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Elburn History

Elburn seniors

Settlement of the area that would become the Village of Elburn began in the early 1830s. William Lance and his family settled on land his family claimed on May 2, 1834. The Lance property was located about four miles south of present-day Elburn and about one-and-a-half miles east of the Kaneville Township line.

By virtue of making this claim, the Lances became the first to settle in Blackberry Township. A stream of immigrants began arriving in this new land of fertile soil and opportunity during 1835.

As a side note, the County of Kane was established by a proclamation issued on May 24, 1836.

Agriculture became the backbone of the local economy at that time. To bring the fruits of their labor to the markets in Chicago and other large cities, the Chicago & Northwestern Railroad (C&NW) bought up land stretching from the big city to the town of DeKalb and west in the early 1850s.

Elburn seniors

When the C&NW laid tracks through Blackberry Township in 1853, the company established a train station, which company officials named Blackberry Station. Businessmen started opening stores around the station. Soon, homes and churches were erected in the nascent town. By the year 1858, Blackberry had become a thriving community of 300 inhabitants.

The town continued to grow in size, both in terms of population and land area. Residents of the community of Blackberry voted to incorporate in 1881 and the Village of Blackberry was established. Within five years, the Village would change its name from Blackberry.

Trustees debated renaming the Village during 1885. The first proposal was renaming the village Melbourne after the city in Australia, but the United States Postal Service already had a town by that name in Illinois.

The Village Board reached consensus at its January 16, 1886 meeting, officially adopting Elburn as the Village’s name by shortening the name Melbourne.

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The Village of Elburn continued to thrive and progress as it entered the 20th Century. The Village’s population grew to 613 by 1910. The Village added gravel streets in 1912 as an amenity for its residents.

Passage of the Women’s Suffrage Act in 1909 led to the first votes by the women of Elburn in 1914. The first motion-picture theater in Elburn opened in April 1914, adding to the Village’s expanding business base. Fifty-two businesses had been established in Elburn by 1915.

Elburn continued to watch progress of the post-industrial age as the Roaring Twenties reached the Village. Residents witnessed the first airplane landing in town in 1920, when a pilot set his biplane down.

Also during the 1920s, parishioners of St. Gall Catholic Church dedicated their building on May 16, 1926. Students began taking classes at the new Elburn High School – now the Elburn & Countryside Community Center – in September 1929.

Elburn tractor

Celebration was in the air for the first time in 1930, when the first Elburn Days festival was held. The Village dedicated Kildeer Park on July 4, 1934.

More modernization came to the Village during the 1930s, including the paving of Illinois Route 47, formerly known as Sugar Grove Road, which was after the communities to the south of Elburn. During the 1950s, the Village upgraded its water system and added a sewer system, laying the groundwork for further population growth.

Fire service for the Elburn area improved during the 1960s and 1970s. The Elburn & Countryside Fire Protection District hired its first full-time fire chief in 1968 and formed the Elburn Ambulance Service in 1972. The first paramedic was hired in 1975.

A commercial building boom started in 1976, with four new buildings being erected. The grand opening for Blackberry Center was held that year.

Old Cars

Elburn’s Public Works Department faced one of its most difficult tasks in January 1977, when the worst snowstorm in more than 100 years hit the area. Similar storms struck Elburn in 1978 and 1979.

Major progress on transportation was in the offing in the early 1990s. Elburn village leaders learned in 1990 of plans by the Metra rail service to build a station west of Geneva. The Elburn Metra station would be years from reality.

The year 1990 also marked the year that Elburn became a Tree City USA for its efforts at beautifying the Village and taking care of trees on public property. The Village installed tornado sirens that year to alert residents of an impending severe weather.

A new Village Hall was completed in 1993, only four years before the Village sought a special census to determine how many people lived within the corporate limits. That census showed that 2,233 people resided in Elburn.

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