Ela Historical Society

Ela Historical Society Organized in 1976, our mission is to collect, preserve, and share the history of Ela Township. Volunteer opportunities are available. The township area includes Lake Zurich, Kildeer, Forest Lake, most of Hawthorn Woods and Deer Park, the west half of Long Grove, the east quarter of North Barrington, and the northeast edge of Barrington.
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Here are pictures of our veterans, as well as war related photos.  I've added a 2 page questionaire to help you share yo...
11/10/2020

Here are pictures of our veterans, as well as war related photos. I've added a 2 page questionaire to help you share your veteran information with us. Feel free to print this out and send in or email. Won't you add your stories and pictures?

Here are pictures of our veterans, as well as war related photos. I've added a 2 page questionaire to help you share your veteran information with us. Feel free to print this out and send in or email. Won't you add your stories and pictures?

Thank you to all our veterans!
11/10/2020

Thank you to all our veterans!

Here are pictures of our veterans, as well as war related photos. I've added a 2 page questionaire to help you share your veteran information with us. Feel free to print this out and send in or email. Won't you add your stories and pictures?

I found this aerial photo of Lake Zurich hidden in a file today. It is only labled “1940s” on the back. Kind of bad shap...
10/25/2020

I found this aerial photo of Lake Zurich hidden in a file today. It is only labled “1940s” on the back. Kind of bad shape, but it does show the old town how it used to be.

Bell's Apple Orchard - Originally on the southwest corner of Route 12 and 22 - later split into Bell's and Webbe's - the...
10/16/2020

Bell's Apple Orchard - Originally on the southwest corner of Route 12 and 22 - later split into Bell's and Webbe's - then Bell's moved west on Route 22.

Bell's Apple Orchard - Originally on the southwest corner of Route 12 and 22 - later split into Bell's and Webbe's - the...
10/16/2020

Bell's Apple Orchard - Originally on the southwest corner of Route 12 and 22 - later split into Bell's and Webbe's - then Bell's moved west on Route 22.

10/14/2020
Photos from Ela Historical Society's post
10/14/2020

Photos from Ela Historical Society's post

Paul Poppe, Nov 1956
10/06/2020

Paul Poppe, Nov 1956

Photos from Ela Historical Society's post
10/06/2020

Photos from Ela Historical Society's post

Breezy Point on the corner of Rand and Old Rand, around 1947. The aerial shows Zurich Heights and the Manor subdivisions...
10/04/2020

Breezy Point on the corner of Rand and Old Rand, around 1947. The aerial shows Zurich Heights and the Manor subdivisions in 1958.

Photos from Ela Historical Society's post
10/04/2020

Photos from Ela Historical Society's post

I've never been able to place this until now, but I see now that this was the southeast corner of Route 12 (Rand) and Ol...
10/04/2020

I've never been able to place this until now, but I see now that this was the southeast corner of Route 12 (Rand) and Old Rand Road. This must have been before any of the other pictures that we have posted previously, pre-dating the Will's Bait Shop building.

Fall of 1973 or so...Looking northwest, this is the corner of North Old Rand Road and Rand Road.  What do we know about ...
10/04/2020

Fall of 1973 or so...Looking northwest, this is the corner of North Old Rand Road and Rand Road. What do we know about this picture. On the northwest corner we see A Little Touch of Italy. On the northeast corner we see that Poppe's Restaurant has already been sold and is operating as Hackney's. On the southeast, we see the motel is there and we see what looks like perhaps 3 buildings on the corner. On the sign, we see actually 3 signs. One would be for the restaurant and cocktail lounge, another would be for the motel and the third would show if there was a vacancy. Previous operations: Erik's, Breezy Point, Bishops Buffet, Larsons, Wallbangers, Bella Inn, Frankies, Taylor Street.

This was located on the east side of Quentin Road in Deer Park.
08/13/2020

This was located on the east side of Quentin Road in Deer Park.

This was located on the east side of Quentin Road in Deer Park.

Remember the old Nike Missile Base in Ela Township? I remember driving on Quentin Road past Ethel’s old farm by Long Gro...
08/11/2020

Remember the old Nike Missile Base in Ela Township? I remember driving on Quentin Road past Ethel’s old farm by Long Grove Road, seeing the old guard shack for this military base and yearning to go in there exploring. Never did get to do it though. In 1953 the US army began building Nike air defense systems around the larger US cities. Chicago was one of them, and had 23 missile bases positioned in an arch around the city. Four of these were in Lake County, and the one in Ela Township was designated site C-84. Nike missiles were the first guided surface to air missiles that could detect, track and destroy enemy aircraft. Site C-84 was designed for Nike Ajax missiles, and was active from 1956 to 1963.

We recently had a call from a man here in Ela Township who still has an old fallout shelter buried in his yard. This beg...
08/08/2020

We recently had a call from a man here in Ela Township who still has an old fallout shelter buried in his yard. This begs the question: are there any other other old shelters buried out there somewhere. Anybody know of any? These were most prevalent in the late 1950s and early 60s. The idea was that you could go down in your fallout shelter after an atomic bomb was detonated and stay there until the radioactivity level outside was safe enough to come out. A lot of people felt an atomic war with Russia was imminent back then. Angstful times. 😬

1930's Fireman's carnivals and Snetsinger picnics, photo by Eugene Frank
07/23/2020

1930's Fireman's carnivals and Snetsinger picnics, photo by Eugene Frank

Since we can't have a festival this year, here are photos of the Alpine Festival over the years. Please feel free to tag people and add your comments and stories...enjoy! I've added the predecessor - the Fireman's Carnival, as well as Lake Zurich Day, which was an annual event, as well. Don't worry, there is always next year to look forward to!

Back in 1976 the Township had some commemorative centennial medallians made up. This notice was in the Frontier Enterpri...
07/08/2020

Back in 1976 the Township had some commemorative centennial medallians made up. This notice was in the Frontier Enterprise. I never realized they had some gold ones made up. I had to recheck one we had at the museum to see if it was solid gold. Twasn’t.😫

Lake Zurich became a resort town as the railroad brought passengers out from Chicago.  Folks would rush off of the train...
06/30/2020

Lake Zurich became a resort town as the railroad brought passengers out from Chicago. Folks would rush off of the train to get to the buggies of the most desirable resorts.
Summertime fun in Lake Zurich includes the many activities on and over the Lake. Since we are missing the fireworks over the lake this summer due to covid 19, here are some firework and the 4th of July boat regatta from 2010.

Lake Zurich became a resort town as the railroad brought passengers out from Chicago. Folks would rush off of the train to get to the buggies of the most desirable resorts.
Summertime fun in Lake Zurich includes the many activities on and over the Lake. Since we are missing the fireworks over the lake this summer due to covid 19, here are some firework and the 4th of July boat regatta from 2010.

One unidentified photo among many. Anyone recognize your great grandparents here? 😀
06/19/2020

One unidentified photo among many. Anyone recognize your great grandparents here? 😀

Lake Zurich’s first high school classes were held on the second floor of the grammar school on Oak Street, apparently un...
06/14/2020

Lake Zurich’s first high school classes were held on the second floor of the grammar school on Oak Street, apparently until around 1926. The new Ela Township High School was built in 1928 and able to hold classes by fall. Irene Ernst was one of the first students at the new school, and wrote of her school experience years later in 1989. She said that her husband Fred Butt attended the first Lake Zurich high school on the second floor of the grammar school from 1920 until he graduated in 1925. She started there as a freshman in 1925 and went there only one year, when she said the high school classes were discontinued there. She then went to Barrington High for the next two years, and then came back to Lake Zurich for her senior year (1928-29) at the newly built high school. So according to her, plus comments from some of the other early graduates, the new Ela Township High School was in use by late 1928. The Class of 1929 was the first at the new high school, and numbered seven graduates.

This is a US Geological Survey map from 1960. Notice the Boy Scout Camp is labeled.😀
06/14/2020

This is a US Geological Survey map from 1960. Notice the Boy Scout Camp is labeled.😀

We’re pretty sure that old Bert Seip, Lake Zurich’s famous blind postman from a century ago, never had to deliver a chil...
05/29/2020

We’re pretty sure that old Bert Seip, Lake Zurich’s famous blind postman from a century ago, never had to deliver a child this way. Surely no one in Lake Zurich would ever think of trying such a thing! Or would they?😆 My great grandfather was also a postman in Chicago at this time, and was decked out just like these guys. I wonder if he ever carried a kid in his sack.

Memorial Day. Take a moment, maybe a few.
05/24/2020

Memorial Day. Take a moment, maybe a few.

Here is the story of Ruth Briden, a widowed mother who was horribly murdered in 1863 as she sat milking her cow at her f...
05/21/2020

Here is the story of Ruth Briden, a widowed mother who was horribly murdered in 1863 as she sat milking her cow at her farm near Lake Zurich in Ela Township. We discovered Ruth’s story while researching names on some of the gravestones we had found in a nearby abandoned cemetery. Among those we found was a man who died in 1852 named William Boot, who had been Ruth’s first husband. Through William we found out about Ruth and her terrible demise. .

The date this happened was November 22, 1863. This was at the height of the Civil War, and by then people had become somewhat numb to the seemingly endless news of death and destruction during those years. Without a doubt the news of Ruth’s horrible murder would have affected people a lot differently in the years before or after the war.

Ruth, along with her young daughter and husband William Boot, came from England in early 1841 and went directly to Lake Zurich in Lake County, IL. William purchased forty acres from the government right after he arrived, and bought more soon afterwards. In 1847 William and Ruth had another daughter who they named Almeda. The Boots did very well in their new homeland, and by 1850 they had a nice working farm. But then in early 1852 William became sick, and in May he passed away. Not long afterwards Ruth married Robert Briden, who was the father of the man who had married her older daughter. This second marriage only lasted a few years,and sadly Robert died in 1856. So Ruth was once again a widow, over 50, with her nine year old daughter Almeda to raise and a 100 acre farm to manage. The Briden farm was north of Lake Zurich, on the west side of Rand Road just north of Miller Road, where the Wynstone subdivision is now.

Ruth was able to get by on the farm for a few years by hiring help, but when the Civil War started in 1861 farm laborers became harder to find. Most of the young farm boys were going off to war, trading their pitchforks for rifles. In July 1863 she took on a man named William Bell as a tenant, under a share cropping arrangement. This William Bell has no connection with the Bells who owned the apple orchard in Lake Zurich much later. This Bell was a bad apple, and you might say that he was what remained at the bottom of the barrel as far as any choice of help was concerned. He was in his mid thirties, had left his wife and young daughter back in Vermont, and had been deemed unfit for military service. He boarded in one of the rooms of Ruth’s farmhouse. Before too long Ruth wished she’d never agreed to let him board at the house - the two did not get on well at all.
By this time in 1863, Ruth’s daughter Almeda was 16, and had actually just started working as a school teacher near Long Grove that April. William Bell apparently saw Almeda as a possible way to acquire the farm, and he had approached the young girl about marriage. She, however, wanted nothing to do with him. She told him she “was not so hard up for a husband as to marry a man who had a wife and child already”. He then reportedly told her, “If it wasn’t for your mother, you would marry me”. Whatever the case, Bell somehow thought he would be able to marry Almeda and get the farm, if only her mother was out of the way. By that November the tension between Ruth and William Bell had become so bad that Ruth was afraid to be left alone on the farm with him. Almeda had just started back teaching for the winter term at a school near Wauconda, and for a couple of days her mother managed to persuade her to stay home. But, as many mothers know, you can only keep a sixteen year old girl from doing what she wants for so long. The morning of November 22 Almeda set off for school. When she left, Ruth was out in the yard milking the cow, probably mumbling something about daughters

A short time afterwards, young Sarah Morley who lived on the farm just across the road heard Ruth screaming, "Help, help -- murder -- for God's sake save me!" She immediately ran and told her father, William Morley. Morley and Ruth Briden were not on good terms at the time and he hesitated to go over there, but after a bit of time elapsed he went over to check on her. After going up to the door and not finding her at the house, he checked around and discovered her lying in the cow yard by her milk stool and pail, covered in blood. She had been hit on the head with an axe, and then nearly decapitated with a straight razor. The razor was still clutched in her hand, and it was Bell’s.

It had been lightly snowing, and there were bloody foot tracks leading away from the body. They led straight to William Bell, who was calmly chopping wood at the neighbor Cadwell’s place. Bell was taken back to the scene, and stood by while it was worked out that it was his straight razor and axe that had killed Ruth. Bell was arrested and soon convicted of murder, and would become the first person executed in Lake County. On June 30, 1865 he was executed by hanging.

Poor Almeda had been told the news of her mother’s death by a messenger sent to her school. Her life no doubt took a different course after this horrible tragedy.

Just before he was hung, William Bell gave a long and rambling speech proclaiming his innocence. This below is only part of it, taken from an article in the New York Times from July 9th, 1865.

"When I took Mrs. BRIDEN's place, she, and also her daughter, forbade me having Mr. MORLEY come into the place, and she said she wanted nothing to do with him. Didn't want that I should change works with him; said if I did she wouldn't board him, and I never did; never had him on the place. He testifies that he never had any difficulty with the old lady, that they were on good terms. The neighbors, all the neighbors that knows old MORLEY knows better than that. There is nobody that tells that MORLEY's family had threatened to 'burn the old lady's house down and wring her d -- d old neck,' and that they said that 'she kept a whore house.' I present these, gentlemen, just as Mrs. BRIDEN told me, and that she had a notion to have them arrested for abusing her with slander. Nobody tells that old MORLEY had a son that was corresponding with this girl of Mrs. RUTH BRIDEN; but, 'I killed the old lady in order to get the girl, because I had asked her the question some time during the Summer, and she answered that she wasn't so hard up as to have an old married man.' Mr. MORLEY started a story that Mrs. BRIDEN's girl was coming down to Waukegan to get a license to marry BELL, and reported it about the neighborhood. The old lady came in contact with him about it, and he owned up in the presence of neighbors there, that he made up this and reported it, which he confessed was false. Wasn't he trying to injure me, gentlemen, in making such remarks as those, because I was living on Mrs. BRIDEN's place? There was no motive for nobody but me to kill Mrs. RUTH BRIDEN. His son couldn't have got the property there if the old lady was out of the way. That could not have been a motive, could it gentlemen? I don't say, gentlemen, that Mr. MORLEY killed that old lady, but, gentlemen, I say I did not kill that old lady. (This he uttered with great emphasis, elevating his right arm at the same time toward Heaven.) Nobody tells that that Copperhead BRIDEN and the old lady was at variance and had been for years. Nobody tells that. Nobody tells that he hadn't been on the place but once while I was there, and that was in the case of the death of one of his children, and the old lady said if it was him, she would not go to his funeral. No one tells that he was owing the old lady a hundred dollars, and that since her death he has tried to break her last will that she left on this earth. Wouldn't a man that would do that, wouldn't he cut a woman's throat to get her property, a man of such a disposition as that? Would'nt he be as likely to do that as poor BELL, beceuse he was living on her place. Wouldn't there be a motive there, gentlemen? I understand since I have been in here in this prison below, that she had made her will and he was trying to break that will. That was the first I ever knew that she had made a will. I want you to take it for granted, gentlemen, that this matter is wrong. I believe, gentlemen, that there was a motive for some one to kill that old lady. I did not say that JOHN BRIDEN killed that old lady, but, gentlemen, I say that I did not kill that old lady (using the same venemence and gesture as before.) Nobody tells that this old lady's daughter and her used to quarrel and fight, beyond my language to express, gentlemen. It was nothing for her to call the old lady an old liar or anything else she wished to call her. She treated the old lady worse than I could a dog, but I don't say that the girl killed the old lady, but I say, gentlemen, that I did not.”

The hanging took place just inside the doors of the courthouse in Waukegan. Directly afterwards, William Bell’s body was cut down, dumped into a coffin and taken to a nearby cemetery where it was buried in the “Potters Field” section. Ruth Briden was most assuredly buried in that same abandoned cemetery (Bennett Cemetery) where we had found William Boot’s grave. This cemetery had long been on property owned by the Boot and Briden families, and several family members were buried there. There was no gravestone found for Ruth, but there was a foot stone there with the initials RB. Rest In Peace, Ruth, we have not forgotten you!

Another Lake Zurich related wild west discovery!  Okay, here it is.  Not too long ago we posted a picture of the Masonic...
05/17/2020

Another Lake Zurich related wild west discovery! Okay, here it is. Not too long ago we posted a picture of the Masonic Temple. As many of you know, this was originally the 1st Baptist Church. On January 14, 1844, my Great Great Great Aunt Sarah Whitney married Archibald Kinnear in this church. Their son was named Napoleon Bonaparte Kinnear. He married Isabella Baker. She was the daughter of Jim Baker and his first (of 20) wives. Jim Baker is claimed by both Wyoming and Colorado as a frontier scout. Jim Baker rescued Meeteetse Little Traveler "Marina" the daughter of a Shoshone chief and she became his first wife. There are quite the stories about Jim Baker's adventures including his survival of the Meeker Massacre in Colorado, as well as the adventures of his son-in-law Napoleon Bonaparte Kinnear, my first cousin 3x removed, who spent time here...on the shores of Lake Zurich.

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95 E Main St
Lake Zurich, IL
60047

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Hi. I noticed that the property on North Old Rand just west of the Lions Club boat launch is being developed and a number of very large bells seem to have been discovered on the property. Does any one know their history?
Hi! Do you have any info or photos of Bell Orchard? Someone was telling me about how they used to take their kids apple picking here.
I’ve been going through some drawers at my mother in laws & found these 2 things. Wondering if EHS might want them. If not they’ll go in the trash.
Are there any paranormal activity going on around there?
Ok, those that already know, can’t answer this question , so let’s be honest . Back in the “day” They were known as the twins, aka dynamite and firecracker... who are they
So this morning I discovered something interesting. My great grandfather Henry Berghorn had a younger brother George born in LZ 1881. I found his draft registration card for WW 1 signed in 1917. Petty cool. But, here’s where it gets interesting. George’s wife’s name was Rose. Rose Buesching. Nancy Loomis once said all of us “Zurichites” are somehow related. How true! Some time ago I was visiting my mom Beverly at Cedar Lake on Midlothian Rd. She was talking to a lady when I sat down. Found out later she was Anne Buesching. Of course I had questions about her family. Sadly, before I could visit again, Anne passed away. So, the question remains....how many Bueschings am I related to? Hopefully, more to come!
We’ve had this book in my family for at least 30 years (parents moved to LZ in ‘84 and I was born a year later). I think my mom got it at a book sale or thrift shop. It is apparently a textbook from the late 70s...I’m guessing for grades 4-6 possibly?? Does anyone remember this book? I’ve always been curious about its history. It’s so curious because it looks like it was never even used.
Geoffrey Baer from WTTW Chicago posted this trivia question and answer on his page today.
Tornado April 21,1967 Found these recently in my house. (House was previously owned by my Grandparents Calvin and Lucy Luce)my house was one of the houses damaged by the tornado.
One of my favorite sites!
Are there any pictures of the missile base on the East side of Ela Rd North of County line Rd.
What is/was the little building at the northwest corner of the lake on east side of 12 just south of Old Rand Road?