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Women in Buffalo Grove History

Throughout Buffalo Grove’s history, women have made incredible impacts on the town, its people, and their communities, both near and far. In this exhibit, we highlight just a few women who have made impacts on Buffalo Grove and surrounding communities, sharing a little of their history and how they effected change in the area. Some women made impacts for a short while and others for a long time, but all were a part of Buffalo Grove history. 

Isabell Blocks

Image below: Isabell Blocks, C. 1915

Isabell Blocks, C. 1915

Isabell Anna Blocks (née Weidner) made a big impact on many individuals in Lake County, only not when they were actually in Lake County.  When Isabell’s son Robert was serving in Vietnam during the Vietnam War, they frequently exchanged letters. Isabell learned that many of her son’s fellow soldiers did not receive any mail. Upon hearing this, Isabell asked for all their names and began writing letters to each of the men. She didn’t stop there. Isabell worked with the Veterans Administration to compile a list of soldiers from Lake County serving in Vietnam and wrote letters to every single one, every month. 

For the soldiers and for Isabell, this became very important and meaningful.  One soldier, Mark McMurrough from Libertyville, recalled “‘When I got the first letter, I was so surprised because I didn’t know who this lady was…I was very touched because it made me feel like somebody was out there thinking about me. She’d tell me about what was going on in Lake County and in the Chicago area and it really made me feel like I had a link to my home’” (Chicago Tribune, 06/08/1998). Isabell even continued writing with many of the soldiers after they returned from the war and even up until her passing in 1998.  

Isabell spent much of her time around Buffalo Grove, and her family has a long history of farming and owning general stores around town. She was the daughter of George Martin Weidner and Clara Maria Klein, who owned the Weidner General Store in Long Grove.  Isabell worked for St. Mary’s Rectory in Buffalo Grove for 25 years and was always involved in church events. 

Frances Crane Lillie

Image below: Frances Crane Lillie, 1915. Image courtesy of the Chicago History Museum.

Frances Crane Lillie, 1915

Frances Crane Lillie was not a regular Buffalo Grove resident, but frequently spent her time relaxing near the border of Buffalo Grove and Wheeling at her farm and home at Childerley. Frances spent most of her time in Chicago. She was the daughter of a wealthy manufacturer, and she herself was wealthy as a result. Frances became friends with many women fighting for change in the early 1900s, such as Jane Addams, and was a philanthropist for much of her life. She was often found protesting with working women for better pay and conditions, much to the dismay of her family.   

Frances eventually made her way to the edge of Buffalo Grove, where she started another philanthropic endeavor, Childerley, which was a large compound for widowed women and their children where they could escape from the city and learn how to farm and live in “better” conditions than the city. Her husband, Frank Lillie, had bought land right beside Childerley and started Buffalo Creek Farm. Frank was a zoologist and studied cattle breeding on the the farm.   

Image below: Buffalo Creek Farm, C. 1919.

Buffalo Creek Farm, 1919Childerly and Buffalo Creek Farm were an important part of the local economy in the early 1900s (see image of farm from 1919 on the left). The farm employed many Buffalo Grove residents, and the group was frequently seen shopping for supplies at the Weidner General Store. By 1939, Frances had sold some of Childerley to the Servite Sisters, a catholic group. She held onto the family home and chapel for a while for family use, finding solitude in the rural area that was Buffalo Grove at the time. Later she gave the land to the Catholic students group at the University of Chicago. Even then, she was frequently involved with the events and activities at Childerley. Later, the land was donated to Wheeling Park District and is now Childerley Park (with the original chapel from Childerley still there).  

Blanche Kloman

Image below: Blanche Kloman at Arcadia Farms, The Daily Herald, January 2, 1978.

Blanche Kloman, The Daily Herald, 1978Blanche Kloman was once described by the Village of Buffalo Grove as “’the woman to whom they were most grateful’” (Chicago Tribune, 2002). Blanche was not originally from Buffalo Grove, but she made her home here for many years. Blanche was born in 1920 in New York, and spent much of her childhood and schooling on the East Coast. By the 1950s, she moved to Skokie and eventually made her way to the Buffalo Grove area in 1959 when she bought a farm and started Arcadia Farm, a horse boarding stables between Buffalo Grove and Long Grove. 

Blanche Kloman was deeply involved in many parts of the local community and felt it important to preserve local history. She helped found the Friends of Historic Buffalo Grove, or Buffalo Grove Historical Society, and then helped start the Raupp Museum, donating many historic artifacts from her farm and building to the collection. 

Her love of history didn’t stop there, as she was one of a few people instrumental in the preservation of Knopf cemetery (on Arlington Heights Road), which was the resting place for many of Buffalo Grove and Long Grove’s earliest residents. Blanche was fondly remembered by many members of the community as always welcoming people to her home and farm. 

Rhea Weyhe

Image below: Rhea Weyhe, C. 1912

Rhea Weyhe, C. 1912Rebecca (Rhea) Emily Weyhe, like Francis Crane Lillie, had a short but impactful stay in Buffalo Grove in the early 1900s. Rhea was born in Winthrop Harbor, Illinois in 1894. She graduated from Waukegan High School in 1912 and soon after moved to Buffalo Grove to start working. Rhea was a school teacher at St Mary’s School in Buffalo Grove from about 1912 – 1915. At this time, St Mary’s School was the only school in Buffalo Grove, and it was a one room schoolhouse. Rhea had to teach multiple grades (Kindergarten through 8) each day to the children of Buffalo Grove. While she was a teacher in Buffalo Grove, she boarded with the Weidner family, specifically George M. Weidner and his family, who owned the General Store in Long Grove. 

School teachers were important members of the Buffalo Grove community, even when they may have spent only a few years teaching before moving on to a new school.  Rhea was involved in local events and knew everyone in town, since she educated every family’s children at the school. 

Jean Stavros

Image below: Jean Stavros (left) checking resident’s blood pressure at Nurses Club event, C. 1971

Jean Stavros at Nurses Club EventIn the early 1960s, the Cold War had just begun, and civil defense was on many people’s minds. Jean Stavros was a local school nurse who wanted to make sure Buffalo Grove and Wheeling were prepared and safe. She noticed a lack of accessible health services and health information in Buffalo Grove and the surrounding area and knew she had to do something about it to help her community. She reached out to nurses all over the area around Wheeling and Buffalo Grove in 1961 to see about forming a club. In 1961, Jean Stavros and her fellow nurses founded the Wheeling-Buffalo Grove Nurses Club. 

Jean was an active member of the club for its entire existence, from 1961 to 1979. She helped organize blood drives and blood pressure screening events for local residents and arranged for speakers on a variety of health topics. The Nurses Club also raised money for scholarships for people to attend nursing school. The Club also created a lending closet of medical equipment so that members of the local community could rent wheelchairs, medical beds, and walkers when they were recovering. This was important because medical equipment was often expensive and not a feasible purchase for many members of the local community who needed it.

Jean recognized that having an informed nurses group was important for her community that had limited access to medical facilities at the time. The closest hospitals were Evanston, Libertyville, Elgin, and Highland Park. She focused on civil defense training, as this was the time of the Cold War. However, what was also important was the need for space for nurses to socialize and network, which the Nurses Club did as well.

Do you have any questions about our archives or Buffalo Grove history? Contact the Museum Registrar, Marina Mayne, at 847.850.2135 or

Explore more of the Raupp Museums collection by visiting the: Raupp Museum CatalogIT Hub.

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