Then and Now
Village of Broadview
(Broadview Golden Jubilee — 1914 to 1964, Articles by Val Koch, published by the Village of Broadview)
“Bustling Broadview was once site of Native American hunting grounds”
In the early history of Cook County, Illinois, there rested in the tableland of the Des Plaines River, a reservation known as Proviso Township, bounded on north by Leyden, east by Cicero and Riverdale, south by Riverside and Lyons, and on the west by DuPage County. Up to the year 1870 this particular territory contained 36 sections, of which Broadview eventually became known as sections 15, 21, and 22.
The Des Plaines River flowed through the center of the east third of Proviso Township. The entire area consisted chiefly of majestic elm trees, many of which were five feet in diameter, surrounding a small lake which offered a haven for ducks and other migratory birds.
Broadview lay near the edge of this lake, which teamed with fish. Through the center of Proviso Township, winding toward Lemont, Illinois, was a strip of forest land, which provided hunting grounds for Native Americans of the Pottowatomie, Chippewa and Ottawa tribes; and skirmishes were reported between the Native Americans and earliest settlers in this area.
As late as 1900, a small settlement of Pottowatomies lived at 17th Avenue and the Illinois Central tracks. Many Native American arrowheads and other relics were found along the banks of Salt Creek.
Near the area of 17th Avenue and Roosevelt Road, rose a hill, aptly named Wolf Hill, because of several wolf lairs in and around it. Later this hill was leveled for road construction.
This section of land, then, which was partly swamp, was destined to become the Village of Broadview. Eventually, the lake and muddy areas were partially drained by means of surface drainage in the Des Plaines River, and crops were then raised on this land. Potatoes and corn were the first crops, as well as oats, wheat, and timothy. Later, the land was cultivated as truck gardens for various markets in the immediate area. As time went on, a more modern drainage system, tile, was installed, which eventually completely drained the entire reservation.
The first white settler in Proviso Township was Aaron Parsell, who resided on Section 29 in the year, 1832. Today, this section is known as Westchester. For the purpose of title and geographical identification, Broadview is located on a tract of land known as Sections 15, 21, and 22, township 39 north range 12, east of the third principal meridian.
Historical records show a sale of land consisting of 80 acres in the Broadview area, was purchased from the United States government for $120.00. This was on June 25, 1835, and the purchaser was one, Frederick Bronson. On August 8, 1835, he purchased 160 acres of land at public sale for $200.00. By 1870 all the land of the future Broadview was owned by more than 35 different people. See the map of Broadview Landowners as they were in 1870.
“In 1843 township 39, range 12 was officially surveyed. This is Proviso Township and was the last township surveyed in Cook County. The first U. S. government survey in Cook County area was made in 1821.”1
“This area was organized into a town under the name of Taylor Township, but later in the month of April 1850 the name of Proviso was substituted for Taylor. Proviso was suggested by the prominence still maintained in the minds of the people by the Wilmot Proviso.”2
1A. T. Andreas, History of Cook Country Illinois, Chicago, 1884, page 360
2 Ibid, page 800
In the 1880s the railroad came through the area and the first subdivision was platted. Eighty acres of northeast Broadview was named the Western Addition, presumably of Maywood, in 1883. In the same year, the Chicago, Madison and Northern Railroad Company (which became the Illinois Central Railroad) bought a right of way from farmers a half a mile south of this subdivision. In 1890, the Union Land Association was formed by 35 investors and $100,000 in capital. The following year they subdivided a portion south of 12th Street and drew in street numbers from Ninth Avenue to 21st Avenue. They named their map Broad View (two words). On an 1899 Rand McNally map of Chicago, the railroad station at 17th Avenue and the railroad right of way was shown as Broadview (one word).
In 1893, the year of the Colombian Exposition, a real estate firm by the name of Foreman and Cummins began to clear the land and to subdivide it. Each lot was to have a frontage of 300 feet, and there were to be four lots to one block. Foreman and Cummins pitched a large tent near 11th and Roosevelt Road, advertised “Free Refreshments” on a sign on top of the tent, and went into the business of selling lots. Very little resulted from the subdivision, however, and except for a few scattered houses, most of the area remained farmland. Almost all of the early settlers in Broadview were of German origin.
At the turn of the century, a farmer named Muir built his farmhouse on Ninth Avenue and 14th Street. His farm later burned to the ground. In 1870 Ernest Hoermann had built his farmhouse on the southwest corner of 17th Avenue and 14th Street. Seventeenth Street was named after him in those days, and his house still stands today. This, then was Broadview at the turn of the century; a few scattered farmhouses and a small settlement of homes, about twenty in all, in “80 Acres”. “80 Acres”, or Oklahoma, as it was commonly called, was that territory lying between what is now Eisenhower Expressway and Roosevelt Road, and extending from 13th Avenue west to 17th Avenue.
The territory was unincorporated, and there were no building restrictions; in fact, there weren’t many building restrictions anywhere. “80 Acres” endured and thrived for a number of years. It contained a one-room school house, located in almost the identical spot where Roosevelt School now stands.
Meetings were held in this schoolhouse before a village hall was built, and many good times were held in it, too. It was regrettable, that owing to the difficulty in getting teachers to come out to “80 Acres”, the schoolhouse was closed down, and the students transferred to the No. 5 School, now known as Garfield School, at Ninth Avenue and Van Buren Street in Maywood. The children who lived south of Roosevelt Road trudged to school at Cermak Road and 25th Avenue.
Two gentlemen from Maywood then opened a Sunday School in the old schoolhouse. Mr. B. B. Coons and Mr. Davis spearheaded the opening of the Sunday School.
A bunch of classmates meet at the Hoermann farmhouse each morning and walked to Cermak Road down 17th Avenue, and then right to 25th Avenue. In bad weather, there was mud,’ rain pools, slush, and snow. In extremely had weather, the school closed down.
There were no age requirements when a child started first grade in those days. If a youngster was under five and wanted to start school, and his/parents consented, he was right there with the rest of them. Aside from a schoolhouse and a saloon in “80 Acres”, there wasn’t much of anything else in the way of stores. The residents and farmers hitched up their horses and buggies and went to Forest Park, or to Maywood, to do their shopping. This always turned out to be a half day event, where one met old friends and chatted over buggy wheels.
“80 Acres” boasted modern sidewalks, which were planks laid out on two by fours, and wide enough for two people to use. They didn’t last too long, however. The weather rotted the lumber. Those walks which didn’t fall apart, were eventually torn up.
There were no street lamps installed in Broadview. Roosevelt Road was a single lane graveled roadway, and veering north from it, was a single lane dirt road. The graveled road was used for funerals on their way to Oak Ridge, or Mount Carmel, which were the only cemeteries west of Broadview at that time.
The dirt road was popular with teamsters hauling crushed stone from the Hillside quarry, and by farmers. Traffic was light compared with today, and there were none of the problems as we know them now.
In the summertime, Sunday afternoons were very popular, due to “80 Acres” fine baseball team, which was organized in 1912. The song on everybody’s tongue at that time was “Harrigan, That’s Me”, and so the “80 Acres” team was called the “Harrigan Colts”, and a fine looking body of young men they were, all decked out in their green and white uniforms. And could they play ball? Hardly ever did a team come out that could beat them, and the best sandlot teams that Chicago had to offer were taken on. The star pitcher was George Cote, who was Broadview’s first treasurer.
In 1914, there was talk of incorporating the territory of Broadview. Maywood offered to enfold Broadview into her boundaries, but many people were against such a move.