The history of Fort Hill begins in 1837 when early settlers moved into the area. One of the early settlers was Joseph Wood who along with three other settlers decided to name their settlement “Fort Hill”. Today, the hill is unmarked and located in Fremont Township on the north side of Peterson Road between Route 60 and Alleghany Road.
1885 Fremont Township map with location of the hill named “Fort Hill”
(Map from the Library of Congress website loc.gov)
In 1850, Mr. Wood moved to Grand Rapids, Wisconsin. The following is the 1890 obituary of Joseph Wood which provides a brief detail of the Fort Hill naming:
Joseph Wood, the oldest settler of Wood county, Wis., in whose honor the county was named, died in his home in the city of Grand Rapids, the 31st inst. He was in his seventy-ninth year. He was County Judge and a member of Legislature in an early day. His wife, a sister of J. and R. Compton of Volo, died Jan., the 17th, 1887. He leaves three grown sons and many old settler acquaintances in Lake and McHenry county Ill. Joseph Wood, Thomas H. Payne of Freemont (sic) Center, and Joel H. Johnson of Woodstock, Ill., came together to Illinois in 1836 and all located in Fremont, in January, 1837. Those three were the first white men that stepped foot on Fort Hill mound, and to Thomas H. Payne belongs the honor of naming said mound Fort Hill, so Wood and Johnson informed the writer not long since. Those three were on said mount on Sunday in March, 1837, to view the wild prairie landscape, when T. H. Payne suggested to name, said mound, Fort Hill. It was agreed to. A post office was established in 1838, Joseph Wood P. M. at Fort Hill. A post office was established in Little Fort, now Waukegan, in 1841, Joseph Wood commissioned post-master. J. Wood sold his farm in Fremont to David Balentine in 1850 and moved to Wisconsin.” – The McHenry Plaindealer (McHenry IL) Wednesday, February 19, 1890
Fort Hill was never officially incorporated as a village but those people living in the vicinity between Volo and Hainesville were identified as such for over 100 years. The name “Fort Hill” was given as the name of the post office in the Spring of 1838 with Joseph Wood selected as its first Postmaster. The original post office was located about a mile and a half southwest of the hill.
The 1876 map indicates the Fort Hill Post Office being located
on the northeast corner of Belvidere Road (Rt. 120) and
Fort Hill Road (Fairfield Rd) next to the Fort Hill Cemetery.
(Map from the David Rumsey Map Collection – davidrumsey.com)
“Fort Hill” became one of eight election districts in the newly formed Lake County, which was formed from the eastern half of McHenry County in 1839. The election district covers today the northwestern two-thirds of Fremont Township, northern two-thirds of Wauconda Township, southern half of Goodale (Grant) Township and the southwestern half of Avon Township.
And 1852 map drawn by Elijah Haines of the early election districts.
In 1841, the Marble School House was built on the Levi Marble property and located on Townline Road directly two miles south of the Fort Hill Cemetery. The road borders today Avon and Fremont townships. A new schoolhouse was built in 1850 and was named Fort Hill School.
The first known burial was a new Fort Hill resident, Warren Scovill. Mr. Scovill was born in Litchfield, CT and settled in Livingston County, NY where he raised his family. He first arrived in Waukegan, IL in the fall of 1842 and later purchased 40 acres in Avon Township in February 1844. On October 10, 1844 was killed in Waukegan at a log raising. Since there was nor burial grounds in the Fort Hill vicinity, Soloman Marble allowed to have Mr. Scovill’s remains buried on a portion of his property. The Fort Hill Cemetery was officially established in 1847 by Solomon Marble and he deeded the cemetery property to Lake County.
In 1850, the township form of government was established in Lake County but the identity of “Fort Hill” remained in the southwest corner of Avon Township remained for many decades.
Fort Hill Road was at one time located west of the cemetery and went north ending at Round Lake Road (Rte 134) before being renamed Fairfield Road.
1956 Shell Metropolitan Chicago and Vicinity road map showing the Fort Hill Road.
(Map from the David Rumsey Map Collection website davidrumsey.com)
Fort Hill is still identified in this 1924 Chicago District Railroad lines map.
(The Rand McNally and Co. map from the oldmapsonline.org website)
- Fort Hill Cemetery and the early burial grounds (Click to Read)
A short history of the Fort Hill Cemetery and a list of early burial grounds in the area.
- 1844 Fort Hill Reminiscences newspaper article (Click to Read)
A description of the Fort Hill area written in 1844 of the virgin countryside
before the population growth and vast farming that changed the landscape.
- Autobiography of a Lake County Pioneer (Click to Read)
Reuben Smith Botsford (1833-1918) was the son-in-law of Levi and Elizabeth (Granger) Marble who are laid to rest in the Fort Hill Cemetery. In his autobiography Reuben gives a glimpse of early life in Avon Township and Lake County, Illinois.
1918 School History Notebooks
Local area students documented a history of their schools and their surroundings in
celebration of the Illinois Centennial.
- Avon Township – Fort Hill School (Click to Read)
- Avon Township – Avon Centre School District 47 (Click to Read)
- Avon Township – East Fox Lake School (Click to Read)
- Avon Township – Hainesville School (Click to Read)
- Avon Township – Round Lake School District 44 (Click to Read)
- Grant Township – Big Hollow School (Click to Read)
- Grant Township – Gavin School (Click to Read)
- Wauconda Township – Glynch School (Click to Read)
- Wauconda Township – Volo School (Click to Read)
- Wauconda Township – Wauconda School (Click to Read)
Veteran Related Stories
- Lake County War History and Record (Click to Read)
Charles Addison Partridge (1843-1910) writes an extensive article of the regiments and companies consisting of the boys that volunteered from Lake County, Illinois to fight in the Civil War.
- Thirty-Seventh Illinois Infantry Regiment (Click to Read)
Lieutenant Arthur Whitney, buried in the Fort Hill Cemetery, was a Veteran of the 37th Regiment. Read a history of the regiment of which Lt. Whitney was a member providing a probable insight of the veteran’s experience.
- Ninety-Sixth Illinois Infantry Regiment (Click to Read)
Privates Erastus Tyler Cleveland and James H. McMillen, buried in the Fort Hill Cemetery, were Veterans of the 96th Regiment. Read a history of the regiment of which Privates Cleveland and McMillen were members providing a probable insight of their experience.
- Battle of Saipan – History.com (Click to Read)
PFC Clarence LeRoy Hagen, Jr., who is buried in the Fort Hill Cemetery, was killed in action during the Battle of Saipan. The History.com article provides a brief but informative overview of the events that took place between June 15 and July 9, 1944.
- The Battle of Saipan – The Final Curtain (Click to Read)
Another good read about the Battle of Saipan is by David Moore, P.E. (1921-2012), a retired Navy Commander who served in combat on Saipan. Mr. Moore wrote this essay to detail the events of June 15, 1944 and the days that followed. PFC Clarence LeRoy Hagen, Jr. was killed in action on June 17, 1944.
Lake County Cemetery Stories
- Historical List of Lake County, IL Cemeteries (Click to Read) (New Oct. 2022)
The list includes existing and extinct cemeteries that were located in Lake County. The list is in alphabetical order by cemetery name which includes the township, section, location and established date. The resources used were mainly from “A Guide to Cemetery Names and Locations in Lake County, Illinois” by the Lake County (IL) Genealogical Society from 1980 and the FindaGrave.com website.
- Lost Cemeteries of Antioch IL (Click to Read) (New Oct. 2022)
The Lakes Region Historical Society posted a story of the lost cemeteries including the excavation discovery of the community pool in 1956.
- Union Mausoleum in Waukegan met the wrecker’s ball (Click to Read) (New Oct. 2022)
A Chicago Tribune story titled “Rest in Peace? about the Union Mausoleum that had been abandoned, neglected, deteriorated and vandalized.
- History of Angola Cemetery in Lake Villa IL (Click to Read) (New Oct. 2022)
The Lake Villa Historical Society published an interesting detailed history of the Angola Cemetery.