Behind the Name

Braving weeds and hungry mosquitoes, Historical Society members made a trip to the hidden Gridley Pioneer Cemetary in July of 2010.

Braving weeds and hungry mosquitoes, Historical Society members made a trip to the hidden Gridley Pioneer Cemetery in July of 2010.

A school, a cemetery, a ball field, a restaurant…these are just a few of the things in Long Grove that have used the name Gridley. It all started back in 1835 when John and Nancy Gridley and their six children (Elisha, George, John T., Elizabeth, Mary Ann, and Louisa) boarded a steamer, then a canal boat, and finally a wagon to make their way to where Long Grove is today. Why move into the wilderness from their “civilized” home in New York? John had a leather tanning business out East, but due to the poor economy in the mid 1830’s thought he would try his hand at farming. So the Gridley family went to where good land was available–Illinois. John and his sons built a home from logs and began laying out roads. Hard to imagine Long Grove without any roads, let alone traffic, isn’t it? The Gridley School was built in 1838 and was the first in the area. Two of the school teachers eventually married into the family as brides to sons Elisha and George. Nancy and a few other women who had moved into the area started the first church (also a log structure) in Lake County, what is now known as Ivanhoe Church.

Sons George and John tried their luck in the Gold Rush of 1849 and relocated to California. When things didn’t “pan out” as they had hoped, the men returned to Long Grove. Son Elisha built a dramatic mansion near the intersection of Oakwood Road and Rt. 83 called Endwood. This was later turned into a resort called Oakwood at the turn of the century. The mansion no longer exists, as it was demolished in the 1940’s. Many of the pioneering family members are buried in the Gridley Cemetery, which is maintained by the Long Grove Historical Society.

Thanks to my friends in the Historical Society for helping me research and fact-check this. Our local group survives on donations and volunteers and is a great resource for those wanting to know more about our Long Grove history. Check them out at

Diary of a One-Room School Teacher

Getting ready to start the lesson by ringing the school bell.

Getting ready to start the lesson by ringing the school bell.

Ever have one of those days when nothing seems to go right?  I recently had a day that started out bad and went to worse, and frankly I was in no mood to teach.  But two classes of eager third grade students from Country Meadows were counting on me to lead a field trip at Archer School that afternoon, so what could I do but don my 1860’s day-dress, and subject myself for questioning:

“Did you really teach here?”

Well, I realize that today I might look and feel like I am 165 years old, but no, I am not the actual original schoolteacher from 1849.

“Can I pretend to be naughty so you will use the switch on me?

You know, that’s not a bad idea, but unfortunately your parents could have me arrested if I actually employed old-school discipline.

“How come they did not fall in when using the outhouse?  And is that what I think it is?”

The children were careful and used the privy at home too.  And yes, the raccoons have broken in again and set up their latrine in our outhouse, but they are not smart enough to use the holes!

“Do we get to use the axe to chop wood for the pot-belly stove?”

No, but Mr. Lee Bassett has many pitchforks and other sharp objects to fascinate you in the barn.

“I already know the rules of the spelling bee because I saw a video of one on YouTube!”

Okay… if we are role-playing that it is 1876, and I am really your school teacher and you are really my student, what in the world is a “video” and mercy-sakes, a “YouTube?”

After two hours of relentless inquiry by some of our brightest little residents, I found my spirits had been lifted.  When surrounded by so much infectious enthusiasm and joy, how could they not be?  Thanks, kids!!!


At the crossroads in Mutterscholtz, France.

At the crossroads in Muttersholtz, France.

Since I happen to be traveling in Austria at the moment, I thought I should create a post with a little bit of European flair.  And some history thrown in for good measure, too!  I took this picture of a beautiful old-world building back in 2012, while traveling in the Alsace-Lorraine region of France.  The original settlers of Long Grove emigrated from this small town of Muttersholtz (“Mother’s Wood” in English) in the mid 1800’s, and originally named our town after their ancestral home, which was part of Germany at the time.  Legend has it that they picked our area because the “Long Grove” of trees reminded them of the terrain back home.  The original postmaster in town, a man by the name of Sigwalt, is credited with first registering the name.  However, as time went on the residents desired an English name, so Long Grove was chosen.  Today, the European town of Muttersholtz is a quaint French village, surrounded by mountains.  Many of the restored homes appeared to have originally had attached barns, speaking to the farming ways of old.  It features a central crossroads just like our Village, and some sleepy picturesque buildings, mostly residential.  It did feel like a place that could be a sister city to Long Grove.  We stopped by the Mayor’s office (even though I was only a Trustee at the time) and though I speak no French and they spoke little English, we still managed to communicate.  They had no idea that there is a town in America that used to be known as Muttersholtz.