Until 1833 and the signing of a treaty with Chief
Blackhawk, the area that now includes Barrington had for centuries been home ground to
tribes of Pottawatomi and Mascouten Indians. Later that year, their migration across the
Mississippi River was begun in compliance with the treaty, which thereby opened up vast
tracts along the Fox River to early settlers who came in 1834.
Pioneers who traveled from Troy, New York, by way of Fort
Dearborn-newly renamed the City of Chicago-set down their roots in what was to be Cuba
Township in Lake County. Others, primarily from Vermont, upper New York State and
Massachusetts, most notably from that state's Great Barrington in Berkshire County,
settled in what is now Cook County. Their settlement was originally called Miller Grove
but was later renamed Barrington Center. It was established at the point where Sutton Road
crosses Route 68.
The area's rich soil and ample water supply naturally
attracted an ever-growing number of farming families throughout the 1830s. They were
industrious, courageous people who saw an opportunity to carve out a prosperous future,
not only for themselves but for all those to follow.
With settling down came inevitable changes and the need to
develop a sense of pulling together into a community. And so the first school house, the
Northway School, was built at Barrington Center early in the 1840s just east of what is
now the Catlow Theatre.
Not only was this simple, one-room school the seat of
learning for a growing number of farm youngsters, it also served as the house of worship
for the Methodists and the Congregationalists until completion of their own churches in
In 1850, at the request of the County Sheriff, the
inhabitants of the various nearby settlements assembled to choose a name for their
township, and to set up a town government. The name they chose for the township was
In 1854, Robert C. Campbell, a civil engineer, completed a
detailed plan for a village to be called Barrington Station. When built it consisted of a
farm house and a log barn owned by Willard Stevens, and was bounded by what is now Hough
Street, County Line Road, a line east of Spring Street, and by a point drawn a few feet
south of Russell Street. The 80 acres within this boundary were the nucleus of what is
today Barrington proper.
That same year also saw the completion of the northwest
extension of the Chicago and Fond Du Lac railroad, later known as the Chicago and North
Western. Deer Grove was home for the first station, but in reaction to protests from some
residents it was carted a few miles up the track by flat car to what would soon be the
site of Barrington Station.
The homes that sprang up around the original farm were
constructed of logs, as were most homes in rural America at that time. But in 1855, the
Village's first milled lumber facility went into operation. The building that housed the
mill is still a fixture on Franklin Street-a vivid reminder of Barrington's rustic past.
In 1863, the 300-some people who comprised the population
of Barrington Station decided, in a referendum, to separate local and township powers.
This led, in 1865, to the state legislature's approval of a charter for the Village of
Not surprisingly, many families from nearby communities
saw the advantages to be derived from moving to Barrington, and having easy access to the
railroad and the growing number of stores that had recently opened.
In reaction to this steady migration, the number and
variety of small businesses to set up shop near the railroad kept pace with the growing
needs of the population.
The last decades of the 19th century saw Chicago grow from
a promising prairie town to a great pivotal hub of commerce and industry, one that had
been truly forged in the Great Fire of '71.
As Chicago became more prosperous, the desire for suburban
living led to major population growth both in the countryside and in the Village. Many of
those who came to Barrington after World War I were Chicago businessmen in search of the
same rural spaciousness that had so attracted farm families of the last century.
To their credit, these residents, and the generations that
followed, worked hard to preserve the qualities of charm and graciousness which are the
hallmarks of life in Barrington.
Today, Barrington's vision is directed very
much toward the future, but its thoughts are never far from the rich legacy of
its past. The Barrington Historical Society has been instrumental over the
years in preserving
relics from the village's bygone eras. For additional information, please contact
Barrington Area Historical Society, 212 W. Main Street, at (847)
381-1730. Their website is at: www.bahsil.org.