Hinsdale History

Local History Frequently Asked Questionsvictory_thumbs
1. Place name Hinsdale
2. Founders of Hinsdale
William Robbins
Oliver James Stough

3. Library
Hinsdale Library Association
Hinsdale Public Library

4. Memorial Building
5. Victory (Statue) and Oskar J. W. Hansen
6. Historic Cemeteries of Hinsdale
7. R. Harold Zook, Architect
8. Local History Resources of the Hinsdale Public Library

1. Place Name Hinsdale

The two best-supported theories on the naming of the village involve the Burlington Railroad and its developer Charles G. Hammond.

Isaac S. Bush reportedly offered a list suggested names to Hammond. Bush might have been inspired by the New York town of Hinsdale, neighbor to his hometown of Olean, New York. (Bakken, 11-13) (Dugan, 78)

Hammond may have alighted upon the name Hinsdale because of the merchant, philanthropist, and railroad supplier Henry W. Hinsdale. Hammond and Hinsdale were associates in the Provident Life Insurance and Investment Company. (Bakken 11 – 13) (Dugan, 78)

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2. Founders of Hinsdale

William Robbins, often referred to as the Father of Hinsdale, led a varied life progressing from a teacher to finally becoming a gentleman farmer. In between he worked as a miner in California, a merchant and banker in St. Louis, and a land speculator and developer in what would become Hinsdale. (Bakken, 8 ) (Dugan 76)

In 1862 Robbins purchased 800 acres of land in DuPage Township, Illinois for $14/acre. (Bakken, 9) (Dugan, 76) The boundaries of the Robbins purchase were Chicago Avenue to 55th Street, and County Line Road to Madison Street. (Bakken, 8 )

By 1866 Robbins had constructed his mansion, Woodside, built a school house, laid out lots, and plotted streets with the help of landscape architect H. W. G. Cleveland. (Bakken, 9) (Dugan, 80)

Robbins signed the Hinsdale incorporation petition in 1872 and served as one of the village’s founding trustees. (Dugan, 93, 189)

Oliver James Stough: Land speculator O.J. Stough purchased land west of Robbins’ tract in 1868. This parcel of land included the site where the Hinsdale Public Library now stands. (Bakken, 20)

Stough was said to have purchased all his land on credit and never defaulted, and therefore never foreclosed on anyone who purchased land from him. A great spokesperson for, and benefactor to, social institutions in Hinsdale, he supported construction of churches, parks, and a school, as well as the planting of trees. (Bakken, 21) (Dugan, 81) Stough relocated to California in 1888. (Bakken, 21)

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3. Library

The Hinsdale Public Library’s dynamic future is a reflection of its long and active history. The Hinsdale Public Library and its predecessor, the Hinsdale Library Association, have been providing service to Hinsdale residents since 1886.

Hinsdale Library Association: The Hinsdale Library Association was incorporated in 1886 and had 150 paying members and 150 volumes. During the library association’s lifetime (1886-1893) it was housed in various commercial buildings and moved three times.

Hinsdale Public Library: The tax-supported Hinsdale Public Library was created in 1893. Absorbing the collection, assets, and staff of the Library Association, the Public Library opened in August 1893. The Public Library continued the nomadic experience of the Library Association, sharing space with various businesses and relocating six times between 1893 and 1929. The completion of the Memorial Building in 1929 gave the Hinsdale Public Library its first permanent home. (Bakken, 107-8 )

Through the next few decades, the library continued its vital and vigorous growth, causing it to outgrow its space. D.K. Pearson, one of the directors of the Library Association, donated his home and a portion of his estate to the library, which funded the 1957 addition to the library. (Dugan, 142) The former Pearson Addition is now home to the Village of Hinsdale offices.

The library again found itself in tight quarters and in need of expansion. In the 1988 another addition, on the west side of the Memorial Building, was constructed and the library and the village swapped office spaces in the Memorial Building.

Overall, in its 120-year history the library (Hinsdale Library Association and the Hinsdale Public Library) has moved 11 times, suvived fires, and built two additions. (Bakken,107-8) (Dugan, 176)

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4. Memorial Building

As early as 1912, the idea of a new village hall was circulating through the village. (Dugan, 151) After World War I the village wanted to celebrate fallen servicemen and veterans of all US wars on a grand scale. The village also wanted a public building in keeping with its increased prominence. These goals coalesced within a design to consolidate village services and memorialize servicemen with a public building. (Dugan, 160) (Bakken, 285) At this time, the influence of the Village League was waning as an advisory organization. It was shortly replaced by the Hinsdale Plan Commission, which was charged to coordinate redevelopment efforts. (Dugan, 159)

By 1927 the concept of war memorial in the form of civic center was gaining favor and the Hinsdale chapter of the American Legion publicly presented this idea in the Hinsdale Doings. (Dugan, 160) The War Memorial Commission, created in January 1927, recruited Philip R. Clarke as chairman. The Hinsdale Doings threw its support behind the commission and their plans, coining the slogan “We Must Not Fail.” Weekly editorials reinforced the idea and readers were updated regularly on the commission’s progress. (Dugan, 160)

Voluntary donations, symbolic of the sacrifices made by servicemen, were intended to fund the building project. The response to the May 1927 fund drive was phenomenal. 90% of the target goal was met in a single week and an estimated total of $170,000 was collected. (Bakken, 288) (Dugan, 161)

The cornerstone for the new building was laid at 2:00 PM on Armistice Day, November 11, 1927, and the completed building was presented to the Village of Hinsdale by Chairman Clarke on July 4, 1928. (Bakken, 288) (Dugan, 161)

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5. Victory (Statue) and Oskar J. W. Hansen

The Victory of Hinsdale, the statue sometimes mistakenly referred to as “Winged Victory,” graces the lobby of the Memorial Building. Sculptor by Oskar J. W. Hansen was commissioned by the Memorial Building Committee. The seven-foot-tall statue was unveiled to the public as part of the Memorial Building dedication ceremony on Saturday, November 11, 1928. statue_thumb

At the dedication, Hansen addressed the crowd with a speech the Hinsdale Doings described as an “interpretive description.” (Hinsdale Doings, November 11, 1928) Hansen spoke of his inspirations for the design, including ancient Greek images of Athena, the Victory of Samothrace, and the Statue of Liberty. He also described various facets of the figure: the long fluted pillar shape shifting into the wings; the Sword of Justice loosely guarded, not clasped in a fist; and the hilt of the sword in the form of a fasces, thin rods bound together to symbolize strength in unity. ( Hinsdale Doings Insert)

Both the sculptor and the Hinsdale Doings article drew special attention to the crest on the hilt of the sword. The crest was engraved with the motto E Pluribus Unum and the coat of arms of the United States. More importantly, the gold for the central shield was forged from the possessions of Thomas McM. “Mac” Weddell, a gold star hero of World War I. (Hinsdale Doings, November 17, 1928) This crest disappeared at some point after the dedication.

The full text of Hansen’s speech appeared as an insert section in November 17 th issue of the Hinsdale Doings.

Hansen, Oskar J. W. (Oscar [SIC])1892-1971 plaque_thumb

Hansen left Norway as a merchant marine in 1910 and later studied art in Paris and Chicago with masters such as Auguste Rodin and Lorado Taft. After establishing his career in Chicago, Hansen settled in the Washington, D.C. area.

This location proved useful as he was awarded numerous government commissions for public memorials and large scale public sculptures, such as ornamental panels and sculptures adorning the Hoover Dam.

Samuels, Peggy and Harold Samuels. Illustrated Biographical Encyclopedia of Artists of the American West. (Doubleday and Company, New York, 1976), p. 206.
Sterling, Tom and Mary Sterling. Hinsdale and the World: One Hundred Years. (Sterling Books, Hinsdale, 1996), p. 64.

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6. Historic Cemeteries of Hinsdale – Fullersburg and Bronswood Cemeteries

As the area was being settled and prior to the incorporation of Hinsdale it was common practice for pioneers, settlers and farmers to care for their own deceased family members. This included burial on their land or a neighboring parcel. By 1840 the area that would later become Hinsdale and Oak Brook had three active cemeteries – Thurson Cemetery, Torode Cemetery, and Fullersburg Cemetery. Thurson and Torode cemeteries were located on family farms in what is now Oak Brook. The Torode family changed the name of their cemetery to York Cemetery when they opened the cemetery to the public. Both cemeteries ceased operations early in the 20 th century and the graves were relocated in the 1960s. In 2001 unmarked graves on the former site of Thurson Cemetery were discovered during road construction. The 19 remains were re-interred at Butler Cemetery in August 2003.

Fullersburg Cemetery

When Ben Fuller platted Fullersburg in 1851 he set aside land for a cemetery, which he donated to the community. (Dugan, 121) Fullersburg Cemetery is located on the north end of Garfield Street, between Maumell Street and Fuller Road in Hinsdale. The cemetery was originally open to the public. As the Fullersburg community grew and the local population swelled with the founding of Hinsdale, development hemmed in the tiny cemetery. (Bakken, 46) The only resort was to become a private cemetery. Burial is reserved for families who can produce a deed to a plot.

The cemetery is the final resting spot for many of the founders of Fullersburg and Hinsdale. The oldest stone marks the grave of Ben Fuller’s mother, Candice Fuller, 1847. ( Hinsdale Doings) Jacob Fuller and his wives were initially interred at Torode Cemetery and later moved to Fullersburg Cemetery. ( Hinsdale Doings)

The cemetery is also noted as a resting place for many of the area’s Civil War soldiers, and in 1903, Confederate veteran John Andre was buried in an unmarked grave just south of the flag pole. (Erickson, 1) A tree serves as an informal marker to his grave.

Unmarked graves are common in cemeteries of this age, but there is a paper trail to contents of Fullersburg cemetery. In 1989 Bev Erickson of the DuPage County Genealogical Society created an inventory of headstones and grave markers. She also consulted the records maintained by the Kurth family who act as caretakers of the cemetery, and the DuPage County vital records. The resulting list included many entries not found on an earlier DAR list, and was published in the Winter 1991 issue of the DuPage Genealogical Society’s journal, The Review. A copy of the article and Ms. Erickson’s inventory can be found at the Hinsdale Public Library Reference Desk.

In the late 1960s the cemetery was fenced in to protect the fragile gravestones. The cemetery grounds are private and access is strictly limited. Each Memorial Day the cemetery’s flag is replaced in a simple a ceremony conducted by a local veterans group. This is one of the few times the respectful public has access to the cemetery.

Bronswood Cemetery ( Oak Brook, IL)

By 1883 the pace of development in Hinsdale, and societal trends away from burial of deceased family members on private land, created public interest in the creation of a local public cemetery. Despite an expansion, available space at Fullersburg Cemetery was limited. The Hinsdale Doings briefly mentions the creation of a citizen’s committee on cemeteries, but there no reports of results or records of their meetings. (Bakken, 46) (Dugan, 122)
A few years later in 1885, perhaps as result of these meetings, Gabriel K. Wright acted upon the need for another cemetery in the Hinsdale area. He acquired land northwest of Graue Mill for a cemetery he named Oak Forest Cemetery. By 1890 the land was cleared and simple improvements like roadways were under way. Further improvements included dredging Brush Creek and the creation of an artificial lake. In 1896 Oak Forest Cemetery recorded its first interment, Gilbert Bird. (Bakken, 46-7) (Dugan, 122)

Oak Forest Cemetery changed hands in 1907 when Wright sold it to businessman Charles A. Brown, who created the Hinsdale Cemetery Company. Brown changed the name of the cemetery to Bronswood in part to reflect the change in ownership and in part to avoid confusion with the Oak Forest Hospital. Brown continued to improve the landscape and faithfully served the bereaved of Hinsdale until his death in 1938. (Bakken, 47) (Dugan, 122)

Phillip R. Clarke purchased the cemetery from the Brown family in August of 1946. (Bakken, 47) (Dugan, 122) Since that time three generations of the Clarke family have maintained the cemetery’s peaceful and scenic grounds. These qualities make the cemetery quite popular with the film industry; several film directors including Ivan Reitman have used the grounds as a movie set. ( Hinsdale Doings, 10/31/02)

Bronswood Cemetery is a privately owned public cemetery. The grounds are open to the public from 7am until dusk.

Contact Information:
Bronswood Cemetery Inc.
3805 Madison Street
Oak Brook, IL 60523-2799

Butler Cemetery
Butler Cemetery is adjacent to Bronswood. The semi-private cemetery of the Butler family, the founders of Oak Brook, contains family graves and remains removed from the vacated historical cemeteries Thurson and York (Torode).

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7.  R. Harold Zook 1889-1949

R. Harold Zook was a Chicago architect who relocated his business to the village of Hinsdale in the late 1920s. Zook is well known locally for his distinctive private residences and impressive public buildings. Zook applied unique designs to the cottage-style home popular in the 1920s and 1930s, and the Art Deco style in his public buildings. Fine expressions of his cottage-style in Hinsdale are his home and studio and the Katherine Legge Memorial Lodge both located in Katherine Legge Memorial Park. A few examples of his public work are the Pickwick Theatre in Park Ridge and the Municipal Building in Saint Charles, Illinois.

Regionally Zook’s work is highly regarded and architecture enthusiasts have worked to document, protect and preserve it. One early effort was the R. Harold Zook notebooks. This collection of 178 photos and descriptions of architectural elements of 37 buildings in Hinsdale and 58 buildings in suburban Chicago and other locations began as a personal project of a pair of Hinsdale residents, Lila Self and Lynn Buchan. Inspired by the request of Zook’s widow, to create a catalog of Zook buildings, they sought to preserve images of his works, to detail the stylistic elements, and to note the features unique to each structure. The resulting collection of snapshot photographs and typewritten descriptions and captions were compiled into notebooks. The notebooks can not be checked out, but are available for in-house us at the Reference Desk of the Hinsdale Public Library. The Hinsdale Historical Society retains the originals.

Many of the buildings are private residences without landmark status and are subject to any structural or cosmetic changes their current owner’s desire. The Hinsdale Historical Society is committed to preservation of Zook’s work within Hinsdale, and has salvaged key elements or ornamental pieces from lost structures. In the winter of 2004 a local property developer purchased the R. Harold Zook Home and Studio, and offered the community an opportunity to salvage this important building. The Hinsdale Historical Society spearheaded the effort to save the home and studio, ultimately saving the building and relocating it to land donated by the Village of Hinsdale.

Additional Information on R. Harold Zook

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8.  Local History Resources of the Hinsdale Public Library

The local history collections of the Hinsdale Public Library were assembled and organized to assist in your research of historical events and personalities from the village’s past. Our collections include village, county, and family histories, and genealogical studies of influential community members. We have also maintained documents from the recent past such as telephone books and the local newspaper, the Hinsdale Doings. The library has created clipping files on topics of local interest such as the Bell Telephone fire and the local architect Harold Zook.

Call numbers are included in the citation. Many of the items listed are for in-library use only, but if there is another copy that can be checked out an asterisk follows the call number. Items marked with a are held in reserve at the Reference Desk.

Village History

Bakken, Timothy H. Hinsdale. 1976.
R 977.324 BAK

An index has been created by a Hinsdale Public Library staff member and is available at the Reference Desk.

Dugan, Hugh G. Village on the County Line: A History of Hinsdale, Illinois. 1949.
R 977.324 DUG

DuPage County Regional Planning Commission. Cultural and Historical Inventory DuPage County 1993

Hinsdale and the surrounding area is covered in Chapter 14.

Hinsdale the Beautiful: Gem of Chicago Suburbs . 1984 reprint of Campbell’s Illustrated Journal, Vol. 6, No. 5 (November 1897).
R 977.324 HIN
Includes information about prominent citizens and organizations.

Link, Barbara Ford, ed. A Little Village History: A Story of Hinsdale Past in the Words of Some of the People Who Lived It. 2002.
R 977.324 LIT
Residents’ recollections of life in Hinsdale from early days to after World War II; some transcribed from other sources. No index.

Sterling , Tom and Mary Sterling. Hinsdale & the World: One Hundred Years. 1996.
R 977.324 STE
Indexed by subject and street address.

Thompson, Richard A. ed. DuPage Roots. 1985.
R 977.324 THO
Chapter 7 covers Hinsdale.

Family Histories and Biography

Crissey, Forrest. Alexander Legge, 1866-1933. 1936.
R 977.324 CRI
Legge was an official of the McCormick (later International Harvester) Company, who developed a 52-acre estate on County Line Road as a retreat center. Legge donated the estate to the Village of Hinsdale and it became Katherine Legge Memorial Park. The lodge was designed by Hinsdale architect Harold Zook, whose home and studio were relocated to the grounds of the park in 2005.

Descendants of Robert Hinsdale of Dedham, Medfield, Hadley, and Deerfield . 1906.
R 929.2 AND
Clarke, Norman F. A Family to Remember [ Kettering family]. No publication date.
R 977.324 CLA
Peters, Norman R. The Graue Family. 1989.
R 929.2 PET
Pages 200-239 describe the branch of the family that settled in and around Hinsdale. Frederick Graue of Hannover, Germany, built the grist mill on Salt Creek that bears his name.

Zook, Harry D. Zug/Zuck/Zouck/Zook Genealogy… 1983.
R 929.2 ZOO
History of the family of architect R. Harold Zook, who designed many buildings in Hinsdale and the Chicago area.

Historic Buildings
Cue, Frederick C. The William Whitney House: A Chronicle of Its History and People. 1991.
R 977.324 CUE

Grace Church, Hinsdale, 1875-1975. 1975 .
R 283.773 GRA
Along with the history of the building, the book includes names and photographs of rectors and mentions some parishioners.

Sterling, Mary. Hinsdale’s Historic Homes and the People Who Lived in Them. Vol. 1, 1992. Vol. 2, 1997.
R 977.324 STE
Indexed by subject and street address.

Sterling, Mary. Our Old House: An Inside Look at Hinsdale’s Historic Homes. 1992. Indexed by subject and street address.
R 977.324 STE

Ziegweid, John T. Historic Downtown Hinsdale… 1993.
R 977.324 ZIE

Architectural Surveys and Inventories: Hinsdale

The following several are studies undertaken by Historic Certification Consultants to identify architecturally significant residences and commercial buildings. For each building there is a brief description, including the year of construction, and a significance rating.

Hinsdale Demonstration Survey: An Intensive Survey of Historical Resources in the Block Bounded by Fourth, Fifth, Lincoln and Washington Streets . 1999.
R 977.324 HIN

Hinsdale Reconnaissance Survey: An Inventory of Historic and Architectural Resources . 1999.
R 977.324 HIN

Town of Hinsdale Architectural Resource Survey . 2001. 4 vols.
R 977.324 HIN

  • Garfield Avenue and Grant, Lincoln and Madison Streets
  • Second, Sixth, Third, Vine and Washington Streets
  • Clay, Fifth and Fourth Streets
  • Summary and Inventory

Architectural Resources in the Robbins Survey Area . 2002. 5 vols.
R 977.324 ARC

  • Park Avenue and Third Street
  • First Street and Fourth Street
  • Blaine Street , Chicago Avenue, County Line Road, and Elm Street
  • Garfield Street , Oak Street, and Orchard Place
  • Summary and Inventory

Architectural Resources in the Downtown Survey Area . 2003.
R 977.25 ARC

Hinsdale Doings , October 1896 (first issue) to present.
The Hinsdale Doings is now available electronically via the database Newsbank. Coverage begins with 2005 and some articles are reproduced in Full Text. Paper copies are available until the microfilm arrives.

Hinsdale Community Directory
1980 to present
Lists local government, schools, organizations, and businesses but not residents.

  • Telephone Directory of Hinsdale, Clarendon Hills [1932-1958]
  • Ameritech PagesPlus . Hinsdale, Oak Brook [1996-97 to 2000]

Clipping Files (in binders)

  • Teardowns in Hinsdale
  • Fire at Illinois Bell Telephone Switching Center, May 8, 1988
  • Harold Zook (architect) Buildings in Hinsdale
  • Harold Zook (architect) Buildings Outside Hinsdale
  • Harold Zook (architect) Miscellaneous Articles


Historic Hinsdale Slides
This collection belongs to the Hinsdale Historical Society, but is available for patrons to check out from the Hinsdale Public Library. Images include people, buildings and places. The slides are a nonstandard size and do not fit in a standard carousel; we have one carousel, but no projector. Photocopies of the slides are contained in 10 binders .

Historic Hinsdale Homes Slides
These slides are photographs from the Hinsdale Historical Society’s collection of old glass slides and from three sources published between 1895 and 1912. The Hinsdale Public Library has photocopies of the photographs and descriptions.

Walking Tour of Historic Hinsdale Homes (for Young Adults)
R 977.324 STE

This collection offers a virtual tour of Hinsdale’s past via 79 slides and narrative description.
High School Yearbooks

The library does not own any high school yearbooks. The Hinsdale Historical Society has Hinsdale high school yearbooks from 1946 to 1977 and has an alumni directory for 1996.

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