Chronology of Events
Village of Niles Center / Skokie, Illinois
1500 A.D. to 2000 A.D.


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  Introduction (View Video Clip -- large file)             

The idea for this work came about at a planning meeting of the Skokie Historical Society Millennium Committee. In order to guide us in our planning, a chronology was desired. In our possession was an earlier chronology which we have christened the "First Edition" and it has formed the basis for this "Second Edition". The First Edition was initiated, organized and compiled by Sandra Norris Palmore as a Skokie Public Library project for the United States Bicentennial celebration. Its goal was to locate and cite every statement referring to Niles Center / Skokie that appeared in descriptive and historical sources owned by the Library. The intention was to provide future researchers with a starting point and framework for writing a history of Skokie. Facts were collected by an interdepartmental committee of Library staff with Jane Hagedorn responsible for editing and fact-checking. Gary Newhouse accomplished the formidable task of producing a final, typed text. The First Edition enjoyed the generous encouragement and support of head librarians, Mary Radmacher and Carolyn Anthony, both of whom felt that the Chronology would be useful to the community.

In the twenty-three years since the First Edition work was completed, we have been the beneficiaries of three excellently written local histories which recount the activities of the men and women who have contributed to the history of this community. In order of publication, they are: The Luxembourg Brotherhood of America, 1887 - 1987, by Richard J. Witry, Skokie, 1888 - 1988, A Centennial History by Richard Whittingham and St. Peter Catholic Church, 1868 - 69 to 1993 - 94 by David Buisseret, Rosemary Schmit and Richard J. Witry. Each of these works has been indexed and can be examined at the Skokie Historical Society (SHS) and the Skokie Public Library (SPL).

The list of events in this work can be categorized as significant, insignificant and even trivial. However, it was thought that even the most trivial item should be recorded so that it will not be lost. Let future historians make of whatever use they wish to make of the item - at least it will not have disappeared in the mists of history. In addition, a few words of note. There are many "events" which did not make the list. Whether an "event" made the list or not was strictly an editorial decision. For example, the information supplied by Mrs. Coninx is far more numerous than was incorporated herein. However, back-up materials are available for examination at the SHS or SPL. Also, this "Second Edition" contains all of the entries contained in the First Edition.

You will note that the first entry in this work is listed as ca. 1500 and refers to the Potawatomi Indian tribe. "Skokie" is a Potawatomi word for "swamp". The influence of these native Americans continues to be reflected today in our names and the location of our main thoroughfares. For example, both Lincoln Avenue and Niles Center Road, which converge at St. Peter Catholic Church in downtown Skokie, were Indian trails. The Potawatomi came to the Lake Michigan watershed from northern Ontario in approximately 1500 A.D. Their presence in this area has been documented. The most famous of them, for our purposes, was the son of an English Major and Potawatomi woman whose Indian name was Sauganash. His English name was Billy Caldwell. They left this area in 1835 for reservations in Kansas and land on the Iowa - Nebraska border.

As you proceed through the work, you will note many events which have nothing to do with Skokie. Up until 1831, when the first Europeans arrived (and stayed) to farm the land, there were no historical events to record. The entries prior thereto are to give context and background - for these events shaped the settlement of this area. After 1831, listed events which do not directly relate to Niles Township / Skokie also give context. For example, at the time Sputnik I was launched by the Soviet Union in October, 1957, we in Skokie had just opened the new police department at Main and Lincoln the previous June and the Skokie Indians Drum and Bugle Corps had just won an unprecedented third national championship at Atlantic City, New Jersey. Again, this juxtaposition gives context.

A note of caution is in order. The Early Skokie pamphlet, published in 1976 by the Skokie-Lincolnwood League of Women Voters, should be used with caution. There are several errors in that work.  For example, at p.16, it notes that the Niles Center State Bank was located in George Blaumeuser's Saloon. The bank was located in the same building although next door to the saloon which was operated by Tony Seul. The building was owned by George Blaumeuser's father, Peter III, who died in 1907. George Blaumeuser, who is credited with ownership, was a small boy at the time. In addition, the last page of this work restates the Armond King "Skokie" story. This story has been revised by later works. In addition, there may exist conflicts between or among sources. There has been no effort to determine the accuracy of the fact where a conflict may exist, especially in the very early periods. Conflicts are noted by footnote where possible or an *. Also, many of the newspaper accounts which recount the early history of Skokie are based upon some of the same errors that have been cleared up by the later histories. The 1963 Jubilee editions of these newspapers should be read with caution and in light of the later histories. In addition, the serious historian will want to reconcile factual discrepancies. The goal in revising and expanding the Chronology was to preserve the "fact" with citations. Double asterisks (**) appear in citations where the information was collected by telephone or personal interview. There was no effort to verify - that will be the task of those who read and use this work. However, we are confident that most of the material contained herein is factually sound and can be relied upon.

Now, a personal note from Dick Witry. Special thanks go to several individuals who collaborated with me and without whose aid this work would not have been possible. First and foremost, thanks to my collaborator, Jane Hagedorn. In addition to her contributions to the First Edition, Jane was tireless in locating materials and supplying source credits for the entries. The accuracy of the entries is entirely due to her keen eye and professionalism. Working with her has been a delight. Ardis Coninx, a retired school teacher from District 69, reviewed hundreds of pages of minutes and other written materials from District 69's archives. These materials have been preserved and can be examined at both the SHS and SPL. Ardis also wrote the history of Central Methodist Church. This history, Central Methodist Church, Its First Sixty-Five Years, 1930 - 1995, can be examined at the SHS. Thanks are also due to two local residents whose curricula vitae include Ph.D.'s in history. Niles Township Trustee Judith Ross provided information on the early history of Niles Township. Mayor George Van Dusen has lent his support to insure this work's printing and dissemination. Thank you all!

Now a personal note from Jane Hagedorn. In 1999, it was the original Chronology's good fortune to encounter the ceaseless energy, interest, knowledge of local history, and relentless determination of Dick Witry and his goal of completing a revised edition for the year 2000. He not only has maintained the integrity and intent of the First Edition but has also greatly expanded and improved it by extending its coverage to include the years 1977-2000, by adding many additional facts to the years originally covered, by clarifying a number of confusing issues, and by often including the broader historical context surrounding local events. He has been a generous collaborator and one who has been unfailingly gracious in receiving suggestions. More important, he has made this Second Edition a reality.

This is intended to be a perpetual work in progress. We invite all who read this Second Edition to contribute to its content - whether by way of addition, subtraction or revision. You may contact either Jane Hagedorn at the Skokie Public Library or Dick Witry at the Skokie Historical Society.

 It is our hope that this work will be useful to all those who read it and use it.

Jane Hagedorn and Richard J. Witry                February, 2000

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Skokie Historical Society
8031 Floral Avenue
Skokie, Illinois 60077