A Time-Line of French, French-Canadians, Illinois, Bourbonnais, Kankakee, and the World

Kankakee Area History is in Italics

1653  French nuns led by Sister Marguerite Bourgeoys (founder of the Congregation de Notre Dame--the order of nuns who later came to Bourbonnais Grove in 1860) arrived in Canada                                                                          

1663  Louis the XIV revoked the Compagnie des Cent'sroyal charter, converting New France (Canada) into a royal colony. 

1673  Fur trader Louis Jolliet and missionary Jacques Marquette entered the Illinois villages and established French claims of the Illinois country (Pays des Illinois).

1678  Canadian Governor Frontenac granted La Salle the right to settle the Illinois country.

1679  Cavalier de la Salle paddled his birch canoe down the Kankakee River in an attempt to explore and discover the outlet of the Mississippi River.

1689 King William's War (War of the Rhenish Palatinate, or League of Augsburg) officially commenced in Europe, but in America the war began with the Iroquois attacks into the Illinois country as early as 1680. Control of the beaver trade motivated the Iroquois to foray against the French and the Illinois tribes.

1696  Louis XIV's edict abolished the Indian trade (fur trade), western travel, and settlement, consequently stranding many Canadian Coureur de Bois in the Illinois country.

1699  First Illinois mission established at Cahokia.

1700  Unauthorized French settlers established six villages down river from present day St. Louis.

1702  Queen Anne's War (War of the Spanish Succession) produced a new strategy for New France: detach the Iroquois from English influence.  Consequently, New England felt the burden of Indian attacks and the Illinois country received a period of peace and growth.

1715  Louis the XIV dies and the 1696 edict allowed to lapse. The French of Illinois established the first European republic west of the Allegheny Mountains.

1717  The French crown detached the Illinois country from Canada and placed Illinois under the Louisiana colony's jurisdiction.

1720- 1740  For twenty years, intermittent raids and warfare raged upon the Louisiana and Illinois colonies from the Chickasaw Nation.

1739  The War of Jenkin's Ear furnished the spark, which created King George's War (War of Austrian Succession). During the war George Groghan captured the Ohio Valley fur trade from the French. After the war, Illinois fur traders exchanged peltry for English trade goods.

1754  Fort de Chartres recruits 300 Illinois warriors to fight George Washington at Fort Necessity.

1757  Fort Massac constructed near present day Metropolis, Illinois.

1763  The French and Indian War (The Seven Years War) officially ends in French defeat. The Treaty of Paris cedes all land east of the Mississippi to the English.                                                            


1764  French garrisons evacuate the Illinois country. Pontiac foments Indian unrest in the Illinois country against the English. The Chickasaws burn the evacuated Fort Massac Laclede opens a trading post opposite Cahokia.

July 4, 1776
The United States declares independence from Britain

June 1788  US constitution goes into effect

1800  Congress passes an act stating that the Northern Territory will be divided into two parts called the Ohio and Indiana Territory.

1809  The territory of Illinois was organized. It included Wisconsin and Peninsular Michigan.

December 1818  Illinois becomes the 21st state admitted into the union.

1826  Gordon Hubbard marries Watch-e-kee (Watseka), chief Tamin's niece, to seal ties between the trader and a band of Pottawatomi with whom he had been trading with. They mutually dissolved the union nearly two years later.

1830  Francois Bourbonnais Sr. arrives on the Kankakee River. He was a fur trapper and hunter hired by the American Fur Co. to deal with the Indian trappers in the area.

1832  Noel LeVasseur is the first white settler in Bourbonnais Grove.

1833  The Treaty of Tippecanoe was formed between the United States government and the Indians. It stated that if the Indians refrained from interfering with the settlers, the land would be bought from them with the stipulation that certain tracts of land would be set-aside for them as reservations.

1833  Settlers started to settle in Aroma Park, Momence, Exline, Limestone, and Rockville areas.

1836  The majority of the Indians had left the area by this year.

1836  First school opened in Kankakee County near Aroma Park. The first teacher was Miss Stella Ann Johnson.

1837  A public school system is established.

June 1837  Father Lalumiere performs the first baptism for Andre Bray.                                                                                       

October 20, 1840  Father St. Palais, later bishop of Vincinnes, performs the first marriage for Mary Marcotte and John Flageole.

1841  The first chapel was built and named St. Leo's log cabin church. Services--had previously been held in the LeVasseur home.

February 15, 1849  A new frame is built over the log cabin church and is dedicated Maternity of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

August 15, 1842  Father Dunn performs the first funeral for Pierre Lami.

1849  The California gold rush begins.

February 1853  Kankakee County was formed.

July 4, 1853  The Illinois Central Railroad brings "the iron horse" to Kankakee. At the time, Bourbonnais Grove didn't want anything to do with it. Kankakee only had one cabin that had been built 20 years earlier for Francois Bourbonnais Jr., but contractors felt that the Kankakee area would boom due to its location.

August 1853  The first newspaper was printed in Kankakee County. Augustin Chester was the first editor.

September 1853  Maternity Church is consumed in flames. The fire could be seen for miles.  The priest in residence, Rev. Charles Chiniquy, moved to St. Anne shortly after, which led the people of Bourbonnais to believe him guilty of arson. He retained Abe Lincoln as his defense attorney, but both trials resulted in hung juries.

1855  First county courthouse was erected.

1858  Population of Kankakee is almost 5,000 people.

1858  Maternity BVM was rebuilt.

1861  The Civil War began.

September 1, 1862  The boarding school Notre Dame Academy in Bourbonnais is founded.

September 22, 1862  The Emancipation Proclamation is issued.

July 1, 1863  The Battle of Gettysburg took place

1865  St. Viator's College founded in Bourbonnais.
1865  William G. Swannell was elected as the first mayor of Kankakee.
1865  St Joseph Seminary, in Kankakee, was established.
1865  The Civil War ended.

1867  A large bell is installed and dedicated in the belfry of Maternity church.                                                                                       

1872  The county courthouse started on fire. The records were safely removed.

1873  New courthouse built in the same location as the first one.  

1894  North Kankakee Electric Light and Railway Co. sets up business in the community. Electricity and electric streetcars appear. A nominal fee of five cents was charged to the passengers. It was common for the students of St. Viator College to try the patience and play pranks on the motorman. After the four-wheel cars were introduced, the students found that they could make the cars jump off their tracks.

1900  William McKinley defeats William Jennings Bryan for the presidency.
1900  William Frank Baud's Wonderful Wizard of Oz is published

1901  St. Viator College built a long needed gymnasium.
1901  An anarchist shot President W. McKinley and Teddy Roosevelt was sworn into office.
1901  Fire in the Iroquois Theater in Chicago and 588 people were killed.

1903  Henry Ford founded the Ford Motor Company

June 1903  Oliver Marcotte's home was consumed in flames. It was one of the first homes built in the area.

1904  First Olympics held in the US was to be held in St.Louis.
1904  Theodore Roosevelt was elected President.

February 21, 1906  St. Viators College Church is engulfed in flames. The fire was rumored to have begun in a student's dorm room and caused by a spilt oil lamp.

1908  Model T was introduced.
1908  William Taft was elected president.

1909  269 coal miners died in an explosion in Cherry, IL
1909  National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) was founded.
1909  First animated cartoon was created.

1910  Boy Scouts of America was founded.

1911  Present Kankakee County courthouse was finished.

1912  Girl Scouts of the United States of America was founded
1912  Woodrow Wilson was elected president.
1912  The Titanic sank.

1914  WWI began

1915  The first public sewer is built.                                            

1915  The German Navy sank the Lusitania, a Cunard liner. 1198 lives were lost, including 128 American passengers.

Aug 1916  The United States National Park Service is established

1916  Woodrow Wilson is reelected
1916  The Graveline Meat Market is consumed in a fire, but is quickly replaced with a new building (this time made of brick) and expanded into a grocery store with a specialty in home cured meats. Also, the Simon Tetrault blacksmith shop burned down. The family replaced it with a large garage since the horse and buggy days were becoming a thing of the past.

1916- 1920  The first "big city" crime hit the area. A man only known as "Clark" was found stabbed to death at the wheel of his Model-T Ford taxicab near Maternity BVM Cemetery.

April 1917  US enters WWI.

1917  Puerto Rico became US territory.

1918  An influenza epidemic sweeps across the nation and claims 548,000 victims.

June 1919  Treaty of Versailles is sign ending World War I.

1919  Congress overrides presidential veto and passes the National Prohibition Law.

1920  Warren G. Harding becomes president.

1922  Lincoln Memorial was dedicated.
1922  Babe Ruth is sold from the Red Sox to the Yankees for $125,000.

June 17, 1922  Mrs. Helen Rivard's house explodes due to an oil spill. She later died due to injuries sustained in the blast.

August 10, 1923  President Harding dies of food poisoning and Vice President Calvin Coolidge takes the presidency.

1924  Calvin Coolidge was elected president.
1924  J. Edgar Hoover was appointed the head of the FBI.

1925  689 people died because of a mile wide tornado that ripped through Illinois.
1925  Reader's Digest was first published.
1925  State Route 44 was built on Main Street at North Avenue.

1926  150 anniversary of the US (Sesquicentennial).
1926  National Broadcasting Company (NBC) was launched.

1927  Mount Rushmore was dedicated.                                       

1928  Amelia Eahrhart becomes the first woman to cross Atlantic Ocean in a plane.
1928  Walt Disney introduces his first animated cartoon with sound. Steamboat Willie was the title and its lead character was none other than Mickey Mouse.

September 10, 1928  Billy Ranieri, a ten-year-old boy from Chicago was abducted on his way home from school. A ransom of $60,000 was demanded. The boy was found days later in a Joliet gas station. Several men were later charged after the boy was released, one even being the boy's godfather. All of them appeared to be associated with the Sicilian mafia. The house the boy was held in was later identified as a two-story farmhouse on River Road (now River Street). As the story became more widespread, the area gained much popularity. The town was swarmed with gawkers and souvenir hunters.

October 29, 1929  Black Tuesday, 16 million shares were lost.

December 1, 1929  The New York Stock Exchange value had dropped by over 26 billion dollars, the Great Depression has begun.

1931  Chicago gangster Al Capone convicted of Tax Evasion and sentenced to 11 years in prison.
1931  Star Spangled Banner becomes the National Anthem over America the Beautiful.

1932  Franklin Delano Roosevelt elected in a landslide over Herbert Hoover.

1933  The National Prohibition Laws were repealed from the constitution.
1933  The electric streetcars ran for the last time in the spring. This was also the first year for the Chicago World's Fair.

1934  Bad crop year in Midwest, record colds in February and record heat in the summer.

1935  First chapter of Alcoholics Anonymous was created in NY city, less than 2 years after the Prohibition Laws were repealed.
1935  FDR signs the Social Security Act.

1936  FDR was reelected.
1936  Life magazine was founded in NY City.

1937  The Hindenburg explodes.
1937  Golden Gate Bridge was completed.

1938  Self-propelled combine was introduced.

1939  An outdoor theater was opened during the summer at town hall. St. Viator College was closed at the end of the year.

September 1939  Germany invades Poland, three days later France and Great Britain declares war on Germany, starting WWII.

1940  FDR was elected to his 3rd term in office.
1940  Olivet Nazarene College is built and consists of six buildings.

1941  Joe Dimaggio sets a record for the longest hitting streak in baseball with a 56 game hitting streak. The record still stands today.

December 7, 1941  The Japanese bombs Pearl Harbor and World War II ensues.

December 8, 1941  US declares war on Japan.

1942  Rationing was put into effect to conserve war materials.

1944  DDT was developed as a lice remover.
1944  FDR was re-re-reelected (4th term).
1944  Casablanca premier.

June 6,1944  D-Day, invasion of Normandy.                             

1945  World War II ends.

September 1, 1945  Japanese surrendered on the U.S.S. Missouri.

1947  UFO trends starts up and Roswell Crash happened.

1948  Harry Truman elected president.

1949  North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) was founded.

June 1949  Notre Dame Academy closed because of a lack of enrollment. The convent continues to occupy the premises until 1956.

January 1950  Illinois Bell Telephone Co. began a village wide project to install dial phones throughout the community.

June 1950  The Korean War begins.

1950  H. Truman authorizes continuation of the development of the hydrogen bomb.

1951  Flood damages exceed 1 billion dollars when the Missouri River flooded Illinois, Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma.
1951  The State of Illinois Department of Health begins to chlorinate the drinking water.

1952  Eisenhower gets elected as president.

1956  Eisenhower is reelected over Illinoisan Adlai Stevenson.
1956  The Robert Frost Public School is built. Maternity BVM opened a school as well in the old convent building.

1957  Russia launched first satellite, Sputnik.
1957  A new numbering system is introduced due to door-to-door mail. There were 703 homes within the confines of the city limits.

July 12, 1957  Eleven inches of rain fell throughout the night and flooded the area.

1959  Alaska and Hawaii becomes US states, numbers 49 and 50.

1960  John F. Kennedy becomes president over Richard Nixon.

1961  JFK established the Peace Corps.
1961  Alan Shepard School was built.
1961  American troops are sent to Vietnam.

1962  Garbage pickup is offered to residents by ABC Company for a nominal fee of ninety-five cents a month. The Dutch elm disease destroyed nearly all of the elm trees in the village. They were replaced with soft maple trees.
1962  John Glenn becomes the first American to orbit the earth.
1962  Cuban Missile Crisis.

1963  A disastrous tornado sweeps through the Bourbonnais area. It destroys the village hall, the remains of Notre Dame Academy that remained on ONC's campus, Burke Administration Hall (part of the old St. Viator College), shattered Maternity Church's imported stained glass windows, rips through many homes, and takes several lives. The twister continued to rip through the state and didn't stop until it was past the Indiana state line. The college's repairs were estimated at one million dollars.

November 22, 1963  JFK was assassinated and Lyndon B. Johnson was swore in just hours later.

1964  President Johnson signs the civil rights act.

1965  America commits to the first space walk.
1965  St. Louis gateway Arch was completed.

1966  The Reed Planetarium at Olivet Nazarene College was built. It was, and still is, the only facility of its kind in the area.
1966  Supreme Court set the Miranda rights into order.

1967  A campus radio station (WKOC) is begun and directed by Professor Ray Moore.

1968  A string of tornadoes ripped through IL killing 36 and injuring over 1,000 people.
1968  Nixon defeats Hubert Humphrey for president.

April 4, 1968  Martin Luther King was assassinated.

December 1968  Apollo 8 was a success in test landing.

August 1969  Apollo 11 made a flight to and around the moon.

1969  Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldridge becomes the first men ever to walk on the moon.
1969  The third earthquake was recorded in Bourbonnais (others were in 1896 and 1909). Although it was centered in Southern Illinois, it caused quite a stir.  Shabbona Elementary School was also built in this year. Fires destroyed the Olivet powerhouse.

1970  The population of Bourbonnais is at 5888 people.
1970  Apollo 13's crew returns home after their tragic mission.
1970  New York World Trade Center was completed.

1971  Voting age reduced to 18.

1973  US, North and South Vietnam, and Vietcong sign a peace agreement in Paris ending the war.

1973  The Bank of Bourbonnais and Kankakee Federal Savings and Loan Association were both founded.

1974  Hank Aaron hits home runs number 715 surpassing Babe Ruth for the all time lead in home runs.
1974  Nixon resigns due to the Watergate scandal.
1974  The first drive-thru restaurant, Hardees on South Main Street, makes its appearance.

1976  America celebrates its Bicentennial.
1976  USSR and US enter a Nuclear Weapons Agreement.
1976  The EPA bans pesticides containing mercury.

December 31, 1978  Senate voted to turn the Panama Canal over to Panama.

1978  Three Mile Island incident happened.

November 1979  American Embassy seized by Iranians, 52 people were held hostage.

1980  Population of Kankakee County is over 102,296.

1981  Ronald Reagan elected president.

January 1981  Hostages released.

1989  George Bush elected president.
1989  Berlin wall comes down; Germany is united as one country.

January 1991
UN lunches an air attach on Iraq.

February 1991  Cease-fire signed between United Nations and Iraq.

1992  Cold war ends between Russia and US.
1992  World Wide Web starts to be used in homes.

1993  Bill Clinton elected president.
1993  The World Trade Center is bombed in New York City.

1995  Oklahoma City bombing.

1998  Bill Clinton becomes the 2nd president to be impeached.              

November 2000  After a contested election, George W. Bush is elected president.

September 11, 2001  Terrorists hijack and fly airplanes into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

November 2001  US Marines land in Afghanistan.