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History of Maywood

The Village of Maywood, founded April 6, 1869, was named for May, the deceased daughter of Colonel William T. Nichols, Maywood's founder.  Colonel Nichols, a State Representative and Senator from Rutland County, Vermont, served in the Vermont Volunteers during the Civil War. In 1868 Colonel Nichols and six other men came here from Vermont and formed the Maywood Company, which developed the Village.

Colonel Nichols lived in Maywood until his death in 1882.  The Nichols home stood on the northwest comer of Fifth Avenue and Second Street (now Oak Street), the location of the First Suburban National Bank.  The house was razed after World War One.

The original plot of Maywood was one and a half miles north and south and a half mile east and west along the bank of the Des Plaines River with the Chicago Northwestern Railroad running almost through the center.

The section of ground south of the tracks was a farm owned by M. C. Niles of Oak Park.  He sold that area to The Maywood Company for $100 an acre. The farmhouse still stands at 104 Oak Street (presently The Way Back Inn).

The Maywood Company acquired several farms were north of the railroad, the largest of which was owned by E.W. Hoard of Oak Park.  The Hoard farmhouse was located near the present site of Lincoln School at Ninth Avenue and Chicago Avenue.

Maywood's early development is an interesting story of setbacks and growth. The Maywood Company built over 100 homes in 1872.   The Village appeared on the road to prosperity until 1873 when growth slowed, but Maywood soon rebounded.  The population doubled between 1880 and 1890. 

The public library was founded in 1874 and a few years later, in 1881, the Village of Maywood was incorporated.  The first Maywood newspaper, "Home News", started publication in 1884.

Electric street cars appeared in 1893.  The Maywood Fire Department was formed by Village Ordinance in 1895.  Two years later a new Village Hall was constructed.

The new century brought new progress:

According to an article from the LaGrange Citizen in 1929, the DesPlaines River dried up, for a time.  See Fish Perish In Dry River, LaGrange Citizen, Oct 10 1929

Maywood became the home of the 33rd Tank Company, Illinois National Guard (Company B).  The Armory was located on Madison Street, two blocks east of First Avenue. It was organized on May 3, 1929 with the purpose of training men for combat.  On November 25, 1940, 122 men of Company B were inducted into active service to become part of the famous 192nd Tank Battalion which fought on the Philippine Islands. They were destined to become victims of the notorious "Bataan Death March" in April 1942. Of the 122 men of Company B only 41 returned to Maywood alive.

In order to honor their memory, Bataan Day Parades (on the Second Sunday in September) were held every year from 1942 to 1987, save one. The present Maywood Bataan Day Organization, carrying on the unique tradition of marking American Bataan Day, sponsored a gala 50th Anniversary Banquet in September 1992.  On Bataan Day, September 12, 1999, a Veterans Memorial, honoring the victims of the notorious "Bataan Death March," was dedicated in the southeast corner of Maywood Park at First Avenue and Oak Street.

The 1990 Census showed a population of more than 27,000 Maywood residents.

In 2002 Maywood celebrates the 133rd anniversary of its founding.

Maywood Fire Department

In 1895 a group of Maywood citizens met at the Proviso Land Association office to discuss the creation of a fire department for their growing village. As a result of this meeting the Maywood Village Board passed an ordinance to create the Village’s first fire department. Mr. William Dickey was appointed Fire Chief. Three hose carts, manned by volunteers, were stationed at three separate Maywood locations.

Later the Village purchased a two-horse team hose wagon that made the firefighters’ job a little bit easier.  The photograph to the right shows the proud volunteers with their horse drawn pumper-wagon of 1911. 

In 1919, with the Village's continuing growth, the fire department was updated with the acquisition of a motorized hose truck.  A year later a pumper was purchased.

By 1925 the Cincinnati-built Ahrens-Fox "pumper" picture above was in use by Maywood.  It could pump 750 gallons per minute -- exceeding the manufacturer's promise.

Until 1928 the fire department was one of volunteer firefighters. The fire department added paid personnel but continued to utilize many "on call" volunteers.

In 1942 the Maywood Trustees purchased a "modern" American LeFrance fire truck.

The Maywood Fire Department provided services to neighboring villages for many year:

Two veterans of service with the Maywood Fire Department are Hugh A. Muir and Frank Mennell. Both have witnessed many changes and events over their years.

Mr. Muir recalls the early days of the Maywood Fire Department. "I have been chasing fires since I was 11 years old on my bicycle, and I am still at it today."  During World War II Muir served as assistant chief of volunteers during World War II with the civil defense fire department.  After his volunteer duty ended, he was elected to the Maywood Village Board and served 28 years as head of the Fire Committee.  One of Muir's priorities was making sure that the equipment was brought up-to-date.

Frank Mennell has served on the Maywood Fire Department for thirty-five years and has been captain for over twenty years.  He, too, has witnessed dramatic changes take place at the fire stations.  "The biggest improvement was in the equipment…  Changing from gas-powered, open-cab trucks to diesel fuel engines, made the department more efficient. There has also been a tremendous improvement in the quality of radio communication within the department and neighboring towns."

In October of 2000 the Maywood Fire Department celebrated its 105th anniversary.

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The source for this page, including the quotations from Mr. Mennell and Mr. Muir, is taken from is an article by Maureen Kelly in the "Maywood 2000 Community Guide", published by the Maywood Chamber of Commerce, 2000. The photographs are taken from the same publication.

The Franzosenbusch Heritage Project has learned that Maywood is developing a history website of its own.  Once we have learned of its site address, we will add an LINK to it from this page and our LINKS page.

Last Modified:  02/17/2007