A Brief History of the Village of Buffalo Grove
The following history was provided by the Buffalo Grove Park District's Raupp Memorial Museum.
The very first pioneers to come to the Buffalo Grove area came from New England around 1834, and stayed for about five years. Many of them had received land grants from the government, and came to settle on their frontier property.
Early land records show a mix of English, French, and Scottish names including: Stephen Lamb, Napoleon Periolet, Richard Adams, John Foster, Job Tripp, Darius Rice, William Flemming, Samuel Mills, Jonathan Luce, Stephen Olcott, and Joseph McDuffee. Captain Daniel Wright and Mr. Amos Bennet have been recognized as the first non-native settlers in Lake County.
In the 1840s many of the first homesteaders and land speculators sold their land to the German immigrants fleeing their homeland. Living conditions in Germany were bad, so the cheap yet fertile land in America was very appealing. Most Buffalo Grove area pioneers settled by people who shared their religion and nationality.
German Catholics mainly settled together in the Buffalo Grove area, German Lutherans decided to live in Long Grove, and German Presbyterians moved to Wheeling. After they bought the land cheaply, the settlers worked to turn the early farms and wilderness into their own community.
Who were the first settlers in Buffalo Grove? It is hard to tell. Many families sent one person ahead to see if Buffalo Grove was a good place to live, and if they thought it was, the rest of the family would follow.
Some say that John Simon Henneman came in 1846 and sent word to family and friends in Germany for them to come to Buffalo Grove. Jacob Weidner, who was known as Little Jake, was 27 years old when he came to Buffalo Grove to scout out the area for his family. Little Jake liked the land so much that he asked his father, his five brothers, his uncle and their families to come live in Buffalo Grove.
Melchoir Raupp was the settler who had the longest journey before ending up in Buffalo Grove. He first came to Buffalo Grove in 1847, but he was not able to buy the farm he wanted.
Next, he traveled to Wisconsin to see if he would like it there. He thought the farmland looked good, but he also thought there were not enough people, and it would be too lonely to live there.
Melchior then headed west on a wagon train after hearing about the gold in California. The few nuggets that Melchoir found did not make him rich, in fact, he had to walk back to Buffalo Grove! When he got back, the farm he wanted was for sale, so he bought it, and sent for the rest of his family.
Religion and Education
These first Buffalo Grove settlers formed a very close community with many of their sons and daughters marrying each other. Religion and education were two of the most important aspects of their new community. At first, both church services and school lessons were held in pioneers' homes, but soon they realized a separate church and school would be good for the community.
The settlers built the first St. Mary's Church in 1852 and the first St. Mary's School in 1855. By 1899, downtown Buffalo Grove had grown with the addition of the Firnbach Tavern and the Weidner General Store.
Remembing the First Settlers
Even though most of the pioneer families in Buffalo Grove are gone now, you can still remember their names, because many streets and parks are named after the families who originally settled in that area.