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 log 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.

A Word about Albert Keeney.
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 (US 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 school's entrance.

A Keeneyville Old-Timer Recalls.
Mrs. Mary "Mae" (Durkin) Miller, who lived to be 100 years old, and her husband Francis, were one of the first homeowners 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 1930s.

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 at Foster Avenue which is one block south of Lake Street due to a tiny lake that interrupts the street further south. You'd never realize that there is a body of water there because it's hidden by surrounding trees, bushes, and scrubs. South of the lake Virginia picks-up again and continues a block and a half south to Lawrence.

Vernon Drury Case & Case Foundation Company.
In 1952 Vernon Drury Case and his wife Henrietta Ellis bought ten acres of farmland on Lake Street (US 20) with a seriously dilapidated Victorian-style house and several, barely standing, out-buildings in Keeneyville, Illinois.
The Case house on Lake Street in Keeneyville. Year unknown.
The Case House in 1960, Keeneyville. Photo by Margaret Glorso Tynan.
This is where the Case Foundation Company began by raising capital for their new company, which would become the world headquarters of "Case Foundation Company." The company laid foundations for many of Chicago's great buildings, including Marina City, Sears "Willis" Tower, Standard Oil Building, and John Hancock Center. Vern Case is considered one of Keeneyville's most successful businessmen.
Keeneyville about 1949. Photo emailed to me by Vernon Case Gauntt.
Keeneyville - Case Foundation Company. (1952)
Photo emailed to me by Vernon Case Gauntt.

The Case house now. Note the front door had been moved.
A beautifully written Biography of Vernon Drury Case, written by his grandson, Vernon Case Gauntt.

Big Trouble in Little Keeneyville.
Because Keeneyville is such a small subdivision, not too much excitement occurs there. But on October 30, 1955, the Chicago Daily Tribune reports:
Eighteen young men arrested October 22 as they were about to begin a gang fight in Keeneyville, DuPage county, were fined a total of $375, including $108 court cost, by Kennith H. Winters, Bloomingdale township justice of the peace, in Roselle, Illinois yesterday [October 29, 1955].
The fines [per offender], including costs, ranged from $16 to $31 ($160 to $310 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. 


  1. This was very interesting. I had never heard of Keeneyville until I moved to Roselle a short time ago.

  2. Neil- I'm enjoying your posts. Vern and Henrietta Case are my grandparents and thank you for mentioning them and Case Foundation Company in your post. My father, Grover Gauntt, worked for Case and ultimately became President. We lived in Itasca. I wrote a story about Vern Case--I'm named after him--he was a bigger than life sort of guy and worked several summers for his company. Here's the link. https://www.writemesomethingbeautiful.com/2011/07/06/vern-case/
    Vern and Henrietta also bought and owned for several years the Myers Farm across the street. The property was sold to I believe a housing developer shortly after they passed in 1976 and 1977. I have some cool aerial shots of Keeneyville and the Case property taken about the time they bought the ten acres. What's the best way to get those to you. Vernon Case "Casey" Gauntt.

  3. "Mae" Miller was actually Mary (Durkin) Miller. She is my grandmother, and my father, Leonard Miller was born there in Keeneyville in 1935 and grew up there with 7 siblings on an egg farm. If you wanted to fill in some blanks, he is pretty sharp and could help you.

  4. Replies
    1. When did your Dad graduate? There was a Bruce Axelson in my class along with Helen Haase and Arlene Marrow. Our teacher was Betty Armbruster from Cloverdale.

  5. We moved there in 1945, memories of the school pictured and then the 4 room brick one built on the property in 1948-49. My brother and I delivered newspapers around that town, it was certainly fun. One of my good friends during the day was Shirley Meyer from the farm mentioned above. Looking up Sherman's who ran the grocery store. Know they moved to Crystal Lake sometime in the 50's. Our 8th grade class had 4 graduates. Myself, Bruce Axelson, Helen Haase, Arlene Marrow. Teacher was Betty Armbruster who lived in Cloverdale. Thanks for the memories.

  6. I went to grammer school in Keeneyville in 1957 to 1959. I was bused from Streamwood which was just being developed. I remember it being down a side street on the west side and north of Lake St


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