Tuesday, April 23, 2019

The History of Keeneyville, a Bedroom Community in unincorporated DuPage County, Illinois.

The area called Keeneyville, which never incorporated, was named after Albert F. Keeney (1872-1950), who was among the first settlers.
Lake Street School, Keeneyville, Illinois. Circa 1950s.
On October 4, 1897, Lake Street School District 20, Bloomingdale, opened the doors of a one room cabin schoolhouse with 9 students, ranging in age from five to twelve years old, and Ms. Eunice P. Batten, the only teacher. The first school building was used until approximately 1914. Then sometime in the 1920s, a new building was built. However, there is no information available where classes were held. By 1930, Lake Street School had two classrooms and 18 students.

Albert Keeney, a native-born Iowan and a real estate developer, decided to subdivide his farmland along Lake Street into individual plots for homes. The Keeneyville subdivision was created when Albert and Virginia Keeney signed and recorded the land plat in 1932.

The original subdivision, East of Gary Road, and South of Lake Street (U.S. Highway 20), contained approximately 115, one acre lots.

People knew Albert as a very colorful man. His hair was white and he always wore a red Marshall Field necktie which he bought by the gross (twelve dozen).

Mr. Keeney became a leader in the community. He donated land to the Keeneyville Bible Church in addition to making other major contributions to the church. The Lake Street School also benefited from Albert's generosity, as he even donated the sign that hung over the schools entrance.

Mrs. Mae Miller, who lived to be 100 years old, and her husband Francis, were one of the first home owners in Keeneyville. The lake in Keeneyville was considered by the local Indians to be a great fishing spot. According to Mrs. Miller, the lake was reduced to a swamp when drainage ditches were cut, and fill material was dumped in the lake during the original construction of Gary Road back in the 1930’s.

The small hidden lake in Keeneyville is still there.
Keeneyville's Hidden Lake
Maps show Virginia Road going south from Lake Street (U.S. 20) two blocks to where Virginia ends at Lawrence Avenue but that's incorrect. Virginia actually dead ends one-half block south of Lake Street due to a lake that interrupts the street. You'd never realize that there is a lake there because it's hidden by surrounding trees, bushes and scrubs. South of the lake Virginia Road picks-up again and continues to Lawrence.

Because Keeneyville is such a small subdivision, not too much excitment occurs there. But on October 30,  1955, the Chicago Daily Tribune reports:
18 TEEN-AGERS FINED $375 FOR BATTLE PLANSEighteen young men arrested October 22 as they were about to begin a gang fight in Keeneyville, DuPage county, werre fined a total of $375, including $108 court cost, by Kennith H. Winters, Bloomingdale township justice of the peace, in Roselle, Illinois yesterday.

The fines [per offender], including costs, ranged from $16 to $31 ($152 to $294 today). In addition each of the teen-agers was orderd to observe a 9 p.m. curfew for 90 days, and to be home by 8 p.m. thru tomorrow night. Each was charged with disorderly conduct. An adult overheard discussion of the battle plans and notified the Dupage county sheriff's office, which sent several squads to the scene. They arrived at the intended battleground, a school yard at Lake Street and Gary Avenue, just as fists were about to fly.
Another article says the gang fight was between Keeneyville boys, which called themselves “The Keeneyville Swamp Rats,” vs. a group of Roselle boys.

Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D. 

Monday, April 22, 2019

A brief biography of overachiever Colonel Rosell M. Hough (1819-1892).

In 1836 Elijah Hough (pronounced Huff) and his wife Electa, his daughter Cornelia, and two sons, Oramel and sixteen-year-old Rosell (spelled without an "e" on the end), moved into the Roselle and Bloomingdale area from Massachusetts.

Rosell worked as a butcher and supervisor in the Chicago meat packing business until 1850, when he and his brother, Oramel, opened their own meat packing plant on Halsted Street and Orange Avenue (79th Avenue). At the London Exposition of 1852, their beef won first prize for quality of "imported meat products," thus receiving a large contract for supplying beef to the English troops fighting in the Crimean War (1853-1856).

He was later a partner in the firm of Hough, Hills and Co., soap and candle manufacturers which, believe it or not, used the by-products from their meat packing company.

Rosell was elected and served as a Chicago alderman for the 2nd district from 1855 thru 1856. 

Rosell joined the Union Army on Septem­ber 10, 1861, with the rank of major. He served in Missouri, where he was wounded. He reenlisted June 13, 1862, with the rank of colonel. In 1864 Colonel Hough was active in recruiting volunteers for the army. With his help 6,000 men were recruited. 
Colonel Rosell M. Hough is seated in the middle.
After the Civil War, Colonel Hough was elected the first president of the Chicago Chamber of Commerce in 1864, and serving as a founder of the Chicago Union Stockyards and supervised its construction until opened in June of 1865. Roselle retired from the meat packing business.

When President Lincoln's funeral train arrived in Chicago on the way to Springfield, Rosell led the funeral procession on May 1, 1865, marching on Michigan Boulevard. It was estimated that 37,000 people marched and 150,000 lined route.
President Lincoln’s Funeral Procession in Chicago on May 1, 1865.
Harper’s Weekly Magazine.
Rosell was founder and president of the "Chicago and Pacific Railroad Company" which was organize in 1865 by a special act of the Legislature of Illinois.  

In 1868 when Rosell returned to the Roselle and Bloomingdale area, he found things changing. Cotton production in the South had all but stopped as an aftermath of the Civil War. There was a demand for cloth that could be produced from flax. Roselle began growing this crop on land he had bought from his father, Elijah, before his death in 1851.

Rosell established the "Illinois Linen Company" which manufactured linen and rope. The factory was located in Bloomingdale on the northwest corner of Chicago and Elgin Road (in 1891 the name changed to Elgin Avenue, then later to Irving Park Road) and Roselle Road, across the road from Henry Holstein's Grist Mill.
Vacant Illinois Linen Factory. Circa 1908.
Vacant Illinois Linen Factory. Circa 1908.
As President of the Chicago and Pacific Railroad, Col. Hough was able to influence the route. He saw future growth for his linen factory if the train would come through Wood Dale, Itasca, Medinah, and Roselle instead of Addison and Bloomingdale. It is rumored that he paid $10,000 to have the survey changed so the train line would go through Roselle, Illinois.

Rosell hired ex-convicts and ruffians from Chicago as laborers and built boarding houses near the factory to accommodate the factory workers. Their notorious drinking and fighting earned the town the nickname “Raise Hell.” One boarding house was nicknamed "The Beehive” because of the number of people living there and the amount of in-and-out foot traffic.
"The Beehive” so named due to the number of people who lived there. Inside was kitchen, a parlor, and bedrooms with two and three-tiered bunk beds in them. The residence, located at about 25 South Roselle Road was built in the 1870's by Rosell Hough as an Inn/Boarding House for workers in his flax factory. The house was razed in 1973.
The village was first platted and offically named Roselle in 1875 and incorporated on October 7, 1922.

Colonel Hough stayed in Roselle until 1880, at which time he sold his business interests in this area Hough then settled in Cheyenne, Wyoming, where he had a cattle company and land holdings. In declining health, the Colonel returned to Chicago in 1890, where he died March 8, 1892. Rosell had no children.

In 1895 the flax factory was shut down. Cotton was once again king in the South; moreover the Roselle soil had become exhausted after its many years of growing flax. These two reasons rendered the flax factory useless.

The building was converted to a tile and brick company by Chicago businessmen who had purchased the property. By 1900 the clay that had been found in the area also gave out, and the brick and tile company was closed. The building sat vacant until it was razed sometime in the 1920's.
Vacant Brickyard Company Factory. Photograph Circa 1908.
Rosell M. Hough and Wife are entombed at the Old Union Cemetery in Lincoln, Illinois.
Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D. 

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Henry Holstein and his Grist Mill in Bloomingdale, Illinois.

Henry Holstein was born in Hanover, Germany, December 22, 1821, eldest son of John H. and Maria (Boss) Holstein. John H. was a farmer, and died in his native land in 1862, aged sixty-five years. He had two sons and five daughters—Louisa, Fred and our subject. Louisa is the wife of Louis Homeir, of Addison Township, and Fred resided with her. 

Henry was raised a farmer, and remained with his parents until fourteen years of age, when he went to learn the miller's trade. In the spring of 1849, he came to America, arriving in Baltimore the end of May. The next month, he came to Addison Township, where he worked at farming, and afterward went to Cook County. The next year, he returned to Addison and rented land from Deitrich Stuckmann, where he continued thirteen years.
The wind-powered grist mill purchased from Mr. Colbury. This drawing of Henry Holstein's residence and mill was shown in the 1874 Atlas Map of DuPage County, Illinois.
He then moved to the unincorporated Bloomingdale area in 1863 where Holstein bought 114 acres of land at today's Schick and Bloomingdale Roads, costing $2,600, and lived there until 1874.

He moved again, just north of the village of Bloomingdale (incorporated 1889; re-incorporated 1923), where he bought the land and old wind-powered mill (Note: windmill build date is unknown) owned by Mr. Colbury. The land included the intersection of Chicago and Elgin Road (in 1891 the name changed to Elgin Avenue, then later to Irving Park Road) and Roselle Road (Roselle, Illinois, incorporated in 1922).
1874 Bloomingdale Township Map - Approximate location for Holstein's house and mill.
The mill was one of the largest in the area and designed for large-scale production, built with a wing building, presumably used for shipping or receiving. It was constructed with a foundation of stone, a wide base, and a self-governing tail fan to turn the cap.
Henry Holstein's residence and mill. The windmill was on the southeast corner of Irving Park Road and Roselle Road. The Holstein house was on the southwest corner.
(The exact location provided by the "Illinois State Library.")
Holstein hired experienced German miller Henry Raap to operate and maintain the mill. As experienced as Raap was, he narrowly escaped death when a tornado heavily damaged the Holstein Windmill in 1879.

Holstein did not reopen his mill for business until 1882 after painstakingly reconstructing it with improvements. He added a third run of millstones to increase the mill’s capacity.

Soon after reopening, however, Holstein sold the mill to a man named Steinbeck. Steinbeck hired Herman Schmoldt to operate the mill with Raap. When a steam engine was installed, Raap left to work for the railroad. The mill was destroyed by another tornado in 1899; this time, however, the mill was not rebuilt, but rather “capped” and served the rest of its life as a grain storage space.
Henry Holstein's mill after it was hit by a second tornado in 1899, destroying the top of the windmill.
Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D.