Marilyn W. Cawiezel
In the fall of 1832, after the Black Hawk War had ended, the first two permanent settlers came to what is now the Village of Lisle. Luther Hatch (1804-1852), born in New Hampshire, lived on and farmed his claim south of Ogden Avenue. His brother, James C. Hatch (1806-1902), established a claim adjacent to Luther’s and north of Ogden. Their parcels were bisected by what is now known as Main Street.
After improvising a shelter for the winter months, the Hatch brothers began farming preparations upon the raw prairie, using axes to chop grooves where they later planted corn. Plowing chores were eased somewhat by their using a team of oxen. Included in a letter Luther wrote to a brother in the fall of 1833 was this paragraph:
We have built a small frame house, made our own shingles and did all of the carpentry and joining, dug a good cellar and a well, cut 18 tons of hay, put in our wheat (60 acres), cut up our corn (21 acres) and now are fencing our wheat, a rather tough job having to haul some of our rails nearly a mile.
Prior to 1842 Luther sold his claim and bought property on Warrenville Road, much of which is now Arbor Ridge subdivision. He farmed, had a saw mill, was director of the first school and was a township school trustee at the time of his death. His great granddaughter, June Frey, is a lifelong resident of Lisle.
James C. Hatch built a log house on his claim in 1833 and moved into a frame house in 1848. James kept a wagon and blacksmith shop on his farm, and built a creamery. One of the founders of the DuPage County Society for Mutual Protection, he also helped to organize the DuPage Agricultural and Mechanical Society in 1853, serving as its secretary. Luther too was active in the society. James was Lisle Township supervisor in 1855.
“Tomorrow I shall travel through the mud the distance of 23 miles to mail you this letter,” wrote Luther Hatch to his brother in 1833. He had to go to Chicago and later to Naperville to pick up or send mail. By 1834 John Thompson provided postal services in Lisle in his home, located on land now a part of the Morton Arboretum. He still was postal supervisor when Lisle Station was created in 1851.
Religion was important to the settlers. As early as 1833 members of the First Congregational Church of DuPage were worshipping in Lisle “on the first Sabbath of the month.” In July 1982 members of Lisle’s First Congregational-United Church of Christ observed the 140th anniversary of the formation of a congregation in the community.
In 1834 Jeduthan and Leonard K. Hatch joined their brothers in Lisle, taking claims to the north. Jeduthan was a representative to the Constitutional Convention in 1837, served as state legislator in 1842, was Lisle Township supervisor in 1851 and county judge in 1852. Leonard sold to John Thompson about 1835 and moved to Downers Grove. There he taught school and was the supervisor of that township by 1850. In 1855 he went into the grocery business with Henry Carpenter. Later he built a store in Lisle and purchased a farm east of the present Woodridge Golf Club. Some of the maple trees he planted along the road in that vicinity are still standing.
Another Hatch brother, Ira, went to Chicago in 1856, and served as president of the Chicago Medical Society in 1861-62. He moved to Warrenville after his home-office building was destroyed by the Great Chicago Fire in 1871.
How did Lisle get its name? It was suggested by Alonzo B. Chatfield, who in 1835 had come to Lisle from New York where an area bore that name, which, in turn, had its origin in France. Initially Lisle was known as DuPage, a name which was confusing because a township in Will County also had this title. Chatfield’s farm surrounded the present Riedy Road and Main Street intersection.
A log school house was built by subscription in 1834, and a new school-house constructed in 1837. The school was built by Thomas Jellies, a farmer and carpenter who had come to the area from England in 1834. It was replaced by still another structure in 1873.
“When the first settlers started making their homes here, there was no cemetery in the vicinity,” according to a foreword in the earliest record book of the Lisle Cemetery Association. Realizing the need, James C. Hatch dedicated a tract of his claim as a burial ground. The first to be buried there was George Willard, father of eleven, who died in 1835, a few weeks after the family had arrived from Massachusetts. In September 1836 two of his daughters were also interred there.
To facilitate travel plank roads were built in some places. Southwest Plank Road was extended from Chicago to Naperville by 1851; its Lisle path is now known as Ogden. A toll gate stood in front of Marc Beaubien’s Tavern-Inn in western Lisle, a comfortable day’s journey from Chicago. Marc had purchased the property in 1841 from Richard Sweet, and served as innkeeper in Lisle until 1865.
Jean Baptiste Beaubien, Marc’s brother, was in command of twenty-five men who came from Ft. Dearborn to Naper Settlement during the Black Hawk War to fight Indians if it became necessary. In 1858 he retired to Beaubien Inn, died in 1863, and is among those buried in the small cemetery east of the building.
Patrick O’Brien, who came to Lisle in 1863, informed his granddaughter that an Indian burial ground was located on the Keller farm west of Beaubien’s land. Joseph Yackley, in a 1916 interview, recalled seeing friendly Indians at Beaubien’s Tavern and in “Round Meadow,” near where Joy Morton’s home later stood.
Xavier Riedy and sons Martin and Johann came to Lisle in 1843. They built a log cabin northwest of Route 53 and Maple Avenue. While Xavier was bringing his wife and other children from their native Alsace, a storm blew down his cabin, which had to be rebuilt. A new Riedy homeplace was built in the 1860s by Martin. Added to and remodeled, it stands at 5328 Route 53. Five generations have tilled the soil there: Xavier, Martin, Edward, Riley and his children. Martin’s wife Magdaline was the daughter of John and Helena Yackley, who had come to Lisle from France in 1845.
Heading to California to mine during the Gold Rush were Alois Schwartz, E. Cable, Jacob Gross and Martin Riedy. They left in March 1850 with a wagon and four horse team. Ferdinand Schwartz left later, joining his brother in California. After Martin returned to Lisle, his brother Johann left to mine gold. He was never heard from again.
In 1850, at the time voters opted for the township form of government, Lisle Township’s population was 1,137. Earliest Lisle property tax records on file are dated 1856. In that year Xavier Drendel’s 24-acre parcel, for example, had an equalized valuation of $175. Family names listed among the 1856 courthouse records include many whose descendants still reside in or near Lisle. Among them were Allen, Alleso, Bailey, Bannister, Barber, Beaubien, Books, Bruckbeller, Bucks, Carpenter, Chatfield, Clancy, Drendel, Duck, Dumoulin, Dutter, Emory, Erhardt, Fender, Gall, Grafs, Griswald, Hatch, Heim, Helm, Horstman, Hunt, Jellies, Kaeffer, Kuenye, Lannis, Lehman, Lundy, Mertz, Meyer, Morse, Neff, Netzley, O’Brien, Ory, Parmer, Pelling, Potter, Reid, Rickert, Riedy, Schaerer, Schock, Schrodi, Schwartz, Sherwood, Sitter, Smith, Standish, Striker, Thoman, Thompson, Thorn, Weaver, Weber, Willard, and Yaeg. Other families who arrived through the 1860s were Corel, Haumesser, Hinterlong, Loring, Mueller, Rott, Schmitt, Tate, Yackley and Yender.
The first train came through Lisle on May 20, over tracks completed from Aurora to Chicago by the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad. After fire destroyed the depot built in 1863, a new one was constructed in 1874-75, according to documentation by Joseph Bennett When Burlington Northern discontinued use of this historic structure in October 1978, it was donated for use as a museum. Moved about a quarter mile northeast and named the Doris M. Gurtler Museum in honor of a Lisle-promoting, long time Sun newspaper editor, the building is owned by the Lisle Park District, maintained by the Heritage Society and stands upon land leased from the Village of Lisle.
Riedy’s Hardware, founded in 1889 and Lisle’s oldest existing business, moved to a new building on Front Street in 1894, and then to a modern one on Main Street in 1968. The founder’s grandson, Albert Cawiezel, is partner/manager. The Front Street structure has housed the Lisle post office, a Red Cross meeting room during the war years and, from 1968 to 1981, the Lisle Library. In 1981 it became headquarters for Multimedia Cablevision of Lisle.
In 1893 the first plat of Lisle was drawn up and recorded by members of the Lisle Improvement Company: Simon Engelschall, W. Spencer Green, H. H. Goodrich, W. F. Mitchell, Alfred and Lawrence Pelling, Albert Riedy and Joseph Yackley. Streets were graveled, trees planted and wooden sidewalks built in an area bounded by Front, Columbia, Division, and what became Route 53.
Before the turn of the century, a volunteer fire department was organized. In 1944 the Lisle Fire Protection District was formed; it took the name Lisle-Woodridge Fire Protection District in 1978.
Lisle Creamery was started in 1895. It later became the Union Dairy and then the Lisle Pure Milk Association. Lisle became the largest milk shipping center along the CB&Q between Aurora and Chicago.
St. Procopius College and Academy, founded in Chicago in 1887 by monks of the Order of St. Benedict, opened in Lisle in 1901. In 1967 the academy merged with Lisle’s Sacred Heart Academy, established by the Benedictine Sisters in Lisle in 1926. The school’s name became Benet Academy. The college was renamed Illinois Benedictine on July 1, 1971.
In 1914 St. Procopius Abbey relocated in Lisle. In 1970 the monks moved into their new Abbey on College Road, a structure cited by the American Institute of Architects as one of the outstanding buildings in the United States for 1973. St. Procopius Seminary opened in 1916, but was closed in 1967.
After fire had destroyed the 1873 public school building on Halloween night 1909, a two-room brick building was constructed. Called Lisle Public School originally, and then Main Street School, it had three additions in forty years and served as Lisle’s only public grade school until Schiesher opened in 1956. Renovated in 1979, it now is the Lisle Village Hall-Police Department. Schiesher is named in honor of Martha Schiesher, who began her forty years of dedicated service to the school system in 1926. She was Lisle’s sole school administrator for nineteen years.
Dredging of the East Branch of the DuPage River took place in 1920. In the early 1920s electricity became available in Lisle.
In the fall of 1922, Joy Morton set aside a portion of his land for the Morton Arboretum. The founder of Morton Salt Company, he was one of the four sons of J. Sterling Morton, inaugurator of Arbor Day.
George and Sylvia Kostopoulos later recalled that in 1926, when they moved to Lisle, there were “no buildings on Main between Ogden and the railroad except the old farmhouse. The west side of Main was an apple orchard.” Walker Gamble recalled that in 1929 Main had two stores. Dairy farming was the most important business. In the late 1920s Arthur T. McIntosh Co. was developing the Dumoulin farm south of Ogden and west of Route 53.
St. Joan of Arc Parish’s first Masses were held in 1924 in the second floor meeting room of Riedy’s Hardware-Lumber. Lisle Bible Church was founded in 1933. Faith United Methodist Church was organized in 1959. Lisle Trinity Lutheran Church’s inaugural services took place in 1960.
In the 1930s the Lisle business district was augmented by buildings constructed on Main Street north of the tracks. A state highway plan called for closing the Main Street underpass when a Lisle link in Route 53 had been made and a new underpass built there. In 1938, however, merchants sponsored a street dance for the community to celebrate their successful campaign to keep Main Street open.
Volume 1 No. 1 of the Lisle Advertiser was published April 21, 1938. Charles and Marie Rice were editors. Volume 13, No. 15, appearing on October 6, 1950, was the first issue under the new and present owners, Harold and Eva White, owners and publishers of the Naperville Sun. Later the Advertiser’s name was changed to the Lisle Township Sun.
Improved telephone service came in 1946, when Lisle customers served by Naperville were able to signal the operator by lifting the receiver instead of turning a crank. Dial service became available in 1956.
Lisle residents voted to incorporate in 1956. There were 606 ballots for and 287 against. In 1959 the appellation “Arboretum Village” was approved, reflecting Lisle’s nearness to the world-famous Morton Arboretum.
Oakview subdivision, completed in 1956, was the first large post-World War II development. Others to follow included The Meadows in 1960, Four Lakes in 1964, Beau Bien in 1967, Shadowood (then Benedale Green) in 1973, and Green Trails in 1975.
The first financial institution in Lisle was Lisle Savings and Loan Association, which opened in 1959. The grand opening of the Bank of Lisle came in May 1960.
Classes first convened at Tate Woods in January 1960. A new junior high was ready by December 1962. Lisle students who attended public high school enrolled either in Naperville or in Downers Grove except for several years in the 1930s when a two-year high school program was conducted in a portion of Main Street Grade School. Lisle Community High opened in September 1957 with 200 students. A new senior high was built, opening in September 1974. The first building became the junior high. The most recent grade school, Meadows, was started in January 1965. In 1972 voters approved combining the elementary and high school districts into Lisle Community Unit School District 202.
St. Joan of Arc school was open for classes in 1927. The parish junior high for grades six through eight opened in 1965. Both schools are conducted by Benedictine Sisters from Lisle’s Sacred Heart Priory.
A referendum establishing a tax-supported Lisle Library District was approved in 1965. The Lisle Park District was approved by referendum in 1967.
Construction of the Western Electric plant in 1968 marked the beginning of a commercial, residential and research development which continues. Lockformer, Molex, Tellabs, Burroughs, Chicago Furnace, Victor Products and SWIB Industries are among Lisle’s businesses. Corporate West office/research complex was approved by the village board in 1976. In that same year 2,400 commuters from Lisle boarded the Burlington Northern daily.
In 1981 the Hilton Inn in Lisle opened Corporetum Office Campus, a sixty-acre office/research development planned for the strip of land east of Route 53 and south of the East-West Tollway, was approved in 1983. A few months later plans for a twenty-one million dollar Holiday Inn hotel-office complex were accepted by the village board.
Lisle has a wide complement of church, school, civic, service, sports and social organizations which reflect the many and varied interests of village residents. Participation in local government extends to service in the county. Julius Hankinson, president of Hankinson Lumber and Supply, has served on the county board for over twenty years.
Lisle’s 1956 census reported 3,200 residents. There were 8,428 in 1975. The 1982 population totaled almost 14,000.
Lisle is still populated by pioneers of a contemporary sort, independent settlers who continue to improve and to add to the trails which had been skillfully blazed by those who preceded them.
Marilyn Cawiezel was an organizer of the Lisle Heritage Society, and wrote feature stories in Lisle newspapers from 1957-1979.