Carol Stream is a village in DuPage County, Illinois, United States. Incorporated on January 5, 1959, and named after the developer's daughter, Carol Stream had a population of 40,438 as of the 2000 U.S. census.
A veteran of the War of 1812, Anning S. Ransom, came to farm the area around 1840. He was followed in 1844 by Vermonter Daniel Kelley, who purchased and settled at "Tall Trees" with his wife to raise Spanish Merino sheep. The Kelleys and their 11 children all became actively involved in Wheaton's political and business life. Daniel Kelley donated land for the Chicago Great Western Railway, and the area around the railroad stop became known as Gretna after 1887. Gretna was settled by German farm families, largely Roman Catholics from Southern Germany.
In 1853, St. Stephen Catholic Church was built in Gretna. The church was closed in 1867. When St. Michael Church was opened in Wheaton in 1872, the St. Stephen parishioners were transferred to that parish. The church building was dismantled sometime in the late 19th century. St. Stephen Cemetery was located adjacent to the church building. It was last used for burial in 1910. The St. Stephen Cemetery (located north of the Great Western Trail behind Meyer Material Company on St. Charles Road) was rededicated 100 years later on September 12, 2010.
In 1952, a farm from the area was featured on NBC; it was the site for the first outdoor telecast by the network in 1954.
A common misconception is that the municipality of Carol Stream was named for a local minor waterway. In fact, Carol Stream is one of the few communities in America which took its name from the first and last names of a living person: Carol Stream, the daughter of its founder Jay Stream.
Jay W. Stream (April 17, 1921 – January 22, 2006), a military veteran who had previously sold insurance and ready-mix concrete, was in the mid-1950s heading Durable Construction Company. He became frustrated with red tape while negotiating a planned 350-400 home subdivision in nearby Naperville, Illinois. A Naperville clerk reportedly advised Stream to "build your own town", and in 1957, Stream began buying unincorporated farmland outside Wheaton.
On Monday August 26, 1957, Carol and three friends were returning from Racine, Wisconsin in a 1949 Studebaker. While attempting to cross U.S. Route 45 in central Kenosha County, the car was struck in the right rear corner, killing 15-year-old Richard Christie of Chicago, the passenger seated there. Carol was ejected through the windshield and into a utility pole. Neurosurgeons at Kenosha Memorial Hospital said the comatose girl might never awaken or, if she did, would likely be severely handicapped. On advice of the doctors that her recovery might improve with good news, Jay decided to name the new community in her honor. After four months in a coma, Carol regained consciousness. Learning the new village bore her full name, Carol said she thought it "odd and silly" at first (as she told Chicago Tribune reporter Eric Zorn in 1991).
Carol Stream was nearly named Jacqueline Stream, but her parents changed her name to Carol when her due date fell near Christmas. She never lived in her namesake community but moved from Wheaton, Illinois to Arizona in 1957 following the end of her parents' marriage. She still participates in municipal celebrations and rides in parades during anniversary celebrations of the municipality's 1959 incorporation, and is frequently asked for autographs when she is in town. Jay Stream is also commemorated in the town - his name is on the middle school. He died on January 22, 2006.