contentsNew Lenoxads

New Lenox History

historic school house

New Lenox was originally home to Native Americans, oak trees, butternuts and walnuts. Wildflowers filled the woods that surrounded Hickory Creek.

The first settlers who came to the community made their homes at Gougar Crossing, or what is now Route 30 and Gougar Road. Settlers came from the north and east, from the Kankakee River, the Des Plaines River and then on to Hickory Creek. The first name of the community was Van Home Point. The community, later “laid out” by a survey, was named Tracy in honor of the General Superintendent of the Rock Island Railroad, which ran through the town.

Mr. Tracy later requested the community be renamed after the Township, which was named New Lenox. New Lenox Township was named after Lenox, New York. The Township was established when Will County was created in 1852 with the building of the Rock Island railroad line between Chicago and Rock Island.

map

One of the state’s first highway routes was Route 30, or Lincoln Highway, which was built in 1920 and runs east and west through the Village.

The Village was officially created October 4, 1946. Community leaders F. Carlton Cole, Walter Baers and others reasoned that the community should be incorporated and become a Village. They strongly felt the need for self-governance and local control that incorporation would bring.

Recognizing the potential growth for the area, a community vote in the spring of 1946 resulted in the authorization for the creation of the Village of New Lenox. On October 4, 1946, the State of Illinois officially certified that the Village of New Lenox was legally organized and incorporated as a Village in the State of Illinois.

The New Lenox Area Historical Society, founded in 1987, has been collecting photographs, documents and other materials related to the community history. The Society distributes information through public speaking engagements, publications and teaching in classrooms at local schools.

log cabin

In 1998, the Society launched a community-wide effort to save Schmuhl School, that last remaining one-room school in the township. The Society has opened the school, restored to its 1920s state. They next plan to build a New Lenox Area Museum in the Hickory Creek Reserve of the Will County Forest Preserve District. This is located on Schoolhouse Road and Route 30.

In addition to being accessed by automobile, the museum can be reached through the bike trails that run throughout the New Lenox area, as well as through the Forest Preserve.

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