When settlers began making Lake County their home in the mid-1830s, they traveled on Native American trails, or on the only road through the region—the Greenbay Military Road, established in 1833.
New roads were established according to the guidelines in the Illinois Road Law of February 1841. A new road, or alterations to an existing road, required a petition to be submitted to the County Commissioners Court (predecessor of today's County Board of Commissioners). The petition required the signatures of at least 35 voters residing within 5 miles of the proposed road.
If the petition was accepted, three "viewers" were appointed by the court to lay out the road. A report was brought back to the court for final approval or denial.
|Road laborers working on Wadsworth Road, |
Wadsworth, IL in 1906. (LCDM 92.27.180)
A rare example (above) of a summons for road service, addressed to Alfred Peats of Chicago, 1849. "Appear at 7 o'clock, A.M.... with a shovel, for the purpose of laboring on the Streets and Alleys..." I suspect Lake County used a similar form. (LCDM Frank Peats Collection 94.5.15)
If a man could not perform the work, he could pay $1 for each day of service that was assigned to him. In Lake County, road service lasted for 2 days, but was increased to 5 days in 1845.
|Sheridan Road, Lake Bluff, August 7, 1913, |
C.R. Childs, photographer. (LCDM M-86.1.462)
In 1841, Lake Road became a state road and was widened to four rods (66 feet). Over the years, the road has been improved and the route altered, but much of today's Sheridan Road in Lake County, follows the original route of Lake Road.
"Famous Sheridan Road," Waukegan, circa 1911. (LCDM 92.27.444.1)
Sheridan Road became known for the beautiful homes and tree-lined scenery along its route, and its meandering path.
This postcard of North Sheridan Road in Waukegan was collected by Lizzie Schlager Wandel of Waukegan about the time of its printing in circa 1910. By then, communities had funds to hire road laborers and no longer used "voters" for road service. (LCDM 61.8.167)