Darrell Rd., just north of Case Rd. Bacon and his wife, Elizabeth Miller, built the house and barn.

3.  Village of Forksville changed to Volo.

1869:   Theodore F. Slocum was president of the school board, whose annual budget in this year was $2,000, according to school district record books.[16]

1870:   1. SummerThe first Wauconda Baptist Church was built across the street from the Methodist church by the Baptists who had begun meeting in 1838 under Joe Wheeler; the cost was $5,500.00. According to an article in the Wauconda Leader (1977), this was necessi- tated by the Methodists’ decision to use the shared building every week.

2. 30 October Baptist church dedicated, free of debt. This building eventually became the main part of the Federated Church building.

3. Mary E. Smith born to William and Marietta (Slocum) Smith (elsewhere she is called Marianna). She married Henry Ford, and they had one son, Budd. His widow, Katie, was still living in Wauconda in the mid 1970s.

1871:   1. Wauconda Baptist Church by this time housed a Sunday school and a library.

            2. Wauconda Academy purchased by the school district and enlarged. According to Mary Lueder (great-granddaughter of Justus Bangs), the first three grades met on the ground floor and fourth through eighth grades on the upper floor, with the seventh and eighth graders sharing a room separated from the others. Later, two years of high school were added, taught together with the eighth grade.[17] Kids played ball on the lawn in front of the building, and for several years it was the center of local activity—plays, debates, religious meetings, etc.

1872:   Death of William Smith, first husband of Marietta Slocum

1873:   Death of Ellen Slocum Dresser

1875:   1. Lewis H. Todd became the first police justice of Wauconda (another source says he became postmaster in this year, but he also served as police justice); he served until 1885. Over the years he also served as village treasurer, was a school-board member, and held various offices in the Methodist church.

2. The town’s first business, Justus Bangs’s mercantile store, ceased operation.

            3. Death of Thomas Slocum at age 63

1876:   1. The Oakland Hotel at the corner of Mill St. and Maple was perhaps the finest of the Wauconda hotels, according to a mid-1970s survey of historic hotels in the Wauconda Leader. The hotel had three stories, including the basement, and on the third floor it had a dance floor where “the finest entertainment available could be enjoyed.”[18] Pre-1877 buildings still standing on Main St. include those now housing the Village Inn (formerly Kirwan’s Tavern), Tom’s Tap-a-Barrel, Tony’s Barber Shop, the Bulldog Grill (formerly Carrs Sweet Shop), Lake Side Inn, Thomas Gooch & Assoc., and Bliss Wine & Gifts.

2. At this time there was a brickyard on the Cook farm and another one on the Kent property on Maple Ave. A limestone kiln was located on the bank of the lake on Kimball’s property. Elijah Haines reported that “Limestone are found in abundance in the vicinity, and the burning of lime at this place, has been a source of considerable profit to several individuals who have engaged in the business.”[19]

3. In this year the Catholic Church east of town, which had become a Mission with masses held once a fortnight, was claimed by the McHenry Parish Settlement.

1877:   1. 19 July Petition was made by townsmen to the Honorable John L. Turner, Judge of the County of Lake and State of Illinois, to incor-porate the Village of Wauconda under the State Statutes approved April 10, 1872.[20]

2. 6 August Dedication of the new Roman Catholic Church, built within city limits of Wauconda by Charles Davlin (son of Hugh) and the Murray brothers, among others. Its priest was Father O’Neill, who named the church Transfiguration because it was dedicated on the Feast of the Transfiguration. The first trustees were: James Murray, Charles Davlin, Felix Givens, Hugh Davlin, and Owen McMahon. People came to this church from all over the county because of its sturdy construction and the beauty of its sanctuary dome. The original building still stands, now serving as a chapel for the current Transfiguration congregation. Stained glass windows in the church depict the first services in John Murray’s cabin as well as the original log church.

            3. 18 August Election held for all legal voters resident in the Village of Wauconda, at the Pratt House from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., on the question of whether or not Wauconda should be incorporated. Robert Harrison, W. H. Seymour, and Justus Bangs, appointed as judges of the election, counted 49 votes for and 24 votes against incorporation.

4. 18 September Election held at Pratt House to elect trustees for the Village of Wauconda. Robert Harrison (44 votes), Daniel Oaks (39), A. C. Bangs (44), P. S. Swenson (34), Peter Johnson (41), and J. A. Hubbard (41) were elected.

            5. 24 September Board of Trustees met at the office of Justice Henry Dobner. He administered to them the oath of office. The Board then elected, by ballot among themselves, Robert Harrison to be the first President of the Village.

            Population at time of incorporation (1877): 309

            First constable: Henry Golding (1877)

            First street commissioner: Stebbins Ford (1877)

                First village treasurer: Lewis H. Todd (1877–1884)

            Clerk in 1877: Albert Calkins

            During its first year, the village board authorized two village licenses, one for liquor and one for peddlers.[21]

6. Some of the businesses thriving in this year: “Brewster & Johnson, dealers in hardware, stoves, farming goods, and guns. Also manu- facturers of tin, sheet iron and copperware; R. Harrison, dealer in all kinds of dry goods, boots and shoes, hats, caps, groceries of all kinds, crockery, glassware, and first class general merchandise. . . . M. S. Hill, dealer in general merchandise; F. R. Harrison’s Wauconda Drug Store, drugs, medicines, dye stuffs; Henry Maiman, merchant tailor, clothier and gents furnishings; . . . Emerson Powers, carpenter; Lewis H. Todd, contractor; Eden Whitcomb, manufacturer and dealer in boots and shoes.”[22]

1878:   1. 2 January Special election held to let voters decide for or against a tax being levied to raise $300 to buy property for building a village office and jail. Final vote was 47 to 2, in favour. Two weeks later property for this purpose was purchased from the Slocum family.[23]

            2. 13 May Ordinance #16 passed, decreeing that every able-bodied man in the village must work on maintenance of village streets and alleys for a period not to exceed two ten-hour days. Those who wished to get out of it could do so by paying a fine of $1 per day not worked to the village.[24]

3. 3 December Ordinance #17 passed, making it unlawful for anyone to bathe or swim in the village within a quarter mile of the beaches in “a naked state amounting to indecent exposure of the person” at any time between sunrise and a half hour past sundown. Infringement could mean a fine—not less than 50¢ but not more than $200—or six months in jail.[25]

1879:   28 January H. B. Duers Penmanship School opened.

1870s or 80s: 1. Pratt House sold by its owner to his son-in-law, Dennis Murphy. He may be the one who turned it into a hotel.

2. In the early part of the 1800s, farmers were “so persistent . . . in hunting [wolves] down that after the Eighties one was rarely seen.”[26]

1880:   Board of Trustees recommended that village streets be gravelled.

1882:   Death of Lillian Smith, granddaughter of Thomas and Mary Slocum, aged 16, of scarlet fever.

1883:   There were 569 children in the district 118 school board’s jurisdiction, “a wide area composed of nine small districts”.[27]

1884:   1. 31 March Swenson Hall had roller skating.

            2. Death of Andrew Cook.

1885:   1. September Ringling Brothers Circus issued a license to rent grounds and put on their double show.

            2. 3 December Board voted to install street lamps with power.[28] Before this, people “didn’t go out very much” at night “because it was pitch dark. There were no lights.” Even after street lamps were installed, “they didn’t penetrate, they were very dim.”[29] At this time the Board also petitioned for fire protection, something that had probably been under consideration since the Great Fires of Chicago and Os- wego in 1871.[30]

1887:   18 July Vote held for taxpayers to choose the type of fire protection they preferred; 23 voted for a tank system and 24 for a hand pump.[31]

1888:   1. 29 May J. W. Newkirk’s offer to furnish the village with a hand engine and hose cart was accepted. The Board also authorized the construction of cisterns on “the four corners”—probably Mill St. and Main; these cisterns were to hold not less than 350 barrels of water.[32]

            2. December On the 7th it was decided to rent J. Pratt’s barn for use of the fire engine at $2 per month. On the 21st the Board decided instead to purchase land from A. C. Bangs to build an Engine House.

1889:   1. 9 November Wauconda Niagara Fire Company, the town’s first fire department, founded. W. H. Strayer was elected president. Prob- ably the volunteers who had been fighting fires up to this timecontinued to be the firefighters; the only difference was that it was now organized as a proper company. The company was named after the make of hand pump they had been using to fight fires. Originally the department only served the village itself; later local subdivisions and farms received service by subscription. According to the Fire Department’s web site, “Not much is known about the department for its first thirty years.” Firefighters were volunteers, most of them local businessmen.[33]

            2. According to the Wauconda Fire Department’s history article, the local paper of this time was the Wauconda Torpedo.[34]

1890:   1. Leslie Brooks Paddock, grandson of Elder Brooks, was born.

            2. 4 February constitution and by-laws of the Wauconda Niagara Fire Company approved. The Board authorized that all equipment be turned over by the village clerk to the Fire Department. At this time the Board also authorized the purchase of a metal fire bell, two lanterns, one black lamp, one hand lamp, and a set of ladders.[35]

1890s: An electric car running to Palatine was proposed, to be powered on self-contained storage batteries. John Spencer offered his mill as a recharging station. As this decade went on, “railroad fever truly gripped the village of Wauconda”, as residents became convinced that the railroad was needed to bring food, supplies, and tourists from the city.[36]

1891:   Justus Bangs wrote Life and Doings of Justus Bangs, a reminiscence about his life.[37] By this point, Bangs had constructed six buil- dings in the area—more than any other resident.

1893:   1. 27 January: Village Board adopted the first Ordinance to prevent the spread of infectious diseases. At this time the first local Board of Health was set up; Dr. W. C. Quincy, Dr. C. R. Wells, L. N. Fennel, and James Murray were appointed to serve on the board.

2. Thomas Vedder Slocum, along with six others, petitioned to have a telephone line brought to Wauconda from Barrington via Lake Zurich. Thomas Vedder ran a farm implement store on Mill St.; he owned the first steam-threshing machine in the area. 

3. Board authorized the placement of hitching posts in front of the school grounds.

1895:   1. 12 August: Board authorized the placement of hitching posts in front of the school grounds.

2. Free School Act passed: Communities of ten to fifteen parents could now form a school district and pick its location; usually a local farmer would donate the land. Unlike some of these new districts, Wauconda had a high school. [38]

            3. The Boat House (now Lindy’s Landing) first operated by Walter Waelty. Here boats could be rented, bait purchased, and fishing equipment acquired.

            4. December: Death of Justus Bangs

5. Soo Line Railroad established a train station in Grayslake. Hainesville began to decline. A few years later, when a tornado ripped through the village, most of the buildings that were destroyed were never rebuilt. A lot of the people moved into Grayslake or Round Lake.

1897:   1. 15 January: Board adopted a legal map of the village, drawn by J. H. S. Lee, the county surveyor. Board members received a copy for 50 cents; others could purchase their own for a dollar.

            2. 23 June: Board granted the Chicago Telephone Company the right to put in a telephone line in the Village of Wauconda.

1898:   Rev. R. C. Dutton became pastor of the Methodist church. In the next few years, quite a few developments occurred, including additional building to provide space for Sunday school.

1899:   1. Hughes’ Furniture Shop and Haas’ Barber Shop were established in this year; other specialized businesses included Reuben and Mary Hill’s saw and grist mill and a blacksmith shop run by Kirwan and Fuller.

            2. Mr. & Mrs. C. L. Pratt sold to the village a piece of land lying between Mill St. and the Bangses’ property after the village threatened to condemn it. The property was used to widen Main Street.[39]


[1]Gail Kahover, “Lack of Funds May Shutter Cook House”, Daily Herald, Fri., 20 September 1985, section 2. However, Barbara Parelius Davenport, whose father is the one who turned the upstairs into an apartment, remembers there being only four bedrooms upstairs.


[2]Haines, Sketches, pp. 98–9.

[3]Mary Lueder interview, in “Memories 2004”.

[4]Village of Wauconda web page.

[5]“Wauconda Cemetery Association Record Book”, p. 14 of the Wauconda Township Cemetery Inscriptions booklet.

[6]Haines, Sketches, p. 98.


[8]Ruthhart, ed., “Everything Stopped When the Whistle Blew”, Wauconda Leader, 4 August 1977

[9]Wishik, “Sun Rises . . .”

[10]Richard Warfield speech, Wauconda, 2006; Wishik, “Sun Rises . . .”

[11]Wishik, “1877 election . . .”

[12]The Village Star, September 1999.

[13]“Lake County Man Wrote Famous Song”, Wauconda Leader, date unknown (copy held by the Wauconda Township Historical Society).


[14] Tony Wishik wrote in the Wauconda Leader that 28 February 1867 was the day the railroad’s charter was granted (Wishik, “Railroad Days Were Great Days”, 17 August 1977).  Another source says that the Star, not est. until 1888, was the area’s first paper.


[15]Federal Writers Project, Illinois, p. 503; WaucondaTownship Historical Society.


[16]Carol Culp Robinson, “Schoolgirl’s Lens Captured History”, Lakes Countryside, Thursday, 9 December 1976. If Theodore Slocum is related to the original Slocum family, he must be a descendent of Jeremy  (Thomas’s brother) or perhaps a more distant relative. To my knowledge the only male child of Thomas and Mary died without children.


[17]Robinson, “Schoolgirl’s Lens . . .”, p. 7.

[18]Ruthhart, ed., “The Glory Days of Wauconda’s Grand Hotels”, no date. The site is now a municipal parking lot.

[19]Haines, Sketches, p. 98.

[20]The petition was signed by H. H. Seymour, Eden Whitcomb, John L. Griggs, A. Calkins, Peter Johnson, Reed Burritt, Henry Maiman, David McClain, P. Stein, E. W. Barker, John Pratt, H. Golding, G. W. Pratt, C. L. Pratt, J. Bangs, B. K. Duers, M. S. Hill, H. B. Duers, E. F. Faggart, Seth Hill, R. Burton, George Mill, C. M. Hill, Charles K. Wait, William Marble, J. R. Wells, H. B. Burritt, William Tidmarsh, J. D. Blanck, Thomas L. Grantham, J. L. Ketchum, B. E. Gardinier, J. M. Kirwan, L. Bundy, Robert Harrison, Albert Baseley, J. Golding, and A. C. Bangs.


[21]“Incorporation ousts skinny dipping; but Wauconda’s first hundred flows, grows in full raiment” (no author named), Lakes Countryside, 19 May 1977: 8.


[22]Ruthhart, ed., “Early Businesses Thrive in Wauconda”, Wauconda Leader, 4 August 1977.

[23]“Incorporation ousts skinny dipping . . .”, Lakes Countryside, 1977.



[26]Excerpt from August 1963 editorial by Leslie Brooks Paddock, editor of the Barrington Courier-Review, recalling his childhood on what is now Roberts Rd. (Parro, “Pioneers of Tower Lake”).

[27]Robinson, “Schoolgirl’s lens . . .”, p. 7.

[28]“Incorporation ousts skinny dipping,” 1977.

[29]Mary Lueder interview, “Memories, 2004”.

[30]Bill Glade, “The History of Wauconda’s Fire Department”, speech given to the Wauconda Township Historical Society, 10 September 2007



[33]This information comes from the Wauconda Fire Department’s web site (“Department History”,, and Bill Glade’s 10 September 2007 speech to the Wauconda Township Historical Society.

[34]Wauconda Fire department website (‘Department History’)

[35]Bill Glade speech, September 2007

[36]Wishik, “Railroad Days . . .”

[37]I have been unable to locate any copies of this booklet.  

[38]Richard Warfield speech, 2006. ‘Non-high’ districts such as Ela, Cuba and Fremont levied per capita taxes to pay for transportation of their secondary students to other districts’ high schools. For instance, some of Ela’s children went to high school in Wauconda; others went to Spring Grove, and some took the train to Libertyville.

[39]“Incorporation ousts skinny dipping . . .”, Lakes Countryside, 1977.