This month, we lent a helping hand to Friends of the Major Taylor Trail, on Earth Day Weekend, organized by local bicyclist Anne Alt.
Hosted by Cook County Forest Preserves, in association with TreeKeepers of Openlands and Green Corps, the day brought us out to Chicago's South Side Whistler Woods to clear out overgrown sections of the Major Taylor Trail and to remove invasive species. We learned about new, up & coming trails and a little local history too. Read on to find out more.
After the 1832 Black Hawk War, land-hungry New Englanders and western Virginians pushed out along Indian trails radiating away from Chicago in search of farm sites. To the north and northwest, they found a rolling, well-watered prairie interspersed with large oak groves. Finding access to Cook County government difficult, they petitioned for the formation of a more local county seat. The Illinois legislature approved the petition in 1836 and named the new county McHenry, after a leader of volunteers in the area during the Black Hawk War.
McHenry County stretched west from Lake Michigan to present-day Boone County and north from Kane County to the Wisconsin state line. Since the Fox River flowed through the approximate center of the county and was easily fordable at the present site of McHenry, that village became the county seat.
The eastern side of the new county was settled earliest as most newcomers established homes along the Green Bay Trail. Farmers and speculators there found trips around numerous glacial lakes and across wet prairies to McHenry too time consuming. In 1839 voters in eastern McHenry County were granted the right to form a new county (Lake County.).
A major industry in Wadsworth in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s was the production of bricks and field tile. Winter’s Brick Yard and Cashmore Tile and Brick Yard were two enterprises involved in this. Several brick houses in Wadsworth were built by Jonathan Cashmore or his children and are still in use today.
Many of the buildings in Downtown Wadsworth go back to the late 1800’s or early 1900’s. There were grocery stores, taverns, restaurants, general stores and dance halls. Some of these buildings are gone, but others remain, although with different uses.
The Village of Wadsworth incorporated in 1962 and celebrated its 50th Anniversary as an Incorporated Village in 2012. Its current population, following the 2010 Decennial Census, is 3,815. The Village prides itself on its rural character which is exemplified in its acre minimum requirement for residential lots and proximity to active farmlands and Lake County Forest Preserve land holdings. Located in northern Lake County within Benton, Newport and Warren Townships, the Village’s neighbors include the Cities of Waukegan and Zion and the Villages of Beach Park, Gurnee and Old Mill Creek. The Village proudly salutes and welcomes commuters entering and leaving the State of Illinois at the northern end of I-94 at the Wisconsin State Line.
* Special thanks to the Newport Township Historical Society for the above article.
Photo from: Newport township Historical Society
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