Boone Township is Established
Boone Township was established by the country commissioners in 1836. The boundaries changed several times until the township assumed its present form. Townships were plotted first, with towns and villages being established as people settled in the area.
Boone Township Firsts
The first permanent settlers who arrived in Boone Township in 1836 were Jesse Johnson, Isaac Cornell and Simeon Bryant. A number of Indians were living in the area when the settlers arrived, but they were sent to reservations west of the Mississippi River several years later. In 1838, the Bethlehem Church of Associate Reform Presbyterians was organized by a Rev. Hannan. Rev. Hannan was succeeded by Rev. Wilson Blain in 1845. The church later changed its name from “Bethlehem” to “Hebron.”
The first name of the settlement that became Hebron was “Corners,” as many cross roads were made by wagons and horses going to the Kankakee River. In 1842 a school was built, serving as a community house as well as an education center. Mr. John Alyea laid out three one-acre lots at this crossroads in 1844. Mr. Alyea built a blacksmith shop on one acre. The other two lots were purchased by Mr. Palmer and Mr. McCune. In 1845 Rev. Blain circulated a petition and was successful in establishing a post office named Hebron. Blain served as postmaster for two years. Before the establishment of the Hebron post office, residents had to travel to LaPorte for mail service.
Samuel Alyea built Hebron’s first store of goods in 1846. The first frame house was built in 1849 by Mr. McCune, and it served as a tavern. This building is still in use today as the Stagecoach Inn Museum.
Boone Township Grows
In 1863, the construction of the Pittsburgh, Chicago and St. Louis Raliroad, otherwise known as the “Panhandle,” ushered in a new era of growth for Hebron. The railway made Hebron a gateway to the Grand Kankakee Marsh hunting area. A second hotel, the Pratt House, was built in 1865 by Burrell Pratt. This hotel changed hands several times, and in 1910-1911 the name changed to the Commercial Hotel. This building still is in use today as Heritage Bar and Restaurant.
The first drug store was established in 1866 by Ross Bryant. In the next year Daniel Sigler built the first brick dwelling, and in 1875, Sweney and Son built the first brick store building, which burned in the fire of 1912. Both buildings were built from local brick made in the Harrison Folsom brick kilns. In addition to the brickyard, there was a blacksmith, millers, a tilemaker, and a creamery. Hebron’s first newspaper, “The Free Press,” was established in 1878. H.R. Gregory was the editor.
Hebron becomes Official
With the rapid growth of the town, some of the residents felt the need to incorporate. The first attempt to incorporate came in 1874, which was followed by two more attempts. Another attempt was made in 1886, but Hebron was not granted town status until March 5, 1890. The 1890 census shows a population of 689 people living in Hebron.
Hebron Businesses begin to Grow
Hebron continued to grow. Businesses listed in Bumstead’s County Directory, 1911-1912 included the Citizens’Bank, the Hebron Telephone Company, a butter and cheese factory, the Hebron Lumber Company, an implement house, a hardware store, four general stores, a hotel, livery stables, jewelry and drug stores, a bakery, millinery stores, a confectioner, a newspaper, doctors and dentists.
Today, the town of Hebron continues to offer a variety of businesses close to home. The town has a local grocery store, family dining and fast food restaurants, and a pharmacy. Many retail stores are available, such as floral, bakery, banking, auto repair, used car sales, printing (UPS shipping available), gas stations, banquet facilities, fireplace and grilling accessories and many others. Also, Hebron offers family entertainment with a bowling alley and movie rentals along with many local parks and even a winter ice skating rink. The public library offers a wide variety of materials and services six days per week. There is an excellent school system serving Boone Township. The newest school building, Hebron High School, opened in the fall of 2005. The Town of Hebron is continueing to grow and improve each year.
Submitted by Kate Wiltfang – Hebron Historical Society
|Population:||Population as of July 2010: 3,724|
|Population density:||2354 people per square mile|
|Growth rate:||-0.3% since 2000|
|Racial Population:||White Non-Hispanic (94.1%)|
|Two or more races (1.7%)|
|Other race (1.3%)|
|American Indian (0.8%)|
|Land area:||1.55 square miles|
|Mean prices in 2007:||All housing units: $129,987|
|Detached houses: $137,026|
|In 2-unit structures: $202,688|
|In 3-to-4-unit structures: $161,399|
|Mobile homes: $12,432|
|Estimated median household income in 2007:||$47,194 ($42,103 in 2000)|
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