A Brief History of New Bremen/Tinley Park

Permanent settlement in this area began in the early 1830's. However, these settlements were few and generally far between. In 1835, the U.S. Government opened a land office in Chicago to facilitate the sale of the "public lands". The convenience of a land office nearer to the lands available for sale, and an attractive price of $1.25 an acre, sparked a "land rush" and increased immigration to the area.

A number of land speculators, some of them early pioneers to the area, established lucrative businesses buying large numbers of parcels and then reselling them for a broker fee or at higher prices to new settlers.

Many of the first settlers that came to this area in the early 1830's were emigrants from the eastern United States. They were soon joined by others, coming from Canada, England, Ireland, and Germany. Those of Germanic origin began to arrive in the late 1840's and would continue to be the predominate nationality emigrating to this area for many years.

The earliest pioneers established small farming settlements near dense timberlands north and northeast from the present village known as Batchelor's and Cooper's Groves, respectively. Postal service was established in 1843 at Batchelor's Grove and in 1848 at Cooper's Grove. In 1850, by a vote of the population, Cook and Will Counties established the township system of local government and accordingly the voting area then known as Yark Precinct was divided, generally using the land survey townships for their governmental boundaries. The southeastern part of York Precinct became Bremen Township and the southwestern part became Orland Township. In recognition of this change, the Batchelor Grove post office adopted Bremen as its new name. Cooper's Grove post office changed to New Bremen, being the younger of the two postal stations.

The Chicago and Rock Island Rail Road Company had acquired the right of ways to construct a railroad through the area early in 1852, and by October they had made their first train run between Chicago and Joliet. A formal village came into existence when Dr. Samuel Rush Haven filed a plat of subdivision creating the Village of Bremen (named after the Township) on the path of the railroad in 1853.

The new community was quickly settled primarily by Germans. By 1854, the railroad was completed to the Mississippi and Mr. Samuel Tinley Sr. was assigned as stationmaster to the local depot. In that same year the New Bremen Post Office was moved to the Village at the request of Dr. Moses R. Ballard, who became the first Postmaster in the Village (and was also the first physician in the Village). The community quickly became known as New Bremen. With the benefit of the railroad, the community quickly became a center for commerce in the area. By 1861 New Bremen could boast as having a hotel, three carpenters, a blacksmith, a cobbler, a wagonmaker, two merchants and two saloonkeepers. The first public school in the Village was constructed in 1863.

Anticipating a need for office space that would result from a proposed railroad that would also cross through New Bremen in its run from Chicago to Decatur, Carl Vogt began construction of the two story office building near the present Rock Island tracks in late 1871. Before the building was completed, the Chicago Fire destroyed the plans and financing for the proposed railroad and the building was converted to residential use. This Italianate Victorian building is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is currently being restored and renovated to again serve as an office building.

To meet the area's need for ground grains, George Bartels built a large wind driven mill in 1872. Christian Andres began a grain elevator near the Rock Island tracks. Henry Vogt, Sr. acquired the Saenger Hall Saloon that had been built by his brother Carl, and later added a dance hall. It was in this building that Henry Vogt, Sr. also opened a small general store. In 1886 he constructed a new building for the expanding store. By 1890 New Bremen had a population slightly over 200. In 1900, with a population of 300, it constituted nearly 16% of the population in all of Bremen Township. (Tinley Park now covers two counties and four townships with a population of over 38,000).

In October 1890, Postmaster Henry Vogt, Sr. requested the name of the Post Office again be changed from New Bremen to Tinley Park in memory of Samuel Tinley, Sr. who served the community as stationmaster and ticket agent for over 25 years. The citizenry officially adopted the new name on New Years Day 1891.

In 1892 three leading citizens, Christian Andres, Dr. Charles W. Bishop, and Henry Vogt, Sr. began a petition drive for incorporation. At a meeting at the Rock Island depot on June 27, 1892, citizens voted 34 to 24 for incorporation as the Village of Tinley Park. The results of the election were filed and recorded with the County Court of Cook County on June 28, 1892 - officially recognizing the organized Village of Tinley Park. The first election for the Board of Trustees was held on July 19th of that year and Henry Vogt, Sr. was chosen as the first mayor.

The Village continued to grow and prosper. Telephone service was first introduced to the community in 1898. The first municipal water system was installed in 1899 and was financed by local citizens. In 1905, the Diamond Spiral Washing Machine Company established the first factory in Tinley Park. Always a progressive and resourceful community, local businessmen established their own electric utility in 1909. Airplanes were also built for a short time and Tinley Park also had an airport for many years. A pop bottling plant was operated by a number of local citizens from the 1890's through the 1950's. A local inventor, John Rauhoff, developed and manufactured an additive for waterproofing cement called Ironite. Another businessman and inventor built a successful business on a chicken brooder of his own design made from a simple feather duster with a light bulb installed in the middle. The community also was home to the Tinley Park Dairy that distributed its products throughout the south suburbs for many years.

Of course, Tinley Park also became known for automobile racing with "Tony" Bettenhausen and his sons and cousins. (Tinley Park has produced five Indy race car drivers over the years - and is second only to Albuquerque, New Mexico). Tinley Park continues to preserve its rich heritage in many ways, an apartment building, constructed in 1871 by Carl Vogt has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and several homes and other buildings have been identified in the Illinois Historic Structures Survey.

The Village of Tinley Park has designated the area of the 1892 village boundaries a local historic district. Through the Tinley Park Historic Preservation Commission, property owners within the district are encouraged to preserve and restore their structures to their historic appearance. The Tinley Park Historical Society continues to research, preserve and document local history.