A Brief History of Northfield, IL

For centuries, the land that is now Northfield was home to Native Americans who hunted on its prairies and fished in its streams and swamps. In the mid-1800s, settlers began to arrive, and were known as "river folks" due to their struggles crossing the Skokie Lagoons and the Middle Fork branch of the Chicago River. Early pioneer families included the Donovans, Brachtendorfs, and Metzs. The construction of the Winnetka railroad in 1854 brought more settlers, including blacksmith John Happ and his family, who would become prominent members of the community.

In the early 1920s, the community underwent a significant transformation with the arrival of Chicago entrepreneur Samuel Insull and the construction of the Skokie Valley Line of the North Shore Railway. Insull held a contest to name the village, and the name Wau-Bun, meaning "dawn," was chosen. The name was also that of a Potawatomi Native American chief who lived in the area in the late 1700s. The village was renamed Northfield in 1929.

To serve the growing population, a small Village Hall was built in 1936 at the intersection of Happ and Willow Road, which remained in use for over 30 years. A larger Village Hall now stands on the same site. Despite its growth and development, the village has retained its small-town charm and country atmosphere, attracting families who appreciate its size and character. The population grew from 320 residents in 1930 to 4,887 in 1980 and to 5,483 in 2013.

See Available Northfield Homes February 7, 2023
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