Amy E. Crisler
The pioneer looked toward the horizon and beheld a high, rolling treeless prairie. Here and there were traces of buffalo wallows and Indian camp fires … Nestled in the depressions were occasional ponds of clear water … Bright flowers mingled with the coarse grass, relieving the monotony with brilliant color … This was the land.”
The pioneer was Hiram Blanchard Patrick. The words, which describe what was to become Glendale Heights, are those of his daughter, Ruth Patrick, written in Story of a Pioneer Farm.
Hiram Patrick came to DuPage County in 1843 from Courtland County, New York. In December 1845, he bought 760 acres of land from the government at $1.25 an acre. He eventually owned a thousand acres of land in the county, most of it in the Glendale Heights area. His land was on both sides of Bloomingdale Road, stretching north for a half mile from where Queen Bee School stands. The family home was on the west side of Bloomingdale Road at the north end of his land. He owned additional land on both sides of Schmale Road, about a mile north of North Avenue.
The family lived on the farm until 1873 when Hiram Patrick, with his wife and younger children, moved to Wheaton. One of his older sons continued to live in the house on Bloomingdale Road for many years. The 20th Century Atlas of DuPage County, Illinois shows that the Patrick family still owned over 400 acres on both sides of Bloomingdale Road in 1904. Hiram died in 1906.
The Patrick house was built in 1860. It replaced an earlier two-story log house, and was a typical story-and -a-half Greek Revival frame house. The upright part was later moved to Glen Ellyn Road, and still stands on the west side of the street just south of Armitage Avenue.
Hiram’s younger brother, William Kirk Patrick, came to DuPage County in 1850, having previously bought 160 acres of land. He eventually owned all of Section 36 which is the square mile bounded on the south by North Avenue and on the east by Route 53. Most of this area is outside the village limits; but the Illinois shows that he owned property on the east side of Glen Ellyn Road between what is now Easy Street and Armitage. The home which he built still stands on the west side of Swift Road, just south of the Illinois Central tracks. Members of the family lived there until 1942.
Both Patricks were active in community affairs. W. K. was Bloomingdale Township supervisor from 1864 to 1873, and twice was president of the DuPage Agricultural and Mechanical Society. Hiram and two of his sons were also active in this organization, which operated the county fair from 1865 until 1900.
Another early settler was Rev. Milton Smith, whose land was on the west side of Bloomingdale Road and north of North Avenue. He came to DuPage County in 1835. He was one of the founders of the Wesleyan Methodist Church in Wheaton, and also one of their early pastors. The local historian, Rufus Blanchard, lists him as an active Abolitionist and says that he had a station of the underground railroad at his home in Bloomingdale Township, “… making great sacrifice of time and expense in conveying them (the slaves) stealthily in the night to Chicago to steamers that carried them to Canada.”
Along Glen Ellyn Road three men who were original owners of land, or their families, continued to live in the area for many years. Gilbert Way, whose marriage to Harriet Fish in 1840 was the first wedding at Stacy’s Corners, had come to DuPage County in 1837 and preempted the land which is the east end of Glen Ellyn Countryside. Harvey Coe’s first holding was eighty acres along Glen Ellyn Road north from Winthrop Street; but he later owned the land on both sides of Glen Ellyn Road for one half mile, a total of 370 acres. His house still stands at 1688 Glen Ellyn Road. Farther north Rowland Rathbun bought the land which is now the East Branch Forest Preserve on the east side of Glen Ellyn Road. All three families continued in the area for many years. By 1904 the Coe farm had changed hands, but the other two families were still on the land.
After the first settlers had arrived, the area developed rapidly. Prosperous farms with large houses and big barns, orchards, and gardens dotted the landscape. In the 1874 Atlas and History of DuPage County the Coe farm is thus described:
The homestead place consists of three hundred and seventy acres, very handsomely situated, in fact one of the very finest places in northern Illinois. It is well improved with good fences and buildings. It lies just east of the dividing ridge between Lake Michigan and Fox River and in the midst of one of the best neighborhoods in DuPage County.
Farming was diversified. The crops were wheat, corn, and oats. Farmers had cattle, horses, pigs and often sheep. In the post-Civil War era milk was sold to the creameries and cheese factories, which sprang up in almost every town. Blanchard’s 1882 history reports, “There is a cheese factory in the southeast part of the township which consumes 4,000 pounds of milk and makes 135 pounds of butter and 280 pounds of cheese daily. William Rathje and Fred Stuenkel, proprietors.” The exact location of the factory is not known.
After the coming of the railroads, milk was shipped to Chicago, and the dairy industry flourished. The Illinois Central Gulf, put through in 1888, had milk stops at Cloverdale and on Swift Road Farmers along Glen Ellyn and Bloomingdale roads shipped their milk on the Great Western, built in 1887. This line had a milk station at North Glen Ellyn, just west of Main Street on the south side of the tracks. Both lines ran milk trains which went into Chicago in the morning, carrying cans filled with milk, and returned in the afternoon with the “empties.” The milk trains on both lines carried one passenger car. This was the only local passenger service on either railroad.
Early roads often followed paths which animals and the Indians had made. The only well-known road from pioneer days touching Glendale Heights is Army Trail Road.
When new routes were put through as the land was settled, the north and south roads did not follow section lines but ran approximately in the middle of the sections, probably because the land was settled before the survey was made. Glen Ellyn Road was opened up in 1840; and Bloomingdale, soon afterwards. The first roads, of graded dirt, were impassable in rainy weather. Later they were topped with gravel. Glen Ellyn Road was straightened, widened, and paved in 1936. The hill just north of North Avenue on Glen Ellyn Road was much steeper than it is today. It was cut down when the road was paved.
The Illinois Central Railroad’s crossing on Glen Ellyn Road was a steep grade until 1938 when the underpass was put in. It was widened to four lanes in 1976. A new bridge over the railroad on Bloomingdale Road was built in 1968, and widened to four lanes in 1970.
North Avenue, a new road in the area, was put through in 1928, the first forty-foot highway through the county. During the 1930s the borders of the new highway were landscaped and planted with trees and shrubs through a Civilian Conservation Corps project. As the plantings grew they provided unusually attractive surroundings for the street.
Until 1958 the area which is now Glendale Heights was largely rural, with the exception of a small subdivision, Glen Ellyn Countryside, the east side of Bloomingdale Road north of North Avenue, which had been subdivided in 1951. During 1958 Midland Enterprises, operated by Charles and Harold Reskin, bought two farms on Glen Ellyn Road north of North Avenue. The first houses were built that year on Glen Ellyn Road and Larry Lane near Fullerton. The population stood at 104 on June 16, 1959, when a petition to incorporate was filed. On July 13 the court declared the village organized, and the first election was held on August 2. The first village board met on September 1, 1959, at the home of the newly elected village president, Anthony Larry.
Though incorporated as Glendale, the name was changed to Glendale Heights in March 1960, because there was another Glendale, in southern Illinois.
Growth of the village was rather slow at first. The Federal census of 1960 recorded only 175 persons. However, by September 1962 the number had risen dramatically to 2,020. Ten years after incorporation the population stood at 11,000. The most recent count, taken in April 1981, totaled 23,163. The number of residences has grown from 170 houses in 1959 to the current 4,216 single family dwellings and 3,424 multi-family units. The first apartments were built at 1270 and 1284 Glen Ellyn Road in 1961, and the first apartment complex, Valleywood, was completed in 1969.
When the village was organized, there was no provision for industrial development. However, it soon became apparent that for tax purposes it was advantageous to zone areas for industry and encourage its growth. Two large plants have been built: Chicago Blower on Glen Ellyn Road in 1966, and Spraying Systems at the intersection of Schmale Road and North Avenue in 1970. In addition eight smaller factories are in operation. The Industrial Site Inventory issued by the village in 1982 shows 283 acres of land zoned for future light industry. Several of these sites are along the Illinois Central Gulf Railroad, off Glen Ellyn and Bloomingdale roads.
Commercial growth has accompanied the increase in population. Small convenience shopping areas have been built along Glen Ellyn Road and along Bloomingdale Road. The first large development was on North Avenue, just west of Glen Ellyn Road As the village extended its boundaries to the north, large shopping areas were developed at the intersection of Bloomingdale Road and Army Trail Road, with stores, offices and restaurants on three of the four corners. Commercial development has extended both east and west on Army Trail Road.
Schools have often been hard pressed to provide and pay for rooms and teachers for the increased enrollment. There are two school districts within the village: Marquardt, District 15; and Queen Bee, District 16. The original white frame, one-room Marquardt School building stood at the corner of Glen Ellyn Road and Army Trail. This was replaced in 1937 by a structure that was added to in 1954 and 1959. The one-room Queen Bee school, believed to have been 100 years old, was demolished in 1962, after the first part of a new building had been constructed.
By 1983 there were eight public elementary schools, one junior high school and one middle school. St. Matthew’s Catholic School is an eight-grade elementary school. Developers dedicate ten per cent of the land they are developing for schools and parks.
The area is part of the Glenbard district, and students from Glendale Heights attend Glenbard North in Carol Stream. DAVEA, (DuPage Area Vocational Educational Authority), on Swift Road in Addison, which is supported by several DuPage high school districts, including Glenbard, provides advanced occupational training for students. They attend the home school half day, and spend the other half at DAVEA.
Before 1959 no churches existed within the area now comprising Glendale Heights. St. Matthew’s Catholic Church was built in 1962 on land donated by the Reskins. There are currently six Protestant churches serving the people of the village.
Health care services are available within the village, which has a number of small medical centers and dentists’ offices. Glendale Heights Community Hospital, which opened in 1980, has 186 beds, modern equipment, and a staff of 170 physicians in all specialties. In November 1982 the hospital was purchased by Adventist Health System North, Inc., the parent company of Hinsdale Hospital.
The police department, located in the Civic Center, has a complement of thirty-six officers. The village lies in two fire protection districts. The area south of the Illinois Central Gulf Railroad is in the Glenside Fire District, which is north of the railroad in the Bloomingdale District.
Water for Glendale Heights comes from nine shallow wells located throughout the area. The village is also participating in the Lake Michigan Water Allocation System.
Glendale Heights now has approximately eighty acres of park land on fourteen different sites, most of it dedicated to the village by developers. In 1983 the village received a grant from the Federal Land and Water Commission Program toward acquisition of a fifteen-acre park site. This is part of a larger tract of land of sixty-five acres which will be utilized as a central community park.
The village sponsors an extensive recreation program for both adults and children. The Glendale Heights Sports Hub, adjacent to the Civic Center, has an Olympic size swimming pool, tennis courts, racquetball courts, saunas, whirlpools, and many other sports facilities.
The Glendale Heights Polo Club, owned by Harold Reskin, is located on Bloomingdale Road north of the Civic Center. Its games are open to the public. These are played three times a week in season.
After a long period of make-shift facilities for a village hall, the Civic Center at Bloomingdale Road and Fullerton was completed in 1975, and all offices, with the exception of public works, are concentrated in one building.
The Glenside Public Library, which moved into a new $2,000,000 facility at 25 East Fullerton Avenue on July 10, 1982, began in 1967 as a volunteer effort in a house at 1631 Glen Ellyn Road, leased to the village by Harold Reskin for $1.00 a year. The Glenside Junior Women’s Club provided money and volunteers, as did several other groups. the volunteers, as did several other groups. The Glendale Heights Public Library District was created in February, 1974. In 1978 Glen Ellyn Countryside was included in the district, and the name was changed to Glenside Public Library District. A $2.4 million referendum in 1980 provided the funds to purchase a three acre site and to construct a facility. After fifteen years and three different temporary locations, the library finally had a permanent home!
Great changes have taken place since Glendale Heights became a village in 1959. Population has multiplied 200 times. The geographical area has increased sixfold. Prices of homes have changed from $14,000 in the beginning to a median value of $68,000, according to the 1980 Federal Census figures.
As was true throughout DuPage County, most of the early settlers were from New York State or New England. By the time the 1874 atlas was published, German names had replaced many of the English names. The majority of the inhabitants were farmers of German ancestry until post-World War II. The 1980 census figures reflect another change. Of the 23,183 population, there were 377 blacks, 2,040 classed as Asian or Pacific Islanders, and 850 of Hispanic origin.
Instead of wide open spaces dotted here and there with farm buildings, there are thousands of split level and ranches, single family dwellings, apartment buildings, shopping centers, used car lots, and fast food restaurants. It is wholly a village of its time with virtually no reminders of the past. Gone are the corn fields, the herds of cattle, the big barns and silos. With the exception of a few farm houses, nothing of what had been before remains.
In another way it is a village of the time. There is no Main Street, no central business area, no “downtown.” It is very much a village of the present and future. Its motto “Proud and Progressive,” reflects this orientation.
Amy E. Crisler has lived in what is now Glendale Heights since her family moved there when she was four years old. Having retired from teaching in 1968, she works part time at the DuPage county Historical Museum.