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Early history

Dolton was once the home to a tribe of the Potowatomie Indians. In 1760, the Potowatomies were pushed out by tribes of the Sac, Illini and Miami Indians, and some settled along the bend of the Little Calumet River, now Blouin Drive.

The first non-Indian settler was a White man named J. Clark Matthews who bought land from the Indians in 1832, establishing a homestead in what is now Dolton.

In March 1837, George Dolton settled here and joined Matthews in a business venture operating ferrys across the Little Calumet River. Other early families included Perriams, Shermans, Ousterhouts, Osterhagens and Zimmers. Unrest in Europe in 1850 brought many settlers from Holland and Germany, too.

Andrew Dolton, the son of George Dolton, became the first supervisor of Thornton Township, which was established in 1850. The first Post Office was opened in 1866 and Andrew Dolton became the first postmaster. He later also became the first Justice of the Peace. The Dolton family continued to prosper and had many children. Their original homestead was located at 14037 Lincoln Ave. It was donated as the Village Library but was razed in 1964 and replaced with a newer building.

Many factors contributed to the move to incorporate into a village, but on Dec. 28, 1892, the Village of Dolton was incorporated at a village meeting. Parts of the region were annexed by Chicago which was looking to expand South. The incorporation of Dolton that day preserved it as an independent community.

Most of Dolton’s history is recorded in the family records of the Dolton Family, newspaper articles published during the 20th Century, and in one important book authored by Marlene Cook and entitled “Dolton Tattler: Fact, Fiction and Folklore” (published in 1992 and covering the past 100 years.)

Dolton became a center for the growth of train transportation. The Train Depot was located at 139th Street and Lincoln Ave. It was torn down in 1972. The trains brought commerce, and complaints that the noise frightened the livestock and also block streets.

The first District 149 school in Dolton was a one room cabin built in 1854 along Lincoln Avenue. The Dolton Municipal Building originally was the Park Avenue School, replaced in 1911 by the Lincoln School. Seems that the noise of the local train traffic disrupted classes at the old school.) Thornridge High school was opened in February 1960 with 1,625 students.

Dolton organized its first Fire Company in 1895 with 29 men meeting at Lund Hall at 14067 Lincoln Ave. The engine keeper was the first person to be paid in 1906, $2 after every fire. The fire company itself was paid $10 for each fire attended.

The Dolton Police Department was formed in 1892 when the village was incorporated, but did not formally organize itself until April 25, 1907. Police were paid $65 a month that year. Later, they also received a $35 clothing allowance. Police Call Boxes were located at 138th Street and 147th Street at Chicago Road, 138th and Lincoln Avenue and later expanded to include other locations a the South and West limits of the village, and also in the center of town. Radio dispatches did not begin until the late 1930s and early 1940s. In 1951, the village established a Board of Fire and Police Commissioners.

The Dorchester Club began as a private club in the 1950s.

Dolton’s official flag was adopted on Feb. 20, 1967 after businessman Sid Steele, owner of the Dolton Department Store, offered a $25 US Savings Bond as a prize to the designer of a suitable design. Of 47 designs, the one selected was by Carol Cameron.

The Village of Dolton occupies six square miles in Cook County. The population was recorded as 448 in 1880 and increased to 2,923 in 1930, 13,012 in 1957, 23,000 in 1963 and 26,600 in 1974. Dolton witnessed racial changes beginning in the 1980s when the “minority” population was only 4.9 percent, and increased to 42.3 percent in 1990. During that time, the population numbers dropped to 23,930 in 1990.

These are just a few snippets of facts about Dolton. If you have a story to share about the history of Dolton, please send it to the Village of Dolton Municipal Building for possible placement on this web site.

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