The land we know as Frankfort was initially inhabited by the Winnebago, Pottawatomi and other Native American tribes from 1700-1840. William Rice arrived in 1828 as a prospector, becoming the first white man to settle in the area in 1831. Frederick Cappel, another early settler, gave Frankfort its name after his native city of Frankfurt-Am-Main, Germany. It was known as the “Frankfort Station” before its incorporation, tracing back to the area of Hickory Creek (1828) and Chelsea, an extinct town established in 1848 once located in present-day downtown Frankfort. Frankfort was officially founded in 1855 and incorporated in August of 1879.
You can learn much more about Frankfort’s History by contacting the Frankfort Area Historical Society or by visiting the Frankfort Area Historical Society Museum located at 132 W. Kansas Street in downtown Frankfort.
Frankfort Firsts & Some Frankfort History (both unincorporated & incorporated)
Built in 1856 located at Hickory and Nebraska Street, the Methodist Episcopal Church was the first church. Church meetings began in 1835 in the home of an early resident named Ambrose Doty. Two other early places of worship were the Baptist Church (first pastor David Letts) and the St. Peter’s Evangelical and Reformed Church in 1863. St. Peter’s United Church of Christ began to serve the community in 1867.
The Public Service Company began supplying electricity to residents in 1913.
First Fire Departments & Department Chief
The Frankfort Fire Department formed in 1884. Herb McDonald was its first Chief. The Village built a hall that would serve as a jail cell and fire department in 1933. In 1965, the Frankfort Fire Protection District moved from the Village Hall into their current building on Nebraska Street. The Fire Department added a second station in 1975 in Frankfort Square.
First Grain Elevator
N.A. Carpenter erected Frankfort’s first grain elevator in 1855. D.W. Hunter built the second grain elevator in 1878. A cement grain elevator is built then burns in 1946. In 1985, the Grainery burns. The Grainery Mall is built in 1987.
Mr. Doud builds Frankfort’s first hotel in 1855..
The Joliet & Northern Indiana railroad build a line through Frankfort Township in 1854/1855.
First School(s) and First Teacher
Frankfort builds its first school in 1856. It was a one room log cabin. Resident Lizzie Kent would be the first to teach young learners.
1870: Summit Hill Country School
1932: Ann Rutledge School
1954-2001: Lincoln Way Community High School District of New Lenox (organized 1951, construction began 1953)
1960: Arbury Hills School
1973: Frankfort Square Elementary School
1975: Summit Hill Junior High School
2002: Lincoln Way Central High School of New Lenox
2002: Lincoln Way East High School of Frankfort
2008: Lincoln Way North High School of Frankfort
First Store & Post Office
1836. O & M Clays opened the first store and post office at the same location. N.A. Carpenter opened and operated the first general store and post office in 1855.
First Town Plat
Resident Sherman Bowen laid out the first town plat in 1855 for the commercial and residential development of the area.
First Village Clerk
Charles Clayes was Frankfort’s first Village Clerk in 1855. G.A. Weinman was the first Village Clerk in 1879.
First Village President
John McDonald was president of unincorporated Frankfort in 1855 & incorporated Frankfort in 1879.
First Water Tower
The first water tower was built in 1895. The tower could hold 1,300 barrels of water. Chicago Bridge and Iron built a 100,000 gallon water tower in 1916.
Frankfort Area Historical Society of Will County. Early Frankfort Firsts. n.d. Print.
Frankfort Area Historical Society of Will County. Frankfort Area Historical Society Newsletter, Vol. 40, No. 8/9. 2014. Print.
Frankfort Area Historical Society of Will County. Untitled Document. n.d. Print.
Frankfort Area Historical Society of Will County. Welcome to Historic Frankfort. n.d. Print.
Frankfort: the Town, the Events, the People: The Centennial Year. Frankfort: Book Committee of Frankfort, 1979. Print.