Place:Bourbonnais, Kankakee, Illinois, United States

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NameBourbonnais
TypeVillage
Coordinates41.165°N 87.879°W
Located inKankakee, Illinois, United States
source: Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names
source: Family History Library Catalog


the text in this section is copied from an article in Wikipedia

Bourbonnais is a village in Kankakee County, Illinois, United States. The population was 15,256 at the 2000 census, but it was estimated to have grown to 19,119 in 2009. It is part of the KankakeeBradley Metropolitan Statistical Area and the ChicagoNapervilleMichigan City, IL-IN-WI Combined Statistical Area.

History

the text in this section is copied from an article in Wikipedia

The village is named after François Bourbonnais, Sr., a fur trapper, hunter and agent of the American Fur Company, who had married a Native American woman and arrived in the area near the fork of two major Indian trails and the Kankakee River circa 1830.[1] John Jacob Astor had founded the company in 1808, and when the United States banned foreign (i.e. British and Canadian companies such as the Hudson's Bay Company) from competing in the country after the War of 1812, it grew. By 1830, it had a near monopoly of fur trading in the midwest, but the number of local trappable wild animals had declined.

In 1832, Noel LeVasseur arrived as the firm's local agent, established a trading post, and became the area's first permanent non-Native American settler. He married Watseka, niece of a Potawatomi chieftain, and after the Potawatomi were relocated to Iowa, recruited Canadians to settle around his store.[2] The Potawatomi were forced to move westward by a series of treaties culminating in the Treaty of Tippecanoe, which Congress ratified in 1833. The treaty reserved two sections for Potawanomi chief Me-she-ke-te-no, and one section each for Catish (Mrs. Bourbonnais, Sr.) and Manteno (daughter of Francois Bourbonnais, Jr.).[1] LeVasseur received considerable land through a series of shrewd trades, and eventually divorced Watseka and married a Canadian woman named Ruth.[3] After establishment of the new Catholic diocese of Chicago missionary Fr. Stephen Badin briefly settled in Bourbonnais Grove in 1846, before retiring further south.

In 1853, the Illinois legislature split Iroquois County, and Bourbonnais Grove became part of new Kankakee County. Because the Illinois Central Railroad ran through Kankakee, founded in 1854, it became the county seat, with Bourbonnais Grove as one of several townships. In 1858 residents built the Maternity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Church, and soon nuns of the Congregation of Notre Dame arrived from Canada to teach and provide nursing care. Two years later they founded Notre Dame Academy. In 1865 clerics of St. Viator founded St. Viator College for boys.[4]

After a referendum in 1875, the settlement incorporated as the Village of Bourbonnais, with George R. LeTourneau as its first mayor, and trustees Francois Sequin, Joseph Legris, Alexis Gosselin, P.L. Monast, Alex LaMontagne, Joseph Goulet, Jacob Thyfault and Len Bessette. LeVasseur died, aged 80, four years later.[3] LeTourneau also became mayor and sheriff of Kankakee as well as state senator; his home (begun in 1837 and with renovations completed in 1866) eventually became headquarters of the local historical society, which is also restoring the garden and nearby arboretum.[5][6] After enrollment declines in the early 20th century, in 1940 the Catholic institutions were bought out by what became Olivet Nazarene University, since the Protestant school in nearby Vermillion County had burned down the previous year.

In 1999, the town was the site of a major train wreck, the Bourbonnais train accident. Since 2002, as discussed later, it has become home of the summertime training camp of the Chicago Bears.[7]

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