Palatine’s roots reach back to the 1830s when settlers from New York and New England traveled west to stake their claim in the fertile green prairies they had heard so much about from soldiers who were returning from the 1832 Blackhawk War. Using Indian trails, they continued north and west of the settlement at Fort Dearborn named Chicago, from the Indian phrase for the area which meant 'wild onion place.'
These early pioneers made their homes in the lush groves of trees that became known as Deer Grove, Plum Grove, Englishman’s Grove and Highland Grove.
George Ela, who built his log cabin in Deer Grove in 1835, is credited with being the first European to live in the area. Two well traveled Indian trails, Woodstock Trail and Lake Zurich Trail, survive in another form today…they are known as Algonquin Road and Rand Road!
The Illinois and Wisconsin Railroad made its way to the Deer Grove Trading Post in 1853. Although the railroad failed, another which ultimately became the Chicago and Northwestern, followed soon after. It is the only left-handed railroad in the country, probably due to the fact that its first engines came from England.
A thriving settlement soon grew around the railroad station, guided by the vision of Joel Wood, who surveyed and laid out the Village of Palatine in 1855. The village was incorporated March 19, 1866 and chartered by the state in 1869. Street lights were installed in 1871, after the Village purchased 12 lamps for $3 each and hired a lamplighter for 50 cents a night.
Palatine residents take great pride in their long history and deep roots. The George Clayson House, built in 1873 at 224 E. Palatine Road, has been meticulously renovated and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Clayson House Museum holds more than 1,000 treasures of the past from Palatine’s earliest days. Be sure to stop by for a visit to see, touch and understand the proud history that is Palatine’s heritage.