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Buffalo Grove History

Buffalo Grove Timeline

  • 1834 – The first settlers from New England arrive in the Buffalo Grove area.
  • 1846 – John Simon Henneman settles in Buffalo Grove and sends for his family in Germany.
  • 1847 – Jacob “Little Jake” Weidner (or “Klein Jake” in German) arrives in Buffalo Grove. Melchoir Raupp finds a good farmstead in Buffalo Grove. The first Catholic Mass is celebrated in the home of John Simon Henneman.
  • 1852 – St. Mary’s Catholic Church is built for $300 and the first Mass is held on September 16.
  • 1853 – Melchoir Raupp buys his first farm, 187 acres, for $1,975.
  • 1855 – St. Mary’s Church burns down on February 19, and it is rebuilt over the course of the next year.   The first St. Mary’s School is a log cabin.
  • 1860s – The General Store is built.
  • 1898 – J.G. Weidner & Sons General Store becomes Weidner Bros.
  • 1899 – The present old St. Mary’s Church is constructed for $28,000.
  • 1900 – Mike Firnbach builds his tavern and hall, “Little Mike’s Place” (later known as the Buffalo House).
  • 1930s – The Welter family operates Buffalo Grove’s first gas station on McHenry Road (Route 83).
  • 1947 – The present St. Mary’s School is built. The old school becomes the rectory.
  • 1957 – Descendants of Melchoir Raupp sell the farm to developer Al Frank and the first subdivision housing is built.
  • 1958 – The Village of Buffalo Grove is incorporated on March 7 with a population of 164 people. William Clohesy is elected the first Village President.
  • 1959 – The Police Department gets its first emergency vehicle. The Wheeling Public Library District is incorporated.
  • 1960 – The Buffalo Grove Recreation Association is organized. Alcott Elementary School opens.
  • 1961 – Buffalo Grove population is 1,492 people. The Volunteer Fire Department/Rescue Squad is established and gets its first ambulance. Jack London Junior High School opens.
  • 1962 – The first Buffalo Grove Days is held. Emmerich Park is dedicated.
  • 1963 – Buffalo Grove population is 3,429 people. The first full-time police officer is hired.
  • 1964 – Ranch Mart Shopping Center (presently The Plaza at Buffalo Grove and Dundee Roads) opens.
  • 1966 – Joyce Kilmer School opens. Buffalo Grove Road is widened to 4 lanes.
  • 1967 – Buffalo Grove population is 6,900 people. Levitt and Sons’ Strathmore subdivision models open at Arlington Heights and Dundee Roads. The first apartment complex, the Buffalo Grove Apartments, is built.
  • 1969 – Beth Judea becomes the first synagogue in this area. The Buffalo Grove Park District is incorporated.
  • 1972 – Buffalo Grove population is 15,653 people.  Temple Chai is started. Buffalo Grove High School opens.
  • 1979 – The Raupp Museum is dedicated.
  • 1983 – The Spoerlein family sells their farm, which becomes Spoerlein Farms townhomes and Spoerlein Commons shopping complex.
  • 1997 – Buffalo Grove population is over 40,000 people.

Buffalo Grove History

The very first pioneers to come to the Buffalo Grove area came from New England around 1834, and stayed for about 5 years. Many of them had received land grants from the government and came to settle on their frontier property. Early land records show a mix of English, French and Scotch names including Stephen Lamb, Napoleon Periolet, Richard Adams, John Foster, Job Tripp, Darius Rice, William Flemming, Samuel Mills, Jonathan Luce, Stephen Olcott and Joseph McDuffee. Captain Daniel Wright and Mr. Amos Bennet have been recognized as the first non-native settlers in Lake County.

In the 1840s many of the first homesteaders and land speculators sold their land to the German immigrants fleeing their homeland. Living conditions in Germany were bad, so the cheap yet fertile land in America was very appealing. Most Buffalo Grove area pioneers settled by people who shared their religion and nationality. German Catholics mainly settled together in the Buffalo Grove area, German Lutherans decided to live in Long Grove, and German Presbyterians moved to Wheeling. After they bought the land, the settlers worked to turn the early farms and wilderness into their own community.

Who were the first settlers in Buffalo Grove? It is hard to tell. Many families sent one person ahead to see if Buffalo Grove was a good place to live, and if they thought it was, the rest of the family would follow. Some say that John Simon Henneman came in 1846 and sent word to family and friends in Germany for them to come to Buffalo Grove.  Jacob Weidner, who was known as Little Jake, was 27 years old when he came to Buffalo Grove to scout out the area for his family. Little Jake liked the land so much that he asked his father, his 5 brothers, his uncle and their families to come live in Buffalo Grove.

Melchoir Raupp was the settler who had the longest journey before ending up in Buffalo Grove. He first came to Buffalo Grove in 1847, but he was not able to buy the farm he wanted. Next, he traveled to Wisconsin to see if he would like it there. He thought the farmland looked good, but he also thought there were not enough people, and it would be too lonely to live there. Melchior then headed west on a wagon train after hearing about the gold in California. The few nuggets that Melchoir found did not make him rich, in fact, he had to walk back to Buffalo Grove. When he got back, he took a job with a farm family until he was able to earn enough money to buy the farm he wanted and start a family.

These first Buffalo Grove families formed a very close community, with a high rate of intermarriage. Religion and education were two of the most important aspects of their new community. At first, both church services and school lessons were held in pioneers’ homes, but soon they realized a separate church and school would be good for the community. The settlers built the first St. Mary’s Church in 1852 and the first St. Mary’s School in 1855. By 1899, downtown Buffalo Grove had grown with the addition of the Firnbach Tavern and the Weidner General Store. Even though most of the pioneer families in Buffalo Grove are gone now, you can still remember their names, because many streets and parks are named after the families who originally settled in that area.

Aerial picture of Buffalo Grove 1961

Buffalo Grove Park District

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