History of Waukegan Township


Waukegan, first visited by Pere Marquette in 1673, is one of the oldest communities in Illinois. The township started as a French trading post and Potawatomi Indian settlement known as “Little Fort.” Records dating back to 1829 tell of a treaty signed by the Potawatomi’s in which they ceded all of their lands in this area to the Federal Government. Waukegan Township was one of the first townships in the State of Illinois incorporating in 1849.

Little Fort became the County Seat of Government in 1841 by virtue of its population. Between 1844 and 1846, the town’s population grew from 150 to 750 people. In 1849 when the township was incorporated, the population had risen to 2,500.

Proud of the growth of their community and no longer wanting to be characterized as “little”, on March 31, 1849, the residents of Little Fort changed the name of their town to Waukegan, the Potawatomi word for “fort” or “trading post”.

Early settlers were initially attracted to Waukegan as a port city and shipped produce and grain from Lake and McHenry County farms to Chicago. The creation of the Illinois Parallel Railroad (now the Chicago & Northwestern) in 1855 stimulated interest in Waukegan as a manufacturing center. The township continued to grow and diversify.

Currently, Waukegan Township encompasses parts of 4 cities including; Waukegan, Beach Park, Park City and North Chicago. It borders up to the south end of Edgewood Road, up to 38000 address in Beach Park, west up to Teske Boulevard in Park City, & south up to the North end of 18th Street in North Chicago.

The Township Board, comprised of four Trustees and the Supervisor, is the policy-making body of Waukegan Township. In addition, the township board consists of the Township Assessor and the Township Clerk.

Waukegan Township has grown over the years since its inception in 1849 and currently serves a population of over 100,000. In addition to continuing to provide financial relief to needy area residents, Waukegan Township funds and administers many programs for area seniors, transitional facilities for men and women with children, scholarships for our youth and many, many more.