Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Lost Towns of Illinois - Ontarioville, Illinois.

Ontarioville, Illinois, was located just south of U.S. Route 20 (Lake Street) at the intersection of County Farm Road and Ontarioville Road in Hanover Park, Illinois.

In 1846 Ringgold was the first name given to the village of Hanover Park, the town that straddles the Cook and DuPage County lines. The Frink & Walker Stage Coach, carried townspeople along an old Indian trail called "Lake Trail" (later becoming Lake Street) linking Chicago and Galena from 1832 until about the mid-1860s.
The Stagecoach wasn't as glamorous as the movies made them out to be.
Wilhelm Heinrich Harmening built a frame two-story house with a coupla sometime between 1865 and 1872 (on today's Lake Street US Rt 20) in Ontarioville. The Harmening House still stands, dilapidated, on the property now owned by the Central Sod Farm in Hanover Park.

The Harming House was razed on May 31, 2021.
The Harmening House
The Harmening House

In 1872, Colonel Rosell M. Hough (Roselle, Illinois' namesake), founder and president of the Chicago & Pacific Railroad (later the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railroad) laid tracks on the property of Edwin Bartlett after he donated more than seven acres for the construction of a depot. Luther Bartlett donated a 40-acre "woodlot," the source of the Bartlett family's lumber and firewood. 

People donating land for depots along the right-of-way were allowed to name the villages that were formed. Edwin and Luther Bartlett, brothers, each established stations named "Bartlett" along the Chicago & Pacific Railroad line. Luther's station kept the name Bartlett, but to avoid confusion, Edwin renamed his station "Ontario" in 1873, after a legend that the site was built on an old Indian trail between Lake Ontario and Green Bay, Wisconsin. 

A post office was established in Ontarioville in 1873.

Edwin Bartlett began setting down plans for the village in 1874 and by the 1880s the community was thriving as new homes were built in Bartlett's subdivision between the railroad tracks and Ontarioville Road. The little railroad stop became a connection to the larger world, with service extending to Omaha, Sioux City, and beyond. 

Ontarioville's population was 250 in 1920, but when Lake Street became a major artery in the 1920s, a bypass skirted the town and an underpass went under the railroad tracks. Traffic and development were diverted away from the older section of town, in DuPage County. Slow development began on the Cook County side.

In 1925 many people purchased lots in the new Grant Highway (today: Lake Street / US 20) subdivision, but only a few homes were built before the Great Depression. In 1947 construction stalled again when the developers left town with the down-payment money. 

There were so few commuters in 1955 that Ontarioville was taken off the schedule as a train stop. Nearby Streamwood was expanding rapidly, and the Cook County portion of Ontarioville, afraid of annexation by its neighbor, incorporated as Hanover Park in 1958.
Although the community wished to retain a rustic feel, it also hoped to prevent further encroachment of surrounding land by Streamwood. The village formed its own realty firm, Hanover Builders, to begin Hanover Park First Addition subdivision in 1959. The village also began to annex commercial property along Ontarioville Road in DuPage County. 
North of Irving Park Road industries began to boom. Tradewinds Shopping Center on the northeast corner of Irving Park and Barrington Roads opened in 1968. A large annexation of DuPage County land took place in 1970, and by 1990 Hanover Park encompassed nearly five square miles. From a 1970 population of 11,916, the community nearly tripled by 1990 to 32,895.
The boundary between Cook and DuPage Counties produced an invisible dividing line for Hanover Park; now, the Elgin-O'Hare Expressway physically divides the village.

Compiled by Dr. Neil Gale, Ph.D. 


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