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Early Thornton Street Names

Early map of Thornton, IL. c. 1896

Early map of Thornton, IL. c. 1896

From the 1884 Alfred Andreas book History of Cook County, Illinois: “Thornton village was platted in September, 1835, by John H. Kinzie, who had already purchased the land hereabouts from the Indians. He soon after conveyed a one third interest to Messrs. Hubbard and Blackstone. The first plat thus made was one mile square, beginning at the forks of Thorn Creek, and running one mile north, one mile west, and one south and east to the point of beginning. The village was named Thornton in honor of Colonel [General] W. F. Thornton, of Illinois, who was one among the first Canal Commissioners in the State.”


When John H. Kinzie platted the village of Thornton it is likely that he named the streets in honor of friends or relatives as many of the street names coincide with people he knew.



All of the streets in the original part of the village that run north and south are the last names of men, with the exception of William Street (sometimes mistakenly called Williams Street).


Water Street – Unknown.


Blackstone Street – John Blackstone, partner of John Kinzie.


Kinzie Street - John Harris Kinzie (1803–1865) was the eldest son of John Kinzie, one of Chicago's first permanent settlers. Kinzie arrived in Chicago with his parents when he was one year old. He worked for the American Fur Company and spent some time working for the governor of the Michigan Territory in the 1820s, then became an Indian subagent at Fort Winnebago until he returned to Chicago in 1833. Mr. Kinzie was married in 1830 to Juliette A. Magill.


Hunter Street - David Hunter (1802–1886) was a Union general during the American Civil War. From 1828 to 1831, he was stationed at Fort Dearborn in Chicago where he met and married Maria Indiana Kinzie, sister of John H. Kinzie.


Julian Street – Julian Magill was the brother of Kinzie’s wife, Juliette Magill. Juliette and John later had a son named Julian Magill Kinzie born in 1843, who died at age six weeks.


William Street – Possibly the first name of William F. Thornton, whom the village is named for.


Wolcott Street – Dr. Alexander Wolcott (1790-1830) was the uncle of Juliette Magill Kinzie. He married John H. Kinzie’s sister, then 16-year-old Ellen Marion Kinzie. Wolcott was appointed by President Monroe as the Indian Agent of the Chicago Agency and was held in high esteem by Native Americans and whites alike. John and Juliette Kinzie also had a son named Alexander Wolcott Kinzie (1833-1839).


Hubbard Street - Gurdon Saltonstall Hubbard (1802-1886) was born in Vermont and was an American fur trader, insurance underwriter, and land speculator. Hubbard first arrived in Chicago on October 1, 1818 as a voyageur.


Leavenworth Street – Unknown.


All of the streets running east and west are first names of women.


Ellen Marion Street – Ellen Marion Kinzie (1804-1860) was Kinzie’s sister and probably the first white child born in Chicago. Family documents show her first name as Eleanor, like that of her mother, but she usually signed Ellen. Ellen Marion married Dr. Alexander Wolcott on July 20, 1823; the ceremony is often said to have been Chicago’s first recorded marriage.


Eleanor Street - Eleanor Lytle McKillip (1769-1834) widow of Daniel McKillip with whom she had a daughter Margaret; second wife of John Kinzie and mother of John H. Kinzie.  At the age of nine, Eleanor was captured by Native Americans. She was a captive of a Seneca tribe for four years and was adopted into the family of Chief Cornplanter. He released her and her family moved to Detroit.


Juliette and John H. Kinzie also had a daughter named Eleanor Lytle (1835-1917), whose daughter Juliette Magill Kinzie Gordon (Low) “Daisy,” as she was affectionately known, started the Girl Scouts of America in 1912.


Harriet Street – John H. Kinzie’s brother, Robert Allen Kinzie, married Gwenthlean Harriet Whistler on November 12, 1834 in Chicago.  All of their children were named after family members so this seems to be a family tradition.


Margaret Street - Margaret McKillip Helm (1794-1844) half-sister of John H. Kinzie. Born in Detroit, her father was a British officer killed at Fort Defiance, OH in 1794. Her mother later married John Kinzie and the family moved to Chicago. She married Linai Helm, a soldier at Fort Dearborn. She survived the Fort Dearborn massacre and was saved by the Potawatomie Chief Black Partridge during the attack.


Juliette Street - Juliette Augusta Magill (1806–1870) was born in Middletown, Connecticut to Frances Wolcott Magill and Arthur William Magill. She was married to John H. Kinzie. Juliette was an American historian, writer and pioneer of the American Midwest.


Maria Street – Maria Indiana Kinzie  (1807-1887) was John Kinzie's younger sister. She married Gen. David Hunter in 1829. The couple had no children.


Frances Street - Juliette Magill Kinzie’s mother was Frances Magill.

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