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As in many communities on Chicago’s early north shore, there were many advocates against slavery and primarily participated in abolitionist activities in Chicago. It is no wonder why an established African American community grew in the north Advertising: December 7, 1897 Stentor. Courtesy of Lake Forest College Archives

shore and especially, early Lake Forest.

Advertising: October 15, 1891 Stentor. Courtesy of Lake Forest College Archives

As early as 1834, Lake County has had a African American presence enumerating from one African American male to 56 residents in Lake Forest alone. Mostly employed in a service capacity, the African

Advertising: October 15, 1890 Stentor. Courtesy of Lake Forest College Archives

American community grew slowly and established one of the oldest (if not the oldest) church on the north shore in 1866. The African Methodist Episcopal Church was erected on the corner of Maplewood and Washington. Samuel Dent (d.1890) owned and operated a livery business until his death. Octavia and Julian Mathews owned and operated a restaurant in location now known as “Market Square” on Western and Walker Sales (1865-1919) became the second police officer of Lake Forest in 1900. Later families, in the 1900s, such as the McIntosh and Casselberry families continued the tradition of pride and entrepreneurship, and passed these qualities to their children. Today, most of the early sites have been razed for new development. A few historic homes, Samuel Dents stable and the First Baptist church still stands today. Many descendants of these historic families have moved on, however several still live here today. Julian and Octavia Mathews settled in Lake Forest in 1886 and soon after, opened a ice cream parlor on the northwest corner of Western and Deerpath. Later, the Mathews built their own frame structure on Western and expanded their business to include a bakery and restaurant. Julian retired in May of 1896 to concentrate his effort to his livery business “The Red Line Express”. Octavia continued in the restaurant possibly with Mrs. A. Williams (see ad near top) until 1912.

Photo Courtesy of the Lake Forest Historical Society A joint project of SHOREFRONT and the Lake Forest Historical Society. Designed by Robinson Design, 2002

Samuel Dent settled in Lake Forest in 1870 and established his Livery business. His stables was located at 179 East Deerpath, a structure that still stands today. Dent ran his business until his death in 1890. Courtesy, Lake Forest Historical Society

Advertising: October 15, 1890 Stentor. Courtesy of Lake Forest College Archives

Walker Sales, settled in Lake Forest in 1890 and was employed as a coachman. In1900, Sales became the second police officer of Lake Forest, a position he held until his death in 1919. According to 1903 records, Sales earned $60 a month. Courtesy, City of Lake Forest


Years after Samuel Dent’s death, the Lake Forest community replaced his grave marker with a stone monument with an inscription that read: “This monument is erected by the citizens of Lake Forest in a token of their esteem for a lovable Christian, devoted citizen, faithful Friend.” While alive, Dent attended the AME church of Lake Forest.

Listing of names of past African American families that had resided in Lake Forest

Photo courtesy of Lake Forest College Archives

Names courtesy of Mary Casselberry The shaded area on this map indicated the historical African American community in Lake Forest. On the triangular parcel of land on Maplewood and Washington stood the African Methodist Episcopal Church erected in 1870. The congregation remained active until the 1920’s. Another historic African American community developed north on Spruce Avenue. Map courtesy of Lake Forest Historical Society

From the Lake Forest Historical Society Archives

Mrs. Anna Williams ran a business (possibly along with Octavia Mathews) on Western Ave. for a short time.

Early Census Data 1860 1870 1880 1900

1 (total for Lake County) 29 (36 including all of Lake County) 28 56

Ads from The Lake Forester, October 12, 1945 Lake Forest Historical Society Archives

Wayman H. McIntosh, sone of Henry and Fannie McIntosh, attended Lake Forest College and played on the football team. Later in life, Wayman started this business “The Sanitary Co.” He later sold the business to the Casselberry family.

Article from The Lake Forester, July 27, 1945 Lake Forest Historical Society Archives

Photo courtesy of Lake Forest College Archives

Photo courtesy of First Baptist Church


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