Forest Park Historical Society annual garden walk event raises funds and friends for the preservation of local history. Hailey Rodden (left) and Donna Kruse, the 2021 “Best in Show” winners. | Courtesy Alexis Ellers

Founded in 1975, the Historical Society of Forest Park is dedicated to preserving the history of the town and the ancestors of this area. 

Once known as Noyesville, Oak Ridge and Village of Harlem, the land was also home to peoples from the Kickapoo, Peoria, Kaskaskia, Potawatomi, Myaamia and Ochethi Sakowin people.  As European settlers arrived, the Indian Removal Act enabled the French-Indian trader, Leon Bourassa and his Potawatomi wife, Mnetoqua, to purchase the land including the area along the Des Plaines River where burial mounds were and people would pilgrimage to even through the Civil War era, which is now known as Forest Home Cemetery.  

After arriving from Prussia, Ferdinand Haase purchased the property and converted the land to the modern cemetery as it stands today.  The descendants of Haase had excavated the graves in 1900, collected the artifacts which were later given to the Forest Park Library.  A memorial marker was placed in section 27 of the cemetery in 1941 marking the trail head to honor and remember the people of these tribes. The artifacts were repatriated in 2019.  

There are many stories from the past that come from this area, often quiet, diverse, voices that are brought to light by the preservation and legacy of historical records. Stories of the Forest Park Amusement Park, Harlem Racetrack, Checkerboard Airfield, Haymarket, prohibition, veterans, businesses and intertwined in the legacy of this area.  Through the donations, memberships, programs and events the Historical Society of Forest Park is enabled to preserve the stories of the past to help understand the present and prepare for the future.

Historical Society of Forest Park

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