The area that is now known as Sauk Village has been a center of activity for hundreds of years. Originally, several Native American tribes inhabited this land, which is a part of an area of high ground surrounding Lake Michigan known as the Valparaiso Moraine. The Native Americans used this high ground for transporting herd animals and trade items. Though the Illinois and Pottawami tribes were native to the area, the Sauk, from Michigan, became the namesake of the Sauk Trail.
the westward expansion increased during the 1800s, the Sauk tribes were
forced to move westward. Annually, they would travel the Sauk Trail
to collect treaty money from Canada and the United States.
In 1847, St. Jakobs Church was built. Father Francis Fischer was the first priest of the church, which had twenty parishioners. In 1871, this original church was struck by lightning and burned to the ground. The church was promptly rebuilt, only to be struck again in 1873. After this second lightning strike, the church was moved to the corner of Sauk Trail and the Calumet Expressway, where it still stands. The name of the church was changed from the German St. Jakob to St. James in 1917 as a result of anti-German attitudes due to World War I. During the Great Depression of the 1930s, St James Church experienced a shortage in revenues. Area residents helped by hand-digging the basement of the church in order to create a hall that could be rented out. On November 11, 1940, a tornado touched down in the area, causing extensive damage to the roof of the St. James Church. Area residents now know the Old St. James Church as the Old Community Center. The graveyard directly behind Old St. James Church is the Strassburg Cemetery. It is the final resting place for many of Sauk Villages original settlers.
the Calumet Expressway was built in the late 1950s, the Strassburg area
was seen as a prime real estate development. The AMBO I Construction
firm moved into the area in 1956, building homes in what is now known
as the Garden Section, near the Calumet Expressway and just south of
Sauk Trail. The community was incorporated on March 12, 1957 as Sauk
Village, since there was a town in southern Illinois that already had
the name Strassburg. Thomas J. Nichols served as the villages
The area continued to expand through the early 1980s with the addition of more homes to the St. James Estates area and new subdivisions such as the Carlisle Estates and Southbrook. The Senior Citizens Center first opened its doors in 1982, coinciding with the villages 25th anniversary. In the late 1980s, construction began on the Sauk Pointe Industrial Park on Sauk Trail west of the Calumet Expressway. Pacesetter Steel became the first company to move into the park in 1988. During the same year, Sauk Plaza underwent a $1.1 million dollar renovation project, which brought several new businesses into the community. The Library District also underwent several changes during the 1980s. First, in 1984, the library moved from its location in a home on Sauk Trail to a storefront in Surreybrook Plaza. Then, in 1986, the district changed its name to the Nancy L. McConathy Public Library in order to honor library board member and Village Clerk Nancy L. McConathys dedication to the library and its programs.
The 1990s promised to be yet another decade of expansion for Sauk Village. In 1990, Carolina Freight opened for business, bringing numerous jobs to the area. Building began in 1993 on the Carolina Subdivision, south of Sauk Trail and east of the Calumet Expressway. This subdivision is the first residential development in nearly a decade. The 1990 census showed Sauk Village as having a population of 9,704.
From its early years as a Native American trail to its current status as part of the Chicago Metropolitan area, Sauk Village has gone through a great deal of change. After all the ups and downs, it is clear any matter what, this community has always been able to bounce back from hard times to change for the better. Pride and Progress are certainly what Sauk Village is all about!
Chronology of Village Officials