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.

As 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.
This area was originally opened up to American settlers back in 1838. Though the original settlers of Sauk Village moved here from the East Coast, their roots were in France, Germany, and Western Europe. The first immigrants to the area were Hiram Wood, Henry Ayen, and Rowley. After these original settlers, a second wave of families moved to the Sauk Village area, including such familiar names such as Kavelage, Reichert, Sauter, Rickenberger, Kloss, Barnes, Jung, Schaller, Schmidt, Kline, and Peters. Postmaster Charles Sauter named the settlement Strassburg, after Strassburg, France, home of many of the original settlers. Back when the area was originally being settled by Americans, land sold for a mere $1.25 an acre.

In 1847, St. Jakob’s 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 Village’s original settlers.

When 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 village’s first president.
Since its incorporation in 1957, Sauk Village has undergone considerable change and expansion. By 1961, a special census showed that Sauk Village had 1,258 homes and 5,774 residents. Strassburg and Cynthia Street (now known as Wagoner) Schools were built during this time to accommodate the needs of residents’ children. Though construction came to a virtual halt during the mid 1960s, by the early 1970s development was beginning again. In 1970, Rickover Junior High School opened its doors, and additions were made to the existing schools. Throughout the 1970s, developments such as the Amber Manor Apartments (now known as the Crossroads), Surreybrook Plaza, and St. James Estates were booming. The Sauk Village Library District was formed in 1973 to meet the needs of area residents. In 1977, the Police Department and the village government moved into the Sauk Village Municipal Building on Torrence Avenue.

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 village’s 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. McConathy’s 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!

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A Chronology of Village Officials

Village President
Thomas J. Nichols 1957-1965
Roger F. Theisen 1965-1977
Edward W. Paesel 1977-1989
Mark Collins 1989-1997
Roger Peckham 1997-2009
Lewis Towers 2009 –

Village Clerk
Leona Black 1957
Noreen Peterson 1957-1959
Barbara Stock 1959-1960
Agnes Theodore 1960-1985
Nancy L. McConathy 1985-1986
Mary Jacobs 1986-1987
Marjorie Tuley 1987-2001
Elizabeth Selvey 2001-2009
Debbie Williams 2009 -

Village Trustees
Richard Black 1957-1960
Clarence A. Grimm 1957-1958
Arol Anderson 1957-1961
Matthew M. Murphy 1957-1973
George L. Shelton 1957-1958
William K. Blackhurst 1957-1959
Robert Barbrow 1958-1963
Russell Massery 1958-1959
William K. Bone 1959-1963
Ralph I. Davis 1959-1961
Theodore R. Theodore 1960-1962
Walter Lawson 1961-1963
Robert Allyn 1961-1962
Robert Mullen 1962-1968
Herbert VonBorstel 1963-1966
Joseph Spencer 1963-1969
Coy Hollaway 1963-1965
Frank Wagner 1963-1964, 1965-1973
Theodore Sanders 1963-1965
Roger Theisen 1964-1965
Harriet Kaminski 1965
Robert Robinson 1965-1967, 1968-1971
Alberta Goe 1965-1966
Donald Johnson 1967
Raymond Gavin 1967-1986
Catherine Moretti 1967-1968
Harold Johnson 1968-1977
Richard Startz 1969-1971, 1973-1977, 1991-1993
Robert Werner 1971-1987
Marion Young 1971
Charles Collins 1971-1983
Edward Paesel 1973-1977
William Moss 1977-1987
Richard Derosier 1977-1981, 1987-1997
Louis Gesiakowski 1977-1981
David Gavin 1981-1983
Edward Hanson 1981-1991, 1993-1995
Kathy Huesca 1983-1985
Ronald Green 1985-1987
Raymond Nudi 1986-1987, 1987-1988
James Schultz 1987-1993, 2001-2009
Mark Collins 1987-1989
Albert Welch 1989-1995
Joseph Wiszowaty 1989-1993
Tom Busch 1988-1996
Mary Seery 1993-2005
Robin Flores 1993-1997
Pat Hasse 1995-
Tom Wall 1995-
Roger Peckham 1996-1997
John Dennis 1997
Henrietta Pawlowski 1997-2001
David Hanks 1999-
Rick Schreiber 2001-2005
James Slawnikowski 2005-2009
Francine Anderson 2007-2011

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