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Local History

The name Franzosenbusch is German and it means literally "Frenchman's Woods".  Donna Freymark's Old Names of DuPage County Towns explains that an area known as Frenchman's Woods, named after the large landowner Nicholas Torode from the French-speaking Channel Island of Guernsey, was located in a grove centered at the intersection of York and Roosevelt Roads.

In a town like Westchester, with so many street names like Canterbury, Windsor and Oxford, one might be surprised to learn that the first half of its modern settlement history was dominated by German-speakers. In fact, the early records of Immanuel Lutheran Church, the parish that established the Franzosenbusch settlement, which later became the township of Proviso, are all in German.

We know from the following from the 1908 commemorative pamphlet Golden Jubilee and Short History of the Evangelical Lutheran Immanuel Church (original German title: Goldenes Jubiläum und Kurze Geschichte. Ev.-Luth. Immanuels-Gemeinde. Proviso, Illinois. 1858-1908)

Today's Franzosenbusch Prairie House on Constitution Drive, the welcome center for the Wolf Road Prairie, has at its center the remnants of this original two-room schoolhouse. The exposed beams of the downstairs front rooms are hand-hewn timbers with the common German post-and-beam construction utilized in the more elaborate medieval half-timbered framing method known as Fachwerk. A visit to either the nearby Immanuel Lutheran Cemetery or either of two 19th Century cemeteries off Churchville Road in Bensenville shows clearly the large number of German settlers, predominantly from the Hanover area.

Authors: Drew and Patricia Reaves

We have actually collected quite a bit on the history of the area. However, we have been spending much of our time on the very challenging job of saving, moving, researching and restoring our base of operations, the Prairie House. Much remains to be done. 

This will ultimately be the largest section of the web site.  Many opportunities are available for interested volunteers to contribute to this area.

Please feel free to contact me at j.arbuthnot@sbcglobal.net.  I will route your email through our other researchers.

As we expand this section the links below will become active and new ones will be added.

Some topics:

A note about the historical content on this web site:
We are constantly searching for cross references to verify our historical information.  Whenever we find such info we will endeavor to let you know about it.  In the meantime the reader is cautioned to apply common sense in realizing that the remembrances of individuals and even the writings of historians are not always totally accurate.

Last Modified:  12/07/2003