Local Lombard History
After the Black Hawk War in 1832 forced the American Indians west of the Mississippi, the area of northern Illinois was inundated with settlers from New England. Among the first to settle along St. Charles Road and the DuPage River were Ralph and Morgan Babcock, and the area came to be known as Babcock’s Grove by 1834. In 1849, the Galena and Chicago Union Railroad established a station in Babcock’s Grove, enticing commuters to move here. Within a few short years, several pioneer families, including Deacon Churchill, Elisha Fish, and Sheldon Peck had established homesteads, early roads, and Sabbath schools. Many early settlers were from New England and settled Illinois with the idea of expanding “Yankee” ideals like temperance and anti-slavery. Babcock's Grove was incorporated as Lombard in 1869.
Portrait artist Sheldon Peck and his family moved to Babcock's Grove in 1837. Acording to family lore, he and Harriet lived with their five children in a covered wagon on their property while building their house. He was considered a radical abolitionist in the 1840s and 1850s and was known to have also aided freedom seekers on their journey north to Canada using the Underground Railroad. Visit Peck's Homestead - the oldest house in Lombard - at 355 E Parkside. Read a Peck family chronology prepared by volunteer James Robinson.
Colonel William Plum's legacy is felt throughout Lombard, especially during Lilac Time. Colonel Plum, a telegrapher during the Civil War, became enamored with lilacs while touring Europe with his wife Helen in the 1910s. Over the following twenty years, the Plums traveled the world and increased their collection to over 200 varieties (now more accurately called cultivars) . Upon his death in 1927, Plum gave his property to the Village to be used as the first public park, and his home to be used as the first public library. This generous act of philanthropy permanently established the Lombard Park District, the Helen M. Plum Memorial Library, and Lombard as “The Lilac Village.”
Little Orphan Annie was created in 1924 by Lombardian Harold Gray. Gray was an artist at the Chicago Tribune. He lived at 215 S. Stewart, and later purchased the LeRoy house at 119 N. Main Street for his parents. This large Italianate house is affectionately known as the "Little Orphan Annie home." Although it is not open to the public, the picturesque facade is worth a drive on North Main St.
Lombard attorney Ellen Martin was the first woman to vote in Illinois - way back in 1891! Ms. Martin based her legal claim to vote on the words of the town charter. The charter deemed that residents of Lombard over the age of 21 would be allowed to vote in local elections. She stated her case on the fact that the town charter enfranchised ALL citizens, with no mention of sex. Read more about Ellen Martin. (PDF)