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From a February 1937 of the “Star Progress” newspaper


Most of the early history of Forest Park deals not so much with the Germans who settled there, but with the first and greater pioneer, the American Indian.

Before the invasion of the white man, this vicinity was the camping grounds of one of the most picturesque races in the world.  History has it that the first Indians to locate in and around Forest Park were the Weanamees, who it is believed, came directly after the Revolutionary War.

Only a few present day residents of Forest Park and neighboring towns know that  an Indian village was once located on the site that is now known as Forest Home cemetery.  And long before the white man used the place for a burying ground the red skin had done the same.

There are but a few people here who know that Desplaines avenue, now one of the busiest streets in Forest Park, was an important part of an Indian trail that led from what was known as “Indian Hill” at Desplaines avenue near Roosevelt road, north to another Indian village located at North avenue and Desplaines avenue.

According to history, the Weanamees were driven out of the villages by the powerful Pottawantomies who came down from Southern Wisconsin in 1835, driving the lesser tribes westward. As late as 1886 there were still a few Indians left around Forest Park who were law, abiding and peaceful, and mingled with the whites in perfect freedom.

One of the reasons the Indians located in this vicinity, was because, Desplaines avenue was a ridge of land that spring floods did not inundate. This ridge was the dividing line of the waters that flow on one side into the St. Lawrence Basin and on the other into the Mississippi.  The site at Roosevelt road and Desplaines avenue marked the top of the elevation and was chosen by the Indians because of its exceptional height and natural beauty.

The local trail extended north on Desplaines avenue, crossing Madison street, and leading on to Randolph street, then west to River Forest and north through fields just east of what is known as North Woods. It continued north to North avenue, then west to the river, where what are known as “Kennicott Mounds” are located.  These mounds were named after the grandfather of the well-known chief forester, Ransom Kennicott.

On the east banks of the river a little north of North avenue, a small Indian village was located, and in a neighboring corn field, a little apart from the village site, there was a shipping station or the place where the tribal arrow makers kept their shop. Arrow heads may be found there today by those diligent enough to hunt for them.

From there the trail followed the river north, one branch leading off toward Wilmette and the other in the direction of the villages of Park Ridge and Desplaines.  At both of these towns, villages were located, the white establishing town sites in these places, probably for the same reason that the Indians did, namely because the grounds were high and dry.

Trails too numerous to mention led north, south and westward from the old village site at Forest Home cemetery.  The one that would probably prove most interesting to our local readers, is that which leads through Glen Ellyn and on into the region of Geneva and St. Charles.   Pottawatomie Park in St. Charles was so named because of the Indian village there.

Both the Pottawatomies and the Weanamees have left priceless heritage in relics which may be seen in Forest Park today.  In the office of the cemetery, is one of the finest Indian relic collections in the State, which is open to the public.

Source: A reprint of an article published in the February 1937 of the “Star Progress” newspaper

Added:  02/05/2006