tracks was quickly formed – the Prairie du Chien and Fond du Lac Railroad – and in 1859 they changed the name to the Chicago and North Western Railroad. “Joel Wood and Elisha Pratt had the vision to see where the business center of the rural community would be. Even one train a day meant days saved in the marketing of merchandise,” the Centennial book noted. “But not everyone was so optimistic about the future of Palatine. Hiram Thurston is said to have laughed in Joel Wood’s face when he offered him what is now the center of downtown Palatine for $10. It was a slough filled with cattails and green water.” Keep in mind what was happening nationally, starting in 1861 – the American Civil War. Palatine citizens had battles and the fates of local soldiers on their minds during the first half of the 1860s. In fact, Mason Sutherland led Company E of the 113th Illinois Volunteers during the war, which included 37 volunteers from Palatine Township. In fact, he died of typhoid while on the Vicksburg campaign. Palatine residents joined other regiments, too, so the people of Palatine probably had their minds on the strife that had overtaken their country, not on formally incorporating their community, Rosenberg said. It wasn’t until early 1866 that Palatine residents were able to turn their attention back to local affairs. They took the vote on April 2 and seven days later elected five trustees and a police magistrate. Interestingly, things haven’t changed much in Illinois politics in 150 years. One year
later, all five trustees and the magistrate were all voted out of office and replaced with a new slate. It bears noting that the Illinois Legislature had not yet passed an act concerning the incorporation of cities and villages within the state when Palatine’s residents voted to form a municipality in 1866. That legislation didn’t come about until three years later, so if you ask the state, Palatine was formally incorporated in 1869, the first year that they could do so under Illinois law – yet another (and the last) date competing for Palatine’s founding designation. After that, the town just took off and grew steadily. Palatine opened its own high school in 1875. In 1877, the Deluge Fire Company was organized and 10 years later a hand pumper was purchased to fight fires. Palatine voted for the establishment of a public library in 1924, and eight tiny rural elementary schools were consolidated into District 15 in 1946. Finally, two park districts – the Palatine Park District and the Salt Creek Rural Park District – were organized in 1945 and 1956, respectively. Today Palatine, which had a population of only 1,100 in 1920, boasts a population of 65,479 (2010 census) and is also the home to numerous businesses, large and small, including Weber-Stephen Products and a division of the Northrop-Grumman Corporation. The 200-acre Harper Community College campus is also located in Palatine. Joel Wood and Elisha Pratt would be proud!
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